In the wee hours of the morning on May 30, Minecraft YouTuber dream posted a 2,000 word statement to pastebin. “I’m writing this in my bath at 4am on my phone so forgive any mistakes or confusing bits,” he said.
Dream has been embroiled in a bizarre and lengthy scandal surrounding cheating during a Minecraft speedrun for more than six months now. In the heart of the statement was confirmation of what many long suspected and had taken great pains to prove—dream used mods to achieve great results in Minecraft speedruns. In particular, dream cheated while completing what the community calls a “Any% Random Seed Glitchless” run. Meaning he defeated the final boss on a randomly generated seed without using glitches.
“I ended up finding out that I HAD actually been using a disallowed modification during ~6 of my live streams on Twitch,” dream said in his post.
dream is a massive YouTube and Minecraft star. His channel has almost 23 million subscribers. His audience loves him and his popularity is built around Minecraft and his most watched videos are speedruns. His most popular video is a speedrun finale that’s racked up more than 80 million views.
In a speedrun, someone tries to beat a video game as quickly as possible. Each game has its own set of rules that make it an official run and the community polices itself. The rules differ greatly from game to game and even—as in Minecraft—between different versions of the game. As a baseline though, all speedrun attempts must be submitted with unaltered footage of the entire run.
In October 2020, dream submitted a speedrun for the 1.16 version of Minecraft. At the time, it was the fifth fastest run on record in its category. A group of volunteer moderators on the website speedrun.com monitor and verify attempts. The moderators overseeing Minecraft rejected dream’s run after studying footage of dream’s various livestreams. According to the mods, the drop rate on some of the rare items needed to finish Minecraft were unprecedented.
To finish Minecraft 1.16, a player needs to teleport to the final boss. To build the portal, the player has to obtain rare items to construct Eyes of Ender. The materials required to build the eyes are exceptionally rare and most constantly obtained through bartering with NPCs. The drop rates on obtaining one of the items through barter is about 5 percent, according to the moderator’s report.
The speedrun mods studied dream’s streams extensively, putting together a 29 page report which it released on a website dedicated to the controversy. The report is all about drop rates and features complex mathematical equations, binomial distribution, and probability hacking. “If nothing else, the drop rates from Dream’s streams are so exceptional that they ought to be analyzed for the sake of it, regardless of whether or not anyone individual believes they happened legitimately,” the mods said in the report.
The mods reviewed six of dream’s livestreams and compared the drop rates of rare items against those in other speedruns. Luck is a big part of speedruns, especially Minecraft. Skill is important, but some players just get lucky and get the drops they need. According to the moderators report, dream’s odds of being so lucky so consistently were around 1 in 177 billion.
dream felt the mods were targeting him because of his popularity and ranted about the process on Twitter. The mods asked to see his mods folder, which would contain proof of his innocence. dream said he deleted the folder in a fit of pique.
dream said he hired an anonymous astrophysicist through a consulting website to construct a rebuttal. The final report comes in at 19 pages and contains even more discussions about statistics about Ender Pearls, Blaze Rods, and other Minecraft associated minutia. The speedrun moderators published a rebuttal to the rebuttal, declaring the astrophysicist's math to be shit.
That was in December 2020. Now, months later, dream has admitted he used a custom designed mod to up drop rates in the six videos the moderators had analyzed. "This potentially could have been a problem," dream said, but he qualified it by saying he didn't know and didn't appear to think it was as severe an offense as the moderator’s did.
“When I realized this, I felt an extreme sense of guilt and I took down my response video not believing in what I said in the video at all anymore,” he said in his response. “This was a couple months ago at this point I believe. When the drama first started I cared more about defending myself and being right, then about figuring out what was actually going on and I shot myself in the foot by doing it.”
According to dream, the upped drop rates were the result of an old mod he’d commissioned. “In our challenge videos, before 1.16 we always increased the enderman spawn rates and pearl drop rates out of convenience and we’ve mentioned that openly before,” he said. “It makes the videos better because we don’t spend hours looking for pearls or spend so much time farming blaze rods. When 1.16 came out, it was more complicated to increase piglin trades than it is to do enderman pearl drops. A server side plugin was made for our videos that slightly increases the rates. Around this time is when the first versions of the recording mod was being made, although it was more of a chat mod at this point.”
It was this server side mod that gave him the edge in his speedruns. "We are happy the run's validity is no longer under contention, we have no comment on anything further,” the Minecraft speedrun moderator’s told Waypoint in a Twitter DM. dream did not respond to Waypoint’s request for comment.
Update 6/7/21: This story had been updated with a statement from the Minecraft Speedun moderators.