I was looking at the player list on the iceland2017 website, and Takeshi and Zach weren’t on the list. Are they not competing this year? I’ve only been in the yoyoing scene for about a year, is it normal for world champions to skip competing at worlds?
Most players eventually scale back their competition schedule or stop competing altogether at some point, including world champions, so it’s not that unusual for someone who’s won before to not compete. Usually the reigning champions will compete since they get seeded directly to finals (though that’s not really much of a concern in this case because Takeshi would have very little trouble making it through 5A prelims), but it’s not unheard of for a reigning champion to not try to defend their title. Takeshi himself has even skipped defending his title before.
I’m not sure why Zach or Takeshi specifically didn’t compete this year, but there are lots of reasons a world champion wouldn’t compete. As competitive as yoyoing is, it’s not really a viable long-term career for most people, even the best players in the world. So staying on top of the competitive scene often amounts to an incredibly time-consuming hobby because of all the hours of practice it takes to stay sharp at that level, all to get one shot for three minutes on stage once a year. Plus there is the travel commitment of going to Worlds, which can be a burden even if you have your expenses covered by a sponsor. A lot of competitors have trouble keeping up with that for more than a few years, either because of burnout, real-life commitments like school or work, etc. This is also one reason so many top competitors are teenagers - it is hard to stay competitive long-term, especially once college/career/family become factors.
And then once you reach the top and achieve the goal of world champion, there’s not always the motivation to keep going. Some players have retired or semi-retired after reaching that goal (i.e. Jensen Kimmitt, John Ando, Yuuki Spencer after his second title). Takeshi is also kind of in Shinji Saito territory, where he has accomplished so much that he basically has nothing left to prove (aside from maybe winning 1A at Worlds). Shinji retired while still clearly the best 2A player in the world (and he might even still be the best 2A player in the world), and in all likelihood, whether or not Takeshi keeps going for now, the same will probably happen with him in 5A.
Wait, shinji has retired? Nooooooooooooooo!