A few months back, we went on a Tetris writing spree where all we posted on this blog was about Tetris. What can we say? As sellers of arcade cabinets and amusements, as well as operators of FECs ourselves, we’re always hyped for all things retro and competitive. And when it comes to these two aspects, you really can’t go wrong with Tetris.
On one occasion, we talked about the 2018 Classic Tetris World Championship (CTWC) and how the 7-time reigning champion Jonas Neubauer was finally bested and a new champion took the crown. However, the most baffling part about this is not that Neubauer lost his winning streak, but that it was taken by 16-year-old newcomer Joseph Saelee. The young competitor had never even set foot in a competition as important in the Tetris scene as the CTWC, but that didn’t stop him from going all the way and taking the glory.
It goes without saying that the 2018 finals were intense and chaotic, with sparks flying as both finalists went all out in a struggle to surpass each others’ scores. You didn’t even have to be a Tetris connoiseur to know that both contestants were bordering on superhuman in terms of reflexes and performance, all the while under the extreme pressure of possibly claiming the title of best Tetris player in the world. The fact that Neubauer was a 7-time champ didn’t take away from the intensity in his expressions during play, but Saelee wasn’t going home that day unless it was with the title of champion.
Just take a look at the final match between these two beasts at the 2018 CTWC:
It’s a 42-minute video, but we recommend taking a look when you have the time. We’re no Tetris athletes, but it doesn’t take an expert to realize that both finalists are immensely skilled.
This time around, however, Saelee made a comeback to defend his title in this year’s CTWC 2019, held just a few weeks ago in October. This event saw many returning professionals, including former World Champ Neubauer, European Champion Svavar Gunnarsson, and Koji “Koryan” Nishio, as well as the creator of Tetris himself, Alexey Pajitnov. However, in a shocking turn of events that was unprecedented in the past 8 years, Neubauer didn’t make the cut.
The competition was fierce this time around, with some of the best players in CTWC history squaring off against each in the Portland venue. Neubauer, who at the very least always landed in a top 3 spot for the past 8 years, was eliminated in the top 32, which threw any possibilities that the former-champion and current champion would face off in a grudge match for the title out the window.
Nevertheless, Neubauer’s elimination didn’t make things any easier for Saelee as the reigning champion had to beat some of the best Tetris players in the world to reach the finals. And once there, he had to play against someone who, at the very least managed to best the player who bested his rival from 2018. This turned out to be none other than Koryan.
Unlike the 2018 finals, however, this matchup was much more intense. While Saelee defeated Neubauer last year with three consecutive victories for a 3-0, this year’s finals spanned the entirety of the 5 rounds, with Saelee barely coming out on top in the fifth round. While the reigning champion was playing better than ever, with machine accuracy, it was actually a few mistakes on Koryan’s part that cost him the championship. A few block misplacements is usually what it takes to turn a clean well into a messy one, and this is exactly what happened to Koryan in the last round.
Unfortunately, the complete finals are not available on the net yet, but we found a clip showcasing the moment when Koryan strikes out and Saelee climbs back to take the win.
Suffice to say, we’re anxiously waiting to rewatch the finals between these two phenomenal competitors. A huge PrimeTime Amusements shoutout to Joseph Saelee who, at a very young age, has managed to not only win the title of Tetris World Champion in 2018, but to defend it successfully this year. Lots of love to runner-up Koryan, as well as all the other contestants that came out and are keeping Tetris alive and kicking decades after the game’s initial release.
Thanks for reading! Here at PrimeTime Amusements, we like to keep ahead of the curve in arcade game rental and sales and pride ourselves in providing the best service in the country. If you’re looking for a game in particular, or have a few questions about the industry, feel free to give us a call at 1.800.550.0090 or to swing by at 5300 Powerline Rd. Suite 210, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, 33309.