Last year they gathered to compete for the most prized job in Esports racing, in 2018 the World’s Fastest Gamer finalists are continuing to showcase their ability, both virtually and in real life.

Dutchman Rudy van Buren defeated 11 rivals to win last year’s World’s Fastest Gamer competition and become a full-time simulator driver for McLaren in Formula 1.

Created by Millennial Esports, the unique competition brought together the best gamers in the world – regardless of their gaming platform – sim drivers, console gamers, and even mobile racers.

The competition was showcased in a four-part documentary which screened for the last time last weekend on ESPN, a Disney Company [DIS], in the US.

However, van Buren is not the only racer whose professional racing career has been launched by the competition.

Competition runner-up Freek Schothorst will make his Formula Renault Eurocup debut this weekend at the Hungaroring.

He made the jump from virtual to reality earlier this year when he drove in the opening round of the Formula 4 series, scoring an incredible two podiums in three races.

“Motorsport Esports is the only type of gaming where your skills in the virtual world can transfer across to the real thing,” said Millennial Esports CMO and European MD, Darren Cox.

“You’re not going to play in the the Premier League because of your FIFA gaming skills.

“But World’s Fastest Gamer again proved that racing gamers have the skills that transfer across to the real thing and major teams and manufacturers are beginning to realise this now.

“Every driver on the Formula 1 grid began their career in karting and spent thousands of dollars just to start their career. It is a matter of time before we one day see the first gamer earn a seat in Formula 1.”

While van Buren is already playing a key role for McLaren in developing their Formula 1 car in their simulator in Woking, a number of other World’s Fastest Gamer alumni have also been signed by Formula 1 teams.

Each F1 team this year began competing in the Formula 1 Esports Series with Bono Huis (McLaren) and Harry Jacks (Mercedes) graduating from the World’s Fastest Gamer competition to the new championship.

Danish surgeon Henrik Drue earned his World’s Fastest Gamer spot by competing on Gear.Club on mobile. The Dane has gone on to earn a chance to drive a real Formula 1 car in a 2018 competition launched by Gear.Club creators, Eden Games.

Frenchman Aurelien Mallet has also been signed by the Esports team created by two-time Formula 1 world champion and 2018 Le Mans winner, Fernando Alonso as well as winning a prestigious competition sponsored by Porsche.

Cox is a firm believer of the “virtual to reality” concept. In his former role as Global Head of Motorsport for Nissan, he created the Nissan GT Academy competition which took Sony PlayStation gamers and turned them into racing drivers.

Leading Nissan stars still compete for the brand today including Jann Mardenborough (Super GT in Japan), Lucas Ordóñez and Ricardo Sanchez (Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup in Europe) and Florian Strauss (Blancpain GT Series Asia).

“There is no doubt that Esports provides an ideal platform for finding racing talent,” Cox said.

“It is opening doors to young drivers who previously had no chance to become a professional racer because the initial costs to compete at the grassroots levels are so high.

“If you are a footballer – all you need is a ball and a field to develop your skills. But if you want to be a racing driver, it has traditionally been incredibly expensive just to get started.

“The opportunities are incredible, and the doors are beginning to open. Our first World’s Fastest Gamer competition highlighted that, and we have some very exciting plans schedule for World’s Fastest Gamer 2 – our new competition which will be revealed soon.

“Discovering this talent and giving them an opportunity like this is tremendously rewarding – while before you had to have rich parents or have a huge sponsor. Now you could begin to chase your dreams simply by racing on your computer, your gaming console or even your phone.”