Biohacking the Tetris World Championships

I hung my head as the final piece stacked up on the screen.  Another year, another crushing loss in the Semi-Finals of the NES Tetris world championships.  Yes, you read that right.  The NES Tetris world championships is a thing.  I placed 4th this year. For the better part of my life I have spent an excessive amount of time playing tetris.  In the past two years my interest has shifted to biohacking for optimal health. For the last 3 years, the NES Tetris World Championship has been hosted by the Portland Retro Gaming Classic in Portland, Oregon.  Read on to find out what happened.

Last year I didn’t complete. I didn’t plan on going this year, but my friend Henry wanted to make a short doc about the tournament for Buzzfeed.  I came so close three times. last year, I had the 4 time champion Jonas on the ropes.  I had to try one more time just to see if I still had it.

He got clearance for the shoot. I pulled the trigger and bought my flight to Portland.  Despite the crushing loss, I majorly exceeded my expectations.  I took a chance and came out and played well despite the fact that I have only picked up an NES controller once in the last 2 years.

Biohacking the Tetris World Championships

The tournament would be a good opportunity to put my biohacking to the test.  My plan was to compete in the tournament in ketosis. In previous competitions, I have struggled to fuel my brain during the grueling qualifying marathon.  To do well peak mental focus is required for 5 hours straight.   There are virtually no breaks in the action.  To make matters worse there are few good food options in the convention center, as one might imagine.  By adjusting my metabolism to allow me to be sharp for hours on end, I maintained peak performance levels for the duration of the tournament.  I was not distracted by hunger pangs or wild swings in blood sugar, because I was burning fat at a high rate.

I know adequate sleep is important to perform at the highest level.  Two years ago I struggled to get a good nights sleep because the light was so bright outside of my hotel room.  This year I came prepared with my sleep mask and ear plugs to help me sleep in an unfamiliar environment.  This allowed me to be fresh going into the morning’s competition. Another biohacking strategy I knew would help was incorporating bulletproof coffee (BPC). Obviously, I didn’t bring all my supplies to Portland.  A quick google search for “BPC Portland” brought up a Paleo restaurant called the Cultured Caveman.  The next day Henry and I went on a wild goose chase all over Portland to find the store that actually sells BPC (mct oil and all). I bought some in the evening prior to the event because the store opens after the tournament started. During the qualifying rounds, it took a some time to adjust to the increased brain rate I was experiencing.  After I settled the coffee definitely gave me boost. Biohacking, sleep, carb metabolism and nutritional ketosis contributed to my high level of performance.

Tournament Structure

The qualifying rounds generate a 32 seed bracket.  Each match is a best two out of three games.  This was the deepest field yet. 17 people scoring 700k out of the possible 999,999 points. The qualifying scores were pretty intimidating.  They caused my optimism about making it deep into the tournament to wain. Making it past the round of 16 would be a massive accomplishment.  My first opponent was tough, but certainly out classed by me.  I beat him in two straight games.  The next opponent accomplished a major upset as a 25 seed who upset a 9 seed.  That was probably a good thing, but I certainly was not over confident going into the match.  Turns out, he was super tough. The match went to the third game. Victory was mine! Next up, Alex Kerr.  He is one of the best players in the world. I have always wanted to play against him. I beat him and it was onto the final 4.  Here I would play Harry Hong, the eventual champion.  I played him ok, but inevitably choked and couldn’t pull off the upset.

There you have it.  With a little help from eggs, bacon and BPC, I had the energy and mental focus to place forth in the tetris world championships.  It was an awesome weekend.  I played great and exceeded even my own expectations.  I even won 250 bucks.

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