Have you seen the CTWC?

Why Tetris works as an esport


Image credit: CTWC

It’s high time we talked about Tetris. That’s right, the game from everyone’s childhood is an actual esport nowadays and it’s really good. We promise.

The original Tetris came out on June 6, 1984, which is almost 36 years ago. It’s one of those games everyone has heard of, but not many people know it actually has a very competitive professional scene. Did you ever dream of becoming the best Tetris player in the world? Well, you still can, because Tetris is just as popular as ever. It escaped the boundaries of home entertainment and jumped right into the world of esports. If you’re still not convinced, just take a look at the Classic Tetris World Championship.

We won’t spoil it but the winner’s name starts with “J”. (Video credit: Youtube – Classic Tetris)

The game’s creator Alexei Pajitnov probably never thought that his game would be watched by millions of people, but there you have it. On a side note, according to a 2009 study, Tetris is also good for your brain. If you’re not certain that’s the case, just check out the guys in the video above and how quickly they process information.

What makes Tetris a good esport?

It’s not complex

What does Tetris stand for? Pajitnov created the name by taking the Greek word for four “tetra” and a sport of his choice “tennis”. Much like the name, the game itself isn’t complex, which is something of a building block for an esports title. If someone drops from outer space and comes upon a single round of Tetris, they’ll pretty much get the rules and what to do without needing an explanation. That’s a huge plus for a competitive title.

Over the years, we’ve seen titles that were simply too complicated to keep viewer interest. Tetris is a breath of fresh air not only for the viewers but also for the commentators. There are no foreign terms to push away new viewers, something which can happen quite often in a MOBA game, for instance.

It happened naturally

If you were paying close attention to the video above, you’d notice something.

The contestants play the 1989 Nintendo version of Tetris on actual Nintendo Entertainment System consoles and CRT televisions.

How cool is that? As we’ve already mentioned, Tetris is an old game which was almost always popular. The recent spark of esports began back in 2010 and it’s been enjoying quite a lot of success. The prize pools ($500 for the CTWC 2019) are rather low when compared to other modern esports titles but there’s plenty of players and more than enough viewers. What we’re trying to say is that Tetris is a game that has had organic interest for over 3 decades now. It’s not chasing profit, it wasn’t created by a corporation just to offer you microtransactions. It’s just players and skill.

There’s also recent proof that Tetris follows the latest trends when it can. The release of Tetris 99 is a fun take on the Battle Royale genre as you compete with other players to be the last one standing. The creator of the original Tetris commented on it:

Tetris 99 is absolutely a great title. Basically, I think the one-player version of Tetris has been more or less stabilized over the years. That’s good, and we’re just adjusting the game to new user interfaces. But for two-player modes and serious competition, there are several challenges to overcome. I really want Tetris to establish itself as an esport. We’re getting there very slowly but surely.

Jokes on Pajitnov as Tetris is already an esport.

CTWC champion

Check out that trophy. (Image credit: CTWC)

It’s all about the players

With the game needing little to no explanation, fans can focus on the most important thing – the players. In most modern esports titles, we see very little player reaction, even in the grandest of events. Compared to them, the CTWC has both participants on display and the viewer can easily follow their body language. As we’ve already mentioned, the focus is on the players and the commentators usually do their best to tell us more about their backstory. Players are the centerpiece and their individual skill and reflexes are all that matters.

In conclusion

Will Tetris surpass League of Legends or Fortnite in popularity? Probably not, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad esport or a bad game. Other than the CTWC, there are numerous other tournaments where pro players clash like the International Cultris League, Hard Drop Open and others. There’s certainly a lot that modern esports can learn from Tetris as the competitive scene can often shift the focus away from the players.

For more news and videos from the world of esports and gaming, make sure to check out EarlyGame.

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