The Biggest event in the world, “8th World Gateball Championships (WGC) once every four years” was held in Japan with participating 154 teams from 9 countries and 2 regions. The Chinese team which was prominent at the Asian Championships was expected to do well, however, the Japanese side rose to the occasion. The indestructible Team Greenpia Tomonokai attained their third victory, also achieving a record of 24 consecutive wins in the same tournament.
The finely cut natural lawn allowed a fine roll of the ball and was suitable for any kind of play: orthodox, a Double-Touch play type, or adventurous type. It can be said to have been a perfect court. Strong teams from around Japan and abroad came to challenge team Greenpia Tomonokai’s hopes to gain their 3rd victory in 8 years since the 1994 6th Championship victory (held in Kagoshima Prefecture in Japan). The Japanese teams with the 1st WGC Champion “Captain Horiguchi of team Takasaki who took part in team Gunma Otaka event displayed fine play with the 3rd WGC Champion Ryugasaki Dragons (Ibaraki Pre.). Also, Koguchi’s father and daughter of team Gate Stars who won All Japan selected Matches, team Cruise Record(Yamagata), team Kenshokai, team TKE, team TKE.R, team Kurodasho (Hyogo) etc., as well as young players being noticeable and surprised the foreign teams. With this tournament Australia entered 2 teams for the second time and displayed accurate striking learned from croquet. However, they lost by close margins in the preliminary rounds. With all this happening, it was China Shajing who gained attention and team Brazil 4 who beat team Kurodasho in the heats, Chinese Taipei’s 2 teams, and Korea team which entered the finals tournament – only 5 out of 76 teams. What’s more, all were out of the finals tournament by the end of the 2nd round.
It would not be surprising if this will be the line-up for the All Japan Championships, such was the strength of the (Japanese) teams which overpowered the foreign entries. The semi-finals set up a collision of powerhouses with team Greenpia Tomonokai and team Kenshokai defeating team Yamaga (Oita Pre.) and Gate Stars.
The clash between team Greenpia Tomonokai and team Kenshokai was also a clash between the World Champions and the Japan Middle-Class Champions and therefore gaining the attention of many spectators. Until near the end of the match Greenpia led 10 – 7, but they faced a cliff-hanging finish as the game entered its final seconds. In the back of the 4th corner, team Kenshokai’s Okuyama played a slide-touch stroke and proceeded to the front of the 3rd gate. After going though the 3rd gate he was 4 meters from the goal pole. If he had struck it, it would have been a win on content. Unfortunately, he missed it giving victory to team Greenpia. On the other hand, team Yamaga overpowered Gate Stars to enter the final. Team Yamaga was originally the Yamaga Club which reached the last 16 of the 1987 3rd All Japan Championship, but in this tournament the team was a complete dark horse. Right from the beginning they boldly challenged team Greenpia. However, they could not read Greenpia’s 2nd turn set-up passing touch and lost. Team Greenpia has won three Championships over 8 years. It is amazing how they have been able to keep up this level for so long.
“We are delighted we won. Last month we saw “team Sapporo” lose in the All Japan Worker Gateball Gamaes letting their fourth victory slip away. On seeing this, we decided to keep focused. Our two young players (Muramatsu brothers) played very well as we had hoped. Though we have now set a new record of 24 consecutive wins on this tournament, we would like to extend it even further.” (A representative JPN Commander, Captain Tabata)
The Welcome party after the opening ceremony where Toyama’s traditional music and dance were performed which delighted the foreign teams. The cheerful Australian team was the most popular team at the exchange party