Do you want to quit your job and fly drones for a living? Well, you've got another shot.
On Wednesday, the Drone Racing League announced the launch of the 2018 Swatch DRL Tryouts, with the winner receiving a $75,000 professional contract and a chance to compete in the 2018 DRL season.
All you need to do is download the DRL Simulator, enter the competition and start flying. You'll compete on five different courses, which are replicas of five courses used during the 2017 DRL season: Miami Nights, Atlanta Aftermath, Mardi Gras World, Boston Foundry and the Munich Playoffs. The 24 players who post the lowest cumulative time on all five courses between Nov. 15 and Jan. 15 will advance to a live esports-style tournament on Feb. 3, 2018, to determine the ultimate winner.
"The biggest change is, last year's contest was open to people in the U.S. over 21 [years old]," said DRL CEO and founder Nicholas Horbaczewski. "This year, we've broadened it dramatically, so it's open to anyone in the world over 18. So we've really taken the competition global."
Jacob "Jawz" Schneider won the simulator competition last year, and that wasn't all. He also won the regular-season event in Boston and advanced through the playoffs in Munich to the finals in London, finishing seventh overall.
"It really proves that the simulator can be a great way to identify talent and train talent," Horbaczewski said. "Which is why we're so excited to be opening up the competition this year, because now truly anyone in the world has a shot at becoming a DRL pilot and having the experience Jawz had, which is pretty amazing.
"He went from basically [being] a gamer to [being] a pro athlete in drone racing in just a couple of weeks' time. He got to travel all over the world with us -- he got all the way to London last year, which is pretty incredible. And so we're looking for the next Jawz, really."
If you've never flown a drone before, don't worry. This year's simulator can help you get up to speed.
"One of the things we've added for novice pilots is this extensive tutorial that takes you from someone who's never flown a drone before to an experienced racing pilot," Horbaczewski said. "It's got about 50 stages to it -- it takes you from, this is what a drone is and this is how it flies, to teaching you all the skills, to teaching you the specifics of how to fly a racing drone and a drone in first-person view.
"So it's an opportunity for everybody, even if you've never flown a drone, to get quite competent on drones before you go out in the real world and try to fly an expensive piece of equipment."
There are other new features in this year's simulator, too.
"We have [added] multiplayer so that people can go in and race each other from around the world," Horbaczewski said. "We have a whole bunch of different drones that people can fly, so we're broadening out from just the Racer3. We've got online replays, so you can go in and watch anyone's prior race, so you can learn from really experienced pilots. It's a pretty dramatic overhaul from where we were before."
One thing that hasn't changed about DRL, however, is its champion. Jordan "Jet" Temkin was the champion of DRL's inaugural season in 2016, and he successfully defended his title in 2017.
"Jet's repeat win was very exciting for us," Horbaczewski said. "I think it demonstrated his incredible capabilities as a pilot and as an athlete. And it's always fun to see a returning champion. Now I think he's gonna go into 2018 with even more to prove, and even more people gunning for him."
One of those people will be the winner of the 2018 Swatch DRL Tryouts. You know what? It could be you.