Fractal and PixelAndy become the Second and Third Players to Beat NES Tetris

PixelAndy and Fractal compete against each other at the 2023 Classic Tetris World Championship
PixelAndy and Fractal at the 2023 Classic Tetris World Championship – Source: aGameScout

In December 2023, there was a race to become the first person to beat NES Tetris by crashing the game. Eventually, Blue Scuti won that race against Fractal.

That did not stop other players from ending the race. They were still determined to crash the game themselves.

Discovering The Classic Tetris World Championship

Fractal got into Tetris after watching the Classic Tetris World Championship (CTWC) matches on YouTube.

PixelAndy discovered the CTWC after watching the 2018 Finals. He started playing NES Tetris in the summer of 2019, as he wanted something fun to do.

Fractal and PixelAndy make Debut Appearances at the CTWC

Fractal and PixelAndy joined the CTWC in 2020, which was held online because of the Covid-19 Pandemic.

Fractal finished in the Top 16 in an epic match against Cheez.

While PixelAndy made it all the way to the Finals, where he lost to his brother, Dog.

Here are all of the 2020 CTWC Matches.

Fractal’s matches are in Group D and PixelAndy’s matches are in Group H.

Here are the Top 8 Matches

If you are wondering why the players are not Rolling, the technique was not discovered yet. So Hypertapping was the dominant playstyle at the time, where players vibrated their fingers to press the D-Pad quickly.

Competing at CTWC again in 2021

The 2021 CTWC was held online again.

Fractal was determined to make it to the Top 8. And it showed when he qualified for the tournament as the #4 Seed. Only to be defeated by TetrisTime (#20 Seed). Fractal ended up finishing in the Top 16 again.

PixelAndy had quite a run, he had 11 Maxouts in his qualifying session, earning him the #2 Seed.

In the tournament, PixelAndy had quite a journey to get into the Top 8. He was defeated by Asta in Round 2, but he was still in the tournament because the early rounds were Double-Elimination, where players that lose 2 matches are eliminated.

PixelAndy worked his way through the Losers Bracket and made it to the Group Finals. He was in a rematch against Asta, where he needed to win 2 matches to advance to the Top 8, while Asta only needed to win 1 match. PixelAndy managed to win 2 matches against Asta, to advance to the Top 8.

He made it to the Semifinals where he lost to his brother, Dog, again. Dog would end up become the Tetris World Champion again.

Here are all of the 2021 CTWC Matches.

Fractal’s matches are in Group H and PixelAndy’s matches are in Group F.

Here are the Top 8 Matches

When the 2021 CTWC was happening, the Rolling technique was discovered. Fractal was still in the early stages of mastering Rolling, so he was mainly Hypertapping at the tournament. He surprised commentators when he did a quick switch from Hypertapping to Rolling in the middle of a game.

While PixelAndy stuck with the Hypertapping technique.

Fractal and PixelAndy Face Off at 2022 CTWC

PixelAndy and Fractal in a Semifinals match at 2022 CTWC
PixelAndy and Fractal in a Semifinals match at 2022 CTWC

The 2022 CTWC was held in-person for the first time. Since the 2021 CTWC, more players started mastering the Rolling technique and it became their dominant playstyle.

PixelAndy had signed up for the first Qualifying session, while Fractal signed up for the second session.

In the qualifying rounds, players signed up for a time slot where they had 2 hours of unlimited attempts at the game. The players were ranked based on the Number of Maxouts, the Top 48 qualified for the tournament.

PixelAndy was in the first time slot, where he got an impressive 13 Maxouts. In the next time slot, Fractal got 14 Maxouts.

Fractal and PixelAndy qualified for the tournament as the #1 and #4 Seed, respectively.

Both players made it to the Semifinals and were competing against each other to get to the Finals.

Game 1 was memorable because Fractal maintained a 100% Tetris Rate for 108 lines, getting 27 Tetrises in a row. A Tetris is when a player clears 4 horizontal rows at once. Fractal topped out at Level 31, and PixelAndy chased down the points to win the game.

Fractal won the next 3 games to win the match and advance to the Finals. All matches in the tournament were a Best of 5.

The Finals between Fractal and EricICX was very unique to CTWC. They were playing far beyond Level 29 as they had mastered the Rolling technique. Because they could theoretically play forever, they were simply just playing to survive because there was no incentive to go for Tetrises. Fractal ended up losing to EricICX, finishing in Second place as a Finalist.

It would have been amazing if the game crashed in that match.

Check out all of Fractal’s matches below

Check out all of PixelAndy’s matches below

Here are all of the 2022 CTWC Matches.

Fractal and PixelAndy Rematch at 2023 CTWC

Fractal and PixelAndy in a Quarterfinals match at 2023 CTWC
Fractal and PixelAndy in a Quarterfinals match at 2023 CTWC

After the marathon match from last year’s tournament, the 2023 CTWC added the “Super Killscreen” at Level 39 to prevent games from going on forever.

Fractal and PixelAndy qualified for the 2023 CTWC as the #3 and #6 Seed, respectively.

They ended up in a Rematch in the Quarterfinals.

