Cash Mayo is too fast for even Titanfall 2 to handle. In a game all about movement, some of the fastest speedrunners of Titanfall 2 often find ways to move faster than it seems even the game can anticipate.
"The biggest thing that a lot of people don't know about Gauntlet speedrunning is that there is a bug," Cash tells me over a Discord call. "When, at the very start gate if you double frag boost, if you enter it too fast, it just won't start."
"Cash Mayo" is a speedrunner of Titanfall 2's "Gauntlet," a specially designed training course placed near the beginning of Titanfall 2's campaign meant to acquaint you with its weapons, abilities, and movement, including the wall-running and jet-boosting Pilots are capable of doing. It's a sprint from point A to B, with a smattering of targets to shoot and environmental obstacles to surmount, like a sci-fi Ninja Warrior course with guns and grenades.
Keeping with Respawn tradition, it also offers a timer and leaderboard for players to challenge themselves with, much like the FNG obstacle course or Mile High Club from Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare-fitting, as Respawn was formed by former Infinity Ward developers.
Cash doesn't concern himself with those, or really any other portion of Titanfall 2. His only speedrun is the Gauntlet, and since September 2017 as he tells me, he's been running it. Over the years, players have come and gone; the methodology has changed, new categories have been established, and skills honed.
Yet Cash Mayo stands alone, having set a new world record just a few days ago at 11.7 seconds. He beat the previous record-holder, himself, by just 200 milliseconds in a run which shaved 100 milliseconds off a previous world record, also his own.
You have to go back five consecutive world record spots to find someone else even close to Cash's time, still almost a full second behind. The rest of the leaderboard is littered with times admirable in their own accomplishment, but still lagging behind Cash's records.
"None of them are... I hate to sound narcissistic, but really none of them are close to me," Cash says. "I think the closest one is within a second of me. But he's .9 away and he hasn't run for a while. So I'm really the only one that's pushing this. I'm alone in this."
He is the fastest Gauntlet runner, and his greatest competition is himself.
As Cash tells it, the Gauntlet is all about speed. There are essentially two objectives to satisfy: eliminate all targets, and reach the finish line. This one guided loop has many different avenues, where you could go high or low, run on walls or slide under obstacles.
Cash's strategy is a little different. He drops a few grenades on the floor and goes flying. It's a tactic as old as rocket-jumping in Quake, but in Titanfall 2, it's especially useful for hurtling across a training room at supersonic speed.
When you're moving this fast, other factors come into play. Titanfall 2 has a wide arsenal of guns, and most of them are at your disposal in the gauntlet. But everything must be in the service of speed; the precision needed for a sniper rifle to take out targets is tough to nail consistently when you're moving that fast, and besides, why hit one when you can hit two or three?
Gauntlet runners have, over the course of several years, whittled the run down to what Cash has been perfecting: a series of shotgun blasts and frag grenades intended to take out sequential targets as you hurtle across the dreamlike architecture of the Gauntlet simulation. Cash tells me this has introduced some elements of randomness into the run, like grenades rolling a bit more than they should or pellets scattering in suboptimal patterns, but it's better than the alternatives.
Most of the time, what breaks a run can be that randomness-either the game being unable to handle the speed or a roll not going your way-or simple human execution. Cash takes his approach in cycles. He takes time off between world-record runs to step away from the Gauntlet for a while. It's easy to see why: repetitive runs and trying to shave milliseconds off can grate on you over time.
"Whenever I get a world record, I always give it a few months," Cash says. "I don't push myself too hard, because if I push myself immediately after I get it, I'm scared I'm going to burn myself out on it."
He instead takes time to tinker in other categories, like non-frag boosting Gauntlet runs or other self-imposed restrictions. Titanfall 2 Gauntlet runs are basically sorted into a Punnett square of runs, with frag boosting vs. no frag boosting and standard (you can launch yourself across the starting line) vs. static (you have to enter the Gauntlet normally, without launching yourself across the threshold).
Cash also takes time to play other games like Apex Legends, which is fitting, considering developer Respawn Entertainment—who also made Titanfall 2—included a reference to Cash Mayo's runs and his frag boosting exploits. He also dips into Minecraft, Astroneer, and even the recently released Borderlands 3. Cash says he's a casual gamer, aside from Titanfall 2.
But it all begs the question: why keep running? Cash Mayo has set a record almost a full second ahead of the opposition, which could very well take months if ever to be broken, and likely it will only be broken by Cash himself. Others have run the Gauntlet for novelty or at speedrunning events like the charity speedrunning marathon Games Done Quick, but Cash is the one pushing the record higher and higher. I couldn't help but wonder how you find motivation when the only metric for success is constantly besting yourself.
"The fact that I'm the only one doing this and people associate me with Gauntlet runs, that's the best," Cash says. "Because every time I post something somewhere and someone's like, 'Oh, it's that guy, the Gauntlet guy,' I'm like 'yeah, dude.' The comments I get and the support I get really pushes me."
With his latest record set, Cash Mayo will now go into another self-imposed break. He believes a time in the low 11-second area is possible, given the right execution. It's his challenge to surmount, but given the past few years of running, it doesn't just seem probable. It seems almost inevitable.