#31 : Joshua Rogers, live from the Porsche garage at Le Mans

#31 : Joshua Rogers, live from the Porsche garage at Le Mans
The Edge
#31 : Joshua Rogers, live from the Porsche garage at Le Mans

Jul 18 2023 | 00:24:57

Episode 31 July 18, 2023 00:24:57

Hosted By

TAG Heuer

Show Notes

Our guest is Porsche Works Driver Joshua Rogers. Winner of several sim racing titles, including the 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual 2020 and the Porsche Esports Supercup 2021, Joshua has made it to the highest levels of esports. Live from the 100th 24 Hours of Le Mans, Joshua talks to us about bridging the gap between real racing and sim racing. He also discusses what it takes to compete, stay hungry, and excel in esports. Presented by your host Teo Van Den Broeke, this is The Edge, a podcast by TAG Heuer.

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Episode Transcript

Speaker 1 00:00:03 Our guest today is Porsche Works driver Joshua Rogers, winner of several sim racing titles, including the 24 hours of Lamar Virtual 2020, and the Porsche eSports Super Cup 2021. Joshua has made it to the highest levels of eSports live from the hundredth 24 hours of Lamar. Joshua talks to us about bridging the gap between real racing and sim racing. He also discusses what it takes to compete to stay hungry, and to excel in the eSports. I'm Teia Van brca. Welcome to the Edge, A podcast by TA Coia Joshua Rogers. Thank you so much for joining me at the Edge. It's very exciting to have you here. Maybe just to give a little bit of context to the noise going on in the background, do you wanna tell us where you are? Speaker 2 00:00:51 Yeah. Hey, uh, nice to, to be here. Thanks for having me. Um, at the moment, I'm in Lamar, uh, sitting in, uh, a room above the, the pit garages. So there's gonna be quite a bit of, uh, background noise, a bit of echoing some nice, uh, Porsche Career Cup cars going around at the moment. Uh, it's a nice sound. Speaker 1 00:01:06 Yeah, it's an amazing sound. What a backdrop. Um, can you, for those uninitiated, maybe just explain what exactly eSports is and how driving is placed within it? Speaker 2 00:01:16 Um, yeah, so essentially eSports is, um, electronic sports. Uh, so think of it as, um, you know, a competitive, uh, platform where, um, you know, people can test their skills online. Sometimes the, the sport in question is something that does exist in the real world. Other times it's not, obviously, in my case of, um, of sim racing, there is that, uh, real world parallel, um, which is obviously what's going on around me at the moment. Um, so yeah, you know, uh, uh, sim racing is, um, a relatively, I suppose, new eSports. Um, it's been around for quite some time, um, but it's, uh, not been too long since it's been properly elevated, um, to a proper kind of eSport status, uh, with, uh, Rensport and the SR one. Um, so yeah, it's, uh, it's just, honestly, it's, uh, racing cars virtually, um, in a simulator instead of, uh, in the real thing. But, um, yeah, it's lots of fun and, uh, there's lots of elements in it too. It's, it's, uh, there's so much to Speaker 1 00:02:16 It. I'm really intrigued to know how the kind of broader racing community both perceives and supports eSports. Can you kind of talk about the support and recognition that you as an eSports driver has have received? Speaker 2 00:02:28 Um, yeah, it's been great. Honestly, it's, uh, at least now for sure where, um, sim racing is much more, uh, I guess, uh, accepted as an eSport. Um, there's lots of parallels now, obviously, you know, Porsche is, is involved, um, with the, the collaboration with Coen eSports, and, um, yeah, as a result, we're able to kind of bridge the, uh, bridge the two, obviously, uh, sim racing as an eSport itself, it needs to shine on its own, and that's exactly what it's doing. Um, but, uh, but yeah, there's plenty of connection to the real world, um, from the, uh, I guess, you know, paddock perspective. There's lots of, um, appreciation for it. Um, obviously it is different, you know, it's, uh, it's takes a, a slightly different skill set. Obviously driving a car is, is very similar, um, but you have a few se less sensors to work on. Speaker 2 00:03:19 Um, and as a driver, you tend to do a little bit more of the work. Um, you know, you are essentially a, uh, a strategist, a driver, and an engineer, um, all in one. Uh, I guess that's how you could say. So, um, yeah, there's, there's plenty of respect from that parts. Um, and honestly, lots of the, the, um, the drivers here this weekend also partake in sim racing, whether it's, um, competitive large events or simply just, uh, doing it for fun to, um, kind of try and, uh, improve their race weekends. So, uh, yeah, there's obviously lots that comes to together with that. Um, and as a result, there's yeah, plenty of respect going around for it. Speaker 1 00:03:56 Why do you think it's growing in popularity so exponentially? Speaker 2 00:04:00 Um, it was relatively small. Um, I guess pre covid, honestly, it sounds really weird to say, but Covid was a very good thing for sim racing. It meant that everybody was at home, uh, often playing games, racing drivers, uh, weren't able