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2019 Classic Tetris World Championship: Prize pool, schedule, and how to watch

It's the ultimate retro tournament. The best Tetris players are getting together for the tenth year to compete to see who's the best of the best. Learn more about the Classic Tetris World Championship, including how to watch all of the action.


The 2019 Classic Tetris World Championship is about to officially begin. The world's top Tetris players have all gathered at the Portland Retro Gaming Expo in the heart of Portland, Oregon for this annual competition, which is now in its tenth year. For the next two days, these competitors will do battle in NES Tetris until only one player remains standing.

Can anything top last year's incredible Final Round, where 16-year-old Joseph Saelee shocked the world and defeated 7-time Tetris World Champion Jonas Neubauer to win it all? The world is about to find out and Shacknews* is here with our full guide on how to witness all of the action.

(* - Disclaimer: Shacknews is one of the sponsors of this year's Classic Tetris World Championship tournament.)

What are the rules to the Classic Tetris World Championship tournament?

Players will compete in the original 8-bit NES Tetris (not the Tengen version). NES consoles, Tetris cartridges, and NES controllers will all be provided to participants. The option to bring a controller is available, but it must be a standard, unmodified NES controller. The entry fee is $20, with participants able to make as many qualifying attempts as they are willing to line up for.

The goal is to gain the highest score possible in Type-A Tetris.

The qualifying round is set to begin on Saturday from 10AM-3:45PM PT. Players will start their qualifying attempts on Type-A Tetris starting on Level 9 and going from there. Once an attempt is completed, their score is recorded by a scorekeeper.

While there is a six-hour window for qualifiers to attempt to advance to the bracketed Sunday tournament, there are several players who have already advanced to the bracketed round based on prior results at previous Tetris competitions, where they have either won or scored 700,000 points or better.

Seeds #17-48 will then compete from 4:30-7PM PT in a "Round Zero" tournament to advance to the 32-player Main Event on Sunday. Players will compete head-to-head, with the winners advancing.

For the main event, the Top 8 and the Semi-Final rounds will be contested one-on-one in a best-of-three format. The Final Round will be a best-of-five match.

For more details on the rules, visit the CTWC website.

How much is the 2019 Classic Tetris World Championship prize pool?

The 2019 Classic Tetris World Championship will award over $5,000 in cash. Here are the current prize totals set to be awarded at the end of the weekend:

  • 1st place - $3,000
  • 2nd place - $1,500
  • 3rd-4th place - $750
  • 5th-8th place - $500
  • 9th-16th place - $250
2018 CTWC champion Joseph Saelee and 7-time World Champion Jonas Neubauer
2018 CTWC champion Joseph Saelee and 7-time World Champion Jonas Neubauer

How to Watch the 2019 Classic Tetris World Championship

All of this weekend's festivities can be viewed from the Classic Tetris Twitch channel.

Here is the full schedule for Saturday and Sunday (All times PT):

Saturday, October 19

  • Qualifying Round: 10AM-4PM
  • Top 48: 4:30-7PM

Sunday, October 20

  • Top 32: 10AM-2PM
  • Top 8: 2PM-5PM
  • Final Round: 5PM

Each block has been given ample time for completion and will likely finish ahead of schedule. If everything finishes early, the Final Round will still go on at 5PM PT.

How to watch the 2019 Classic Tetris World Championship VODs

The top matches from throughout the weekend will be posted in full on the Classic Tetris YouTube channel, all of which can be viewed on demand.

Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

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