Summer Games Done Quick, the second leg of Games Done Quick’s annual speedrunning marathon series, gets underway Sunday at 12:30 p.m. ET. More than 150 events are on a schedule stretching for the following six days.
Over the past nine years, this has become one of the premiere streaming events in video games fandom. But it can be a lot to handle, especially in terms of picking out what to watch. Polygon will be providing viewers’ guides that try to suss out the key events coming that day and spotlight which ones could deliver excitement.
Where can I watch Summer Games Done Quick 2018?
Right here, of course. The livestream via Twitch is also available directly, here.
That said, because this is a marathon, many things may happen while you’re away or asleep. Video-on-demand is as important to watching a Games Done Quick marathon as the live event.
- To catch up on what’s gone on, we recommend visiting the Speedrun subreddit, which should get a VOD thread going shortly after the event kicks off. r/speedrun users are usually the fastest to post events and timestamps referring back to the original stream.
- For individual videos, there is a Games Done Quick YouTube channel, but it takes a little more time for the event’s video team to cut the video and upload it.
- There is also the site GDQ VODs, which is an excellent archival resource for past Games Done Quick series.
Who are the top performers at Summer Games Done Quick?
This is a gathering of elite speedrunners, so you can bank on most events featuring someone whose best time is in the top 3, as maintained by Speedrun.com. That said, we’ll do our best to call out events that are timely or whose performers have recently been a part of something noteworthy.
World record performances at a Games Done Quick are rare — think of it as similar to a world record being set during an Olympics. But it does happen. GDQ VODs says the last time a Summer Games Done Quick saw a world record set was in 2016 (when there were four world record performances. There have been just 22 in 17 Awesome/Summer Games Done Quick marathons since 2010. This despite hundreds of events at each one.
Why wasn’t (game) included in the lineup?
GDQ organizers spend a lot of time taking submissions (which are open to the public) and evaluating them against a number of criteria, ranging from the runner’s consistency of performance to how visually entertaining the game is.
That said, there are always some notable omissions. One not on SGDQ’s main event list, for example, is Super Mario Odyssey, which has been among the top 3 of most-speedrun games (again, according to speedrun.com) since it launched in October.
Still, Super Mario Odyssey was accepted as a “bonus” event, which probably means it is being held aside as a special donation incentive appearance where program staff air it in a prime slot and, if a certain fundraising goal is met, add a special condition to the run for everyone’s enjoyment.
The speedrunner for Super Mario Odyssey’s bonus event, when it happens, is NicroVeda, currently the game’s Any% world record holder.
What’s Any%? What’s all this jargon?
Speedrunning is as much a subculture as it is entertainment, with its own terms and descriptors. If you’re unfamiliar, here are some common ones you may see used.
- 100%: A run with a completion requirement of collecting 100 percent of the items. In games without a percentage counter, the community decides what parts of the game are important enough to count towards 100 percent. Not all games lend themselves well towards a 100% definition.
- Any%: A run with no additional completion requirements; anything goes. The “default” category for speedrunning a game. The term comes from the old school Metroid speedrunning community. Metroid has a percentage counter, while other games may not, but the term stuck around.
- Damage Boost: Intentionally getting hit in order to gain extra speed/height or to pass through enemies/obstacles quickly.
- Death Warp: Intentionally dying to save time, usually by avoiding backtracking.
- Frame Perfect: A technique in a game that you only have a 1 frame window to successfully pull off.
- Low%: A run that completes the game with the bare minimum lowest percentage. This can take a lot longer than an any% run, depending on the game. This is not a worthy category for many games, and is definitely rarer than similar categories such as 100%.
- Sequence Break: Doing something out of order in the intended sequence of events of a game.
- Segmented: A way of minimizing game time by redoing sections of a speedrun over and over.
Sounds great! Who should I watch on the first day?
After the pre-show from 12:30 to 1 p.m. Summer Games Done Quick opens with four runs, three of which feature world-record holders (and the other is a very timely world No. 2) Two of these world title holders only recently took the top slot. (The full schedule is here.)
- GarageDoorOpener begins the running at 1 p.m. with an Any% shot at Banjo-Tooie. He is currently No. 2 all-time in this event, breaking 44 minutes for the first time on May 9. He and Pjii have been battling since May for overall No. 1. The record is Pjii’s 42:57, set May 23. GarageDoorOpener would need to lop almost a minute off his best time to set a record at SGDQ and that seems unlikely, but for timeliness and telegenic appeal, it’s a great way to kick off the marathon.
- At 1:57 p.m. is ChrisLBC in his specialty: Spyro the Dragon, where just five days ago he retook the No. 1 time (38:31) from rival SSBMstuff. ChrisLBC is one of three runners with sub-38 minute times in Spyro. His most recent took 15 seconds off his personal best, so there is record-setting potential here.
- Then at 2:52 p.m. comes RiskyCB and a new game, Iconoclasts on Windows PC (it launched in January). RiskyCB is currently the world No. 1 for this game, but being so new, it’s a very volatile leaderboard with huge disparities in times as elite players sort themselves out. RiskyCB’s 35:29 set eight days ago skipped over the 36-minute milestone entirely, for example (second place is PurkisM’s 37:13).
- And then at 3:52 p.m. it’s Kinnin11, first place in all four categories of Kirby Super Star Ultra, taking on the Meta Knightmare Ultra sub-game. Kinnin11 began tuning up about two weeks ago and clocked in with a 23:56:10 on June 18 before setting off for Minneapolis.
Other runners on tap over the next 24 hours (to noon Monday) who hold No. 1 records in their events:
- Smartball, in Kid Kool (Any%) at 4:12 a.m. (Monday, June 25).
- akerasi, in Bangai-O (Any%), at 5:11 a.m.
- At 6:47 a.m. in Gauntlet: Legends (Any%) Boyo003 is first with two characters (Archer and Valkyrie) and second with the others (Wizard and Warrior) so character choice will be key.
- Brisulph and JackimusWedge are first place in all of the two-player categories of Super Smash TV. (Brisulph is first place in all of the single-player categories). They’ll get together again for an Any% Normal 2-player run at 8:33 a.m. on Monday.
- GlitchCat7, in Cool Spot (Any%, easy), at 11:08 a.m.
Other names and games of note in the first 24 hours: Gymnast86 takes on The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D (Any%) from 7:12 p.m. to almost 9 p.m. and Error72 goes after an Any% run of Ghosts ‘n Goblins (on the NES, 2 loops) at 3:05 a.m.
Check back with Polygon each day, we will do our best to set up the coming 24 hours and point out events that have potential for viewing excitement.
What’s all this for?
You may have heard this is a charity marathon. Summer Games Done Quick’s philanthropy is Doctors Without Borders. Last year’s event raised $1.7 million for the organization, and SGDQ lifetime (dating to 2011) has raised more than $5.3 million.
If the spirit moves you, donations may be made through the Games Done Quick website.