So there's still the Osaka and Hyogo recaps for me to do, but in the meantime here is the complete field.
It's an interesting one that's for sure.
And with the draws out, it gets even more interesting.
So, lets start from the Day 1 bracket (That's Bracket H) and work our way around...
Big names here are Yokohama and Chiben Gakuen. While Chiben Gakuen is one of two schools to come out of Nara perenially, it doesn't necessarily equate to a deep run. Yokohama has had their issues getting to Natsu Koushien in recent years but when they did in 2008, they can make a deep run. Problem is, their Kanagawa taikai was less than impressive.
Joining them are the likes of Imabari Nishi - who was a wild card for a couple of game in 2006, Tsuruoka Higashi - who hasn't been in a while, and Takasaki Kenkou Fukushidai who hasn't been at all.
I expect the big names to meet in the bracket final, and despite Yokohama's struggles, get out of this bracket.
As one of my favorite teams, Narashino finds themselves in this bracket. Unfortunately, while I wouldn't call it the bracket of death per se, it is a trap bracket (THE CAKE IS A LIE!).
Seriously though, they face Shizuoka first, who have come on as of late, then can face Meitoku Gijyuku or Hokkai, both of which are perennial teams and can be a stumbling block if not taken seriously, then there's the possibility of facing Kanazawa's Kamata, or Koushien semi-regulars Seikou Gakuin or Nichinan Gakuen.
I don't believe that there are any teams that play at a level equal to Narashino, but at the same time in any given game I think there's a tangible chance they do. I like them to advance, but at the same time I'm crossing my fingers.
Teikyou drops into this bracket, with former darling (albeit just because of Kikuchi Yuusei) Hanamaki Higashi.
Teikyou's bracket is fairly light on compeition, with only regulars Sakushin Gakuin and Fukui Shougyou occupying the other half of the bracket (though they do face each other first!)
A possible wild card in this whole scenario is Furukawa Kougyou. Though this is their first time to Koushien, they defeated both Tohoku and Rifu to win their bid. That's no small feat for sure.
I do expect Teikyou to be the favorite here, though I am intrigued by Furukawa Kougyou.
There are a lot of recent middle-of-the-road Koushien teams paired along with first timers here. Jyosuikan, Eimei, Kamimura Gakuen and Noshiro Shougyou have been to Kousien in recent years, but have little to show for it (yes, Kamimura Gakuen did make the finals in the spring).
Then there's teams like Higashi-Osakadai Kashiwara who defeated Osaka Touin for their title, Itoman who finally made it after years of frustration, Seki Shoukou who defeated Oogaki Nichidai, and Shigakukan who denied Aikoudai Meiden their chance.
It's up in the air really, and I don't really have a favorite to come out of this bracket.
Sanko (aka Nichidai-san) plops themselves down into this bracket, and draws Nihon Bunri first. I like Nihon Bunri, and I loved their run in 2009, but in reality this is Niigata we're talking about here. It doesn't look good for them.
Chiben Wakayama also finds themselves here, though on the opposite side of the bracket. Hanasaki Tokuharu will get first crack.
Though these two are the favorites to meet in the bracket final, a wild card here will be Kaisei (Shimane - there are 2 Kaisei's this year) and the re-emergence of Nonomura-kantoku. He ran a pretty tight ship over there, but lost his job due to remarks he made regarding 21st century teams in senbatsu. Probably considered one of the old-time hard-liners, he's sure to have his team in top condition. Whether that will translate to an upset of Nichidai-san is another story.
Sanko will be the favorite for now, but I'd like to see how this year's Chiben Wakayama plays. Seriously... there's no point in looking at their prefectural taikai.
This is the first of the 3 4-team brackets.
Ryuukokudai Heian is here along with Touyoudai Himeji, the other Kaisei (Nagasaki), and Shin-Minato. Heian certainly has more overall expereience, but it seems whenvever Touyoudai Himeji makes it in recent years, you'd better watch out.
Bracket F may be the weakest of the 8 on paper, with Kousei Gakuin perhaps being the front-runner, if you can call anyone one at this point.
It may mean there's a chance for Senshuudai Tamana to advance, and I'd like that since I root for them each year.
REALLY??? REALLY????!!! ARE YOU FREAKING SERIOUS???!!!
Kanzei draws Kyukoku (Kyushu Kokusaidai Fuzoku)??!!!
That's like saying, "Congratulations for reaching Koushien, now bend over."
I guess I'd better sit in Kanzei's section that day. They're not getting past the first game.
The real loser I think winds up being first-timers Tokyo Shidai Shiojiri. Meihou is their first opponent, and even if they win that, they get Kyukoku. Not fun.
Judging from my reaction, I think you know who I expect to get out of Bracket G.
And that's it! Games start in 2 days... let the battles begin!