Offstring will be one of the most interesting divisions to watch this year simply due to the strange nature of the World contest. There will be several players looking to prove something, and others still looking to make their name on the big stage. There is a great lineup of seeded players and semi-finalists and YoYoNews is providing some insight on who we believe to be in top contention for the title.
UPDATE: Ben Conde is now on the registered list of competitors and thus has been added to this list.
4A (Offstring) Division
Bryan Figueroa – 6X National Champion
Bryan Figueroa is the six time defending champion. For that reason alone he has to still be considered a favorite despite his performance at the World contest two months ago. Chances are he will be out to prove he is still the best American offstring player. Little has to be said about his trick complexity and typical accuracy–he has dominated this contest every single year since 2007. The only thing stopping Bryan from capturing his 7th straight title would most likely be Bryan himself; however, this contest could be the turning point of the American offstring scene if Bryan loses.
Michael Nakamura – World Champion
Michael Nakamura is one of the few players to have Bryan’s number as of recent and became only the second American player to take home the 4A World title. This obviously makes Michael the prime candidate to take down Bryan but the World contest and the National contest are different–outside versus inside, which plays the biggest role in offstring more so than any other division. Michael has a fast, accurate style with an ever improving choreography and will, similiar to Bryan, be out to prove why he is the World champion which will surely mean he is bringing his A game.
Ian Johnson is undefeated through two minutes in 2013 winning all five contests he entered leading up to the World competition; if the World contest was a two minute routine, he may have been crowned the 2013 World Champion, but his final minute saw an unraveling that dropped him to fifth place. He did manage to take down Bryan Figueroa and Ben Conde despite the flawed final minute. Ian’s focus on choreography is readily apparent with themed shirts and gloves, and his trick complexity and creativity have each seen dramatic increases from last year. If he can put together a solid three minutes, he will be tough to beat.
Ben just appeared on the registered player list for the 2013 National Yo-Yo Contest and he is a huge threat to take the title. If he hits his routine straight through he is probably near unbeatable but his tricks are just so hard that even he has difficulty hitting them consistently–add in the variable of outdoors and his tricks become even harder. Ben is the ultimate performer and always has a fun routine to watch. Whether Ben wins or not is in the air but what we do know is the audience sure wins.
Zac is the darkhorse of the 2013 National Yo-Yo Contest in offstring. His tricks are there and his choreography has been in contests before but his consistency can be questionable at times due to the Conde-esque difficult nature of his tricks. Zac, a Chico native, has home court advantage but doesn’t seem to do well outside but he has the potential to step up and take the title if the door is left open and he put together a routine that has no switch outs.
Alex is one of the most exciting up and coming youngsters. With the seed he will be able to focus on his three minute routine which will give him the time to improve his choreography and trick density. Every contest he has competed in this year he has improved dramatically and he was the first cut at Worlds in an extremely tough 4A prelim that saw four flawless routines. If any of the names listed above leave the door open for Alex, he may find his way into the top 3 but is probably a year or two off being a top contender–but look out.
Julian Grunauer is on a similar level with Alex Lee in that he is improving dramatically but should set his sights on around top 5. Right now, all of the names listed above are currently more poised to the fill the top 5 but Julian showed a few weeks ago at the Bill Lebowitz Classic that he has the skill to put on a top 5 performance but needs to get experience on the big stage and find a level of confidence that the above listed names have demonstrated many times before.