Budapest (Hungary) – The Red Bull Mind Gamers 2017 Finals in Budapest were an absolute game-changer as two national champion teams competed for the first-ever Escape Room World Championship. In a desperate race against time through a vast, next-generation Escape Room based on Quantum Physics, Finalist teams Slovenia and Ukraine pushed to the limit to solve challenges that tested creativity, logic, visual thinking and strategy. Slovenia took the early lead, and – despite a last-ditch comeback by Ukraine – they would not be denied, taking the win and the historic World Championship crown.
Tension was high as the 24 international teams from the Semi-Finals filled a specially made studio, all waiting – along with experts including Rubik’s Cube inventor Dr. Erno Rubik and International Chess Master and Woman Grandmaster Tania Sachdev – to hear who had made it to the Finals. When the the two finalists were announced in front of the live global audience, the teams had only moments to prepare before entering the game with seven never-before-seen-challenges.
As the teams launched their battle amid 2000 square meters of wall-space in the vast Escape Room, it was all Slovenia. The teammates – Jaka Koren, Jan Kromar, Roman Zalokar and Srdjan Veselinov – swiftly won the first four mind-boggling challenges, starting with electronic components specially created in Serbia, such as Quicksilver, where the teams tried to steer a ball through a floating table. Next they had to manipulate objects in a series of features by thrusting their hands inside plexiglass boxes or rotating a complex series of disks. Then came one of the most counterintuitive challenges, when the teams had to assemble a series of lighted cables while also puzzling out mysterious cylinders – only to finally discover that the only way to succeed was by collaborating together by linking both teams to close the circuit.
At the halfway point came the dizzying 6-meter long Vortex Tunnel. Team Ukraine – Fomin, Oleksii Gurskyi, Viktor Garber, and the only woman in the Final round, Diana Remizovska – seemed out of the running when they failed to solve its puzzle, but then the vortex stumped Slovenia as well. In the last two challenges on lighted screens, the Ukrainians began to catch up with lightning speed, for a neck-and-neck finish that had the studio audience roaring. In the end, Slovenia’s lead was too much to overcome, and the team, primarily based in Ljubljana, emerged victorious.
“I’m proud of the entire team – to win the first Escape Room World Championship is unreal,” said Koren, who revealed the shocking news that his team had never played an Escape Room together before arriving in Budapest. “There is no limit to the human imagination. I think this could be the first step to making Escape Room competitions much bigger.”
The guru who led the team that designed the Red Bull Mind Gamers Escape Room is Dr. Scott Nicholson, a Professor of Game Design and Development. He stated, “This week has been the start of something big: of understanding what Escape Rooms could become; of becoming more aware of what happens when you have different cultures in Escape Rooms; the inspiration toward a better understanding of how to make challenges at a global level; and, hopefully, helping others to realize that they can change the world through games.”