Grant Johnson won the 2A Division at the 2015 US National YoYo Contest!
Check out full results and scoring breakdowns below!
“Toy” is a documentary starring Anthony Rojas. We teamed up together in another great short, this time to tell the perspective of what yo-yoing is, and how is is seen through the eyes of a champion. The film goes to show the artistic side of a common toy, which is often overlooked or not understood by the normal spectator.
– Grant Johnson
We’ve got the video of the winners from the 2015 US National YoYo Contest! All the rest of the contestants will be uploading soon…subscribe to YoYoNews on YouTube to catch them all.
The 2014 US National YoYo Contest was the high-point of this years US contest season, with a 1A Division that was absolutely stacked with top notch talent and had some of the best 1A freestyles we’ve seen all year! YoYoNews correspondent Matt McDade tracked down most of our new US National Champions for a Q&A.
(Editors Note: The 2014 5A National Champion, Tyler Severance, couldn’t be reached for the last two weeks. So instead of his answers, we’ll be giving you lyrics from his favorite song: “Wrecking Ball” by Miley Cyrus.)
Zach Gormley (1A): I certainly felt that it was possible to take first, however, knew the competition would be fierce. The day of it all just comes down to who hits their freestyle the cleanest. While many other competitors this year made mistakes, it appears that I made the fewest.
Joseph Harris (2A): Yes, without a doubt, I expected to take 1st place. Unless I had a major screw-up in my freestyle, I had little doubt about defending my title. Rumor was, Party Rick (aka Pat Mitchell) was not competing, so I had nothing to worry about…he makes me worry. Like. A LOT. P-Mitch is so gee-whiz good!
Alex Hattori (3A): I always go to a competition to have fun and to do my best. I never bring any expectations. There are many great yoyoers, and anything can happen.
Zac Rubino (4A): No, there are so many good players that could have won. Going into a contest, I don’t think in my head, “I am going to win this contest.” I just have the mindset that I want to hit my routine and put on a good show for the audience.
Tyler Severance (5A): We kissed, I fell under your spell. A love no one could deny.
Zach Gormley: Typically, I try to get in around an hour to two of practice each day, starting a month before the contest. This doesn’t need to be all just freestyle-practice, though. Much of my time is spent perfecting my tricks or finding ways to hit them more consistently for when I’m on stage.
Joseph Harris: Non-existent. I selected a freestyle song a week before the competition. I did a true “freestyle” on stage, meaning what the audience live at Chico, and watching online, saw was the first time I did a full run of my freestyle performance.
Alex Hattori: I didn’t really have a set practice schedule because I’ve been extremely busy with my rigorous high school curriculum, which includes marching band and robotics.
Zac Rubino: At home, I practiced 2-3 hours a day, and for those hours, I only practiced my freestyle. The way I went about it was to practice 30 min-1 hour at a time, a few times though out the day.
Tyler Severance: Don’t you ever say I just walked away, I will always want you.
Zach Gormley: I had two goals for this freestyle. I wanted to improve my performance, as well as have a really dominant tech score. While I achieved the latter, my performance wasn’t where I wanted it to be. I think the mistakes I spent time correcting took up time I could have been looking at the crowd, yoyoing to the music, etc.
Joesph Harris: Have fun, and go clean. I would have ended my routine early if I felt like I did not have fun or go clean. 2 minutes in, I felt comfortable that I had accomplished both goals.
Alex Hattori: I really just hoped to show my best tricks and put on my best performance.
Zac Rubino: For this freestyle, my goal was to win a National or World title.
Tyler Severance: I came in like a wrecking ball. I never hit so hard in love.
Zach Gormley: Lately, many yoyoers have caught on to trends that I’ve set in the past, so it can be hard to adjust my style or stay unique. Sometimes, I’m not too sure about what it is that sets me apart, but whatever it is seems to be working. I always try to do something different and bring new ideas to the table!
