We’re at the halfway point of Round Two and we’ve had our fair share of interesting and close matches during the first eight days of this round. Since I missed out on covering the first of half of this stage due to various reasons, here are my belated impressions with regard to the past eight days.
Block A opened with a rout as Victorique de Blois simply outclassed the competition. Block B was the opposite, as nine votes would have been enough to turn the tide against Gertrud Barkhorn. Instead we saw Denpa Onna suffer one heartbreak after another, with Mifune Ryuuko in the receiving end in Block B.
Misaka Mikoto held serve to stay on course, matching Victorique with haymakers as a prelude to what should be an amazing Block A semifinal. During the same day, Angel Beating happened at the expense of hapless Ayatsuji Tsukasa and Merry Nightmare, and suddenly Tenshi is looking like the favorite to win Block B. Curiously Mikoto and Tenshi were both Block finalists last year, and both lost in relatively close matches. Is this redemption time for these two veterans? Time will tell.
Kurisu continued to be the bane of Amagami characters everywhere, as she defeated another one- Tachibana Miya suffered the same fate as Nanasaki Ai. Coinciding with Kurisu’s victory was another triumph for the band of witches. Erica Hartmann rallied from an early deficit and just had enough to withstand Huang Lingyin’s (Rin’s) last-hour challenge and the final margin was a mere three votes, to send Infinite Stratos stumbling out of the Round Two gates. Excellent match, and the graph proves just that.
With the exception of the Tenshi match, Block B continued to make its case of having the most intense matches as it closed with Suzuha ensuring a perfect Round Two for Steins;Gate. But it was not an easy path to victory as the difference was only twenty votes over Aioi Yuuko, who couldn’t quite repeat her Round One performance (which featured a comeback victory). There was a repeat performance to cap off Block A, however, thanks to Astarotte Ygvar making it look easy yet again. Tooru and Himeji paled in comparison to Lotte who is in top form heading into Block semis thanks in part to this dominating performance.
Kaname Madoka opened Round Two for Block C, and the result was obvious as she turned it into the biggest romp of the tournament-wise if vote percentage is the metric used. (Triples, check ’em!) Not-so-obvious from the get-go was the eventual winner of Maekawa-Yuzurizaki Nero match to kick off Block D’s Round Two set. The final rush had Nero inching a paltry thirteen votes ahead of Maekawa to finish off Denpa Onna’s campaign and at the same time putting Milky Holmes on the Round Two board.
Following suit was Hercule Barton for Milky Holmes, who had a wire-to-wire victory on her part over Laura to keep Infinite Stratos blanked heading into the second half of Round Two, and Dog Days to put the latter down to just a single character. Seguing to the single character conversation, Ika Musume is an army of one, and the Block D invasion is appearing more imminent each passing round for the beloved squid, as she snared an easy win.
Elysia de Lute Ima, proved her ace status after beating another ace from another series (Sanya). LC rallied and never looked back in the final hours to break open a close match and cool down Strike Witches. Sharing the headlines for that day was one of the tightest three-ways you’ll ever see in Saimoe. A mere 42 votes separated third (Tachibana Isana) from first, and two (!!) votes separated Last Order from runner-up Takanashi Nao. Last Order literally went from “last” to first, according to the graph. Another excellent match overall as LO held on to her lead despite losing in the final hour. One of the Saimoe classics, in my opinion, and I regret missing out on covering this match hot off the presses.
Concluding Round Two for Blocks C and D are two of the more straightforward matches in a Round that feature only a few of them so far. Yuno and Run led from the opening bell to the finish line to give Hidamari Sketch 27 wins all-time, and A Channel its first taste or Round Two action.
My take on these Round Two matches so far? While most of the results were expected fare, that didn’t stop them from being unexciting. We’ve had matches where the margin of victory was two, three and eight in a span of eight days. Pretty good, I must say.
With that, here are the remaining survivors after eight days of Block Two action. Note that I refrained from posting the Prelim Two Overview. The only thing you need to know about that? Only two Prelim2 characters remain: Maid-sama’s Ayuzawa Misaki and Jewelpet’s Asaka Hinata.
Now I’m up to date with stuff, I’ll go ahead and do my take on what to expect in the next eight days:
Block E: Saten-Uiharu-Sayaka
Block F: Mami-Nymph-Mikan
As if the split wasn’t enough, Sayaka gets to combo with Mami to increase both of their chances even further. Bad beats for Raildex. Last year, they had the split in their favor (the storied Mikoto-Mio-Azusa match) and couldn’t convert. This time Saten is facing the opposite, but it doesn’t look good for her. Mami winning is a foregone conclusion. Only a concerted resistance effort along the lines of Mikoto uprising over Homura can save Nymph and Saten from this predicament, which is very unlikely at this point.
