We’re now less than two weeks away from the greatest event in yo-yo history, folks! The first ever World Yo-yo Contest in Asia, and the first time the Japanese elite will have the home field advantage!
Over five hundred contestants, and no less than twenty one current and former World Champions will be competing, including a handful of legends!
Japan predictably has the biggest number of competitors, with over half of the registered players, but there’s also a hefty number of players from other Asian countries, which were often under-represented at Worlds, such as South Korea, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Malaysia. But even players literally from across the globe will be competing, with one player each from Brazil and Uruguay.
Let’s take a look at the top contenders from each division!
World Champions competing: 6
Gentry Stein, the only non-Japanese defending champion, will face tough competition this year, as one would expect from a World Yo-yo Contest in Japan.
Among the former champions, Hiroyuki Suzuki is surely the most successful, and while last year he had to climb to the finals starting from the Wildcard round, he’ll have a shorter path this year, as one of the seeds from AP.
Two other World Champions, János Karancz, and Marcus Koh, are also seeded to the semi-final round, while 2008 champion John Ando, and 2009 champion Shinya Kido are among the 180 (!) players in the 1A wildcard round.
Other notable players that will have to make it through the crowd are a couple of crowd favorites, such as Hidemasa Semba, Ryosuke Iwasawa, Takahiro Iizuka, and Vashek Kroutil.
The strongest contenders in 1A are concentrated in the preliminary and semi-final rounds, where we find some of the World’s best. From Asia, Iori Yamaki, Takeshi Matsuura, Yusuke Otsuka, Ahmad Kharisma, and Christopher Chia. From the Americas, Zach Gormley, Ky Zizan, and Mexican power duo Paul Kerbel and Luis Enrique Villasenor. Finally, Europe sends some of their best, with Palli Gudmundsson, and the young European Champion Jakub Dekan.
Will we see a battle among the favorites? Or is there are surprise lurking among the 268 1A players? We’ll find out in a few days!
World Champions competing: 4
The two greatest 2A winners of all time meet at the World Yo-yo Contest stage again for the first time since 2011! Current champion Takuma Yamamoto will face tough competition this year, not only from the legend himself, Shinji Saito, but also from 2012 World Champion Shu Takada! But the surprise among the 2A champions comes straight from history books!
Takumi Nagase, THP legend and 1999 World Champion (that’s pre-Orlando, folks!), is among the wildcard players, adding even more flair to this year’s Worlds!
Other notable players in this division are Hiraku Fujii, a legend in his own right, and Kiwamu Ebata, with his distinctive style. In addition to these, more than fifty other players, mostly Japanese, are registered, showing us that 2A is far from dead!
World Champions competing: 3
Hajime Miura was unable to get top 3 at this year’s Japan Nationals; or was he saving the good stuff for Worlds? We’ll find out in a few days, as the current World Champion tries to defend his title for the first time!
Three-time World Champion and last year’s runner-up Hank Freeman is surely among the favorites for the title, as is 2010 champion Minato Furuta, but with 3A advancing in broad strides in the past couple of years, picking a winner is no easy task!
Japanese champion Tomoya Kurita is competing for the first time at the World Yo-yo Contest, and is one to keep an eye on. Mizuki Takimoto has competed at Worlds before, and should feel a bit more comfortable with the competition.
Contrasting with the precision of the Japanese players, Patrick Borgerding and Ng Wang Kit are known to go for the risky maneuvers, and should they land their bangers, they could have a shot at top 3.
World Champions competing: 4
Rei Iwakura needs no introduction. The defending champion should be everybody’s top pick for this year’s 4A division after last year’s perfect routine and a couple of new tricks teased online this year.
But being the favorite doesn’t make the competition any easier. Michael Nakamura had a fast and solid routine last year, and comes from respectable wins at the Las Vegas Open and BAC.
Two other World Champions will be competing: Tsubasa Onishi starts the competition on the preliminary round, while Naoto Okada will have to take the long path from the wildcard round.
Almost eighty players will be competing in this division, including some of the top offstring contenders, such as Bryan Figueroa, Naoto Onishi, and Zac Rubino, as well as crowd-pleasers Ben Conde, Jeon Ji Hwan, and Futoshi Maruyama. A very interesting division for sure!
World Champions competing: 4
1A and 5A machine Takeshi Matsuura only competed in (and won) 1A at Japan Nationals this year, so we’re sure to be treated with new tricks in his 5A routine at Worlds! Not only that, Takeshi winning two major divisions at Worlds in the same year is in everybody’s wish list after getting so close last year!
2007 World Champion Tyler Severance comes from a series of solid results from US Nationals and BAC. This is also the debut of his new yo-yo company, Recess Intl, and he’ll surely put on that extra effort for his brand!
Two legendary 5A names stand out amidst the wildcard contestants. Former World Champions Shingo Terada and Makoto Numagami decided to join the competition! Competitive 5A is a completely different beast from what it was in the early 2000s, but here’s hoping they make it to the later stages of the competition and bless us with some of their outstanding and beautiful yoyoing.
Among those aiming for the title, last year’s runner-up Jake Elliott is the top contender, followed closely by Hideo Ishida, and Sora Ishikawa.
This is the contest we’ve all been looking forward to! The World Yo-yo Contest will finally be held in the holy land of yoyoing! Who will be the winners of the greatest yo-yo contest in history? We’re about to find out!