Legendary esports team Fnatic made the surprise announcement yesterday of bringing former Mercedes F1 boss Nick Fry into their team as their brand new commercial and strategic adviser heading into 2018. The move went to solidify the position that esports has in the world and what could happen in the future, and I speculate that this could be the easiest step to bring Fnatic into a simracing position.
By no means would they the first company to do so as FA Racing G2 pioneered the move followed swiftly with the F1 2017 team of Veloce Esports who burst into the market signing the likes of James “Limitless” Doherty however in terms of mainstream push, Fnatic keep proving why they are one of the top esport teams in the world. With accolades such as being the 2011 League of Legends World Champions, majors victories in CS:GO at Dreamhack, Katowice and Cologne in 2015 as well as a semi final run to The International in 2016 on DOTA 2, Fnatic showcase themselves as one of the big name players in any field they enter.
However what I think Fry brings to the table is a knowledge and understanding not just on how to promote esports and brands in general but I think he could be the foundation for a simracing team and could be a major factor into why Fnatic would get into the business. FA Racing are already proving that the chances for moves has been there and when you consider the top prizes in simracing have been equal to the likes of Rocket League in 2017, simracing would have a massive uplift if Fnatic decided to join.
Fnatic have also proved that they don’t need to be bound to area either which makes getting into the business a lot easier. Fnatic are London based with housing in Germany and Malaysia for some of their more important teams so it wouldn’t surprise me to see Fnatic make a move anywhere they like.
The most likely scenario that will be placed on the table would be to sign their own team up however with Blancpain already far into preparations and the same with the iRacing World Championship Grand Prix Series, it would be difficult for Fnatic to find a relevant way in early that would make a big impact unless they decided to buy out a team.
Apex Racing UK would be the favourites to make this move with the astute business skills that Alex Simpson holds. If Alex sold Apex to Fnatic, it would free up more time to focus down the development of his broadcasting company while also giving a great platform to some of the most underrated drivers at the highest level such as Marcus Jensen. In a sense, it would be a win win situation for all parties involved.
Vendaval are the hottest team right now in simracing proven with victories and top five finishes all across January to put them top of the iRankings as of week 4 with 5 drivers inside of the top 6. The nature of how FA Racing have signed with Bolukbasi and how close in terms of camaraderie Vendaval and CoRe are and have been through Sekrit would go to showcase a bond that you could drag a lot of relatable skills if you buy out the hottest team in the world.
The last name I would put in the hat for now would be Evolution Racing Team who have made all the right steps and look promising for 2018. They have a whole host of roster members who can dice and dissect in any which way, shape or form with powerful footholds in F1, Blancpain, V8’s and many more areas. Not only that but they showcase a lot of cross-platform appeal with drivers such as Wisniewski, Brzezinski, Maguire and Brewer all in the team with a lot more potential to next come along.
The size of the roster would be the only thing really holding back the team a little but with also real world drivers like Anton De Pasquale in the V8 Supercars next year and Benny Simonsen too, what more could you ask for out of a team that could market an Australian revolution in simracing?
Ultimately though, all of this at this current juncture is merely speculation but I could easily see Fnatic coming in, signing some great drivers and making a full onslaught in the simracing world behind the foundations of Nick Fry who was instrumental in helping Brawn F1 pick up an unlikely title with Jenson Button IF they wanted to. I could also see a nice route in for someone like Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg or even Jenson Button to decide to get involved in the same way that Fernando Alonso has done, bringing more legitimacy to the sport.
How Fnatic will decide to move forward is Fnatic’s decision alone, and what move they look to make could be sending major shockwaves throughout 2018 as the scales start to tip on the esport invasion.