Here’s a good look at the new Pulsefire SS in the hands of some really solid players! Featuring Anthony Rojas, Tyler Hsieh, James Reed and Michael Nakamura.
We’ve got official video of the winners from the 2014 Las Vegas Open YoYo Championship! Subscribe to our YouTube channel for the rest of the freestyles as they’re uploaded.
1st Place – Ky Zizan
2nd Place – Andrew Maider
3rd Place – Anthony Rojas
1st Place – Joseph Harris
1st Place – Hank Freeman
1st Place – Michael Nakamura
1st Place – Jake Elliott
Michael Nakamura is a player well known for both his 1A and 4A skill, recently taking both the 1A and 4A titled at PNWR 2014 as well at the 4A title at the 2013 World YoYo Contest. I had the chance to interview Michael and discuss contests, tricks, his start in yoyoing, and more!
Michael, as an extremely skilled 4A and 1A player, the current 4A World YoYo Champion, and recently taking 1st in both 1A and 4A at PNWR 2014, you’ve definitely left a mark on yoyoing. How did you first pick up a yoyo?
I got my first yoyo in 2009. After coming across of one of Hiroyuki Suzuki’s Japan National’s videos, I was influenced to also start learning how to yoyo so I started learning through the tutorials on YoYoExpert.
I would definitely say you progressed quickly! How did you get integrated into the actual yoyo scene?
I attended my first yoyo event in the 2010 DXL yoyo battle where I made friends with most of the people I know today. Then I did my first real freestyle at 2011 SoCal yoyo contest where I got 2nd in the Open division.
That’s pretty impressive for your first real freestyle. Did you start with 1A or 4A at first?
I started with 1A, but I quickly took an interest in 4A because I was formerly a diabolo player before I started yoyoing.
Who was influencing your yoyoing early on?
Some of my main 1A inspirations when I started were Hiroyuki Suzuki and Eric Koloski. As for 4A, I had been a big fan of Rei Iwakura.
What’s your process like with coming up with tricks for freestyles?
For 1A, I usually try to think of a movement that I think would look cool and fit it into my combo somehow.
Do you have a similar method for both 1A and 4A?
In 4A, I would sort of convert tricks from other styles and use it in 4A.
I think those methods work well for both styles. Touching more on the contests we mentioned earlier, how long do you usually prepare for a contest that you know you’re going to compete in?
When there’s an upcoming contest, I usually practice really hard weeks in advance, but when the contest gets nearer I chill out to prevent tiring myself out before the day of the contest.
How do you put together your freestyles?
I would usually find songs that have a nice rhythm that could fit my faster tricks. For my bigger tricks, I would match them with key portions of the song that seem to fit. But my process of making a freestyle varies depending on the contest.
Did you think you would take 1st in 1A and 4A at PNWR recently?
Because I focus on 4A, I felt I had a good chance at 4A. Winning 1A was definitely a surprise because I’ve never really placed high in 1A very often.
Were you nervous before getting on stage?
With the exception of some small contests, I always get nervous before I get on stage. But, somehow when I’m on stage it starts to go away.
Who are some of your favorites to watch compete?
I usually like to watch Bryan Figueroa, Hiroyuki Suzuki, Christopher Chia, and Takeshi Matsuura.
Besides winning two divisions at PNWR, what else can we expect to see from you in 2014?
You can definitely expect to see me at Worlds, and I’m gonna be trying to make my 1A more serious this year.
I definitely think you have what it takes after that PNWR win. What’s some advice you could share for any aspiring champions out there?
I’d definitely have to say that while it’s important to practice hard, it’s about making the most out of the practice you put in.
I totally agree, I personally like seeing someone prove that they’ve worked their hardest on what they’re doing and making the most out of what you practice is a great way to do that. Thanks for the interview, Michael!
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.
The final regional competition of the 2013 United States National Yo-Yo Contest qualification process finished up on Saturday and we have the full results. The contest was a great success with an improvement in the judging and an increased attendance from the previous year. We will update the 2013 Semi-Finals for the National Contest, check here.
On to the results,
In 5A, National Champion Tyler Severance took the seed and looks to defend his title in the next three weeks. Paolo Bueno, 1A juggernaut, who is heavily influenced by Tyler in 5A, took second and closed the gap from the last contests he has competed against Tyler. Finally, Shannon Jackson of Arizona, loved by many and a consistent name in 5A, qualified for Nationals and took the third place honors.
- Tyler Severance
- Paolo Bueno
- Shannon Jackson
- Michael Nakamura
- Dylan Benharris
- Ryan Gee
- Ryan Ayes
- Newman Becker
4A saw World Champion Michael Nakamura easily take top the spot despite a few (wind-aided) errors. Up and coming youngest Julian Grunauer took home second place with an extremely clean first half of his routine; with more and more experience, look for Julian to finish stronger with a clean second half in contests in the future. Finally, Stephanie Haight took home the third spot home and bolsters YoYoJams 4A roster and more young talent.
