By Eric Hendrikx
“Limitless by design” and founded upon individuality, progression and skill, street skating is the most rapidly growing and technically advanced sport on God’s hippie green earth. Making sweet use of urban plazas, common stairways, ledges and handrails within our concrete jungles, street skaters have established a guerrilla style sport like no other, giving life to tricks only believed to be possible in a video game. But not until recently has there ever been a competition that could accurately score these gravity-defying stunts, while engaging both the riders and audience. Not until Street League anyway.
Masterminded by renaissance street skater celebrity Rob Dyrdek, Street League has high aims of revolutionizing all street skate competition and keeping it within the hands of the skateboard industry. And by developing the first-ever live-scoring system for competitions, he has done just that. In a series of three events in 2010, Street League put $1.2 Million Bucks on the table in prize money – the most in skateboard history. Beyond the purse, competitors can also win best trick in each event, and get to share in the overall profits of the Street League, another first-ever. This is why the roster is flooded with over twenty of the top skaters in the world, who have signed up to skate exclusively in their events, and why you can expect to see thin rosters in other competitions next year. Sorry ESPN.
REVOLT IN STYLE: Rob, you have completely revolutionized the scoring system for competitive street skating, bringing a tremendous amount of attention to Street League. At the same time, you’ve signed up over twenty of the best street skaters in the world including Ryan Sheckler, Paul Rodriguez, Chris Cole, and Sean Malto. Can you please explain how Street League is so different from other street skating competitions?
DYRDEK: Yeah, of course. All of the competitions in the past have either been a sixty-second run or an open jam format, both of which you never knew what place a single guy held at any time. So the biggest fundamental difference is I created Street League more along the lines of traditional sports, but kept all the core values of our sport. We divide a real concrete urban plaza into four distinct skill-set areas. Each guy goes seven times, one at a time, and then each trick is scored instantly with the ISX scoring system. So now you’re following the competition play by play, where skaters are going trick for trick, and most importantly, not a single trick goes unnoticed. You might see a guy miss his first trick, then bail two in the second section, moving him down into fourth place. Then when they get down to that final section we could end up with what we had in our first competition, which was five guys with a shot to win it all, going trick for trick, until Nijah Huston kickflipped out to frontside boardslide and won a hundred and fifty thousand dollars. It’s the first time that the audience can be engaged, watch the event like four quarters of a game, and know what’s going on the entire time. They can follow the story that develops inside the actual event, as opposed to just waiting until the events over to be told what happened.
DYRDEK: Not at all brother. No one has ever created anything like this from within our industry. We’ve always been lumped into general action sports, forcing us to be part of their program to get any of the mainstream exposure and attention. What we’re doing is isolating all aspects of our sport, which is street skating only. We’re the gorilla in the room here. It’s the majority of all things that are action sports. Street skating is bigger and growing faster than all the other action sports combined and has its own industry that doesn’t even care about those mainstream contests, because they’re unnecessary. This is the first time that our entire industry has embraced a singular event on this scale.
RIS: Tell us exactly how the new ISX scoring system is more accurate and how it helps the competitors?
DYRDEK: One of the fundamental problems with other competitions and their traditional judging is that they base everything on an overall impression, with no real method to the madness. To fix this, we’ve broken down the fifty core skateboarding tricks and all of the combinations of those fifty tricks that make up every trick in existence. Then we assessed a value range to each of those, giving special circumstance to style. This gives us a more accurate score for each trick, so that harder tricks are rewarded, and there is accountability inside the judging. There is no free-for-all inside it anymore.
DYRDEK: Consistency is what this is all about. That’s why we saw Nijah Huston, Shane O’Neil, and Torrey Pudwill who were first, second and third in the first event, not even qualify in the third event. That’s how hard this contest is. The outright best dudes survive by making every trick count, the stakes are so high.
RIS: Rob, what’s next for Street League and how do you plan to keep all of these world-class shredders coming back, as opposed to skating in other big name competitions?
DYRDEK: The answer is exclusivity my friend. They can’t skate any league they want to. That’s exactly why Paul Rodriguez and Ryan Sheckler weren’t at the Maloof Money Cup this year. It’s also why Paul Rodriguez, Chris Cole and Greg Lutzka weren’t at the X Games. In the first year of their contracts, they were allowed two wild card contests, which is what fragmented the industry. But going forward, all of our skaters are 100% exclusive and they won’t skate anything else. The reality is that we are holding a purse of 1.2 million dollars in prize money, which doubles all other contest major competitions combined. That’s how much bigger Street League is. On top of that, we have a profit share with all the skaters based on how well they end up ranked at the end of the year. We’re trying to build something together that is bigger than all other competitions combined, and take care of our own.
DYRDEK: Thanks Brother and God Bless.
Additional Street League Facts:
How is the course designed?
Each Street League course is designed by Rob Dyrdek and California Skateparks (www.californiaskateparks.com). In the first time concrete plazas have been built inside an arena setting, California Skateparks has brought an artistic approach to each section and floor layout. Each skate plaza course will be entirely different at each event but will be divided into four distinct sections. Each section tests a different area of street skating (creative section, line section, technical section, and big section).
How does the format work?
Street League has each skater going one at a time in a line-up. Each skater does their trick one after another in the same section for seven attempts. Key in the Street League format is the fact that every trick counts with tricks that are not landed given a zero. Landed tricks are judged on a 0.0 to 10.0 scale for a cumulative point total that determines ranking. Each trick can fall into a separate range of points according to difficulty (0 – 2, 2- 4, 3- 5). Combinations of these tricks, innovations, special circumstance (special style, doing tricks the “hard way,” switch, nollie, etc.) add additional points to each score. Maximum possible trick score is 10.0.
This also allows for viewers to have greater understanding of the skating in each section. Average total points per section, the consistency percentage in each section, and the average score of each landed trick will show which sections are the strong-points or weaknesses for each skater.
What is ISX instant scoring?
ISX stands for the Instant Scoring Experience (www.isxscoring.com). The ISX judging dials and system provide instant, real-time results for every trick and updates these standings to arena displays, announcers, the ESPN TV broadcast and even the online fantasy league instantly.
This creates fast paced real-time understanding of exactly what place every skater is in at every moment of the event. This will allow the viewers and skaters to know exactly what place everyone is at every moment of the event, allowing the winner to be known at the very instant the last trick the event is scored.
How is the judging done?
There are five Street League judges. Each judge has an ISX dial. They judge each trick that is done in each section. The highest and lowest scores are dropped and then the middle three scores are instantly averaged to make the trick score that is added to the running point total.
Who qualifies into the finals?
The skaters with the top six highest scores will qualify into the finals on the Saturday of each event. One additional skater will win a spot into the finals
from the Last Chance Qualifier contest on the big section at the kick off of
the Finals on Saturday.