This is the third in probably six or seven post series exploring the Saki Quarterfinal teams and the Zenkoku anime. And probably my last post regarding Eisui in a while.
But, before we begin.
I would like to ask a question, who thought that Eisui won’t make it to the semi-finals? Because it is certainly not me. ^^
I find myself still a bit grinning at that still. There is just something about having my expectation overturned by a new variable that is sitting there for the whole time ….. which is probably why I love Side B Captain Quarterfinals to bits.
And as I analyze the quarterfinal teams more, I began to have a very big appreciation for the care that Ritz-sensei took even for the losing teams. Even though, Eisui lost you could see that they didn’t lose by being idiots. In this post, we will be exploring Eisui’s strategy. ( which technically meant their roster positioning since Saki Nationals doesn’t allow for position switching, most of the strategy is already decided before the prefecture tournament. ^^ )
For us viewers at least, in-universe, the current zeitgeist demands the ace should be the opener. Seize the initiative at the beginning and never let it go.
And while I’m sure some of the media idiots think this is the case with Jindai. The reason why I believe Jindai is the ace and not any other position like say Captain (setting up a monster vs monster fight with Saki) is because its frankly the safest position to put her in.
Jindai’s power is very much out of her control. For one, Jindai plays better while she is asleep AKA being possessed and there is no guarantee that Jindai will be asleep for the whole match. While awake, her mahjong abilities goes way down….
That Eisui expect this sort of point margin
And since Jindai’s god descent seem to require strong opponents, she needs to put in a position wherein teams consistently put strong players.
Off the top of my head that meant Vanguard or Captain.
And since those are your expectations when Jindai is at its lowest point, putting Jindai as the team closer is hella risky. Its like playing with a loaded gun. At the very least they need to change their god rotation. The current weakest to strongest is just asking for trouble if Jindai is stationed at the Captain round. Something that will give a consistent output while retaining the theme of getting stronger is best if they shift Jindai to the last position.
Though, to be perfectly fair, the weakest to strongest is perfectly serviceable in their strategy. Jindai in the Vanguard round meant a lot more room to maneuver. Since if it flopped, the other teammates can play damage control. Ir also makes your ace stronger as you get deeper in the tournament meaning the projections of your enemy teams are going to be very slightly off.
So yeah, Jindai at Vanguard – Safest option for Eisui.
SERGEANT and LIEUTENANT
Tomoe Karijuku and Haru Takimi
If Jindai is a toss coin as the opener, one that is slanted in Eisui’s benefit – it didn’t escape my attention that despite Jindai’s lackluster performance she still escaped the vanguard match with plus points. Eisui’s next two players probably serve for point retention or in case Jindai fails, damage mitigation.
For Tomoe, I don’t have much evidence for this. Sadly, the manga skipped the sergeant match and while the anime expanded on said match, I can’t see any weird play regarding Eisui’s sergeant even as I reverse engineer Aislinn’s ability.
Which just might be it.
In most of Eisui’s group picture, Tomoe stand out by…. well not standing out. Notice that she usually wears Eisui’s school uniform instead of wearing miko robes. It might be a sign that she doesn’t have any supernatural abilities. Still, a good skillful normal for damage mitigation or point retention is enough in the sergeant position.
As for Haru, its another safe option for Eisui. Haru can sense when her opponents’ hand is coming together – a defensive ability useful for retaining points and spoiling the big hands of her opponents. I’ve always imagined the Lieutenant to be some sort of pivot for the game tempo and putting Haru in the Lieutenant stops any sort of turn-over for their opponents if they are ahead and stalling for her heavy teammates if they are down.
And though, I’m lumping both Haru and Tomoe. I don’t think they are interchangeable. I’ve noticed that most teams usually put their weaker members in the sergeant position, thus Tomoe. Haru’s ability will be more useful in the center-field wherein teams who still goes for the traditional school of thought (aces in the lieutenant) would be hampered by her ability.
Though, if there is another position that Haru could be used for, it would be on the vanguard or captain wherein most teams put very good players or their best. But, as I’ve explained above. Removing Jindai from the vanguard is a no go; Jindai needs good opponents for her ability to trigger and if she flopped; the sooner into the game she does so the better.
