The week two / season two challenge at the ESL Forza Racing Championship will surely stand as one of the hardest yet in the ForzaRC. Negotiating the broad shoulders of an Audi RS6 estate is no easy task at the best of times, let alone through the technical Catalunya, Laguna and Brands race circuits. But a tough week highlights brilliant competitors which we found in abundance.
Racing skill and inch-perfect accuracy were the name of the game in week two. And, while bumps were traded and liveries scratched, rarely was the line overstepped between aggression and desperation. It was racing on the edge, tough, at times even brutal, but a battle of craft rather than force — of on-track judgement not foolhardiness.
Wheel-to-wheel combat takes incredible skill, and we were keen to learn more. So ESL sat down with previous French Champion, Winner of the Race for the Record, Runner-Up at the ESL e-Race and, as the previous winner of week two, ForzaRC Season 2 Grand Finalist, BAM ASIX13. It was great to talk race craft with this legend of Forza Motorsport, but we also took the chance to get to know a driver who is bound to be one of the strongest competitors.
ASIX is no newcomer to the Forza Motorsport scene. Carving a reputation for himself on the Xbox 360 in the third instalment of the game, he has won championships, a world record and even a car - A 2016 Ford Mustang GT. After joining BAM e-Sport in 2014 he has developed into a dominant challenger in all major Forza Motorsport events.
But it was only a few months ago in the first season of the ForzaRC that, despite starting strong, a podium slipped narrowly through the frenchman’s grasp. An experience that ASIX, whose name is Alex, admits gave even him pause to reassess the way he drives and his race craft around others. “I was too kind on my defence and attack and that made me lose third place.”
If season one was a disappointment for ASIX, it was one that brought him back to his motorsport roots, to Senna, Prost and Lewis Hamilton. As ASIX said of the reigning F1 champion, “I really like Lewis because he is so aggressive and also calm when he has to be. Not the best in qualification, but in the race he's a real monster. He is an inspiration for me and I learn from him.”
At the highest level in Forza, ASIX told us, it is not always the fastest driver that wins. The X-factor that makes a real winner in this competition is in a driver’s ability to read the moves of the other racers on the track. “It is in the braking and in your capacity to anticipate an opponent’s moves,” he explained.
ASIX’s one-time team mate at BAM e-Sport, B0xxx, showed amazing track awareness to take victory last Sunday. Now racing for eSPORTS+CARS, B0xxx’s three consecutive second place finishes allowed him to dominate the overall scoreboard. And he will be joining ASIX in the final alongside last Sunday’s second place finisher CAR Chemical, third DTM Lionel E46 and fourth CAR Zermatt.
Between their current drivers and alumni, the BAM e-Sport team are set to make an impressive showing during season two of the ESL Forza Racing Championship. As ASIX told us, “I joined BAM when the Xbox One came out. Back then I couldn’t buy one, so they proposed a contract and they helped me buy it. BAM are wonderful, you're not just a part of a team, you're part of a family and that's the big point.”
For ASIX, as with all of the contestants, preparation will be key for bringing home the grand prize. “Me and my teammates share all our information and experience with each other all the time,” he explained. “I am supporting my teammates of course at 1000% but I already qualified for the final, so I am training with the car at all the final’s circuits.”
“My biggest rival has been the same since I started playing Forza; Laige,” ASIX continued. Just for now though, his rival has the upper hand — “I finished second behind Laige recently at the Formula-e challenge by ESL” — ASIX is looking to change that. And with Laige having also won automatic qualification to the ForzaRC Season 2 grand final, it will only be a few weeks until we get to see how the two match up.
Our chat with ASIX demonstrated how even the drivers, at the very pinnacle of Forza Motorsport 6, are still developing. That after wins and losses, these incredible racers remain ready to reexamine the way they drive, to make themselves faster, smarter or more competitive. Perhaps indeed it is this very ability, to always come back to the basics, that allows these rare racers to exceed all others.
Can’t wait for the next race at the ESL ForzaRC? Make sure that you tune in this week, 11am Pacific / 8pm CET to see who will be joining ASIX, B0xxx and Laige in the ESL Forza Racing Championship Grand Final. And be sure to follow ESL Forza on both Twitter and Facebook for tournament news and updates.