It’s that time of the year again! That’s right! Sasuke, aka Ninja Warrior, is back for another tournament. This is the first tournament since Morimoto Yusuke’s second kansenseiha. What that means is that there’s a new final stage all set up and ready to go for any competitor that manages to make it that far.
As was the case at the last tournament, the episodes have been pre-taped with only the competitor’s family members present. Did any of them get a chance to conquer the new final stage? We’ll find out when the tournament airs on December 28th.
Now, the same as I have done previously, I won’t be making predictions for all 100 entrants. I will be looking at some notable entrants though. So, let’s get into it!
First up, I’m looking at the Black Tigers. There have been some changes to the team trained by Mr. Sasuke, Katsumi Yamada. For one, Yamada himself is back in the tournament again! Taking number 96, the man that once seemed like a clear candidate to win the whole thing is really more of a novelty act these days. He did put in a decent showing last year, falling on the Dragon Glider in stage one. This year, I think he’ll avenge that but time out before clearing the first stage.
I don’t know too much about the first of his two trainees this year, Kawachi Soichiro. Given the decent form of the team though, I can see him clearing stage one. I’ll say he falls on the Spider Drop in stage two. Yamamoto Yoshiyuki, meanwhile, has made it to stage three in both of his tournaments, falling at the Cliffhanger Dimension. I think we’ll see him go a little further this year, reaching stage three but falling at the Vertical Limit.
That brings us to Isa Yoshinori, who has represented the Black Tigers at the last three tournaments, making stage three I the last two. He has now left the team and is training rookies as part of the Red Tigers. I think this will be another good year for him, but I foresee another fall on Cliffhanger Dimension in stage three.
Next up, we have a student/teacher pairing. Kawaguchi Tomohiro has historically been a strong competitor but has shockingly fallen in stage one I the last two tournaments. This year, I think he’ll avenge that, and make it back to stage three, but he’ll fall on the Cliffhanger Dimension. His student, Oshima Ayano has looked strong, despite not clearing the first stage. This year, I think she’ll manage to make it past stage one, though barely. In the second stage, the Salmon Ladder will trip her.
Kenji Darvish has had mixed luck throughout his time in the show. He should clear stage one again, and I’d love him to clear stage two as well. If he doesn’t time out on the Wall Lifting there though, I suspect he’ll fall on the Sidewinder in stage three. Making his comeback after a three-year absence, K1 fighter Takeru should do well this time around, though I think he’ll have a shocking fall on Rolling Log in stage two. Nagasaki Shunsuke will be looking to break his poor form and I think he’ll manage it, making a return to stage two. I think he’ll time out on the Backstream there.
Now, onto the big names. Yamamoto Shingo hasn’t missed a tournament so far but has had issues clearing stage one for a while now. As always, I’m putting my faith in him to break his bad luck and clear stage one this time. Unfortunately, stage two will be too much for him, and I expect him to time out on the Reverse Conveyor.
Matachi Ryo took a step back towards the third stage, and will not only clear stage one but avenge his fall on the Salmon Ladder in stage two. I expect him to slip on the Spider Drop though. Hioki Masashi, on the other hand, I can see making a return to stage three. He’ll make the first jump on Cliffhanger Dimension, but fall on the second. Kanno Hitoshi is another that I can see avenging his last tournament and this clearing stage one. In stage two, he’ll time out I the Backstream.
Which just leaves the two men to have two complete victories. The elder of the two, Urushihara Yuuji, timed out in stage two last time around, and I doubt he’ll make the same mistake again. I think he’ll become the oldest competitor to reach stage three, and will actually make it to the final stage, but will time out there. Meanwhile, Morimoto Yusuke will be riding high from the last tournament, and I see no reason he won’t get to the final stage again. Let’s be daring and say he becomes the first man to hold three complete victories.