It has almost been two years, but the match for fifth place in the 71st Inter High School Mahjong Team Tournament has recently concluded.
SPOILERS FOR THOSE WHO HAVE ONLY WATCHED THE ANIME ADAPTATIONS UP AHEAD. BE WARNED
As a freak coincidence, I published this post two years ago today. Imagine that.
So now I’m going to see how my predications panned out while providing commentary on this and that and various things. A lot sure has happened between chapters 160 and 188 (including some backstory for Teru and Sumire and Teru x Sumire).
Do note that the point distribution for each hanchan (game) was taken from the 71st Inter High School Mahjong Championships Match for 5th page on the Saki Wiki.
Onjouji Toki is probably going to be the star of the vanguard match despite pushing her body to the limit during the Side A semifinals. She will likely have her way with both Motouchi Naruka, who doesn’t believe in the supernatural which leaves her vulnerable to Toki’s foresight, and Hanada Kirame.
Toki was relatively dominant in this match, which is reflected by the difference in points. Any points she lost was only due to tsumo! Even though Toki was briefly hospitalized after her performance at the semi-finals, it appears her foresight ability has evolved and she is now able to foresee even more possible outcomes.
We saw how helpless “normal players” were against Toki during the quarterfinals; excluding Hanada’s minor ability to never go bust, she and Naruka are essentially normal players. Furthermore, Gardevoir was confused by unorthodox plays and only managed to complete a single hand in the semifinals for Side B with the assistance of Tsujigaito Satoha giving her tiles to call (from what we saw). Perhaps Hanada, who demonstrated her willingness to do co-op play in the Side A semifinals, can do a repeat performance and team up with Naruka in order to stop Toki’s potential winning streaks.
Naruka won a huge baiman hand against Suzu in E-1, but she was essentially powerless after that. If Nodoka is the “normal player” who doesn’t believe in the supernatural, then Naruka is the unfortunate underdog who gets away with winning a single big hand before constantly dealing in since she doesn’t respect or believe in the other girls’ superpowers.
As for Kirame, her play in this match far exceeded my expectations. Perhaps that’s what happens when she isn’t completely outclassed by the likes of Teru or when she’s not attempting to absorb all the damage so the game isn’t over before her teammates can even play? With that being said, perhaps Sera is right in saying Kirama seems to have a sharp intuition for mahjong given how she chose a very unlikely wait that prevented a certain bombergirl from completing a yakuman tsumo.
I was partially right about Kirame’s tendency to use teamwork to overcome strong opponents, but she actually ended up teaming up with Toki to stop Suzu’s winning streak! It makes sense considering how the two girls teamed up to thwart Teru, but it seems like Toki got a little bit closer with Kirame since she started (mentally) referring to the girl as Hanada-chan instead of Hanada-san.
However, Toki’s dominance may be kept in check by Ueshige Suzu‘s explosive wins. The question is, will Suzu’s ability, which makes her stronger in response to her opponents’ strength levels, actually trigger at this particular mahjong table?
Suzu’s ability did proc due to Toki running mayhem on the mahjong table! However, she also had some counterplay against Toki’s foresight ready thanks to FunaQ. Be that as it may, she still ended up being in the red overall (thanks to Naruka’s baiman).
Honestly, this round is much more unpredictable. We just have so little information on these players. Mase Yuuko has had positive scores in both the quarterfinal and semifinal matches, which implies she’s a strong player. Yasukouchi Yoshiko was mildly successful with her fast and cheap hands, but whether or not she will switch back to her old style now that she is not up against Hirose Sumire remains to be seen (if switching between styles is even possible).
I can’t believe I forgot the golden rule in Saki: there simply won’t be that much of a change in points or placements after the sergeants play. We only got to see the girls play two hands!
Mase Yuuko came out on top, noyo~
Yoshiko stuck with her quick style, but the one hand we got to see her win had her pressing forward and lowering the value of her hand in order to win, which is a lot more aggressive behaviour than what she showed us during the semifinals.