Joseph Harris: Swag. And the clothing line helped. It was hot that day, so the tank top my cousin gave me while we were celebrating his marriage in Vegas freed up some arm space. So, I could move around with ease and not feel so sluggish on stage. If you watched the others, you could tell that my wraps separated my freestyle from everyone else.
Alex Hattori: I think all of us 3A players are unique in our own way. Whether it’s bringing through some mind-boggling double Double or Nothing combo or by incorporating bangers, I think we all stand out from each other.
Zac Rubino: I think what sets me apart from other competitors is my tricks. I try to make tricks that are hard, flashy, and score high. My favorite type of trick is a “banger”. I love snags, regens, grinds, and just about anything that looks cool. I know my performance evaluation scores are my weakness, so I try to make up for that with big, risky tricks.
Tyler Severance: I never meant to start a war. I just wanted you to let me in. And instead of using force I guess I should’ve let you win.
Zach Gormley: I chose to use the Arctic Circle 2 in the Northern Lights colorway. Gotta represent CLYW! Best of the best.
Joseph Harris: My signature series yoyo, the YoYoJam Unleashed, which has been used to win back-to-back Nationals titles.
Zac Rubino: The yoyo that I used in my freestyle was the Duncan Skyhawk.
Tyler Severance: Buy Miley Cyrus – Bangerz on Amazon
Zach Gormley: Anthony Rojas has consistently placed top 3, and I would have loved to see him take the Nationals title. Gentry’s freestyle was top notch as always, and he definitely could have taken the title as well. It was also cool seeing Andrew Maider and Michael Kurti really step their game up.
Joseph Harris: Of the people not competing this year, I would have liked Ian Lawson, Patrick Mitchell, and Grant Johnson. For those that did compete, I would have loved it if Josh Yee won.
Alex Hattori: I would have liked to see the person who brought their best game take first. To tell you the truth, I really enjoy watching all 3A players.
Zac Rubino: The other person that I would have liked to see take first place is Ian Johnson. Ian is a good friend, and an amazing yoyo player.
Tyler Severance: All I wanted was to break your walls. All you ever did was wreck me.
Zach Gormley: 44Clash and Las Vegas Open are right around the corner, and I’d love to win one of those! Potentially, even both would be cool! Next year, I have my eyes set on Worlds in Tokyo, but I’ll cross that bridge when it comes.
Joseph Harris: Chronologically, the next title would be the Las Vegas Open in Vegas which seeds the winners into semi-finals for Tokyo Worlds 2015. The big competition goal for me is to be World Champion before I retire from competing in two-handed.
Alex Hattori: I don’t usually plan my life according to upcoming competitions. Instead, I work on improving my technique or creating new tricks after I’m done with Nationals. Then, as time rolls along, I see if I’m able to attend any more competitions based on my school academic schedule.
Zac Rubino: The next contest I am looking to win is the 2015 World Yoyo Contest. When I started competing, there were 4 contests that I really wanted to win, which were Cal States, BAC, Nationals, and Worlds. This year, I won all of those contests except for Worlds. That is the last contest on my list, and the one I want to win the most.
Tyler Severance: Yeah, I just closed my eyes and swung. Left me crashing in a blazing fall.
Zach Gormley: Outside of competitions, I’d love to work on some new videos. Charles and I have been tossing around the idea of potentially getting me up to Canada to work on some Cabin Tutorials. While it is likely, nothing is set in stone yet.
Joseph Harris: The main non-contest related endeavor for me is to get yoyos mainstream! In my eyes, it starts with grassroots efforts, such as the two new yoyo clubs I am helping run here in the San Francisco Bay Area. New yoyoers, like hundreds to thousands of them, is the first step to making yoyos and the yoyo community more popular.
