Even 20 Years Later, Dance Dance Revolution's Competitive Scene Has Still Got It

Dance. All. Night.

That’s what Dance Dance Revolution pros from around the world will be doing this weekend when they compete at the Konami Arcade Championship event in Japan. Tonight there’s the Super Extra Exclusive DDR tournament pulling in 32 players based on rank and qualifying points. On Saturday, the six best players in the world will compete to be crowned champion of the 8th annual KAC.

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To give you an idea of how hardcore a DDR-er you need to be to even get into the first best-of-the-rest style tournament, contestants qualified for the event earlier this month based on high scores in the level 16 versions of the songs “S!ck ESP” and “PARANOiA-Respect- ESP.” If you’ve ever played DDR, or watched someone else play DDR, you know even on the easiest settings those tracks can be rhythm-stunting challenges, let alone at higher difficulties. And if you’ve never seen someone play DDR, then stop whatever you’re doing, hop in a time machine, go back to an early 2000s bowling alley and prepare to have your consciousness elevated to a new plane.

There’s nothing quite like seeing people from all walks of life sweat like crazy as they try to perform completely absurd, light-show induced jigs in order to keep the music flowing. Few games force you to transform your body into an extension of the game like DDR does.

For the main DDR championship event, players were invited based on their previous victories throughout last year. The tournament rules are somewhat complex, including how and when players get to veto certain songs, but for most of us it’s enough to know that two people compete on top-of-the-line DDR machines side-by-side across an devastating slate of songs to see who can rack up the highest cumulative score.

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A player who goes by FEFEMZ won the tournament last year and two times before that. You can see what makes him one of the best in the world in this clip where he becomes the first player ever to clear the stage “ENDYMION CSP.” CHRS4LFE, meanwhile, won in 2017, the first time players from the United States had been eligible to attend. This weekend they’ll be looking to retake the throne.

Dancing for the Super Extra Exclusive begins at 9:00 p.m. ET Friday night (Saturday morning in Japan) with the DDR A finals getting underway on Saturday at 8:00 p.m. You can watch it all go down here.

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Ethan Gach

Kotaku staff writer. You can reach him at ethan.gach@kotaku.com