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Watch the Tetris grandmasters 'unleash their minds' on the classic game

Charlie Hall is Polygon’s tabletop editor. In 10-plus years as a journalist & photographer, he has covered simulation, strategy, and spacefaring games, as well as public policy.

The community at Speed Demos Archive is gathered in Herndon, VA this week for Awesome Games Done Quick (AGDQ), the charity games marathon. The annual event brings together some of the best speedrunners in the world. Last night it was all about Tetris.

The Tetris Grandmaster Showcase, an hour and 30-minute chunk of time that will go down as one of the best things I've ever seen on a Twitch stream. These people played Tetris in ways I never thought possible, at speeds that appear to be potentially damaging to the hardware and the human being behind it. There's a lot of skill on display here, but let me direct you specifically to the 1:17 mark, where kevinddr slips into an altered state of consciousness. He's banging away at a Tetris variant I've never heard of, Tetris The Grand Master 3 Terror-Instinct, or TGM3. At higher levels it includes blocks that automatically spawn in on the bottom row, which is particularly bad as they begin to duplicate themselves. Then come the colorless, blank blocks. The game, and kevinddr's ability to play it at such a speed, is deeply troubling. Just watch.

AGDQ runs all this week, and you'll find continuing coverage here at Polygon.