Classic Tetris Gets Competitive in Portland

Tetris is one of the all-time great games among the pantheon of classic games. Most anyone who has picked up a joystick, touched a phone screen screen, or used “WASD” on a keyboard have played Tetris, but only in recent years has the block-dropping puzzler returned to the public eye in both a familiar and competitive way. Tetris’ familiar combination of simplicity in game play and difficulty in mastery seems to have proven to be a good fit for the competitive gaming format.

History of CTWC

Taking place during October 18-20 in Portland, Oregon at the aptly named Portland Retro Gaming Festival (from October 18-20th), the 10th annual Classic Tetris World Championship (CTWC) offers up a weekend of Tetris as played on an original NES Tetris (not the Tengen edition), NES system and gamepad. This is the same set-up — not unintentionally — used in the 1990 Nintendo World Championship games competition, where Thor Aackerlund, won the Tetris match-up with strategies used to this day. Fast forward to 2009: Harry Hong, a competitive Tetris gamer, became recognized as the first person to max-out the NES Tetris score to 999,999. As other gamers also laid claim to this achievement and more visibility was brought to this achievement, the concept was born to bring together the best Tetris puzzle-masters together to compete to be the best of the best.

aGameScout summarizes the strategies and challenges involved with playing competitive Tetris, the curious origins of competitive Tetris and the CTWC, and more in this informative YouTube video:

The CTWC Tournament

In a nutshell, the CTWC qualifying round to seed a 48-spot bracket will be held on Saturday from 10AM-3:45PM (PST). Qualifying attempts will be on Type A Tetris for highest score starting on level 9 or higher. The best score attempted within that time window will potentially qualify the contender for the next round. The top 16 seeds enter the CTWC main tournament pre-qualified from placing a 700,000 or higher Tetris score at a Qualifying event.

The remaining 17-48 seeds will move on to a “Round Zero,” which follows the first-round rules, from 4:30PM-7:30PM to compete for the remaining 16 spots in the 32-person championship. 

For the main event brackets, to be held on Sunday, these rounds will be dueled one-on-one in a best-of-three set of matches. Lastly, the championship will be determined in a best-of-five match. Aside from bragging rights, a $10,000 prize pool is on the line, with the winner taking $3,000.

Last year, showing the broadening audience of the Classic Tetris World Championship, teenager and first-time challenger, Joseph Saelee, toppled seven-time CTWC winner, Jonas Neubauer, with Japanese contenders Tomohiro “Greentea” Tatejima and Koji “Koryan” Nishio finishing third and fourth respectively. Given the ground-breaking tournament results from last year’s CTWC tournament, it will be tough to imagine a more interesting scenario for the 2019 tournament, but community interest is likely to be there as the competition plays out over the weekend.

If the present-day hype of watching this competition live is what Tetris’es your puzzler-loving heart, you may want to follow along with the 2019 Classic Tetris World Championship experience, The official Twitch channel, which will livestream the action, is below:

Watch live video from ClassicTetris on

For more information about the Classic Tetris World Championships, check out the competition’s official website.

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