Hey all, and welcome back to Why It Works! My Hero Academia’s sports festival has kicked into high gear at this point, if it ever were in any gear below the high one. Not only has the single-elimination fighting competition finally begun, but the first round of battles has pretty much concluded – in fact, by the time you read this, it’s likely that Uraraka and Bakugo’s fight will either be underway or already concluded. I could give a staid rundown of the merits of single elimination anime tournaments, but frankly, I’d rather just gush about the fun matchups we’ve got right here. So in the spirit of my last My Hero Academia-related article, let’s break down the thrilling fights we’ve got waiting in the wings!
Final Round of Sixteen Bout: Katsuki Bakugo Versus Ochako Uraraka
I’ll be quick with this one, since it’s likely things have already been decided, but in short: good friggin’ luck Ochako. There’s a reason the show’s been building this fight up so much – Bakugo is clearly one of this tournament’s heavyweights, possessing not only a terrific offensive quirk, but also one that significantly improves his mobility. On top of that, Bakugo actually has a pretty quick mind for tactics, and is no longer hampered by having to coordinate with allies. Bakugo’s only real weakness is his temper, and even getting Bakugo angry can often just lead to him pulling off even more impressive stunts.
In contrast, Ochako’s quirk is limited in its offensive utility, and her greatest real strength is “being the heroine of the show we’re watching.” I’d like to say that will get her through, but Bakugo’s pretty much just as much of a lead, and so raw strength may win the day over narrative convenience. But I’m rooting for you, Ochako.
Quarterfinals, Round One: Izuku “Deku” Midoriya Versus Shoto Todoroki
Alright, here’s a fight worth digging into. In terms of powers, Todoroki has the clear edge here – even only using his left side, his ice powers provide significant offensive and defensive power. Like the Yuga-Mina fight, this battle will likely come down to Deku closing the distance versus Todoroki maintaining it. Deku now has enough control over his quirk to use it effectively in a combat situation, but Todoroki is a far more tactically minded opponent than Yuga, so it’ll be up to Deku to find some plan to disrupt Todoroki’s flow.
Personalities may well come into play in this fight – Deku is excellent at forming strategies but prone to sentimentalism, while Todoroki has already shown that mentioning his father can put him off-balance. Deku would never intentionally provoke Todoroki to influence the fight, but it still seems likely the imbalance of cirumstances that has dictated all their conversations will once again come into play here. Strategy-wise, it’s possible Deku could apply One For All to his legs in order to gap close on Todoroki, but unless he can manage his power more consistently now, it’d be safer to stick to his usual “my arm and finger bones are resources I can expend to win” strategy. It’s not pretty, but hey, whatever works.
Quarterfinals, Round Two: Ibara Shiozaki Versus Tenya Iida
Like with the last battle, this one will likely turn into a fight of maintaining versus closing the gap – Ibara’s powers seem far more suited to ranged combat, whereas Tenya has no ranged powers whatsoever. Unlike the last battle, I’d give the edge in this one to Iida, whose powers are tailor-made to closing on an opponent. Ibara’s defenses seem strong, but not impenetrable. Her greatest weapon right now is likely surprise – while Iida’s powers are self-explanatory and their limits clear, we don’t really know just how strong Ibara’s vines are, or how completely they can protect her. Even if Iida’s victory demands getting close, he may be wise to spend some time at greater range first, attempting to get a feel for Ibara’s limitations.
Powers aside, this fight may also come down to temperament. Iida is a solid competitor, but has likely been put significantly off-balance by his embarrassing first round victory. After the qualifiers for this round of sixteen saw multiple contenders withdrawing due to “not having earned it,” having his first match turn into an advertisement for his opponent’s powers has to sting. Whether Iida can rise above that frustration to keep his head in this match may well be the key to this fight.
Quarterfinals, Round Three: Mina Ashido Versus Fumikage Tokoyami
Ashido handily proved in the first round that she’s both a capable contender both physically and tactically – not only did she put her power to work mitigating the strengths of Yuga’s laser, but she also knocked him out with one giant punch. Unfortunately, while Yuga was overconfident, inexperienced, and a bit of a glass cannon, Tokoyami is none of these things, and only seems limited by being a genuinely nice guy. Mina’s acid-based powers will do nothing to diminish Dark Shadow’s range, and she’s already demonstrated her default method of closing a gap on a ranged opponent, so this will be an uphill battle for the Alien Queen. Victory here may come down to the speed contest of Dark Shadow versus Mina skating on acid – if she can bring the fight to him in the very first seconds, she may well prevail.
That’s all we’ve got so far, folks, though feel free to offer your own predictions in the comments. Either way, the bets have been set, the stage has been cleared, and the next match is just around the corner. I wish luck to all of U.A.’s brave competitors, and may the best hero win!