Esports as an industry has grown exponentially over the last two decades, and speedrunning has been along for the ride since the very start.
Every year, there are multiple huge speedrunning events that make millions for charity, as well as crown world record holders — just like what happened at Break the Record: LIVE, as Xiae smashed the Doom Eternal record in the Kaspersky-sponsored event.
Despite how long speedrunning has been popular, it has never quite broken into the upper echelons of esports, but that might not be the case for much longer.
“Speedrunning has always been grassroots, built from the ground up by passionate players,” said speedrunning YouTuber and commentator Karl Jobst. “Now that it has become more popular, we are starting to see some money come in. This is a great thing and will help take the niche to the next level.”
Kaspersky helped the European Speedrunners Assembly and Break the Record: LIVE bring something that has “been severely lacking in previous years” according to Jobst: competitive speedrunning.
But it’s the way Kaspersky went about it that is most notable. Far more than simply attaching their name to the tournament, the global cybersecurity company sought to integrate with the community — engaging with, listening to and openly showing their affection for the burgeoning esport. Quite simply, they’d fallen in love with speedrunning and the community’s non-stop quest to go faster.
It was through this willingness to listen and learn, that they managed to find a meaningful way to play their role, and contribute to the growth of the sport.
While speedrunners search for ways to maximize performance of their console or PC to make transitions and actions that much quicker, cybersecurity software is often one of the first things cut — despite the perils of doing so.
Through their ongoing dialogue with the speedrunning community, Kaspersky was able to validate the existence of this risky behavior, and then address it in emphatic style during the event.
As planned, competitors took to Doom Eternal to compete for the quickest time. Impressively six personal bests were achieved, and the world record convincingly broken. Once the event concluded, the winner — and new world record holder — Xiae began to reflect on his extraordinary achievement, revealing that he’d actually achieved his feat with Kaspersky Internet Security installed and its Gaming Mode functionality enabled.
There was no obligation for competitors to use Kaspersky Internet Security at all, and the winner himself was not sponsored by Kaspersky, which says a lot about what the product offers to competitive speedrunners and those looking to perform at the peak of their abilities while staying safe online.
Of course, Doom Eternal itself is one of the most hardware-intensive PC shooters out there right now, not even factoring in the fact that these runners were trying to complete the game as quickly as possible as well as streaming it to thousands of viewers.
The importance of Kaspersky creating a good product, without gamers needing to sacrifice the ability to perform to the best of their abilities, was paramount. By all means, it passed the test with flying colors, as new world record holder Xiae can attest to.
What’s next for speedrunning, then? Jobst believes that while old classics such as Super Mario 64 and Zelda: Ocarina of Time will remain popular, the future of speedrunning lies in new games.
“I think the future will involve speedrunning competitions featuring new releases,” he said. “I think it would even be in the interest of developers and publishers to nurture and facilitate such events to bring attention to their games.”
Jobst says he’d like to see similar events to the Doom Eternal Break The Record: LIVE event, but for many other new games, because they “showcase how quickly speedrunners can understand and break apart a game.”
With the excitement of Break the Record: LIVE still fresh in the minds of speedrunning fans, the big question this poses is which game comes next?