A Dive into the Ocean of Minecraft Speedrunning


Minecraft is a widely popular game played by millions of people all around the world. However, a select few players have spent years pushing the game to its limits trying to beat it as fast as possible (Photo in Public Domain).


Speedrunning video games first started in the late 1990’s over forums and discussion pages. Speedrunning is where people try to complete a video game of their choice as fast as they can. It started small, but more recently speedrunning has become popular on platforms like Twitch and YouTube. Hundreds of different games have active speedrunning communities today, one such community speedruns the popular game Minecraft. 

The Minecraft speedrun community has split the runs into 3 main categories on Speedrun.com: “any percent”, “all achievements”, and “all advancements”. Each of these categories have several subcategories with different leaderboards. 

All Advancements:

“All advancements” is the least popular category, as it is the hardest and the most tedious of the 3 categories. In this category, the runner has to complete every advancement in the game, and the timer stops when “all advancements” are completed. Advancements are different tasks that a runner can complete in game and after completion of a given task, the game awards a banner telling the runner that they completed the task. 

Some of the advancements are extremely easy such as crafting a wooden pickaxe which takes roughly 30 seconds at the beginning of the game, but the hardest advancement “how-did-we-get-here?” took roughly three hours to complete in the random seed glitchless 1.16 world record. 

There are 20 total leaderboards in the “all advancements” category under the subcategories: random seed, random seed glitchless, set seed, set seed glitchless, and in each of those subcategories there are different leaderboards for each version the run is played in: 1.12, 1.13, 1.14, 1.15, and 1.16. 

A seed in Minecraft is the world generated for the player to play in. Minecraft can generate over  18 quintillion unique seeds. Players have the ability to choose the seed they want to play in by typing in that specific seed’s title into the seed bar hence the name “set seed.” However, if the player does not put in a seed of their choice, the game will randomly select a seed for them to use — this is called “random seed.”

The subcategories have different leaderboards for the different versions due to changes and additions between updates. For example, 1.16 otherwise known as “the Nether update” added several advancements in the Nether region of the game and has a total of 80 advancements, while 1.12 (the version that introduced the advancement system) has a mere 53. Many other changes make the different version faster or slower, so the community decided to split up the leaderboards.

As of November 11, 2020, there are a mere five runs in the “all advancements” category. One is in the set seed 1.12 subcategory by Calvin856 with a time of 4 hours 8 minutes and 15 seconds in real time, while the other four were done in the random seed glitchless subcategory. Of the four runs in the random seed glitchless subcategory, one was done in 1.14, one was done in 1.15, and two were done in 1.16. 

ILlumina, a popular speedrunner and YouTuber,  completed the most recent of all of these runs and the world record for the random seed glitchless 1.16 category in 14 hours 52 minutes and 22 seconds. An edited down version of this run is available on Illumina’s YouTube channel.

All Achievements:

The next category “all achievements” is similar to the “all advancements” category. All advancements became a category in 1.12 when Mojang changed the achievements feature and called them advancements. Achievements, similar to advancements, are tasks that a player can do in game. Since the system was changed in 1.12 to advancements, the “all achievements” category is only run in versions predating 1.11.

These runs are split into two categories: 1.0-1.6 and 1.8-1.11, with the four subcategories of random seed, random seed glitchless, set seed, and set seed glitchless. The “all achievements” categories have a few more runs than the all advancements category mainly because it is significantly easier to complete and has been around longer. 

A runner by the name of “Schnidi_” dominates this category and currently holds the 1.0-1.6 set seed, 1.0-1.6 set seed glitchless, 1.0-1.6 random seed, 1.8-1.11 set seed, and the 1.8-1.11 random seed world records. The fastest of these world records is his 1.0-1.6 set seed record with a time of just 20 minutes and 14 seconds. 

The routing for the “all advancements” and “all achievements” categories — especially in the random seed categories — is up for personal preference. Each runner will have their own way of completing the run and the route is not set in stone as it is in some other categories. Routing is the steps a runner will take when completing a speedrun. Most games have very solid routes that the best runs take, but for some games like Minecraft it can be up to the runner.

