10 Years Ago Today, The 2nd Annual Tetris World Championship Was Held At USC

2011 Tetris Championship Logo

On the 16th of October 2011, the 2nd Annual Tetris World Championship began in the Bovard Auditorium at the University of Southern California (USC).

2011 Tetris World Championship Hosts, Chris Tang and Chris Dreyer
2011 Tetris World Championship Host, Chris Tang and Chris Dreyer.

This event was hosted by Chris Tang and Chris Dreyer.

For this event, there were four separate tournaments.

  • NES Tournament
  • PlayStation 3 Tournament
  • PlayStation 3 Team Tournament
  • Tetris Link Tournament

NES Tournament

The Qualifying Round was played on B-Type, Height 0. This meant that the player had 25 lines to get the highest score. Players were given 100,000 bonus points if they completed Level 19. At the end of the round, the Top 8 advanced to the playoffs. The Qualifying results can be found here.

In the Playoffs, the Top 8 were seeded based on their qualifying scores. Each round was a Best of 3, where players competed 1 v 1 on a Level 18 start.

All of the Top 8 players are featured in the documentary, Ecstasy of Order, with the exception of Eli Markstrom. Learn more about those players here.

In the Finals, Jonas Neubauer swept Alex Kerr to become a 2-Time Classic Tetris World Champion. For the full results, I created a spreadsheet to determine the final ranking.

Jonas with his 2011 Trophy
Jonas Neubauer and Henk Rogers

PlayStation 3 Tournament

This tournament was held as a way to promote this version of Tetris. (Note: the game has since been discontinued.)

In the qualifying round, players attempted to clear 40 lines in the fastest time. With the Top 8 advancing to the playoffs.

For the playoffs, all matches were played 1 v 1 in a Best of 7 format.

In the Finals, John “Blink” Tran defeated Josh Sison to win the tournament.

Henk Rogers and John Tran, who is holding 2 of his trophies.

PlayStation 3 Team Tournament

There were no qualifying rounds for this tournament. Instead, all Teams were placed in a single-elimination bracket. Each team featured 2 players. There were less than 15 teams that participated in this tournament. All of the early rounds were happening backstage. Eventually, the Finals were played on the stage.

Team Battle had a unique feature, in that players can alternate between to role of Attacker and Defense. Attackers send lines, while Defenders clear garbage lines underneath their stack.

In the Finals, Team Hard Drop went up against Team Grand Masters. Team Hard Drop featured John “Blink” Tran and Roger “arfarf” Teng. While Team Grand Masters featured Alex “Kitaru” Kerr and Kevin “KevinDDR” Birrell.

Team Hard Drop defeated Team Grand Masters to win the tournament.

Henk Rogers and Team Hard Drop
Henk Rogers standing between the 2 players that made up Team Hard Drop.

Tetris Link Tournament

Tetris Link is a board game version of Tetris. This tournament was outdoors, in front of the auditorium building. Unfortunately, there is no known footage of the tournament.

If you want to know how the game works, check out this video.

Daniel Anderson won the tournament. For those that don’t know, he is a member of the band, Idiot Pilot.

Henk Rogers and Daniel Anderson
Henk Rogers and Daniel Anderson


The Work To Organize This Event

One thing that you may not know was that the organizers lost money on this event. Although, Tetris Company and EA were sponsors for the event, the venue was expensive to rent. This was brought up by Chris Tang at the Game Developers Conference (GDC). This was also discussed by organizer, Vince Clemente, on the Piece Dependency Podcast (PDP).

The Future After 2011

There was uncertainty as to whether a third tournament was going to happen. Fortunately, Chuck Van Pelt encouraged Adam Cornelius and Robin Mihara to hold the Tetris Championship at the Portland Retro Gaming Expo.

This helped the CTWC organizers to not have to worry about finding a venue. The expo helped in providing foot traffic to the tournament.

In 2012, NES Tetris became the main game for the event. So, the 2012 event was known as the Classic Tetris World Championship (CTWC).

Concluding Thoughts

I find it interesting how there was a Classic Tetris and Modern Tetris Tournament happening at the same time. It’s definitely amazing to see how far the tournament has come, as it created an expanded community over the years.

Check out the entire tournament here. One thing I did not realize is that the documentary, Ecstasy of Order, did not get premiere yet. It eventually made it’s premiere 5 days later.

The following year, the event establishes themselves as the Classic Tetris World Championship (CTWC). Be sure to follow them on Social Media, @ClassicTetris, for up to date information on future tournaments.

Previous Post
Scene from Ecstasy of Order
Classic Tetris World Championship

‘Ecstasy of Order’ Cast: Where Are They Now?

Next Post
Packie Holding Up His 2021 DrMC Trophy
Dr. Mario

Packie Wins The 2021 Dr. Mario Championship