to go out and race on the weekends, so they had to take to their living room. And as a result, we ended up with lots of big events. Um, we ended up with, um, yeah, lots of, I guess, large competitions that paved the way for what we have now, um, with, yeah, like say Rensport and Eslr one, um, I'm pretty sure that wouldn't have come to fruition, had none of that happened. Um, that being said though, since then, it's continued to grow. Um, it's not like, uh, it dropped off completely in popularity after that happened. So, um, yeah, you know, we're still on the upward trends, um, and for sure, while I did have, uh, a part to play, um, it's for sure very, I guess, natural, um, growth now and, uh, and yeah, it's, it's slowly getting more accessible. Speaker 1 00:05:07 You, you talked a little bit about the bridging the gap. Can you explain a little bit what you mean between the virtual and real world motor sports? Like how, how is eSports helping to bridge that gap, and what exactly is the gap, I guess? Speaker 2 00:05:20 Um, yeah, so when it comes to bridging the gap, uh, between I guess sim racing and real racing, um, the elements that come together to make that happen, obviously, um, manufacturers are getting involved, right? Um, it's not only Porsche, uh, while Porsche was one of the, uh, kind of initial manufacturers to properly get involved in, um, in Zoom racing, and that, you know, brings us together in that way. Like, for example, I'm here this weekend, um, had Porsche not been involved, uh, I feel like far less, um, uh, eSports drivers would be here doing this, for example, right? We we're getting to show, um, the General Motorsport community sim racing, um, to, to kind of give them, I guess, that hands-on experience, which changes the perspective completely. Um, there's been plenty of people that, that come in spec, uh, skeptical, um, of sim racing, and the moment they drive it, uh, you know, they, they sit in the seat and they start driving, they don't wanna get out. Um, and I feel like that's the, the infectious part about that, and that's official, um, a large, uh, kind of factor in, in how strongly, I guess, the different disciplines come together. Speaker 1 00:06:35 Um, I'm kind of intrigued by the level of competition in eSports racing and how it compares to traditional motor sport. Can you tell us a little bit more about that? Speaker 2 00:06:45 Um, yeah, from the, uh, competition standpoint, the difference between sim racing and row racing is, and I guess too, too dissimilar, but for sure the, the level of competition, um, is higher, um, in eSports. And, uh, I can confidently say that there's so much more preparation time that we have. Um, there's so many fewer EL elements, um, that we can change, for example, in, um, in Eslr one, um, which is a, a new series run by, uh, ESL in comparison in, um, collaboration with rensport, that's essentially the biggest championship that we've, uh, that we've ever had in sim racing, um, uh, kind of putting us on that world stage properly, uh, that finished last weekend. Um, but yeah, the, um, the, the competitive element, um, is for sure high there. You know, you have, uh, short races, uh, we have unlimited practice time, essentially. Uh, the cars are extremely similar. Speaker 2 00:07:43 Obviously we have B O P as well as GT three, um, but that's done extremely well. And I feel like in, uh, sim racing, you can also do that to a higher level than you can in in row racing. Um, and as a result, you know, we can have an entire field separated by, uh, two tenths, um, of 12 cars. So there's something that for sure doesn't necessarily happen in row racing anywhere near as much. There's so many more elements. Um, and I guess we come into a race weekend far more prepared as a driver, and that's not because we like, uh, real races don't, uh, prepare. That's not true at all. They do. Um, but it's just, we have more time, um, to do that, and we have more time to, um, perfect all those tiny little things. Um, and as a result, it produces a, I guess, a more competitive kind of, uh, spectacle, but the fact that there are more elements in racing also has its been benefits there. Um, but, uh, but yeah, for sure, um, I feel like eSports is more competitive. Um, it's for sure more mentally draining, physically, absolutely not, that's no question. Um, but, uh, but mentally there, there really is so much that goes into it. Speaker 1 00:08:50 Um, I mean, I guess you touched on this slightly there, but what would you say are the unique challenges that eSports presents over kind of a traditional motor sport environment? Speaker 2 00:09:02 Um, yeah, I would say that the unique elements that sim racing provides, uh, at least for us as drivers, one element for sure is, uh, kind of just the general environment that you're in. Um, you know, for example, for us, um, at a, uh, the land event we had last weekend in Munich, you are sitting there on a stage, um, with 11 of your other competitors, uh, you can see each other while you're racing. You know, you've got cameras going around, lights are changing, it's a show, you hear the crowd. Um, in Motorsport, you are kind of locked away in your