Report: Williams Esports' weekend at ESL R1 Saudi Arabia

Published on
03 Aug 2023
Est. reading time
6 Min

A difficult weekend with highs and lows for the team at Gamers8

Media Day kicked off our time in Riyadh, with the team involved in several pre-event activities. Everything from interviews and challenges to driver photos and gift unboxings kick-started our time at the incredible Gamers8 venue.
This was the biggest SimRacing Esports event in recent times. The production was highly professional with everything the team did in front of the camera, resulting in a massive boost of exposure.
All eyes, including those of the global brands, were focused on the event and its $1,000,000 prize pool.

Day 1 | Thursday – Driver Group Stages (48 drivers)

Kuba Brzezinski (Poland) made it through the groups to the finals with a P2 and P3 – finished P10 in the championship.

Kuba carried good pace and confidence throughout the group stages and kept himself high up the field and competitive, not to mention battling for the lead on lap 1 of race 1D in Hockenheim – going 3 wide into turns 2 and 4, successfully making the move down the inside of 2 cars.
He raced our main competitors in the championship, R8G and Mouz, all the way to the chequered line on the final lap at Monza in Race 2D.

Dáire McCormack (Republic of Ireland) was knocked out of the groups with a P6 and a P4 – finishing P20 and outside of the top 12.

Dáire had the potential for good results, but luck wasn’t on his side and struggled in his two qualifying sessions, sadly lacking his true performance.
Despite fighting through the field on multiple occasions and showing he could get to the top during the races, with only 8 – 10 laps of racing, his small mistakes throughout both Qualifying and Race sessions cost him.
As a result, he couldn’t grab the positions in enough time with the harsh tournament format. His first race at Nurburgring saw him start at the back, after invalidating his Quali lap.
However, off the line, he went from P12 to P10 and by Lap 2 he was going for P8 and continued to defend that position until the final lap.
Here he caught up with G. Carroll from Mercedes-AMG Petronas on the final corner before the chequered flag to overtake for P7 on the line and was awarded P6 soon after penalties were applied to the car ahead.
In Race 2 he qualified P4 at Spa and remained P4, after keeping his consistency and pace together the whole race, chasing behind the top three, trying for a few moves, but no significant action through the seven laps.

Daniel Pásztor (Slovakia) was knocked out of the groups with a P10 and P7 – finishing P37 and out of the top 12.

Daniel made his debut in the ESL R1 on Thursday, a completely new challenge for him.
He was slowly finding his feet through the sessions, displaying some promising potential with his race craft and driving ability.
Daniel was qualifying and racing near the midfield without making much movement towards the front in the races, keeping in the 6th – 9th range with other cars.
In Race 1, Daniel thoroughly got himself involved in the action around Monza and was looking to catch up to the front pack, going side by side with multiple cars for nearly a whole lap.
He'd make the move stick on two cars simultaneously for P7, before being spun out of the race by a competitor soon after.
Race 2 at the Nurburgring again saw him in the midfield battling proactively and gaining two positions from P9, as well as showing us his skills in dodging spinning cars!

Jack Keithley (Great Britain) was knocked out of the groups with a P10 and a P9 – finishing P38 and out of the top 12.

Like Daniel, this was also Jack’s first LAN event in ESL R1! He put in a big effort for the team straight away.
By Qualifying in P6 for Race 1, he started off the day well. Unfortunately, he was caught up in an incident through Turn 1 on Lap 1 around Spa, which he couldn’t escape.
He dropped down to the back of the pack but recovered to P10 at the end of the race due to penalties from others, scoring a handful of points in the championship.
Race 2 at Hockenheim wasn’t an ideal start, slightly drifting outside the runoff kerb and into the dirt on the final turn, Qualifying P10 of 12.
Off the line, the race was slow and he kept his position whilst keeping with the pack ahead. By the third time around, Jack was already closing in and nudging doors with four cars, leading them into a competitive and hard multi-car battle for P8 and nearly coming out on top after a tense two laps.
He showed everyone his experience and how he can race well in a very difficult championship! In the end, he had crossed the line P9, up one place.

Day 2 | Friday – Driver Final (12 Drivers)

Kuba secured P10 in the Drivers’ Championship and Won $12,500.
Race 1: Spa – Qualified P12 | Race P10 Race 2: Nurburgring – Qualified P11 | Race P11 Race 3: Hockenheim – Qualified P10 | Race P10 Race 4: Monza – Qualified P8 | Race P8 Race 5: Monza – Qualified P10 | Race P7 Race 6: Nurburgring – Qualified P10 | Race P8

Day 3 | Saturday – Team Group Stage (48 Drivers/12 Teams)

The team headed into Day 3 as if it was a fresh start, ready to go better than Day 1 – determined to reach the Finals together.
Saturday started well, taking a victory in the first race and a P4 in Race 2 with McCormack around Monza and Nurburgring, placing us in P2 of the standings.
With Daire’s performance inspiring the rest of the team and providing us with a great deal of momentum, we looked forward with high hopes!
Throughout the remainder of the group stages, however, the competition became more difficult race by race and our drivers unfortunately found themselves struggling in a tight field.
Despite their best efforts, we ultimately lost championship positions, dropping down to P7 at the end of the last race.
P7 in the Teams Championship and knocked out of the top 6 finalists by five points in the last race.
Dáire McCormack Race 1: Monza – Qualified P3 | Race P1 Race 2 : Nurburgring – Qualified P4 | Race P4
Jack Keithley Race 3: Hockenheim – Qualified P6 | Race P8 Race 4: Spa – Qualified P9 | Race P8
Kuba Brzezinski Race 5: Monza – Qualified P12 | Race P7 Race 6: Hockenheim – Qualified P5 | Race P4
Daniel Pásztor Race 7: Nurburgring – Qualified P6 | Race P9 Race 8: Spa – Qualified P9 | Race P9

Day 4 | Sunday – Eliminated

Although the team hadn’t progressed into the final for Sunday, during the weekend, Williams Esports had a fan work an amazing mural piece of art: Kuba Brzezinski’s Mercedes-AMG Car by Spanish Artist Xavi Guerra -@xaviespartist!
This creation won the ESL R1 Gamers8 Most Creative Fan Award for the team and was seen by thousands after being shared in every direction.
Xavi’s incredible efforts meant he and the team had not only won $25,000 but also the attention of many!
The team was also awarded an additional $5,000 for coming 4th place in the Best Team Content Award throughout all four days of the event, including live broadcasts, cinematic short videos, vlogs, articles, photos, memes, clips and graphics!
All of Williams Esports' content from the ESL R1 Gamers8 Saudi Arabia can be found on our social platforms: @williamsesports
As the mid-season closes, we’ll be looking ahead to the fall season in Winter as we get underway again soon!
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