- Michael Nakamura
- Julian Grunauer
- Stephanie Haight
- Ty Goldman
- Yusuke Moriki
- Ryan Ayers
- Newman Becker
3A pitted #2 and #4 from last month’s 2013 World YoYo Contest against each other and Alex Hattori won this time around with a great routine. Continuing his trend of ultra clean routines, Alex has put together 5 minutes of near flawless yo-yoing and has had a strong 2013 after a rough 2012. Look for Alex to be a huge contender going into the 2013 US National YoYo Contest. Patrick Borgerding had a relatively clean routine sans an extremely long switch out after an ugly knot. Yoshi Mikamoto edged out Newman Becker for third place. Newman has been steadily improving his 3A and looks stronger and stronger each year.
- Alex Hattori
- Patrick Borgerding
- Yoshi Mikamoto
- Newman Becker
National Champion Patrick Mitchell won despite an exploded yo-yo and a restart–testimony to his skill and he looks poised to defend his title this year. 2A veteran Yoshi Mikamoto took second honors and nearly edged out the National Champion. Finally, Yususke Moriki took home third place–everyone’s favorite jokester and always entertaining 2A player.
- Patrick Mitchell
- Yoshi Mikamoto
- Yusuke Moriki
- John Huber
- Path Yath
This year saw the addition of the rookie 1A division, a trend that many contests are now adopting, which was a good opportunity for the next generation to get on center stage. It is always awesome to see how fast everyone is improving and growing!
- Ryan Lagrou
- Lucas Madison
- James Martin
- McCando Kao
- Jose Pineda
- Spencer Rawnsley
- Daniel Walling
- Elijah Ortencio
Anthony Rojas. Look out. He is a clean three minutes from being the US representative at the 2014 World YoYo Contest in Prague next year. A beautiful display of control and innovation with a hint of artistry and even a bit of swagger (brush your shoulder…). Anthony is a definitely the biggest crowd favorite in the US–last year at the National Contest when Anthony switched out there was an audible sigh of sadness from the crowd. In second, 4A Champion Michael Nakamura proved he should be considered a threat on all fronts. He has improved drastically even since Worlds and will make a run at qualifying again for the finals after his finaling at Worlds. Finally, Paolo Bueno took home third with yet another extremely innovative routine with his (becoming) trademark 3D tricks. He continues to improve and will certainly be a threat for the 2014 World title after a very strong year this year.
- Anthony Rojas
- Michael Nakamura
- Paolo Bueno
- Paul Dang
- Wilson Van Gundy
- Eric Koloski
- Ty Goldman
- Keiran Cooper
- David Ung
- Clint Armstrong
- Yusuke Moriki
- Dylan Benharris
- Tyler Goldenberg
- John Huber
- Ryan Gee
- Matt Leoun
- Paul Yath
Thank you for a great event and see you next year!
Tonight on YoYoRadio:
– 2013 World YoYo Champion (4A) Michael Nakamura talks about the current state of 4A. And probably something else, too.
– Stu Brown from Werrd will be talking about the massive amount of new yoyos and content coming from Werrd, and new members of the Alliance team.
– Joe Mitchell will mispronounce something.
Tune in tonight at 9:30 PM EST at YoYoRadio.net, and listen live!
2013 World YoYo Contest – 1A Division – 1st Place – Janos Karancz
2013 World YoYo Contest – 2A Division – 1st Place – Takuma Yamamoto
2013 World YoYo Contest – 3A Division – 1st Place – Hank Freeman
2013 World YoYo Contest – 4A Division – 1st Place – Michael Nakamura
2013 World YoYo Contest – 5A Division – 1st Place – Takeshi Matsuura
2013 World YoYo Contest – AP Division – 1st Place – Spination
This video is recommended for audiences 18 years and older.
Youtube version here.
Because it is my regional contest, The Bay Area Classic is dear to my heart. Currently held in San Francisco, CA, the BAC always manages to bring together many of the world’s greatest players.
Since I personally never compete, I am always a spectator on the sidelines. I don’t mind this. In fact, I embrace it. Very rarely do you see me without my trusty camera. Since 1998, I have shot video at pretty much every yoyo event I’ve gone to. Some people have said that my work has documented the growth and change of yoyoing over the past 15 years. While I don’t feel I’m worthy of such high praise, I do feel that my videos have made a large impact in the yoyo community. That is why when the BAC committee asked me if I was willing to help shoot freestyles for the event, I gladly accepted. This acceptance, however, came with a downside.
This year, BAC ran freestyles throughout the day (as opposed to the end of the day). While this made everything run much smoother, it meant that I was unable to film tricks for a clip video since I would be busy with freestyles all day. I was pretty bummed, as I really enjoy making clip videos. So, to get my “documenting fix” in, I decided to shoot photographs and maybe hope that I could grab some good video footage at the Official BAC BBQ on Sunday.
My initial video plan was to make a video that showed people hanging out at the BAC BBQ. I wanted to make a sequel to last year’s BAC video, but this time focus on the players themselves, instead of their tricks. I wanted to show all of us hanging out, laughing, having a good time, making up and sharing tricks, and relaxing after a tough competition. This was the plan until I got home and realized that the photos I had taken all weekend showed a much more interesting story.
Over the course of the weekend, I shot approximately 2000 photos using a combination of my iPhone, Lumix LX7, and Sony NEX-5N using (primarily) a 8mm fisheye. If you were in my vicinity at any point this weekend, odds are I took your picture.
Inspired by Kohta’s EYYC 2012 video, this BAC 2013 video shows a different side of the contest filled with friends, family, spirits, camaraderie, yoyoing, and kendama.
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