Every year (well, nearly) at the World YoYo Contest, a handful of players carve out a spot for themselves to hold an anti-competition. It’s not that they are against yoyo contests, it’s that there are a lot of players who just aren’t built for them, but do some legitimately amazing stuff nonetheless. Yoyo play is vast, and while we’ve done a fairly good job at figuring out how to quantify and score it, there will always be players who’s style and aesthetic just doesn’t work inside of that system. And that’s why the Alternative Freestyles exist: to give a platform to people who need a different place to showcase their skills.
This year’s Alternative Freestyles were supposed to be held on the main stage as the focus of the third after-party, but communication and scheduling issues moved it to a conference room after finals were over. Check out the three “Judge’s Pick” freestyles below (and a bonus pick from me, because it’s my site and I’ll do what I want), and then head over to the full playlist on YouTube to see everyone who entered.
Judge’s Pick: Chris Rodrigues
“It was really difficult to choose one person with the plethora of amazing names, but Chris was the first person to go up and boy did he throw down something special. His performance was just beautiful to watch, the music was happy and elegant as he threw down some gorgeous and innovative tricks that unified everyone at the start of the event and made everyone feel as though they were watching something special. The bangers didn’t just make me clap but they made people excited and happy that someone could do something so fun and exciting. It made me feel legitimately emotional to watch and I could not be happier to have been able to witness that performance.” – Sebastian Brock
Judge’s Pick: Isaac Sams
“There is something really special going on when you watch someone else yoyo. I feel as though Alternative Freestyles this year was incredibly educational and fun, so my choice based on that is Isaac Sams. His yoyoing is extremely refreshing to watch, and the direction he chooses to take with his tricks is not only unique, but fundamental as well. On top of all that, he seems to be really enjoying himself which in turn really lends to how he sells his tricks.” – Stephen Fuentes
Judge’s Pick: Sebastian Brock
“I really enjoyed watching all of the freestyles, but my favorite routines were: Chris Rodrigues, Isaac Sams, Ivan Maslin, Riccardo Fraolini, Mark Mangarin, Yuuki Spencer, Shane Lubecker and Sebastian Brock. If I had to pick only one favorite freestyle, it would be Sebastian Brock’s freestyle, because in addition to his crazy and unique tricks his presentation and his tricks together with the music were very inspiring, peaceful and relaxing to watch, so I really felt like it had a story to tell.” – Janos Karancz
Bonus Pick: Mark Mangarin
“I love watching through the Alternative Freestyles. So much talent in there, and I love watching players just *play* without the pressure of a contest or judges. I’ll argue to the death that Hiroyuki Suzuki is 1000% better when he’s not on stage, because the tricks he chooses are so much cooler. Mark Mangarin occupies this strange and wonderful grey area for me: I think if he took it more seriously he could legitimately start destroying contests, but at the same time it’s his cynicism about modern yoyoing that pushes and informs his trick creation and his tricks are just stupidly fun and amazing. I love hearing people complain about his Cabin Tutorials being hard to learn because Mark is left-handed….no dude, they’re hard to learn because his tricks are awesome, ha ha! The way he builds and paces his tricks, the geometry that he uses in his body moves, the fact that you never quite know what direction the yoyo is headed next…he’s the visual equivalent of Fugazi to me, and I absolutely love watching him play.” -Steve Brown