Evil Geniuses and NASCAR drivers share ‘eerie’ similarities
Evil Geniuses and NASCAR drivers share ‘eerie’ similarities : Erik Jones, 20, considered the top young prospect in NASCAR racing, had spent the two weeks before the Chicagoland Speedway race weekend away from home.
That meant he had no practice for one of his competitions Saturday, namely the event where he was on a stage competing in the game NASCAR Heat Evolution against a member of the esports team Evil Geniuses.
But Jones is used to performing without a whole lot of practice. NASCAR only allows a couple hours of practice each week before an event.
About nine hours before winning his fourth Xfinity Series — NASCAR’s version of triple-A baseball — race of the season, Jones was playing against fellow driver Darrell Wallace Jr. and Evil Geniuses’ Justin “Roy” Brown in a virtual race.
The two worlds were brought together Saturday at Chicagoland Speedway, site of the NASCAR races for the weekend. Through their mutual sponsorship by Xfinity, the idea came about of pitting NASCAR drivers against the Evil Geniuses as well as having the Evil Geniuses play against fans.
Beyond maybe the difference in practice time and the danger factor, though, Jones could see a lot of similarities between his career path and skills and those of the Evil Geniuses pros he played against.
“It’s just as tough to break into and it’s not easy to get that shot and there’s only so many people who get to do it,” Jones said. “To be that good at video games, you have got to have some pretty good reaction time.”
Jones technically won at the NASCAR game, although he admitted he won because Wallace had started celebrating early.
Anyway, it was a fun respite during what would be a high-intensity day. It was the same for the Evil Geniuses who got to play recreationally for a change.
“This is a great distraction,” said 26-year-old Jason “Lunchbox” Brown. “We played the best team [OpTic] in the game [Halo] yesterday and beat them, so that was a huge series for us so this is a really nice getaway for us.
“We practice Sunday [to] Thursday for our [Halo Championship Series] Pro League matches. This is a great time.”
The competitors in the NASCAR and esports worlds don’t get many distractions. They can’t afford to have them.
There are literally thousands of drivers who compete around the country at their local tracks, dreaming of making it big one day. Just like there are literally thousands of people at home playing video games dreaming of what it would be like to do it for a living.
“I would love to drive a car 195 miles an hour,” said 25-year-old John Harvey, a fan who lives near the track and attends the races annually. “But I’d also love to play video games all day.”
Let’s face it. The competitors have cool jobs. But they have made the most of their opportunities.
Jones earned his big shot by beating NASCAR superstar Kyle Busch in a race in Pensacola, Fla., and Busch urged Toyota to sign him. Evil Geniuses players Jason and Justin Brown finished fourth in a major tournament at age 16 in 2007 to get noticed.
“If we didn’t place in the top in our first event … we might not be where we are at today,” Jason Brown said.
Thanks to winning championships and races at every level, Jones will race at the top NASCAR level next year. He probably doesn’t have to start looking over his shoulder yet.
But he will soon, and the Evil Geniuses know what that is like.
“There is always that young gun that is coming up playing how many hours a day to try to be that next top dog and so you’ve got to put in an equal amount of time or even more to kind of maintain your level of competition and skill level,” 26-year-old Justin Brown said. “You’re thinking what you can do better as a player [and] as a teammate.
“It’s just constantly evolving. You’ve got to keep with the times and be able to adapt and evolve.”
There also is the intense preparation. While racecar drivers cannot practice much during the week — typically rules prohibit testing to keep costs down — they often use simulators to help prepare for major events.
So, sometimes they will play iRacing or other video games to just stay mentally sharp.
“On weeks I do play video games, for whatever reason, it helps me be more focused during the race weekend,” said NASCAR driver Brennan Poole. “You’re just so focused on what you’re doing and reaction speeds and all that stuff in the first-person shooter games, that when I show up in the weeks I did play the game, I have a better race.
“I play all the time.”
Poole described his race preparation to the fans at the event, and it was the same answer EG coach and player Ryan “Towey” Towey would have given.
“[He answered] first and it mirrored what I was thinking [for] how to answer the question,” Towey said.
“[The similarity] was very eerie to me. We review hours and hours of film, before and after major matches. We’ll practice five or six nights a week, three or four hours at a time through all of our game types. We’ll watch the competition’s film. And we spend time taking and going over notes.”
Towey enjoyed a chance to play with no pressure. He still didn’t enjoy losing.
“We do play games recreationally for fun in the offseason, but it’s difficult because we always want to win,” Towey said.
It was fun for the drivers, too. They signed autographs, as did the Evil Geniuses. Jackson Baldwin, a 15-year-old from Illinois, came over to the race track just to play Lunchbox in Halo – of course Baldwin didn’t win — and left before any of the races.
He missed a good show put on by Jones on the race track. For Jones, it was fun to play the Evil Geniuses before embarking on his real job the rest of the day.
“I didn’t know them before this,” Jones said. “They’ve been pretty successful. It is pretty neat to meet them and play against them for a second.”
Source : http://www.espn.com/esports/story/_/id/17573256/eg-nascar-drivers-share-eerie-similarities