The 11 competitors who will take part in this year’s MotoGP eSport Championship have been revealed ahead of the first Global Series round tomorrow, including four rookies.
The major change to the rider lineup is that defending champion Adrian Montenegro has moved from Red Bull KTM to Repsol Honda.
In the 2020 Global Series, Adrian Montenegro won five of the eight races and will be the favourite for many to win the championship this year and take home the winner’s prize, a BMW road car.
Although it’s worth noting that he wasn’t the best performing player in the Pro Draft – a process that consisted of four online time trial challenges. If you did well enough in a challenge then you would earn points and if you scored enough points across all four online challenges then you would be eligible for selection by one of the MotoGP teams.
The top 16 players from Europe and the top six from the rest of the world qualified. Astonishingly two players in the rest of the world category scored the maximum 100 points from the online challenges.
Australian Christopher Telep, known as MrTftw, set the fastest time in every single online challenge on Xbox One whilst Mulkanarizky Kane, username Sanshoqueen, from Malaysia was on top on PC.
Both are undoubtedly impressive achievements but Telep and Kane were helped by only having to compete against other players from outside of Europe.
Whilst Kane did come first in every time trial in his category, his best lap times were often a few tenths of a second behind the fastest European players.
Telep will be riding an Avintia Ducati while Kane is riding for Petronas Yamaha SRT – the teams they both rode for last year.
In the PC European leaderboards defending champion, Adrian Montenegro topped two of them with previous champions Lorenzo Daretti and Andrea Saveri the fastest in the first and last online challenge respectively.
Saveri, better known as AndrewZh, remains with Ducati Lenovo for a third consecutive year. Despite a 2020 campaign marred by a number of on-track incidents, the 2019 champion is still one of the favourites to take this year’s drivers’ title.
Similarly, fellow Italian Daretti, who goes by trast73, will continue to race for Yamaha as he has done since 2019.
Daretti is the only person to have won more than one MotoGP eSport championship as he took both the 2017 and 2018 titles. He was a mere two points away from the top in 2019 and last season he was the runner up in the championship and won both of the final two races.
Whilst no one is a match for the Yamaha rider in terms of previous accolades, there is still one other 2020 Global Series race winner who will make the starting grid this year.
Cristian Montenegro, the younger brother of last year’s champion Adrian, will be with Suzuki for a third consecutive year having come close to winning a championship with them in previous years.
In 2019 Cristian Montenegro placed third in the championship, only five points behind champion Saveri. More recently he won the Malaysian round of the 2020 Global Series, leading a Montenegro 1-2.
Juan Antonio Nunez, who goes by Juan_nh16, is the last returning name to the 2021 grid as he made the switch from Tech3 KTM to Aprilia.
In the two previous years, Nunez finished fourth in the championship and last year finished on the podium in two of the eight races.
Finally, there are four rookies who will complete the 11 strong rider lineup, all of which are relatively unknown quantities.
Piero Ricciuti joins LCR Honda as the youngest competitor at just 17 years old and will make his full-time debut after stepping in for the final round in 2020 as a reserve rider for the team.
On that occasion, he finished 10th in both races, but he was the second-highest scoring European player in the Pro Draft phase so a big upturn in form would not be a surprise.
The remaining three players all qualified using an Xbox One with Pramac’s Riccardo Bottaro as the highest-scoring player in the European Pro Draft, getting a total of 95 points out of a maximum of 100.
He set the fastest time in three of the four online challenges with the other leaderboard topper also being selected by a team.
That other person is Jack Hammersley who will be racing for Red Bull KTM after finishing ninth in the overall Pro Draft results.
Finally, Matteo Mazzucchelli, known as DarkBright, was the last to be selected by one of the 11 teams. He’ll be representing Tech3 KTM after finishing inside the top five in all of the online challenges in the Xbox category.
The first round of the 2021 MotoGP eSport Global Series will take place tomorrow and feature a race around Algarve and Mugello.