M-League” Shibuya ABEMAS wins its first championship…Interview with Aiko Hinata, a beautiful mahjong player who continued to support the team. | FRIDAY DIGITAL

M-League” Shibuya ABEMAS wins its first championship…Interview with Aiko Hinata, a beautiful mahjong player who continued to support the team.

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Aiko Hyuga of ABEMAS Shibuya, winner of the M-League 2022-23 season

Aiko Hyuga of Shibuya ABEMAS said, “This was my fourth challenge and our team’s fifth, so when we won the championship, I was most happy that we had finally achieved our big goal. To be honest, when Yoshihiro Matsumoto won the previous game, I thought, ‘It’s decided,’ but I had been rolled many times before, so I thought, ‘I’m not going to let my guard down.

Aiko Hyuga, a member of Shibuya ABEMAS (ABEMAS), won the 2022-23 season of the M League, a professional mahjong league, for the first time in her career.

ABEMAS is a strong team, known as the “Always Winning Team,” featuring Takaharu Tai, Sho Shiratori, Yoshihiro Matsumoto, and Aiko Hyuga. In each of the past four years, ABEMAS has finished in third place and has been derided as a “bronze collector,” but this year, the team finally overcame that stigma and captured the winner’s petri dish and 50 million yen in prize money.

Hinata attributes ABEMAS’ victory this year to a single word from team director and CyberAgent CEO Susumu Fujita: “Before the season started, Mr. Fujita told us that he wanted to see ABEMAS win the championship.

Before the season started, Mr. Fujita said to us, ‘Let’s go with the mindset of a challenger,’ and ABEMAS was very proud that ‘we are strong. But Fujita’s words made us reaffirm that we had never won a championship, and we went into this year’s season with a renewed sense of confidence.

Perhaps due in part to Fujita’s words, ABEMAS was in great shape in the early part of the season, increasing its point total to 600. However, from the middle of the season, ABEMAS suffered from an unexpected slump.

In the beginning of the season, everyone was in good shape and we got off to a very good start, but from November last year, we gradually started to lose money, and before we knew it, we were in the red.

We were in a particularly tough situation around the end of the year, and it was a close call that we might not make it to the semifinals if we made a wrong move.

Hinata supported the team in such a difficult situation. He became the first player in his career to record triple-digit points in the regular season and led the team to the semifinals.

This year I earned the most points on the team, but I haven’t received much praise (laughs). (Laughs.) “They would just say, ‘Yes, you’re a genius! But when we went back to the team’s waiting room, they would say, ‘I know you wanted to do this for that station, but I don’t think it fits the situation, so why don’t you do it this way? And then we start discussing it. Personally, I’d like to be praised more (laughs).

This review meeting has been going on ever since the team was formed, and at times, the team would get heated and point out some harsh words.

We talked about it, but sometimes Mr. Tai would say things strongly and passionately because he wanted us to understand. In the beginning, I was really scared, and there were times when I cried, but at that time I was consciously trying to improve the team atmosphere.

But now that kind of thing is much less common. I have also realized that Mr. Tai doesn’t mean it that way, and I have the impression that he has become kinder, or rather, he has changed his phrasing. Besides, I think the three ABEMAS boys look really cute now.

Mr. Tai and Ms. Shiratori are older than me, and they are old men, but I think they are so cute that I think I gave birth to them, and I can’t help but think that Mr. Matsumoto is cute too. So even if something happens to me, I never dislike them (laughs). It’s a mystery to me.

Hinata has continued to support not only the points but also the atmosphere of the team. He thought he would be taking it easy during the off-season, but he says he may be even busier.

I hope to collaborate with various people on my YouTube channel “Mahjong Watch” (87,000 subscribers), which I have been running since before I became an M-League player.

Mr. Fujita has made the M-League a big event for more people to know about mahjong, so I would like to meet people who don’t know mahjong but are interested in it and teach them about it.

Lastly, we asked her how she plans to use her prize money,

I heard that my teammate Shiratori-san went to preview a townhouse the day after he won the tournament (laughs). Matsumoto-san said he wanted a car. I will buy a mahjong table with my own money and give it to my fans.

As for the rest, I asked my husband if I could buy something to commemorate my victory, and he said, ‘You should think about taxes and stop. I have no plans to buy anything now (laughs).

Until the next season begins, you may see Aiko Hinata’s bright smile in various places.

Aiko Hinata’s YouTube channel “Mahjong Watch” (87,000 subscribers) is here.

Hinata answered that her favorite mahjong tiles are 5-sou and 8-sou. When asked why, she said it was because she felt it was easier to win.
Hinata is smiling as she holds flowers to celebrate her victory. Her hobby is flower arrangement.
Hinata playing mahjong. She said that her characteristic is to play in a steady manner. In the studio where he usually shoots his YouTube videos.
  • Photo Takeshi Kinugawa Interview and text by Keitaro Haga

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