In September ESPN agreed with the Drone Racing League to broadcast a 10 episode season on ESPN and ESPN2. In June 2017 the 16 best players will participate in the brand-new, multimillion competition called Allianz World Championship Series.
But what exactly is Drone Racing League?
Drone Racing Takes off
The Drone Racing League is a fast-paced, new and emerging e-sport that is quickly taking over in this genre. This up-and-coming sport has the players controlling small Unmanned aerial vehicles( UAVs), and putting them through the test in various courses and tracks.
DRL pilots are equipped with headset displays that show the live feed from the drone they are controlling. As for the league itself goes, it has a pretty simple rule book, which has changed slightly during its short existence.
The league supplies the players with their own drones at the competitions, as well as backup drones and reserve parts, so the players get an equal opportunity. This is a good and smart way to make it more competitive and interesting, and give a chance for even the biggest underdog to defeat the favourite.
As for the favourite players, the best ones to keep an eye for are Zoomas, Flyingbear and Furadi. If these names sound silly and non-professional to you, remember that this is a multimillion sport, which ESPN and Sky are pumping a lot of money in to get the upper hand.
Mainstream Sport or Passing Fad?
Many people compare the DRL to WWE(World Wrestling Entertainment) at its beginning, an unconventional and innovative sport, taking the world by storm. The sport, which is fairly young, has already made a big push to become mainstream as there are a couple of major competitions headlining the league as well as the aforementioned TV-series, that began last year.
The TV-series differs from the tournaments, as it has pre-edited footage, which is taken from the players headset and put together so the viewers can follow the action more easily. It features 25 players, who make their drones go through crazy obstacles at speeds up to 80 miles per hour.
It also features a ‘story’ in its sense, where players talk and share their secrets, events, interviews, which makes the show more personal and makes the viewers root for the players they have chosen.
As for the courses, DRL organisers have made original and creative obstacles, which vary from a laboratory course in New York, to a paper mill in Ohio and an auto plant in Detroit. As this article is being written, it is estimated that the first season brought in more than 30 million viewers.
The biggest tournament held so far was the Dubai World Drone Prix in March, where in an exciting race, a 15 year old Luke Bannister managed to defy odds and win the 250,000 dollar first prize. Dubai was the first competition of this scale and a good sign for where the sport is going.
Drone Racing Looks to the Future
After the Dubai Prix, the first World Drone Racing Championship was held in Hawaii on the island of O’ahu, which once was the set for the Jurassic Park movies, and finally, the biggest of them all, the Allianz World Championship Series, which is coming this year, and promises to push the boundaries of drone racing.
The new, DRL custom designed drones will push even further and above 90 miles per hour(150 kmh). The Allianz World Championship Series will become a world cup per-se, and will put the brightest of spotlights on this sport so far.
Drones are no longer the thing of the future which exist only in sci-fi novels and movies. They are already here, and more common than most people think. As new e-sport genres are emerging, the Drone Racing League seems to be one of the more promising ones in the newest online media business which is built for the internet generation, and one day it is not so impossible that it will hold its ground with the e-sports giants like LOL, Call of Duty or Counter Strike.
It seems that Nicholas Horbaczewki, the chief executive and founder of the league, knows perfectly well the capabilities of this sport, and it is safe under his control. All that is left for us is to sit back, put the vr headset on, and enjoy the ride.