2022 USA National Yoyo Contest

by Jeffrey Pang July 02, 2022

2022 USA National Yoyo Contest

After two and a half years of Covid restrictions and such, there was finally a yoyo contest I could go to. I knew a lot of my friends would go so I booked my tickets fairly quickly. I was definitely out of practice from flying all over - I actually almost missed my connecting flight due to a delay in my flight from Toronto. Luckily I made it. I didn't know what to expect since I figured people might still be hesitant to go out to an event this big. I was ready for it though. 
 yoyo contest 2022 nationals

What I wasn't ready for was how hot Arizona was. It was already over 100 degrees there, and coming from Canada I felt like I was going to die. Luckily the hotel was at the same place as the event and it had icy cold AC. It really felt like a Florida Rosen Plaza worlds again where everyone was at the same place. I have to apologize because I didn't take many photos at all - I was so focused on filming the video. So sorry if these kind of suck haha.

I met up with Brandon Vu and Evan - both were friends but I actually didn't have a lot of time to interact with them in the past. Evan especially - last I saw him was PNWR in 2017 and we talked for maybe 20 minutes max. With Brandon I actually helped him with design work in the past, so we called often. Sometimes I'd call him just to rant about stuff - so it was weird since I felt like we had met before but in reality I don't think we ever have.

These were photos from the first day of the event - we went out for lunch at this burger place Ben introduced us to. We visited Yoyofactory and that's where I met up with Angelo, Ando, Gentry and a few others that I had seen in the past. For some reason though this contest felt a bit more intimate than others. It was nice to actually talk to people and get to know them on a more personal level.
A good example was talking to John Ando. I actually saw him win worlds in 2008, but never talked to him until EYYC in 2016. I vividly remember EYYC having so many people that year it was hard to have a nice sit down to chat with people one on one. At Yoyofactory, it was really nice to be able to chat with Ando, about his ideas with the Ando collection of Yoyofactory - his design aesthetics turned out to be very similar to what I enjoy myself. We had this conversation about why yoyoers tend to get along so well and we came to the realization it kind of takes a specific type of personality to get obsessed with this hobby, usually a combination of intellect but also open minded type and somewhat silly personality. I did very much agree I become friends with almost all yoyo people I meet.

I had conversations with a lot of my other friends too, it was just so nice to be able to have a space to have these deeper conversations to figure out who people actually are in the community even what they do outside of yoyoing. I got a chance to drive Gentry's Nismo 370z which was a lot of fun, had drinks with a whole slew of people I looked up to, learned some new trick ideas. I actually think this is one of the best contests I have been to in my life. Just the vibe of it was really different - you can just feel people were so happy to see each other after being stuck inside for so many years, and appreciate peoples company. 
When the competition started, I sat right front and center in front of the judges to take video and photos. I love hearing the bearings hiss over the music, something about that isn't caught in videos. When you're up front, you can see everything - when competitors are nervous and slightly shaking, or the way they prepare their back up yoyos, the sounds of people slightly singing along to their routine while they are doing insane combos. You can just tell they are in a world of their own, and being able to experience that again in such a raw way was very enjoyable. I spent more time watching then shooting content, but I did capture Evan's freestyle from my point of view. Excuse the yelling haha. 

One funny story that happened was that I bought this "King of Nationals" wooden yoyo for $20. Gentry organized this, and the idea was that all the money went into a prize pool. There would be a competition on stage with this fixed axle yoyo everyone bought. I remember I bought it just because its a nice looking yoyo, not thinking Id compete. When they were calling the competitors on stage, I was at the yoyoexpert booth at the time and I looked at Eric and said "hey, if anyone can win this it's probably you" and I threw him the yoyo. I jokingly said to give me half the money if he won. Truth be told, I actually did think only him, Mark Allen, or Dazzling Dave would win since they all throw fixed axle yoyos on a regular.

$605 is what Eric walked away with, hitting tricks like the suicide and finally an offstring throw and whip. When he hit it the crowd went crazy. That night we decided to just buy everyone dinner. It was epic. And I got to keep a yoyo with a pretty amazing story. Only got this one shitty cellphone photo of us and the money haha. He eventually signed the yoyo too and I got to bring it home. 

On the final night, everyone hung out outside where it was actually cool enough to yoyo. Everyone was pretty drunk, and the vibes were really good. I'll let the photos speak for themselves.

If you want to watch the video I filmed you can see it here:

Thanks for the good times, and thanks for everyone who came up to me and complimented my work. It's been a weird couple of years. Hopefully there will be more events in the future.

Jeffrey Pang
Jeffrey Pang


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