Online fitness platform Zwift is today hosting the first race in a new cycling esports invitational series, the Zwift Grand Prix.
The new series will feature six new event formats that have “never been seen before in cycling”, said Zwift, prioritizing strategic thinking, competitive skill, teamwork, and viewing pleasure.
The series is part of a wider strategy to drive forward the development of cycling esports as a discipline during 2022/3, culminating in a new event format for the 2023 UCI Cycling Esports World Championships, taking place on the Zwift platform in February.
A total of 24 teams have been selected to take part in the inaugural series, which will see equal fields, the same race formats, and equal prize money for both men and women.
Round One begins today, Friday 23rd September at 6pm UTC, and will see the racers compete in over five short-format events.
The ‘Parcours Picker’ is a team-based point competition, with points accrued over all five races, with double points in the final race. Team captains must use a different member of their five-rider team in each of the five rounds, and each individual performance will contribute to the overall success of the team.
Nathan Guerra, founder of Zwift Community Live, and commentator for the Zwift Grand Prix, said: “Two things really stand out to me in this first round of the Zwift Grand Prix Series. Firstly, this new format of competition provides the opportunity for teams to let their whole roster shine.
“It will be interesting to see how teams play their cards according to the predicted matchups and courses in store. As spectators, we will be able to see the strengths of every individual, in every team. That’s unique. Cycling is a team sport but it’s usually the all-star rider that gets the recognition from fans because they cross the line first. It’s easy to overlook the efforts of the team that got them in a position to win.
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“Secondly, this series clearly aims to meet the needs of both the rider and the spectator. High risk to reward scenarios, embedded meaningfully in a larger tournament competition, helps deliver on making this an exciting format to watch but also keeps the racing fresh for the riders.
“As we see in round one, there are opportunities that provide each individual the chance to really show what they can do. It’s experimental, but this test comes out of many years of discovery to find the ingredients that will help cycling and esports to synergize. I’m looking forward to seeing how it all unfolds this season!”
Full season schedule:
Round 1 – Trail Picker
Men: Friday, September 23 @ 6 pm UTC, Women: Friday, September 30 @ 6 pm UTC
Round 2 – Team Elimination Omnium
Men: Friday, October 7 @ 6 pm UTC, Women: Friday, October 14 @ 6 pm UTC
Round 3 – Squad Skirmish
Men: Friday, October 21 @ 6 pm UTC, Women: Friday, October 28 @ 6 pm UTC
Round 4 – Points Elimination Reverse
Men: Friday, November 18 @ 7 pm UTC, Women: Friday, November 25 @ 7 pm UTC
Round 5 – Team Elimination Omnium
Men: Friday, December 2 @ 7 pm UTC, Women: Friday, December 9 @ 7 pm UTC
Round 6 – Individual Relay
Men: Friday, January 13 @ 7 pm UTC, Women: Friday, January 20 @ 7 pm UTC
Men and Women: Late March (TBD)
All races will be streamed live on the Zwift YouTube channel.