What's up everyone! Colin here with a recap on Central Japan, the 2nd regional out of 5 in the Japan League. Last year, Yusuke Otsuka took 1st in 1A coming in as the reigning national champion, but as he did not compete this year, the winner was..
Arata Imai! This is Arata's 1st 1A win ever, bouncing back from placing 2nd at CJ last year. There's so much I can say about this freestyle, and you can actually expect a live episode from us very soon breaking down how great this routine is. His tricks are the most unique and complex out of anyone I've seen in years, and he truly was due for a win. Arata won by about 10 points, winning tech by a whopping 13 points in itself. This is living proof that unique tricks can still work, and that speed is not everything in competition. Could Arata win JN this year??
2nd place in 1A this year went to Yuiga Suzuki, who placed 5th at Japan Nationals last year. Yuiga is a new player to the high level competition scene, and he's been killing it. To me, his performance and trick amplitude/presentation carries his appeal. Unlike most people with his style, Yuiga does a really good job at making it look unique to me. This was a really good showing from Yuiga, and I'm looking forward to see what he has planned for nationals.
3rd place in 1A went to YoYoFactory's new rising star in Japan, Ayumu Kasuga. This is Ayumu's first time competing in a 3 minute surprisingly, and you can see the potential in him. His style is very aggressive and speedy (come on, look at that frontstyle at 1:09), and I'm stoked to see him refine everything in the coming years and be at the top.
The 2A title went to Yuki Takami with a pretty solid routine.
The 3A champion was Minato Furuta, 2010 world champion and 2017 world runner up. This routine is an improved version of his Worlds 2016 freestyle, and probably his cleanest routine yet. His pacing is incredible, and seeing him land tricks behind his back, inverted, around arm, and more is insane at his speed.
No shock here that the 4A winner was Rei Iwakura. Rei had a perfect routine once again, and won with a final score of 98.5/100...... It's pretty safe to say that Rei is in the frontrunner spot to win JN and Worlds this year.
The 5A winner was Naoya Takeuchi, 2017 Worlds runner up. Naoya had a really solid routine with some new tricks, and was able to win 5A by a margin of 58 points. With Takeshi and Takuma potentially out of the picture for JN, Naoya is in one of the top spots to become champion.
So, that's all for CJ! Full results can be found here (use Google translate if you cannot read Japanese). What did you think of the contest?