Warning: Spoilers Ahead for CTWC 2020’s Group E!
Seven-Time Classic Tetris World Champion, Jonas Neubauer, went out in a blaze of glory this past Sunday during group-stage play (Group E Bracket) of CTWC 2020. The Reign of Neubauer was long and splendid, stretching from 2010 to 2017 (with only one defeat to rival Harry Hong in 2014) but starting in 2018, 16-year-old Classic Tetris prodigy, Joseph Saelee snatched the crown, handily defeating Neubauer in a 3-0 sweep in that year’s finals.
In 2019, Neubauer exited that year’s tourney early in a shocking and disappointing loss to MegaRetroMan in Round 1; and ever since, all eyes have been on the longtime veteran CTWC champ to see what he’d have up his sleeves for 2020.
Jonas did not disappoint.
I know I’d already written about CTWC 2020 last month as qualifiers kicked off, but with the first half of group-stage play finished, I thought I’d write another entry more specifically about Jonas today. First, more generally, as a CTWC fan for several years now, these past few weeks of non-stop Classic Tetris have been an absolutely phenomenal treat. It is so glorious to be able to tune in every weekend and watch the best Classic Tetris players in the world show their mettle. Truly, what a time to be alive.
Also, some results have been surprising! I also follow Classic Tetris Monthly (hosted by God’s Gift to Man, vandweller) and from that scene, some “new kids on the block” were expected to make a big splash this year at their inaugural CTWC debuts. Let me say, these young guns (and emphasis on ‘young’) were heavily hyped. The Canadian, Jake B, posted an impressive 5x maxouts during quals and was seeded 8. And the American, Eric, who posted an astonishing 7x maxouts during quals, was seeded 2. Both of these players shockingly flamed out early in their respective brackets though and didn’t even make the final rounds. Maybe it was the pressure and heat of the moment? Bad RNG? Or maybe just a bad day. In any case, we’re looking forward to seeing them again in the future! Needless to say, they’re still young and have time on their side! 👍
Back to Jonas though.
I don’t know exactly how old he is (though he is married; that, my friend, means more than all those T-Piece trophies combined. Hi, Heather! 👋) but one thing I really give Jonas props for is despite being several decades older than the new youngblood on the scene, and for being a DAS player, the old dinosaur still had some fight left in him. As someone who is older myself, I really appreciate the old guard showing these young whippersnappers that age, experience, and wisdom do count for something. And while that something maybe wasn’t quite enough to see Jonas through to absolute victory this time around, it was still certainly a valiant and magnificent effort.
Here’s a quick play-by-play highlighting some great moments this past Sunday:
Jonas did not have an auspicious start in Round 1 on Sunday, ultimately losing Game 5 to the newcomer, RedShurt. Upon beating Jonas in Round 1, here’s RedShurt making the happiest anatomically possible face for a human to make– he’s just beaten the SEVEN-time world champ!! This was, and might quite possibly be, the greatest moment of RedShurt’s life.
Having lost in Round 1, Jonas gets banished to the loser’s bracket. But the old man’s still got a chance! Since for the first time in CTWC history, they’re trying a double-elimination format this year. The long slog begins!
So, something like six hours later, Jonas (“BunBun” 🤷), manages to fight his way back into the final round, from the loser’s bracket. On the way there, he manages to revenge-sweep RedShurt 3-0 as well as knock off second-seeded Eric, 3-1 in the semi-finals.
But alas, up against the 18th seeded Huffulufugus, Jonas’s Cinderella run would sadly come to a 1-3 end. Jonas played the Tetris of his life, the best he’s ever played in a CTWC match. But ultimately, Huff was just too consistent and just barely better. But it was enough. It’s weird that the seven-time world champ is now considered an underdog, but in 2020, here we are. CTWC has evolved so dramatically that DAS players are truly a dying breed. Yet, Jonas still gave ’em all a run for their money! In particular, his first two games with Huff in the finals were positively spellbinding.
In the Group E bracket finals, Game 1:
Going into kill-screen in Game 1 against Huff, Jonas sees that he’s behind by over 90k points and has the mental wherewithal and dexterity to set up a center-well six hours into the tourney. Good lord, what a legend.
Sadly, despite scoring two Tetrisi (Tetrises?) with his Quaid-well, it unfortunately still wasn’t enough. Jonas ends up losing Game 1 to Huff by a meager ~18k points. Not even a Tetris!
And in Game 2 against Huff, things once again went down to the wire. Once more, Jonas manages to reach level 28 but he tragically hangs a longbar in column 2 on the left five lines away from kill-screen. So close! If he’d only been able to get that I-piece over then he may have been able to take the game!
A few frames later, Jonas hangs another longbar on column 2 and that’s tragically the end. The world champ ends up losing Game 2 to Huff by ~51k points, about two Tetrises.
Huff would suffer an early top-out in Game 3 but then Jonas would give an early top-out right back in Game 4, thus concluding the match and crowning Huff as the victor of Group E for CTWC 2020. Still, what a match. It was honestly a rollercoaster from start to finish.
Mr. Neubauer, thank you for participating in this year’s CTWC and doing all you’ve done for the sport. Your international friendly against Koryan in Hong Kong and epic comeback against Harry in 2013 still continues to be the stuff that dreams are made of. You’re a consummate ambassador of the Classic Tetris community. Thank you for being who you are and for doing everything you’ve done. ¡Viva Albacete! 😀