Thursday, July 21, 2016

Natsu Koushien Qualifying - Blitzkrieg through the country (Kanto)

(Yes, I know I waited until last to do Kanto, it's such a big region that I need the time to sit down and go through it all. I seem to have less time - as seen by me not able to manually do each prefecture's brackets anymore.)

There's a lot to go through, so we're going to blitz through all of them to let you know where the major players are, or in some cases aren't. Unless otherwise stated by the prefecture themselves, I will refer to quadrants by number going top-down from left to right (Upper left = 1, lower left = 2, etc.)

Tochigi - Best 8
A lot of the prefectures here have made a lot of progress. They have to considering how many schools compete. Sakushin Gakuin has represented the prefecture the last 5 years, but have had less and less success:
  • ① Bunsei Geidai Fuzoku vs. ① Sakushin Gakuin
  • ① Yaita Chuo vs. Ashikaga Minami
  • Motegi vs. Kuroiso
  • ① Kokugakuin Tochigi vs. ① Seiran Taito
A lot of the seeded teams have reached the Best 8. Sakushin Gakuin is there again, and facing possibly the only team that could mount a challenge against them.

Ibaraki - Round of 16
I was so glad to see Kasumigaura make the Koushien tournament last year. They had been hitting the ceiling so much recently I thought they'd knock themselves out eventually. Sadly though, Ibaraki has had very little success as of late. Yes, Jyousou Gakuin did win it all back in 2003. But they are also responsible for 13 of the prefecture's 14 wins since 2000 (Fujishiro getting the only other one in 2005).
  • ① Jyousou Gakuin vs. Chuo
  • Toride Dai-ichi vs. ①Tokiwadai
  • Mito Shougyou vs. Ryuugasaki Dai-ichi
  • Taga vs. Shimotsuma Dai-ni
  • ①Kasumigaura vs. Katsuta Kougyou
  • Hasaki Yanagawa vs. Hitachi Kita
  • Meishuu Gakuen Hitachi vs. Tsukuba Kokusaidai Harukaze
  • Suijyou vs. Mito Kiryou
There were 10 seeded teams in Ibaraki, and of those just 3 are left, and 2 of them are the aforementioned Jyousou Gakuin, and last year's winner Kasumigaura.

Gunma - Round of 16
There's been a bit of regression, but that the only direction to go when first timers Maebashi Ikuei won it all back in 2013. That said, Kendai Takasaki has reached at least the 3rd round the past 2 years, so it's not all bad. And the representative from Gunma has only been one-and-done 5 times since 2000.
  • ① Maebashi Ikuei vs. Kiryuu Dai-ichi
  • Oota Higashi vs. ⑤~⑧ Kiryuu Shiritsu Shougyou
  • ⑤~⑧ Kitoku vs. Chuo Chuutou
  • Tone Jitsugyou vs. ③~④ Maebashi Kougyou
  • Tatebayashi vs. Kiryuu Nishi
  • Takasaki Shougyou vs. ⑤~⑧ Isesaki Seimei
  • Takasaki Kougyou vs. Tone Shougyou
  • Kiryuu Minami vs. ② Kendai Takasaki
The big 2 are still around, by Maebashi Ikuei has Kiryuu Dai-ichi standing in their way, which could be dicey.

Saitama - Round of 16
What boggles me more than Fukuoka not having success at Koushien is Saitama not having success at Koushien. They are one of the biggest prefectures by population and yet until from 2004-2011 they couldn't get past the 2nd round. The only explanation I can think of is that since some of the powerhouses in Tokyo and Kanagawa are just a stone's throw away, all the talent is moving there. Urawa Gakuin and Hanasaki Tokuharu bucked that trend, but it still feels like a long way to go.
  • Shiritsu Kawagoe vs. ⑨~⑯ Shouchi Fukaya
  • Wasedadai Honjyou vs. ⑤~⑧ Seibou Gakuen
  • Hoshino vs. Urawa Jitsugyou
  • ⑨~⑯ Oomiya Higashi vs. Saitama Sakae
  • ①~② Hanasaki Tokuharu vs. Namegawa Sougou
  • Kumagaya Shougyou vs. ⑤~⑧ Seibu Bunri
  • ⑤~⑧ Kasukabe Kyouei vs. Oomiya Kougyou
  • ⑨~⑯ Nanryou vs. ③~④ Ageo
Urawa Gakuin is not around, and that is because Shiritusu Kawagoe and ace Mendis Kai shut them out 1-0. This opens up the left side of the bracket, while Hanasaki Tokuharu is the favority to advance out of the right side and could be the prohibitive favorite to repeat.