FunaQ claimed that Himori Chikako has tried very hard to get better, but FunaQ also mentioned that Usuzan’s vanguard and sergeant (and lieutenant) “are not quite on the Inter-High level of play.” To her credit, Chikako did land a baiman tsumo early into the semifinals, but she still ended up with a negative score.
Personally, I think Nijou Izumi is not going to perform well, given that she once again is a lone freshmen against 3 high school senior opponents. Who knows if the seniors will get a power-up as they attempt to claim 5th place in order to make things slightly easier for their underclassmen in the next Inter-High?
Chikako won a single hand (from what I can tell) during S-4, which happened to be a haneman tsumo! If she hadn’t scored, she would have been deeply in the red (and Yuuko would have kept 6,000 more points – she was last dealer).
Izumi is a jobber, but it didn’t look like her opponents powered-up.
Atago Hiroe and Eguchi Sera will dominate while Iwadate Yuan and Ezaki Hitomi cower in fear. The fact that Hiroe and Sera are implied rivals will keep each other fired up. However, I think Hiroe might have the slight edge as she has shown to have a flexible playstyle while Sera sticks to big but slow hands. Maybe Ritz will let Yuan and Politics Girl surpass expectations given how they had terrible semifinal performances, but that seems unlikely.
I was mostly right. Sera and Hiroe did control that match for the most part. Yuan won a single hand and Hitomi won two (and one of them was very much due to Hiroe’s help in shifting the draw order). In the end, however, Hitomi and Yuan were sort of played with.
To elaborate more on Hiroe’s style, her defense is very strong even though she often pushes forward and “chases” after her opponents who are in tenpai. Most players would fold or deal in, but she often wins! That’s showcased beautifully in E-4. Also it turns out that Sera has a 45% win rate against Hiroe when they’re directly up against each other, but Hiroe usually loses to Sera when it comes to competitions with totalized scores (like in individual tournaments). This is, of course, assuming the only thing we’re looking at is the aggregate amount of points gained!
The fact that all of the players wanted to play with each other again sometime in the future got me so choked up…!
This is probably going to be the most interesting round for this 5th place match. Shindouji will be a good position to secure 5th place if Shirouzu Mairu manages to clear several reservations. However, Mairu typically goes for quick wins and bails in dangerous positions. What I’m saying is that her play in the semifinals, where she continued to greedily push and cleared several high reservations, was forced out of necessity. There is a chance she cannot do it again since such a playstyle does not come naturally to her.
This entire section – other than the objective statement in which I stress how Mairu needs to clear several reservations in order to have the best chance at winning this match for fifth or the subjectives guess that this round could potentially be very interesting – could be considered completely false.
Mairu had entertained the thought of going for quick, cheap hands, but at most she went with damaten in order to increase the chance of winning at the cost of not declaring riichi. She went big and didn’t go home! Even with the other three players being very focused on blocking her reservations, Mairu more or less outplayed them.
While Maya Yukiko only has the ability is to get an expensive tsumo once a day, she is capable of winning rounds without using her left hand. Maya also considers many details while she plays (unlike a certain supernova who just blindly does double riichi). She should be able to stop Mairu several times, I feel.
Hiroko Funakubo (aka FunaQ) and Atago Kinue are also detail-orientated, digital players. This means there won’t be a useless fisherwoman who deals into everything… We will have to see if FunaQ was able to successfully analyze her opponents in time. What’s interesting to note is that Kinue is FunaQ’s cousin! Perhaps they’re familiar with each other’s style. As long as Kinue isn’t too hard on herself, she may have her chance to shine.
Even though the gap in points across all teams basically forces Maya to only aim for huge hands, she wins with a small 3,900 hand at one point, which is actually not the worst case scenario. Winning a small hand is better than letting her opponents score instead, right? She played very well here all things considered since she was the only one on her team with a positive net score. Plus, it’s suggested that Maya’s daily BIG WIN might be on the same level as or even higher than the double aces’ link! It’s always hard to rank abilities which guarantees different things…
While FunaQ had several moments of brilliance, she became tilted and dealt in five times in a row. Meanwhile, Kinue revealed that she actually sort of kind of slightly believes in the occult and is better off for it. And then she lost focus and dealt into Mairu’s small hand when she had a huge hand in iishanten.
