North American IORMC Qualifiers Complete

Report by Edwin Dizon (Tournament Director)

The North American Riichi Mahjong Association recently finished qualification matches for the 2016 International Online Riichi Mahjong Competition (IORMC) to be held Saturday, November 5th at 2000 JST (0400 PDT/0700 EDT/0800 ADT) on Tenhou. The IORMC began in 2011 as a competition between Japan and Korea, but has since expanded to include countries around the world. This years’ iteration, as of this writing, has 16 confirmed countries. This will be the USA’s second year, and Canada’s first, in the competition. Last year’s results, where the USA placed two players in the top 12, can be found here.

The format for the USA and Canadian qualifiers played throughout September and October was four events, each with four hanchan. Players could compete in all events, but were required to play in a minimum of two. A player’s top two qualifying scores were taken and an aggregate average (in event of byes) calculated. The top four ranking players in each country would represent their respective nation.

Qualification replays can be found on NARMA’s YouTube channel.

In the US region, Harmonix (Wei Bin Wang) jumped out to a whopping 241 score (60.25 average) in the first qualifier. While he couldn’t match that total over the final 3, he used it to secure the 4th spot with an average of 38.57 over 7 games.

スピカテリブル (Martin Zhang) played in all 4 qualifiers and scored no less than 63 points (15.75 average) finishing in the top 5 in every single event. His top two scores of 136 and 174 (38.75 average) qualified him for 3rd.

雪泉@月閃 (Zixuan Jiang), was unable to make the final qualifier due to a late schedule change, but it wasn’t necessary. He finished top 2 in two of the qualifiers with scores of 129 and 190 (39.875 average) making the 2nd highest overall score.

Finally, the top qualifier DdR_Dan (Daniel Pascua) missed the first qualifier but didn’t need it. His name was already familiar to our broadcast staff as a solid player. He didn’t disappoint, finishing top 2 in two of the final three qualifiers with scores of 204 and 132 (an amazing 42 average.)

Moving north to Canada, things were not as clear-cut. Their top finisher was Element (William Lou) who had been sitting comfortably with a total of 165 in his two qualifiers (20.625 average.) He cemented the top spot by scoring 160 in the final qualifier, raising his average to 34.375 - more than 10 points over the closest competitor.

Unfortunately エンジェルス☆ (Stephen So) was also a casualty of the late schedule change of the final event and missed the last qualifier. However, his two qualifying scores of 125 and 46 (21.375 average) were enough to secure 3rd overall.

AW (Casper Tsai) played in all four qualifiers and used a top score of 152 in the 3rd qualifier to propel him up to the top 4 taking the last spot with a 20.375 average.

That left one more spot which was all to play for in the final qualifier. At the time, Chien held the all-important slot with a total of 105 over 8 games. But there were players behind him who, if they could drop their lowest standing score, could easily overtake the position. They included kuowiz (130 points in 4 games), 505fam (103 points), riya (92 points) and mjfever (68 points), so Chien’s position was tenuous at best. Early on, it looked it like it would be a battle between 505fam and mjfever; after two rounds mjfever was +13 and 505fam +81. But an unfortunate connection issue by 505fam brought it all down to the final hanchan.

505fam +40 (143 points through 7 games)
mjfever +73 (141 points)
Kuowiz -2 (128 points)

And as the pairings would have it, all 3 would play each other in the final hanchan!

In that final hanchan, the players all went aggressive knowing that finishing above the other 2 all but guaranteed the final spot. kuowiz would jump out to an early lead, while 505fam struggled to gain traction. mjfever held steady and had the best chance to close the deficit, but in the end kuowiz (Josh Kuo) continuously shut the door on hand after hand, claiming a victory score of +59 and rocketing to 2nd overall with an average of 23.375.

With kuowiz’s qualification to the Canadian team, this means that the entire contingent is of current and former University of British Columbia’s Mahjong Club members! Perhaps not surprising as their club boasts a roster of about 100 members.

Congratulations to all our qualifiers and good luck in the wee hours of November 5th!