RMC Originals - M League Draft 2019
Some of you might have heard the news already, but the next M League will start in October, 2019 and had their draft early this morning.
A couple weeks ago, each team announced that the players renewed their contracts with the teams.
Here are some recaps that would be key factors for this draft! Previously, each team had 3 players. But with the announcement several months ago, the amount of players per team has been increased to 4 players, and to increase diversity, each team must be a mixed group of male and female players.
As some of the current teams consist of all male players (Shibuya Abemas, U-NEXT Pirates and Akasaka Drivens), this will mean that their 4th player must be a female player. It was also added that it is up to each team on wether they wanted to add a fourth player or not, but only if their team already has a mix of male and female players already.
KADOKAWA was also announced to be the eighth team and will be called KADOKAWA Sakura Knights. As they are the eighth team, they will be able to decide the first three players to fill up they main roster, and will then have the last pick to chose their 4th player if they wished.
With speculation on who would be drafted, the big day for Japanese professionals arrived.
Every fan had their own team to rout for and the focus varied, but my personal focus, was
“Who will KADOKAWA pick as their first three players?”
Many people speculated Kotaro Uchikawa from Nihon Pro Mahjong Renmei (Renmei/JPML) to be the first pick. Many were surprised that he was'n’t chosen in the first round last year. I personally had the honor to play with him at WRC 2017 in Las Vegas, and he was not only good, but a true professional. He was friendly and had the highest level of professionalism in play level and manners.
He is one of my favorite professional Mahjong players, and I wanted to have a small segment in this blog just for him :)
So let’s get straight to the picks!
KADOKAWA Sakura Nights
Kotaro Uchikawa - Nihon Pro Mahjong Renmei (Renmei/JPML)
Sayaca Okada - Nihon Pro Mahjong Renmei (Renmei/JPML)
Makoto Sawazaki - Nihon Pro Mahjong Renmei (Renmei/JPML)
Did not pick
Akira Wakutsu - Nihon Pro Mahjong Renmei (Renmei/JPML)
Akina Mizuhara - Saikoisen Nihon Pro Mahjong Kyokai
KONAMI Mahjong Fight Club
Satoshi Fujisaki - Nihon Pro Mahjong Renmei (Renmei/JPML)
Aiko Hinata - Saikoisen Nihon Pro Mahjong Kyokai
EX Fuurin Kazan
Did not pick
Kanako Maruyama - Saikoisen Nihon Pro Mahjong Kyokai
It was very interesting to see that some teams decided not to add new players. The reasons for their descisons were posted on Twitter, but it was mostly because they wanted to win with their core members and also believed that they can win the championship this year with their current roster.
We will be breaking down the new rosters in our National Mahjong Day livestream in the M League segment, so we won’t be breaking down too much detail today, but we wanted to share a YouTube clip from Aiko Hinata.
Aiko Hinata has her own YouTube series, and is the one responsible for the “Mahjong No Takumi” series that is on the Mahjong Watch channel.
Los Angeles Pride of Mahjong (LAPOM) has added subtitles for several episodes, and can be viewed HERE for that series..
But she was live commentating on her channel during the M League draft.
You can see her facial expressions starting to change at the 1:32:50 mark where she hears her name being called during Shibuya ABEMA’S draft pick. Doppo, a Tenhoui on Tenho and a recent addition to the Saikoisen organization, also couldn't hold back his tears.
It was a tear jerker to see her so emotional, as she is usually very funny in her videos.
This shows how much M League has means to the players and changed the Mahjong world in Japan.
To some, Mahjong might just be “a game”.
But to some, it is a life changing part of life and you can see it in the video.
Although we may be limited in what we can do, we will continue to do what we started to help spread this amazing game called Mahjong!