Josh Yee brings us a great highlights reel from this past weekend’s 2017 California State YoYo Championship. Featuring a ton of players, including Alann “Hotpocket” Herrera, Daniel Flaherty, Zac Rubino, Michael Ferdico, Keiran Cooper, Ernest Kahn, and more.
2014 US National YoYo Champion Zac Rubino got in some filming recently…check out the cleanest one-minute of solid offstring play you’re going to see all month.
Yoyo used is the Duncan Skyhawk.
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.)
Did you expect to win?
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.
What was your practice schedule like?
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.
What were some goals that you hoped to accomplish with your freestyle?
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.
In your opinion, what separated your freestyle from others that were presented on stage?
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.
What yoyo did you use in your freestyle?
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
Aside from yourself, who else would you have liked to see win?
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.
What title do you plan on snagging next?
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.
What other non-contest related yoyo endeavors do you have planned for the near future?
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.
Gentry Stein and Zac Rubino spent the summer in Japan, working at YoYo Store Rewind and touring around the country to promote modern yoyoing. They each made their own clip videos to remember the trip…check ’em out!
I had an amazing time in Japan. So many amazing places were seen including Inuyama Castle which is where we filmed this video. This was one project I worked on during my time in Japan, and I hope you enjoy getting a taste of what my experience was like here. Thank you REWIND!
– Gentry Stein
Here is a video I made while on my trip in Japan. The location is at the Inuyama castle. I had an amazing time in Japan with memories to last a life time. Thank you Rewind!
– Zac Rubino
REWIND TV Worldwide, a live video stream from Rewind HQ in Japan, will be live on Friday night with special guests Zac Rubino of Duncan Crew and Gentry Stein of Team YoYoFactory. Viewers will get an exclusive behind the scenes look at their summer Japan Tour, their yo-yo recommendations, and more. The live stream starts Friday, July 18th at 11 pm EST (that’s 7 pm PST, and in Japan it’s 11 am on July 19th). Hit the link below on Friday night to watch!
Duncan Toys has announced that offstring champion Zac Rubino has joined the Duncan Crew! Congratulations to Zac and Duncan! Check out their official statement below.
Welcome to the team, Zac Rubino!!!
He’s the reigning California State Champion and he’s the reigning BAC Champion. But most importantly, he’s the reigning “Everything That’s Good in the Offstring Division” Champion.
Notable for his seamless blend of technical combos and risky bangers, Zac is the man to watch.
His BAC routine was flawless. The contest may have been outside and in the wind, but that didn’t matter. Nothing could stop him. Nailing risky regens and risky combos without ever missing a beat to his background track, he left many in the audience scratching their heads and asking “How the heck did he do that”?
Zach is stationed in Japan right now, training alongside the local yo-yo crews, bringing a new influence to his distinctly bold, Californian style. He will be touring the country for one month before hopping on a plane bound for Prague, where he will compete as one of the favorites for a shiny medal at the World Yo-Yo Contest.
When he’s not globetrotting, Zac is a true hometown hero. An amazing player and an amazing person, Zac teaches the ranks of new yo-yo players every weekend in Chico, CA. While we may miss him stateside, we can’t wait to watch the big things he’ll be doing this summer all around the world.
We are proud to have Zac on the team and we wish him luck this summer!
The 2013 US National YoYo Contest wrapped up this past weekend, and YoYoNews is looking back at each division and bringing you post-contest analysis.
The 4A division at the US National Yo-Yo Competition saw a complete turn around from the World competition; routine after routine left you thinking, ‘hmm… that could take the cup’, which is just what the division needed. The youngsters like Alex Lee, Julian Guaurner and Stephanie Haight had some trouble on stage losing quite a few yo-yos but each still showed lots of promise and they gained much needed experience on the center stage. The present top players in this division are strong and the future looks bright.
