On Sunday, June 28th, 2009 we gathered at Vacance, a mahjong parlor in Kagurazaka, Tokyo. After 2 successful ReachMahjong.com Cups, we were optimistic for this, the third in the series. The coveted first prize was a free entry to the $8800 HKD World Series of Mahjong Reach Event. This was the first seat won for the 2009 event and excitement is brewing.
Players started to gather around 11:00am for the 12:00 start. Altogether there were 16 players, including 8 registered professionals, 7 of which were from the Japan Professional Mahjong League, including Garthe, Kaoru Aizawa, Naoya Ogawa and Tetsuya Ogawa. Other notables included the 2nd ReachMahjong.com champion Mitsuhiro Minagawa and tournament circuit regular, Takuya Naito. RMU’s Taisei Suzuki also made his ReachMahjong.com Cup debut this weekend.
The system was 4 games in the qualifying round, followed by 2 games in the semi-finals and 1 game in the finals. 25% of each player’s score would carry to the semi-finals and 8 players would advance, while only 4 would remain for the final table.
The tournament started with 2 pro’s, Naoya Ogawa and Eri Takeishi at the top with 2 big 1st places in a row for each of them. By the 2nd game they both had over 90 points. Going into the 3rd game the border to make it to the semi-finals was exactly zero, meaning there were 8 players in the black and 8 with negative scores. But alas in the 4th game professional Kaoru Aizawa got her first negative score of the day to bring her down to 12.6. In the meantime RMU’s Taisei Suzuki took his second 1st place in a row to pull himself up to a positive 23.7, overtaking Aizawa and Takuya Naito.
Koji Nagata led the field heading into the semi-finals with professionals Naoya Ogawa and Eri Takeishi right behind him. Aizawa was out with a respectable 12.6, but the other pro’s didn’t fare so well. Rima Murofushi, Tetsuya Ogawa, Takayoshi Kazama and Garthe all went out in this round. And our defending champion, Mitsuhiro Minagawa ended in dead last with three 4th places in a row. He and Kaoru Aizawa each received an exclusive ReachMahjong.com phone strap for their efforts. The 8 players carried forward 25% of their previous scores to the semi-finals with 1st place holding 23.5 and 8th place with 5.3. It was still anyone’s game. Or so we thought, until the point leader, Koji Nagata, won a 4 Concealed Triples hand in the first match of the semi-finals. This got him a ReachMahjong.com phone strap and also cemented his lead with a score of 77.1 for the game. He won the next game too and by the end of the semi-finals he had a commanding lead of 151.5 points with 2nd place holding only 76.5 points.
The final table consisted of all 4 positive scores and 3 pro’s. 5th-8th place ended with negative scores and this time Takahashi won the strap for just barely missing the final table. The finalists were Koji Nagata, JPML’s Naoya Ogawa, JPML’s Eri Takeishi and RMU’s Taisei Suzuki, in that order. With 1 game left to go it looked like Nagata would take an easy win. But the 2nd dealer of the final game, Naoya Ogawa, had other plans. He made sure to not only keep his deal for multiple continuances in the East Round, but made sure to take many of those hands directly from Nagata, intending to put the leader in 3rd or 4th place, his only chance at winning the tournament.
I spent my time behind Eri Takeishi, and although there were many times that it seemed like she could have stolen the show, she didn’t get the chance to win on any of her hands and no one could stop Ogawa. In the end Ogawa won the game and the tournament with 59.7, giving Nagata -24.2 for the game and putting him in 2nd place overall by about 9 points. A terrible upset considering the lead that Nagata had going in. Takeishi took 4th place and RMU’s Suzuki moved up to 3rd.
And so our first qualifier for the 2009 World Series of Mahjong Reach Event has been crowned and he will be joining Jenn and the rest of Team ReachMahjong.com in the $8800HKD event in Macau at the end of the year. With 2 JPML pro’s already signed up for the event, this year promises to be one of the most exciting events in the history of Reach Mahjong. The next ReachMahjong.com Cup is happening on July 20th at Vacance again. The entry fee is 6000yen and the winner will once again get a seat in the WSOM Reach Event. There are still tons of prizes for all finalists, so join us and win your seat for Macau early! For inquiries, please contact Jenn via e-mail.
3rd ReachMahjong.com Cup Results
|1||Naoya Ogawa (JPML)|
|3||Eri Takeishi (JPML)|
|4||Taisei Suzuki (RMU)|
|9||Kaoru Aizawa (JPML)|
|10||Rima Murofushi (JPML)|
|12||Tetsuya Ogawa (JPML)|
|13||Takeyoshi Kazama (JPML)|
|14||Garthe Nelson (JPML)|