16-year-old prodigy defeats seven-time champion at Classic Tetris World Championships

by Mitch Reames


History was made in the Classic Tetris World Championships (CTWC) when a major upset saw a seven-time champion lose to a teenager.


Tetris on NES was released in 1989 and the game is almost twice as old as it’s current champion, 16-year-old Joseph Saelee from California.

Saelee learned about the game by watching YouTube videos and had only been playing Tetris for about a year when he entered the World Championships and ran through the competition, making the finals.


His opponent in the finals was the most dominant Tetris player of all time. There have been eight CTWC events in the past and Joseph Neubauer has won seven of them.

The young prodigy and the experienced champ went head-to-head in these finals, and the result shocked the crowd in Portland, Oregon.

Saelee took the first two games in the best of five series, but Neubauer had a commanding lead in game three. A brief slip up saw Neubauer's board fill up and he had to watch as Saelee chipped down his lead in the late levels of the game:


Neubauer was a gracious loser, immediately hugging his young opponent. Saelee was initially composed but soon was overcome by emotion.

Saelee’s Twitch stream bio shows his first high score in October of 2017 and chronicles his progression over the last year that led him to the main stage and his deserved title of Tetris prodigy.