First world champions crowned

Slovenia win Red Bull Mind Gamers and predict a huge future for the sport. The Escape Room World Championship came to a thrilling conclusion in Budapest with Slovenia defeating Ukraine to successfully complete Mission: Unlock Enoch.

They say entering an escape room based on quantum physics is like standing on the edge of a cliff ready to jump. On Saturday, Slovenia and Ukraine jumped straight into the biggest Mind Gamers showdown in history.

The two teams only discovered they were in the final during a live TV broadcast, with the results from the semi-finals kept deadly secret.

And in front of a studio audience including game legend Erno Rubik in the Hungarian capital, Slovenia, one of the youngest teams to enter and who had never played an escape room together before, became the first team to conquer the seven new challenges and lift the trophy.

But who is their dream team member? Jaka Koren, 21, said afterwards: “I think it would be someone with experience of solving puzzles. Leonardo DiCaprio was in Inception, or maybe Keanu Reeves from the Matrix films! I guess they could help”

Koren is also hopeful for a big future in the sport, commenting: “We are so excited, it is so unexpected. To know we are the first champions of the competition is an unreal feeling. I am very proud of the team.

“I think this competition could be the first step on the way to creating something much, much bigger and making escape rooms a mainstream sport.

“There really is no limit to human imagination. There is no limit to how far we can take them. There is no impossible escape room.”

From an initial 9000 entries, twenty-four elite national teams and 96 competitors representing 25 countries made it to Budapest, but only one winner prevailed.

Slovenia stormed into the lead by dominating the first four challenges with their excellent communication skills, and despite a slight setback in the vortex tunnel, never looked like being beaten.

This followed on from their semi-final performance on Thursday when they overcame Austria, Switzerland, Germany, UK, Italy, Hungary, Norway, Lithuania, Spain, Estonia and France while Ukraine prevailed on Friday from a group containing Singapore, Korea, Russia, Azerbaijan, USA, Romania, Oman, Turkey, Sweden and two wildcard teams.

The two finalists could not have been more different. The Slovenian quartet only met in the qualification process while in contrast, the Ukrainian team featured three friends from school who had competed in multiple puzzle events together.

Defeated finalist Petro Fomin said: “We really did not expect to be in the finals. It was awesome to be here and be finalists. There is high popularity in this sport. I think it is the future. This is just a small beginning of a big future.”

Inspiration beind the event, visiting professor at MIT, and Professor of Game Design and Development at Wilfrid Laurier University, Dr Scott Nicholson added: “This week has been the start of something big and, hopefully, helping other people to realise that they can change the world through games.” T

eam Information Slovenia: Jaka Koren, Jan Kromar, Roman Zalokar, Srdjan Veselinov Ukraine: Petro Fomin, Viktor Garber, Oleksii Gurskyi, Diana Remizovska

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