In Sea of Thieves, players take the role of pirates searching the seas for treasure and adventure. If you scratch the surface, you can find some particularly daring people setting up massive, ambitious obstacle courses. Ship crews are pushed to their limit as they race up the shores of islands to touch objectives, pull off perfect sniper shots, and chase down venom-spitting snakes.
This is all par for the course in the Race of Legends, a grassroots community event that’s closer to The Amazing Race than your standard session of Sea of Thieves.
“The Race of Legends is a cooperative obstacle course set in Sea of Thieves,” said Dread Pirate Doug, the fan who leads efforts on organizing the event, in a call with Polygon. “It requires pirates to demonstrate mastery of all the basic mechanics — teamwork, cooperation, communication, up to combat skills, harpooning skills, sailing through an island at high speed, getting a rowboat from an island …” and much more.
Sea of Thieves fans noticed that the best moments of the game’s Adventure mode involve working together with your crew to get out of a tight pinch. For instance, your galleon might be parked with the anchor down, and your hull is full of riches. Only then do you see a ship coming to steal your booty. It wasn’t hard to turn that into a full competitive experience that takes teams around 15 minutes (and a lot of effort) to complete.
This is your Race of Legends Season 6 course!— Race of Legends (@RaceOfLegends) February 2, 2021
Devil's Ridge ➡️Mutineer Rock➡️Thieves Haven➡️Crow's Nest Fortress➡️ Ancient Spire ➡️ Light the beacon at Devil's Ridge for the win!
Tune in THIS Saturday at 4PM EST to watch 2 crews battle it out on our new course!#SeaOfThieves pic.twitter.com/YS3erbeGWK
In the game’s first year, the Race of Legends team had to spend five hours sailing around the ocean to collect all the ships needed for the event. Recently, Sea of Thieves developer Rare gave the event organizers access to a private server that allows them to focus on setting up the actual challenges.
Over six seasons, these challenges have gotten much more complex. The original course required players to start at Smuggler’s Bay, go to Golden Sands Outpost and drink some grog (without dying at the hands of other pirates), head to a nearby fortress and touch dry land, visit the Ferry of the Damned by dying with their crew, and then go back to Smuggler’s Bay.
Newer challenges are much more sadistic. In one, there’s an outpost, Galleon’s Grave, where two massive rocks make a giant arch, with the ruins of a galleon hanging among the stones. Challengers have to climb to the top of the wreckage, grab a snake, and make it back to their ship. That’s easier said than done, especially since players aren’t meant to go up there ... and since snakes spit blinding, painful venom at anyone who goes near them.
The livestream provides a multicamera third-person perspective, because the Race of Legends camera crew is in the game acting as human cameras. Doug stresses that the camera people are indispensable to the production, as they’re moving ahead of the teams to keep the viewers on Twitch in the loop. They have to outrace the racers, staying an obstacle ahead to catch the pirates trying to win the race.
Every season draws in more viewers and more of a spectacle around the race itself. This year, there will even be a musical performance featuring the Longest Johns, one of the bands who make up the viral sensation of sea shanties on social media.
Much like the Race for World First in World of Warcraft, this is a community-led event that is now one of the most interesting parts of the Sea of Thieves universe. Doug, along with his first mates Mike, Kaitzu, and 0wl, have built this entire operation from the ground up. While Doug has an education in sports broadcasting, the Race of Legends does not make any money or profit. It runs as the organizers’ day jobs allow. But it’s still a thriving, successful race that Sea of Thieves players love, showing the potential of Rare’s pirate sandbox.