Saki: Match for 5th Predictions

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I’ve been meaning to do something like this back in February when readers found out that there will be a match to decide the 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th best high school girls mahjong team in Japan right before the finals. However, back then I didn’t have a WordPress blog, heh.

The teams fighting for 5th place are as follows:

senriyamaTeam Spotlight Stealing Squad (TOKI I’M LOOKING AT YOU)

himematsuTeam Normal (except for forehead girl)

usuzanTeam School Idol Project!

shindoujiTeam Wi-Fi girlfriends!

Vanguard:

Onjouji Toki is probably going to be the star of the vanguard match despite pushing her body to the limit during the Side A semifinals. She will likely have her way with both Motouchi Naruka, who doesn’t believe in the supernatural which leaves her vulnerable to Toki’s foresight, and Hanada Kirame.

We saw how helpless “normal players” were against Toki during the quarterfinals; excluding Hanada’s minor ability to never go bust, she and Naruka are essentially normal players. Furthermore, Gardevoir was confused by unorthodox plays and only managed to complete a single hand in the semifinals for Side B with the assistance of Tsujigaito Satoha giving her tiles to call (from what we saw). Perhaps Hanada, who demonstrated her willingness to do co-op play in the Side A semifinals, can do a repeat performance and team up with Naruka in order to stop Toki’s potential winning streaks.

However, Toki’s dominance may be kept in check by Ueshige Suzu‘s explosive wins. The question is, will Suzu’s ability, which makes her stronger in response to her opponents’ strength levels, actually trigger at this particular mahjong table?

Sergeant:

Honestly, this round is much more unpredictable. We just have so little information on these players. Mase Yuuko has had positive scores in both the quarterfinal and semifinal matches, which implies she’s a strong player. Yasukouchi Yoshiko was mildly successful with her fast and cheap hands, but whether or not she will switch back to her old style now that she is not up against Hirose Sumire remains to be seen (if switching between styles is even possible).

FunaQ claimed that Himori Chikako has tried very hard to get better, but FunaQ also mentioned that Usuzan’s vanguard and sergeant (and lieutenant) “are not quite on the Inter-High level of play.” To her credit, Chikako did land a baiman tsumo early into the semifinals, but she still ended up with a negative score.

Personally, I think Nijou Izumi is not going to perform well, given that she once again is a lone freshmen against 3 high school senior opponents. Who knows if the seniors will get a power-up as they attempt to claim 5th place in order to make things slightly easier for their underclassmen in the next Inter-High?

Lieutenant:

Atago Hiroe and Eguchi Sera will dominate while Iwadate Yuan and Ezaki Hitomi cower in fear. The fact that Hiroe and Sera are implied rivals will keep each other fired up. However, I think Hiroe might have the slight edge as she has shown to have a flexible playstyle while Sera sticks to big but slow hands. Maybe Ritz will let Yuan and Politics Girl surpass expectations given how they had terrible semifinal performances, but that seems unlikely.

Vice-Captain:

This is probably going to be the most interesting round for this 5th place match. Shindouji will be a good position to secure 5th place if Shirouzu Mairu manages to clear several reservations. However, Mairu typically goes for quick wins and bails in dangerous positions. What I’m saying is that her play in the semifinals, where she continued to greedily push and cleared several high reservations, was forced out of necessity. There is a chance she cannot do it again since such a playstyle does not come naturally to her. 

While Maya Yukiko only has the ability is to get an expensive tsumo once a day, she is capable of winning rounds without using her left hand. Maya also considers many details while she plays (unlike a certain supernova who just blindly does double riichi). She should be able to stop Mairu several times, I feel.

Hiroko Funakubo (aka FunaQ) and Atago Kinue are also detail-orientated, digital players. This means there won’t be a useless fisherwoman who deals into everything… We will have to see if FunaQ was able to successfully analyze her opponents in time. What’s interesting to note is that Kinue is FunaQ’s cousin! Perhaps they’re familiar with each other’s style. As long as Kinue isn’t too hard on herself, she may have her chance to shine.

Captain:

If Marui managed to clear a decent amount of reservations, Tsuruta Himeko may control the Captain match. This is assuming that no one can stop Himeko from winning during the rounds in which their combo is active. Despite Ryuuka’s Toki Vision, Awai’s double-riichi and Absolute Safety Zone, and Shizuno’s Lord of the Mountain Depths in the semifinals, Himeko was unstoppable during rounds in which Marui had cleared a reservation. As such, it seems that Himeko’s wins during such rounds will likely be predetermined.

Shishihara Sawaya used up a lot of Kamuy during the Side B semifinals which will not be fully recharged by the 5th place battle. Unfortunately, Hoyau Kamuy was also used up the previous day, which may have had a chance to block Himeko’s predetermined wins. Sawaya will have to hope her remaining clouds, Kamuy, and whatever else she had (which was hinted at in Saki 154) will carry her through the Captain match.

Although Shimizudani Ryuuka may have used up all of her Toki Vision charges during the semifinal, Toki Vision may quickly recharge. Be that as it may, I think it’s safe to assume that Toki has been resting her head in Ryuuka’s lap for the past two days whenever possible. It would be nice to see if Ryuuka lives up to her reputation of having the highest point gain average per-game within the Osaka region. Perhaps she can actually win hands without relying on Toki Vision this time.

Suehara Kyouko just needs to win quick hands to interrupt her opponents’ large ones. However, Kyouko may not have the proper countermeasures to deal with her opponents this time since Himeko will have predetermined wins, Ryuuka will have a version of future sight, and Sawaya will be using different abilities from the ones she used in the semifinals (admittedly, Kyouko could watch recordings of Sawaya’s previous matches to gain intel). Said tactic will also rely on her teammates creating a significant point lead before the Captain match, as her small, fast hands may not be enough to prevent an upset.

In short…I guess I’m not sure who’s going to win this match. Every team has their share of both weak and strong players. If I really had to choose, I would say it’ll be a close match between Senriyama and Himematsu. Both Shindouji and Usuzan have three really weak players in their line-up.

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