And so it begins anew.
Saimoe 2012 opens with the titular character of the defining series of the year so far. Her main opposition here would be Ro-Kyu-Bu’s Maho who could give Saki some problems. But not enough problems though as Saki’s gonna tanoshii her way to victory.
Mahiru is looking for her very first Saimoe win after getting knocked out by Angel Beats’ Yui in 2010. Rin and Miya already notched one Saimoe win apiece last year. While the numbers do tell that Mahiru received the fewest number of votes, do note that she was coming off a very competitive opening group, so I actually think she’s the favorite here. Her vote percentage actually gives off a hint of her strength, and with Working being the most powerful faction out of these three, I’m highly convinced that Mahiru will go into this match throwing haymakers.
What gives Rin the edge here though will be the combo votes she’ll be getting with Cecilia. Infinite Stratos’ though as a faction has looked weakened after a year, so those combo votes might not be enough.
As for Miya, Amagami being significantly weaker this year means she’ll (gently) bite the dust this year.
Smile Precure, one of the surprises of the prelims, will try to replicate that success in opening match day in what could be a beautiful match. Probably too close to call even. I feel that Precure being fresher series would be the deciding factor for more voters to side with Reika.
Cecilia of course, is not weak competition as evidenced by her solid performance last year, and again those combo votes with Rin might help both of them advance.
Raika,’s (obviously) no Reika so let’s just leave it at that.
I’ll just look at the numbers here uh, okay. Ilya’s been blessed in the opening round bracket, getting two of the lowest ranked ones in the Prelim One.
One of the challengers for the Block A crown start off with easy competition. Again, when you don’t really have to look beyond the stats to know that this one is easily in Kobato’s favor – she had more votes than those two combined.
Yuno’s ready for some slicing and dicing and Natsuiro’s Saki’s going to need a miracle to keep her Saimoe season alive. No love for Crea in the prelims, she won’t be getting much here either.
Nako was good enough to win a prelim group last year, but ran in to what would be a red-hot Shirayuki in the opening round. Her competition is much less-imposing in this year’s opener, so I expect her to notch her first Saimoe win at the expense of two characters who had to gut it out in the Second Prelims to qualify. Maria has Rika aiding her this match day, but, like a broken record, it won’t be enough.
Looking like an East Round here, right, Yuuki? Rika might be up for the challenge but it takes a Rika of the Furude kind in her prime to take down one of Saki’s aces (who’s not in her prime this year, but that shouldn’t really matter now). Tiffania circa 2008 wouldn’t have beaten Tacos. Oh, and same match day with Koromo is just overkill.
A demon against two witches. Even without the “split” votes it would’ve taken a lot of firepower to take down one of the most consistent Saki performers. Koromo has advanced to the Saimoe quarterfinals twice, a feat only few Saimoe “Hall of Famers” have matched and a lot of characters could only dream of. Once again, Koromo might not even have to use the Haitei here to win, it should be cruise control here even without the accompanying votes from Tacos.
Okay, now this is actually a tricky matchup to evaluate. Remon made the headlines by winning one of Prelim Two groups, but that doesn’t really say much. Miyuki belongs to best faction out there, while Usami is one of the prominent players in Mayo Chiki. So who to pick?
I ended up siding with Remon in this one – Usami had those numbers in a group that featured ultimately only twelve qualifiers in the Main Draw, while Remon was in the ferocious Group 16 which accounts for 26 representatives for the main event. Of course, she didn’t do too well, that’s the knock on her, but that’s my gut feeling on this one (which could easily be wrong).
Once again I’m relying on the fact that Ghutatan’s coming from a group that also got in only 12, as opposed to Tsukasa’s more competitive “heat.” Tsukasa has Saimoe experience last year, knocking out what I thought was the more heralded opponent in Kasugano Sora. This will be one of those times that I’ll side onto experience over freshness, so I believe Tsukasa gets the nod here. Should be close, though, with Ghutatan hailing from a superior faction (and having Akarin’s VA).
Definitely not the “Day of the Future” for Miki as her Saimoe future is actually bleak. One of the supposedly strong representative from im@s gets a tough break facing the ace of a superior faction (based in the prelims performance). Tomoka’s gonna apply some full court presure to set up a meeting with Koromo. Split vote theory here is becoming more of a myth instead of a reality in Saimoe recently, so discard that possibility in deciding this one.
Block B starts off with an all-Prelim Two qualifiers affair – exciting. Yuka had the fewest votes according to stats, but bears repeating that’s Prelim One Group One numbers right there. And she also finished second in her Prelim Two grouping. Tomo didn’t fare too well even in Prelim Two, while Shino was literally the last qualifier in the main event. So yeah, Yuka, it is.
This would’ve been a very competitive match – in 2008. As it is, Higurashi’s faded more than Hayate, but they also have won the whole thing unlike the latter. That being said, the one who will finish second to the more favored Isumi will be Kanade Trolljousama and not Hanyuu, but I don’t really see this one becoming a rout.
Isumi will pick up another win here (making it five consecutive opening round victories, and her tenth overall, putting her in a rather exclusive company).
