From celebratory swerves to a flick across the line, it was with a flourish that CAR Laige earned victory in the second season of the ESL Forza Racing Championship. An almost impeccable drive had taken him there, two race wins and two pole positions, an epic consistency marred by only a single error. It had been a small slip up, but one that at this level of competition could just have cost him the title.
Over 75,000 people tuned in to the ForzaRC Grand Finals. The pressure was huge, the races close, and with $10,000 for the series champion, reputations were not all that was on the line. This was motorsport at its most enthralling, a tense and hard-fought display of all the skill, luck and brilliance that it takes to become the best.
Three tracks would set the stage: The gruelling Grand West layout at Virginia, Catalunya’s racer’s paradise and the legendary Laguna Seca. On the asphalt, sixteen of the world’s best virtual drivers tested their mettle in the hopes of making Forza Motorsport history. Each racing in the knowledge that there is only space for one on that top step of the podium.
CAR Laige won the first and second rounds followed closely by his long held rival, CAR Lightning. The two had finished first and second respectively in the ForzaRC’s first season, and their battle for dominance of the game seemed to, once again, be falling in Laige’s favour. Indeed, with a fourteen point difference between the two and just one bout remaining, even if Lightning secured victory Laige would just need to finish as fourth to win.
And then came the mistake, albeit only a small one. Dropping just two tenths of a second in his qualifying lap, Laige saw his grid position tumble from the pole, which he had so far been accustomed, to an unsatisfying sixth. Lightning, meanwhile, looked strong - posting the fastest lap of the session to start at the head of the pack.
With drivers out of position and the points table open up and down the field, chaos ensued. On track errors abounded as, with pressure amped to fever pitch, each of the drivers zoned in to look after themselves and only themselves. Skill could bring Laige only so far in the competition, now it’s luck’s turn to find us a champion.
Lightning drove spectacularly, pushing his advantage home and never looking threatened in his dominance of the race. But for all his skill he could only do so much. The rest relied on the race as it unfolded behind him. And after leaving the first lap in fourth, Laige battled his heart out to hold on to the lowest position that could possibly give him victory.
So close yet so far away https://t.co/uNxGfoJMfJ— Taylor Stomski (@CAR_Lightnin) December 12, 2016
The rest is history: The fights and the skids, the nudges and the rubs, every race seen so far in the competition boiled down into those ten tense laps around Laguna Seca. Lightning crossed the line for victory, but he only won the battle. The war went to Laige, who did enough and almost nothing more to retain his title as the Champion of the ForzaRC.
“I knew I was everybody’s target this time,” he told us, “since last season people have increased their level of racing. Anything can happen when you are starting from low in the field. I knew I needed to overtake to retain my title. I needed a 4th to be champion again, and that's what I managed to do!”