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Formula 1 esports looks to China for growth as first championship final takes place in Shanghai

Formula 1 esports looks to China for growth as first championship final takes place in Shanghai

Last weekend saw the culmination of the first Formula 1 esports championship to take place in the largest esports market in the world, China.  

The world-famous Shanghai Stadium saw 100 racers from across the country take part in a two-day event. This group was then whittled down to 40 for the start of day two and 20 for the final two races, raising the stakes at each stage.

The prize on offer for the top two performers were places in the F1 Esports Pro Draft in London and the likes of Renault Vitality driver, Jarno Opmeer, were present to offer their support. Renault Driver Academy and F2 driver Guanyu Zhou was also there as part of the commentary team, guiding viewers on HUYA through the action. 

Interest was high, as maybe would be expected from the largest esports nation in the world, reaching 1.6m concurrent viewers at its peak. The Grand Final built on the success of regional qualifying events which saw 10,000 registrations, with 5,000 participants playing across 6 cities and over 6m people tuning in to watch. 

In the end Tang Tianyu took home the trophy and a 135,000 CNY cash prize, with Yuan Yifan taking second place and booking his ticket to London later this year.  

There is no guarantee either of the two Chinese drivers will be picked during the draft but with the popularity of both F1 and gaming in the country, you would expect certainly one, if not both, to be part of the F1 Pro Series come the summertime.  

Last season’s Pro Series saw a 76% increase in online viewership to 5.8m and 27m online video views as David Tonizza took home the title for Ferrari in his, and their, first season. No dates have been announced for 2020 yet but it promises to be tighter than ever as the teams settle down after a baptism of fire in 2019.  

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