When World of Warcraft Classic launched on Monday, so did a grueling marathon to become the first player reach the level cap of 60. And now, after 79 hours of almost continuous grinding, killing, and questing, a player named Jokerd has claimed the crown.
The World First Race to 60 was an event largely coordinated by Method, Warcraft's most-famous guild, who began livestreaming Warcraft events last year when it raced to be the first to beat Battle for Azeroth's newest raid. With the release of WoW Classic, Method organized and invited notable players to race in a Las Vegas studio while various community personalities provided commentary.
Though Jokerd was not one of those players streaming from Las Vegas, most of his competition was. But days ago, he managed to gain a sizeable lead that runner-up KennyMarsh (who is currently only level 55) was not able to close.
Playing a gnome mage, Jokerd favored old-fashioned grinding to gain experience points while other players tried out more advanced strategies like coordinated dungeon runs. He spent a good chunk of time in the Western Plaguelands, using his mage's frost abilities to draw the ire of large groups of undead, freezing them in place while he pelted them with ice. It was a relatively safe, if boring method that helped Jokerd clear the final dozen levels to 60, which he reached just an hour ago.
When he did cross that finish line to level 60, a whopping 347,000 people on Twitch were watching. To get the last bit of experience needed, Jokerd abandoned the undead fields and instead went to a nearby settlement and attacked a Scarlet Paladin who, upon dying, gave him the few hundred exp he needed.
The moment it happened, the local chat channel on Mograine (the EU server where Jokerd plays) exploded in cheers and congratulations. Immediately after, Jokerd teleported back to Stormwind City, where a mass of players quickly swarmed him to congratulate him on his win while, on stream, Jokerd played Celebration by Kool and the Gang. You can watch the final moments in the stream embedded at the stop of this story.
Jokerd's win has drawn a small amount of controversy from players who feel like he was exploiting game systems to gain an edge, however. One of the modern features implemented in WoW Classic is a system called 'layering' that helps spread players out across virtual instances of a zone to keep the population at a manageable size. It's a temporary countermeasure to prevent thousands of players from flooding a single area in the early months of Classic's launch.
Jokerd used layering to constantly switch to new instances of the area he was farming for experience, helping him skip the long wait between monster respawns. While some players take issue with that, Method commentator JB pushed back by saying that using layering in this way was "smart" and that "utilizing that for leveling is fair play as far as I'm concerned."
Still, Jokerd's achievement is just the beginning. He basically ran a marathon where the prize is an even longer and harder marathon: Classic's intimidating endgame. As other players, including Method's roster, reach level 60, the next race will be to see who can clear the first wave of raids, including Onyxia's Lair and Molten Core. Until then, guilds and players will be working hard to level the required characters to 60 (remember, raids back then required 40 people) and get them all geared up.
So, uh, I guess the real race hasn't even started yet.