More Details on the Upcoming Zwift Racing League

More Details on the Upcoming Zwift Racing League

UPDATE: ZRL is evolving quickly – get the latest updated Zwift Racing League information here.

Last week we announced the exciting new Zwift Racing League, but details were (and are) still evolving. A league of this sort has never been implemented in Zwift’s ecosystem, so there are lots of details to work out. Things are much clearer now than they were a week ago, so we figured an update was due.

Zwift has contracted with WTRL to manage the open divisions of the league, while Zwift Esports is managing the top (invitational) league as they’ve handled past invitationals. We caught up with Zwift’s Jacob Fraser and WTRL’s Martin Carew to talk through more specifics, so the information below is fresh from the organizers.

What makes Zwift Racing League special?

  • Community accessibility: the league caters to all time zones and abilities. Past race series organized by Zwift have been for high-level racers only, but everyone can play in the Zwift Racing League!
  • Teams and divisions: cycling is a team sport, broken up into divisions/categories to give more riders access to competition near their ability level. Zwift Racing League is using both teams and divisions to create a structure familiar to all racing cyclists.
  • Mixing formats: with a mix of scratch races and team time trials, the league has more variety than past single-format events.


League Structure

The league is comprised of 5 divisions: Open Divisions 1, 2, 3, and 4, and the Premier Division. The Premier Division events are invite-only.

Race Day and Formats

Races will be held once a week on Tuesdays. Each week the race will swap between a scratch race and a Team Time Trial.

WTRL’s very popular Thursday TTTs will continue uninterrupted.

Dates and Timeslots

Open Division will run for 10 weeks, from October 13 to December 15. Signups begin October 1.

Premier Division will run for 8 weeks, from October 13 to December 1.

Open Division events will have multiple timeslots to satisfy all time zones. There will be a time slot which targets the Asia-Pacific region, another for Europe, and one or two timeslots for the Americas. Times are still being finalized.

When teams register for the league, they will select the timeslot they will race in for the duration of the league. Each timeslot is treated as its own league, so teams will only be competing against the teams in their timeslot.

The Premier Division is region agnostic, with a single time slot.

Team and Points

The league is entirely team-based, with overall season rankings based on accumulated team points. The point structure is still being finalized, but points will be awarded for prime sections during events (sprints, KOMs) as well as finishing order.

Open Division races will allow for an unlimited team roster size, but a max of 6 athletes per race. Teams can register at any point during the season but would forego points for any races missed, e.g. a team that registers the second week would only start to accumulate points from week 2. (According to WTRL, in future race seasons, late joining will not be allowed.)

Open Divisions will be categorized according to rider power numbers, with no mixed category teams allowed. Subsequent seasons will see teams reshuffled somewhat based on results (see “Multi-Season Ladder System” below), but for the first season, Divisions will be based on ZwiftPower categories. Therefore, all participants need to be signed up to ZwiftPower in order to take part in the Zwift Racing League. (See “Getting Set Up” on our “How to Race On Zwift” post for details on signing up to ZwiftPower.)

In the Premier Division, teams can have a roster with up to 10 riders, but are limited to 6 athletes per race, with a 3 athlete per race minimum. Premier Division teams are required to keep the same 10 rider roster for the entire season and cannot rotate riders in/out who were not registered at the start of the season.

Team Signups

Open Division team signups will begin October 1st through WTRL’s website at www.wtrl.racing. Larger established Zwift teams are already discussing how to best get their members onto individual teams for the league, so if you’re already part of a Zwift team, talk to your organizers.

Need a team? WTRL will be offering a “matchmaking service” as well. Stay tuned for details.

Invitational Qualifiers

Qualifiers for the Premier League are already underway, with 30 men’s teams and 22 women’s teams competing for spots in the Premier League.

The top 15 teams from the qualifiers (15 men’s teams and 15 women’s teams) will join up to 5 select wildcard teams in the first season of the Premier League.

Multi-Season Ladder System

This is just the first season for Zwift Racing League, but the plan is to follow up with season 2 (and presumably additional seasons). The good news here is that the multi-season approach means Zwift+WTRL are taking a long-term view of this racing league.

But what’s even more exciting is that the multi-season approach includes a ladder system wherein the lowest-placing teams will move down a division, while the highest-placing will move up. This will happen across all ZRL divisions, meaning we’ll have our first relegation-style Zwift league format!

Organizers

The Open Divisions are organized by WTRL, a well-respected community race organizer whose most notable accomplishment is the very popular Thursday Team Time Trial Series.

The Premier Division is being be operated by Zwift Esports.

Broadcasts

Open Division races will be live-streamed by Zwift Community Live, while Premier Division races will be live-streamed by Zwift Live. Men’s and women’s races will receive equal broadcast coverage.

