Welcome, one and all, to a bit of a random post! Long time readers will know that I absolutely LOVE the TV show Sasuke, aka Ninja Warrior. Well, COVID-19 hasn’t stopped the show, and the 38th tournament is going to air on December 29th! There are some changes that I’m guessing are caused by the pandemic, mind you. I didn’t see the usual overseas competitors on the official list. On top of that, we’ve had a few retirements among the New Stars recently. That’s okay though because here, we’re getting two returning All-Stars instead! But how will these competitors do this time around? Well, let’s get to my predictions.
Kawaguchi Tomohiro: Usually a strong competitor, the former truck driver suffered a shocking time out in stage one at the last tournament. That was thanks to poor weather conditions causing the Soritatsu Kabe/Warped Wall to become a killer obstacle for some great competitors. Given his previous record though, I see no reason he won’t return to form here. I’m going to predict him reaching the third stage and falling on the Vertical Limit.
Hioki Masashi: This electronics store worker has reached the third stage in six of the last eight tournaments, including all four of the most recent. He’s starting with a low number again, which I read is because TBS like to spread out the stronger competitors and expect him to be among the first to clear the first stage. His form should continue here, and I predict him finally clearing Cliffhanger Dimension in the third stage but falling on Vertical Limit.
Matachi Ryo: He’s been an inconsistent performer, for sure. He has cleared the third stage almost every time he’s reached it, but failed on the first stage in six of the last seven tournaments. I can see him making a comeback here, and will put some faith in him. I’m going to predict him reaching the third stage but falling on Cliffhanger Dimension.
Kanno Hitoshi: Previously viewed as a serious contender to clear the final stage, he’s been on a poor run since injuring his shoulder at Sasuke 32. Since then, he’s failed to clear the first stage and has skipped out on a few tournaments to heal. I’m hoping for him to get back on track here, and I’m going to predict him reaching stage three but falling on Cliffhanger Dimension.
Nagasaki Shunsuke: This long time competitor has failed on the first stage in the last two tournaments, and failed the second stage on the two before that. I’m a fan of his, but of the New Stars, I think he’s the most likely to underperform, unfortunately. I can see him clearing the first stage, but I’m going to predict him timing out on the Backstream in stage two.
Urushihara Yuuji: The leader of the New Stars is the only man to clear the final stage twice. Last time, he had a heartbreaking fall on the final obstacle of stage three. Honestly, it was such a shock watching it, as he seemed set to reach the final stage again. I’m all for positivity though, so I’m going to say he reaches the final stage but times out.
Morimoto Yusuke: Always a strong competitor, he not only cleared the final stage in Sasuke 31 but reached the final stage in both of Sasuke 35 and 36. Last year, he was another victim of poor weather making the Soirtatsu Kabe a bridge too far in round one. This time, I see him returning to form and reaching the final stage once again. After two consecutive fails, this has to be his year. I predict him taking his second title.
Takeda Toshiro: The former firefighter has been the more consistent of the remaining two regular All-Star competitors, but after an injury forced him out of the first stage in Sasuke 36, he skipped Sasuke 37. I see no reason he can’t get back on track here though and predict him returning to the second stage, only to fall on the Spider Drop.
Yamamoto Shingo: The only competitor to never miss a tournament was once viewed as a likely candidate to clear the final stage. Unfortunately, he’s on a seven tournament steak of first stage failures. As I do every year though, I’m putting faith in Shingo finding his form a little again. I predict him reaching the second stage but falling on the Spider Drop.
Yamada Katsumi: The leader of the Black Tigers is back in action! I’ll be honest here, the difference between his early tournament runs and his later ones is like night and day. He’s done a great job training his team, but I just don’t think he’ll make it as far as he’d like. I’m predicting the Soritatsu Kabe becomes his foe once again, causing a first stage time out.
Nagano Makoto: To say I’m excited about this would be an understatement. Nagano was one of my favourite competitors, and I read that he wanted to return for Sasuke 40, but no other tournaments. Apparently, he stepped into this one to help lift people’s spirits with the pandemic. I can’t see him not taking his run seriously, so a first stage clearance should be in the books. I could see him timing out in stage two, but I’m going to be hopeful and predict him reaching the third stage and falling on the Sidewinder.
Isa Yoshinori: The Black Tiger failed on the first stage in his debut, then made it all the way to stage three at the following tournament. After doing such a great job there, I have faith in a repeat here. I predict him to reach stage three but fall on the Cliffhanger Dimension.
Yamamoto Yoshiyuki: The other Black Tiger competing this year debuted in Sasuke 37, and like Isa Yoshinori, made it to the third stage but fell on the Cliffhanger Dimension. He performed slightly better than his teammate last time, and I expect that to be the case again. I predict him reaching the third stage but failing on the Vertical Limit.
Darvish Kenji: The Golden Bomber drummer has shown slight improvements over the last few tournaments, right up until Sasuke 37 saw him fail on the first stage again. I can see him doing better this time, and predict him returning to the second stage but timing out on the Reverse Conveyor.
Sato Jun: The parkour instructor is on a run of consecutive third stage appearances, and I see no reason he can’t keep that up here. His job makes him well suited for this kind of competition, after all! Now, he’s had some issues with transitioning on the moving jumps in stage three. I can see him training for that specifically and making it all the way to the final stage. If he does so, I can see him clearing it for his first win.
Yamamoto Keitaro: After a surprising first stage fail at Sasuke 37, I can see him returning to the second stage. Unfortunately, his form on that stage has been poor, and I predict he’ll time out there on the Wall Lifting again.
And… those are my predictions. But what about yourselves? Will you be keeping an eye on the results? How do you think the competitors will do? Let me know in the comments below!