Flawless. That is what it took to win the 2013 National Yo-Yo Contest in offstring. There is a winner every year but there aren’t flawless routines every year. Ian Johnson entered the history books on Saturday with a routine that had zero minor deductions and zero major deductions–three minutes of flawless yoyoing in front of a huge crowd in Chico on the United States’ biggest stage. His routine had technically difficult tricks, flashy bangers and perfectly timed music cues. Ian’s routine was constructed so well and really speaks to his experience on the big stage. After Ian’s first two minutes looked dead locked with Bryan and Zac, his final minute continued to rise when Zac and Bryan’s final minutes had some difficulties albeit extremely, emphasis on extremely, minor ones but that was all it took to lose pace with the eventual champion. Ian was smiling and it was obvious from the crowd he was having fun on stage while hitting a routine he won’t ever forget–something that, at it’s core, is what the sport of yo-yo is all about–having fun.
Zac Rubino had the best routine of his life and showed everyone what he is capable of; he proved he is world class, right there with Ian, Bryan and Michael. Add in Ben Conde and the United States has a scary top 5 when on their game. Zac came out hot hitting banger after banger, technical combo after technical combo and looked like he was going to take the title home for Chico and he finished very strong. His routine was topped only by a flawless routine which speaks to the quality of his. Additionally, Zac has worked quite a bit on his choreography and overall structure of his routine and definitely proved me wrong when saying he has difficulty outside. On almost any other day, Zac walks home with a cup with that routine and should be very proud of the show he put on.
Finally rounding out the top three, Michael Nakamura came out with another beautiful routine to follow up his World Champion routine. He topped even Ian in his technical score which speaks to how dangerous he can be when he goes even cleaner but with a few drops and miscues, third was a pretty solid finish and probably the best he was going to finish after all the routines were completed. Michael may leave disappointed but absolutely backed up his World title and will continue to be a top contender in international competitions.
Ben Conde was also right there hitting one his cleanest routines through the first two minutes but had a few drops in the end. Ben always brings a great show and will always remain at the top of the division when it comes to innovation. It will be Ben’s time one of these days but this Saturday was not quite it.
Bryan came out with a strong routine that looked much more polished than his World routine and when Zac and Michael were announced in second and third, it looked like maybe Bryan managed to return to the top. Ian took down the six time defending champion Bryan Figueroa, who earned the admiration of the entire yo-yo community for accomplishing six years of dominance and creating the essence of excellence that the American offstring scene is now defined by. Bryan IS what it means to be a champion and while he did not finish at the top this weekend, he will always have the respect of every offstring player in the United States; but this weekend was Ian Johnson’s–perhaps a passing of the torch.
2013 US National YoYo Contest – 4A Division Winners
2nd Place – Zac Rubino
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.
1st – TIE!! – Gentry Stein & Luis Enrique
3rd – Paul Kerbel
1st – Joseph Harris
2nd – Patrick Mitchell
3rd – Yoshi Mikamoto
1st – Eric Tran-ton
2nd – Elliot Ogawa
3rd – Patrick Borgerding
1st – Michael Nakamura
2nd – Bryan Figueroa
3rd – Zac Rubino
1st – Tyler Severance
2nd – Josh Yee
3rd – Elliot Jackson
Congratulations to Gentry Stein, the 2013 California State YoYo Champion!
1A Division (Single YoYo)
1st Place – Gentry Stein (YoYoFactory)
2nd Place – Zach Gormley (CLYW)
3rd Place – Charles Haycock (CLYW)
2A Division (Double YoYo Looping)
1st Place – Joseph Harris (YoYoJam)
2nd Place – Shane Karan
3rd Place – Yoshi Mikamoto (YoYoJam)
3A Division (Double YoYo String)
1st Place – Patrick Borgerding (YoYoFactory)
2nd Place – Yoshi Mikamoto (YoYoJam)
3rd Place – Ian Smith
4A Division (Offstring)
1st Place – Bryan Figueroa (YoYoJam)
2nd Place – Zac Rubino
3rd Place – Steven Lee
5A Division (Counterweight)
1st Place – Tyler Severance (YoYoFactory)
2nd Place – Paolo Bueno (YoYoFactory)
3rd Place – Josh Yee
Fixed Axle Championship
1st Place – CJ Atkinson
2nd Place – Josh Yee
3rd Place – Blake Freeman