Racing has been a commonly seen pod pilot sporting event for years, with the most famous example being the Caldari COLOSSUS race series. Over the last year, however, the pod-pilot organized Interstellar Gaming Consortium has institutionalized the practice of pod pilot racing to a degree not seen before. Where previous races have either been one shot events or short series, the ISGC Racing League is on its third season complete with corporate sponsorship from pod pilot organizations, of which the most famous is Veto. The CEO of ISGC, Gyra Rho, was kind enough to grant the following interview to the Interstellar Correspondents:
Daren Vryennios Lets start with a beginning, shall we? What made you decide to move from the Angels Allure initiative to the ISGC?
Gyra Rho: A business associate of mine, Kaleigh Doyle, was expanding the Glamour Syndicate and was in need of a manager for the fledgling sub-corporation at the time, and had asked me to head the racing project. She had begun the project and I picked up early and kept it afloat after parting from the mega-conglomerate into its own entity.
Daren Vryennios: How would you characterize the way your first two seasons have gone?
Gyra Rho: I would say a lot like an avalanche....We had to establish ourselves as a credible entity early on with the first season, and build awareness in the stellar community. Season two was a culmination of that work, continuously building and evolving the races to be bigger and better every time. Every step of the way has been quite a surprise for me.
Daren Vryennios: Season three seems, so far, to match that description.
Gyra Rho: Season three started with quite an explosion. We've caused quite a ripple this time with some lively participants. Plenty of sponsors as well. One of our main corporations to participate in the event, Dragonstar, has suddenly deluged into quite a rivalry with newcomers NeuroGEN.
Daren Vryennios I noticed that the first race was rather violent, is this the result of the new presence of NeuroGEN or something else?
Gyra Rho: Well, it was a combination of events really. Some rather observant pirates made a couple waypoints a killing zone for the racers, while NeuroGEN's surgical strikes against the League's top racers had left the first race in quite a mess.
The rules have always allowed pilots to shoot one another (no podding), but no team has yet to incorporate it in its tactics until now. The pirates are always an unexpected variable, but one the racers have come to expect.
Daren Vryennios: Do you think the violence will continue to increase in the future races?
Gyra Rho: Inter-corporate fighting I anticipate to rise as participants are made aware of just how effective it can be, especially with the addition of interceptors, destroyers, and assault frigates to the mix, but the external factors such as belt pirates and other pod pilots is usually dependent on the activity of the region at the time. Fortunately, Saturdays are usually quite lively for the unsavory types.
Gyra Rho: It may not be as gruesome, but the audience will sure be clamoring for more I am quite sure.
Daren Vryennios: So you think that this turn is a good thing for your races?
Gyra Rho: Well, yes and no. It keeps the veterans on their toes, and certainly ups the ante for those who fit for only speed, so hopefully this will open some fresh ideas on approaching the league, and viewership has never been higher. Newer pilots may be a bit frightened, but the ones we've had the pleasure of working with were very enthusiastic...and I always make it a habit to warn newer pilots to only fly what they can afford to lose.
Daren Vryennios: Is the risk of loss the negative?
Gyra Rho: The Racing League isn't for the faint of heart. Racers should approach the track prepared for anything, but for many this is what the allure of racing is all about- risking it all for guts, glory, and a great story to tell with your fellow corpmates over a beer.
And if they're really good, hopefully a ton of ISK for themselves and their corporation.
Daren Vryennios: Have there been any comments about your decision to expand to crewed ships?
Gyra Rho: Well, we had a rather high turnout for the frigate classes, and only a couple participants for the Destroyers, but honestly I'm not sure a crew factored much in that decision.
Daren Vryennios: Are you planning further expansion of the ship classes in future seasons?
Gyra Rho: The interceptor class has been by far the most popular class beside the regular frigate, but it is still a bit early as to whether assault frigates or destroyers will be as popular... We had toyed with the idea of cruisers or even battleships, but that would be something to decide at a later date. I'd like to see how the participation level goes first.
Cloaked ships would add an interesting element, I must admit, though amusingly the highest request thus far has been for industrial ships...
Daren Vryennios: Why do you think that is?
Gyra Rho: I'm fairly sure they're joking, or suicidal, you really can't tell talking to a podder.
Daren Vryennios: Well, it has been excellent speaking with you. Do you have anything you would like to add?
Gyra Rho: We have a race this Saturday [The 30th of June, the next race has not yet been scheduled at the time of publication.] in the Placid region, and for only 1 mil any pilot is welcome to attend with the appropriately classed ship. I look forward to a very entertaining season for our audience.
The ISGC league seems poised to expand even more in the coming seasons, with sponsors such as Kendar Zek of the Interstellar Aid Society providing vessels and paying race fees for some prospective contestants. Given the publicity from such initiatives, as well as from the brewing militant rivalry between NeuroGEN and Dragonstar, the ISGC Racing League looks to be in the midst of an exiting third season with potentially much more to come as it moves further into the public eye and continues to develop.