Not one week has gone by recently where something hasn't happened in the world of Minecraft speedrunning. Whether it's world records being broken, drama and cheating scandals, or new techniques being discovered that can completely change speedrunning tactics—it's been an astonishing couple of months.
The popularity of Minecraft speedrunning shows no signs of slowing down, both from the runners themselves and from onlookers. It's easy to get swept away with the tenacity of runners, smashing world records faster than moderators can validate them. It's an exciting time to get into the scene. By the time I've finished writing this up, it's quite possible that another world record will have been broken.
Even among all these record-breaking runs, however, there's one that really stands out. A relatively unknown runner, TwoLetterName, managed to beat the world record twice in the space of twelve hours. It's an astonishing feat—something that is unheard of in Minecraft speedrunning—and the skill and optimisation shown off by TwoLetterName has left the community dazed.
Minecraft speedruns are recorded over on speedrun.com and have a number of different categories, but the most popular in Minecraft 1.16 is Any% Glitchless, tasking players with completing their run without using any exploits. This is the category TwoLetterName managed to get their records in—before that, the top spot was occupied by Illumina with an in-game time of 13 minutes 53 seconds.
Illumina's run was a big deal in the community due to it being the first time a runner had gotten under the 14-minute mark. They also completed the run without using the debug screen, which shows a player's map coordinates and various parameters which many runners consider crucial to a good run. Getting a world record without the help of the F3 debug screen was unheard of until Illumina's run, which was cause for massive celebrations.
The record was submitted on February 24, where it sat for around a day until TwoLetterName submitted his run, clocking in at 13 minutes 52 seconds. Just one second between them. However, before the mods found the time to verify the first run, TwoLetterName submitted a second run of 12 minutes 9 seconds. In speedrunning, getting a place on the board is a matter of milliseconds, but in TwoLetterName's case, they beat their previous world record by 1 minute 36 seconds—which is staggering.
Considering that any time under 20 minutes seemed impossible at the start of the year, it's pretty incredible that speedrunners are now getting runs as quick as 12 minutes. If you'd like an analysis covering both of TwoLetterName's runs, I recommend watching The Weekly Thing's video where they break down both records and what made them special.
What makes TwoLetterName's runs interesting is not only did he manage to beat the world record twice, but that a relatively unknown player managed to beat an established runner's record by a big margin. Hundreds of players speedrun Minecraft 1.16 glitchless, but anyone with knowledge of the game and the right amount of luck can make it work. That's not to say that TwoLetterName's runs were purely luck-based—far from it. Their quick problem solving, careful resource management, and multitasking were integral to getting the world record twice, and enough to earn them their big break.
Watching these runners overcome Minecraft's unpredictability is what makes it fascinating to watch. The number of strategies for different scenarios cannot be understated and, depending on what resources they find, runners have to make these decisions on the fly, and although luck is part of any speedrun, intricate knowledge of the game and the skill to carry it out is how you break records.