Any % with Glitches:

The next and most popular category in all of Minecraft speedrunning is the any % speedrun. In this run, runners must complete the game by slaying the ender dragon as fast as possible. 

There are two main categories for this type of run, any % glitchless and any % (with glitches). 

The any % (with glitches) runs are split into four subcategories, pre 1.9 set seed, pre 1.9 random seed, 1.9+ set seed, and 1.9+ random seed. These runs can contain many different glitches such as duplicating items. The main route for this run, however, is pretty straightforward. First, the runner must collect materials to enter the Nether, collect blaze rods in the Nether, collect ender pearls by either killing endermen or finding them in chests, enter the end, and slay the dragon. 

The pre 1.9 set seed is the most run category of the any % subcategories with 24 runs on the leaderboard. The world record is by “thereaper_hk” with a time of 3 minutes and 44 seconds of in-game time. Runners time their runs with in-game time because a lot of the glitches involve exiting out of the game and relogging, it also allows for people with slower computers to play on an equal playing field despite their longer load times. 

The fastest run in the any % category is the set seed 1.9+ world record with a blazing fast time of 1 minute and 55 seconds by “Curcuit”. The run took place two years ago, and nobody has come close to beating it since. Even though the run was just under two minutes, it took Curcuit almost 13 minutes to complete the run due to all of the logging out and relogging it took to perform some of the glitches. 

The random seed categories are significantly slower than the set seed categories. The random seed pre 1.9 record is 7 minutes and 51 seconds by Illumina and the random seed 1.9+ record is 14 minutes and 56 seconds by “Khalooody”.

Any % Glitchless Set Seed:

Finally, the last main category of the game, any % glitchless. This is the most popular category and has recently been in the spotlight for the constant stream of battles for the world records. These runs have five subcategories: set seed pre 1.9, random seed pre 1.9, set seed 1.9+, random seed 1.9-1.15, and finally random seed 1.16+. 

The two set seed subcategories each have around 200 runs on the leaderboard. Over the years, these runs have closed in on perfection and getting a new world record comes down to miniscule time saves. Both of the seeds used in the runs stuck out after searching through billions of different seeds and were the fastest seeds out of them all. 

For the pre 1.9 world record, the route is rather simple but extremely precise. World record holder “TheeSizzler” spawns next to a village and a desert temple then starts off by collecting a few materials then going into the desert temple collecting its loot. After he assembled the loot from the desert temple, he must use the materials he gets from it and the few he collected from before to trade with the villagers to get an eye of ender (these are used to fill in the end portal so the player can go to the end and beat the game). Then he precisely navigated his way to the end portal and slayed the dragon. He finished the run in 4 minutes and 39 seconds.

In order to go to the end, TheeSizzler had to fill in the end portal with eyes of ender, and there are twelve slots where the eyes need to go for the portal to work. However, there is a 10% chance that any of these slots may be already filled with an eye of ender making it so the player does not have to collect as many eyes before entering the end. The seed that TheeSizzler is using has 11 eyes already filled in, so he only needs to collect one eye via trading with a villager. The chance of there being 11 eyes already filled in is one in one hundred billion, making this seed extremely lucky especially with the stronghold (a dungeon where the end portal is located) extremely close to spawn. 

The set seed 1.9+ world record seed also has a very solid route that the runner must take and execute perfectly to get a world record. The world record holder “MincrAvenger” spawned next to a village. He collects some obsidian from a chest in the village and uses it to travel to the Nether region; he then exits the Nether using the rest of his obsidian at a very specific coordinate and then jumps into an already filled portal. He proceeds to kill the dragon extremely fast and lands a time of 2 minutes and 27 seconds.

The odds of getting an already filled portal is one in one trillion, but it eliminates the need to collect any ender pearls, blaze rods, or take most of the steps usually needed to complete the game making the run extremely fast. 

