2017 HRYZ Recap

Hey, guys! It’s Keiran Cooper coming at ‘cha with a recap of HRYZ (HRadecké YoYo Závody) 2017! This competition took place on December 2nd in the Králové region of the Czech Republic, and joins SLYZ as one of the many regional competitions throughout the Czech Republic. HRYZ was the first Czech competition to take place after YYMCR (Czech Nationals) in November. 

1A's top 3 (Tony Sec 3rd, Matous Tomes 1st, Michael Malik 2nd) thanks to Matous Tomes @matatomes on IG

1A's top 3 (Tony Sec 3rd, Matous Tomes 1st, Michael Malik 2nd) thanks to Matous Tomes @matatomes on IG

The winner of 1A Pokro (short for pokročilý, meaning advanced) was Matous Tomes. Matous is a 2014 Worlds finalist, 3-time Worlds semifinalist, and currently ranked 3rd in the Czech Republic. As one of the most competitively relevant players in the country, it’s no surprise Matous managed to make up for a restart (major deduction, -1) and come out on top. His freestyle’s build is very similar to that of his recent YYMCR freestyle with a couple of changes to the overall format and music. 

Coming in second place is the 2016 and 2017 Czech national champion, Michael Malík. Michael’s overall build from this competition carries a lot of stark differences in pacing and execution - compared to his YYMCR or semifinal from Worlds, his speed and trick density have drastically increased. I’d argue a potential catalyst for his change in speed could be attributed to the use of a new YoYo, as he has switched from the Edge to the new ND Ultra. With this change in speed and overall density, I can see Michael potentially pushing his way into top 3 at EYYC next year. 

Third place went to one of the most prolific online players, Tony Šec. Throughout the European competition season, Tony has competed in a handful of 2-minute formatted competitions, and is arguably one of 2017’s most competitively active players overall. Compared to his EYYC final from earlier this year, Tony’s execution and performance have both improved tenfold. Going into EYYC 2018, I’m excited to see more risky and technical content from Tony. 

Outside of top 3 in 1A Pokro, I was really impressed with Jonáš Ožana’s freestyle. A relatively new face to the competition scene, Jonáš ended up taking 11th overall with a really cool freestyle. Amidst the looming competitive meta, Jonáš managed to showcase a set of a-typical tricks met with tremendously unique flow. Next generation for sure. 

#filiptotheteam

The winner of the “X” division was the current Czech champion, František Procházka. Using a similar trick build to his YYMCR freestyle, František delivered a sick freestyle to some Childish Gambino. I’m excited to see what he has to bring to the table for EYYC next year - new European champion in the making? 

Those were my favorites from HRYZ! I’ve been following the European scene for quite some time - it’s great to see such growth! Shout out to SLUSNY for covering the competition in its entirety, check out the rest of the freestyles here.
 

2017 Illinois State Yo-Yo Contest Recap

Hey everyone! Colin here with a short recap with one of the last contests in the US competition circuit of 2017. It's been a very interesting and competitive year all-around, so it's always good to reflect on it in a real contest setting.

I think one thing that many people have noticed is that there is clearly a meta that people of all skill levels are attempting to adjust to, with varying success all around. It's really interesting (and we could/may do a whole episode on this alone) to see how this works out for a select group of people only and why it doesn't work out for everyone. Anyways, this shift towards an ideal build of tricks/performance was obvious at Illinois States, so it's just something I wanted to touch up upon before we got to covering the yo-yoing here.

The winner of the 1A division was (in my opinion) the most skilled player in the midwest area currently, Chandler Steele. Chandler has had an amazing improvement rate in 2017 and became a competitive beast, winning Ohio States, Illinois States, MidEast regionals, making Worlds finals, and placing 6th at US Nationals. Chandler's style is very reflective off of the current meta that I mentioned above, but he puts his own interesting twist on things by incorporating unique emphasis (like that little knee bounce at :41). Chandler being extremely successful this year puts himself in a great position for 2018, and I'm hyped to see what he has in store. Definitely a deserved win here.

Michael Stecz placed 2nd with a pretty awesome freestyle as well. I haven't seen Michael yo-yo in quite a while, so all of his tricks always surprise me when I get to see them on video or in person. Michael also has a really unique style that focuses on a casual pace in which he doesn't try to rush anything, with tricks that blend a lot of great old-school and current ideas. Really loved that Michael was able to get 2nd at this contest with a freestyle that primarily focused on tricks, and tricks alone.

Connor Seals placed 3rd with an extremely performance-oriented freestyle. Although it was a nice contrast to the rest of the freestyles from the event, it seems as though the lack of technical execution (scoring) set Connor far behind 1st place, showing the difficulty in creating a freestyle that has a good balance in high levels of tech and performance. It'll be interesting to see how Connor builds off of this perspective going into 2018.

