Jonas Neubauer, Legendary Tetris Player, Dies At 39

Jonas Neubauer, Legendary Tetris Player, Dies At 39
Photo: James Rexford
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Legendary Tetris player Jonas Neubauer has died, according to a statement on his Twitter account, after a “sudden medical emergency.” He passed away on January 4, at the age of 39.

Neubauer was one of the all-time great Tetris players, winning seven Classic Tetris World Championships from 2010 to 2017. As he told Kotaku in a 2017 interview, he began playing the classic NES version of Tetris when he was eight years old, buying his first copy of the game after seeing it on the cover of Nintendo Power as a kid. Throughout his teens and early twenties, Neubauer continued to play Tetris on the NES. Eventually, he began uploading his scores to the internet, where he gained some visibility and was able to earn a seat at the inaugural World Championship in 2010, held in Los Angeles. He won a surprising upset against another top Tetris player, Harry Hong, beginning his rise to Tetris fame.

Neubauer’s playstyle could seem chaotic and wild, with him building tall stacks of blocks and creating messy Tetris boards, before deftly cleaning up and scoring big points. This was all part of his strategy; he told Kotaku that perfectionists “would be horrible at Tetris.”

He told Kotaku, “The main takeaway from Tetris that people don’t realise is it favours people that make very bold, very quick decisions, and don’t get exhausted by them.”

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Jonas Neubauer holding up his seventh trophy after winning the most recent World Championship. Image via Classic Tetris World Championship Of the eight Classic Tetris World Championships that have ever been held, Jonas Neubauer has won seven.

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In addition to playing Tetris, Neubauer worked as a taproom manager and at a marijuana startup, telling Vice in a 2018 profile that he saw himself as having “kind of a D-list celebrity.” He sometimes streamed his gameplay on Twitch. But to many players who watched him or competed against him, he was a Tetris god.

The organisers of the Classic Tetris World Championship expressed their condolences on the competition’s website, writing:

“Jonas, we miss you, we love you, and we thank you for inspiring us to always be our best. All the love to his wife Heather, his mother Sharry, his family, and friends. Rest in peace, our mighty hero.”

Comments

  • I started watching Tetris tournaments a few years back and that’s where I first heard of and watched Jonas play. He was a joy to watch. And honestly it made me interesting in continuing to watch the tournaments because prior to that I didn’t think much of Tetris as a competitive esport. Boy was I wrong, it’s so intense and what these guys can do so quickly and get out of tight spots is amazing.

    A big loss to the Tetris community. RIP Jonas.

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