After a few somewhat more normal rounds, the new qualifying format has, for the final round of the season, produced some very early important battles, battle we wouldn’t normally expect to see until the Final Four. But in the first quadrant of the bracket we find all the key players for the Championship. Michael Essa and Daigo Saito will meet in the Top 16 if they each win their Top 32 battles. Whoever wins that battle will meet Chris Forsberg in the Top 8.
If Essa does make it to the Top 16, Daigo Saito will be too far behind in points to win the championship himself, but he could still lose it for Essa if he then loses to Forsberg. That means Essa would actually have to root for Saito for the rest of the night.
If Essa faces Forsberg and wins, he’s got the championship. If he loses it’ll be a nail-biter as Forsberg’s performance will be all the championship will be riding on.
And he’s got Vaughn Gittin, Jr. or Fredric Aasbø to worry about facing in the finals. The right side of the bracket is not nearly as stacked as the first quadrant, so barring any crashes or mechanical failures, they each have a good chance of making it to the end. And if Aasbø faces Forsberg in the Final Battle and wins, there might even be a Norwegian standing alone at the top of the podium. Last season, Saito never held the the points lead until he won Irwindale and the Championship, so that goes to show you anything can happen. In 10 hours we’ll know the answer. Who do you think the 2013 champion will be?