The first weekend of matches in the Forza Racing Championships Invitational Series kicked off and the talk of the FRC was Williams vs Lazarus vs Redbull Racing. But after this weekend it’s really about the powerful performance and team dynamics of Williams and Redbull Racing. The other element of the FRC Invitational was the new commentary format and improved broadcasting of the series. I think the only negative of the series was the sometimes toxic chat on twitch that would get hung up on inconsequential nonsense. Overall this year’s showing of the ForzaRC is a much-improved experience, even when the race commentary got a bit shaky, you are reminded that Shea Adam is new to esports commentary. But her track and car knowledge of the real world helped inject the series with a real feeling of motorsports and not just some people running laps on a controller with commentary tacked on.
Let’s discuss the action of Match one and how it was Williams Mitch from Race 1 to Race 3 who would clinch first place in every single race in a dominating performance. In this first match, we saw no one held a candle to Williams Mitch. Harmonic, William’s Coach, would talk about how consistently fast Mitch was in practice and testing. Once Mitch drove the Ford GT and they saw how the other cars worked, they put a lot of PI into the Ford GT. The intent was to flat out take the win in the match and try to compete with Redbull Racing in Match 2. This gamble to put it on Mitch would not have paid off without the amazing driving of Williams RR, who is a previous seasons FRC champion. Roadrunner did his job all race securing high points for Williams. The Exotic GT car of Williams SEvEn got the least PI out of the other Williams drivers but he was consistently the faster driver in his class, against cars that had the extra PI, sEvEn would go on to beat them and help secure those extra points to give Williams 107 points in Match 1 of the day! Teamwork paid off and the team ended up scoring more points than any other team in the FRC thus far.
The action in the first match mostly focused around Williams dominating but another aspect of the match that can’t be glossed over is the underwhelming performance of Lazarus. The talent they have on that team left a lot thinking we would watch Williams vs Lazurus in all three races of Match one. Penalties and collisions with some of the other teams in throughout Match one left the LZR team stumbling a bit as we watched Williams take home a solid performance. ForceOne would post to twitter about how the day went and that he believes losing was something that had to happen for the Lazarus team. Forceone and Racerz aren’t the kinds of drivers who take beating themselves lightly. And that’s how this team will take it, regardless of track incidents, they tend to be the more emotional drivers but that emotion and passion is what the other FRC competitors should worry about. Even though Lazarus underperformed you can expect their next match on September 5th to be the complete opposite. Williams should be ready to fight this one out in the trenches come next match when they face off against Lazarus again!
Match two was truly a battle between two phenoms. RBR Laige a proven winner and previous winner of the FRC would battle the ever-diligent driving of Williams Mitch in the next three races. Williams already scored an incredible 107 points. Mitch would give Laige one heck of a battle in Italy as they battled on Mugello. The Ford GT of Mitch proved to be too much for Laige and he ended up getting a warning for avoidable contact with Mitch because he brake checked Mitch to make him lift. This, in turn, made Mitch lose a lot of the ground he had gained to be on Laige’s bumper. The sweat would carry over to Spa where a turn one mix up between two THR racemates resulted in Laige being handed a gift as he went up seven positions but Mitch said that’s where you stop, and then Mitch would guide his Ford GT flawlessly to his fourth First place finish overall for the day. Mitch was truly an unstoppable beast and with that being said, we see Asix show why he was chosen as Redbull Racing’s coach. Laige would not be given the boost in Race 3 but instead the madman bomber himself, b0x would get the boost. This would significantly secure Laige with his second win of the day. And b0x did a perfect job with his Porsche holding back the Ford GT of Mitch. This allowed Laige to creep ahead enough that Mitch wouldn’t catch the Frenchman who was headlong into the wind at Nurb GP. Redbull Racing did a fantastic job and secured 98 points but the efforts and teamwork of Williams were able to hold them to under 100 points. sEvEn placed higher than Venom in the final race and that helped keep RBR out the triple-digit score for the series. Both Redbull and Williams display phenomenal teamwork and coaching. These are the things that make the series this time with the Invitational so damn exciting and fun to experience!
