Five Things That Are Awesome About the 2106 International Yo-Yo Slam Now Happening in Cleveland, In Ascending Order Of Awesomeness

5. Don't Call it a Contest!

It's a slam, thank you very much. The word "slam" makes a promise that you'd think a bunch of folks twirling a hockey puck on a string could never cash. You'd be very wrong. They — this — is deeply impressive.

4. Fashion! Fashion! Fashion!

RED CARPET REPORTER: "Who are you wearing?"

PRETTY MUCH EVERY CONTESTANT: "I was delighted to be dressed today by Shirt I Grabbed Off Floor of Dorm Room."

3. Choreography!

The music — Pitbull! Adele! Indistinguishable Shuddering Internal-Organ-Liquefying EDM!— is everything, and yet ... intriguingly incidental. It often begins and ends before and after the contestants do which, believe it or not, never breaks the spell, it just makes everything about this whole state of affairs all more charming and earnest and nerdy and great.

2. Judging!

Three stern, implacable, po-faced arbiters of yo-yo excellence decide each contestant's fate. They are fittingly serious about their calling, because the rules are many, and detailed, and inviolate.

Follow that link and you will learn that there is also, of course, a deep and admirably rigid taxonomy of tricks, which include but are not limited to:

  • Mount (Trapeze)
  • Hop (Eli Hop)
  • Laceration (hook)
  • Release Catch (Suicide Catch)
  • Whip Catch (Iron Whip, Slack Trapeze)
  • Moon (Reach for the Moon, Planet Hop)
  • Rolls (Velvet Rolls)
  • Kink (Kink Fu)
  • Looping Tangler Without Mounting
  • Propeller Bee-Sting Aerial (Meltdown Jump)
  • Recapture Boingy Boingy Toss Orbit

Again, that last one: Recapture Boingy Boingy Toss Orbit. Say it soft and it's almost like praying.

As for the judges' criteria:

There's Technical Execution (T.Ex), the Succession, Difficulty, Risk and Variation of each trick. That's 60% of the score.

Then there's Technical Evaluation (T.Ev), which takes into account Cleanliness, Variation, Rareness and Execution. That's 20%.

And finally, there's Performance Evaluation (P.Ev), which is all about Music Use(!), Body Control, Space Use, and Showmanship. Another 20%.

1. Inevitability!

Yesterday there was magical moment when a dude with a manbun wrapped the yo-yo around his manbun. You have to take my word on that, as the livestream isn't archived anywhere yet, but that's perhaps the best reason to watch.

Such fleeting, ephemeral moments as Manbun Guy occur often as one watches the competition, and when they do, the universe heaves a contented sigh. Yes, it seems to say. So it was ordained, and so it has come to pass. It is good.

And then ... it is gone.

One thing, and one thing alone, could make this whole thing even more exciting. And that, of course, would have been a visit from Kenny Strasser the Yo-Yo Master.

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