Outside of the top 3, another freestyle I enjoyed was Blaise Becker's. Blaise is a new face to the competitive scene on a high level like this but he has very good tricks. At such a young age as well, I know that he has a bright future in yo-yoing if he keeps it up. 

 

Out of all of the routines in the X divisions, I was probably most impressed with Connor's winning 4A routine. Connor's 4A style is very similar to his 1A I would argue, in terms of focusing on making everything look good and having great performance value. Also, Connor is one of the few US players who can do soloham, and although he was not able to do much of it in this routine, I'm curious to see if he will implement it more in the future.

So, those were some of my favorites from this year's Illinois States! Illinois States was one of the largest state competitions of this year, with almost 50 1A competitors! It's great to see the midwest scene growing again. Watch all of the freestyles on YoYo Contest Central's Youtube channel here.

2017 CSYC Recap

 

Hello everyone! Colin here with a recap of CSYC in Japan. Check it out!

CSYC (Central Shikoku YoYo Contest) 2017 was held on October 1st in western Japan. Although unaffiliated with the JYYF (which runs Japan regionals and the national contest) and Japan Freestyle YoYo Association (which runs Japan Open), this contest still brings in great talent from west & north Japan.

 

The winner of the 1A division was Tsukasa Namba, who managed to beat out 1A innovator Arata Imai who placed 2nd. Tsukasa’s trick set is also very creative – he has formed a very unique style consisting of mainly slack elements that a lot of people do not touch upon. Tsukasa has made finals at JN in 2016 and 2017, and although this showing was not his best freestyle, it is certainly his best result. I am looking forward to how he will do next year in the competition circuit.

As mentioned earlier, Arata Imai placed 2nd in the 1A division. Here at Scales we have been watching Arata super closely as he climbs up the ranks of being one of the most influential 1A players in this generation, and this freestyle, although not his cleanest, was still very impressive. Compared to his Asia Pacific routine, this freestyle has around 1.5-2 minutes of material that Arata has not done on stage yet. Seeing his progression and trick library involve is scary – I am probably looking forward to watching him compete the most out of anyone this coming year.

To no surprise, Arata also won the 2A division. Arata is pretty much the king of 2A in his area of Japan, and this routine really shows how creative his tricks are. So many insane wraps & loops!

The winner of the X (2A-5A) division was Koyo Hashimoto. Koyo is currently the North Japan 4A champion, and he also won JOYC in 4A last year. His trickset, although not as unique as other high-ranked 4A players, is still very clean and consistent. Koyo is always a threat at any contest because of this. Check out his freestyle!

 

Full videos can be found here.

2017 Slovakia Nationals Recap

The 2017 Slovakia National YoYo Contest was held on October 28th in Bratislava, and divisions held at this year’s event were 1A, X, and 1A Open.

The winner of the 1A division was Jan Hlinka, who is now a 4x Slovak national champion!

Jan has improved a ton over the past year or so, as I’ve noticed his style is starting to change into something with more variation/less repeated elements. His style has a nice blend of slack, tech, and other trick archetypes, and he also has good pacing and speed. Jan usually manages to land a spot in the top 10 at EYYC, and I think at this rate of improvement he could potentially win in 2018.

Another freestyle I really liked from the 1A division is the other top 1A player from Slovakia, Gabriel Szalay.

Gabriel has a really technical style, focusing on a lot of dense tricks. However, although tough to pull off, he still is able to perform well despite having a trick type which makes this hard to do. As far as I know, this is actually Gabriel’s first full “final” freestyle (more than qualifying round) of this year, so we haven’t seen too much from him. However, he shows a lot of promise for 2018, and I’m excited to see what eh does.

The winner of the X division was Petr Kavka from the Czech Republic, playing 5A.

 

Petr has a really chill and relaxed style, which is pretty unique compared to the current state of competitive 5A.

The winner of the 1A Open division was Michael Malik from the Czech Republic.

Michael performed his freestyle from SLYZ (check out that blog post here if you haven’t already) and again was able to perform it with great cleanliness. As stated earlier, Michael’s ability to hit his tricks consistently is amazing - this is perhaps the most important aspect of competing, and he has it pretty much mastered. Due to his past few wins, I would say that Michael is in the lead for contenders for Czech nationals this weekend (**this recap was written before Czech Nationals, so my guess was correct!!**) 

Check out the rest of the freestyles here!

2017 French Nationals Recap

The 2017 France National YoYo Championship was held on October 21st in Nantes, and divisions held were 1A, X, and 1A Open (international).

The winner of 1A division is a new name (to me, at least), Williams Thamrong.

 

Williams placed 2nd at France Nationals in 2016, and 5th in the junior division at EYYC this year. Williams shows a lot of promise in his future, especially being as young as he is. It’ll be interesting to see how all of the new faces/national champions will do at EYYC next year!

The winner of X division was multi-time European and German national champion, Quentin Godet! Quentin played his usual style, 4A.

 

Quentin was able to hit his tricks very well, despite being on a smaller stage than usual. He’s at such a high level of 4A now compared to Europe as a whole it’s always awesome to watch him compete.

