All eyes were on the Swatch DRL Tryouts in Las Vegas on February 9th where over 200 sim drone pilots representing 65 different countries battled for a $75K contract and one spot in the Drone Racing League 2019 season. At the end of the weekend, Christopher “Phluxy” Spangler went from player to professional as he accepted the title, the contract, and a seat in the world’s premier drone racing circuit.
Since October 1st, thousands of players have been competing online on the DRL Simulator, a true-to-life racing sim that helps players fly better in First Person View (FPV) in reality. The top 210 competitors met at the HyperX Esports Arena in Las Vegas’ Luxor Hotel for an intense Round Robin tournament last weekend. The fastest 24 pilots from the Round Robin moved onto the Quarter Finals, 12 made it to the Semi Finals, and six secured a seat in the fiercely competitive final round. Earning the most points while racing over a city bridge in the final heats of a Swatch map, Phluxy was named the Swatch pilot for the 2019 DRL Allianz World Championship season and became a professional player overnight.
“I’m stoked to have been named the 2019 Swatch Pilot. It feels surreal and I’m super happy to be able to fly in the 2019 DRL Allianz World Championship season. Last year at the 2018 Swatch DRL Tryouts, I got fourth, and over the past year, I changed my mindset and the way I trained, putting in a minimum of three hours of practice on the DRL Simulator every day, and it really paid off,” Phluxy said after the race.
Millions of fans watched the live stream of the event, taking in the energetic races on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Youku and Twitch.
The DRL is all about fast-paced, nail-biting races, with neon lights and the kinds of twists and turns that have spectators on the edge of their seats. That’s the kind of energy that Swatch loves, and we kept up with the exciting buzz with a range of on-site activities. Fans could try their hand at drone racing by flying Tiny Whoops and they got tips from pros in our DRL Simulator gaming stations. They could browse the Pilot’s Swatch selection in our pop-up shop and we also had a workshop where spectators could tinker with parts and try to put a drone back together to learn how it actually works.
Last year, the 2018 Swatch Pilot, Emmanuel “UFO” Moto, documented his journey from tryouts to finals in the Life of a Drone Racer video series. And the 2017 Tryouts champ, Jacob “Jawz” Schneider secured a spot in the 2017 and 2018 DRL Allianz World Championship finales, proving that the DRL Simulator can lead to a smooth flight to the top.
We’re excited to see how Phluxy fares in the upcoming DRL season – we have a feeling his hard work over the past year will come in handy as his professional career takes off.