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Blindfolded Player Beats Sekiro in 2 Hours

By Johnson Ge
Apr. 1, 2022 updated 07:23

On Jan 1st, 2022, “Just Blind” made the final blow on Isshin Ashina and finished his speedrun when the clock struck twelve for New Year’s Day. The timer stopped at 1:36:50 as a new blindfolded world record.

Soulsborne games are always popular on Speedrun.com, one of the best-known global speedrun websites. The best record of Sekiro’s Any% speedrun (which has no additional completion requirements nor any additional limitations) is shorter than 20 minutes.

But speedrunning the game while blindfolded is another story. The player must beat the whole game with a blindfold on their eyes, allowing them no visual feedback for the entire playthrough. And that makes “Just Blind” famous among Sekiro speedrun players.

Let’s clarify it first, “Just Blind” is not blind. His real name is pronounced similar to "Blind" in mandarin, which is why he chose "Just Blind" as his username.

Just Blind has succeeded twice in blindfolded Sekiro speedrun. Both speedruns broke the world record at the time. The first one took 1:42:47. One week later, he tried a second time and shortened the record to 1:36:50.

Sekiro and other Soulsborne games are well known for their high difficulty.  Beating those games is typically already hard enough for many people. Challenges like speedrunning or defeating a boss without taking damage are crazy.  Doing a speedrun while blindfolded is unthinkable.

Nevertheless, Just Blind completed this nigh-impossible. He can quickly pick the right one of dozens of items, smoothly travel to the next Buddha Statue, defeat the boss taking little, if not zero, damage. Watching him play, you can easily forget he is blindfolded.

It is a hard spot to jump onto for regular players, even without the blindfold.It is a hard spot to jump onto for regular players, even without the blindfold.

Some have argued that this is just another faked blindfold speedrun. Some thought the blindfold was a see-through one or that he was facing a mirror when he turned his back to the screen. As a response, Just Blind showed his blindfold close to the camera and placed three cameras at different angles showing that he was facing a plain white wall the whole time.

But if we take a closer look at the Just Blind playthrough, there are answers for “How could he manage to do this?”. Just Blind has recorded the whole playthrough in his brain. While the audience watched him running and jumping, Just Blind was deciphering a codebook in his mind like “take three dashes, jump twice, one step on the left, walk forward and count to seven”. He was trying his best to perform like a precise game machine.

Just Blind has beaten the Demon of Hatred while blindfolded and game muted.Just Blind has beaten the Demon of Hatred while blindfolded and game muted.

The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry. One of the most well-known and entertaining accidents in his playthrough is “saving Armored Warrior 7 times”. The Armored Warrior is a mini-boss in Sekiro who cannot be defeated by lowering his health. Even performing a deathblow on this boss will only push him back instead of killing him. The way to defeat this boss is by pushing him off the bridge’s ledge.

During the second walkthrough of Just Blind, he made a mistake. The first deathblow didn’t push the Armored Warrior off the bridge. And in the following attempts, Just Blind stopped and walked to the back of Armored Warrior before he performed the deathblow. As a result, instead of pushing the Armored Warrior off the bridge, he actually pushed the boss away from the ledge, moving the Armored Warrior further from dangerHe had “saved” the boss seven times in this way.

A video record from Just Blind’s playthrough showing him “saving Armored Warrior 7 times”A video record from Just Blind’s playthrough showing him “saving Armored Warrior 7 times”

In fact, even this kind of complex situation is not beyond the preparation of Just Blind. In his strategy plans, there are many Plan Bs for mistakes and unexpected situations. “For the first attempt, I should walk to the boss’s back before the deathblow. However, if it failed for some reason, the following attempts I should perform the deathblow without walking to his back”, according to Just Blind himself. He somehow got tired and nervous at that moment and failed to recall the best strategy he had made before.

Luckily, Just Blind soon pulled himself together and defeated the following bosses with little mistakes. Isshin Ashina, the final boss of Shura Ending, was suppressed by unstopping precise Empowered Mortal Draw performed by Just BlindAt the same time that  Isshin fell2022 arrived. Just Blind removed his blindfold and celebrated his success with the audience who were typing “Happy New Year”.

While watching Just Blind’s blindfold speedrun video, people can always hear him saying things like “1, 2, 3, 4”, followed by an attack and heading in the right direction.

This is a technique called normalization, a fixed way to do the same action every time and achieve the same result. It helped Just Blind break down the Ashina Castle into pieces of normalization commands in his head.

It is rare for Just Blind to stream him practicing. Watching a player practicing normalization in the same map, again and again, is far from entertaining. And some audiences who have little knowledge of blindfold speedrunning will be confused. They won’t know why the player is running towards a wall instead of heading to the destination. Or why the player calls it “practicing blindfold” while he isn’t wearing a blindfold.

