The International Cycling Union (UCI) has confirmed that the 2022 UCI Cycling Esports World Championships will be staged using the Zwift connected fitness platform on 26th of February next year.
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.
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 between the 27th and the 28th of November, 2021. The top five players from each qualification race will be invited to the UCI esports world championships, as representatives of their respective national federations.
What separates the contest from most other esports events is that participants will physically be cycling rather than playing a video game. While professionals in other sports, such as soccer and basketball, might be fans of the FIFA or NBA 2K series, the two activities have few transferable skills.
Cycling’s esports event actually involves some cycling ability, albeit with some digital elements, blurring the lines between digital and reality, and driving engagement across both fans of the sport and recreational cyclists. Both esports enthusiasts and professional road racers have competed in past events.
In December 2020, “Zwift worlds” was raced in the Watopia world, and was won by South African Ashleigh Moolman Pasio and German Jason Osborne.
The virtual venue for the championship in 2022 will shift from the fictional land of Watopia to a vision of what New York will look like in 100 years. All participants will tackle two full circuits of the 22.5km route with the field size, broadcast exposure, and prize money equal for both men’s and women’s races.