Chiba - Round of 16
Chiba is also a quandry, though they may suffer from the same problems as Saitama with loss of talent. They've had deep runs - Toukaidai Urayasu (2000 runner-up), Narita and Chiba Keizaidai Fuzoku (2010 and 2004 semifinalists), but at the same time have won 1 or less games in 11 times since 2000.
  • ①~④ Narita vs. Narashino
  • ⑨~⑯ Chiba Keiai vs. ⑤~⑧ Tokyo Gakkan Urayasu
  • Shourin vs. Tokyo Gakkan Funabashi
  • ⑨~⑯ Shiritsu Funabashi vs. ①~④ Chiba Reimei
  • ①~④ Toukaidai Ichihara Bouyou vs. Ryuutsuu Keizaidai Kashiwa
  • ⑨~⑯ Senshuudai Matsudo vs. ⑤~⑧ Kisaradzu Sougou
  • ⑤~⑧ Matsudo Kokusai vs. Funabashi Shibayama
  • ⑨~⑯ Yachiyo Shouin vs. ①~④ Chiba Keizaidai Fuzoku
Despite being a big prefecture and 16 seeds in all, only 5 seeds have been upset and and only 1 in the top 8. So it's pretty chalk, and that's not including Narashino who is unseeded this year.

Nishi Tokyo/Higashi Tokyo - Best 8
Tokyo seems to be very cyclical in nature, and both seem to move relatively in tandem. Both were in force last year when Kanto Dai-ichi and Waseda Jitsugyou both reached the semifinals, creating the possibility of an all-Tokyo final. Both lost, but one wonders if both sides could make yet another run this year.

Nishi Tokyo
  • ① Toukaidai Sugao vs. Kokugakuin Kugayama
  • ③~⑦ Nichidai-san vs. ③~⑦ St. Paul Gakuen
  • ③~⑦ Souka vs. Waseda Gakuin
  • Waseda Jitsugyou vs. ② Hachiouji
Don't ask me how they determine the seeding. 7 seeded teams seems really odd, but of those 7, just 2 have been eliminated and both by Waseda schools. And what would be the 8th seed is filled by a Tier 3 school in Kokugakuin Kugayama, so this really feels scratch. What would you do if you had a Waseda Gakuin-Waseda Jitsugyou match? It's not like the Toukaidai school matches that we've seen, but it would be interesting to see the two schools play.

Higashi Tokyo
  • ① Kanto Dai-ichi vs. ⑦~⑨ Shuutoku
  • ④~⑥ Teikyou vs. ④~⑥ Jyoutou
  • ③ Toua Gakuen vs. Nichidai Buzan
  • ⑦~⑨ Edogawa vs. ② Nishogakushadai Fuzoku
We could be in store for the 10th meeting between Kanto Dai-ichi and Nishogakushadai Fuzoku in the past 10 years. If this were Kagawa or Shimane it wouldn't be all that impressive. But in Tokyo? and 3 of those were finals' matchup and 4 were semifinals? That's what I call a rivalry.

Kanagawa - 3rd round (in progress)
Kanagawa is the only prefecutre in the Kanto region that is not in the round of 16. In fact, they're still trying to get to the round of 32. They have certainly been one of the mainstays at Koushien, reaching the best 8 half of the time since 2000. That's impressive no matter how you look at it. And of course, they are home to the current champions, Toukaidai Sagami.
  • Quadrant 1 - ①~④ Keiou, ⑤~⑧ Toukaidai Sagami, ⑨~⑯ Tourei Fujisawa & Kawasaki Kita
  • Quadrant 2 - ①~④ Nichidai, ⑤~⑧ Touin Gakuen, ⑨~⑯ Hiratsuka Gakuen & Busou
  • Quadrant 3 - ①~④ Yokohama, ⑤~⑧ Yokohama Hayato, ⑨~⑯ Yaei & Suge
  • Quadrant 4 - ①~④ Fujisawa Shouryou, ⑤~⑧ Toukou Gakuen, ⑨~⑯ Koumyou Gakuen Sagamihara & Daishi
It's still early, so seeing most of the top seeds still alive isn't surprising as of now.

Yamanashi - Best 8 (in progress)
Rounding things out is Yamanashi. Sadly, outside of Toukaidai Koufu, the prefecture has had little success with no other school able to reach the Best 8, and in half of their apperances, they've been one-and done.
  • ①~④ Toukaidai Koufu vs. ⑤~⑧ Hikawa
  • ①~④ Tsuru vs. Teikyou Dai-san
  • ①~④ Nihon Koukuu vs. Koufu Shougyou
  • ①~④ Yamanashi Gakuin vs. ⑤~⑧ Fuji Gakuen
Toukaidai Koufu seems very determined to make their 3rd straight appearance, and I'm not sure they're going to be denied either unless it's by Nihon Koukuu. Also, don't be fooled by Yamanashi Gakuin's gaudy wins (19-2, 28-3). They're against very poor competition.

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