The winner of the 1A Open was Robert Kucera from the Czech Republic.

Robert has a very unique style, focusing a lot on doing interesting tricks and performing. He also manages to throw down a ton of risky tricks in his routines, so it’s always awesome to watch him on stage.

Another freestyle that I really liked was Tomas Bubak’s 1A Open.

Tomas, similar to Robert, also has a really different style, focusing on a lot of “big” tricks, incorporating a lot of body elements as well as clean looking transitions. I’ve been a big fan of Tomas every since I’ve started and it’s great to see him killing it.

You can watch all of the videos from this year's competition here.

2017 Italian Nationals Recap

Hey everyone, Colin here with a new recap for Europe week. Check it out!

The 2017 Italian National YoYo Contest was held on October 14th in Rome. Divisions held this year were 1A, X Division (2A-5A), and 1A Open (International).

This year, we saw a new champion for the country of Italy - Loris Rosa!

 

Loris’ has seemed to take the yo-yo world by storm over the past year, through earning his fame through online tricks (follow him on IG!), Youtube videos, a recently picked up sponsorship by YoYoFactory’s Edge Nation, and now a national title! Congrats, Loris! Loris’s style is very competition oriented - he uses a lot of conceptual ideas that are used in today’s meta for 1A. However, he also has a few tricks that show that he can create, too, which gives off a good balance for his yo-yoing. Loris made his first finals at EYYC this year, and now that he’s seeded to semi-finals for 2018, he’s at an advantage. Will Loris be able to make his way into the top 5 this year?

Another freestyle I really enjoyed from the 1A division is a name everyone should be familiar with Riccardo Fraolini.

It’s really awesome to see Riccardo’s contrasting style on stage. I would say that about 95 percent of competitive 1A is very similar in terms of build - the pool of trick types people use are similar, and people tend to build their freestyles in similar aspects (nothing wrong with this). Riccardo is a part of a small minority that still retains to hold their own on stage, and I love every second of it. Shoutout to Riccardo for having fun on stage and still getting a top 5 finish in his national contest!

To no surprise, Lorenzo Sabatini won this year’s X division doing 4A.

Lorenzo has been in the game for over a decade now, and he wins almost every contest he attends in Europe in 4A/X division, setting himself as one of the best in the game. Congratulations to Lorenzo for the win!

The winner of the 1A Open division was 2x EYYC runner-up, Konstantin Tudjarov.

 

Konstantin is a machine. His style has progressed over the fast few years to something that is quite rare - he does not focus on just one trick archetype of 1A, but almost as much as possible - slack, technical, horizontal, body, you name it - Konstantin probably does it. Seeing improvement every time from Konstantin is almost scary to me, most players are not on his level in terms of improvement. Will he be able to take the title at EYYC next year?

Check out all of the freestyles here.

Thank you for checking out this post! Be sure to look out for our next posts!

2017 SLYZ Recap

 

 

SLYZ 1A champion Michael Malik & runner up Matous Tomes Photo credits @michaelmalik__ on Instagram

SLYZ 1A champion Michael Malik & runner up Matous Tomes

Photo credits @michaelmalik__ on Instagram

The 2017 Super Libový Yoyo Závody was held on September 23rd in the Czech Republic. SLYZ is usually one of the largest contests that the Czech Republic hosts leading up to the Czech national competition, so it’s always good to see some of the contenders on stage. Divisions held at the event were 1A and X division.

The winner of the 1A division is current Czech national champion, Michael Malik!

Michael’s best strengths for his freestyles are his cleanliness and his freestyle construction, both of which are very difficult to master on his level. This freestyle was nothing short of a great routine, and due to this result, Michael is coming into Czech nationals this Saturday as the favorite to win.

Another freestyle I really liked in 1A was Matyas Racek’s 3rd place routine.

Matyas has an incredibly creative style, something that is technical with a lot of unusual (but of course amazing) maneuvers. I think I would best describe his yo-yoing as very "raw" in the sense that his elements he chooses alone are amazing, and he doesn't really need to enhance them performance wise in order to prove that. Matyas has seemed to be pretty quiet for the past couple of years in 1A, but this is a pretty strong showing. He was able to earn a spot on the podium at Czech nationals in 2015, and I think if he’s able to go clean he will be able to do so again.

The winner of the X division was also Matyas Racek, who played 2A!

 

Always impressive to see someone be able to be fluent in two different divisions, especially when one of them is 2A. 2A is a very small division currently, so check out some pretty awesome work from Matyas!

You can watch the rest of the freestyles here, and results can be found here.

China YoYo Corporation Championship - Shenzhen Recap

Hey everyone, Colin here. This recap is of something you may or may not have been paying much attention to, but it'll be quite relevant come next summer - CHINA! CYCC Shenzhen, located in southeastern China, is one of the regionals that will be seeding to 2018 China Nationals. This isn’t the first regional that has occurred that will seed to next year’s nationals, however it is the first regional from which I've seen video.

