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Day No. 6 in Nur-Sultan is a split day, which means it will be exciting on two fronts. We have hammers Kayla Miracle and Tamyra Mensah closing things out in a tight women's team race while Daton Fix and Zain Retherford kick off MFS.
Daton has a solid draw as he will see the #3 seed in the second round. Zain's path is a gauntlet of who's who in the international landscape at 65kg. Both Miracle and Mensah have formidable opponents early.
Let's get to it. Below are bracket breakdowns for each weight starting Thursday.
57kg - Daton Fix vs. Vladimir Egorov (MKD)
Daton's Road: Down in the bottom half, Daton has a sneaky-good match to open as Egorov was third at Euros in front of several proven performers. That being said, he didn't beat any of them head to head. Daton should get through and then face #3-Yuki Takahashi (JPN) who was gold and bronze the last two years at Worlds. His only loss last year was to Uguev who won it. The quarters would like to bring Ukraine's Harytunyan, who won multiple age level medals. This is his first year in SRs and he won Euros up at 61.
Top Half Analysis:
Atli (TUR) is your #1 seed as a returning bronze and has points from medals at Euros and Kolov. His only loss last year was to Sanayev (KAZ) and he beat Gilman for bronze. He should pretty much cruise to the quarters where he'll get Stevan Micic.
Returning silver medalist Nurislam Sanayev's draw is ridiculously easy. I don't see anyone to even write about that has shown any hint of knocking him off before semis.
For an Olympic weight class the year before the Olympics, the top half is oddly thin. Micic-Atli-Sanayev...not much else.
Bottom Half Analysis:
Daton's quad where Takahashi is the 3 seed is covered above.
At the bottom, returning champ Zaur Uguev (RUS) is the #2 seed. But the bottom quad will be a slugfest. Seven legit dudes in that group. Uguev will have Amiraslanov (AZE), who beat him in Euro Games, in his first match. The winner gets bronze medalist Erdenebat (MGL).
The upper group has a solid opening bout with Andreyeu (BLR) vs. Rezi Atri (AZE) with the winner getting Andrey Yatsenko (UKR) who was bronze in 2017, where he beat Atri in repechage. Daton beat Yatsenko for bronze at JR Worlds a couple years ago.
Best Early Bout: Round of 32 - Amiraslanov (AZE) vs. Uguev (RUS)
65kg - Zain Retherford vs. Valdes Tobier (CUB)
Zain's Road: With few exceptions, we've seen the bottom quad of the OLY weight brackets be absolutely brutal. This is another example, and Zain is in it. However, although his opener with Tobier (returning bronze) will be very difficult, if he wins that one I'm feeling good about round two vs Amir Cherati (IRI) and in the quarters against Perpelita (MDA). Cherati hasn't done much. Frankly I don't understand why he's Iran's rep, and I think the name on his singlet is scarier than the ability level he's at. Perpelita is solid (eighth last year) but nothing extraordinary at the World level. Be worried about Tobier whose only loss at Worlds last year was to Bajrang (IND). But thereafter...I'm good with it till quarters where we'll be back at it with someone exceptional. His quarters opponent would be either three-time World champ Haji Aliyev (AZE), reigning World champ Otoguro (JPN) or last year's 61kg silver Gadshi Rashidov (RUS).
Top Half Analysis:
The top seed is Bajrang, the returning runner-up who Americans have come to know very well. He'll probably see America's David Habat in the second round. Habat is representing Slovakia. The group that filters to Bajrang's quarter is incredibly light. He probably cruises to the semis.
The #4 seed Tumur (MGL) is not that great. He was seventh last year but has taken a gang of losses this season and he opens with Skrabin (BLR) who once upon a time (2016) won Yarygin. There's another Kazakh draw that's sort of gift wrapped. Daulet Niyazbekov, a solid-not-spectacular performer, has a cakewalk to the quarters and a very winnable bout there vs. one of the two above.
Bottom Half Analysis:
Turkey's Selhat Kilic is the #3 seed as the runner-up at a loaded Euro bracket to Aliyev (AZE). He has a walk to the quarters. Likely to meet him there will be Vladimir Khinchegashvili (GEO) who was once otherworldly but has been rocky lately. He went 1-1 at Euros and 2-1 at Worlds in 2018. One of those wins was over Kilic. Keep in mind though that Khinchegashvili has a second-round match with the very dangerous Iszmaiel Muszukaev (HUN) who won up on Yianni 9-0 at one point at Dogu.
So we covered Zain's group above. If I'm a betting man (and I am), I'd pick the winner of Zain-Tobier to win their next two and make it to the quarters where someone beastly will be waiting.
Reigning World champ Takuto Otoguro (JPN) should easily win his first match and then await either last year's 61kg World silver Gadshimurad Rashidov (RUS) or Hall of Famer Haji Aliyev (AZE), who went 1-1-3-1 from 2014-2017 before losing his first match at Worlds last year to Tobier. He's back on track though, winning both Euros and Euro Games this season.
Best Early Bout: Round of 64 - Retherford (USA) vs. Tobier (CUB)
Best Early Bout: Round of 64 - Aliyev (AZE) vs. Rashidov (RUS)
Best Early Bout: Round of 32 - Muszukajev (HUN) vs. Khinchegashvili (GEO)