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TOP > What’s New > Playoffs an all-Kanto affair again

What’s New

Playoffs an all-Kanto affair again


A one-point loss and the luck of the draw left the Kansai region without a team in the playoffs for the second straight year, while the pairings for the semifinal round set up an instant rematch.


At the conclusion of the second stage Sunday, the two-time defending champion Obic Seagulls (7-0) were drawn to face the Nojima Sagamihara Rise (5-2) in the first of the two semifinals Dec. 2 at Yokohama Stadium, to be followed by the clash between the Kajima Deers (7-0)  and Fujitsu Frontiers (5-2).


The winners of the two semifinals between the four Kanto region teams will meet in the Japan X Bowl for the league championship on Dec. 17  at Tokyo Dome.


In the semifinals, Kajima and Fujitsu will be returning to the same field where the Deers beat the Frontiers 27-15 to win Block C of the second stage on Sunday. Kajima also beat Fujitsu 24-16 in the regular season last year.


“We were prepared to face any strong opponent,” Kajima head coach Kiyoyuki Mori said of the fateful re-pairing of the two teams. “We’ll try to play a better game.”


Obic, which has not lost in the fall season since the second stage in 2009 (a 23-20 loss to the Impulse), remained unbeaten by eliminating the other Kansai team, the Asahi Soft Drinks Challengers, 29-12 in Osaka to win Block B.


The West Division champion Panasonic Impulse could have clinched a place in the final four with a win in their final Block A game, but suffered a heartbreaking 28-27 loss to Nojima in Osaka. That earned the Rise a spot in the playoffs and kept alive their hopes of a title in just their second season in X1.


It also left Panasonic and Fujitsu with identical 5-2 records, and with neither having an advantage under the tiebreaker rules for the wild card spot, sent each team’s fate to a drawing. Fujitsu came out with the lucky envelope.


“I’m grateful,” Fujitsu head coach Satoshi Fujita said. “We’ll have to take advantage of this opportunity.”


The four semifinalists are the same from last season, but paired off differently. In 2011, Obic defeated Kajima and Fujitsu topped Nojima, before Obic downed Fujitsu in the final.


Had a Kansai team reached the semifinals, it would have played in Osaka on Dec. 1. Because none made it, both semifinals will be played in Yokohama on Dec. 2.


Here are the final standings for the second stage:

    Block A Block B Block C
1.  Nojima 5-2 Obic 7-0 Kajima 7-0
2.  Panasonic 5-2 Asahi Beer 4-3 Fujitsu 5-2
3.  IBM 4-3 Asahi Soft Drinks 4-3 As One 4-3


 —Ken Marantz for the X-League