China YoYo Corporation regional map. Shenzhen city regional is that tiny red speckle on the bottom right. As far as the regions are concerned, striped means that the region currently does not have a contest, solid means it does, and red are for city-specific regionals (some cities like Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Chongqing) are so populated that they also have their own regional).

China YoYo Corporation regional map. Shenzhen city regional is that tiny red speckle on the bottom right. As far as the regions are concerned, striped means that the region currently does not have a contest, solid means it does, and red are for city-specific regionals (some cities like Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Chongqing) are so populated that they also have their own regional).

 

Here's a few facts you may not know regarding the China yo-yo community and their contests -

  • China Nationals next year will not seed to Shanghai Worlds. China’s Nationals always seed to Worlds the year after, even though the contest is usually held in July, preceding the current year’s Worlds.
  • China is also one of the newest seeding contests, as it just started seeding to Worlds starting in 2014. Prior to this, there were actually multiple contests that acted as the national event, resulting in no legitimacy to earn a seed.
  • China is currently the largest national contest in terms of competitor count, as 1A preliminaries had approximately 175 competitors in 2017, and over 300 in 2016. That's right, 300. 

Now that I've explained some relevant information regarding China's scene, it's time to talk about the contest. 

1A finals results picture, credit to @pofalyoyos on Instagram (company ran by 1A champion Chow Chakron)

1A finals results picture, credit to @pofalyoyos on Instagram (company ran by 1A champion Chow Chakron)

CYCC Shenzhen was actually very competitive this year, with some seasoned veterans competing.....

  • The winner of 1A was Chow Chakron, who placed 2nd in 1A at China Nationals this year. 
  • The winner of 2A was Yi Chenghao, who is a 3 time national 2A champion.
  • The winner of 3A was Wong Yip Yip, who is a 3 time national 3A champion.
  • The winner of 4A was Yuan Jia Jun, who placed 3rd in 4A at China Nationals this year.
  • The winner of 5A was Pang Zifeng, who won 5A at China Nationals this year.

Needless to say, this region of China is strong.

Chow Chakron’s winning 1A freestyle was a polished re-do of his China Nationals routine. I would consider him one of my favorite players out of China, as his style is very balanced to me - he’s a speed player with good variation in terms of technical abilities, horizontal, and more. I think he'll be one of the frontrunners for Chinese players doing well in Shanghai next year. Check it out below.

Another 1A freestyle I really liked was Fang Xu’s. He’s new to me after this year’s China Nationals in which he made finals, and his style is very rare compared to the rest of China. I see a ton of potential in him, especially with his style being so contrasting from the rest of the country. You can watch Fang Xu's routine below.

 

All in all, from watching freestyles in 1A, China’s scene is very interesting - although a large majority of the competitive players have similar styles, they all put forth their own twist/strong suits to the “generic speed player” type. What I’m curious about is how this will pan out next year in Shanghai, and who from China will stand out the most. Especially when players only have such little time in the first rounds, I’m looking forward to see who will be at the top.

Check out a video (also made by the 1A champion Chow Chakron - this guy does everything!!) from the event. I highly encourage any yo-yo player to look into China's scene if you want to go into next year's world championships knowing a few familiar faces.

 

US National YoYo Contest Player Interview - Keiran Cooper

The next and last interview for this year's US Nationals features Scales' sole representative for the contest, Keiran Cooper. Keiran's no stranger to the competitive circuit as he's ranked 2nd in California and also has been on the Worlds finals stage twice. I personally am really looking forward to what Keiran has in store for this weekend!

Colin - "Hey Keiran!! Thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions regarding your prep for nats. What is your goal for the contest?"

Keiran - "I try to refrain from thinking about placement as it further distracts me from the quality of my tricks and performance. If i were to set a goal for myself, I’d like to make finals, and present a clean freestyle in finals. For as long as I can remember, I’ve never been able to perform to the best of my ability, and as a byproduct, I’m always striving to go cleaner."

Colin - "That's deep. I see what you mean regarding going cleaner, though, and that's a goal that many have. Hopefully you'll be able to hit a satisfying routine on Saturday! What yo-yo do you plan on using?"

Keiran - "I'll be using my signature yo-yo, the Charm by Recess."

Colin - "Sounds good. What round are you seeded to this year?"

Keiran - "I'm seeded to the preliminary round."

Colin - "What's your opinion on the 4-round structure in place for Nationals this year?"

Keiran - "Me being in prelims sets me up for three rounds in one day (provided I make it through prelims and semi-finals). I appreciate the 4-round structure, but I disagree with the implementation starting this year. With a smaller competitor pool, I would argue it’s more feasible to implement this new structure next year, when incentives are higher and attendance will be greater. I’m primarily worried about fatigue this year; I fell asleep in the bleachers at this year’s World competition after doing two rounds in one day."

