Well, Sasuke 34 came and went, and boy was that an entertaining competition! I had a very mixed run of it on my predictions, and there were some real surprises throughout. So, let’s have a look at each of my predictions in turn and see where I slipped up. I’ll be running these in order of entry.
#45 – Masashi Hioki – I predicted a third stage failure at the Flying Bar, but Masashi Hioki pushed himself further and fell at the Ultra Crazy Cliffhanger. This was a great run.
Prediction Score: 1/1 (Stage) – 0/1 (Obstacle)
#46 – Seiki Takasu – I ppredicted that the fisherman would time out on the Wall Lift in stage 2. He cleared stage one, just like I thought, but actually fell earlier than I predicted, tumbling from the second half of the Salmon Ladder.
Prediction Score: 2/2 (Stage) – 0/2 (Obstacle)
#47 – Hiroshige Yamamoto – The most successful of Katsumi Yamada’s pupils really did himself proud this tournament, moving beyond my predicted fall on the Salmon Ladder, and barely timing out on hte Wall Lift. While not as strong a showing as his fellow Black Tiger Satoshi Obata (who made it to stage 3), it was still a good effort.
Prediction Score: 3/3 (Stage) – 0/3 (Obstacle)
#81 – Takeru – The K-1 fighter did indeed fail in the second stage like I thought, but rather than fall at the Spider Walk, he timed out on the Backstream.
Prediction Score: 4/4 (Stage) – 0/4 (Obstacle)
#83 – Kenji Takahashi – Kong was one of the shocking exits for me, as he failed to get as far as I expected, and timed out on the Reverse Conveyor in stage 2.
Prediction Score: 4/5 (Stage) – 0/5 (Obstacle)
#89 – Kenji Darvish – The Golden Bomber drummer put in a superb showing this time around, and avenged his slip in the last competition. Though he didn’t quite reach the third stage, his time out on the Reverse Conveyor was nothing to be ashamed of.
Prediction Score: 4/6 (Stage) – 0/6 (Obstacle)
#91 – Toshihiro Takeda – Our favourite former fireman repeated his first stage clearance from Sasuke 33, and seemed to be exorcising the ghost of his failure in stage 2 with ease. Unfortunately, after comfortably clearing the upward Salmon Ladder, a slip up on the downward Salmon Ladder cost him time and energy, and he ended up falling there.
Prediction Score: 5/7 (Stage) – 0/7 (Obstacle)
#92 – Shingo Yamamoto – This one legitimately made me sad. Once a consistently great competitor, Shingo saw history repeat itself when he failed the Double Pendulum in stage 1 for the third competition running. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that this isn’t the end for him and that he can bounce back with a strong performance next time.
Prediction Score: 5/8 (Stage) – 0/8 (Obstacle)
#95 – Shunsuke Nagasaki – After a confident first stage run, the trampolinist suffered a shocking exit at the hands of an obstacle that he’s cleared multiple times before: The Spider Walk in stage 2.
Prediction Score: 5/9 (Stage) – 0/9 (Obstacle)
96 – Jun Sato – Another strong run for the parkour instructor ended just short of where I predicted, as the Ultra Crazy Cliffhanger in stage 3 claimed him as a victim.
Prediction Score: 5/10 (Stage) – 0/10 (Obstacle)
97 – Drew Drechsel – Just like Jun Sato, Drew failed to reach the final stage, and found himself falling at stage 3’s Ultra Crazy Cliffhanger.
Prediction Score: 5/11 (Stage) – 0/11 (Obstacle)
98 – Tomohiro Tawaguchi – Finally, I got one spot on! After an impressive run, the Ultra Crazy Cliffhanger claimed another victim, and I got an obstacle point.
Prediction Score: 6/12 (Stage) – 1/12 (Obstacle)
99 – Yuuji Urushihara – The double champion was finally looking like a champion again, but somehow lost ground on the Reverse Conveyor, and ended up timing out in stage 2. Another shock early exit!
Prediction Score: 6/13 (Stage) – 1/13 (Obstacle)
100 – Yusuke Morimoto – The Sasuke Kid was the only person to clear the Ultra Crazy Cliffhanger, leaving him only two obstacles from reaching the final stage once more. Unfortunately, the Vertical Limit proved a bridge too far, and we once again ended the tournament with no competitors attempting the final stage.
Prediction Score: 6/14 (Stage) – 1/14 (Obstacle)
So, that was less than impressive from me overall. There were some real surprises throughout though, most notable of which was a competitor that I didn’t make a prediction for: American stuntwoman Jessie Graff.
Up until this tournament, only one woman had cleared the first stage: Tanabe Chie in Sasuke 2. In Tanabe’s case, it all ended in heartache when she was unable to complete the Spider Walk, then the first obstacle in stage 2, due to being too short to prop herself up between the walls. Jessie Graff did not face this problem and was actually able to clear stage 2 relatively comfortably, making her the first woman in history to make it beyond stage 2 of Sasuke. But her story didn’t stop there! Jessie made it all the way to the Ultra Crazy Cliffhanger, meaning that she technically finished in joint second place. This was a historic run, and helped make this tournament all the more special.
Did anyone else manage to catch Sasuke 34? What did you think of the competition this time around?