– Get the all new yoyo Jake used to win, the Atlas Yoyo by YoYoFactory

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.

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 yoyoing 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 6:00 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.

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