Colin - "Yikes, 3 rounds in one day does sound rough. Hope that you'll be able to make it through while staying conscious ;) What is your approach to this year’s competition? Does the slightly extra time between Worlds and Nationals compared to previous years mean that you will spend time creating a new freestyle, or refining your Worlds routine?"

Keiran - "Knowing I had ample time to prepare, I considered making a new freestyle, but couldn’t create a product to my satisfaction. Instead, I compromised and decided to refine my freestyle from Worlds. Although this freestyle’s structure renders it extremely difficult, I’ve never felt more confident about my ability to hit it."

Colin - "It's seemed like most of the people I've asked this question to have stated that they've chosen to refine their Worlds freestyle. To everyone reading, this is a strategy that I will always recommend - do something that you're comfortable with. Next question is what inspired your routine?"

Keiran - "For my routine, I’ll be using music inspired by you (Colin) and Ethan Cheung. Both of these players consistently motivate me to perform at my best. 

With respect to my World’s routine, I spent a lot of time watching dance routines. My goal was to present a freestyle congruent to the crisp choreography displayed by teams like Ganmi, Just Jerk, and Ian Eastwood. Learning how to present my Yo-Yoing in such a refined manner is a difficult task, and is something I plan on incorporating into all of my routines going forward."

Colin - ":) It seems like dancing is the new big thing in yo-yoing! Looking forward to see how you plan to implement it into your freestyles. I should really take some dance lessons... anyways, last question - who are you most excited to watch this year?"

Keiran - "I’d be lying if I said I attend Yo-Yo competitions with the sole intent of competing. Arguably one of the most rewarding aspects of Yo-Yo is cheering on your friends as they hit the trick they’ve been chasing for months on stage. I can’t think of any other aspect of my life that revolves around so much genuine support. Conceptually, presenting something in front of an audience has always been an act of vulnerability. That being said, I’m looking forward to every single freestyle that I’m able to watch. With this year’s smaller competitor pool, I hope more underdogs are able to qualify through to finals for their first time. I’ll be there to cheer them on, as my friends did for me in 2015."

Colin - "It's always a good feeling to see people in similar stages to where you've been. I also find supporting those freestyles very necessary, as any cheering, screaming (in most cases), etc. will make you feel more confident on stage and going forward. Thanks for answering these questions, K-Dallaz! Best of luck!"

Keiran - "Thank you, Becko!!"

US National YoYo Contest Player Interview - Evan Nagao

Our next interview for US Nationals features a seasoned veteran, Evan Nagao. Evan's one-of-a-kind stage presence is awesome to watch for yo-yo and non-yoyo audiences alike, and I'm personally looking forward to see it again on the Nationals stage. Check out our interview with Evan below!

Colin - "Hey, Evan! Thanks for taking the time to answer some questions. What is your goal for this year's contest?"

Evan - "My goals for this contest as usual are to score as high as possible, and make sure the audience enjoys my routine."

Colin - "Best of both worlds! What yo-yo do you plan on using?"

Evan - "Yup! I will either be using The Edge, or a new delrin throw YYF is releasing."

Colin - "Awesome. What round are you seeded to this year?"

Evan - "I'm seeded to semi-finals, I believe."

Colin - "Sweet.. what's your opinion on the new round structure?"

Evan - "I don't have strong opinions towards the 4 round structure. I'm glad though that unseeded players have a chance to compete."

Colin - "I also think it's nice that the contest is more open to everyone this year. My next question for you is based off of your Worlds routine - What is your approach to this year’s competition? Does the slightly extra time between Worlds and Nationals compared to previous years mean that you will spend time creating a new freestyle, or refining your Worlds routine?"

Evan - "My freestyle this contest will include part of my worlds routine, but the first 2 minutes are different this contest."

Colin - "Cool. Smart idea to keep the same base but make some small modifications to make it better. What's your inspiration for this freestyle?"

Evan - "The inspiration for this freestyle is fast-style rapping like "rap god" and "look at me now". I think it's a great style to do rail combos. It's a little risky though because if I mess up during the fast part, it completely throws off the music use and puts me off  rhythm in terms of where I am with my tricks. The main difference is that I put much more thought into the music use and music cues this year compared to past years/performances. I've also been practicing a lot more."

Colin - "That's great to hear! I agree that yo-yoing at a faster pace can make things more stressful in freestyles; I hope that you're able to go clean so you can avoid that stress. Who are you most looking forward to see this year?"

Evan - "I'm really looking forward to seeing Zach if he decides to compete since we didn't see him at worlds. Also excited for Kurti, who had an insane worlds prelim this year."

Colin - "I also hope Zach is able to compete. Haven't heard from him about it so I'm unsure if he will. Kurti's worlds performances have me stoked to see his nationals routine. Thanks for taking the time for this interview, Evan! Best of luck at the contest!"

Evan - "No problem! Thanks!"

