I wouldn’t say it’t totally derailed the whole season or anything, but this whole Tsujimine subplot has been pretty weird. Nikaidou came literally out of nowhere to effectively front the main plot dynamic of the season. And now, just like that, it’s all over – with barely a whimper – and they’re gone before the final two episodes even air. It’s a pretty questionable bit of writing if you ask me, especially given that the whole dynamic with Nikaidou has been rather middling. Not awful, but heavy-handed and rather superficial.
Kazemai hasn’t been totally ignored, of course. The latest drama there involves Minato’s thumb, on which he’s split a nail rather badly. I could see where that would be a serious problem for an archer. In another bout of small world-ism Tsujimine winds up right next to Kazemai at the hotel for nationals, which gives Nikaidou more chances to do his ritual threat dance. This culminates in he and Seiya having a staredown at the door of the men’s room, which is a good reminder than however good his excuses are, Eisuke really is an asshole.
Sticking all three principal teams in the same quarter of the draw is certainly an interesting choice. The group of death is definitely a soccer thing (you’ll most often hear it referred to as the “grupo de muerte”) that really happens. But again, we’re left with all that buildup for Tsujimine being blown out the door in the first round. What was the point of spending so much of the season chronicling that if that was how it was going to end up? It did look for a while as if Tsujimine might win (their almost simultaneous firing was pretty eye-catching) but honestly – there’s no way Kazemai could lose in the first round at nationals. That was never an option.
It’s Minato’s calmness – and slowed-down rhythm – that restores his team’s ikiai and helps them pip Tsujimine by one hit. Now we’ll have to see how Minato’s finger holds up, but it’s worth remembering that they’re going to face Kirisaki no later than the quarter-finals of the tournament, so how the next episode is paced should give you a pretty clear idea of who’s going to win that match.