Saimoe 2011 has finally reached its apex, and for the third time in the tournament’s ten-year history, we will witness an intra-series battle for the crown as Kyouko Sakura takes on Mami Tomoe. The Puella Magis have been dominant in their debut year, showing no mercy to their fellow competitors. They eventually had to face each other, and those matches yielded interesting results. How will this one turn out then? Let us first walk down the memory lane.
KYOUKO’S PATHWAY TO THE FINALS
Key moments (tl;dr version):
-Employed tactical voting by using Index to oust Kirino in the second round, and eventually defeating Index herself
-Defeated Milky Holmes’ ace, Kokoro, in the third round
-Defeated Kuroneko in the QF following a majestic final rush
Kyouko Sakura. Before the tournament started, hardly anyone expected here to reach the finals as she was seen as one of the weaker PMMM girl among the main five. She kicked off her campaign by topping her prelim group, which featured Aria Kanzaki and Sherlock Shellingford. Kyouko wasn’t the favourite here, but her eventual win was part of the early signs of PMMM’s domination.
When the draw for the main round was made, Kyouko was not the favorite to progress from her block – that accolade belonged to Kirino instead. However, Kyouko supporters took action and Kirino was swiftly eliminated by Index in the second round. There was another tricky obstacle left – Kokoro, and Kyouko turned up the heat for that match to go beyond 500 votes, a first sign of her capabilities.
However, when the quarter final draw was made, Kyouko was once again second favorite against Kuroneko who was the strongest non-PMMM competitor left. Once again, she improved on her previous tally to set the highest vote garnered by a Puella Magi (before Mami broke it in her match against Ika), with about 1/3 of her votes coming during the final rush. She then proceeded to smash Erica in the semis to take her spot in the finals.
MAMI’S PATHWAY TO THE FINALS
Key moments (tl;dr version):
-Employed tactical voting by using Yuuko to oust Shana in the first round
-Employed tactical voting by using Shirayuki to oust Nako in the first round and Cecilia in the second round, and eventually defeating Shirayuki herself
-Defeated Ika Musume in the QF following a spectacular final rush
-Defeated Kaname Madoka, the main character of the PMMM series, in the SF
How about Mami Tomoe? A narrow victory over Erio during the prelims, perhaps raising a few questions of her capability, but she proceeded to tear her opponents apart since there were not much competition on her side of the block. However, a lot of work still had to be done, as the opposite side of her block was filled with competitors, with the main threat being Shana. So plenty of tactical voting took place – Shana was eliminated in the first round, and Shirayuki was selected to the chess piece to oust Nako and to a greater extent, Cecilia.
Mami’s first real test was actually against Ika Musume in the quarter-finals, to which she continued to excel by beating the poor squid girl and setting the highest vote count for this year. Her protégé, Madoka, was up next, and many had written off Mami’s chances of making it to the finals. Three episodes only, they said. Surely it ends here? However, Mami defied the odds here to make it to the finals.
At this point, let me sidetrack to address the reasons as to why Madoka lost out to Mami. The DESU spam during Madoka’s rush was one thing, but as frustra had mentioned, there was an alternative thread after all. I always had a feeling that Mami would prove to be a stronger competitor than Madoka, as I’d indicated even before the tournament started. It has to do with the show itself. Mami completely made the first three episodes her own, earned sympathy points, and from there, her fanbase grew immensely. On the other hand, Madoka took a longer time to leave an impression on viewers- she was overshadowed by the other Puella Magis throughout the series (particularly Homura), and only made a significant impact during the last 2 episodes of the show.
So back to the championship match – while Kyouko seems to have had it tougher than Mami, Mami had to employ more tactical voting in order to progress from her block. Nonetheless, both have delivered when it mattered.
Statistically, there’s not much of a difference. Mami’s highest vote count was 710, while Kyouko’s 657 – both coming in the quarter-finals. It would be unfair to compare average vote percentages, as Kyouko has had a harder time.
However, it does prove that Mami still has a slightly greater fanbase than that of Kyouko. The prelims was an indicator of this (Mami garnering 400+ votes in a lower profile group than that of Kyouko’s), the main round was an indicator of this (Mami garnering 400+ votes even when there was lil’ compeititon), the quarter-finals was an indicator of this.
So it once again comes down to the allegiance of the PMMM supporters. A great portion of Sayaka backers would probably root for Kyouko, which leaves us with the Madoka and Homura supporters. Who will they cast their vote for? The neutrals have a role to play in this too, though not by a great extent as it is an intra-series match-up.
Kyouko once again head into a crucial match as the second favorite, so will she be able to do it again? Or will the crown head Mami’s way instead? I suspect that the total vote count would be distinctly lower than previous modern-day finals, but it will be a close one. I’m predicting a Mami win, but I’m fine with either winning it. Last match of Saimoe 2011 – here’s hoping that we have a cracker on our hands!