US National YoYo Contest Player Interview - Michael Ferdico

Michael Ferdico has had a breakthrough year. From placing 2nd at PNWR and BAC to making finals in Iceland and most recently winning NER, Michael dominates at any contest he attends. We were very happy that Michael was interested in answering a few questions regarding his prep for his next competition, US Nationals. Check it out!

Colin - "Hey Bird, thank you for taking the time for this interview! My first question is what is your goal for Nationals this year?"

Michael - "No problem! Every time I take the stage, my goal is to be the best that I’ve ever been. I don’t think of myself as a particularly competitive person and comparing myself too closely to others causes me a lot of stress, so that’s something I try not to focus on."

Colin - "Smart logic. I feel as though people get too distracted by focusing on who they're competing against to the point where it messes with their mental game. What yo-yo do you plan on using to compete?"

Michael - "I have a really good thing going with the CLYW Manatee and I don’t want to mess with that just yet."

Colin - "I can tell for sure. What round are you seeded to this year?"

Michael - "I’m seeded to semi-finals."

Colin - "Sweet, what is your opinion on the new round structure?"

Michael - "I think my opinion would probably be pretty different if I wasn’t seeded, hahaha. In the past, I’ve always felt like making it through to finals was unnecessarily difficult because of the number of seeds. For an event with as much talent as US Nationals, only taking ~5-7 people through from prelims just isn’t enough, so I think this is a nice compromise to try and fix that. The schedule of the contest might be packing too much into too short a time for competitors, though. I’m interested to see how it plays out and if there will be any changes for next year."

Colin - "I agree that the prior seeding rules made prelims seem a little too competitive. It's an interesting change and I'm looking forward to see how it pans out. What is your approach to this year’s competition? Does the slightly extra time between Worlds and Nationals compared to previous years mean that you will spend time creating a new freestyle, or refining your Worlds routine?"

Michael - "I actually used the extra time between contests to take a break and not really yoyo for a few weeks. 😅 I’ll be doing a version of my Worlds routine, but I’ve made plenty of changes to it."

Colin - "Breaks are always very beneficial, especially after practicing for months for the busy contest season in the summer. What inspired you for your freestyle? Any specific players or perhaps a different approach this time around?"

Michael - "I’ve talked publicly a bit about how my Worlds routine’s theme was “Final Boss.” I want to keep pushing myself further for Nationals, so I think the logical next step is “New Game Plus.” It’s the rematch against the big baddie, but now I have so much more knowledge, skill, and practice. And that got me really thinking — what if my performance at Worlds only represented 80% of what I’m capable of? 50%? I don’t know how far I can push, but this mindset has really helped me stay motivated. In terms of players, I almost exclusively watched Yusuke in preparation for Worlds, this time I can’t stop watching Hajime, but I honestly think I take more direct inspiration from pro Smash Bros. players. Shoutouts to PPMD, Plup, Axe, Hungrybox, N0ne, and CaptainZack."

Colin - "Wow. Wasn't expecting that thought out of an answer from anyone. Your attention to freestyle theming is truly admirable and it's a nice change compared to the mentality of others. Always pushing yourself to be capable of more is what makes people grow the most, imo. My last question for you is what freestyles are you looking forward to the most?"

Michael - "This is a bit of a copout answer, and I’m not 100% sure who’s going, so bear with me. A lot of people have predicted that this year’s Nationals will be a bit smaller in scale than usual since it doesn’t seed into Shanghai, so I’m expecting to see a bit of a different turnout, and probably some different finalists to go along with that. So what I’m personally really interested in watching are the routines by players that maybe people aren’t really expecting to get through to the final round, or maybe who haven’t had the chance to do a 3 minute routine before. I’d love to see some big breakout performances."

Colin - "I agree that it'll be awesome to see new faces. Thank you so much for answering these questions, Michael! Best of luck!"

Michael - "No problem, Colin! Thank you!"

US National YoYo Contest Player Interview - Nate Dailey

The next installment of the US National YoYo Contest Player Interviews is Nate Dailey, hailing from the Bay Area region. Nate is no stranger to the nationals podium as he has been a 1A finalist every year he has competed, and he has also placed 3rd in 2015. Check out Colin's talk with Nate on his preparation and opinions on US Nationals below!

Colin - "Hey Nate, thank you so much for taking the time for this interview! My first question to ask is what is your goal for this year's contest?"

Nate - "My goal for US Nationals 2017 is the same as the last two years: 1st place 1a. I won’t be disappointed if I don’t reach this, but I want to put in the best effort I can."

Colin - "Love to see it. I've seen a lot of people set goals for themselves that leave them feeling disappointed after they don't reach them, so I'm glad you're having the mentality of doing the best that you personally can. What yo-yo do you plan on using?"

Nate - "I’ll be competing with my new signature yoyo, the YoYoFactory ND Ultra, which will be released at Nationals. I’m really excited to use it on stage for the first time."