There will always be the next Gentry Stein, Zach Gormley, Anthony Rojas, Ahmad Karisma, Harrison Lee, Tessa Piccillo, Takeshi Matsuura’s of the yoyo world. My goal, as it has been since I was booted off America’s Got Talent Season 4, is to get the next generation of yoyoers to experience more positive exposure OUTSIDE of the yoyo community than the current yoyoers! Don’t YOU want yoyos to be mainstream???
Alex Hattori: Well, I’m always actively volunteering in my community with yoyoing, whether it’s teaching, or performing for charitable causes. I perform at schools, fundraisers, libraries, convalescent homes, and all sorts of charity events.
Zac Rubino: Besides contests, I have been filming a lot of videos with the Duncan crew. Be on the look out for those videos coming soon! Other than that, I don’t know what the up-coming year has in store for me.
Tyler Severance: All you ever did was wreck me. Yeah, you, you wreck me. Yeah, you, you wreck me.
When it comes to modern yoyoing that is equally creative and competitive, Anthony Rojas’ tricks are basically everything that you could possibly want and more. Anthony has proven himself countless times in winning several contests, and will undoubtedly remain a relevant name in yoyoing through his creative style and memorable freestyles. I decided to catch up with Anthony on his recent contests, creative process, and more!
Anthony, you’re one of the most creative and talented players I know of that’s around today, how did you start yoyoing?
I had a yoyo or two as a kid in the 90s, but it was only a toy to me then. I got into Astrojax some years later, and through that I started discovering modern yoyoing. I consider August 2005 the beginning of my serious yoyo “career” when I got yoyos like the YoyoJam Dark Magic and Free Agent. I also started going to the Sunshine Kite Company in Redondo Beach, CA because of their yoyo classes/ hangouts. Lots of great players learned at that shop. It’s actually really crazy thinking how I’m in Europe right now because of yoyoing, along with other players that also came from the kite shop.
That is crazy, who were some of the other players that frequented the shop?
Yoshi Mikamoto from YYJ taught at the shop. There was also Grant Johnson, Patrick Borgerding, Alex Hattori, Alex Kim (RecRev), Dylan Benharris, and others too.
What was your approach to learning tricks early on?
Learning tricks early on, I didn’t necessarily have an approach. I just learned what I could from people in person, or watched tutorials and videos. I never dwelled on tutorial watching too long though, I liked making up my own tricks and learned things along the way. I think it’s good to have a solid foundation as a beginner, but I never had a plan or a goal at that time. I just did what felt right.
I definitely started to get more attention outside my area when I won South West Regionals in 2009. Not long after, I got 5th at Worlds. Looking back my style has changed a little over time, but I’ve always tried to be both a creative and competitive player. Right now it’s a little difficult, I wish I had more time to focus on both realms. After this year’s worlds I almost feel a little behind. So many good players right now!
I totally agree! I’ve only been yoyoing for a few years but I’m even amazed at the amount of talent that’s came out since I’ve started. So, you just kind of decided to start competing eventually?
I started competing pretty quickly. January of 06 was I went to my first contest and did sports ladder and 4a in X division. I don’t think I thought about it much at first, but I believe it’s good for beginners who are serious about competing to get some stage time. Even if you think you won’t do well, just worry about doing the best you can and gain experience. Learn the system, learn how you can improve. Even now, if I execute my freestyle flawlessly and still lose, I can’t complain much. I did the best I could and will learn from that experience.
Did you have any aprehension at first about combining creative and competitive yoyoing on stage?
I never had any apprehension when it came to doing certain creative moves in the past, but recently it’s more difficult. You have to find the right balance of creativity while still keeping in mind points and the judging system, at least when you’re trying to win. In the future, I’d like to show less point driven freestyles that are just nice looking creative routines, whether it be filmed or on stage.
Definitely, your tricks are so good that I think they look good just about anywhere. What’s your process like in making up tricks?
