by Wade Townsend
Number one seed and defending champion Jun Mizutani has made a strong start to his campaign for fourth consecutive title, dropping a single game in his first match against Yuji Kato. A semi-final encounter with 2012 winner Masuhara Yoshimura is on the horizon, but Yoshimura has a tough road ahead with 2015 All Japan finalist Takuya Jin potentially waiting for him in the next round.
Both Matsudaira brothers remain in the draw, with Kenji now up against Masaki Yoshida. Meanwhile, Kenta was involved in one of the biggest clashes of the fourth Round, taking out Seiya Kishikawa 4-3. He now finds Yuma Tsuboi in the Last 32.
Yuya Oshima, currently with a World Ranking of 38, made a surprise exit at the hands of Yukiya Uda. Silver medallist at the 2016 World Cadet Challenge, sixteen year old Uda managed to find a way through Oshima and posted a 4-2 victory in the fourth round.
Another notable absence from the Last 32 is Masataka Morizono. He was knocked out by Ryotora Ogata in a match that went the full distance.
After an early exit in the Junior Boys’ Singles, Harimoto Tomokazu once again couldn’t find his rhythm and lost 4-0 against Yuki Hirano.
Koki Niwa might not want to be looking too far ahead in the draw. He will find the winner of Jin Ueda and Masato Shiono in the next round. This will be a hotly contested match, but should Shiono win, Niwa’s All Japan campaign could come to a swift end, having proved to have little resistance against defensive players in the past.
Despite the absence of Ai Fukuhara from the event, the Women’s draw is shaping up to provide some fireworks. The field remains strong with few major casualties in the early rounds. The Last 32 will provide a classic mix of young blood and seasoned veterans.
Kasumi Ishikawa, Mima Ito and Miu Hirano are all well setup for a deep run, with only one game being dropped between the trio.