The Effect of Environment
I spoke with Tobias Schneider about 4 years ago, regarding why the level of 2a is so low in the US compared to Japan.
Let's break it down here. I had attributed previously that 2A benefits heavily from people practicing together, and sharing thoughts and concepts in person. Let's dive a bit deeper into history.
The Yomega Hyper Raider was one of the most popular yoyos during the Bandai yoyo boom. The yoyo was the Yomega Raider licensed to Bandai for distribution. A larger company distributing the brand allowed for a larger market spread. Let's now look at the players that started during that time that were in finals at 2015 Worlds
Shu Takada (or indirectly through his father)
(Liu Man Ki and Chan Chun Hay, I do not know)
The only players that were not part of this boom were Arata Imai and Ginji Miura.
Every single player in this list is a residence of either Japan or Hong Kong. Out of these, Takuma resides in Hyogo, Shinji in Hiroshima although he had residence in Tokyo, and the rest in Tokyo. Liu Man Ki and Chan Chun Hay lived in Hong Kong.
This means that every single player had the ability to share tricks and continuing developing together. I have trained with Shuhei, Tomoyuki and Tsubasa Onishi, and have seen personal growth during these training sessions that I've had with them. They are good friends of mine, and they have my complete respect as people and as yoyo players.
Seeing how fast I grew in those few hours, I started wondering how fast people could learn together. Now then, let's see what the US scene presents to us.
In the US, we have two major yoyo cities. Chico is home to three large players, Gentry Stein, Nate Dailey, and Zac Rubino, and (Greater) Los Angeles is home to Michael Nakamura, Anthony Rojas, and Andrew Maider. The distance between these two cities is 473 miles. The distance from the southwesternmost part of America to the northeasternmost part of America is roughly 3000 miles. This is not to mention that the actual surface area covered by the demographic of United States yoyoing is significantly more than this 3000 miles. (9.3 million miles^2) Japan's surface area is 380000km^2, which is significantly less than the United States. In addition, Japan's mode of public transportation makes it significantly easier for players to meet up and share tricks and theories for trick execution and construction.
As you can see, Japan has heavy benefits regarding actual in person practice. This gives Japan an advantage in learning new tricks, sharing tricks, and developing as a community. However, the Japan domination has started to wane.
Technology has started to make us be able to communicate faster, more effectively, and stay connected. The pervasive use of Google+, Skype, and ooVoo has made it easier for people to have virtual practice sessions in yoyo. In addition, smartphones have made it easier for us to record and upload tricks to share with the community. However, none of this truly replaces practice.
The way that I see it, Japan is still at the top, with their peak players and their weak players performing stronger than peak players and weak players in other countries. However, in my opinion, the average yoyo player (middle of the pack in national contest) in the USA is now the strongest in the world. I believe that this is due to the environment that we were fostered in in the yoyo community.
With every rule, is the exception. There will always be players from outside, who do not come from ideal environments, winning huge contests. Janos Karancz, Jake Elliot, Michael Nakamura (questionable,) Jensen Kimmitt, are examples of these players.
I hope that we can continue to find undiscovered talent, and that communities continue to form and bond stronger to elevate the yoyoing as a whole.