Why is Trackmania So Competitive?
Trackmania has one of the most dedicated communities out there. Did you ever think to yourself – this track is so fun, I am going to spend 1000+ hours grinding it to get the world record? Neither did I, mostly because 1000 hours is over 41 days worth of in-game time, and all that spent on a single track/level. If your answer was yes, I admire your inspiring dedication and I hope I will match it one day.
That is where the Trackmania community comes in, though. Players have been grinding these games for world records for over a decade now. On top of the regular game being incredibly competitive, there is also the Trackmania Grand League, an eSports competition hosted by Ubisoft and Nadeo. This is where the best that the games have to offer compete.
Where It All Started
Trackmania came out almost twenty years ago, in the now ancient 2003. Not going to lie, this one hurt to say. Painful joking aside, the first game already had time trial modes and players took to it immediately, especially since your runs could be uploaded online to see how you match up with your fellow players. If you wanted your friends to come over so you could play on one device, you also had the hotseat or LAN options.
This was the start of what would become one of the most competitive franchises in the video game universe. Multiplayer was also featured where players would race one another, but one key difference from other games is that there is no collision with other cars. It is up to you, your skill level, and your knowledge of the tracks to actually start collecting wins.
Speaking of world records on official tracks, players had years upon years to try and perfect them by beating previous record holders. Most records are so optimised nowadays that if you are going to want to beat them, it will take a considerable amount of time. It is definitely not impossible, but it also won’t be easy.
Track Types for Competition
Trackmania is also quite unique in the way it presents its various track styles. The styles differ so drastically that you even have players that only specialise in one specific type.
The game has so-called fullspeed tracks where the objective is to not release the gas at all. Naturally, they can be thoroughly challenging, but seeing a great player drive these tracks makes you want to get better at it too. Since you are expected to be going full speed constantly, the tracks usually have crazy wallrides, loops, jumps, and everything in between.
Then we have tech tracks, which are the complete opposite of fullspeed ones. The objective here is to know exactly when and how to turn, brake, slide, or any variations of the three. That is because they have really tight and narrow corners, and if you come in with blazing speed, you are flying out the stadium. That, or dead stopping at the wall, after which you probably have to reset anyway.
Offroad tracks are the mix of the two, having both full speed and technical parts. Players fell in love with this style of track because the surface you are driving on is different, and it allows for some serious drifts. Well, drifts and crazy, record-breaking mechanics you can only pull off on the dirt surface that offroad tracks provide. Here is an example: if you are going really fast, and you have to turn 90 degrees, your car won’t spin out, but actually gain acceleration if you do everything correctly. You need to juggle having the appropriate speed, exact angle, and pressing the brake button at the correct time.
Endurance tracks cover most styles in a single race because they are so long. Some of them even take several hours to complete. That is why they are usually broken down into multiple sectors, with various styles bouncing off each other.
There are even more track styles, but these are the ones people play most, and it’s where the competition is at its highest level. In regards to different surfaces, you have road, ice, dirt, grass, and plastic, and they can be used in all track styles. The gameplay changes drastically depending on the surface, and just like track styles, there are players that only specialise in one type of surface.
The Trackmania Grand League is where the cream of the crop come and race it out. It has numerous competitions throughout the year, but its biggest event is the World Cup. The World Cup has been running every year since 2006, with exceptions in 2009, 2017, and 2019.
Seeing pro players compete against one another makes the game look ridiculously easy, as if anyone could do it without even breaking a sweat. But then you start the game and try the tracks they are driving on. That is when it hits you, and not just the realisation, but also the walls and every other obstacle on the track.
Trackmania’s Grand League World Cup most recently occurred earlier this year. The winner was no less than Carl-Antoni “Carl Jr.” Cloutier, the game’s most decorated player. Carl has 5 World Championships, 5 ZrT Cup wins, and a lot of other wins and trophies, potentially making him the greatest of all time.
The game is amazing in itself, but the real gem hidden beneath it all is the community who keeps on investing their time and effort continuously. Everyone is competing against each other, but there is a sense of belonging, comradery, and shared accomplishments.
Say a player grinds a track for days, weeks, and months to break a record. Once they do manage to finally beat it, the community will explode with overwhelming praise and support, celebrating as if they have done it themselves. This has happened time and time again, and that is why one of the most competitive games is also one of the most wholesome games.