Colin - "Awesome! Congratulations on the release! I'm excited to try it out. What round are you seeded to this year?"

Nate - "Thank you! I’m seeded into 1a preliminaries."

Colin - "Cool. What is your opinion on the new four-round structure for US Nationals?"

Nate - "I think it’s a great change. Although in 2014, 15, and 16 I received finals seeds for simply placing 1st in the region at BAC, I still think this change was much needed and adds a lot of fairness."

Colin - "I agree that it makes things seem more fair for not only giving everyone the chance to participate but also making things more structured. My next question for you is based off of Iceland - What is your approach to this year’s competition? Does the slightly extra time between Worlds and Nationals compared to previous years mean that you will spend time creating a new freestyle, or refining your Worlds routine?"

Nate - "I’ll be using a refined version of my worlds freestyle at Nationals this year. I didn’t land my Worlds freestyle anywhere near its full potential, so I’m going to give it another try. I also wouldn’t have been able to create another freestyle on its same level with the given amount of time, so I decided it was best to not start from scratch."

Colin - "Very smart, it's best to work with what you have and make sure you are comfortable with it. What inspired you for your freestyle? Any specific players or perhaps a different approach this time around?"

Nate - "I agree. My primary inspirations were Andrew Maider, Gentry Stein, Evan Nagao, and Michael Ferdico. My main focus was on music use, so music also played a large role in my inspiration."

Colin - "Your music use focus was very apparent, and I remember talking to Keiran and Patrick about this in our last episode. Really awesome to see such a well-choreographed routine. My final question for you is this - who are you most excited to see on stage?"

Nate - "I’m especially looking forward to seeing newer players in 1a finals this year, but I’m also excited to see Keiran Cooper, Gentry Stein, Michael Ferdico, Remy Baskin, and Evan Nagao."

Colin - "I'm also looking forward to see the new faces in 1A finals, as well as the others you mentioned! Thank you for taking the time for this interview, and best of luck!"

Nate - "No problem! Thank you!"

 

US National YoYo Contest Player Interview - Anthony Rojas

Our next interview for this year's US Nationals is with one of the most unique yo-yo players of the past decade, Anthony Rojas. Check it out!

Colin - "Hey, Anthony! Thank you for taking the time to answer some questions! My first questions is what is your goal for this year's contest!"

Anthony - "I'd just like to be in finals so I can do the freestyle I planned for worlds. Hitting all my tricks would be nice too. At least enough to where it doesn't take away from the performance." 

Colin - "Great goal, I'm really hoping to see your routine you had planned. What yo-yo do you plan on using?"

Anthony - "I plan to use the CLYW Dune."

Colin - "Sweet. What round are you seeded to this year?"

Anthony - "I'm seeded to semi-finals."

Colin - "Awesome. What is your opinion on the new system in place for round structure?"

Anthony - "The system seems fair. Curious to see how it plays out though. I like how it gives people a chance to compete if they hadn't qualified elsewhere. Though, I'll miss being able to seed into finals via my regional."

Colin - "I agree, it'll be interesting to see something more structured than the previously used petitioning system. Starting from wildcard gives things a little more professionalism in my opinion than placing everyone in the same round to start, no matter what qualification. What inspired you for your freestyle? Any specific players or perhaps a different approach this time around?"

Anthony - "Nothing really new, but the song I'm using is probably the most inspirational factor this time around. I was having trouble making up a 3 minute freestyle this year, but the feeling of finding the right music usually helps and gets me hyped."

Colin - "I agree that using music you enjoy can make things more fun. My last question for you is who are you most excited to see?"

Anthony - "Interested to see how Bergy does after he did so well at worlds. Also, other players that didn't make worlds finals. And will Michael Nakamura get his first nats win?"

Colin - "Thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions, Anthony! Best of luck!"

 

US National YoYo Contest Player Interview - Chandler Steele

The next interview from Scales is with Chandler Steele, the current Ohio and MidEast regional champion. Chandler's been killing it this year, and his most recent showing was him appearing in his first finals at the World YoYo Competition, making it out all the way from wildcard. Check out Colin's small chat with Chandler below regarding his thoughts of US Nationals.

Colin - "Hey, Chandler! Thanks for taking the time to do this interview! My first question for you is what is your goal for this year's contest?"

Chandler - "My goal for 2017 Nationals would be top five, but I would be satisfied with top ten."

Colin - "Seems reasonable. You've been in or near the top 10 in your finals appearances so I'm sure you'll be up there this year. What yo-yo do you plan on using?"

Chandler - "Most likely the YYF Edge."

Colin - "Awesome. What round are you seeded to?"

Chandler - "I am seeded to the 1a semi-final round of the NYYC."

Colin - "#MERBOYS What is your opinion on the new round structure in place for Nationals?"

Chandler - "My opinion on the 4 rounds of Nationals would be a bittersweet change to the competition. I feel as though competitors who have not received a seed to any rounds have a chance to prove their worth, while on the other hand it puts more pressure/stress on the competitors, as there are more rounds they have to pass through to make it to finals."

