Zwift selected to host 2022 UCI esports world championships

The virtual cycling worlds will be on February 26, 2022. Regional qualifiers will take place November 27-28, 2021.

Photo: Ben Delaney

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The UCI announced Monday that the 2022 esports world championships will be hosted on the Zwift indoor cycling platform on February 26, 2022.

The second edition of the virtual cycling event will be contested in Zwift’s New York City world, around a virtual version of Central Park.

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UCI president David Lappartient said he is excited about continuing the success of the inaugural esports world championships and envisions a future for virtual cycling in a bigger sphere of esports competition.

“I’m excited for the opportunity to build on the success of last year’s milestone event with the second UCI Cycling Esports World Championships,” said Lappartient. “The Olympic Virtual Series held earlier this year showed how cycling esports has the ability to drive global participation in cycling. It is therefore exciting to reveal a new opportunity for emerging cycling esports stars enabling them to compete with household names from the UCI WorldTour peloton.”

Both the women’s and the men’s fields will take on two, 22.5-kilometer laps of the challenging Knickerbocker route before climbing the 1.4km New York KOM/QOM, which averages 6.1 percent and tops out at 17 percent. The total race distance is 54.9km, with 944m of virtual elevation gain.

The UCI has committed to equal field size, broadcast exposure, race distance, and prize money for the men’s and women’s races.

Five continental qualifiers are planned in Oceana, Asia, Europe, Africa, and the Americas. These events will be open to top community esports competitors worldwide and are scheduled for November 27-28, 2021.

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The top five placers from each qualification race will be invited to the UCI esports world championships, as representatives of their respective national federations. A series of qualification races will take place prior to the continental championships.

The winners of the 2020 events were presented with cash prizes, a real-world rainbow jersey, an in-game rainbow jersey, and were also recognized by their respective teams’ equipment sponsor, Specialized, with custom-painted bikes.

In December 2020, “Zwift worlds” was raced in the Watopia world, and was won by South African Ashleigh Moolman Pasio and German Jason Osborne.

“I’m delighted that community racers will be offered this new pathway into the UCI Cycling Esports World Championships in 2022,” said Zwift CEO Eric Min. “Cycling esports was born from community racing, no different to any other form of esports competition, and it’s within this community where most of the talent lies.”

The UCI will also be awarding automatic invites to 23 national federations, which are based on a combination of cycling esports community size, depth and level of competition, and also UCI road rankings. The UCI has committed to ensuring that the maximum number of entries for men and women will be equal.

The UCI has set guidelines and provides information about the “Zwift worlds” qualification process on the Zwift website.

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