Looking at the U60kg division for the World Championships in Budapest, the player most likely to win is Naohisa Takato of Japan. He has solid traditional judo techniques, like sode-tsurikomi-goshi, drop seoi-nage, and uchimata, but he is also capable of doing unorthodox techniques more commonly associated with European judo, such as side takedown, utsuri-goshi, and sumi-gaeshi.
He has fought three major competitions since the 2016 Rio Olympics and won two of them (silver at the 2016 Tokyo Grand Slam and gold in the 2017 Paris Grand Slam and 2017 Asian Championships). That's not a lot of competitions over the course of the year since the Olympics, but it is sufficient and his results show that he is in top form.
Takato's biggest rival is probably his compatriot Ryuju Nagayama, who has already beaten him twice. Nagayama's main weakness is that he is relatively new to the world scene and has not had significant experience fighting foreigners. He can only face Takato in a final, which is not unlikely, but we guess there will be some massive spoilers among the unseeded players.
Russia is sending European Champion Robert Mshvidobadze, a logical choice as Mudranov has not competed since the 2016 Rio Olympics and was recently injured. Mshvidobadze may meet Takato in the quarter-final. South Korea won't send Kim Won-Jin, but there’s no better alternative, but we will judge at 28 August.
Georgia's Amiran Papinashvili is the top seed in the IJF World Rankings and he defeated Takato in the 2016 Rio Olympics. But it's hard to imagine him repeating that feat if these two were to meet again. He has fought in many IJF World Tour events since Rio, but he has not won any major tournaments in the past year.
Sharafuddin Lutfillaev of Uzbekistan is always something of a threat, but he has only fought once this year, in the 2017 Paris Grand Slam, where he lost to none other than Takato. Orkhan Safarov of Azerbaijan is another potential threat, but the last two times they fought, in the 2016 Rio Olympics and the 2017 Paris Grand Slam, he lost to Takato.
Who of these seeded athletes won’t reach the Quarter finals?
Amiran Papinashvili vs Ryuju Nagayama
Naohisa Takato vs Robert Mshvidobadze
Francisco Garrigós vs Amartuvshin Dashdavaa
Eric Takabatake vs Orkhan Safarov
Previous World Champions
1999 Manolo Poulot (CUB)
2001 Anis Lounifi (TUN)
2003 Min-Ho Choi (KOR)
2005 Craig Fallon (GBR)
2007 Ruben Houkes (NED)
2009 Georgii Zantaraia (UKR)
2010 Rishod Sobirov (UZB)
2011 Rishod Sobirov (UZB)
2013 Naohisa Takato (JPN)
2014 Boldbaatar Ganbat (MGL)
2015 Yeldos Smetov (KAZ)
The game changers
2015 World Champion Yeldos Smetov of Kazakhstan won the World Junior Championships U20 in 2010 in Agadir. He won the Asian Games in 2014 in Incheon. In 2015 he took his biggest crown with the world title at home in Astana against Rustam Ibrayev. In 2016 he won silver at the Grand Prix Düsseldorf and was Olympic silver medallist in Rio. He took a bronze medal at the European Cup in Saarbrücken in 2017, fighting U66kg. He will be seeing Eric Takabatake of Brazil really soon we expect and later perhaps Orkhan Safarov.
French Walide Khyar won the European title in 2016 in Kazan. His Olympic Games ended in disaster and he has since suffered an injury. We don’t know what he will do in Budapest, but his selection says enough for France.
Diyorbek Urozboev of Uzbekistan was Olympic bronze medallist in 2016 in Rio. He is known for his spectacular pick-ups. Urozboev was 9th at the Grand Slam in Paris and won bronze at the Islamic Games. He is yet another question mark.
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