My process isn’t really set in stone, but it’s usually a lot of experimenting and trial and error. It depends on the trick, but I’ll usually just have an idea or mount, and keep exploring possibilities until I like the outcome. Sometimes you have to scrap ideas that simply don’t work, or keep working on them for months before something comes out of it. There’s not really a secret formula for good tricks or concepts I guess, just don’t limit your exploration.
Yeah, I feel that like that’s definitely true. I just started getting serious with making tricks a little while ago, and it really did take me about a month to figure out where to go from the first few moves of a trick I made up. What are some of your favorite elements or mounts to use? I know you like a lot of arm/body tricks.
Some of my favorite tricks are made of simplified elements in general. Or things that have a nice movement to them. I do like arm and body stuff, but that’s really just me trying to be different when I can. It’s funny because I think maybe there’s kids watching freestyles who haven’t met a lot of other yoyoers, and probably think those are the kind of tricks I always do in my free time. Or that such and such person always yoyos super fast or something. I think some yoyoer’s styles are the same on and off stage, but it’s not like I normally do weird, kneeling, horizontal, body tunnels when I’m just chilling haha. I think the same goes for a lot of others.
You recently took 5th Place at the 1st ever Duncan IYYC, which is definitely impressive. Did you plan on placing so high?
I was surprised I got 5th actually. I wasn’t sure how landing my freestyle perfectly would place, because it was slower paced and wasn’t as tightly based on points. I just wanted to do a cool freestyle. Unfortunately I messed up with two restarts. So getting 5th is kind of alright in a way. I was more bummed out about not making Worlds finals, although the contest itself was probably one of my favorites I’ve been to ever. IYYC was nice and I hope they can keep it going, but Worlds was a really amazing experience.
Maybe Zach’s Worlds freestyle. I’ve seen some of his tricks over and over, but they just don’t get old. Takeshi’s freestyle was also nice, and Sebby’s music choice and execution at IYYC had this really nice feeling to it.
I love Zach’s tricks, his Worlds freestyle was one of my favorites too. What other contests are you planning on entering in the near future?
I plan to go to South West Regionals, maybe the DXL Battle, Nationals, and the Las Vegas Open. I’m actually really looking forward to all of them for different reasons. They should all be nice contests. I especially want to see how the Vegas one turns out, and want to see some of the things going on with SkillCon too. I’m not going to be able to make 44 Clash this year, but I hope I can make it to Japan for Worlds next year.
The Las Vegas Open does sound like an awesome contest, nice! Do you have any other non contest related yoyo endevours planned?
I’d like to say the clip video Grant and I have been planning will come soon, but I can’t be sure. We’ve continued to push back filming because our schedules never meet up right. At this point it will happen when it happens, I’m just sitting on tricks and making up new ones until we can do it right. No need to rush and have a bad video. I’m working on a logo for a small company right now too, so that, and hopefully other design related work in the yoyo world will happen.
Awesome! Lastly, what advice could you give to someone just starting to yoyo and looking to compete and innovate in the future?
People starting out and thinking about innovation and competition could mean a lot of different things, depending on who you are and what you want out of it. Assuming it’s someone that wants to win contests or be known for innovation or something like that, I think for both categories you should try to understand what makes others successful. Study others not only for what they do, but why it worked for them.
Competition has a lot to do with the system, the rules, so learn that first. Try to understand the specifics over time, and gain experience by entering contests even if you think you won’t do well. Try to worry about improving yourself and not worrying about how you place. Remember that not everyone has a competitive style. It also helps if you not only know the rules, but eventually learn how to judge yourself.
For innovation, there are of course no rules or directions for that. Being innovative takes knowledge of what’s been done, but you have to be the one to discover something new on your own. A lot if times, the ideas I had for things that I made up just came to me unexpectedly, or I took something known and added upon it to make something else. Competing or being the next innovator may seem like a daunting task for newcomers, but I think it’s very feasible if you stay dedicated and always remember to have fun 🙂
YoYoJam has released the first full video for Grant Johnson’s new signature model, the Revival, and it’s full of what is easily some of the best 1A of the year. With this video, Grant is officially a top contender for the 1A Division at the World YoYo Contest in Prague, and I cannot wait to see what he brings to the stage. Absolutely amazing work from one of the most innovative and professional players in the industry!