Another thing about this run is the use of Nether travel. In the Nether, the distance traveled by a player is multiplied by eight in comparison to the overworld. This means if someone made a portal at the x-coordinate 100 and traveled into the Nether and traveled 100 blocks along the x-axis in the Nether and made a portal to exit the Nether, the portal in the over world would be on the x-coordinate 900. 

MincrAvenger used this feature in his run to travel to the stronghold extremely fast. This method is faster because after the 1.9 update, strongholds generated significantly farther from the world’s spawn requiring some fast way of travel to achieve better times. 

Any % Glitchless Random Seed:

The final set of subcategories are the random seed any % runs. These are the most popular runs and have brought a lot of attention to Minecraft speedrunning as a whole. This run is almost completely controlled by RNG (Random Number Generator) or the luck that a player will get within the run. In random seed any % runs, the runner must start a completely randomized seed and complete it as fast as possible. This means that runners will reset their worlds over and over and over again until they spawn somewhere they think could yield a good run. The pre 1.9, 1.9-1.15, and 1.16+ versions all have slightly different routes taken to complete it. 

Illumina is the world record holder in the pre-1.9 random seed category with a time of 23:53. Illumina started the run by immediately going into a cave and collecting iron, then he found a lava pool and went to the nether. After collecting all of the blaze rods, Illumina implemented a trick to manipulate the spawn rates of endermen (the mobs that drop ender pearls when killed) and easily farm the ender pearls.

In order to do this trick, Illumina must stack up a tower of blocks high enough to where the ground is not loaded and therefore cannot spawn any mobs. Illumina then sets his spawn at the top of the tower and repeatedly jumps off allowing a bunch of mobs to spawn on the ground all at once. If no endermen spawn, then Illumina will kill himself then respawn at the top of the tower and jump off again. When endermen spawn, Illumina will kill them, collect the ender pearls, put them in a chest, and then repeat the process. 

Once Illumina collected all the ender pearls he needed, he located the stronghold and slayed the ender dragon. 

This category is not nearly as popular as the other random seed categories having a total of over 150 runs. However, the next category, random seed 1.9-1.15 gained a lot of popularity in the speedrunning community and is the reason Minecraft is such a popularly run category today. 

The War:

The 1.9-1.15 random seed glitchless speedrun got really popular around June of 2020 when a speedrunning “war” broke out. There were three main contenders for the world record and they went back and forth for around two months gaining and losing the world record. 

These three contenders were Dream, Illumina, and realbenex. 

Dream is most well known for his Minecraft manhunt videos that he posts on YouTube and has amassed him over 13 million subscribers. While Dream started to rise in popularity, he started speedrunning the Minecraft 1.9-1.15 category and held the world record three separate times.

Illumina is one of the most prestigious Minecraft speedrunners and has held plenty of world records throughout his career. The Minecraft 1.9-1.15 random seed world record was just one more check on his list of world records. 

Realbenex, the last runner in the war, is less popular than the likes of Illumina and Dream, but worked extremely hard to get the world record nonetheless. Currently, Realbenex is grinding away in the 1.16+ category in an attempt to get the record. Although he has been unable to capture the record, the amount of time and effort he has poured in does not go unseen.

These three runners streamed most of their runs on their respective Twitch channels and each of them brought huge spikes in the popularity of Minecraft speedrunning. These three runners are the reason the 1.9-1.15 category has over 500 runs and the 1.16+ category has over 700 runs. 

The routes taken when attempting the 1.9-1.15 random seed record have varied greatly, however, the majority of the runs follow a simple route. Spawn near a desert, find a desert temple and gather the materials (specifically the TNT located at the bottom of the temple), find a village (preferably one in an acacia biome) and gather wheat and iron from it, find a lava pool and go to the nether, get some blaze rods from the nether fortress, go back to the overworld and gather lots of wood usually by blowing up the village houses, trade with the villagers to get ender pearls, go to the end, slay the ender dragon. 

This series of events requires a lot of luck, and these runners poured in thousands of attempts to try to get the record. Not only does it require a lot of luck, but the skill each runner shows off in their runs is beyond most other players. The runners have polished their skills and are able to perform tricks such as creating a nether portal with insane amounts of precision. 

