Earlier this afternoon, Skorp and I had an interesting conversation about the talents of the Kiyosumi mahjong team in Saki (original series) and I thought it would be a nice post to expand on. While this has some spoilers for the original series, I’m only going to focus upon the play style of each of the Kiyosumi team. After we see more of the Achiga team, I should have an accompanying post for them. (TL note: the kanji for Kiyosumi can be read as “serene”, thus the title) When commenting please DO NOT POST SPOILERS FOR THE MANGA OR ACHIGA SERIES!
Let’s start in order since Hisa chose this order for a reason. Leading off for Kiyosumi is Yuuki Kataoka. Yuuki is amazing in the first wind, but settles down after a while. Combined with her inability to perform math, it’s easy to point out Yuuki’s weakness. She’s an incredibly strong player, but her talents fizzle out after one round as she can’t sustain her energy. In terms of sports, Yuuki would be considered a great sprinter, but horrible at long-distance running. By placing her first, Hisa takes advantage of her strong starts and gambles that any points lost during the second wind could be re-taken with the later players. On the other hand, if someone is able to outplay Yuuki in the east wind, she could lose a lot of points to start the match. There’s not another place where she could be useful. As first, her talents could give Kiyosumi a good lead going into the second player, but any points lost could be re-taken. Placing her later wouldn’t allow the team to re-take points lost.
Playing second is Mako. Mako’s strength and weakness is her memory of past matches and knowing what other players are looking for. When she plays against a player who plays a style she’s not seen previously or a new player, that skill limits her knowledge of how to play. By placing her second, Hisa chose to back-up Yuuki with a veteran who wouldn’t lose many points due to that memory. With this team, Mako could also be placed fourth, but I feel Hisa chose to have her second to prevent any wild swings in points after the aces battle.
Third is Hisa herself. By playing in the middle round, Hisa can either use her skill of bad waits to begin a comeback against an overcautious opponent or to psyche-out her opponents when Kiyosumi has a lead. The overcautious opponent would throw tiles away that wouldn’t seem to have anyone waiting for them and an opponent trying to make up the difference in scores would play more risky, which leads to dangerous tiles being played. Hisa would easily capitalize on these “bad wait” tiles and win, thus causing surprise in her opponents. As she wins with hands no one would suspect, her opponents would be scared to throw out tiles, thus psyching them out and letting her control the middle portion of the match. Hisa is a great choice for the 3rd player.
Playing fourth is the internet goddess Nodoka. Nodoka often tries to win fast, so her point totals usually aren’t that high compared to the other members. In addition to winning fast, Nodoka also plays extremely fast, thus causing her opponents to rush and not think clearly. I’m not exactly sure why Hisa set her as fourth. Nodoka and Mako could switch places, but Mako has a somewhat better chance of off-setting any loses from Yuuki compared to Nodoka. It could be another psychological move from Hisa to have Nodoka play after her due to the difference in their styles of play. Regardless, Nodoka is fourth, which leads to…
Kan! Kan! Rinshan Kaihou! Saki herself not only deserves the captain’s spot due to being the titular character, but because she’s the only one who is capable of getting exactly the number of points needed for the team to win and move on. Saki is the only logical choice for Kiyosumi’s fifth (and final) player. due to her ability to comeback or maintain a lead. There’s nothing else to add.
And so there’s the lineup for Kiyosumi. Overall Hisa did a really good job matching the strengths of her team and placing them where they best fit for a victory. Of course, any weakness in Hisa or Saki dooms the team tremendously. Hisa has to perform well in the middle round in order for Kiyosumi to stay competative after any points lost by Yuuki or Mako. Of course Saki has to finish well or else the team will instantly lose. After seeing how well this unit performed in the Nagano prefecture tournament, it’ll certainly be interesting to see how they finish in Nationals. The other teams in the Nagano prefecture didn’t give enough information for all 5 to give an opinion on their placements, so I can only comment on Achiga when they reveal their lineup. I’m looking forward to that analysis as well.
I should also repeat my desire to have NO SPOILERS FOR THE MANGA OR ACHIGA MANGA in the comments of this post.