car, right? You, uh, you have direct contact with your engineers, but really that's it. Um, you know, if they don't talk to you, you have no other distractions. Um, so you kind of have to, I guess, mentally train yourself to be able to block out all that extra other stuff and, and really have tunnel vision on what you're focusing on. Um, which I guess for sure is a, a different, I guess, skill to have. Yeah, Speaker 1 00:10:02 It's all good. Um, that, you know, speaking to, um, I r l racing drivers, you know, so much of it is about teamwork and preparation. Is the teamwork element as, um, prevalent in the virtual world of racing? Speaker 2 00:10:16 Uh, absolutely. Team element is, uh, is strongly there. Maybe it's not quite as, um, I guess, uh, competitive, you could say as it is in the real world. There's so many people that have to come together to make something work here, for example, up pit stop. You know, you need, uh, what is that, like eight or 10 guys to, or people to be able to, uh, come together, synchronize to make it happen the way that it needs to for us. The game does that for us. Um, but for sure, there's still a lot of, um, of team elements, uh, for us there. Uh, you know, we have, uh, for example, in, in this series, um, in R one, we have, uh, four drivers. We're all working together trying to push ourselves, um, to try and get the most out of each other. Um, obviously at the end of the day we are racing a driver's championship, but it's important for us as a team as well, to do well, um, and we help ourselves to do that. Speaker 2 00:11:12 Um, but then there's also people in the background. Um, you know, we, we do have, um, you know, maybe some drivers that are then doubling as engineers, um, that can maybe help us look at telemetry, uh, you know, all those squiggly lines you see in, uh, real motorsport. We have those two, um, and, uh, use that to try and, uh, propel ourselves forward even more. Um, but it's, there's for sure less people, um, involved than there is in, uh, in, uh, a team like Porsche Penske, uh, underneath us at the moment. Um, but, uh, but yeah, we, we still kind of have to come together to get the job done at the end of the day, and it's far more prevalent in the endurance racing we do. Um, at the end of every year we have the virtual Laal series, which is, um, the official, uh, sim racing counterpart of the, uh, the WEX season, um, run by the aco. Speaker 2 00:12:03 And, uh, in there, obviously we have endurance races, right? So we have, um, a far more strategic and set up based, uh, direction. Obviously, speed as a driver is important, but, um, sometimes it's a little bit easier to find speed outta the car by making those changes or, um, you know, improving the strategy just a little bit more. Um, so yeah, there's, um, I guess less people that come together in some racing to, I guess, get the job done. Um, yet still the, the effort is there from everybody, but, um, yeah, like a, a well-oiled team here at real racing, uh, is for sure, uh, much harder to manage. Speaker 1 00:12:38 Let's talk a little bit about your career. How did your passion for racing games eventually lead you to professional eSports? Speaker 2 00:12:45 Yeah. Um, my career is, uh, I wouldn't say a different one. Um, a lot of people had a very similar approach to me. Um, I started go-karting when I was, uh, seven back in Australia, and, um, yeah, uh, I was basically hooked on Motorsport. Um, my family was always very invested in it, um, and I had fun doing it too. I'd played a few racing games, uh, back then, not so much. Um, I kind of started properly playing, I guess the F1 games and stuff back in 2010 through, uh, 2013. Um, and then, yeah, from there it started to, I guess, uh, turn into something a little more serious. When I went to Resing, I used it as a bit of a tool to try and help me, um, with my carding, just with Racecraft or whatever. That was, uh, an area that I definitely struggled in. Speaker 2 00:13:35 I would say now it's probably one of my strongest traits. And yeah, then, you know, in, uh, I think maybe it was 2017, I qualified for my world First world championship, and that was really the point in which I started to take it more seriously. Back then, it wasn't, uh, big enough to become a career, but, um, for sure it was something that, um, I wanted to pursue. And, uh, I'm a competitive person, so I always wanted to get the most outta myself in whatever it was I did. Um, 2019, I won my first two world championships, and that was for sure the, the turning point for me where, um, it started growing enough to the point where, uh, I could move to Germany where I've been living for three years and, and pursue this as, uh, a career, um, rather than being a hobby, I, so I guess, uh, things happen quite quickly in that time period, but, uh, yeah, I wouldn't change it at all. Speaker 2 00:14:25 And, um, there's, I guess, so many things that came together that had thought to for it to end up working out the way it did. Um, but yeah, I would say a conventional, uh, path to professional eSports. Um, from the, the racing standpoint, lots of people come through carting and, and maybe they run outta money and they, they