What We Don’t Know

There are still a few key details being worked out between WTRL and Zwift. Here’s our list of pending items:

  • Event times: we know there will be 3-4 open division event times each Tuesday, but those times are still being finalized.
  • Event routes: where will each week’s race take place, and over what distance?
  • Point system: how will points work, and where can teams grab points for each race?
  • Ladder system: how many teams will be relegated at the end of each season, and how many will move up?
  • Signup process: we don’t know exactly what team signups will look like, but WTRL assures us it will be similar to their current TTT signup system.
  • Anti-cheating controls: we think this ZRL will use the current system of anti-cheating tools which simply disqualify riders after the event. But we’re going to check with WTRL to confirm.

Questions or Comments?

Post below! We’re talking to WTRL and Zwift about details and will try to get your questions answered as thoroughly as possible.

About The Author

Eric Schlange

Eric runs Zwift Insider in his spare time when he isn't on the bike or managing various business interests. He lives in Northern California with his beautiful wife, two kids and dog. Follow on Strava

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Twissy
Twissy
2 months ago

Hey Eric, exciting times ahead. I think we also don’t know how Zwift will support with functionality such as preventing wrong cat individuals sandbagging, will Zwift results be final or do we need to do the zwiftpower thing, will we get in race alerts in points etc. It would be good to get an update from Zwift too. 👍🏼

Andrew
Andrew
2 months ago
Reply to  Eric Schlange

In a ZHW Beta Crit city race today an A+ rider in the B’a roads to the win averaging 5w/kg so think they still need to work on it!

Good old Zwiftpower filtered him out.

Barrie
Barrie (@barrie)
2 months ago

Will anti-cheating controls need in place?

Frank Quigg
Frank Quigg
2 months ago

Will there be any control of category entry. Can B and C category riders join a D team.

Andy Beveridge
Andy Beveridge
2 months ago
Reply to  Eric Schlange

Hopefully as this is a teams-based event no team will enter riders in the wrong category .. will have to see what happens to rider(s) who get promoted mid league whegher they can still ride in the team or if they have to be substituted out. Personally I would like the race that got then promoted to count and then to have them subbed out for next race.

Jason
Jason (@hernejj)
2 months ago

“with no mixed category teams allowed.”

I’m trying hard to get 6-10 local riders together to form a team. I live in a smaller area and interest is somewhat low here. Does this mean that all of the riders *must* be in the same Zwift Power category? We can’t simply take our mixed B, C, D team and ride in the B races?

Also, a team consist of both male and female riders?

viiich
viiich (@viiich)
2 months ago
Reply to  Jason

Answer so far on the WTRL Zwift Racing League facebook page is that women can’t enter the men’s. There’s been nothing about riding above minimum category yet, but ‘no mixed category’ seems to imply a mandatory category, not just a mandatory minimum.

James Eastwood
2 months ago
Reply to  viiich

I’d be surprised if you can’t ride in a higher category…

Richard
Richard
2 months ago
Reply to  James Eastwood

it will hard to organise teams if all have to be in the same category.. much easier and more normal to have a local team made of a mix of riders who all enjoy riding together.

Elaine Seale-McKend
2 months ago

Great to have the teams racing again, we missed that sense of community and spirit. Ive been racing with my SA friends and circle but with the UK moving into winter time soon thats going to be more challenging sadly. Anyway it sounds exciting so well done on getting this far

Cody Stephenson
Member
Cody Stephenson (@codyish)
2 months ago

I’m all for any improvement and focus on racing, and I get the focus on teams right now, but I hope they don’t forget about individuals as well. I have zero interest in spending the time and resources to herd 5+ more people into the same schedule. Just getting everybody on the same page and signed up correctly and to each race is likely to take twice as much time as the actual race each week. To me the benefit of Zwift racing is that it’s a low-effort way to get some racing and good training in without the headaches… Read more »

James Eastwood
2 months ago

Luckily there are loads of race series you can take part in as an individual. This one is team based.

Nicola Kaye
Nicola Kaye
2 months ago

Are we allowed to have a mixed men’s/ladies team or are they single sex only?

Jason
Jason (@hernejj)
2 months ago
Reply to  Nicola Kaye

It is looking like mixed teams will not be allowed. This dashed my hopes of putting a local team together. I’ll wait for the matchmaking tool and then try to find a team to join :). I would have loved to ride with my local friends, but this will be better than nothing. Its easy to get frustrated but we all have to remember that this is new and it will take a few tries to work out the kinks and cater to everyone.

Ron
Ron
2 months ago

“region agnostic”

That’s the first time I read that.

Rob
Rob
2 months ago

When do we expect the available times to be announced?

James Eastwood
2 months ago
Reply to  Rob

Friday

Roy
Roy
1 month ago

Great initiative, but very unfortunate for my team that the races are on Tuesdays since we have our fixed team trainings also on Tuesday (100 participants) and since we combine cyclocross, zwift and other activities, it’s very difficult to change our training day.
Does anyone know if there are other (team-based) race leagues being organized at different evenings? My team is interested to join such a league. The TTT from WTRL is already on our list.

Michael Collins
1 month ago

Was there an app crash epidemic outside of my team last night?

Glad we’re getting fresh new bike models with that $.5bil, but can’t fix basic stuff like app stability, app usability, fair racing (entered a crit driven by two D-class Zpower riders after the crash) after five years.

It’s a shame the competition is as bad as it is…

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