World Freestyle Masters 2018: What is it, how to watch & everything you need to know

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This February, Japan welcomes the top tricksters from around the globe as they battle it out for the accolade of best in the world

Who is the most skilful football freestyler in the world? We will soon find out as the World Freestyle Masters gets under way.

The likes of Neymar, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo may be among the most skilled footballers in the world, but even they would find it tough against the best freestylers.

This February, Japan welcomes the top tricksters from around the globe as they battle it out for the title of undisputed freestyle master.

With the tournament kicking off soon, Goal brings you everything you need to know.


What is the World Freestyle Masters?


The World Freestyle Masters is a freestyle football competition that pits the 24 best freestylers in the world against one another on a head-to-head basis to determine who is number one.

The tournament features male and female sections and a panel of judges helps to determine the winner of each bout.

Accredited by the World Freestyle Football Association (WFFA), which is the world governing body for the sport, the Masters tournament's roots stretch back to 2011 when the Freestyle Football World Tour began.

The World Tour has been staged in a variety of different cities and countries across the globe, such as London, Dubai, Beijing, Calgary and Melbourne.

Freestyle football is described by the WFFA as "the art and sport of juggling a football using all parts of the party to entertain audiences and outperform opponents... a fusion of tricks with a ball, dance and music."


When and where does it take place?


Cata Vega freestyler

The 2018 World Freestyle Masters tournament is being held in Tokyo, Japan on Thursday February 22 (local time).

Tokyo's Liquid Room is the venue for the competition. Artists such as Rihanna, Arctic Monkeys and Foo Fighters have appeared there in the past.

The prestigous complex in Japan's capital also features a cafe and gallery, as well as an event space.

This year's World Freestyle Masters is scheduled to get under way at 06:30 JST (21:00 GMT on Wednesday February 21).

For more information, such as tickets and how to get there, visit the official WFFA website.


How to watch it


DAZN will be broadcasting the 2018 World Freestyle Masters live to Japanese, German, Austrian, Swiss and Canadian subscribers.

Elsewhere, it will be available to stream live online on Goal's Facebook page.

As well as the World Freestyle Masters, DAZN subscribers can also watch games from J1, J2 and J3 live.


Who is involved?


Ricardinho freestyler

A total of 16 male freestylers and eight female freestylers will compete in the 2018 World Freestyle Masters.

The 2018 tournament will not feature Argentina's Charly Iacono, who is injured, but the likes of Brazilian freestylers Ricardinho and Pedrinho, Polish star Michryc and Japanese champion Yo Katsuyama arrive with a wealth of skill and experience.

Liv Cooke is the reigning women's world champion at just 18 years of age and she will certainly be one to watch in the female competition as she looks to add to her trophy collection.

The United Kingdom's Andrew Henderson is widely acknowledged as one of the most dominant freestyle footballers around, having one five world titles, but he won't be taking part in the tournament this year. Instead he will be one of the three judges for the battles.


What are the rules?


The format for the tournament is a series of head-to-head battles, with each battle lasting three minutes. 

In that timeframe each freestyler will have three 30-second rounds in which to impress the judges.

Participants are permitted to use their own ball in battles and only one ball can be used at a time. Foreign objects, such as bottles or rope say, cannot be integrated into the battle

Freestylers must not leave the stage for the duration of the battle and, while pretty much most of the body is allowed to be used, the hands (read as shoulder to the end of the fingers) are not.

The rules can be read in their entirety on the official WFFA website here.

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