Thirty-something days and a handful of missed results posting later, we’re already at Round Two of Manga Saimoe Tournament 2011. Here’s my take on how each Block went down in the opening Round and how it will go in the days to come.
Nothing really much to say about Round One for Block A, except that , very likely, the winner of this Block will be an underdog once we reach the Quarterfinals. There’s not much firepower here, but that does give other characters to shine in the centerstage after all is said and done. And it also makes predicting the eventual winner of this one harder than usual. I really have no intelligent guesses right now, but the pivotal matches for Round Two would have to be RM-Saki affair between Ikeda Kana and Tomoe, and 2005 champ Kukuri versus Saki’s Hajime.
Block B, though, is obviously more powerful, packing heavy-hitters like defending champ Suigintou, among others. No heavy-hitters fell in this group, but it was a bit surprising that Hayate’s Athena fell so early. In any case, the key Round Two matchups here would be Mami-Sanae which potentially leads up to a Round Three encounter against Souseiseki along with Saki’s Koromo against Higurashi’s Rika, where the winner gets a shot at the champ in R3.
Block C is quite the powerful group, especially in the left part of the bracket – right from the get-go. Of note here would be the Round One match between Suiseiseki and Momo which saw Suiseiseki getting the highest vote total for a R1 winner and Momo, the highest total for a R1 loser – and poor Wahaha getting a measly 1 vote, which has to be a record (though obviously I’m not really keeping track of MST records).
Suiseseki doesn’t get any breaks in R2 though as she’s slated to face Mikan and Rena next – I find the Momo match tougher for her though (albeit she had help from her twin during that one).
The lower half has Ika Musume facing a potential trap match against Haibara Ai, but she should be able to do prevail in that one and brace for a match with the perennial contender Suiseiseki in R3. Hinagiku’s side of the bracket is much easier at this point compared to the Suiseiseki/Ika one, but regardless, she’ll still be the underdog should she get to face those two. (Despite being the runner-up in 2009, I see Hayate being significantly weaker this year). Dark Magician Girl beating Eva/Shino felt out of nowhere, so if the trolls come out in force, Hina would have to be much more careful if she wants to get a crack at Ika/Suiseiseki in the Block Finals.
Block D might be Haramura Nodoka’s block to lose, but she still has a lot of work to do as this one has its shares of powerful characters lurking. She gets Index first, but Nodoka is out of her league. After that she gets the winner of Haqua/Kyouko – an intriguing matchup that otherwise would be a snoozefest if it was held in AST. Really hard to call who wins there, but I’m counting on the KamiNomi ace to get it done.
The other side of the D-Draw also showcases talent with Mayuko-Nono getting the winner of Mikoto-Kirino-Medaka. I say Mikoto goes all the way here, so we are lookingat a fantastic Block Final featuring Mikoto and Nodoka – provided they take care of business (which is easier said than done).
Block E probably features the first R2 five-way fight thanks to a series of draws in that left side of the bracket. Ayumi might be the favorite to emerge here, but the hugely popular Shingeki no Kyojin might sneak up on her, represented by leading lady Mikasa. The winner of the five-way gets either Mion or Isumi, and I favor the latter here. Isumi emerging out of the Hayate mirror match against Nagi was a surprise, and if there is any illustration as to how different AST and MST metagames are, this is one of the textbook examples.
Block E definitely has its share of more shocking Round One outcomes as Madoka, otherwise untouchable in AST, slumps out of the opening round Akemi Homura-style as she fell three votes short of victory against seasoned 2007 champ Kanaria, which I repeatedly mentioned, still boggles my mind. Anyway, Kanaria doesn’t get a pass thereafter as she faces Mishima Touko next. The latter is a dangerous foe at this point, and that is proven when she knocked out another perennial MST contender: Bamboo Blade ace Kawazoe Tamaki. So that should be a fun match to follow. The winner of that also gets another intriguing affair against the winner of the Miyanagi Saki-Asuka encounter. I’m leaning for the titular character to get that one.
Unfortunately Block F doesn’t offer much excitement – Shinku’s the outright favorite to win now, and her main challengers will be the winner of the Chisame/Yamamoto-sensei match (I think it’s gonna be the latter), and probably Setsuna in the other side. Truth be told, it’s still a long way to go, but Shinku’s too powerful and other than her, this feels like Block A MST 2011 edition. We’ll see.
Higurashi’s Shion busted this Block wide open after a scintilating victory over one of the Block favorites Urabe Mikoto. However, she gets Kinomoto Sakura, and I think it’s written in the cards – Sakura should be the top bet to win that. In fact we might be looking at an all-CCS Block Final here – that is, if Sakura and Tomoyo can get past potential opponents such as the suddenly-hot Nakagawa Kanon (fresh off dispatching HnG’s Maria in Round One), 2005 Q’Finalist Matsuda (who defeated 2009 Q’Finalist Komori Kiri to book a R2 slot), and in the other side, KamiNomi’s Shiori, Nononono’s Mikage and suprisingly Senjou no Valkyria’s Isara.
Block H might be Block Homura upon initial impresion, there’s still a lot in store in this power-laden group. Tacos and Yami are the favorites to emerge from the right side after KamiNomi co-ace bowed out against SoreMachi’s Hotori. She might be a good choice to win that side as well, but I think Yami and Tacos are much stronger.
Homura gets the evergreen Ayanami Rei as her R2 opponent, and waiting for her might be Mihoko. She’s dangerous, obviously, but at the end of the Block we might be looking at a Yami-Homura finale with the Puella Magi advancing to Top 8 after failing at AST.
And there’s that. Pardon my inability to update the MST sidebar, but for this upcoming Round I’m gonna *try* do a better job. And as of this posting, the sidebar has been updated to reflect the voting codes for the latest match, although updating the bracket daily is not an option as this point because AST is still the priority as it heads into Top Eight.