With the Super Killscreen added, they were pushed to get the higher score before they meet their end at Level 39, if they make it that far. They were going for Tetrises the entire game because they could not play forever.

Game 1 was very intense as they entered Level 29 Killscreen, where the speed increased to the point where only Rollers were able to survive it consistently.

PixelAndy was falling behind in score, so he set up a Center well in Column 4 where he scored 2 Tetrises. In his third attempt, he was getting droughted (the Line Piece was not showing up), and his board was getting messy. When the Line Piece finally showed up, he overshifted to the left and missed the Game-Winning Tetris. Fractal won the first game.

Fractal won the next 2 games to sweep the match, 3-0, and advance to the Semifinals, where he swept 2-Time Champion, Dog.

In the Finals, Fractal lost the first 2 games against Sidnev, putting Fractal in danger of elimination. But Fractal managed to overcome the 0-2 deficit, by winning the next 3 games to win the match. Fractal became the 2023 Tetris World Champion.

Check out all of Fractal’s matches below

Check out all of PixelAndy’s matches below

Here are all of the 2023 CTWC matches.

Fractal and PixelAndy go for a Game Crash

After Blue Scuti became the first person to crash the game of NES Tetris, Fractal and PixelAndy were still determined to accomplish this feat.

aGameScout’s video on this topic went viral, when he changed the video title to, “After 34 Years, Someone Finally Beat Tetris”.

On January 3, 2024, Major News Media started picking up on this story, referring to the game crash as “beating” the game, as it was a catchy headline. The Today Show and Good Morning America did a news segment, covering this achievement.

Fractal Becomes the Second Person to “Beat” the Game

Fractal Crashes The Game
Fractal Crashes The Game

Later that evening, Fractal was multi-streaming on Twitch and YouTube. The media frenzy helped Fractal get more live viewers to his YouTube Livestream, as there was a lot of hype to watch someone crash the game when it happens. They were about to see it live.

During that game, author and YouTuber, John Green, made a surprise appearance in the YouTube live chat when Fractal was at Level 39.

Stack Gets High

At Level 128, Fractal was in a dire situation when he accidentally double flipped the L-Piece. His board started to get high. It is difficult to dig through that stack when the pieces are falling at the highest possible speed, which happens at Level 29 and beyond. The viewers were on the edge, as it looked like Fractal was going to top out. But Fractal managed to dig through the stack, causing the online viewers to go wild.

“Let’s Lock In, I Regret Nothing”

At Level 134, Fractal was “locked in” as he was getting closer to Level 138 where the colors of the pieces glitch out. This is referred to as glitch colors and some levels have colors that are very difficult to see.

Fractal maintained his composure as he was getting closer to the earliest possible game crash at Level 155. To trigger the crash, the player needs to clear a single line when transitioning to Level 155.

(In NES Tetris, after the first Level transition, the player levels up after every 10 lines that they clear.)

When Fractal reached Level 154, he counted the number of lines he cleared on that level. He was 10 lines away from crashing the game. Once he cleared that last line, he crashed the game. Fractal became the second person to “beat” the game.

The viewers congratulated him, including John Green.

John Green's Thread Post on Fractal's Achievement
John Green’s Thread Post

Watch Fractal’s Entire Game here

PixelAndy Becomes the Third Person to “Beat” the Game

PixelAndy Crashes The Game
PixelAndy Crashes The Game

On the next day (January 4, 2024), players continued to go for the crash, PixelAndy being one of them.

In that game, PixelAndy could not get the S-Piece all the way to the left at Line 659, which was Level 71 (The Level counter glitches after Level 29). Afterwards, he also could not get the I-Piece all the way to the left. He set up a left well that was 7 rows high. When the next Line Piece arrived, he was able to get it over to the left to get a Tetris.

It is more difficult to get the I-Piece all the way to the left than it is to get it to the right. That is because the I-Piece is closer to the right side when it is rotated vertically. Which means it has to move 5 spaces to get to the left-most column and 4 spaces to get to the right-most column.

With the Rolling technique, it is difficult to get the 5th input with the way the player uses their hands to hit the back of the controller.

At Line 781 (Level 84), PixelAndy got 2 O-Pieces in a row that messed up the stack. He managed to set up for a Tetris that was 2 rows high, and got the Tetris.

He got a Perfect clear at Line 842 (Level 90) and Line 946 (Level 100).

After going through some very difficult colors, such as Charcoal, he managed to crash the game. PixelAndy became the third person to “beat” NES Tetris.

Watch PixelAndy’s Entire Game here

Game Crash Has Become The Next Milestone

When I was watching that game live, I was rooting for PixelAndy to crash the game as well as the many viewers that were watching it. It reminded me of when I would root for players to get their first Maxout, which is when a player maxed out the score counter with the score display of 999,999. It’s always amazing to see players achieve greatness the moment it happens.

Scoring a Maxout in NES Tetris is considered a major achievement for the players. And Game Crash has become the next major achievement that players want to pull off.

In the upcoming months, there will be more players that will achieve the milestone of “beating” the game.

For more info on the game crash, check out aGameScout’s video and Biggiemac’s article.

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