If I can, I’m gonna “put my money where my mouth is” at Nationals(assuming I am going, that just got a bit unclear), I’m gonna say the new YYF Loop 808’s might be a good start. At around $12 each, I’m sure these are better than Raiders.
With 2A, the bearing condition seems to be very important, as far as how much lube and what kind of lube is used. Response has ranged from “the side of the yoyo”, friction stickers, various o-rings(both rubber gasket rings and silicone), pad response and starburst. The YYF Loop 720 uses a string response(uses an old yoyo string). Clearly, there’s no perfect answer. It really comes down to preference. Since championships have been won on pretty much any kind of response, it proves that player preference is critical. At this point don’t focus on the response at this point in time.
As far as recommendations, I am very partial to the YYJ Unleashed. I have 6 of those in different colors. 4 of which are for a “color swap” project that if time permits, I’ll work on later today or tomorrow. Is it better? I don’t know. I personally like it. Starburst response, adjustable gap, never had a problem with them coming apart.
I’ve paid anywhere from $18(YYE, best price) to $19.99(At a local store to me that sells learning toys as well) to $23.99(reputable place in Redondo Beach), so it’s affordable as well. But when you start scaling things up, a nearly $12 difference for a pair starts to add up fast, putting the Loop 808 around $24 and the Unleashed at $36 and the Loop900 at nearly $48.
Keep in mind I like variety. I do intend to get a pair of Loop900’s in time as well, but it has to be the right colors at the right price.
When I was having 2A lessons a couple of weeks ago, one kid was telling Joseph Harris that there was something wrong with the yoyo: an Unleashed, one of Joseph Harris’s personal ones. Nothing was wrong with the yoyo. I think it was just the kid being frustrated for not getting the trick, which was hop the fence. Fortunately, I have a pair of Raider EX’s and Loop720’s on hand and we quickly swapped the kid a Raider EX so he could keep rolling.
Let me just end on this note: 2A is harder than 1A. It will require a lot more patience and practice. So, whatever you pick, you’re going to spend a lot of time with. Pick well and enjoy!
So, even after all of that, I have the following recommendation, which shouldn’t come as a surprise:
Unleashed, and get YYJ thin and thick lube. Clean your bearing, then you’ll want to add thin lube to your bearing and maybe a drop of thick. Or 1 drop thick and half a drop of thin.
But, for budget and performance, the Loop 808’s seem decent. They seem a bit light and thin, but if they play OK, then that’s good enough. If they have them at Nationals, I’ll probably buy 2 pairs, one for myself and one for my kid.