After months of toiling, it has finally come down to this. Saki’s dominance this year has culminated in yet another intra-series final as Toki Onjouji takes on Kuro Matsumi. The two most popular girls from the Achiga spin-off series meet head-to-head once again – not on the mahjong table but on the Saimoe stage this time. Even though there’s feelings of resentment from some sections of the crowd, one can’t deny that these two are deserving finalists – having put up stellar performances throughout the tourney.
Toki has always been the top favorite to win it since the start of this year’s campaign. The highest ranked of the new Saki debutants, it was always going to be a difficult task to stop her. Anyone who tried to do so have been overwhelmed by brute force, as her opponents learnt the hard way. Toki supporters are an efficient bunch – if you haven’t noticed it, Toki’s past three matches against Akarin, Louise and Nodocchi have all been filled with fakes votes for her opponents – her voters are smokescreen specialists. Not only that, they also conduct their final rushes in an interesting and well-organized way – doing it in increasing waves of three, akin to Toki’s abilities. As a result, her final rushes are often devastating – she can easily earn up to 200+ votes in the final hour.
As for Kuro, she’s the second-ranked amongst the Saki debutants in terms of popularity, so there’s not much of a difference from Toki. If the Saimoe crown were to be awarded to the contestant with the most high-profile wins, Kuro will receive it without a doubt. The Dragon Lord emerged from the Block of Death by taking down four prelim group winners, and added one more to that victim list by beating her own sister. What makes Kuro as terrifying as Toki is that she defeated these opponents without much sweat (bar Yuu) when they were supposed to be tricky match-ups. As for her voters, well, they usually do enough. No significant tactical voting or extra tricks – perhaps the only occurrence of that is when Ririchiyo ousted Chitanda (though both would be equally difficult for Kuro either way).
So, how will this one go? Will Kuro, the prelim group winner killer, be able to claim yet another scalp here? Or will her victories against Sera and Ryuuka come back to haunt her as Toki seeks to avenge her Senriyama comrades? The votes of the fans of the other Saki contestants will play an important role here – for example, Nodocchi and Yuu voters are more likely to cast their vote for Kuro. However in the end, the most crucial factor could very well be how Kuro does during the early stages of the match – she has to do well in them, because Toki’s final rushes have been superior to that of hers – at best, Kuro has managed to get about 150 votes in the final hour, which is less than Toki’s 200 as mentioned above. For matches like this, that could end up being costly.
tl;dr Pick: Kuro // Prediction: Toki
Nodocchi’s SOA Corner
In favor of Toki:
-Whoever’s beaten Nodoka in the semis has gone on to become the winner.
-Past 4 Saimoe winners (2008-2011) are contestants whose QF matches were the first or last.
-Past 4 Saimoe winners (2008-2011) are contestants who were on the left-hand side of their respective blocks. (2010 had a different system but Azusa was on the ‘left’ too)
In favor of Kuro:
-No one from Block B has ever won the tourney. Meanwhile, 2 of the recent winners (2009, 2011) have come from Block F.