As for the Captain position…. Kasumi is probably better suited for Eisui’s overall strategy which I’ll explain below.
As one of the more colorful member of Team Eisui, Hatsumi is very interesting. The power to theoretically be able to get four yakuman in a team tournament setting is no joke.
Still, this firepower itself is perhaps the reason why she’s into Vice-Captain. I’ve touched it before in this post, but while Hatsumi has massive firepower at her disposal; setting it up to fire is a bit harder than it looks. Simply, not dropping the wind tiles she needs while she’s in North may not completely shut her wind tile hoarding down but it will drastically lower the yakuman possibility.
Remember Hatsumi needs to have called tiles of north and east wind. And while she can collect them herself and call a kan from it, getting four of a kind is harder than it looks.
Thus, putting her into a less stressful position like Vice-Captain in my opinion the right choice. It is very rare for teams to have aces in this position, thus lessening the chance of someone stopping a yakuman from getting off. (Too bad Sae is also in this position lol)
The other position that I’d recommend would be Sergeant. It has even less chance of drawing powerful opponents than Vice-Captain. Hatsumi in sergeant combined with a theoretically strong god!Jindai might end the match in the Sergeant Round.
Still, that is a bit risky though. And I think Hatsumi in Vice-Captain instead of Sergeant emphasizes how conservative Eisui is on laying their metaphorical cards on the table. For one, due to that positioning there is a very good chance that Eisui will have surplus points for the last round. A yakuman does wonders for evening the points or ending the game right there. Plus there is a better chance of Hatsumi ending the game if she was positioned in Vice-Captain than if she was positioned in Sergeant.
And this would position Kasumi very well. Plus points for Eisui at the Captain is very good for her as it allows more chances to hide her ability.
Last, but certainly not the least we have our humble priestess servant – Kasumi Iwato. With her revealed we could see Eisui’s strategy in full. Not that its particularly hard, it is very obvious what Eisui’s overall strategy was. The series outright tells it to you – Jindai and Hatsumi gets large amount of points while Kasumi focus on defending said points.
You see while the series never really made a huge deal of it, Kasumi is a fantastic defender. Heck, I don’t think she was directly hit even once on the captain match.
But, more than that. I would like to draw attention to the fact that Kasumi has a defender mindset. If you follow my analysis of that match as well, you will see that Kasumi always goes for the “safer” option. One example in the match shows Kasumi being given a potential yakuman hand against a faster baiman.
Kasumi took the faster baiman.
Which is why I suspect Kasumi is the one behind the hidden design Eisui has. While I respect Jindai a lot as Team Eisui’s heart and soul, she’s not the one doing the strategy. Note that Jindai doesn’t even know of her god rotation arrangement.
And considering Kasumi is the “General Manager” of Eisui as revealed by Ritz blog; deciding the roster and their strategy probably falls under her purview. It certainly fits Kasumi’s conservative style. Note that Kasumi never really pulled her one-suit magnet until at the very last part of the game as well.
…. The other one that could probably decide the strategy is Hatsumi…. another strong voice in the team. But, as her match shows caution isn’t really on Hatsumi’s alley.
Concluding Note: Playing their Tiles Too Close to Their Chest
In the end though, Eisui lost because got a bit greedy or waited too long in pulling their aces. For the quarterfinals Eisui should have dropped one of their tiles on the table. Since, Jindai god rotation seems to be set, Kasumi should have taken a risk and gone full power right from the start specially since she got a lot of ground to cover.
But, of course, I can only say that in hindsight.
I can understand that facing Miyamori’s suddenly revealed power, a defensive and risk averse player like Kasumi would not have wanted to lock herself in that mode and give herself away. With Kasumi’s personality, she would only show her power when she is sure its truly advantageous. That is when Toyone is doing the “not alone” trick because Kasumi’s power naturally counters that. And with so few hands left in the game, her not changing mode should pose little risk.
But, then again, no plan survives contact with the enemy.