Super Mario Kart Championships 2019 PRESS-KIT
Super Mario Kart is a 1992 kart racing video game developed and published by Nintendo for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System video game console. The first game of the Mario Kart series, it was released in Japan and North America in 1992, and in Europe the following year. Selling 8.76 million copies worldwide, the game went on to become the fourth best selling SNES game of all time.
The community surrounding the game was essentially founded by Sami Çetin, who is also referred to as ‘the Godfather of Super Mario Kart’ because of this very fact. He launched a website to keep track of Time Trial records way back in 1999. Amazingly, over 20 years later he hasn’t missed a beat and has singlehandedly updated these rankings on a weekly basis! All the while he has actively recruited players, stimulated competition and has made sure everyone is playing according to the rules. Largely through his efforts and those of other community members, the player base has grown steadily with every passing year: currently there are well over a thousand registered members, each with a full set of times.
In the early 2000s another major development occurred as the community discovered the use of boosting (back then dubbed as New Boost Techniques or NBTs). A boost is generated by powersliding for roughly one second, very similar to the way mini turbos work in later iterations of the Mario Kart series. While boosting the kart will not lose speed offroad; naturally this tech completely revolutionized the way the game was played and raised the skill ceiling considerably, keeping both Time Trial and multiplayer competition fresh and interesting for many more years to come.
That being said, this game is about so much more than just Time Trial competition and a group of French players spearheaded by Franck M. recognized this and kickstarted the Super Mario Kart multiplayer Championships (back then known as the "Championnat de France" or CDF) in the summer of 2002. This CDF series has essentially been running on an annual basis since then and has grown into the global Championships that we know today.
The Championships are always played on the European version (PAL) of the game. The original Japanese (and American) version of the game runs on an NTSC system and does not only go faster (60hz versus 50hz), but also has some very unique and interesting characteristics. Because the physics are different, the two versions are viewed as completely distinct games by the community. In 2019, a group of American karters known as ‘the Kartel’ organized the first American SMK Championships (ASMKC), played on the NTSC version of the game. A handful of European karters showed up for the inaugural event as well, indicating once more that SMK competition is a truly global affair.
For the true speed demons out there, we also keep track of the best times driven in GP150cc mode. There are even separate ladders for times achieved with and without the use of beneficial items, such as shortcut-enabling mushrooms and feathers.
With the popularity of speedrunning on the rise in the late 2000s, Super Mario Kart community members also set out to speedrun their favourite game. SMK’s various speedrunning ladders are maintained at https://www.speedrun.com/smk. So called ‘all cup runs’ became the run of choice, where a player races through each cup on the GP150cc difficulty as fast as possible. Such an all cups race was performed by runners Neo (sponsored by Meltdown) and KVD at Awesome Games Done Quick in 2016 in front of an audience of 150,000 Twitch viewers. GDQs are the biggest speedrunning charity events in the world, which routinely raise over a million dollars for cancer research. The runners did not disappoint: the race ended with an exciting photo finish, the closest finish ever recorded at a GDQ event!
Photos and Videos
Battle Mode Grand Final
Julien "ScouB" Holmière vs Geoffrey "Geo" L.
Match Race Grand Final
Julien "ScouB" Holmière vs Florent "Neo" Lecoanet
Grand Prix 150cc Grand Final
Sami "Godfather of SMK" Çetin vs Geoffrey "Geo" L.
Time Trial One Try Grand Final
Julien "ScouB" Holmière vs Sami "Godfather of SMK" Çetin
Reactions & Quotes
It is hard to believe that the journey from playing the game up until my participation in this amazing event was only 10 months long.
The Team UK players were all so helpful and inspiring to make me push myself to be at my best in the lead up my first CDM. At the tournament itself I learned skills from players of all nations and the welcome was unbelievable.
2020 cannot come soon enough to compete but more importantly to meet the new friends and community that gave me one of the most amazing moments of my life.”
Ireland - First Participation - Ranked 26th.
We are running a lot of big events these days, but I know everybody here at the Esports Game Arena can say that this is the most amazing event: the Super Mario Kart championships.
I think that the Fortnite championships got less attention from the media over here than these championships.”
The Netherlands - Esports Game Arena owner.
I discovered the championship in 2014 thanks to a group of friends who were doing a report on the competition. I used to go there as a dilettante, to have fun. I didn't know I was going to meet some of the most important people in my life and even less than five years later I would want to get involved in the community to the point of organizing the competition, while improving my ranking.
The enthusiasm for the game never diminishes, the annual week we spend together is probably the one I expect the most, and I know I'm not the only one who feels that way.”
Belgium - Organisation team - 6th Participation - Ranked 10th.
I just hope you all don't get too old and too tired to make the trip across the border, into the Netherlands in future years, it means so much to everyone to see the same faces and even new faces.
It's not really about SMK, even though it's a fantastic game, one of the best game ever made, thanks to Nintendo for making the game, but it's the people we meet here and how we are all family here, and it's so fantastic that we hope we get a bunch of new players in the coming years.”
United States - 12th Participation - Ranked 16th.
Karel van Duijvenboden
I would say that what makes SMK Championships stand out as a competitive gaming event is 100% tradition. It’s been going on since 2002 and the culture of the event is id imagine very much different from more contemporary gaming tournaments. The core members have been meeting yearly (or more) for over 10 years.
They are not only competitors, but often good friends who visit each other on holidays outside of the gaming realm as well.
In terms of the culture, the first few years players spent the night camping and it was a very free-spirited event, almost hippy-esque even. That spirit has stuck, even though all players stay in hotels and airbnbs nowadays. The competitive aspect has always been there, but since there are no big monetary prizes, professionally sponsored esports players and careers to think of, it’s not completely dominating the experience. That’s not to say that the level is lower because of it
When you’re all playing the game for over 10 years, the evolutionary warfare that develops between players makes the overall level simply monstrous.”
The Netherlands - Organisation team - 13th Participation - Ranked 5th.
The Grand Prix match against Lafungo this year was the most wonderful memory of my life.”
Japan - 3rd Participation - Ranked 9th.
I needn’t have worried, despite playing against three of the world’s top players, I’ve never been made to feel more comfortable and happy to play a game I knew I would losing, so much so that I resigned myself to practicing and entering more modes next year.
The SMK community really are a wonderful bunch of people; welcoming, kind and helpful beyond belief. By the end of the tournament I felt part of the family and the excitement when players asked me to sign their posters has sealed my fate for next year. I’ll be back, and this time I’ll get in 40 minutes practice. ;)”
United Kingdom - First Participation - Ranked 45th.
All these people that I have known throughout the last decade and a half are all meeting up to compete in what is now an incredibly competitive retro game with a skill ceiling so high, it will never be reached.
Of course I would make the return as main commentator in 2019, this time also handling a significant portion of the streaming station as well.
It is amazing how this community has so many delightful personalities and dedicated people, as it really is a team effort to make the CDM happen each year. Even to those who no longer have hopes or aspirations of placing in the game still come out for this yearly event, which continues to baffle the audience into nigh-on disbelief at the quality found at the very top.”
Norway - Commentator - Second Participation - Ranked 34th.
Even though we are all good friends and having a lot of fun, the competition’s level is pretty high and we push ourselves to the limits. But funnily, it seems there are no limit to this game as we keep discovering new things and improving world records every year.
There are so many layers to this game that its lifetime seems to be endless...”
France - 13th Participation - Ranked 1st (2019 Champion).