The Challenges Ahead for Zwift and eSports

(Daren) #1

Interesting article from DCR here:

I reckon it’s pretty spot-on.

One particular part struck me though, and that was a quotation from Steve Beckett (Zwift’s VP of Marketing & Customer Acquisition):

Across 2019, Zwift will be working with hardware manufacturers to mitigate this from 2020. It is very likely that hardware restrictions for racing will tighten up in 2020, but Zwift needs to acknowledge that hardware manufacturers need time to respond to this feedback as trainers are developed

Now, I was planning on buying a new direct-drive trainer in the next few months.

However this quotation has struck a note of caution. I wouldn’t want to buy a new DD trainer now for £600 or more, only to find that come next year isn’t not regarded as legitimate for Zwift racing.

So now I’m stuck. I don’t know any of the detail of what Steve thinks might happen. And I don’t know how limiting “the wrong” trainer might be for someone interested in Zwift racing.

I do think something has to happen in order to legitimise Zwift racing though. Concept 2 races and records are regarded as a level playing field, for example, because one C2 machine is directly comparable to another. Without that trusted equivalence, Zwift racing can never really be taken seriously I think except perhaps in model-specific race series. e.g. the Neo Series, Kickr League, Hammerfest etc.

(Lin) #2

As usual, Ray has done his homework and provided a nice write-up. In the end, I do not think you can have events for prizes, medals, money, championships, etc., with users in remote locations. There are too many ways to cheat when remote. For these aforementioned type of events, it has to be venue based. Even then, as Ray also pointed out, there are still many issues to work out.

(Nigel ) #3

Yeah very interesting article. No mention of height doping as temporarily dropping your height gives you a big advantage as demonstrated in a recent Chris Pritchard video.

I agree something needs to be done about hardware. My Hammer trainer gives me a few extra free watts compared to my power meter.

Then how do you stop people tweaking their calibration? I can for example with my Assioma Duo pedals enter an incorrect crank length as I did once by mistake and saw an instant 20 - 30 watt increase in power. Not enough to raise warning flags but the difference in winning and not winning.

(_) #4

Fantastic feedback coming from all the viewers as Zwift rides into Esports.

All the ways to cheat and all that jazz is something all other MMO Esport games have had to deal with and they have all dealt with it the same way for the most part.

Events happen on a daily basis and you take the results with a grain of salt. But if you want the crown you must compete first in an onsite regional qualifier. All events are run with competitors using identical hardware. Then you must compete in an onsite national qualifier. Then you compete in a multi-national onsite regional event. (europe, NA, Asia, Africa, etc…) Then it happens, the Worlds! You compete onsite with the best of every nation head to head in a venue filled with spectators, and a champion is crowned and everyone trusts the results.

I like this framework because it naturally draws you into the best riders personas more as you follow them on their journey, it brings national pride into the conversation, the word playoffs does wonders for any sport, and the word World champion is something special as well.

I see a bright future for Zwift Esports.

(_) #5

I like simple solutions and with this framework of competition developed by the MMO’s of today it offers Zwift the following benefits.

Getting real deep into the true viability of many manufactures trainers hardware accuracy becomes less important to Zwift.
Getting deep into anti-cheating algorithms on Zwift is less important.
More money from sponsors competing for exclusivity in each region.
More money from sponsors at each onsite event held.
More input from otherwise silenced regions without a say.
Trust from the community that every qualified event is real.
More incentive for riders to blow their brains out competing for that World Champion Title, jersey and hopefully at least 250 large.
An opportunity to generate actual spectators during a live competition.
Money money money

(Johnathan) #6

Cone-age for legit racers.

(Daren) #7

That’s ridiculous.

(Lin) #8

Cone of shame is funny! The following is ridiculous! I did not get to see it LIVE, but was the weigh in part of the livestream? Courtesty of @Shane_Miller_GPLama:

KISS Esports League Round 7 Weigh-in… PROBLEM!

(Mike Lister (DACE)) #9

As far as I saw the weigh in was not done live and this is the first I’ve heard of it. Does seem completely ridiculous that this has been swept under the rug and that Zwift haven’t made an example out of that rider.

(Mike Lister (DACE)) #10

Is anybody able to shed any light on how Zwift calculates the time it takes for an avatar to complete a race and no I don’t just mean the time it takes to go from the start to the finish.

Say a race is 40km, that’s 40,000m but that is an average based on a particular line on the road. If you’re on the inside or outside line of a corner it makes a distance. You also don’t need a very big corner to create an effect just look at the staggered start for a 400m athletics race.

Why is this important? When races on Zwift are being decided by 0.01 seconds your racing line can be the difference between winning or not. In Zwift, we have no control over our racing line, it’s chosen for us. An algorithm is potnential deciding who wins.


Is it that due to this limitation everyone is assumed to have ridden exactly the same distance and that our avatars merely move on the screen to give an appearance of racing.

(Nigel ) #11

Mike I would think the distance doesn’t matter. Pretty much all finishes are on a straight section of road so your position coming into the finish doesn’t matter in a sprint. Now where it could make a difference is in a TT event but I’ve yet to see anyone doing TT’s on Zwift complaining. I do TT’s and don’t think there’s a problem. No problems in races either. More of an issue in my opinion is the unfair advantage someone with an aero powerup has in a sprint finish over the poor bugger like me that got 10XP points instead of the powerup.

(Mike Lister (DACE)) #12

When races in the Super League where prize money is being awarded are being won by as little as 0.013s or literally millimetres then I would say it does make a difference. If you are going to be that accurate on timings then everything that can be measured and affect that will be looked at.

Another factor present in Zwift racing is the ability for your avatar to pass through another. In real life it’s a physical impossibility in a zwift race it can give a rider an advantage. I think Zwift have to make a decision, either they are trying to create a 100% realistic recreation of the real world or they accept its an approximation and a game. At the moment it feels somewhere in the middle, which I would say is part of the reason why the power ups are causing so much conversation.

(Lin) #13

I believe everyone rides the same line/distance. But for the sake of the “game”, we appear to be moving about. Another reason I believe the aforementioned is that your position/movements on another riders screen are not necessarily the same as it is on your screen.

(Johnathan) #14

Don’t forget that some of the finishes are not exactly on the line. I would always suggest to sprint through the line, especially in Zwift.

(Mike Lister (DACE)) #15

Thanks. I had always sort of assumed Zwift did this which does make things a bit fairer.

(Mike Lister (DACE)) #16

A further odd thing I noticed this morning was how a time trial bike will move around the road trying to find the draft. Good to know this doesn’t actually affect my time.