I was amused by the Fujitsu seedings–there are three slots open to Western players, but it was as if they were seeded to lose. Fernando Aguilar, the most successful Western player, was slotted to play Cho U, while Jie Li (the top American amateur) played Hane Naoki. Europe’s representative Franz Josef Dickhut, himself less famous than the other two Westerners, drew Moriyama Naoki, who is the least successful of the Japanese entrants.
Neither amateurs nor Westerners typically win games in these tournaments, so it was unsurprising that they were swept. More surprising is that all of Japan’s players advanced to the second round. That’s to be expected for the three who played amateurs, but Takao Shinji beat Zhou Ruiyang, Iyama Yuta beat Won Sungjin, and probably most impressive, Kono Rin beat Kong Jie. None of those wins are individually shocking, but the odds are against so many Japanese players making it.
The second round will be somewhat harder. Takao will play Lee Changho, Cho will play Lee Sedol, Kono Rin will play Gu Li, and Iyama will play Kang Tongyun. I’d tentatively call all the Japanese players underdogs, though Iyama is a wild-card and Cho is quite strong.
Update: 5 Japanese players lost, Yamashita Keigo beat Qiu Jun, and in a big surprise, Kono Rin beat Gu Li. That means Kono will play Chang Hao and Yamashita will play Lee Sedol in June.