The Forza Racing Championship heads to London, UK this weekend for its biggest event yet. 24 of the world’s best drivers on Forza Motorsport 7 will compete at the Gfinity Esports Arena for their share of the $100,000 prize pool – the largest in the history of Microsoft’s premier racing esports series. Three of those drivers happen to be part of Veloce Esports, who are one of only two teams to have successfully qualified all their ForzaRC drivers to the London finals.
“I couldn’t be happier with the team’s progress from the start of this year to now,” says Daniel “ForceOne” Nyman, who recalls his past performances at this year’s Seattle and Mexico City Playoffs. “Back in Seattle, I barely made the finals after a string of mediocre races. In Mexico, I feel like – given the circumstances – I did the best as I possibly could.”
Overall, ForceOne finished in fourth at the Series 2 Playoffs, which were hosted only a few short weeks ago at the end of the September. It saw a good performance all-around from the Veloce trio, who were racing at a ForzaRC Playoffs event together for the first time. Nyman’s teammates, Noah “Virus” Schmitz and Tobin “Racerz” Leigh, finished in fifth and eighth respectively based on the result leaderboard. However, Virus ended up being tied with ForceOne – both finishing with 28 points in total.
Additionally, all three Veloce drivers were the only complete ForzaRC team to have made it into the Top 12 for the Series 2 Playoffs finals, following some tense action and drama in the semi-finals the day before. It certainly provided a lot of confidence heading into the Series 2 finals, but the competition out on the track ultimately proved to be fierce.
“I think given a better starting spot, I definitely had the pace to be on the podium,” Nyman adds. “And the same could be said about anyone on our team. We all faced different circumstances but handled them equally well. Considering Tobin’s insane performance in the semi-finals, along with Noah’s incredible consistency throughout the event, I feel pretty confident that we’re the best team on the game right now.”
It’s no real surprise that Nyman is confident about his team’s ability in future ForzaRC events. After all, Veloce is the number one team on the ForzaRC Global Leaderboard for Series 2 of the 2018 season, so if this was a team competition, they would most certainly be leading the way. Regardless, the trio have all qualified for the London finals this weekend, and they’re all eager to perform to the best of their ability.
As for Racerz, the young 18-year-old driver didn’t compete in the ForzaRC Series 1 Playoffs due to it colliding with his end-of-year A-Level exams. Even though he qualified for the event, he ultimately made the decision to pass on the invite to focus on his studies – but that doesn’t mean his overall determination and skill in the Forza Racing Championship has suffered. Like his fellow teammates, he’s ready for this weekend’s finals in London, especially after a less-than-ideal conclusion in Mexico City.
“I feel like we're all pleased with where we have gotten ourselves this season,” Leigh tells me. “Both ForceOne and Virus have done an exceptional job of scoring well consistently over the two series; whereas I was especially happy to manage to make the finals over my heavily disrupted Series 1! Series 2 for me was a massive confidence boost, I was pleasantly surprised by my pace and my race against Laige has assured me that my development is continuing very strongly. I’m very excited for the next season after this as I will be able to start in a position I feel I deserve.”
“I'm excited for London, although I have a much trickier task compared to my team mates,” he adds. “I'm starting 9th in the semis in a very hard group and I need to average 6th overall, with names like Commando, Wesley, Asix and Rossi ahead, it's going to be tough – but I'm confident I have more than enough ability to cause a few upsets.”
In London, the 24 qualified drivers will be seeded into two groups of 12 for the semi-final races this Saturday. Both ForceOne and Racerz have been paired together, whilst Virus has been separated into the other group. Regardless, they’ll have the same common goal – and that’s reaching the top 6 within their group so they can qualify for the finals action on Sunday. It’s sure to be a challenging weekend no doubt, but all drivers – regardless of their final finishing position – will walk home with some prize money at the very least.
However, Nyman’s determination in every ForzaRC event is to beat his previous result. “In Le Mans I finished 12th, in Seattle I was 9th, and in Mexico I was tied with Noah for 4th. I really would like to see myself standing on the podium this time next week in London,” he explains. I’m a bit nervous that I won’t live up to the expectations that I set for myself after the great performance that I had in Mexico, but I’m pretty confident that once I’m on stage with my headset on, I’ll be nothing but focused.”
