Yo-yo : Competitions Home Back

Who's the best?

Although not something that everyone enjoys, competitions play a signficant part in the yo-yo community.  As well as providing a focus for events and meet-ups, they also encourage players to develop their own skills and creativity.  Listed below are some of the competition formats that you might find at a yo-yo event.  The exact rules and format of any particular event will be set by the organisers.  So, if you're hoping to compete, make sure you find out the rules for that specific competition - don't assume they're always going to be the same!

Sleep Endurance One of the oldest and simplest forms of yo-yo competition, this simply requires all contestants to throw a sleeper on a given cue, perhaps after a countdown.  The yo-yo that remains spinning for the longest time is the winner.  It's (usually) not required that the yo-yo returns to the hand - instead, it can be allowed to just 'die'.  To make such a contest worthwhile, there may be a restriction on the type of yo-yos used.
Looping Endurance Another old favourite.  This time, on a given cue, all contestants start to perform sequential inside loops.  The person that remains looping longest is the winner.  This format can be easily adapted to use other suitable repeating tricks, such as Reach For The Moon, Hop The Fence or even, I guess, two-handed techniques such as Kuru Kuru.
Tricks per throw This variation requires each contest to throw a sleeper, then perform a given trick (say, Iron Whip) as many times as possible until either they get the trick wrong or the yo-yo stops spinning.  Unlike the Endurance events listed above, each player takes their turn individually and is adjudicated.
Trick Ladder This adjudicated event requires each contestant to work their way through a defined list of tricks that have been ordered by difficulty.  There will probably be at least 20 tricks in any such ladder.  Depending on the format of the event, players get either one or two chances at each trick.  If a trick is completed successfully, with the yo-yo cleanly returning to the hand, the player then gets to perform the next trick in the list.  If a trick fails, the player is out of the contest.  The player that gets furthest through the list is then declared the winner. Variations on the rules can include a single 'allowed miss' or 'opt out'.  This form of contest can be made quite appealing to an audience if several players are attempting the same trick at the same time, as this can create a sense of rivalry and tension that otherwise might be absent.  Although the Trick Ladder format is often aimed towards beginner/intermediate level players, there's no reason why it can't be adapted to any skill level.
Compulsories In some ways similar to Trick Ladder, this format also involves players having to work through a pre-defined list of tricks.  Here, though, the list tends to be much shorter - perhaps only 10 tricks - but players are expected to attempt them all, regardless of whether they've previously failed an attempt.  Points are awarded for each trick successfully performed.  In competitions where players are allowed two attempts at any one trick, less points are given for a successful second attempt.  At the end of the contest, the player scoring the most points is the winner.  If there is a draw, a tie-breaker round is often used.  In major competitions, Compulsories are usually paired with Freestyles (see separate paragraph).
Time Challenge In yet another variation of the trick-list idea, contestants are timed as they perform a set list of tricks in order.  The person that manages to complete all of the tricks in the fastest time is then declared the winnner.
Freestyles This is currently the most interesting and challenging of the contest formats.  Players are given a set time, typically three minutes, to perform the most impressive succession of tricks that they can manage, usually to a musical accompaniment.  The routine is then evaluated by one or more judges, with points being given for the number of tricks attempted, difficulty, originality and also for style and performance.  At major competitions, separate Freestyle events will be held for each of the five major playing styles ('A','AA','AAA','OS','CW' - see my Styles page).  Smaller events may instead choose to adopt an 'X' (all styles except 'A' and 'AA') or 'Y' (all styles except 'A') format.
Artistic Performance This is a variation of the Freestyle format where artistic merit is judged over technical ability, the only real restriction being that the entry must actually use yo-yos!  From a spectator's point of view, this is potentially the most interesting form of competition.
Best Trick A fairly informal contest format, where each contestant gets to present their best single trick.  A judging panel, or even the crowd, then choose their favourite. 
Throwdown This is a one-on-one format inspired by breakdancing 'battles'.  In each round, two players try to out-perform each other, the winner most likely being judged by the crowd.  Winners from each round then face each other in successive rounds until an ultimate victor is found.  Throwdowns are usually restricted to a single style of play - thus a 'AAA Throwdown' or 'Fixed Axle Throwdown'.
Competitive Modding Yes, even modders (i.e. yo-yo designers) have their own contest.  In this, each modder submits a scratch-built or modified yo-yo for inspection by a judging panel.  The most impressive or creative entry then wins out.
Video Contests The production of clip videos has become a significant part of yo-yo culture.  It's not surprising, then, that there have been competitions to produce the best video.  As in the Modding competition, this is just a case of competitors submitting their entries to a judging panel and awaiting a decision.

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