Twelve brilliant national champion teams pushed their skills to the limit in the first day of the Red Bull Mind Gamers World Finals in Budapest. The early results are as top-secret as the details of the Escape Room itself. But organizers did reveal that, looking at the strengths showed by the teams in the various intelligences challenged – the dream Mind Gamer team for the day would have been a combination of Spain, Switzerland, Slovenia, Estonia and the United Kingdom.

Budapest (Hungary) – “Intense.” “Crazy.” “Truly, truly exceptional.” Day One of the Red Bull Mind Gamers World Finals in Budapest, Hungary was a revelation for the first 12 teams to experience the challenge in Semi-Final rounds. With another dozen teams to play on Friday before Saturday night’s Finals crown the first-ever Escape Room World Champions, much is still mysterious. But some information is starting to emerge…

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One by one, teams from Austria, Estonia, France, Hungary, Italy, Germany, Lithuania, Norway, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom were dropped off at a top-secret Budapest location on Thursday.

“They haven’t told us anything about what’s going to happen. We woke up, had breakfast, and there was a bus waiting that brought our team here. We have absolutely no idea what to expect,” said Stefan Rath of Team Austria as he emptied his pockets. (To ensure all teams relied solely on their skills, they were deprived of every possible tool, from digital devices down to the smallest scrap of paper. They couldn’t even wear a watch.)

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Without exception, after playing the room, each team said it was like no other.

“Wow!” said Lithuania’s Domantas Povilas Kirsnys. “We’ve played Escape Rooms in Lithuania and in Budapest, but this was completely different – the size, the technology!”

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Antoine Cavaillé of Team France had a similar reaction. “This was a super experience,” he commented. “We have done Escape Rooms, but this was really special. Red Bull Mind Gamers will push the sport a lot.”

There were surprises even for the mastermind behind the Escape Room.

“It’s been really exciting to see this come to life, and to see them take on these challenges in creative ways that I never expected. All of a sudden it becomes an adventure – a quest,” said Dr. Scott Nicholson, who led the team that designed the World Finals Escape Room. “It’s also a bit heartbreaking at times to see a team that has performed well begin to struggle and fall apart at a specific challenge if they don’t have a certain intelligence on the team. The teams that have done really well have a variety of skills.”

The Semi-Finals of the Red Bull Mind Gamers World Finals will conclude on Friday. Then watch the Escape Room World Championship play out live at 8:00pm CET on Saturday, March 25, 2017.