The Pearl Bowl is a spring mini-tournament for XLeague (X1 Division) teams that serves as both preseason & exhibition showcase for the Kanto region.
Given that Osaka’s Panasonic Impulse is the only non-Kanto team to even reach a Japan X Bowl in the past 16 seasons, it also offers a chance to see some of the best football Japan has to offer
this time of year.
The 2018 edition of the Pearl Bowl kicked off on April 21st at Fujitsu Stadium, Kawasaki – the location of all games bar the final, which takes place on June 28th in Tokyo Dome.
The tournament has four groups of three teams competing in a round-robin format, with the winners of each group progressing directly to the semifinals.
The groups are seeded which generally means most of the early contests end up being facile victories as the lowest ranked team in each group plays the two sides above it first. Given that the
bottom team would be expected to lose both of those games, it sets up the final round of group games as quarterfinals in effect.
However a couple of factors this year have led to some surprisingly competitive early games and one shock result.