It took Just Blind quite a long time to learn the skills for a blindfold speedrun. At first, he was learning from Mitchriz, another famous blindfolded player in Sekiro. He studied Mithchriz’s video step by step. Mitchriz had beaten the game blindfolded in 3 and half hours before Just Blind started.

Six months ago, the record was 3 and a half hours.Six months ago, the record was 3 and a half hours.

Just Blind thought maybe he could start his run.

At first, Just Blind recorded Mitchriz’s input, switched back to the game, and tried the same input. Due to the fact that Mitchriz used keyboard and mouse a lot, and Just Blind was fond of the controller. He started to make his own plan, which was sometimes faster than Mitchriz’s.

In most speedruns, the button inputs will be recorded as well.In most speedruns, the button inputs will be recorded as well.

Unlike regular Sekiro speedrun, blindfolded players often avoid those unstable warp glitches. They prefer stability and ensure they can always locate the character. When fighting elite or boss enemies, the key part is not how to defeat them but how to have a stable location and camera angle.

The mini-boss Snake Eyes Shirafuji is a good example. He is a boss in a swamp and not so tough. In Mitchriz’s playthrough, he chose to use Ako's Sugar then perform two jump mortal draws to eliminate the enemy. But there was a chance that the character would face the swamp and give the player zero clue about where they were heading. So they had to fast travel back to the savepoint and pass the map again.

Just Blind tried another way: after the first jump mortal draw, he threw a firecracker to stun the enemy so that it would not move away. Then he performed the second jump mortal draw. After this, the character will head to the right angle towards the destination, and he can keep moving and save half a minute.

After Just Blind broke the record, Mitchriz studied his video, and this was the part he checked multiple times and was still shocked. “How did he know where he was heading?”

While blindfolded, there is no visual feedback, so sound feedback or sound cue is the key factor for speedrunners.

Just Blind found that the sound in Sekiro is very detailed. The footsteps sound different by area. Stepping into Sculptor's room, the wooden floor sounded "Tata", and it sounded significantly different from the stone road outside the Guardian Ape’s lair.  While back to the room of the Divine Child, it had a unique tatami sound.

The sounds like crashing a candle, climbing the wall, performing a shinobi execution, using a grappling hook will be decent checkpoints for blindfolded players. Hearing the proper sound cue in the playthrough is important for those players, but sometimes, there will be unexpected surprises.

The slash will give the player a sound cue and also a part of the movement.The slash will give the player a sound cue and also a part of the movement.

Among Chinese Sekiro speedrun players, there is a meme called “Ashina Roulette”. It represents unpredictable issues like random bugs or AI behaviors. Sometimes a minion can shoot down the character in the air like Hawkeye. The grappling hook or shinobi execution does not trigger as it should be. Any of these may completely ruin a blindfold speedrun.

That is where plan B comes in to minimize the time cost of the expected incidents. In Just Blind ‘s playthrough, there were many times he missed the correct point but managed to get back to the right path surprisingly fast.

After several failed attempts, Just Blind switched to plan B.After several failed attempts, Just Blind switched to plan B.

But there were intense moments where it left no second chance for him.

In Just Blind ‘s first record-breaking playthrough, he made a mistake while fighting the mini-boss blazing bull. Soon it became pure improvising with no more plans: both sides had little HP left, and the challenge would end if he took one more hit. If he failed, the spirit emblem left would not be enough for a second challenge.

The limitation of consuming items required the players to defeat every boss efficiently. But we know in From Software's games that the enemy lock-on will deactivate in some circumstances and make the players' attack completely miss. Maybe only Miyazaki Hidetaka himself knows why and when this issue will occur.

The fight with Guardian Ape ended miserably because Just Blind failed to lock-on the enemy properly.The fight with Guardian Ape ended miserably because Just Blind failed to lock-on the enemy properly.

To conquer a challenge full of luck and skill requires practicing hundreds or thousands of times. Just Blind had beaten each boss, from Inner Father to Inner Isshin, four or five thousand times. He was so familiar with them that he could even beat them with eyes closed and game muted.

A week ago, Just Blind attended the “Guinness Night” held by Bilibili. In that event, Just Blind was challenged to beat Inner Isshin in 100 secs.

The organizer gave him five challenge attempts, but he easily beat the boss in 60 secs. The narrators were barely keeping up with him.

The medal Just Blind got from the event.The medal Just Blind got from the event.

