Amidst the changing socio-economic conditions brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic, Toyota South Africa has diversified its sporting interests into the digital or virtual world. The world of Esports has seen momentous growth during this period with many global franchises adopting e-gaming or e-sports in order to engage with their respective fans.
Toyota and PSL engage in the E-Sports Arena
For Toyota (who partnered with Brand Inc.), the world of Esports was identified to fill the void left by the postponement of the Premier Soccer League (PSL). The first event was held on 30 April 2020, and offered 64 participating slots into the Telkom VS Gaming eDiski Masters playoffs. The #ToyotaEsportsChallenge not only offered a large grand prize incentive but also included some very well-known celebrities that entered the tournament. Celebrity wild-card players included Kwesta, Rouge, Heavy K and Keegan Buchanan.
Also joining the team were Laduma journalist Joe Crann and Supersport TV live soccer match analyst and former Kaizer Chiefs and Bafana Bafana player Stanton Fredericks, both brought on board to give insights into the games and update soccer fans about the tournament, while Supa Diski and PSL presenter Kamza Batha and Esports host/presenter Sam ‘TechGirl’ Wright were appointed as match commentators.
The celebrity matches were streamed live on Toyota SA’s Facebook page and YouTube Channel, as were the quarter-finals, semi-finals and the final played on July 4. Hosted by one of the biggest names in soccer and soccer broadcast, Carol Tshabalala, it was won by Julio ‘The Beast’ Bianchi.
Toyota South Africa launches E-Sports Challenge on WRC 9
Following the success of the Toyota Esports FIFA Challenge on PlayStation, Toyota South Africa, in partnership with Brand Inc, the sports sponsorship arm of the have you heard advertising group, has launched the Toyota E-sports Challenge on WRC 9.
The official game of the World Rally Championships, WRC 9, is the most detailed and realistic rally game on the market and the leading off-road simulation franchise endorsed by the world's top drivers. The latest version of the hugely popular series features demanding new rallies in Japan, New Zealand and Kenya from this season’s original championship calendar, as well as the jaw-dropping World Rally Cars of the championship’s three manufacturer teams, including the current 2020 season leaders, Toyota Gazoo Racing.
“Esports and more specifically gaming has been a natural extension of our sponsorship programme and the coming months will see a number of exciting initiatives launched which will solidify Toyota’s place in the world of gaming - allowing the brand to tap into a new audience,” said Toyota South Africa General Manager of Marketing Communications, Lettie Labuschagne. The Toyota Esports Challenge played on WRC 9 will see competitors driving the Toyota Gazoo Racing Yaris, a digital replica of the car currently in competition in the World Rally Championship and the car that saw Elfyn Evans and Scott Martin win the WRC Turkey Rally, across various rally stages chosen to test the competitors.
“Our concept for the inaugural WRC event is very simple. Every week during Phase 1, which runs from September 14 to October 10, competitors can submit their fastest time on the allocated WRC 9 stage. The fastest time each week on each of the three platforms supporting WRC 9 will secure a place in Stage 2.
“Stage 2 takes place on October 14 and takes the form of a lobby finale hosted online. Each player securing a place during Phase 1 will be invited to the lobby to compete for the prizes on offer. There is a total of R60 000 up for grabs, with the winner of each division – or platform – receiving R15 000.
“Adding to the excitement, the stage/weekly leaderboard will be available on the competition page at acgl.co.za/ToyotaEsportsChallenge. Times will be updated at least once a day. I know I for one will be checking in and catching up on the action every few hours,” she said.
The tournament kicked off with the opening week’s play seeing some of the country’s top sim racers, Jason Absmeier, Charl Wilken, Bruno Cadilhe and Alleric Enslin, racing against some of South Africa’s best dirt and road racing drivers and members of the Toyota Gazoo Racing team including Giniel De Villiers, Mandla Mdakane, Henk Lategan, Michael Van Rooyen and Guy Botterill as they compete in the Pro versus Sim division.
Not to be outdone, some of South Africa’s top influencers have also gotten in on the action with Ryan Kankowski, Mojak Lehoko, Pippa Tshabalala, Okay Wasabi, Simon Orgill and Brent Lindeque racing against each other for the title of South Africa’s fastest influencer.
WRC 9 Motoring Media Challenge
“We’ve also invited a number of well-known motoring journalists to participate in a bespoke media challenge. Here they get to test their WRC 9 skills at the wheel of a Toyota Gazoo Racing Yaris WRC car,’ Labuschagne added.
The media challenge too will feature its own gaming lobby – to allow all the participants to view their peers’ (or opponents in this case) exploits on the rally stages of the world.
Where to Watch and Enter
Races are live-streamed every Friday night via the Toyota South Africa YouTube and Facebook Live channels with celebrity commentators, Sam ‘Tech Girl’ Wright and George ‘Gee Max’ Smith shoutcasting the action as racers go up against each other on new tracks.
Entries for the competition are still open. To enter, participants are required to register a free user profile on https://acgl.co.za/ToyotaEsportsChallenge and will also need to have the game (WRC 9), an accepted platform and internet connection. See here for more information.
The various winners will be announced following the completion of the tournament.