What Are “Splits” In Speedrunning?


Speedrunning is becoming more and more of a popular category to watch on Twitch and YouTube; watching players soar through our favorite games in record time is unbelievably pleasing.

If you’ve watched speedruns for a period of time, you’ve likely heard the term “splits” dropped. A fairly simple concept, splits are nonetheless a crucial part of speedrunning and how runners approach their craft.

What Are Speedrun Splits?

Splits are points within a run that speedrunners will use to track how much time it took them to complete a certain segment. While it’s ultimately arbitrary where a runner chooses to place their splits, they can be an invaluable tool to see how well a runner has done during a particular point of a game, and also compare it against previous runs.

For example, in the original Super Mario Bros. there are eight worlds, with four levels per world. A speedrunner might have a split for every world, meaning that every four levels, the runner will register that split.

In the simplest of terms, it allows runners to see how long it takes them to complete each section of a particular speedrun, with the sum total of all the splits being the total time of the speedrun.

Why Do Speedrunners Use Splits?

Speedrunners love to use splits because it allows them to get a good grasp on where they could improve their runs, and it also gives them an idea of how well they are doing in real-time.

In the aforementioned Super Mario Bros. example, a runner would be able to see which of the eight worlds needs improvement based off the results of the splits. Splits can shine a light on where time is being lost in a speedrun, which helps runners know where they can improve their game.

Splits are also used as a reference point; by saving your best splits, you can use them as a measuring mark during runs. Most programs that operate splits will show how much time you lost or saved based off of your best splits.

Being able to see improvement on a speedrun’s splits in real-time is essential for players going for world records; at this point, you’re only going to want to finish runs that are on pace for a record, and having splits available is necessary for top speedrunners to know exactly if they are on pace.

What Do People Use For Splits?

The most widely used program for speedrunning splits is LiveSplit. The timer is very intuitive to use, and allows for a broad range of customization so that it fits any kind of speedrunning game or category. It also allows people to add icons and change up colors so that it fits whatever theme they have for their particular stream.

Linkus7 has created the go-to guide for getting started with LiveSplit, as seen here:

Furthermore, LiveSplit is well-synced with many of the speedrunning games, accommodating tons of specific categories, consoles, rulesets and more for the more popular titles. It’s the gold standard tool that serves the speedrunning community well.

When watching speedrunners, keep an eye out for their splits over time, and how they use them to further improve their runs. It’s a simple enough idea, but it plays an integral role in any runner’s attempt to better their time.