Roughly six months ago, Daniel “ForceOne” Nyman stood on the podium with former WorldGaming Network champion Evan “Raceboy77” Thorogood at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. They were the only two North Americans to achieve such a feat in this prestigious event.
Fast forward to January 2020, and the two drivers are locked in a heated rivalry that is centered around the upcoming Forza Motorsport 7 WGN Championship driven by PFAFF.
In 2019, Raceboy77 won the Championship title and $7,500 after a convincing performance in the online qualifiers and the live finals. Due to unique circumstances, the Canadian driver is unable to defend his championship this year – leaving the door wide open for 16 hopeful drivers to claim the title of North America’s fastest driver.
Lazarus Esports’ ForceOne is one of the favourites to win this year’s event, and he’s made his expectations clear on social media since the start of the qualifiers. He and Raceboy77 have traded blows on Twitter, with ForceOne often insinuating that he would be taking Raceboy77’s throne this time around.
But there are other contenders seeking to pull off a similar feat, and ForceOne knows that winning the WGN Championship will be far from easy:
“Obviously I’m going into this live event hopeful that I can take home the top spot. To a certain degree, you have to expect to win in order to perform at a level required to beat these guys. Esports is a mental game, and if you go into a LAN event with any doubts you’ve almost lost before the racing has even started.”
Among some of the top contenders looking to stop ForceOne are Zach “Venom” Taylor and Taylor “Lightning” Stomski, who have both experienced a considerable amount of success on the world stage. Venom and his team – Red Bull Racing Esports – won the world championship in the 2019 ForzaRC. Likewise, Lightning has been a perennial finalist in the Forza Racing Championship, having won the first-ever ForzaRC invitational in New York back in 2017. These two Americans share a wealth of experience and accolades throughout their Forza Motorsport careers, and they look to add to that with a win in this year’s WGN Championship.
With the three best drivers in North America set to meet on stage in Toronto, ForceOne believes there is an intense rivalry brewing:
“For the past couple of years, there has always been an argument over who was the best driver in North America. Depending on who you ask, any of our names could come up. Personally, I think each of us believes that we are the best, but there hasn’t really been enough evidence to prove it. This event is the first opportunity in my career where all of the best drivers in our region are on track, at the same time, in the same equipment. In my opinion, it feels like this WGN Championship is just as much about winning as it is about bragging rights.”
It is clear that while these three drivers have a massive amount of respect for each other, they also have a lot to prove. That was evident from the start of the qualifiers when ForceOne, Lightning and Venom shared the top 3 positions in the first qualifier leaderboard.
ForceOne believes that he has the most to gain from winning the WGN Championship this year. The 20 year old driver for Lazarus Esports is the youngest of these three competitors, and has the least experience racing at the top level of Forza Motorsport competition:
“I feel like I have a chip on my shoulder heading into this event because I haven’t yet earned a signature win that shows I can be the best. In terms of skill, I think I have what it takes to put up a fight against anyone in the pro-scene, but I still don’t seem to get quite enough credit as a result of my inexperience and age.”
Similarly, Venom feels that winning here would further solidify his standing as the best in North America and arguably one of the best in the world. He is unshaken by the prospect of once again facing off against ForceOne and Lightning:
“I’ve been racing ForceOne and Lightning for a couple of years now, so I know their on-track tendencies. I think the 3 of us are quite close in skill so it will come down to who has put in the most effort and who can keep their nerves in the Finals.”
Aside from the bragging rights and coveted title of ‘fastest’, there is much to gain from this tournament. With a first place prize of $7,500 and a trip to the Motul Petit Le Mans for a full track day experience, there are plenty of reasons to feel the pressure of competition. When asked what he would do differently in order to stand out from the other drivers Lightning said that he would:
“Practice, but not practice so much that it hurts me.”
The pressure builds now as these racers now wait for the other finalists to qualify at the Canadian International AutoShow in Toronto, Canada. Once all 16 finalists are confirmed, the gloves come off and they will face off on Sunday, February 23rd. There is no room for mistakes. Who will come out ahead and stand above the others atop the podium?
You can catch all the action as this rivalry comes to a head during the Forza Motorsport 7 WGN Championship finals on February 23rd at 12pm on the WGN Twitch channel.