For the final blog this year, I thought I’d write about what I’m looking forward to in 2016 in cubing.
Just a heads up, I won't be doing the monthly blog on here next year, but don't worry! There'll be other content up here from time to time, and I intend to continue the personal-type blogs in some capacity.
I’m an avid follower of golf, and also follow tennis a little bit, and so I see the structure of speedcubing tournaments as somewhat similar, in that there are many competitions throughout each year, but there are a few that mean a whole lot more. First and foremost, are the world championships, which are held every two years, and beneath those are what I like to call the ‘majors’, analogous to those in golf and tennis. These are the annual US nationals, as well as the European championships, and the Asian championships, held in the even-numbered years.
I’m looking forward to these because I think they’ll be very enjoyable to follow, and it will mean that another three deserving cubers will win a big title.
For US Nationals, competition is always very tight every year, and I think following his recent 4.90 world record single, many would be hoping that Lucas Etter wins a title he probably deserves, but it’s a very open race.
For Euros, I’m hoping that Mats or Cornelius wins – they’ve both come close to winning a major tournament numerous times, and so it would be awesome to see either of them get the win this year. That being said, the person who most deserves the title is the one who handles the pressure and performs on the day, and there are so many people that are capable of doing that.
And the 4th instalment of the Asian championships should also be interesting, once again it’ll be tight, probably between a few of the Koreans (Hyeon Kyo Kyoung, Seung Hyuk Nahm), and the Chinese guys like Haowei Fan and Jiayu Wang.
2015 saw the release of a ridiculous number of new speedcubes, and increased competition between puzzle manufacturers, which is always a good thing for us.
In my opinion, there isn’t too much improvement to be had in 3x3 hardware. We’re getting to the stage where they’re just about perfect, and cubers are using completely different cubes, as opposed to years ago when there was one widely acknowledged best speedcube. I’m interested to see what designers come up with, and whether there is still much innovation to be had. Pops, corner twists, and tight cubes are a thing of the past.
However, there are certainly aspects of bigger sized cubes and other puzzles that can be improved, but that’s not to say that what we have at the moment is bad at all. Even seen this year, improvements in cube hardware generally lead to improvements in times, and exciting new world records which were previously thought unthinkable.
The WCA is holding more and more competitions every year, and whilst year-on-year competition growth isn’t as quick as it once was, speedcubing is always getting bigger, and it’s going nowhere fast. One concern is that there will be too much demand for competitions, and even in Australia, registration for popular competitions often fills out within a week or two. I don’t think popularity will completely explode next year, but I’m interested in seeing what does happen.
Two years ago, sponsored speedcubers were unheard of, but now it’s almost becoming the norm, with the majority of world class speedcubers being affiliated with stores in some capacity. I see this as a great new element in the cubing world. Most cubers are reasonably young, and either may have to rely on their parents to help them travel to competitions, or forego travelling because of the cost. Sponsorships mean that more cubers are able to go to more competitions, and more of the top guys can attend big competitions.
What you can do in 2016 to enjoy speedcubing more?
Go to a competition, if you haven’t already done so.
Engage in the online community. Although speedcubing is primarily a solitary hobby, the online communities devoted to speedcubing are a great way to connect with other cubers – even if that just means you read and don’t post anything. The speedsolving.com forums, the /r/cubers subreddit, Facebook cubing groups, and Youtube are the main platforms in which the English-speaking speedcubing community exists.
Try blindsolving, try FMC. Some people like to stick in their comfort zone, and simply practice 3x3, or other events, because they’re a lot easier. I know I don’t practice either of these events at home, I only do them in competition, because they’re mentally challenging and draining, but also very rewarding and satisfying. If you learn how to solve a cube blindfolded, or learn fewest moves solving techniques, I guarantee you’ll gain a greater appreciation for cubing itself, and you’ll certainly learn heaps of new things about the cube. Even if it does require more effort.
And last but not least, practice! (Only when you want to, and have the time)