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13-Year-Old Tetris Prodigy Shatters Limits: First Human to Beat the Classic Game

Willis Gibson Achieves Unprecedented Feat in Tetris, Unlocking New Horizons for Competitive Play

NEWS  Games  January 3, 2024  Reading time: 3 Minute(s)

mdo Max (RS editor)

In the quiet town of Stillwater, Oklahoma, on December 21, 13-year-old Willis Gibson achieved a groundbreaking milestone in the world of gaming that left the entire Tetris community in awe. His hands to his head, rocking back and forth in disbelief, Willis had just become the first person to advance to Level 157 in the original Nintendo version of Tetris, freezing the game at a score of "999999." This achievement, previously attributed only to artificial intelligence, has now set a new standard for human prowess in the iconic puzzle game.


Unveiling the Tetris Prodigy

Willis, known in the competitive Tetris scene as Blue Scuti, embarked on his Tetris journey in 2021 after stumbling upon YouTube videos of the classic game. Drawn to its simplicity and the challenge it presented, Willis dedicated himself to mastering the game, playing approximately 20 hours a week on a RetroN Nintendo console, thanks to the support of his mother, Karin Cox. Ms. Cox, a high school math teacher, facilitated Willis's passion by acquiring the necessary equipment, including an old cathode-ray tube television, emphasizing her son's commitment to balancing gaming with other activities.

Breaking Barriers on Original Hardware

While many gamers had previously "beaten" Tetris by hacking into its software, Willis stands out as the first to achieve this milestone on the original hardware. Vince Clemente, president of the Classic Tetris World Championship, expressed astonishment, stating:

"It’s basically something that everyone thought was impossible until a couple of years ago."

Willis's accomplishment has not only redefined the limits of Tetris but also elevated him to the forefront of the competitive Tetris world.


Surviving the Crash

In the competitive Tetris community, where players typically focus on outscoring opponents, Willis introduced a new strategy:  "trying for the crash". This approach involves survival rather than pure scoring, requiring players to navigate the game's increasing speed and complexity. David MacDonald, a competitive Tetris player and video game content creator, highlighted the significance of Willis's achievement, noting the evolution of strategies within the Tetris community.


Typical Tetris Game

The Future of Tetris Exploration

Willis's accomplishment has opened up new frontiers for Tetris enthusiasts, prompting discussions about what lies beyond the previous limits of the game. His unique trigger point – clearing a single row of blocks to freeze the game – has sparked curiosity about the possibilities of other trigger points. MacDonald explained:

"Now that it’s been done, there’s kind of a new phase or a new challenge”

urging players to explore how long they can go beyond the crash.

The Rise of a Tetris Prodigy

Willis, already a winner of several regional tournaments, aspires to conquer the Classic Tetris World Championship, aiming to build on his third-place finish in October. His achievements have not gone unnoticed, and he has earned approximately $3,000 from participating in Tetris tournaments. As he continues to shape the future of Tetris competition, Willis remains dedicated to the classic game, expressing a preference for older games over newer ones.

In the coming months, Tetris enthusiasts will undoubtedly keep a close eye on Willis Gibson as he competes in Waco, Texas, striving to further solidify his place as a Tetris prodigy and leave an indelible mark on the competitive gaming landscape.



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