Akarin and Hanyuu in the same day? Oh joy! Even with Isumi’s supporting votes, that won’t be stopping us from witnessing Akarin’s championship potential as she’ll likely put on a blowout here even against one of Hayate’s better competitors. Forget tactical voting here, can’t snipe what you can’t see!
If there’s any glimmer of hope to im@s’ Saimoe chances, it has to be with Kugyuu-powered Iorin, but not for long as she’s in the same bracket for Toki AND Akari. Still, she’s primed for victory here to follow up her stellar preliminary round performance. Nichijou winning a match was never an everyday thing so yeah, don’t expect Mio to get one here either.
Speaking of Toki, it’s her time to shine and she’ll be looking to follow up an imminent Akarin whitewashing. Sena did decent – in a mediocre group, while Toki garnered the biggest percentage of votes – in the whole prelims – in one of the “deeper” groups in the pool – Group Five. I think Konata in her prime wouldn’t have beaten Toki, so you don’t have to wonder how an ersatz one would do.
So the better question would be – who would have the bigger margin of victory – Toki or Akarin? This should be a block-long discussion as we gear up for their inevitable battle.
Mei will be stronger than her vote totals here suggest (hint: Group One). Once again I apologize for dismissing Another as just another series to bite the dust. Ayano should be a good test for Mei, however, as we know Yuru Yuri is one of this year’s premier factions.
I’m pretty sure Mei’s already eyeing for what lies beyond the opening round though, and I don’t see her faltering here.
With those numbers you wouldn’t have imagined Shirayuki as someone who was in the Block Finals last year. Shinobu’s tabbed to do much better than those numbers as well, so not a very Nise showing from her so far. While this is could be a dogfight, I’m discounting Ayame from this one.
So pretty much it’s Shinobu against Shirayuki, if it’s time to bear her fangs, this should be it. Many times Shirayuki has been discounted last year, and surprised us, so even in her incredibly weakened form she’ll hang close to Shinobu. Faction power will ultimately carry Shinobu to a win.
Two Saimoe all-time greats going at it with a combined win count of 19 wins between them, and Sakurako caught in the crossfire. Yuno reached the 10-win milestone last year, and if you do the math, Azusa’s looking for her 10th in this showdown, after infamously getting blanked last year (and having the dubious distinction of a first round exit as a defending champ).
Looks like K-On is out of that slump, but the only real way to prove it is get the win here. Yuno puts her undefeated Round One streak on the line here (one of the three along with Isumi and Nagi who have far easier matches). In terms of firepower Azusa is the odds-on pick here, although Yuno has this charm that endears 2ch’ers to go for her. Not that charm is wanting from Azusa who wouldn’t be the 2010 champ without it, but yeah.
In the end, leaning with Azusa here, a champion can’t possibly lose two first round matches in a row, right? Right?
Cue in “This is Saimoe, stranger things have happened”
I love Chihaya, I really do, but in this battle of Second Prelim Qualifiers, faction strength is often the determining factor – and Haganai’s the strongest right here. In fact, Yozora just missed direct qualification by a hair, and even the prelim two win by the same manner. So this is a match that is Yozora’s to lose, and she won’t.
One thing to look out for: Nazuna’s comboing with Yuno. Could be a factor, but I’d say the gap between the strength of Yozora and Nazuna is large enough that it shouldn’t be a decisive factor in the end.
Well, this looks like a match where split votes could be costly. That doesn’t make Nori vs. Chris any less interesting as this is actually a rematch of their Group Eight encounter, which Nori obviously narrowly won. Sae in the middle of this one makes it a hard call, but “youth” trumps “experience” will be my basis for picking Chris here. No surprises for me if Nori overcomes the “split” but I have this feeling that Chris is geared up for a Round Two berth.
Another tough one which will put to test if K-On actually got it together again after their 2011 laugher. This Ami-Ritsu tiff could’ve been a match in 2009 (which I think Ami would’ve won). The numbers we have here do tell that Run performed the best – let’s not forget A Channel did some amount of winning last year. Complicated stuff.
This is one of those Saimoe-fantasy nightmare matchups, all three have a good chance of winning – no one’s really a fresh rookie here, and A-Channel, the newest of the bunch looked nowhere like their 2011 selves in the prelims.
We never saw Ami’s full potential other than her winning a preliminary group back in 2009 (a group that featured Clannad’s Nagisa, among others) as she had to pass the torch to eventual champ Taiga in an intra-series match.
As for Ritsu, her streak of Round one wins ended last year falling to the would-be finalist Sakura Kyouko. She hopes to avoid that fate again here.
After some deliberation, I ended up with Ritsu bouncing back with the win here, as she does figure to have performed the best against what I deemed to be better competition in the prelims.
Not much of a head scratcher as the other two but potentially a tricky match as well. The easiest way to put it is that the Ichika and Mako have to go through the grinders to get here while Minna didn’t. Not that Minna finished well in her first prelim group, but that’s good enough. That being said, we do have to take note that given a good matchup Minna takes advantage of it – that approach did her well in 2009, and will do her good here, at least for one round.