Elaina Ammons—Staff Writer
“Three, two, one,” shouted Domino Masters host Eric Stonestreet as contestant Lyle Broughton, backed by his teammates, Derek and Alex Koops, pushed a toy car towards a license plate.
The car set off a chain reaction in a Las Vegas-themed topple. Dominoes traveled across the platform, falling and setting off a “magic trick” response as a mechanic arm fell on a box and revealed a flower. The dominoes also formed images associated with Sin City—a slot machine, roulette table, hockey rink, Ferris wheel, roller coaster, and the Vegas Strip.
The contestants held their breath as the grand finale approached: a stream of dominoes toppled a large, nearly vertical sunset portrait.
At 11-years-old, Dordt University students Alex and Derek Koops were inspired by Kinetic King on Season 6 of America’s Got Talent. The act impressed the judges by building advanced kinetic contraptions, including domino structures.
Alex and Derek began to build domino structures in their garage and started a YouTube channel, DaksDominoes, where they showcased their newfound passion, eventually earning them over 200,000 subscribers and over 40,000,000 total views. Their content includes commercially commissioned projects, themed builds, chain reactions, and competition entries. The Koopses claim they’ve set up around one million dominoes throughout their lifetimes,.
Along with operating their YouTube channel, the Koopses hold a world record for the longest domino wall. Their 1 yard tall, 170 feet long structure was made with 55,000 dominoes. For the build, DaksDominoes took three days and teamed up with eight builders.
Domino Masters, a FOX TV show, first aired in March of 2022. Domino Masters is the “biggest domino competition the world has ever seen,” said Stonestreet. On the show, contestants compete to win $100,000 and the title of “Domino Master.”
The casting directors found DaksDominoes on YouTube. The Koopses then went through a series of interviews and were invited onto the show.
“We get 16 hours to complete our builds and that time absolutely flies by. We needed to make sure we were always working on something and not getting sidetracked,” Koops said. “We reevaluated where we were at during the building process to see if we could add or needed to take anything away from the plan.”
Domino Masters judge, Steve Price, said contestants needed advanced art and design skills as well as patience.
The builds were split over two days, and the production team filmed the topple on the third day.
Domino Masters also reached out to the Koopses third teammate, Lyle Broughton. Derek and Alex knew Broughton, who lives in Massachusetts, through the online domino community. Broughton specializes in creating chain reaction pieces—complicated designs in which he creates gadgets to induce movement. trio teamed up as the Dominerds.
Before mention of the show, Broughton, inspired by LegoMasters, a similar television show, thought a domino competition held promise. But such a show “would never happen,” Broughton said a YouTube video.
Domino Masters aired this past March, proving a domino-based reality television show was more than just a pipe dream.
Filming for the show took place over a year ago at a Santa Monica airplane hangar in Los Angeles. For the Koopes, it was difficult to keep their progress on the show a secret.
“It was a super fun and unique experience but was also super stressful. We are constantly competing against time and other teams. The filming days are very long and tiring. We got little sleep between filming days,” Koops said.
Along with exhaustion, every team accidentally toppled their build. However, the Koopses said that the experience was one they would not trade for anything: “It was definitely a top highlight of my life.”
As of the latest episode, the Dominerds advanced to the quarterfinals, which air on FOX at 9/8c on Wednesday, April 27.