Yes, it is 2018 and, yes, there is still such a thing as the Tetris World Championships. It was news to me, too.
The newly crowned world champion wasn’t even a glint in his mother’s eye when Tetris first came out. Indeed, it’s absolutely possible that his mother wasn’t a glint in her mother’s eye when Tetris first came out. He’s just 16 years old and he’s called Joseph Saelee.
Joseph claimed his title after toppling seven-time world champion Jonas Neubauer in a brutally tense final.
World championship Tetris hasn’t moved with the times. It looks like it’s still played on the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) – or at least, the players are still using the dinky little NES controllers. Which makes their fast-fingered work ever more impressive. Those things are pretty uncomfortable to use for sustained periods, as 12-year-old me would testify.
So, let’s cut to the chase – how fast do you have to be to become a Tetris world champion? In the clip below, you’ll see Jonas desperately waiting for a long bar to fall to get him the Tetris he needs to overhaul Joseph’s score and claim the second leg of the final.
The pieces are tumbling from the sky at such a rate that once the wall reaches the halfway point it’s almost impossible for him to react quickly enough to reposition the falling pieces – they simply start stacking up in the middle.
And here’s the action from the title-clinching third leg. Jonas is already out, having notched a score of 915,800. Joseph is still alive, but he’s got to pass his opponent’s score and pieces are dropping out of the sky like coins tumbling from a pocket.
He’s again holding on for a long bar to get the match-winning Tetris, and look at the speed of reactions he shows to keep himself alive and claim the title:
Joseph’s prize for this awesome display of breakneck puzzle solving? $1,000. Even his mum might have turned her nose up at that…
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