Here we go!
Toki vs Nodocchi. The new ace and the reliable old head. Two of the top favorites tipped for the crown since the initial stages of the tournament. Here they are finally, but only one will go through.
Toki has crushed all of her opponents since her debut, even those who were supposed to cause trouble for her – Akarin was brushed aside as if she wasn’t there, while Louise’s void powers were nullified. With an average vote % of above 60%, she is indeed a class above the rest.
On the other hand, Nodoka has been relatively quiet, akin to her aloof SOA persona – no headline-grabbing wins, other than her duel against Ako. Nodoka just did what she had to – proceed as far as she can. And now, she’s back in familiar territory – the semi-finals, the stage that has caused so much heartbreak for her for the past two tourneys she has participated in. And this could perhaps be the most crucial one yet, for this is probably her last realistic chance at glory before the Winner’s Syndrome takes its effect on the Saki girls.
On paper, Toki looks to be the favorite to proceed to the finals here – but it might not be as easy as it seems. Being the favorite, she will definitely be seen as a threat for the other semi-finalists – particularly amongst Kuro supporters. Of course, there will be some sections who will be wanting a Toki vs Kuro match as a subplot, but there will probably be more who will be looking forward to the reunion subplot between Nodocchi and Kuro, especially since it’ll improve Kuro’s chances of winning the crown. So, this will indeed be Toki’s toughest match thus far, and it’ll be interesting to see how she fends this one off. A small factor that could help Toki is the fact that Nodocchi has already won a 2ch-organized Saimoe tournament – in the form of Manga Saimoe last year. However, I don’t see it being a great influence, given the low participation rate in Manga Saimoe.
In any case, if Toki can beat Nodoka by a large margin here, I’m not afraid to say that she already has the tourney in the bag. Will she be forced to shift multiple turns ahead to achieve this today?
tl;dr Pick: Nodocchi // Prediction: Toki