turn to sim racing instead. Um, and it's, yeah, it's kind of similar for me, but, um, the passion and the drive is there just from a competitive element. Um, whatever it is that I'm doing, I'm always gonna put 110% into it. And, um, yeah, sim racing's no different, and I'm thankful to be able to call this my career and my profession. Speaker 1 00:15:02 Mm-hmm. What was your most memorable competition and why? Well, Speaker 2 00:15:07 Most memorable competition, it's difficult, honestly, because there's, there's been, um, a few that are certainly highlights for me. Um, first one would probably be, uh, winning the inaugural virtual Lamar, uh, race. Um, so that was the Lamar 24 hour that was held on, um, a factor two, the first one in, uh, June, 2020, I believe. That was when, um, you know, they canceled the real one for covid, and, um, they decided to run a virtual one. Everyone came together. Um, that was our first race properly with Porsche, and yeah, managed to win that one, which was awesome. Um, alongside, um, Tommy o Oscar, my teammate at the time, uh, Han Govan and Nick Tandy, Nick who's racing here in, in l mdh. And, um, I, John's doing a bunch of GT three stuff this year, so it was cool to be able to work with those guys and learn some things and, and get to, I guess, experience the Porsche way. Speaker 2 00:16:02 A close second though would have to be winning my second, um, Bors tago eSports Super Cup championship. I'd won the, the first season, the second season didn't go to plan at all. Um, I ended up second, but I just fell short too many times from unforced areas, and that was something I wanted to, to try and work on, um, for the next season. And it became one of my most consistencies I'd ever had and, and won the championship with a round ago. Um, and as a result, that was something that I guess I was, um, proud about because it showed the progression. Um, but yes, it's honestly extremely difficult between those two. Uh, yeah, I don't know. They're probably, uh, they're probably even level for me. Speaker 1 00:16:44 How does it feel when you win? What, what's your kind of celebration process? <laugh>? Speaker 2 00:16:48 Uh, my celebration is probably a bit different to some people. Uh, a lot of people burst out in emotion and, um, elation and, uh, cheering and fist pumping and doing whatever. Often for me, it's just a sigh of relief, um, knowing that you did it, you know, and, um, that all the work wasn't for, for nothing in a way. Um, yeah, I mean, sometimes I, I show that, uh, that emotion and that joy, but honestly, a lot of the time I just kind of sit back and just, just smile and, um, take it in and, and yeah, have a sigh of relief. Honestly. Uh, it's, it's probably not the best for the cameras, but, uh, it's how I do things. Speaker 1 00:17:30 No, I hear it. Okay. <laugh>. Um, can you tell us a little bit about how the Porsche team contributes to your, the Porsche team contributes to your performance? Speaker 2 00:17:40 Um, yeah, absolutely. The Porsche as a brand coming in and, and, you know, working with, uh, Coen eSports, it's helped us, uh, from a competitive element. It's helped us from an organization standpoint, which also helps us in, um, performing as drivers on the day, right? We're, we're worrying about less, we're, um, you know, uh, our daily schedule, for example, um, you know, the, maybe the people that we need to talk to at the meetings or whatever, that's all pre-organized. Um, we just kinda show up, do it, um, and we can focus on our driving as a result from like a, a pure sporting element. You know, we're working on things to, to try and also help elevate that. Um, I guess for the moment we've kind of just, uh, stuck to our, I guess, competitive direction that we've, that we've always taken, um, that's given us success in the past years. Speaker 2 00:18:35 Obviously times change, right? Um, as things get more professional, as things get more stressful, um, maybe you need to start bringing in people to, to help with that. And yeah, I'm sure that's something that we're working on. But yeah, for sure from an organizational standpoint, it's, um, it's helped a lot and, and also just getting to, to meet different people and, um, I guess propel sim racing in that way, uh, I feel like has been the biggest, uh, positive, um, from this collaboration for sure. But, um, yeah, like I said, I'm grateful to be here and very thankful to Porsche for trusting in us to give them the success that the brand deserves. And, um, yeah, we're working hard to make that happen. Speaker 1 00:19:17 How do you maintain your competitive edge, and how do you kind of keep that consistent performance? You may have touched on this already, but I'm kind of intrigued to hear. Speaker 2 00:19:26 Um, yeah, keep, like keeping the, the competitive edge, it, uh, can be tricky at times, but honestly, a lot of it is just continuously working at it. Um, not giving up, looking at things different ways. Sometimes you can't just necessarily just do laps over and over and over again, um, without trying something new or without changing something in your driving, um, just to see if it works or it doesn't. From a mental perspective, I