Despite Records, Mario Kart 64 Champ Retires Over Betrayal

Despite Records, Mario Kart 64 Champ Retires Over Betrayal

Nintendo official art of Mario and other racing kart drivers competing for first place.

Image: Nintendo

Matthias Rustemeyer is one of the greatest of all time in Mario Kart 64. Maybe even the best. He is certainly the most famous, having dominated the highest level of his competitive scene for the better part of a decade. And now he’s retiring.

“I completely lost the key value to keep going: the fun,” he wrote. in a message announcing the decision. A tense rivalry with the game’s new champion is a big reason why.

Most people outside of Mario Kart 64 speedrunning had never heard of Rustemeyer until YouTuber SummoningSalt posted a video last year documenting the German player’s recent quest to dominate the leaderboards in all world record categories without the game’s shortcut. The video garnered over 2 million views and made Rustemeyer a mini-legend among casual Mario Kart players 64 and speedrun enthusiasts in general. When invoking salt announced earlier this week that someone finally managed to get all 32 world records, many assumed he was talking about Rustemeyer. But he wasn’t. Instead, that unprecedented honor went to Rustemeyer’s longtime rival Daniel Burbank.

Intense competition is at the heart of any speedrunning scene. It inspires great players to continually discover better strategies and break new records. For a long time, this is how the rivalry between Rustemeyer and Burbank seemed to work. During his 2018 bid for the coveted 32/32 world record, Rustemeyer came close, winning various Burbank records only for Burbank to work hard to reclaim them. Other top Mario Kart 64 players followed suit, keeping the elusive goal just out of reach even though Rustemyer remained the overall champion.

Then everything changed last summer. While Rustemyer seemed, on paper, always to be the undisputed champion, in reality Burbank was racking up world records that he had set but never officially released. On June 11, he sadly “un-hoarded” all of these times, claiming a number of new world records and thus breaking Rustemyer’s long reign.

Burbank was the new champion. Rusteymer felt betrayed. Burbank wrote long apologies, but none have communicated since outside of live tournaments.

“Dan pulled 15 WRs in June 2020 (me and others cheated on me for 15 months!) And completely destroyed the place I loved to visit almost daily; some players left the stage, many were upset and disappointed, I thought about retirement but I continued after receiving a lot of support and a future hoarding ban with compulsory streaming for Dan, ”Rustemeyer told Kotaku on Discord.

“It was actually 17 new WRs,” Burbank told Kotaku on Discord. “Most of them were on tracks where I had already had a WR and the gap with the first one was very small. Some of them were tracks where there was already a WR tie. A few leads, I beat the WR listed more than once while hoarding. In total, there were 22 times that I did not let go of what I had driven.

Hoarding is not against the rules, but some in the community consider it bad form to say the least.

“The hoarding did lasting damage to Matthias, and although I gave him some space last year after the recovery, there was no way I could fix it all,” Burbank said. “I offered the community and Matthias to step down and that I would never report anything I play, but they didn’t want to either. Although I still feel and feel a lot of guilt for what I have done to Matthias and the community, I love this game and wanted to keep playing and finally had time to push my abilities as far as they could go.

Over the next year or so, Burbank continued to ride at an impressive rate as Rustemeyer, deflated and increasingly consumed by other parts of his life, struggled to keep pace.

A graph showing the length of time over the past decade that Matthias Rustemeyer has been the dominant Mario Kart 64 champion.

“The battle we had this year was by far the biggest battle in MK64 history,” Burbank told Kotaku. “There wasn’t a jovial competitive spirit. although. I’m sure it was personal for him after what happened last year.

As the pair furiously contested several world records at the start of this year, in July, it was clear that Rustemeyer didn’t have the same fight in him to challenge the Burbank 32/32 title that he had had years ago. before when he had tried it before.

“Real life caught up in May, and I needed a break from the most intense recess I have ever had as other activities became possible again,” he said. “I came back earlier than expected in July because Dan went from a slight lead at 28 to 29 WR with insane playing time every day. I didn’t feel the same fire to fight during the summer months. And with its accumulated history, I forced myself to play rather than fully enjoy it.

Burbank, which finally won the title earlier this week, also appears to have been the final nail in the coffin of Rustemeyer’s remaining ambitions for Mario Kart 64. Rustemeyer declined to congratulate Burbank in the days that followed.

“Some people will call me a sore loser when I refuse to congratulate, but Dan lost all my respect last year. And, for me: sportsmanship> playfulness,” he said. fair battle and squeezed to the top so I couldn’t defend properly, and although he has become a very strong competitor, it’s a loss. “

As the sun sets over the competitive Mario Kart 64 community for Rustemyer, the way Burbank talks about it looks more like the dawn of a new era.

Yoshi from Mario Kart 64 driving a racing cart.

Image: Nintendo / Kotaku

“There were more people playing MK64 last year than ever before,” said Burbank, although he admits his actions last summer had a lasting negative impact. “The overall community (including other Mario Karts) has become much more divided than ever over the past few years. Destocking certainly played a role in this, but it still split for a number of reasons. “

Still, Burbank is optimistic about new frontiers in competition that still have room to open up, despite riders now fighting for fractions of a second on highly optimized courses.

“There’s a new karter coming up, Xander, who actually got Toad’s Turnpike flap WR a few weeks ago. Then I beat him back, but he’s going to keep getting better and better, ”Burbank said.

On his side, Rustemeyer may be ready to forget, but he is not ready to forgive.

“I don’t care if some people are going to call me a sore loser, I’m a guy who treats fair players with great respect and doesn’t forget those who go against the code of honor to raise their own ego above an entire community with such a rich history, ”he wrote in his retirement message.

Either way, no one will forget Matthias anytime soon. The forum post was littered with thanks and wishes.

One fan wrote: “Thank you for everything you have done for the MR community. We will miss you. Congratulations to the GOAT! “


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