Niche Online Tournaments

Daniel Wirtz

5 months ago

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One of my favorite activities to kill time is watching tournament games of niche – somewhat quirky – online tournaments. It’s often hard to search for these because you don’t know exactly what you are looking for. It’s more like these videos end up finding you.
The other day, I postponed unloading the dishwasher and instead clicked around in YouTube's endless well. Eventually, I stumbled upon a video titled “Classic Tetris World Championship 2023 Finals
My curiosity peaked at a daily high.
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Of course, I know Tetris so I knew what to expect. But opening the video, something immediately caught my attention. One of the finalists, Sidnev, had the controller positioned between their left foot and hand, while rhythmically tapping the controller's back with their right hand. They were also wearing what looked like a wool glove.
That’s what I like about these niche online tournaments and games. There's always something intriguing taking place, something new to learn. After a brief Google search, I found out that the tapping technique is known as rolling, which speeds up the possible keystrokes of the player. The glove serves as a friction reducer between the hand and controller, further accelerating keystrokes and therefore enabling to move the pieces in Tetris at a faster pace.
Compared to popular sports (like soccer or football) the meta of these niche sports isn’t universally recognized or standardized. Breakthroughs and new techniques might develop quickly to constantly push the boundaries of what is possible. Such as the technique of rolling in Classic Tetris, which was only uncovered in 2020.
Another interesting game to sometimes watch is Geoguessr, where players get to a random location on Google Maps and have to guess where they are.
It’s mindboggling to me, how some of the players can often even find the street of a random place they land at. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of these players have been contacted by some national intelligence service in the past to identify the locations of photos.
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An interesting highlight from the last World Cup was the absence of Rainbolt (one of the most known Geoguessr players) from the competitors. Instead, he was commentating on the matches. He helped to make the game big and since then many more – often younger players – have advanced so far to quickly surpass him. That’s how fast this competitive scene is evolving.
As I watch more of these online tournaments, my appreciation grows for the incredible skill and commitment these players display. Even though some of these games may seem unusual or quirky, if the players find joy in playing them, that's all that matters. They found something that they are passionate about, which is something other people struggle with these days. Personally, I find great joy in watching these competitions, even just as a spectator. So, dear YouTube algorithm: kindly give me more of these!

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