Becoming the World’s Best DDR Player

Becoming the World’s Best DDR Player

September 25, 2019 100 By Kailee Schamberger


CHRIS: It was so much adrenaline going through my head. There was the crowd of like, I don’t even know how many people. Like, hundreds. But I was just in the spotlight, and it was just so crazy to have all that happen to me, all at once. JEFF: I’ve always liked the idea of being good at one thing. Like, being REALLY good at something. Now, it’s kinda cool I get to, you know, tell my friends or my co-workers or new people I meet, like ‘Hey. I’m one of the best Dance Dance Revolution players in the world.” CHRIS: I’ve been playing DDR since I was thirteen. My neighbor had it and I was over at her house and we played it one time. I got the game and then I pretty much was playing every day after that. “Oh wow, that was terrible.” There’s something about the rhythm, keeping exactly in the rhythm. It kinda gets me going. Like, I don’t know. And then the other thing is the, just the competitive aspect. I noticed that I was getting better at such a fast rate, that I was like, Oh my god. Like, I feel like I’m actually really good and I could actually go somewhere with this. “Alright, do a back flip!” “Do a barrel roll!” “Yeah!” JEFF: I’ve been playing DDR since November 3rd, 2003. I know the exact date because I found my Gamestop receipt of me buying DDRMAX2 for the PlayStation 2. I saw some people play at the arcade at some point. It was like, that’s kind of like, that’s neat. It’s totally different than anything I’d ever seen before. I always think back to playing in my basement. I couldn’t, like, if I was having a bad day or something I’d play DDR and a smile would just come on my face. Like it was just, I could not be sad playing this amazing game. So it’s just, it’s totally life changing for me. CHRIS: When DDR Ace was released, I knew that the DDR community in America was kickstarted immediately. It was such a good game. It was such, like, such an improvement onto the previous DDR mixes. JEFF: We had gotten so many releases of DDR that were not so great. HUDSON:They were bootleg hacked mixes or, you know, it was never officially released in the US. We weren’t really connected with the rest of the world. JEFF: And so, hearing that we’d get DDR Ace, it’s like ‘Okay, like, what’s the catch?’ HUDSON: Everyone’s like, ‘Yeah, okay, that’s a pipe dream.’ And then the game came. And the pads were fine. And the monitor was fine. And we’re online. And we have all the songs and we’re connected with everybody. It was like, ‘Wait a second, do we actually have DDR now?!’ It’s like we’re having a dance game renaissance in America right now. CHRIS: And then they announce KAC and I was like, oh my god. Like, this is my chance to prove that I’m, I can be an international DDR champion. And then, ever since they announced that, I was training to get the highest score at the qualifiers and then eventually, to win the tournament. JEFF: It’s about 4:30 in the morning on February 8th and I’m about to head to the airport to fly to KAC. I’m tired. Let’s do it. (speaking Japanese) CHRIS: There was a qualifying period between December and January and basically, they release these two sets of three songs. JEFF: The sum of your scores were sent to the server and you could play them as many times as you wanted. CHRIS: The top two from each region get flown out to Tokyo for the event. Plus, the one wildcard: the highest third-place score from the three regions. And so there were seven finalists total. JEFF: It was really awesome knowing that I was going to not only get to go, but all my friends that I’ve met across Japan, we’re all going to be in the same building for at least one day. CHRIS: Getting to play with all the Japanese players the night before was definitely a highlight of the whole trip. I was very excited to meet Brosoni. He’s the best player in Japan. FEFEMZ is the best player in Korea. They were like, really hype exhibition matches that I’ll never forget. CHRIS: “I think it’s gonna be a really close game, actually.” “It’s not gonna be easy to win.” JEFF:”Chris, what do you got there?” CHRIS: Finalist badge. JEFF: Oh man! CHRIS: JAEPO badge. JEFF: Oh man! CHRIS: Finalist shirt. JEFF: Oh man! CHRIS: Two things I need to remember: Don’t ever quit. And it’s just me against myself. CHRIS: Warming up was kind of an issue. we had We had to improvise running up and down the stairs. JEFF: Chris and Hudson were like, using the stairway railing as a bar because Chris memorizes everything. (crowd cheering) JEFF: I was thinking a lot about the semi-finals. Just, didn’t even know if I would make it out of the semi-finals. (speaking Japanese) JEFF: The semi-finals was four players. There were two songs. JEFF: I think it’ll go down in like, my lifetime, as like the craziest thing I’ll ever do on stage in a tournament setting. PFC is a perfect full combo. It means getting every note judgment as either marvelous or perfect. (crowd erupts in cheers) JEFF: Uh, that was pretty cool! CHRIS: He got a really good score on it. Like, higher than anyone else has gotten. And he did it on command, like, in a tournament. And so everyone was just going nuts. JEFF: Everyone was just like, hands up in the air just like, thrills. Cause that’s like, that’s the first time anyone’s PFC’ed a song in KAC. JEFF: “Apparently it’s trending on Twitter and people are talking about it like crazy.” “Like, it’s really surreal.” “DDR doesn’t get this kind of love in the States.” “And so it’s so cool to be in like, the mecca of DDR. It’s crazy.” CHRIS: I’ve been playing DDR since I was thirteen. And no matter what the result of this tournament will be, it’s my dream come true to compete internationally with all the best players in the world. So win or lose, my dream came true. So I can leave here happy, no matter what. CHRIS: It was so much adrenaline going through my head. There was the crowd of like, I don’t even know how many people. Like hundreds. But I was just in the spotlight, and it was just so crazy. CHRIS: I was like, ‘Okay I need to beat FEFEMZ by… 30, at least 35, points on my song pick. And I think I can do this. This is what I’ve been training for. This is my song pick. (crowd cheers) CHRIS: When I finished it, I had forgotten what I needed to get in order to win. I had so much anxiety about like, ‘Did I win? Did I, did I do it?’ So I actually went into the results of the tournament not knowing if I had won. (crowd cheers) CHRIS: When the leaderboard showed my name as first place, it was a dream come true. “I just want to say that it’s always been my dream to be an international DDR champion ever since I was 13.” “I’m taking the title back to America!” I don’t even think it’s truly sunken in yet. Oh, man. I got back to my hotel room and I was just laying there, like ‘This is, this is it.’ Like, it happened. I finally won. And it’s just so, so amazing. JEFF: I’ve always liked the idea of being good at one thing. Like, being REALLY good at something. And, now it’s kinda cool. I get to, you know, tell my friends or my co-workers or new people I meet, like ‘Hey, I’m one of the best Dance Dance Revolution players in the world.’ And it’s always like, it’s a wonderful icebreaker. A nice conversation starter. We all had a great time. And coming back to America and seeing all the hype that this has generated… I want to see more people in arcades. I wanna see this really grow, because there’s so many fans of gaming and eSports now. This could be the next biggest thing.