From Virtual to Physical Racing!

How a MotoGP eSports Championship rider experiences MotoGP

interview esports

From Virtual to Physical Racing!

Another year and the ever-popular MotoGP eSports Championship season is once again under way. Despite the worldwide situation, Team Suzuki Ecstar eSports rider, Cristian Sanchez is training as he usually does, battling for top positions in a calendar formed of 4 Global Series rounds and 8 races, and aiming for the title.

Back in the virtual saddle for the second consecutive season in the MotoGP eSports Championship with Team Suzuki Ecstar in collaboration with Williams eSports, Cristian lets us know about his experience with the team so far…
“In 2019 I chose the Suzuki bike on the MotoGP game because I saw that Suzuki’s 2018 season rider got amazing treatment from the team. My brother Adrián is another Global Series rider, and he also chose it. I really liked the idea of being together in the same team. Team Suzuki Ecstar is also like a family, from the very first moment they treat you like one of them. As I said, the treatment is amazing, Joan and Alex are also super nice and friendly. I have only words of gratitude from my side.”

 

Becoming a top class eSports rider is not easy, it takes a lot of commitment and skill, but for these Spanish brothers their participation in the Global Series almost happened by accident; “I just started playing with my brother at home for fun; just to see who was able to get more points. When we realised that we were actually fast, we didn’t know if we were good enough for the World Championship, but in 2017 we managed to classify, and since then we’ve both classified every single year (4 years in a row now). I’m very happy about this and I’ve fought for victories and won races every year.”
 

Team Suzuki Ecstar is like a family, from the very first moment they treat you like one of them.

For some people there is a misconception that it’s merely a video game far removed from real life, but it’s surprising how much detail is involved in MotoGP eSports regarding bike features, riding style, bike evolutions and setup. The virtual riders are living an intense racing experience where something like choosing the wrong bike settings can make or break a race, or even a Championship.

“Obviously we do not reach the concentration levels or heart rate that actual riders have, because it’s much less physical. But in my case, every time I have a race, I get very nervous and I can’t eat anything 3 or 4 hours before the race. It’s a feeling that I hate, but when I’m not racing for a long time, I really miss it. I guess Alex and Joan might experience a similar feeling but in the end it’s much less intense for us because we don’t risk injury.”


Since the MotoGP20 video game has been made as close to reality as possible, Cristian is starting to feel curious and keen to try the experience of riding a racing motorcycle.
I would really like to try it! The realism of the video game has made me very intrigued. It would be amazing to feel how it is to take a corner at 180km/h or push to 300km/h on the straight, but I’m not sure about my ability!” He laughs.

For some people there is a misconception that it’s merely a video game far removed from real life, but it’s surprising how much detail is involved in MotoGP eSports regarding bike features, riding style, bike evolutions and setup.

So Cristian confessed that before each race he feels pressure and nerves, and these emotions are quite similar to what the actual riders feel on the grid. Perhaps for this reason he really relates to the MotoGP World Championship when he watches it on TV…
“Yeah, especially when you are crossing the finish line and winning - it’s amazing! Or even the feelings before the race, and when you crash... I guess it’s like what the real riders feel. I feel everything when I’m watching on TV, and even more deeply when I’m in the paddock and Team Suzuki Ecstar give me the opportunity to be inside the pit box. I can really feel how focused Alex and Joan are; the stress of the team during the race and the joy after a good result!”

 

Not only does he love being in the paddock watching the actual MotoGP races, but also for the eSports races which take place in specially made structures at the circuits. Does he feel more pressure when racing at the tracks rather than at home?
“I love being in the paddock and racing there but I do feel a lot of pressure. In the end I have to learn to love that feeling. I really enjoy  when I go on stage - the lights, the sound, everybody watching and cheering. I get very nervous but it motivates me more. Here, at home, I’m calmer, but the pressure and the nerves are still there. In the end I’d rather be on the stage celebrating with everybody. I hope to be able to go Valencia this year but we’ll have to wait and see. The dream would be to win the title there and celebrate with all of Team Suzuki Ecstar”

 

The most important thing in the racing world, apart from winning, is the evolution of the motorcycle, striving to achieve the most balanced package between bike and rider. As Cristian mentioned before, the video game is quite realistic, so if you’ve ever wondered how the game keeps up with the development of the actual motorcycles, here is your answer: “It does evolve from one year to another. If we compare the 2019 game with the 2020 game, the Suzuki machine doesn’t turn as well as it did on last year’s game, but it really has more horsepower when accelerating. But for me it’s not a matter of bike evolution but the evolution of the game. From 2019 to 2020 the riding style has changed a lot! Last year it was way softer, this season the game asks you to ride in a more aggressive way, it doesn’t depend so much on the bike. Of course, each bike has its own characteristics, but in the end, you have to be more aggressive with all the factory machines because if you don’t, you won’t get the lap time.”

From Virtual to Physical Racing!

Many of the MotoGP World Championship riders play the MotoGP video game to learn or remember the circuits. Cristian, as well as the actual riders, know all the tracks off by heart. But has he learnt anything about the game from watching the MotoGP riders?
“I love watching Mir’s riding style, Joan is super precise, it seems like he is going slow but for sure he rides super fast! I would like to ride like him but in the virtual world it’s very hard, as well as in the real world! You can try to imitate it but it doesn’t really work, you have to create your own style. ”

 

Team Suzuki Ecstar are very happy to have Cristian continuing on their eSports team in collaboration with Williams eSports, and so far his results have been impressive. This is a mutual feeling as Cristian explained “For me it’s a real feeling of pride to be Suzuki’s visible face in the eSports Championship. It’s a team that I love, as I said before. Everything it represents, the treatment you get from the employees. You can even see it on Social Media; Suzuki launched an initiative under the hashtag #SuzukiFaces, where they tried to get closer to the fans, which is a very positive point to me. They always think of the best way to make you feel welcome. I love Team Suzuki Ecstar and I’m very comfortable when I talk to them, I have a lot of fun. That’s why when I lose a race, I feel more sorry for the team than for myself, they count on me and I don’t like to let them down! I want to win for them!” 

 

Summing up the season so far , Cristian’s results have been P4 and P8 in Round 1, and P2 and P1 in Round 2.  He currently ranks second in the World Championship, 29 points behind his brother Adrián.

Cristian will be back on the virtual track on October 30th for Round 3 (Race 5 in Misano and Race 6 in Phillip Island) of the eSports Championship.

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