This story first appeared on Simcoe.com on March 12, 2018.
While Canadians were celebrating the end of the 2018 Olympics in Pyeonchang, a Barrie man eked out one last gold medal.
On Feb. 25, Andrew Waring, 24, took the top spot in the first ever WorldGaming Canadian GT Sport Championship. Bringing home a grand prize of $8,000, an all-expenses paid trip to the Long Beach Grand Prix in California, racing gear, and the rear-wing of a Porsche RSR race car — a grand prize worth nearly $60,000.
Waring competed over two months, qualifying with 39 other racers on one-lap time trials in January. In early February, the 40 players competed head-to-head for a shot at the finals.
“Somebody like me is thinking about the whole event,” said Waring, now juggling his career in aerospace as a production planner with an e-sports career. “You don’t need to risk a pass on a corner to get first when second will win this competition.”
Waring said he experience with racing in the real world, initially go-karts and later formula 1200 cars, put him in prime position for victory.
“It helps when you’re thinking of the long-term championship. A lot of people go from corner to corner,” Waring said.
Waring said he knew he had a chance when he saw how well he’d fared during the qualifiers.
On top of his real world experience, Waring said he put in a lot of practice with his friends.
Knowing the vehicle, the Porsche 911 RSR, and tracks used for the competition, he went to work.
“I don’t believe people take it as seriously as they should,” Waring said. “An opportunity like this has never come up before.”
Waring has been playing the Gran Turismo series since 2010, taking breaks, he said, to focus on his studies.
When he heard about the WorldGaming competition, Waring went out and bought everything needed to compete, just a few weeks before the competition started.
“As far as console gaming goes, Gran Turismo is leaps and bounds ahead in terms of realism, handling, and difficulty, than most other console games,” Waring said.
He swears by competing with a wheel as opposed to a controller.
At home, Waring uses a Logitech G27, but for the competition was provided with a Thrustmaster T-GT wheel, a high-end peripheral valued at around $1,000, more than the console and game combined.
“Always play with a wheel,” Waring said. “It’s the only way to compete in my opinion.”
For the final round, Waring said the experience provided more pressure than playing at home in his living room.
At the Vaughan Cineplex, the WorldGaming event was captured by a full camera crew with commentators.
By 9 a.m. Waring said he was already practicing for the final competition.
“It’s not something anybody is used to,” Waring said.
Although this level of sport may be on the rise. Waring said following the competition some players were seeking managers and pursuing careers as e-sports athletes.
“It’s just going to keep growing,” Waring said.