44CLASH is an annual yo-yo freestyle contest hosted in Japan by a team of players led by Masanobu Iwata, usually being held in a nightclub or a live house. The contest's goal is to conduct yo-yo competitions in a more relaxed environment and to promote fun and enjoyment within a contest setting, in contrast to the stress and formality of the competitions sanctioned by the JYYF. In addition to stage performances by contestants, there are also launchings of pre-release or special edition yo-yos and collaborations with popular apparel brands. The contest is considered highly exclusive and sometimes controversial, and spectators are prohibited from filming inside the venue. The contest freestyle videos are never publicly released, but a limited number of DVDs containing all the freestyles are distributed among the sponsors and other VIPs.
In Japanese, 44CLASH is pronounced "Yon-yon Clash," although it is commonly referred to as "Forty-Four Clash" in the rest of the world. The significance of 44 is that it is a slang term for a yo-yo, a homophone in Japanese.
The first two contests were held on the month of September, but subsequent contests were held in November.
The contests from 2008 to 2012 initially had three divisions which players could compete in; 1A, 2A, and X. This changed in the 2014 contest, which includes divisions for all five major playing styles. This may be used for subsequent contests.
The first 44CLASH competition, which was held at The NiNE in September 2008, originally had all-Japanese players competing. In later contests starting from 2009, players from other parts of the world are welcomed.
44CLASH Battle Tournament
From 2009 to 2012, 44CLASH also boasted a side competition that is held at the World Yo-Yo Contest; a one-on-one Battle Tournament where competing players show off their best tricks as a DJ played background music. After 2012, the 44CLASH Battle Tournament was not held again, until three years later, where it was held at the 2015 Worlds.
The Battle Tournament is a one-on-one tournament-style event with eight competitors. Two competitors will be on the stage for each round, and the order of the competitor who performs will be decided by a drawing. The round will start with the DJ’s music selection and after the MC’s call. Within each round, each competitor will have 45 seconds to perform. The MC will shout "SWITCH!" every 45 seconds, which is a sign for one competitor to switch to the other competitor on stage.
Elements to be judged are set in five different criteria;
- Awareness of the audience and how the competitor impressed the crowd
- Staging and awareness level of the competitor
- If the performance matched to the music selected by the DJ
- The cool factor of the tricks
- The difficulty of the tricks, judgement, and originality
- 2008: First 44CLASH contest hosted at The NiNE on September 14th
- 2009: Second 44CLASH hosted at club asia P from September 20th-21st. First Battle Tournament held at the World Yo-Yo Contest.
- 2010: Third 44CLASH hosted at Sunphonix Hall from November 20th-21st. Second Battle Tournament held at Worlds.
- 2011: Forth 44CLASH hosted at Garden from November 19th-20th. Third Battle Tournament held at Worlds.
- 2012: Fifth 44CLASH hosted at Bay Side Yokohama from November 24th-25th. Forth Battle Tournament held at Worlds.
- 2013: 44CLASH was not held that year. Battle Tournament also not held that year, either.
- 2014: Sixth 44CLASH hosted at Bay Side Yokohama for the second time from November 22nd-23rd. Battle Tournament not held that year.
- 2015: 44CLASH Battle Tournament held at 2015 Worlds. 44CLASH main contest not held this year.
- 2016: 44CLASH was not held this year
- 2017: 44CLASH was not held this year. However, it was announced on December 31st, 2017, on the 44CLASH Twitter page that it would be held in 2018 from November 23rd to 25th.
- 2018: 44CLASH was held on November 23rd and 24th at CHACARA Shonandai for its first venue, and on November 25th at ESPRIT TOKYO for its second venue.
- 2019: 44CLASH held the Yo-Yo Festival in collaboration with Top Yo.
Current Champion (2018)
2015 44CLASH Battle Tournament
- Winner: Paul Kerbel
- 1A - Luis Enrique Villaseñor
- 2A - Masakazu Yamasaki
- X - Rei Iwakura
- Battle Tournament - Palli Gudmundsson