Yoyo used is the Revival by YoYoJam.
Introducing Revival — a breakthrough hybrid from YoYoJam®! The Revival is Grant Johnson’s newest signature 1A model. For the first time ever YoYoJam® is introducing a fusion of durable celcon plastic with precision machined aluminum rings that literally “wrap” around from its exterior to its interior. It’s the most advanced hybrid YoYoJam® has ever produced. Grant visualized every fine detail of the unique shape of Revival to allow for maximum spin time and true control.
From the first time you throw Revival you will discover a truly solid and satisfying experience – especially when you bind it. Its powerful focus on rim weight and emphasis on precision balance results in a truly one-of-a-kind throw. Every bind and return is surprisingly strong and forceful. Set up out of the box with YoYoJam’s® Solid Spin Axle, silicone response, and their premium stainless steel 10-ball Speed Bearing, the Revival plays like a full metal but for a fraction of the cost. And like all YoYoJam® products, it is proudly made in the U.S.A!
Revival’s celcon interior combined with its unique finish on the aluminum rings make grinds easier to learn. Its wide, yet slimmed shape makes a great yo-yo for 3A and 5A as well. Horizontal play in any style is stable and impressive.
The Revival is ready for the most complex of tricks, so be prepared to experiment and have fun with this exceptionally refreshing yo-yo. YoYoJam® has taken the hybrid line and once again reinvented it for modern play!
YoYoJam has posted the first teaser video for their upcoming release, the Revival. We’ve already gotten a good look at it, and this new signature model for Grant Johnson looks like it’s going to be a huge hit!
More info coming soon…
Remember last year’s “Midnight Snack” video? Well, the Ben Conde and Grant Johnson are back, and they have something new to eat. And throw.
This video is light on the tricks, but the ones in here are so damn good! Looking forward to seeing more 1A from Grant this year…we hear he’s sitting on some incredible tricks.
To celebrate the announcement and upcoming release of their new collaborative yoyos, YoYoJam and Yomega have released videos for the Odyssey and Firestorm, featuring both YoYoJam and Yomega players using the new models. Both videos were shot and edited by Ben Conde and Grant Johnson.
Firestorm video featuring Tylor McCallumore and Daniel Dietz,
Odyssey video featuring Eric Koloski, Grant Johnson, Tylor McCallumore, and Daniel Dietz.
Journey video featuring Ben Conde, and players from the Cat & Mouse Games YoYo Club in Chicago, IL.
The #trickcircle tag on Instagram has become the spot for players to share their latest moves, and we here at @Yoyonews are picking out the best ones to share every week. It’s been a little while since our last installment, so we’ve got a huge crop of amazing material to sort through and it might take more than one installment before we’re caught up, but enough talk: let’s get to the tricks!
@blablablanchard (AKA Riccardo Fraolini) gives us a lot to look at with this insta-monster; this could be taught as a master class in slack composition. From the very opening mount (a pop to trapeze-brother with a hanging slack set up) he proves that this combo is going to be a doozy, and the hits just keep on coming, plowing through two more whips before a visually pleasing slack pinch that resets the mount and a grind that pops him into the final triangle… and an appropriate celebration, of course. Riccardo’s known for his smart and innovative tricks that manage to make you laugh and hit rewind to start learning immediately; for a longer look, you’ll definitely want to check out the R-Special vids on his Youtube channel.
@nehemiahpeterson keeps it short and sweet with this clever whip sequence: it opens with a jade whip, followed by a direction change which sends the slack loop wrapping around your hand an extra time before catching the yo-yo as you mount in a trapeze. It’s a simple variation on some classic whip tricks, and is easy enough to understand once you’ve learned the basic mach-5 whip, but that’s a big part of why it’s so effective. I just wish we could see how he ends it! For those who want some more substance, Nehemiah also submitted this impressive arm trick.