Colin - "I agree, it'll be interesting to see how it compares to how the structure works for Worlds. What is your approach to this year’s competition? Does the slightly extra time between Worlds and Nationals compared to previous years mean that you will spend time creating a new freestyle, or refining your Worlds routine?"

Chandler - "I'll bring a whole new freestyle to the table and hopefully showcase it to the best of my ability."

Colin - "Awesome, i'm looking forward to see it. What inspired you for your freestyle? Any specific players or perhaps a different approach this time around?"

Chandler - "Ethan Cheung, Michael Stecz, and Andrew Bergen all have given me inspiration for my routine."

Colin - "Solid list. Last question - what freestyles are you looking forward to the most?"

Chandler - "I'm excited for every freestyle!"

Colin - "Smart answer. Thanks for taking the time for this interview, Chandler! Best of luck!"

US National YoYo Contest Player Interview - Remy Baskin

Our next installment in this series is an interview with the up-and-coming Remy Baskin, a top 3 finisher at both MAR and NER this year. Remy's really had an amazing year and it's been awesome to watch him grow, so I was especially stoked that he was down to take the time to answer a few questions regarding US Nationals next weekend.

Colin - "What's up, Remy? Thanks for taking the time for this interview. My first question is what is your goal for this year’s contest?"

Remy - "My goal for this year’s Nationals is to make finals and have a good time."

Colin - "Sounds like you've got a good mindset. What yo-yo are you planning on using to compete?"

Remy - "I'll most likely be using the Duncan Windrunner or Origami, but it really depends on what I'm feeling on the days coming up to the contest."

Colin - "Sweet. What round are you seeded to this year?"

Remy - "I'm seeded to preliminaries."

Colin - "I see. What is your opinion on the new 4 round structure for US Nationals?"

Remy - "I think the four round structure is very ambitious and could potentially be good, but I'm doubtful this year’s Nationals will have enough players for the rounds to be utilized/they may turn into wasted time and effort."

Colin - "Interesting opinion, it'll be interesting to see how things fold out. What inspired you for your freestyle? Any specific players or perhaps a different approach this time around?"

Remy - "My freestyle is definitely drawing inspiration player wise from Ethan Cheung, Keiran Cooper, Yuuki Nishisako, and Andrew Bergen. I'm also taking inspiration from music and basing my tricks around it. Approach is basically throwing what I can at semi final and trying to get to finals to put down a fun routine."

Colin - "Solid list of players and good focus on semi-finals. I'm interested to see how the people who haven't experienced this new round structure will strategize their focus.. I think semi-final is probably the most important as well. Last question - which freestyles are you looking forward to the most?"

Remy - "Depends who attends this year, but Keiran Cooper, Zach Gormley, Daniel Flaherty, Andrew Bergen, Evan Nagao, Andrew Maider, probably more I'm forgetting for 1A, and for X divisions I'm excited to see Owen Ekblad, Alex Hattori, Phillip White, and Chase Baxter."

Colin - "Awesome! Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions, Remy! Good luck next weekend!"

Remy - "Thanks!" 

US National YoYo Contest Player Interview - Michael Kurti

The US National YoYo Contest will be held next weekend in Chico, California. 

Scales has interviewed a handful of contenders and promising competitors for the 1A division at this year's event, and we'll be releasing one interview per day leading up to next weekend.

Our first player is a three time US Nationals top 5 finisher, MIchael Kurti.

Colin: "Hey Michael, thank you for taking the time to be interviewed for Scales. What is your goal for this year’s contest?"

Michael: "This year my approach to Nationals is a bit different than usual, I’m really trying to score as well as possible both technically and in terms of performance. I usually just do what i feel like more or less to a song i really enjoy (which is important imo) but I’d really like to place in the top 5 again."

Colin: "I'm excited to see what you have planned for your routine! Regarding the changes for this year's event, to which round are you seeded?"

Michael: "I'm seeded to the preliminary round this year." 

Colin: "Sweet. What's your opinion on the new structure?"

Michael: "I think it’s a good change for the National YoYo Contest. It’s always been super competitive and i think this is a fair system to try to make sure the best players will be in finals, and everybody gets a fair shot."

Colin: "Yeah, I think so too. What inspired you for your freestyle? Any specific players or perhaps a different approach this time around?"

Michael: "Honestly Chandler Steele has inspired me a lot recently.... I really like his tricks, they all seem so 2017 to me lol. They score well and flow not to mention he's been killing it lately. Also I gotta say Bergy has had a big influence on my nationals routine as well. I think a lot of throwers may be in that boat after worlds.... haha. He killed it. I'm really looking forward to seeing their routines, if they go."

Colin: "Chandler and Bergy both are among my favorites from this year, and they both represented USA extremely well at Worlds this year. Thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions, Kurti! Good luck!"