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Watch a Tetris master achieve the highest rank in the game after 8 years of play

Michael McWhertor is a journalist with more than 17 years of experience covering video games, technology, movies, TV, and entertainment.

You may remember master Tetris player Kevin Birrell blowing peoples' minds with his performance at speedrunning charity event Awesome Games Done Quick earlier this year. Birrell's the player who scored a "MasterM" ranking in Tetris the Grand Master 3: Terror Instinct, live on stream, after blazing through what looked like an impossibly fast game — which then got even more insane when those Tetris pieces turned invisible as the game's credits roll.

Last night, Birrell one-upped that performance by achieving "GM," or Grand Master, ranking. He was only the sixth person to reportedly do so and the first outside of Japan. The requirements to do so are pretty daunting, even for someone who can chew through tetrominoes with Birrell's skill.

To achieve Grand Master status, a player needs to get a MasterM ranking four times in their most recent seven games. That means blasting through 999 pieces, meeting certain grading and timing requirements and then completing the credit roll when locked pieces turn invisible. Nail that four times, and you might just get a chance at a Grand Master promotional exam, in which you have to play near-perfectly again.

"Yo, I just beat Tetris."

Birrell got that chance last night after about two hours of play. Fortunately, he was streaming on Twitch when it happened so you can relive his excitement. "Holy shit," Birrell said when confronted with the Grand Master exam. "If this happens this would be the greatest day of my life, hands down. It would beat AGDQ."

Things seems to go pretty smoothly for Birrell during his run, with the biggest snag being an itchy nose. During the invisible block section, Birrell scores two tetrises, clearing four lines with one piece. Even then, he's not sure if he's reached Grand Master rank. His reaction to getting GM ranking after eight years is pretty priceless — and, fair warning, a little loud.

"That's it," Birrell said. "Yo, I just beat Tetris."

You can watch an archive of Birrell's GM run in Tetris the Grand Master 3: Terror Instinct below. His full three-hour stream can be watched on Twitch. Despite saying he's "free at last" now that he reached GM rank in the game, he later tweeted that he has a new goal: "I can't believe I did it. Somehow it doesn't feel possible, but finally it's done! Now to actually get a GM with a fast time!"

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