Seven-time Tetris Classic world champion Jonas Neubauer, a South Bay native widely considered among the best to ever play the video game and known in the South Bay craft beer community as the longtime tap room manager at Torrance’s Strand Brewing Co., has died. He was 39.
Neubauer, who had a large following on live video streaming platform Twitch and grew up in Redondo Beach, collapsed and died suddenly Jan. 5 while self-isolating in Hawaii two days after arriving at the vacant home of his wife’s parents, as required by the state. The couple were planning to stay in the state permanently.
His death was announced by his family Jan. 8 on his @neubsauce Twitter account.
It’s with a heavy heart that we deliver the terrible news that Jonas has passed away from a sudden medical emergency.
He was the absolute best. We are devastated, overwhelmed with grief, and we already miss him dearly.
Information to follow when it becomes available.
— Jonas Neubauer (@neubsauce) January 9, 2021
Plans for what is likely to be a virtual memorial service, given the restrictions on public events during the coronavirus pandemic, will be announced at a later date.
Neubauer, known for a piercing, dry wit and subversive sense of humor, liked to joke that as a semi-professional video gamer with a niche internet following, he had D-List celebrity status. His death prompted an outpouring of online tributes.
Esports consultant Rod Breslau called his death “an immense loss for gaming.” Classic Tetris is the world’s most-downloaded video game.
“Jonas has played in some of the most legendary Classic Tetris matches that have inspired millions around the world,” said the Classic Tetris World Championship on the organization’s website.
“Jonas has been an absolute pillar of positivity and humility for our CTWC family,” the statement added. “He was kind, genuine, hilarious, incredibly talented, and a brilliant ambassador for the game.”
We are heartbroken to share that Jonas Neubauer, 7-time CTWC champion, passed away suddenly on Jan 4.
We could have never asked for a greater champ, role model, and friend. Jonas, we miss you, we love you, and we thank you for inspiring us to always be our best. Rest in peace. pic.twitter.com/CaaGgd4ZY3
— Tetris Championship (@ClassicTetris) January 9, 2021
Outside of gaming, Neubauer was also known to many in the close-knit South Bay craft beer community. He was the welcoming face behind the Strand Brewing Company bar in its taproom for seven years until 2019, at both its former Telo Avenue location and its expansive current space on Dominguez Street in Old Torrance.
The Strand now boasts one of the largest taprooms in the South Bay, and Neubauer was a well-known host, with a brewery playlist for every occasion and a genial knack for ensuring the frequent large family celebrations and other gatherings went smoothly.
Neubauer, who graduated from Redondo Union High School in 1999 and Cal State Long Beach in 2008, walked in Strand as a customer, got himself hired because of his knowledge of beer and was introduced to a sister-in-law of cofounder Rich Marcello.
He ended up becoming a member of the family when he married his wife, Heather Ito, three years later in Hawaii. Last year, she became world champion of Dr. Mario, a Tetris-like video game.
“They shared a love of fine whiskeys, bad movies, hot sauce, and, of course, video games,” noted his obituary on GoFundMe, where more than $50,000 had been donated for funeral expenses as of Monday, Jan. 11.
In addition to his wife, Neubauer is survived by his mother, Sharry Neubauer, and brothers, Jason Neubauer and Justin Neubauer.