@grantgtj (AKA Grant Johnson, brought to us here by @clywlevi) made waves this year with his hugely innovative Worlds 2A freestyle, and this clip proves once again that he is a 1A force to be reckoned with. Grant’s genius comes from the way that he takes well-known mounts and pushes them in directions we’ve never seen before with style to spare. Never before has a split-bottom to GT looked so good: Grant moves the yo-yo into a gunslinger and then immediately pushes it offplane, which rejects the string and sets his hands up to catch the triangle perfectly. Want more Grant one-handed madness? Check out his PNWR Freestyle.
@mayi____ is still a fairly unknown name, but this combo is more than enough reason to start watching out for him. Seriously, how do you think of this? This sequence thoroughly explores the throwhand thumb mount as a landing pad for all kinds of around-the-arm maneuvers, and both the difficulty and the presentation are ratcheted up considerably due to the fact that he pinches the string and lets the slack hang out. Good variation and expressive body movement also bring this trick to the foreground, and the result is a fully-realized concept leaving us excited for more. As a bonus, check out this bizarre (but totally brilliant) pocketwatch concept from the same set.
@snapsta (AKA Ivan Maslin) leaves us seriously wondering if there’s something in the Russian water that produces such incredible tech players. He blew our minds a year ago with his Innovation Movement part and has steadily been developing into quite the force on the tech scene. While this trick sticks to more or less a single mount for the theme, it packs in an impressive amount of movement and maintains a great sense of tempo throughout. Check out his Werrd Wrecking Crew vid for more goodness.
@zbyszekpanda (AKA Zbyszek Kubiński) shows a great way to mix up inverted and normal trapeze hits while keeping a good head of steam—he definitely does not waste any time racking up the points. One of my favorite parts of this trick would be that his hands retain similar placement throughout, but the combo doesn’t seem to get stale. Part of this is undoubtedly the way that he mixes up hits inside and outside of his wrists towards the end of his combo, and the amount of variations he finds is truly impressive.
We don’t get nearly enough 2A videos these days, but here’s some great footage from Tomoyuki Kaneko. What do we have to do to get more 2A player making videos? Grant Johnson, where you at?
This year the 2A division is looking incredibly thin, competition-wise. Without Patrick Mitchell defending his title or Grant Johnson seeking to add to his list of titles, the cup for 2A is completely up for grabs!
Joseph Harris is the clear frontrunner and, save a complete meltdown, should walk away with his third title. He had a very strong showing at Worlds despite taking the last spot in the finals. Joseph has improved his choreography considerably and has lots of new concepts and a few solid bangers.
Yoshi is Joseph’s biggest and most serious competition; Yoshi has just missed out on the podium for the last few years and looks poised to finally take home a medal. Yoshi is the most acrobatic 2A player in the US, which is always an applause generator–add in the fact he’s beloved by so many and it is easy to see why he’s a crowd favorite. For Yoshi to take down Joseph he will need to have upped his technical tricks since he last competed, and since he sat out this year at Worlds it will be interesting to see what he brings.
Ian one of the few up and coming 2A players. I’m confident he will take home a title eventually, but this might not be his year. He failed to qualify for the finals at this years World YoYo Contest, which means his technical skill just isn’t quite there yet; but he is improving faster than any other player in the United States and we can assume he will have improved considerably even since Worlds. This should land him a spot in the top 3 for the first time.
Ryan is a classic 2A player from the THP era which means his fundamentals are on lock. He has a great repertoire of tricks, and with a thin list of competitors Ryan has an undeniable shot at the top 3; he, however, is outmatched considerably by Joseph and Yoshi and will probably be fighting Ian for the final podium spot.