It was troubling to see a team like THR struggle but it was also the same for RZM. Team Highlands Racing and Ryze Motorsports both had coaches driving for absent drivers. This did play a key factor in the performance and outcome of the team results. When you send your best drivers and task your best drivers to race in the highest echelon of the Forza esports, it’s a bit disappointing to see these performances due to drivers not being present for the races they are asked (if not even contracted to do.) You aren’t competing for a TORA title or some community event. You are competing for the biggest cash prize in all of Forza Motorsports competitive racing. I hope we see an improvement from these teams because they have drivers and coaches who are very familiar and intimate with Forza. Teammates taking each other out and subpar driving with excessive contact are excusable in round one. Much like Lazurus there is still hope for these two teams, as well, with two more rounds at redemption and to prove they deserve to be a part of the FRC Invitational.
While I glossed on about the poor performances I want to point out the strong performances of two drivers of two teams that are underdogs in their given matches. FRF, Fast Racers Forza, and RDE, Red Dragon Esports, did not come in last in points and had two drivers who shined brightly in a field of very talented drivers. FRF Handicap in races 2 & 3 would place both times on the podium. Race 1 he was close to that feat but Catalunya was a chaotic start that made him have to dig a bit harder to make up for contact with erratic driving around him. Then in Round two, we see RDE Hydra sticking his Viper beside the top talents of Williams and Redbull Racing. While RDE struggled a bit with their other young talent Chazmo, the 15-year-old Forza prodigy took to the big stage and impressed the community and broadcast team with his exceptional skill level against, arguably, the most stacked field as RBR vs Williams was basically another version of giants battling from Round one of Williams vs Lazarus (rematch September 5th!) We see the age and time that player like Laige has put into the game and to see Hydra somewhat keeping pace with other drivers of that caliber is easily one of the best things about Forza.
The broadcast side of things was already a big improvement over last year. The ForzaRC brought in new talent and one of the first new people we met first was LeTigress who setup the talking points for our analysts Brian Mechberg, Andy Flipmode and the always lovable, and fan favorite, Aaron Mellish. Not sure if Flipmode was nervous or just was hangry but he seemed a bit off in his analytical points. I chalk it up to nervousness and being on the BIGGEST Forza stage you can be as a commentator. I think we will see Andy ease a bit more into it and figure things out as the weeks go on. The analysis and talking points were all spot on and even made the adjudication phase a little less boring as we got some good insight and were told about things to watch for in the upcoming races.
Shea Adams did a great job as someone who never did commentary on an esports motorsport. She may not have been clearly informed of the series format with the multiclass racing and the PI structure used to build the race cars if I had to guess. Having done community commentary in the Forza world I can understand her nervousness and uncertainty as you try to figure out this new medium of entertainment. I do think over the next couple of weeks we will see real nice chemistry happen with Shea and Alie. I like how they banter and somewhat bicker. Her real-world knowledge coupled with Alie’s Forza knowledge is like the perfect grilled cheese sandwich. While the chat gave her a hard time I have seen this community be a lot worse than this about something they do to each other all the time. When you are the new kid on the block talking shit, no one likes it. But Shea knows her stuff and if she can be pushed in the right direction with ForzaRC, then I can see a really good thing with her and Alie calling the action.
Overall I’m glad I was able to write about the return of this amazing esport that is truly community-driven and inspired. Alie was talking about comments from the chat and you even caught glimpses of the legendary Raceboy77, who has taken his Forza career to great heights, as well. Over the next 7 weeks, we will see three rounds and each round is over two weekends. The 7th week is the last chance qualifier. That happens the weekend before the two day final in Burbank, California. A LAN competition and a slice of the $250,000 prize pool are waiting for the finalists come November 23-24. Be sure to catch the next 7 weeks of intense competition every Saturday at 10 am Pacific on the Forza channel over on Twitch. Be sure to check out both Forza Motorsports & ForzaRC twitter accounts for up to date information about the ForzaRC Invitational. I hope to see you in chat!
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