Life before Online Competitions
Before the worldwide spread of Coronavirus, the standard for a Rubik’s Cube competition had always been physical face to face WCA recognized/ Red Bull competitions, where all the speedcubers would come together by traveling to various cities and countries just to compete in an official competition.
If a record were broken, that would be registered as an official one. The name of cubing, speedsolving, and Rubik’s cube competitions was spreading consistently and significantly during the “normal” time of life.
The Outbreak of Coronavirus and Its Impact
In late 2019, Wuhan (China) had its first case of Coronavirus, and from there, the rest is history. Everyone had to stay in their homes for a significant amount of time and any face-to-face physical competition that was supposed to happen after Coronavirus started spreading in various countries, had to be cancelled. Everything had come to a standstill, giving everyone a break from their busy lives. As a result, many speedcubers stopped picking up their cubes and practising because of a lack of competition, since competition is a major factor in keeping up the motivation to practice and train. Everyone knew that face-to-face competition wouldn’t be happening anytime soon, and this is where the era of online competitions began.
The Beginning of Online Competitions
In the middle of 2020, cubelelo hosted its very first online competition, with free registration. At this competition, competitors got scrambles on Cubelelo’s website and did the solves while having a recording device record them. Then, the team at Cubelelo would verify the videos and check if -
- the scramble done was correct or not
- checking for fake solves
- clarity of the footage (intentionally recording in bad quality), and so on.
Soon after, cubelelo brought the online events to a platform where anyone could spectate and see cubers battle each other, by providing a live stream of the final round(s) on YouTube. The live streams have commentators who make watching the events live even more fun.
Apart from Cubelelo, cubers/cube stores/companies hosted multiple online competitions from 2020-2022 (now). Many of these were streamed live to bring the feeling of being in one place for a single event, like before the world had to deal with the outbreak of Coronavirus. This led to a huge amount of growth in speedcubing. From more people wanting to learn how to solve the cube, to competing in online competitions/events. The virus outbreak provided everyone with some extra time, and many cubers utilized the same extremely well. Many cubers got motivated to cube, including new and experienced cubers.
Bluetooth Enabled Rubik’s Cubes
One of the major highlights of the online competitions is the innovation and use of Bluetooth Rubik’s cubes to participate in the online competitions, the most noticeable being the Red Bull Rubik’s Cube World Championships in 2020 and 2021. Participants who made it to the final rounds in the qualifiers were sent Rubik’s Connected Bluetooth cubes. These cubes were mandatory to use to participate in the Red Bull finals. The cubes can be connected to the participant’s phone using an app that is made to compete directly with anyone in the world.
Advantages of the Online Competitions
The main advantage of the online format is that, with a good and stable internet connection, decent camera quality, and a microphone, anyone in the world could easily participate from the comfort of their homes. There is no need to spend resources like money and time to travel to a particular place.
Disadvantages of Online Competitions
A major issue of these events is the verification of the legitimacy of the solver behind the screen, which could be unfair to other competitors. Because of this, getting any record you get in the online events to be registered officially becomes impossible. At an official competition, a WCA delegate is at the competition to ensure no illegal or unfair activities are being done.
Whereas there is no such person to check the rules and regulations of the competitors.
Now the question is:
Can Online Competitions be a New Standard?
In my honest opinion, online competitions could never become the standard over offline competitions. The best part of offline competitions is that this format allows different cubers from different backgrounds and cultures to come together to compete in the same event while still providing a like-minded environment. Offline competitions can be a good reason for a lot of people (like me) to travel and see the world, and most importantly get the records registered officially as well.
Cubelelo’s New Website for Online Competitions
That being said, I do believe that in the age of 2022, online competitions do play a necessary part in contributing to the growth of speedcubing. As I mentioned above, the main advantage of online competitions is that they provide a platform for a cuber who doesn’t have a lot of competitions in their city and can’t afford to travel to a place far away for any reason whatsoever. These competitions have proven to give a similar experience to an official competition and keep a person motivated to practice, improve and get faster to compete in online competitions. These online competitions are still being hosted by cubelelo alongside the official competitions. The format is going to stay for the better of the cubing community.
Aryan Chhabra is the current 3x3 (single) National Record holder Delhi and the first sub 5 of India. His cubing journey started at the age of 13 and now he has 6 years of cubing experience. He loves music, bodybuilding, and football. He has participated in 46 competitions in 3 countries and won 117 podiums with 56 Gold medals and 6 National Records. He also represented India in Red Bull Rubik's Cube World Cup in 2020 and 2021. He also has a World Ranking of 33 in 3x3 Single.