Realbenex came out on top of the three with his fastest run clocking 22 minutes and 1 second edging out Dream by a mere two seconds. However, Dream had completed his run three months before Realbenex and had moved on to 1.16+ runs so he was not looking to take back the record. 

Dream’s personal best of 22 minutes and 3 seconds stood out from the rest because of the strange route he took. Early in the run, Dream found a Fortune 3 enchantment book in a Desert temple. The Fortune 3 enchantment, when put on a tool, greatly increases the drop rates of mobs. This is important because it can eliminate the need for trading with villagers as Dream would only need to kill a few endermen to get the ender pearls he needed to go to the end.

However, the downside of this strategy is Dream would need to use an anvil to put the Fortune 3 enchantment on a sword. In order to craft an anvil, Dream needed to collect a lot of iron, so Dream lost a lot of time doing so. However, he gained the time back as the Fortune 3 enchantment sped up the time he spent in the Nether and the time he spent gathering ender pearls before going to the end. By the end of the run, Dream had secured the world record, a runner named Korbanoes beat him a few months later with a time of 20 minutes and 45 seconds. 

Illumina ended with the slowest time of the three runners with a run in 22 minutes and 16 seconds. This run, similar to Realbenex’s, followed the general route and was not very significant as it only stood as the world record for a few days before Dream beat it. 

The Nether Update:

The final of all of the Minecraft speedrunning categories is the 1.16+ random seed glitchless speedrun and it is the biggest of them all amassing over 700 different speedruns on the leaderboard. 

The 1.16+ speedrun gained so much popularity because the 1.16 update came out right as Mincraft was booming in popularity. The community nicknamed this update the Nether update because of the huge amount of changes it made to the Nether region of Minecraft. 

This one update forced the community to make a separate leaderboard because of the huge changes it made to the route. In the new update, there is a special feature where the player can trade with a new mob called Piglins and there is a small chance they will give the player ender pearls. The trading is done by dropping gold near the Piglin who will pick up the gold and give a random item at a random amount. The chances of the Piglin trading ender pearls to the player is extremely low, making the runner a lot more luck dependent than it was before. Another addition was the greatly decreased chances of a Nether Fortress generating in any given place again greatly increasing the luck needed to have a good run.

With these changes the new route looked something like this. Spawn near a village, collect basic materials and food from the village, find a lava pool and travel to the Nether, collect gold in the Nether, find a Nether Fortress and get blaze rods, trade with Piglins, go back to the overworld, go to the End, slay the ender dragon. 

This route, although is luck based, can save a huge amount of time over the old speedruns if luck goes in the runners favor. The current world record is 14 minutes and 36 seconds by a runner called Couriway.

Another change in the route is the way runners slayed the ender dragon. There is a game mechanic used in many speed runs where beds will blow up and deal huge amounts of damage when used in the Nether or the end. Usually, the runner will wait for the ender dragon to land and use beds to deal as much damage as possible before it flies away again. When the dragon lands, it perches on a small pillar at the center of the end. When the dragon perches and then flies away, speedrunners refer to it as one cycle going by. In older speedruns, speedrunners would kill the dragon in around three cycles, however, more recently they have learned to do it in just one.

By placing a bed on the dragon’s perch and blowing it up right before the dragon lands, the dragon will take a lot of damage and a little bit of knockback pushing it back up into the air. This knockback allows for the runner to place another bed on the perch as the dragon tries to land again and the runner will blow the bed up again knocking the dragon back again. The runner will continue to do this until the dragon dies usually using about seven beds in the process. This trick is no easy feat and requires extreme precision to pull off correctly.

The combination of all of the new additions and tricks allows for extremely fast times. Runners poured thousands of hours learning these tricks and doing attempts for the world record, and there is still a huge amount of room for improvement. 

Speedrunning is a great way for people to revisit old games they enjoy and apply their skills in an attempt to snag of a world record. Minecraft is one of the most popular games to speedrun and runners mindlessly grind away trying to get a record of their own. Who knows what the future holds for this game as new updates come out further changing the game and speedrunning as a whole.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.