Ace gamer James Baldwin has just won the chance to train as a professional real-world racing driver after being crowned as the World’s Fastest Gamer.
The 22-year-old Brit took the top spot after performing superbly in both gaming and real-world track races alongside nine other competitors during the two-week challenge in Los Angeles and Las Vegas.
Two-time Indy 500 winner Juan Pablo Montoya and F1 legend Rubens Barrichello were among a panel of judges awarding marks to the competitors for their performances.
The prize, which is said to be worth more than $1 million, will see Baldwin soon start an intensive driver development program in preparation for his professional debut with a GT racing team next season.
After learning of his win, Baldwin said it felt “surreal” to be crowned the World’s Fastest Gamer, adding that it’s likely to take a few days to sink in.
“My whole career, my whole life almost have revolved around racing, this makes it all worth it,” the winner said.
He added: “The last 12 days have been an absolute pressure cooker. But, that’s the point of it, to train you to be a racing driver. It’s also been amazing even off track because I was able to meet some amazing people, the other competitors of course, and the production team and everyone involved in World’s Fastest Gamer, plus meeting my hero, Juan Pablo Montoya — it’s just been a dream come true.”
Baldwin gained some of his real-world racing experience in karting and Formula Ford, but switched his focus to sim racing after failing to raise the necessary funds to continue his track career. But all the while his ambition to become a professional racing driver never waned.
Commenting on the quality of the competitors, head judge Juan Pablo Montoya said, “One of the things that really drove me, personally, to decide on James is that he was just a little more complete.”
Montoya said Baldwin had “grown a lot over the course of this competition. The big thing with him is that he really wanted to learn. He takes advantage of everything you tell him and applies it and that made a big difference.”
This year’s contest is the first to have the winner graduate to a real-world race seat, the organizers said, giving Baldwin a golden opportunity to fulfill his dream of becoming a professional racing driver.
Gaming is so big now that it’s creating some incredible opportunities for the best players around the world. Ford, for example, recently created its first-ever esports racing team, and in July 2019 a 16-year-old gamer from Pennsylvania won $3 million for finishing first in a glitzy Fortnite tournament in New York City.
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