Every game gets at least 15 minutes of esport fame. Stardew Valley’s competitive time to shine just happens to be coming five years after it was initially released. In a tribute to the game’s biggest speedrunners and content creators, and the passionate farming sim community they’ve helped create in the process, Stardew Valley’s creator announced he will give away $40,000 to the winners of the farming sim’s first official tournament next month.
“I’m pleased to announce the 1st official Stardew Valley Cup!” Eric “ConcernedApe” Barone announced on Twitter over the weekend. “It’s a competition of skill, knowledge, and teamwork, with a prize pool of over $40k.”
Now you might be wondering how do players compete in a game best known for raising crops, making friends, and discovering romance across long but chill slowburn playthroughs? Well Stardew Valley YouTuber Zach “UnsurpassableZ” Hartman, in collaboration with Barone, came up with over 100 special challenges for players to complete in order to earn points and move up a leaderboard. Rather than race to beat the game, players will have three hours to try and complete as many challenges as possible, kind of like a scavenger hunt happening inside a video game.
Here are some examples:
- Finish the craft room - 10 points
- Win ice fishing contest - 15 points
- Give Pam a pale ale - 5 points
- Give a loved gift at the feat of the winter star - 25 points
- Reach level 120 in the mines - 10 points
- Complete a monster eradication goal - 20 points
- Obtain a trash hat - 10 points
Instead of operating solo, the competition will feature four teams of four players each. Each team will use Stardew Valley’s multiplayer coop to work together on the same map. They’ll also get an additional point for every item that they’ve shipped during the competition, and the team with the most gold at the end will also get another bonus 20 points. But wait, there’s more! Throughout the event Hartman will be regularly revealing surprise challenges that players learn about and decide how to react to on the spot.
“There’s going to be five challenges in total and each one of them is worth 50 points which I hope is going to tempt players away from their predetermined route and risk it for the biscuit,” he said in a video explaining the upcoming Stardew Valley Cup rules in detail.
Tasks like reaching level 120 in the mines can take teams of even four players close to an hour to complete, so it will be interesting to see how they prioritize points and partition out the work. You can approach practically any game with a competitive mindset, but the Stardew Valley Cup seems extremely well thought out and well positioned to create some tense and potentially chaotic moments, especially with so much money on the line.
“There’s really two ways that Stardew is played at a high level: speedrunning, which many people are familiar with, and min-maxing, where you try to get the most you can out of each in-game day,” Hartman told Kotaku in an email. “The common tie between being successful in either is good planning and excellent execution. I wanted to carry that sentiment into this competition, while at the same time introducing a way of playing the game that no competitive player had ever seen before.”
If you’ve only ever played Stardew Valley casually, this event is sure to be a perfect introduction to this way of playing. I’d like to thank ConcernedApe and all of the participants for allowing such a special thing to happen!
Update - 2:31 p.m. ET, 8/23/21: added further comment from Zach “UnsurpassableZ” Hartman.