New Tetris world champion is almost half of the game’s age

New Tetris world champion is almost half of the game's age

Tetris is one of those video games that feels like it’s been around forever. Many of us first experienced the block-stacking classic when it landed on the Nintendo Game Boy. Everyone and their mother (even the former First Lady) has played Tetris in one form or another. And guess what? People are still playing it.

One of those people is seven-time Tetris world champion Jonas Neubauer. Ever since the inception of the Classic Tetris World Championship, Jonas has taken home first place. That streak has finally been snapped by an unlikely newcomer.

Hosted by the Portland Retro Gaming Expo in Oregon, Classic Tetris World Championship 2018 saw a fresh face in 16-year-old Joseph Saelee rise up the ranks. Eventually, he came toe-to-toe (block-to-block?) with Jonas in the finals where the unthinkable happened.

During the event, Joseph was quoted by the BBC stating how he got into the competitive Tetris scene after watching the 2016 championships. He also plays the NES version of the game which came out in 1989, 13 years before he was even born. The footage showing the way he handles an NES controller is a sight to behold.

Along with an NES console, Joseph also uses a CRT TV. This is common in the competitive scene as it means less latency. That’s the same reason why you will see these older types of television sets in Super Smash Bros. Melee tournaments.

Even though Joseph has reached the Tetris peak at such a young age, he’s still hungry for more. After winning the championship, he stated, “Tetris is easy to learn but it can take years to master.” He followed that up with, “I feel like I could still improve – it isn’t just a one-time thing.”

New Tetris world champion is almost half of the game's age

We look forward to seeing more of Joseph’s Tetris skills in the coming years. Jonas himself doesn’t seem ready to pass the torch just yet, so this is likely not the last we will see these two knock each other’s blocks off.

David Giltinan
David has been involved in games media since 2012 running his own blog, YouTube channel, being a founding member of RETRO Magazine, and now as host/producer of ARGcast - Another Retro Gaming Podcast. He also dabbles in voiceover and is occasionally a stunt double for Jude Law.