guess that's probably where it's harder, you know, when you have quite condensed seasons and, um, you're essentially driving, you know, six hours a day, um, it puts a lot on your mental strength, um, which is an area that we can all improve in as drivers, um, me included, because that's, yeah, honestly, probably the most important element out of all of this. But yeah, like, you know, having that, not only does it help you on race day, but um, it helps you keep going and it helps you stay competitive and stay hungry. Speaker 2 00:20:26 For me, actually, I haven't necessarily really had an issue yet with, um, losing that, uh, competitive drive to win. Obviously there's some days you have low days, some days you have high days, um, and it, it's important to, I guess, ride that wave, you could say, um, and make the most of it when it's there. Uh, that's obviously gonna happen. You're not always going to be a hundred percent into it every day, and that's okay, but yeah, sometimes it can, it can be harder. But, um, yeah, just honestly, just keeping your eye focused on the end goal and wanting to, to win and get the most out of yourself, uh, that's, yeah, that's kind of what keeps me going. And like, for example, for me, um, in <inaudible>, one, I didn't win. I didn't have the greatest end of the season. Um, I ended up P four, which is, which is good, and it's something to be very proud of, um, for sure. Speaker 2 00:21:17 So I need to take those, those little, uh, little wins, but, um, for sure as a driver, I want more. Um, and going get the next season, that's something that's driving me to, um, improve on myself. Even, you know, now there's a little bit of time off, but I can't help but keep, keep thinking about sim racing and wanting to drive. So, uh, yeah, like, I, I mean, I'm kind of forcing myself not to, to, to take this time just to reset a little bit and, and, um, enjoy. But yeah, uh, it's kind of always something that's going on in my mind and, um, yeah, uh, hopefully that doesn't end anytime soon. Speaker 1 00:21:53 Looking ahead, what are your goals and aspirations for eSports racing, and how do you see the industry evolving? Speaker 2 00:21:59 Um, yeah, honestly, like my, I guess aspirations for, for sim racing as an eSport moving forward is obviously just for it to continue to grow. You know, this year we've already, uh, had more land events than we've had in the last three years. Land events, uh, onsite events, um, so, you know, helped by an organization and you are, you are there in person with the other drivers, uh, racing, putting on a show in a different, different element. Um, but for sure seeing more of that, which is something that, again, um, ESL and Rensport are for sure pushing forward, um, as a new platform. They have the ability to try these new things, um, and build the game around it. But, um, for sure we, uh, I'd like to see more of that. Um, and it is the direction we're going, obviously, it's gonna take a little bit of time. Speaker 2 00:22:48 Um, but, uh, the more people that are coming in and getting involved and enjoying it, the, the more likely there are, the more people are willing to watch it and more people, the more people that are interested, the, the more benefit it is to run more of them. So it's, uh, it's a slow growth, but it's a growth nonetheless. But for sure, looking forward to the future of, of sim racing and eSports, uh, it looks bright. Um, you know, we have the interest, it's a matter of just keeping it going. And, um, yeah, I'd love to see more of those, more of those land events and, and more, I guess, uh, hype around the, the sport itself, because it can be exciting. Um, it means throwing different formats at it. Sure. Um, which is something that Isol and, and Rensport have already done and have proved to be super exciting. Uh, it was a format that we'd never seen before, before in sim racing. And while that means that maybe sometimes we deviate away from the norm, uh, in, uh, Motorsport, it's, uh, it'll work out for swim racing, and that's where it kind of branches out to become its own thing. Yeah, I really look forward to the future in witnessing the, the continued growth and hopefully I'm along for the ride as long as I can be. Fantastic. Speaker 1 00:24:00 Josh Georges, thank you so much for taking the time to join us at the Edge. It was really fascinating to hear more about eSports, um, and good luck with everything in your future career. Speaker 2 00:24:07 Thank you. I, uh, appreciate it and it's been a pleasure being here, talking to you with you guys. And, um, maybe, maybe we can do it again at some time. Speaker 1 00:24:22 Thank you for listening to this episode of The Edge. If you'd like to listen to more episodes like this one, have a listen to our interviews with racing drivers, max f Chapin, Sergio Perez, and Alexander Rossi. If you enjoyed this episode, don't forget to subscribe and leave us five stars. It does make a difference. Thank you so much to Joshua Rogers for joining us. I'm your host, Teo Van brca, and I'll be back next month with another episode of The Edge, a podcast by Tag Hoyer. See you soon.

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