Candy Crush mom ends up in the semi-finals of a $250K tournament she didn't even know she'd entered

Candy Crush Saga
(Image credit: King)

Usually, when I enter things by accident, it's the men's bathroom or a Parisian protest over France's retirement age (don't ask). In Erryn Rhoden's case, it's a Candy Crush tournament that placed her as one of the best players in the entire US of A and gave her a shot of winning her share of a $250,000 prize pool.

The 48-year-old mother of three told Kotaku that she's been playing Candy Crush for around a decade, after quitting a life of "demolishing" opponents in competitive PvP games. She said she settled on the colourful match-three game as a way to "fill [her] mind and keep [her] focused," adding it "satisfied [her] urge to win without feeling like [she was] doing anything to anybody else and causing rage."

But how do you accidentally enter a whole-ass esports tournament, I hear you ask? Rhoden said that the Candy Crush All Stars tournament was actually sort of vague and "cryptic," causing her to not realise that she'd entered. It's an in-game event, with players qualifying through each round by reaching the top spots on their leaderboard. The finals are set to take place live next month in London, but every other part of the tournament takes place through the app. 

There's no direct player-versus-player competing that you might see in other esports tournaments. "They don't let you know where you rank, or what region you're playing in until the end," Rhoden told Kotaku. She continued that she usually ignores the game's various pop-ups as a free-to-play player. "I'm clicking [on the exit buttons] and not paying attention. And then I apparently clicked yes instead of no. A week later, it was like: 'You qualify.' And I'm like, 'Well that's nice.' I didn't even know I was playing."

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 Despite this, Rhoden did damn well for herself. So much so that she was able to skip some of the tournament stages, such as the wild card rounds. With her new-found accidental esports stardom, she turned to someone in her family familiar with the lifestyle—her son Xane. A competitive Super Smash Bros. player and formerly one of the best Meta Knight players in the Midwest, Rhoden asked him just what the hell was going on.

Xane went ahead and tweeted about the situation, which has racked up over 55,000 likes since April 12. According to Kotaku, he took on all of Rhoden's chores over the weekend so she could focus solely on rising through the Candy Crush ranks. A fair trade, they said, for all the times Rhoden drove Xane to out-of-state Smash tournaments. 

Sadly, Xane revealed that his mother was eliminated during the semi-finals, squashing her chance of travelling to London and winning some cash. In a reply, he did say that she won "some in-game rewards" for her high placement, which is at least something. Despite her not making it all the way, it's a great story and Rhoden played exceptionally well to get as far as she did with relative ease and not a penny spent.

I think Candy Crush has garnered a misplaced rep over the years for being a vapid experience designed to rope older people who wouldn't traditionally game into sinking some cash. But as Rhoden points out to Kotaku, there's a fair bit of strategy involved in playing each level. I barely have the patience to get through a handful of match-three levels, let alone Rhoden's 11,000 completed ones. I salute her efforts—and hey, there's always next year for her to make a major comeback and secure first place.

Mollie Taylor
Features Producer

Mollie spent her early childhood deeply invested in games like Killer Instinct, Toontown and Audition Online, which continue to form the pillars of her personality today. She joined PC Gamer in 2020 as a news writer and now lends her expertise to write a wealth of features, guides and reviews with a dash of chaos. She can often be found causing mischief in Final Fantasy 14, using those experiences to write neat things about her favourite MMO. When she's not staring at her bunny girl she can be found sweating out rhythm games, pretending to be good at fighting games or spending far too much money at her local arcade.