If Marui managed to clear a decent amount of reservations, Tsuruta Himeko may control the Captain match. This is assuming that no one can stop Himeko from winning during the rounds in which their combo is active. Despite Ryuuka’s Toki Vision, Awai’s double-riichi and Absolute Safety Zone, and Shizuno’s Lord of the Mountain Depths in the semifinals, Himeko was unstoppable during rounds in which Marui had cleared a reservation. As such, it seems that Himeko’s wins during such rounds will likely be predetermined.
Nothing juicy here. Next.
…just kidding. Himeko more or less surpassed the key! Ryuuka just had to get in the way, is all…still, exciting stuff!
Shishihara Sawaya used up a lot of Kamuy during the Side B semifinals which will not be fully recharged by the 5th place battle. Unfortunately, Hoyau Kamuy was also used up the previous day, which may have had a chance to block Himeko’s predetermined wins. Sawaya will have to hope her remaining clouds, Kamuy, and whatever else she had (which was hinted at in Saki 154) will carry her through the Captain match.
I guess I was seeing things in Saki 154. Either way, Sawaya was stuck in a tough position once again. How does it feel to be the best player on a team that consists of 3 mediocre players? I always always feel so bad for Sawaya.
Shout-outs to kamuy since Golden Kamuy is airing this season!
Although Shimizudani Ryuuka may have used up all of her Toki Vision charges during the semifinal, Toki Vision may quickly recharge. Be that as it may, I think it’s safe to assume that Toki has been resting her head in Ryuuka’s lap for the past two days whenever possible. It would be nice to see if Ryuuka lives up to her reputation of having the highest point gain average per-game within the Osaka region. Perhaps she can actually win hands without relying on Toki Vision this time.
There was no Toki vision this time around, but it turns out the anime-original ability Ryuuka demonstrated in Achiga-hen is in fact canon. Limitless Heaven cranks up her observation skills to superhuman levels! Without the boost, Ryuuka was largely a bystander, however…
Suehara Kyouko just needs to win quick hands to interrupt her opponents’ large ones. However, Kyouko may not have the proper countermeasures to deal with her opponents this time since Himeko will have predetermined wins, Ryuuka will have a version of future sight, and Sawaya will be using different abilities from the ones she used in the semifinals (admittedly, Kyouko could watch recordings of Sawaya’s previous matches to gain intel). Said tactic will also rely on her teammates creating a significant point lead before the Captain match, as her small, fast hands may not be enough to prevent an upset.
This excerpt doesn’t really account for the fact that the girls are only playing for a single hanchan (the other matches have the girls playing two hanchan) so perhaps quick wins thereotically could have been enough. I’m truly impressed with how quick Suehara is to adapt to supernatural happenings. It’s even more impressive when you consider how she’s the only completely “normal player” at the table.
In short…I guess I’m not sure who’s going to win this match. Every team has their share of both weak and strong players. If I really had to choose, I would say it’ll be a close match between Senriyama and Himematsu. Both Shindouji and Usuzan have three really weak players in their line-up.
W-Well, one of my guesses for the winner was right, hahahaha…
I really wonder where Usuzan’s advisor is. Maybe they don’t even have one, like Kiyosumi. It’s so impressive they got this far in the first place.
What I really like about this match for fifth place is how all of these girls were trying to better themselves. It goes without saying that mahjong players will always try to win and improve at mahjong, but these girls pushed themselves to the limit. Toki’s foresight expanded in scope. Himeko was so very close to scoring more points than the key indicated. Hitomi didn’t blame politics a single time. That dedication is beautiful to me. It’s what makes Saki beautiful to me.
But we also got to see the better sides of various underestimated girls. Kirame was a real pleasant surprise for instance.
Ahh, I’ve blabbed on for too long.
Thank you for reading.