US Player Wins World Yoyo Contest with Crazy “Off-Hand” Style Play

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At the annual World Yoyo Contest - which was held this year in Japan from August 13-17 - Michigan native and YoYoTricks.com Team Member Jake Elliott pulled off the most narrow victory in world yoyo competition history, edging out the six-time world yoyo champion from Japan to bring the title back to the US for the first time since 2007.

Jake Elliott's "Freehand" Style Yoyoing

Jake Elliott's World Winning Yoyo Performance

In the end innovation, determination, and execution all came together to make the unlikely possible, as the World Yoyo Title now is back in the hands of the United States.

At the annual World Yoyo Contest - which was held this year in Japan from August 13-17 - Michigan native Jake Elliott pulled off the most narrow victory in world yoyo history. In the exciting “Freehand” style of yoyo play, where the yoyo is not attached to the player’s finger, Elliott edged out the six-time world yoyo champion from Japan, bringing the title back to the US for the first time since 2007.

Modern Yoyoing: More Sport than Toy

While people have been swinging yoyos for thousands of years, several revolutions in yoyo play and design have turned this national past time into a bonafide sport. This year the World Yoyo Contest in Japan drew over 500 registrations from contestants from 30 different countries. The winners are judged by a panel of veteran players who rate them according to nine criteria, ranging from technical execution to showmanship. A champion must know how to move both the yoyo and the audience to win.

A Victory Worthy of Rocky Balboa

In order to win, Jake Elliott had to overcome yoyo legend Takeshi Matsuura. Takeshi has dominated the Freehand division at the World Contest since 2008. In the yoyo world he is the equivalent of snowboarder Shaun White, or olympic swimmer Michael Phelps. Yoyoers know Takeshi as a fierce competitor who consistently wins by wide margins, and who routinely reinvents his tricks and style from scratch to intimidate and wow the best players in the world.

Like Rocky defeating the Russian, Jake had to meet Takeshi on his own turf in Japan. Battling jet lag and unusual surroundings, he had to rely on the 4-6 daily hours of practice he had put in since losing to Takeshi in 2014. While most players cannot afford to devote this much time to yoyo practice, for Jake yo-yoing is also part of his job. He works full time for YoYoTricks.com where he makes videos teaching yoyo tricks online.

The Path to Victory

Every day Jake wakes up at 4:30 AM. The quiet morning hours help him focus on practicing his routine and creating new tricks. Leaving nothing to chance, Jake developed his own blend of yoyo string that he makes by hand. Since the yoyo is not connected to his finger, a counterweight is attached to the end of the string, which can be manipulated separate from the yoyo. Jake also designed his own counterweight which includes a ball bearing to reduce string tension.

Using his contacts through YoYoTricks.com, Jake, a licensed machinist, has been working with various yoyo designers for the past year to create a machined aluminum yoyo that can maximize his potential. In the end he settled on a yoyo design featuring a “super-wide” profile, which helped to make his execution of risky tricks more consistent. He decided to name this yoyo the Atlas.

A Narrow Win

The first time Jake stepped on the World stage in 2015 was in the semi-final round. A mistake on his first throw killed the yoyo’s spin, threatening to derail his path to victory. With the clock ticking down he quickly restarted and landed the rest of his routine well enough to earn a spot among the top ten players who would compete in finals.

In the final round Jake performed a nearly flawless routine as the crowed responded with gasps of awe and shouts of excitement. The final score showed that Jake’s tricks were the most innovative of the contest, and the most expertly executed. Nevertheless, Takeshi’s “technical” score bested Jake’s, giving their overall scores a near mathematical match. To decide the winner the judges had to calculate their scores down to the hundredth of a point. In the end Jake was declared the winner by .03 points, on a scale of 100 total points, the most narrow victory in World Yoyo Contest History.

In the end innovation, determination, and execution all came together to make the unlikely possible, as the World Yoyo Title now is back in the hands of the United States.

Learn to yoyo from Jake on YoYoTricks.com and watch his winning routine.

About YoYoTricks.com

YoYoTricks.com was founded in 2008 with the goal of becoming the largest and best online resource for learning how to yoyo. Today YoYoTricks.com has nearly 300 yoyo related videos and a wide selection of the best yoyos and yoyo related products for sale. It continues to grow each day with the help and support of its viewers and customers. For more information on Jake Elliott or to learn to yoyo visit YoYoTricks.com

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Adam Bottiglia
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