Sunday, March 17, 2013

Draw Analysis and Coverage Announcement

Before I begin my analysis on the draw, I'll make an announcement regarding this year's coverage of the Haru Koushien.

Due to circumstances outside of my control, a convention I assist with is occurring Thursday-Sunday next week.  This means I'll either fully or partially miss games on days 9-12 of the tournament.  I'll go back and watch the games and do a write-up for them, but will not have the benefit of watching them for analyzing the championship game.

That out of the way, onto the draw:

Quadrant 1 - The "Show Me" Quadrant
  • Naruto (Tokushima) vs. Utusnomiya Shougyou (Tochigi) - Day 2, Game 2
  • Seikou Gakuin (Fukushima) vs. Masuda Shouyou (Shimane) - Day 2, Game 3
  • Moriokadai Fuzoku (Iwate) vs. Yasuda Gakuen (Tokyo) - Day 2, Game 4
  • Kyoto Shouei (Kyoto) vs. (Winner of) - Day 5, Game 3
    • Tsuruga Kehi (Fukui) vs. Okinawa Shougaku (Okinawa) - Day 1, Game 1
I call it the "Show Me" quadrant because there are a lot of teams in this quadrant who have been to Koushien, but not necessarily had big successes.  Naruto did well last year, but was stymied in the quarterfinals.  There's Seikou Gakuin, Moriokadai Fuzoku and Tsuruga Kehi as well.  For some of the lesser known names, there's the opportunity to at least make it past the first day.  Kyoto Shouei specifically will be tested as the Kinki champions.

It's another reason why the name fits.  Okinawa Shougaku, whose last appearance 5 years ago resulted in winning it all, will have to go from deep in the brackets to repeat the feat.  First up is the aforementioned Tsuruga Kehi, familiar in name, but not necessarily as strong this year.

I expect Seikou Gakuin to reach the end of the quadrant and face Okinawa Shougaku (though not without a tough game against Yasuda Gakuen).  Okinawa Shougaku will move to the semis.

Quadrant 2 - Now is the time
  • Shoushikan (Kagoshima) vs. Yamato Kouryou (Nara) - Day 3, Game 1
  • Komono (Mie) vs. Hokushou (Hokkaido) - Day 3, Game 2
  • Urawa Gakuin (Saitama) vs. Tosa (Kochi) - Day 3, Game 3
  • Yamagata Chuo (Yamagata) vs. (Winner of) - Day 6, Game 2
    • Riseisha (Osaka) vs. Iwakuni Shougyou (Yamaguchi) - Day 1, Game 2
It's surprising to me how rather even the brackets are this year.  Here, Urawa Gakuin has the ability to improve upon last year's performance, where they couldn't hold a lead in the 9th against Osaka Touin.  It's the time for them to get to the semis and perhaps further.

For the rest of the teams, now is also the time to make a decent run.  Iwakuni Shougyou, Yamagata Chuo and Tosa it might be a bit harder, but the opportunity is there to get to the quarterfinals.

I am most interested in the team from Nara not named Tenri or Chiben Gakuen. Yamato Kouryou has an above average ace in Tachita Shouta, but like Toukou Gakuen's Matsui Yuuki, he cannot do everything himself.

Urawa Gakuin has the inside track to the semifinals, but with no team showing either a huge display of offense or a staff ace, do not be surprised if someone else emerges out of this bracket.

Quadrant 3 - Survive and advance
  • Sendai Ikuei (Miyagi) vs. Souseikan (Nagasaki) - Day 4, Game 1
  • Ryuukokudai Heian (Kyoto) vs. Waseda Jitsugyou (Tokyo) - Day 4, Game 2
  • Kanzei (Okayama) vs. Kochi (Kochi) - Day 4, Game 3
  • Houtoku Gakuen (Hyogo) vs. (Winner of) - Day 6, Game 1
    • Tokoha Kikugawa (Shizuoka) vs. Harue Kougyou (Fukui) - Day 1, Game 3
As fair as the first round matchups turned up, here too are they mostly fair.  It just so happens that quite a few strong teams ended up here.

Sendai Ikuei, probably considered one of the favorites if not the overall favorite, winds up in a bracket with Heian, Soujitsu, Kanzei, and Houtoku Gakuen.  Oy.

Tokoha Kikugawa finally pokes their head back into Koushien after a 5-year drought.  But they get the short end of the stick and have to play an extra game.  Harue Kougyou also suffers from bad luck.  Win their first ever super-regional title, draw an extra game - and then Houtoku Gakuen should they win.

It will truly be a survive and advance bracket.  Teams will be beaten and battered as they advance out of this quadrant.  And because of that Sendai Ikuei - a favorite to win it all, may not make it out of this quadrant.  Even if they do, they may have to empty their tank to do so.

The top contenders to oust the front-runners are probably Kanzei and Houtoku Gakuen, but as mentioned it will not be easy.

Quadrant 4 - As easy as 1-2-3?
  • Saibi (Ehime) vs. Kouryou (Hiroshima) - Day 5, Game 1
  • Seiseikou (Kumamoto) vs. Jyousou Gakuin (Ibaraki) - Day 5, Game 2
  • Kenritsu Gifu Shougyou (Gifu) vs. Hanasaki Tokuharu (Saitama) - Day 6, Game 3
  • Osaka Touin (Osaka) vs. (Winner of) - Day 7, Game 1
    • Engaru (Hokkaido) vs. Iwaki Kaisei (Fukushima) - Day 2, Game 1
Osaka Touin has the opportunity to do what no school has done - win 3 consecutive calendar Koushien tournaments.

And if the draw favored any one team the most it would be them.  They should get a warmup game against one of the 21st century schools in their opening round, then will dive in to the bracket.  However, they by far are the favorites to advance out of this quadrant, and will face in all likelihood a battered opponent.

It's rather unfortunate for Engaru and Iwaki Kaisei.  Each into their first Koushien as a 21st century team, and they have to face either other.  Not only that, but win and face Osaka Touin?  The two teams are playing for one victory and no more.

Seiseikou is given a chance again to advance.  It won't be a cake walk, but a potential rematch with Osaka Touin actually is a possibility.

If Saibi's ace Anraku can last 9 innings, maybe they might be the team that wrecks Osaka Touin's plans.

There is the high possibility that most of these brackets will be scratch into the semifinals.  But in that time, many teams have a decent possibility to at least stand at home plate and sing their school song.  Once rosters are out, I'll get those translated as best as possible and get the writeups for the games.

Just 4 days to go!


JapanVidMan said...

Good to see Kikugawa back!
I haven't had anyone to really root for in awhile. Glad to see you're still covering it too. Thanks!

I can certainly understand where normally having an extra game would be a negative, but there's 5 days rest in between. I would think it might be even more difficult for the teams that don't have the play-in game to get up mentally after waiting til the 6th day to play their first. What do you think?

Goro Shigeno said...

Having 5 days off certainly means the players can rest up. But I think it's just mentally having to win an extra game to win Koushien that makes it difficult IMO.

I'm sure getting antsy for your first game or if you're playing a strong team, the possible anxiety can hurt, but it's always a lot to ask for to win 5 games, much less 6.

JapanVidMan said...

Can't argue with that logic!