It’s a New Day for Yo-Yo Contests!

Many of you that have read some of my earlier articles know I’ve been a big proponent of changing the current conventional approach to Yo-yo competitions.
In an effort to make yo-yoing competitions better, we’ve come up with a new, and really exciting approach to a new kind of contest.
It’s called Live Yo-Yo Scoring System (LYS).
The way LYS works is simple, everyone in the audience is a judge. Scoring is done on your phone. You log into the LYSS website and vote for each player during or immediately after their performance. Scores are posted as they come in. 
The main point of making this change is to boost the growth and development of yo-yoing. Particularly yo-yo contests. Right now yo-yo contests are very exclusive there are too many barriers for the general public to participate. LYS system encourages people to be active members of the audience and community, even if they are not yo-yo experts.
The audience picks the winners. This will be make the event a lot more interesting, a lot more transparent, faster moving and overall a more exciting event. Contests are going to become fast moving, fun, and get the audience totally engaged. 
We think this will have a positive impact on the performances themselves. Things that might be considered under LYSS, which don’t currently factor into scoring are, stage presence, creativity in all aspects of the performer and the routine; it’s not just about the tricks. Although there is no way to wow and audience better than an awesome well executed trick combination. But in addition, anything and everything that you think will impact how much a person enjoys your routine can be considered in the scoring.
Bias in scoring will also be mitigated. While you may get people voting for their friends, they will also be scoring all other performers. People don’t pick a single winner, they score all the players. One common complaint by participants at yo-yo contests is “the scoring was unfair,” or “the judges were biased,” or the judges were just really “bad.” While I think most judges do a great job, there certainly is the appearance of bias where judges and some players have relationships. The yo-yo world is not very big, and many players and judges have known each other for years. It’s hard to say that never factors into scoring.
So how will this impact the player routines? Well, that remains to be seen. Instead of just impressing a panel of judges on the yo-yo tricks exclusively, you need to impress an entire audience. Many of which are yo-yo experts, players, other contestants, and just spectators. Will the same kind of routine that won a contest under the old way of scoring do as well under LYSS? Certainly amazing yo-yoing is what the audience is there to see. But they also want to be wowed. Maybe players clothes makes a difference, or the speed, or moving to the music. 
There are some rules. But they leave lots of room for creativity. Obviously time limits are necessary. Voting audience members will need to check in prior to voting. No props allowed, this is to avoid players being too creative, such as doing their routine standing on the back of pony. While it would be a crowd pleaser, it gets away from the main focus, which is yo-yoing. 
This contest will have three divisions. Traditional (1A), Off-String (4A), and an Open Division (2A,3A, 5A). 
Since this is a very new and different kind of contest, it will be criticized by some. We anticipate issues that will need to be ironed out, for example, what if the audiences just votes for their friends. This may be true, but we will take some precautions to try to avoid the impact of this kind of behavior. If this becomes a bigger issue, we will look into some more safeguards. Albeit, this is also a criticism of the current judging system, where judges are accused favoring their friends.
Another criticism we anticipate is that audiences will not have the same yo-yoing expertise that judges currently do. This is true. But I will share my experience from being a contest organizer. Seeing the scores from individual judges, that the public never sees, I can tell you, judges are all over the place with scoring. I sometimes wonder if two judges were watching the same contest. That being said, I do think it will change the way yo-yoers perform in the contests. As I said earlier, the appeal needs to be to the whole audience, not just a few judges.
So where and when will this new era in yo-yo contests begin? We decided to make the transition at The New York Yo-Yo Championships in Rochester New York on September 19, 2015. Mark your calendars. This is the day that a new age in yo-yo contests begins. 
Expect some bumps in the road, but if you want to be a part of this historic competition, we will see you in Rochester.



Mitch is the Editor-in-Chief of He is also the owner of YoYoSam, yoyo Zeekio, and Bahama Kendama. He is avid yo-yo collector and skill toy enthusiast in a BIG way.

'It’s a New Day for Yo-Yo Contests!' have 5 comments

  1. July 31, 2015 @ 2:22 pm Adam Brewster

    Yeah, my biggest question echoes Doc’s question.

    What’s to stop people in the crowd from only voting on freestyles that they care about and leaving a bunch of good players without any scores at all?


  2. July 30, 2015 @ 7:30 pm Doctor Popular

    This sounds like an interesting idea. I’m excited to see how it turns out. I think adding more judges always helps get the most consistent results. I read the post and have a few questions:

    What are the criteria the audience will be judging on? Will they each have clickers (or some sort of app that does the same feature)? Or will it be more subjective (ie “rate this player’s performance on a scale of 1-10”)?

    At your typical yo-yo event, the crowd tends to ebb and flow. Especially when a well known player is on stage. How will you make sure everyone is paying attention during all of the freestyles? If you aren’t making sure of that, then will the rankings be averaged out so that all players are being judged consistently, even if the crowd wasn’t paying attention?

    Will judges only be people with certain types of mobile devices? What about connectivity issues (especially when everyone is trying to use the site)?

    Will there be some sort of records to ensure all scores where entered correctly? In the current system, there is a paper trail that can be checked and double checked. Will this new system allow everyone to ensure the proper score was entered for the proper player? It’d be a shame for a glitch or computer error to affect the results.


    • July 30, 2015 @ 10:19 pm yoyoskills

      All good questions. I will be posting another article with more details. Some of them we are still working out. But in general, the scoring system will be sound. We will be using a service that specializes in just this kind of scoring.


    • August 3, 2015 @ 10:44 am yoyoskills

      Doc, thanks for your comments. I’ll do my best to address the. Since this is the first time we’re doing this, we will certainly run into issue, but hopefully we can anticipate enough of them to make this a smooth contest. Some of the questions were answered in a later article, More about the LYS system, but some were not. All the scoring will be, 1-10, we will give suggestions of what they might want to look for in the scoring, but ultimately it is subjective. It will be a very different result than the NYYL way of scoring. Again, the goal is to have a different kind of contest, with a different result, and more enjoyment for the audience. This is one of the points that a lot of critics can’t seem to get there heads around. And the one that scares a lot of players that have done well in traditional scoring contests. But it shouldn’t, this is different, and if they are good, they will do well. A lot of people will disagree with the outcome, but that’s nothing new for yoyo contests.

      Your second question about how to keep the crowd engaged is tough to predict. Not an issue on Prelims, because the audience only votes on finals. One thing we hope will help keep audience engaged is the time frame. Finals will be shorter because the Judges will not be writing scores between contenders, the number of finalist will be fewer than in a lot of contests, we will have an MC that will talk to players possibly before or after their performance, making the whole process much more engaging.

      As to the technology, there are websites that specialize in just this kind of scoring. Anyone with a phone (which is pretty much everyone), just connect to the website; they will have a logon code for security – given to them before the finals start; and they choose a score for each player as they go. Their will be internet access available. I suppose glitches are possible, but probably less chance of error than a manual process that enters data from paper tthrough a keyboard.

      I hope I answered your questions, and thanks a lot for your questions.


  3. July 30, 2015 @ 5:55 pm Tyler J.

    Said it before I’ll say it again. This is a bad idea.


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