Whilst the 2018 season of the Forza Racing Championship has been the biggest one yet in terms of scale, prize money and ambition, it’s also been the longest season yet. Nyman refers to it as “a test in mental strength and time management.” It all began in March with the Pre-Season Invitational before the regular season kicked off in the following month. Before then, I spoke with both ForceOne and Racerz when they were competing on behalf of F4H Motorsport. They both managed to go on and win the Team Championship event that weekend, but as the year has progressed, they’ve discovered how long and extensive it has been, ultimately requiring a serious investment in both time and mental wellbeing.
“I’ve faced so many hardships in the last 6 months; between all of the disconnects, crashes, and self-inflicted mistakes, there were definitely a few days where I didn’t feel the drive to keep competing,” Nyman admitted. “As a full time student now, I’ve struggled to find a sufficient balance between my gaming career, education, and my personal life. Moving forward from this season, I’m going to take a long look on the benefits of competing with respect to the toll it takes on my life.”
Nyman currently studies Aviation at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida. This means he must naturally balance his time on Forza Motorsport 7 with his studies to effectively succeed in both, but after working hard in high school and over the Summer, he should have a light work load this year to allow for a nice balance of both.
“With that in mind, I have a lot of confidence in the team at Microsoft and Turn 10, and I’m excited to see what they have planned for next year,” he says. “We’ve had a lot of great discussions over the season and I feel like the drivers’ interests are in good hands. From a personal perspective, I’d love to see a team focused championship next year, much like the one we had in Seattle; I feel like the format is just unique enough to set Forza apart from other esports.”
Should the Forza Racing Championship deliver a team-focused championship next year, as Nyman suggests, then Veloce will most certainly be well-equipped for it. They’ve three of the strongest drivers in the Forza esports scene, all of whom are naturally skilled. As mentioned, both ForceOne and Racerz won the experimental Team Championship in Seattle earlier this year, and when combined with Virus, this trio is certainly a force to be reckoned with. There’s simply no denying it – Veloce is ready for a team-focused championship in 2019, but whether it actually happens or not remains to be seen.
Either way, the future certainly looks bright for the three Veloce drivers – and their backing from the professional sim-racing team has changed their overall outlook on both the current esports scene, as well as its future. “Veloce Esports has completely changed my perspective on sim racing as an esport, and more importantly as a viable career,” Nyman explains. “Back in April, I was pretty much set on quitting at the end of 2018, but after seeing Jamie and Rupert’s passion for esports, I feel a lot more motivated to see where it takes me.”
Both Jamie MacLaurin and Rupert Svendsen-Cook are co-founders of Veloce Esports, and both have backgrounds in sports management and real-world motorsport. Rupert even had his own racing career with success both behind-the-wheel and in business consultancy. They also have their own dedicated office space for the esports team in Central London, with state-of-the-art facilities from sim-rigs on console to a full-motion 200-degree professional racing simulator. Not only does this allow their drivers to train and compete from within the office, they can even make use of it for livestreams and content creation to help develop their brand and identity as influencers. There’s certainly nothing else quite like it in the racing esports scene.
“A lot of big organizations have come through the sim racing community over the past year or two, but Veloce is the only company that seems truly committed to our esport,” Nyman believes. “Between our partnerships with companies like Logitech and Playseat, and the relationships we have with high profile drivers and teams like Sauber Esports, it’s safe to say that Veloce has done a lot to grow our community. At the moment, things inside of the team are changing and expanding so quickly, and I’m just happy to be along for the ride.”
“F4H was the perfect place for me to start my career on Forza esports, but with that being said – Veloce has completely rewritten what I thought was possible from an esports team at this time,” Tobin says. “Big things are happening all the time and it's hugely exciting!”
Tobin currently studies Business Management at the University of Plymouth in Devon, England. He’s naturally a fresher after his Sixth Form studies, but he remains eager for the future of ForzaRC – as well as a break from all the practise so he can focus on both his course and his first-year at University. Interestingly, this also has a tie-in with esports as well, since understanding areas like general business and economics can be crucial for a successful esports career, on top of natural skill and talent. This will certainly benefit Tobin over the years to come, especially as the ForzaRC continues to expand and develop.
“I feel that this season for me was really just preparation for what's to come,” he explains. “With such a huge clash in Series 1, I've been constantly on the back foot for the entire season. I can't wait for what's to come – all the stuff I'm hearing is absolutely spot on what we need.”
Alan is the co-founder and co-owner of FullThrottle Media. As someone who enjoys spending all his free time playing video games, he delivers the latest in news stories, reviews, and feature articles to the website, as well as videos on his YouTube channel and livestreams over on Mixer.