Many people believed Just Blind was a hardcore and skillful player before this, and that is how he could perform such a challenging speedrun. The funny thing is, the opposite is true. Just Blind was a player focused on Chinese MMORPGs, and Sekiro was the first single-player action game he played. He happened to watch a walkthrough guide video made by “--karas” and was attracted by the stylish action in the game.

Sekiro is a difficult game, especially for someone new to the genre. While talking about his first walkthrough, the word Just Blind used most frequently is “painful”.

Every boss took Just Blind five to six painful hours to beat, not to mention the well-known tough bosses like Lady Butterfly, Genichiro, Owl and the Sword Saint. “I ground 500 spirit emblems to fight Genichiro, but I had not succeeded by the time they ran out. So I ground another 500 and beat the boss before they were out again.”

For a regular first-time playthrough, a 30-40 hour completion time is typical, while it took Just Blind 60-70 hours. Nearly double what may be expected.

After completing his first playthrough, Just Blind realized the problem: he was exactly following the same steps from the walkthrough video he saw, including ringing the bell atop the Bell Demon's Temple.

The bell can be rung in the early stage of the game, and it acts as a difficulty modifier. Ringing it will make the game harder by strengthening all the enemies: they will be harder to stagger and have higher damage. It is a mechanic for pro players who want to have harder challenges, but Just Blind failed to notice that.

“If I could find a better guide,” Just Blind thought, “an easier guide that does not require endless grinding. And the boss can be defeated with some tricks instead of slamming the block button. If there is no such good guide, why don’t I make one for rookie players so they won’t be frightened by the bosses.”

But Just Blind may have taken the “good guide” part to the extreme: he thought if he could beat a boss blindfolded, then anyone who followed his guide would have no problem beating that boss. In Oct 2020, Just Blind uploaded a video showing how to beat the Demon of Hatred blindfolded, and the video got 150k views.

Just Blind also shared his guide as a long comment. The guide was detailed to the timing of every single action, and Just Blind believed it could be learned easily.

A detailed guild was posted by Just Blind. One of the replies said, “Wow, he did try to teach me.”A detailed guild was posted by Just Blind. One of the replies said, “Wow, he did try to teach me.”

And it was just the first step. The final goal of Just Blind is guiding players to beat the entire Sekiro, even blindfolded.

After breaking the world record, Just Blind uploaded his entire speedrun notes. It has broken down the whole walkthrough in a detailed 10-chapter article. In case some of his audiences get confused, he also made a three-hour-long video to explain how to use his guide, including where some accidents may occur and how to handle them.

Chapter 1 of the article in Just Blind’s guide.Chapter 1 of the article in Just Blind’s guide.

Though most of the audience just thought it was funny and did not believe they could do the same. Just Blind has finished the goal he set at the start: to make a good guide. It took him over 3000 hours. 

The record has since been broken.

On Jan 25th, 2022, Mitchriz performed excellently and had some luck in his walkthrough. He managed to make a new record of 1:33:21, 3 minutes faster than Just Blind’s. Just Blind was also watching the stream, and he sent his congratulation at the same time Mitchriz broke the record.

As a well-known Sekiro speedrun player, Mitchriz has many Sekiro records to his name. In AGDQ 2022, Mitchriz performed a blindfold speedrun on Live. LilAggy, the narrator, was also a blindfold speedrunner of Sekiro and his best record is 5 hours. He told the audience there were only three people in the world doing blindfold speedruns in Sekiro: Mitchriz, LilAggy, and Just Blind.

Mitchriz and Just Blind are the only competitors in that. They are also good friends and privately discuss experiences and details or congratulate the success made by the other.

Just Blind has not gained the same popularity as Mitchriz. His first challenge video gave him 4k-5k new subscribers, and that was the peak. His second challenge only had less than 80k views though it was better than the first one.

The second walkthrough only has 74k views.The second walkthrough only has 74k views.

He also suffers from Tenosynovitis because of his high-intensity training. His left hand will hurt when fighting a boss that requires a lot of blocking, like Genichiro. He must take a break every 10 minutes in that case.

His Xbox Elite controller has worn out as well. It has been fixed four times and kept malfunctioning eventually. The B button was sticky and had no response, and the bumper broke after the first fix. One day Just Blind found he could not pick up any items in the game, and it turned out the A button on the controller was broken.

In the recent stream, Just Blind played Elden Ring and tried to defeat Starscourge with a level 1 Wretch. He had not succeeded for days, and it frustrated him. “Feels like back to the time when I was a rookie”.

Just Blind said he would stop playing Sekiro but try blindfolded Elden Ring. Maybe he will succeed in a speedrun after a half year. Before that, there are tons of time for route designing, strategy planning, and practicing.

Luckily, this time he won’t need three cameras at different angles to prove himself.

Contributed by 哈莉葵因