(Full standings can be found here. Game replays can be found by clicking on a player’s Tenhou ID)
The 8th iteration of what is now the International Online Riichi Mahjong Competition occurred over the weekend with the main team event. 21 countries in all participated from all over the world, from the Americas with USA, Canada and Brazil, to Europe and Asia.
It’s always a challenge for the USA and Canada teams as it requires participants to get up basically in the middle of the night or early in the morning, and we unfortunately had to make a last minute switch on the Canadian team, though we were far from the only ones to do so.
Both Canada and the USA got off to good starts in the 1st round with two 1st place finishes by top qualifiers Tina Koshimoto and Kinyan Lui, while Simon Chen and Josh Kuo did the same for Canada. However it was the defending champions Russia who dashed out to over a 50 point lead.
But while there was a chance to gain ground in the 2nd round, neither team were able to do so. Canada held serve much like the Russians, while the USA in an indicator of the team competition as a whole swung the other direction with only Tina finishing top 2 at their table dropping them all the way to 17th overall.
That pendulum would swing back the other direction in round 3. While the Russians sped away to an ever larger lead (over 140 points over 2nd place Sweden!), the USA posted no player under the top 2. Led by Arthur McAnally’s 80 point score (putting him in the black) and Tina’s second 1st place finish, the USA moved all the way from 17th to 3rd. Canada meanwhile continued to tread water. However, despite netting only 12 points over the middle rounds, they only dropped one place from 3rd to 4th. Still, catching the Russians would seem to be an insurmountable task.
However, as the results started to come in, teams started rocketing up the boards. There were the Australians behind Mueller, and WRC participant Anthony To, but their rally fell a bit short. Then there was Canada, who finally struck once again, bookending the competition with two strong performances. With no player finishing in the bottom half of their table, and with strong scores from Josh Kuo and sub Ryan Wang, they moved within striking distance of the Russians, who could not close the tournament out.
Yet they seemed to be safe as the only other team, Hong Kong, despite the best efforts of eventual top scorer Ki Long Wang (scoring 201.3 of the team’s 235.9 points!!) were 10.7 points short with one player from Russia left, and that was Vladamir Bogdanov who had 3 huge first place finishes to his name.
But when the game finished and the scores showed in the Tenhou chat, we all saw:
And with that, Russia would fall out of first place, dropping below not only Hong Kong, but Canada as well into 3rd place! The USA would unfortunately swing back the other way, finishing 10th overall.
Individually, 3 players from NA finished in the top 16, advancing to the individual competition to be held on the 17th:
7th - Jun Oh (CAN)
9th - Tina Koshimoto (USA)
11th - Josh Kuo (CAN)
Congratulations go out to all the participants, but especially to these 3 as well as Canada for their 2nd place performance!