What better way to kick off the third round than a showdown between representatives from Saki and Madoka. One of the pull factors for this year’s tournament was to see how these two factions would fare against each other given their dominance for the past two years, and while we’ve had some scuffles between them in the form of tactical voting so far, they’re nothing compared to this match. Mami, the 2011 winner, is still going pretty strong despite the Champion’s curse hovering over her – her current run is reminiscent of Suiseiseki and Nanoha back in the old days. Those two were able to reach the block finals following their next appearance after their victories, so let’s see if Mami can match them.
Before that though, she’ll have to get past Yuu – a challenge made harder with the Matsumi sisters vote combo. Yuu has been one of Saki’s best performers as of late, having only narrowly lost out to her imouto in last year’s quarter-finals and easing past her opponents so far this year. The Saki faction knows that a victory for Yuu here will essentially secure Block A for them, with Toki most likely beating Oregairu’s Yui in the match tomorrow.
Kuro, already being a strong contestant herself, will be powered up by Yuu, making this match a daunting prospect for Miho. But hey, the Garupan MC has been here and done that before – managing to secure a victory against Ako despite the latter having combo votes with Toki. The Madoka faction are likely to side with Miho too as they are aiming to use her as cannon fodder against Ayase (if she gets past Subara) so that Madoka’s able to qualify for repechage. However, even if Kuro were to falter here, the Saki faction need not worry that much as they can put their support behind Miho and make her achieve victory in the Block Finals, thus allowing both Ako and Kuro to qualify for repechage. Perhaps that is exactly what they are planning for, but who knows. In any case, this possibility does put additional pressure on the Madoka faction.
So to sum things up, it’s crunch time for the two of the strongest factions in this year’s tournament. Who’ll take the first initiative and set the tone for the rest of the tournament? We shall wait with bated breath.