JPML’s 10-Tier Tournament, Grades 1-9

Active ImageLast month marked the beginning of the Japan Professional Mahjong League’s 3rd major title tournament of the year, the 10-Tier Tournament. This made May a busy month for most of us, but out of all tournaments this is one of the easier ones to move up in. Or, at least, it was.

The idea of the 10-tier tournament is that, starting with Grade 1, each grade will play 4 games with the same 3 opponents and the top 2 players at each table after those games will advance to the next grade.

Unfortunately this year Garthe and I have too many fellow Grade 2 players, so they split us up into 2 groups. The first group had to win their way into the 2nd group, as if it was another grade. Needless to say this is quite unfair to us and very advantageous to the higher grades.

But by the time we learned of this it was too late to change anything, so we filed in on May 30th with the rest of the ‘inferior’ Grade 2s and played our 3 games (since our grade had 2 sessions they also deducted the number of games, which gives the stronger players a disadvantage as well). Garthe, Shin and I are all Grade 2, and while both of them made it to the 2nd Grade 2 round, but I ended up in 3rd place. Even then, there were enough spots open in the second Grade 2 round that positive 3rd places could play. But there were 4 positive 3rd places and only room for 3. I drew the short stick and was sent home.

In the next round Garthe found his fate and dropped out, but Shin won his match and moved on to Grade 3, which was played on May 31st along with Grade 4. From the morning Grade 3 rounds, Shin and Kozue Miyauchi both moved on to the evening matches. Unfortunately neither of them made it past Grade 4, but Rumi Nikaido did.

Last week, June 20th, was when Grades 5 and 6 took place. Rumi won her way up to Grade 6, along with Kazunori “Takki” Takizawa. The other winners from Grade 5 joined the 8 Grade 6 members, but none of our ReachMahjong.com friends could make it past there.

Because of the small numbers, Level 7 and 8 are played together. There were only 6 participants put together, but in this round Aki Nikaido was seeded in because of her status as the current Women’s League champion. She won her way up to Grade 9 along with Naoki Setokuma and 12 other participants.

Grade 9 brought in big names like the current OUI Champion, Dump Ohashi, Shigekazu Moriyama, Masayoshi Ara, Yuko Ito and the legendary Takeo Kojima. Moriyama, Dump and Ara all won their way to the main event, which will take place next month.

The 10-Tier Tournament is spread over 3-4 months every year and it truly is a long way to the top. The 12 winners from Grade 9 join last year’s 4 finalists in the Best 16 on July 25th. From there they will play down to 8 and the final four will gather on August 22nd and 23rd for a 2-day final table.

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