Predictable set to start the Blocks E and F, let’s see if we’ll get something better.
Block E: Minami-Sohara-Char
Block F: Hiro-Arashiko-Yoshika
Char’s faced a tougher opener (Erio) and aced that test, but BakaTest’s Minami is no cakewalk, with the show just being finished recently and Minami getting an ample amount of focus. I still fancy Char’s chances here. She’s Infi’s ace, and aces get it done when called upon, to finally put her series on the winning column this round.
Yoshika, another SW ace, is primed to be the third Witch to advance to the Block semis and Arashiko will be her main challenger here. This should be interesting, but with the way the Witches have been rolling, it would be negligent to bet against Yoshika here.
Block E: Ayumi-Pika-tan-Yukikaze
Block F: Nori-Nano-Yuuko
One of the harder to call matches so far. I have Ayumi sprinting first to the finish line here based on snap judgment and that might very well be the case. Check back later on the gameday preview for a better prognostication on how this might turn out.
If Yuuko’s good enough to beat Shana, then surely wouldn’t lose to Nano, right? Well, it’s not as simple as that. I still say Yuuko is the favorite to win here. We also had a glimpse of A-Chan vs Nichijou battle before in the prelims with that memorable last second rally giving Tooru the prelim win over Nano reinforcing the thought that Yuuko is capable of beating Nano.
Block E: Hirano-Ohana-Haqua
Block F: Hinata-Shirayuki-Cecilia
Now here’s an excellent way to wrap up Block F. While Block E should be an academic Ohana win (it is assumed that Haqua had a little help somewhere to oust Azusa), Cecilia-Shirayuki should be a beautiful match. I’m going with Cecilia but don’t be surprised if Shirayuki pulls off another upset yet again.
Block G: Eila-Index-Kirino
Block H: Kanon-Agnese-Houki
Index is coming off an unfamiliar role (favorite to win) in the first round. This should be a return to normalcy of being second place as she’s up against one of the top contenders: Kirino. I’d like to see Index compete harder here, but it’s gonna take more than competing to beat Kirino right now. “More than that” , referring to outside help. Even that may not even be enough.
Kanon-Houki should be good. Kanon is one of the higher-tiered KamiNOmi girls in Saimoe but Houki is as well, in a theoretically stronger faction. It can go either way, but as of this writing I’m leaning towards a Houki win.
Great doubleheader to open Blocks G and H.
Block G: Haruka-Misaki-Yui
Block H: Aria-Hitoha-Haruna
After Tenshi’s total obliteration of Tsukasa you have to figure that Haruka might be looking for some measure of revenge here. She might as well get it, but it won’t be a rout like Tenshi-Tsukasa was. One of the more intriguing matches for me, but Haruka has this, despite Amagami’s lackluster Round Two performance (Tsukasa and Miya were facing aces, it can’t be helped, etc).
As for Block H, I rate Aria highly as a Saimoe wildcard and my mind still hasn’t wavered on that thought. She should style here against opponents that are not on the same tier as her.
Block G: Ayase-Kokoro-Rihoko
Block H: Ikaros-Asuha-Miyako
More good matches. Kokoro’s gonna do some payback against Ayase and the margin of victory should be telling as to how she will fare against Kyouko and she goes further than that, against Kirino. Ayase is a good challenge, but Kokoro will pin her down.
The Ikaros-Asuha-Miyako winneris the blog’s poll of the week. I have Asuha as a snap-judgment winner but seems like Ikaros is favored to go through. I’ll reconsider this on game day.
Block G: Tsumugi-Shirley-Kyouko
Block H: Kuroko-Kuroneko-Perrine
It doesn’t get any more anticlimactic than this. I already even have a headline tag ready for this: “Witch Hunt” It’s gonna be painful day for Shirley and Perrine as superstars Kyouko and Kuroneko will absolutely destroy them, among others.
I’m tempted to even go further with Part One of my Round Three Preview (just as stated in the cover), but I’ll lay off for now.
I’ll just leave you with a sketch of my planned posters for Round Three, which combines the concepts from my previous Round Three posters from 2009 and 2010 (for the better, I hope). Yeah this one’s is still incomplete since I will need the results from Round Two’s second half to add these elements to the poster: