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Retro Warhammer MMO fans hold in-game funeral for esports hero

Guildmates and friends of Chris ‘Zuna’ Buechter met online in the Warhammer: Return of Reckoning servers to pay their final respects.

In-game funeral for Chris 'Zuna' Buechter conducted in the MMO Warhammer Return of Reckoning

On Saturday June 1, the retro Warhammer MMO ‘Warhammer: Return of Reckoning’ hosted a community-organised funeral for respected player and professional esports gamer Chris ‘Zuna’ Buechter. Over 100 players took part in the digital ceremony, which was organised by Buechter’s in-game guild, ‘Nightmare Guild’.

Warhammer: Return of Reckoning is a community-maintained server for the MMO Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning (WAR). WAR is a (somewhat) World of Warcraft-like MMO, set in the Warhammer Old World, which was originally live from 2008-2013. It has very impressive PVE world events, and massive PVP faction battles to simulate the clash between rival Warhammer armies.

Return of Reckoning community manager ‘Hazmy’ says that the resurrected servers have a peak concurrent player count of 800-1000 players. If you’re intrigued, you can find out how to get involved on the Return of Reckoning website. The video below, by community member Xarfay, shows what PVP events are like on the resurrected servers:

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Buechter – universally referred to as ‘Zuna’ by the players we spoke to – was “an extremely passionate player”, according to Hazmy. He was a professional esports player, competing as a pro League of Legends player from the very first League Championship Series, and later in Heroes of the Storm.

According to a fundraiser for funeral expenses organised by his brother, Buechter died on May 20 “due to a sudden unexpected medical episode”. He was 33.

Players gather in the Warhammer MMO Return of Reckoning at the Praag Martyr's Square location to pay respects to Christopher 'Zuna' Buechter

Hazmy says that attendees at Buechter’s digital funeral “marched from the in-game city of Praag’s iconic Martyr’s Square, to the Praag Graveyard where we keep gravestones of some of our players who are no longer with us”.

He adds “player characters were emoting /pray on his gravestone”. The funeral “was streamed on Twitch and players gathered on a voice call where anyone could share stories about Zuna”. He describes it as “touching”.

Players gather in the Warhammer MMO Return of Reckoning at the Praag Graveyard to pay respects to Christopher 'Zuna' Buechter

Fellow Return of Reckoning player Barrett Steinhauser has fond memories of his “selfless” friend. “He was well regarded for his personality and who he was as a person”, he says, adding “he had such a big heart and was so humble, making everyone around him at ease”. “He’d always make everyone smile , laugh, and start talking more”, Steinhauser adds.

Nothing takes away the sting of losing someone dear to you, but community events like funerals are an important moment to reflect on their life, and share what they’ve given you with others. As the whole Return of Reckoning project is driven by community volunteers maintaining a digital world abandoned by its publisher, it seems quite natural that it generated such a large community event.

If you’re interested in MMOs and the worlds of Warhammer, make sure you check out our interviews with the lead developer of a new Warhammer MMO that’s currently in pre-production.