And then there were eight.
(image courtesy of tldranimu)
Gonna get this out of the way though – that has to be one of the craziest Block Finals I ever encountered in my five years of Saimoe participation. I went 3 of 8 in predictions – below my standards, certainly, though maybe it’s a good thing because the last time we had something as unpredictable as this, it was the arguably the golden age of Saimoe – 2007. So yeah, this one is almost 2007 tier, and to reach that level, I believe the remaining seven matches need to give us something even better.
And the draw promises us a great start. The easiest match to call here is probably Yamada vs. Azusa, and that isn’t even a guaranteed call. Shortly put, even more unpredictable matches in the horizon. And for future reference, here are my snap judgment predictions:
Nagi-Mafuyu -> Nagi
Saten-Koromo -> Saten
Shana-Nodoka -> Shana
Azusa-Yamada -> Azusa
Nagi-Saten -> Saten
Shana-Azusa -> Azusa
Come back later and call me a wizard, kthx.
My “kick reason to the curb” predictions are the opposite of that, with Mafuyu-Yamada fighting each other for Saimoe troll of the year in the finals. Yeah… right. Best Saimoe ever if this happens. Of course with Yamada winning it all.
As for my preferences (I posted this in AS much earlier, but eh)
don’t care tier: Mafuyu, Shana, Nodoka (order doesn’t matter, really)
Actual predictions? Come game day. (loltrolu) And since it’s time for Nagi-Mafuyu….
Nagi vs. Mafuyu.
How Nagi got here:
- Won her prelim group consisting of eventual Block Finalists Hitagi and Maria.
- Styled on Round One (albeit trailed early at that match), and in Round Two, another styling over less-heralded opponents
- Notched a crucial win over erstwhile giant-killer Nadeko in a heated match that was more intense than the scoreboard indicated. The fact that KugiRie fans engineered the Yui coup with Nadeko is of course left to speculation
Nagi is the finalist of 2007, and participated in arguably the greatest Saimoe match of all-time (protip: against Rika). She’s been here before and although overshadowed by Hinagiku in the other moe tournaments, it’s safe to say now that she’s Hayate’s ace in Saimoe. As for her performance this year, I think she’s been in the right place at the right time, and once again, she’s in that position to advance given her matchup, but let’s get to her opponent first, before giving my take on the match.
How Mafuyu got here:
- Rallied to beat the Hidamari block party (Yuno, Miyako et. al.) to win her prelim group
- Pulled off the first real shocker of the tournament by beating perennial (and personal) favorite Hinagiku
- Destroyed Saki (though it can be argued that Saki is one of the weaker Saki characters in Saimoe, still she packs decent strength)
- Validated her dark horse status by edging Hitagi in the only fake vote reversal match so far
Mafuyu has earned my respect as the tournament progressed, beating one respectable foe after another. Her charm has to be that “one of us” aura that lets the majority of the voters relate to her. And it has served her well so far. So yeah, she is the real deal. In terms of strength she’s one of the weaker ones remaining, but given the right pairing it will work out.
So is Nagi the right pair for her? The answer is no, but this one is just really too close to call, so I’m reluctant with this prediction.
But one thing Nagi has is consistency. As for her conquerors in her Saimoe career, she only lost to Tsukasa (eventual finalist) and Nodoka (eventual semifinalist) and of course Rika in the finals. And she’s backed by the ubiquitous Rie faction, which should give her the edge. And if Nagi beats Mafuyu, that will also widen her gap with Hinagiku further as the ace status (i.e. doing what Hina couldn’t do, etc). She is my favorite to win this match.
Mafuyu for her part will be getting the underdog votes, and from those who are tired of KugiRie characters winning all the time. Question remains obviously, if it will be enough. I don’t think it will be.
In conclusion, taking the logical route for this match, and predicting Nagi to win. As for my pick, it has to be Nagi in this match. She’s one of my good ends. One of the interesting subplots I can think of is Nagi’s quest for redemption after falling 23 votes short of victory in 2007. Yeah, admittedly the wounds of the painful 2007 defeat still cuts deep (after campaigning hard, and how I felt the win was stolen from her, etc). So getting closer to that feel-good story inclines me to support “FFDQ”
As for Mafuyu I can understand her appeal, but it just didn’t push my moe buttons the right way. So Nagi any day given the choice. Superior otaku is superior. dealwithit.jpg, etc.
Finally, here’s my match poster. Wanted to go with something different again, and I am satisfied with this after hours of brainstorming and all that jazz. Simple (as compared to the previous round’s poster), but I think it works out fine. Or did it?
Enjoy, and thanks for reading!