International stars struggle, as Ryukyu Asteeda wins its second Japanese T-League title

The 2022/23 T-League season finished with a thrilling final, featuring some of the world’s best players.

Similar to previous seasons, the 2022/23 season featured four teams that played each other seven times during the regular season. The two best teams advanced to the final at the end of the season.

Aside from the local Japanese stars, such as Tomokazu Harimoto, Koki Niwa, and Maharu Yoshimura, T-League also presented some international stars, such as Hugo Calderano and Lin Yun-ju. The Brazilian superstar was a part of Kinoshita Meister Tokyo that finished the regular season in first place. Calderano contributed to its success with 6 wins, while he also lost 8 games.

In the final, the club from Tokyo met Ryukyu Asteeda, led by Tomokazu Harimoto and Maharu Yoshimura. The atmosphere was truly electrifying with more than 2000 spectators in the hall. Players were really passionate during the games, and Harimoto was shouting even louder than usual. However, it wasn’t the easiest day for the Japanese superstar.

Ryukyu Asteeda took a lead after the first match, as the Yoshimura brothers won the doubles against Hiroto Shinozuka and Yuya Oshima 2-1. Kinoshita Meister Tokyo made the game even after Mizuki Oikawa confidently won Kazuki Hamada 3-1. The next game had a clear favorite and Ryukyu Asteeda fans definitely expected to see their team taking a lead as Tomokazu Harimoto was about to play Hiroto Shinozuka. It turned out completely opposite. Harimoto looked powerless and Shinozuka took a very confident 3-0 victory. The overall result was 2-1 in favor of the Tokyo club, and they were just one win away from the title.

The current number five in the World Rankings, Hugo Calderano had a chance to become a hero of this match. All he had to do was to win against Maharu Yoshimura, who is an experienced player, but he has mostly excelled on the local level in recent years. The Japanese took the lead early, but Calderano was able to come back every time, taking it to the fifth set. This is where Yoshimura proved his quality, winning the decider 11-7 and taking down the Top 5 player in the World.

With the overall result 2-2, the 2022/23 champion of the T-League was decided in a one-set-showdown between Tomokazu Harimoto and Hugo Calderano. The Japanese quickly took a lead, Calderano tried to change the course of the game with a time-out, but it did not help. Harimoto won confidently 11-4 and the audience could the best of his emotions. It has been a truly great journey for Harimoto in T-League. In five seasons of its existence, the Japanese superstar has won four titles.

Overall, T-League is a really exciting competition to follow. From the 2023/24 season, there will be also two new teams joining the league, and there could be more international stars strengthening the squads of the Japanese teams. It looks like the T-League is on the way to becoming the world’s second-best club competition after the Chinese Super League. If the progress continues, it can definitely overcome German Bundesliga in the future.


3 Ryukyu Asteeda
2 Kinoshita Meister Tokyo
Maharu Yoshimura/Kazuhiro Yoshimura Yuya Oshima/Hiroto Shinozuka 2-1 (11-7, 10-12, 12-10)
Kazuki Hamada – Mizuki Oikawa 1-3 (8-11, 7-11, 11-8, 9-11)
Tomokazu Harimoto Hiroto Shinozuka 0-3 (8-11, 7-11, 8-11)
Maharu Yoshimura Hugo Calderano 3-2 (11-6, 6-11, 11-3, 9-11, 11-7)
Tomokazu Harimoto Hugo Calderano 1-0 (11-4)

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