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WOW: Leeroy Jenkins happened 10 years ago

A video that became a meme that became legend.

10 years ago (10th May 2005) a video was posted to the World of Warcraft forum as evidence of a raid being too hard. No one could have imagined the effect it would have.

"UBRS (vid) ROOKERY OVERPOWERED! blue please," the cached post was titled. UBRS is the acronym for the Upper Blackrock Spire raid, and the Rookery is an area of it. Blue refers to the poster wanting an official Blizzard (blue) response.

"This was [guild] PALS FOR LIFE's 7th attempt at getting past the Rookery in UBRS," it went on. "Please feel free to give us constructive criticism on our tactics and how you beat this room..."

In the video, the Pals for Life guild sit in a huddle outside the Rookery, painstakingly planning their tactics. But before they're finished, one member of their raid ups and charges in, popping all the dragon eggs and overwhelming his comrades.

His battle cry? "Leeeeeroyyyy Jenkins!"

It's a name enshrined in World of Warcraft pop history, with what appears to be the official YouTube video (uploaded 6th August 2006) attracting more than 43 million views.

Leeroy Jenkins would go on to be immortalised by Blizzard in the World of Warcraft trading card game and then the Hearthstone collectible card game; he'd have a WOW Achievement in UBRS named after him (for clearing 50 Rookery dragon whelps within 15 seconds) and then he would become an epic addition to your Warlords of Draenor Garrison for completing a special quest.

The legend of Leeroy Jenkins would also ripple out beyond World of Warcraft, into quiz show Jeopardy - as part of a clue no one answered (video below) - and into various TV shows I haven't heard of but WOW Wiki collated. The infamous Leeroy Jenkins moment was even re-imagined recently as a short film (below below).

The man who created and played Leeroy Jenkins, Ben Schulz, became a celebrity. Blizzard hired him for early BlizzCon conventions but after that he dropped off the radar. The best interview I can find with him is from 2007 with Westword, which talks about how the fame was getting to him and how WOW was taking up a lot of his time. It would be understandable if he simply left it all behind.

leeroy

Leeroy in Hearthstone.

The question he would no doubt be asked today if he were around is, "Was the video staged?" He has never conclusively answered either way - he prefers people make their own minds up.

Undoubtedly, to me - as someone well versed in UBRS and WOW at the time - it has to be a send-up. No one plans like that, no one uses those tactics, no one reacts like that. Apparently it was based on a real event but finding conclusive evidence in this bowl of different-thread-spaghetti is difficult.

Nevertheless, I bought into the legend all the same. Nothing beat finding the right situation for your very own "Leeeeeroyyyy!".

Many happy returns.

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