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SASUKE Grand Champions

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"Sasuke Grand Champion" is an unofficial title granted to the few who have achieved Kanzenseiha on the Sasuke course. Over thirty-two tournaments, the title has been awarded only five times, to four exceptional athletes.

Akiyama Kazuhiko

In the first three Sasuke tournaments, Kanzenseiha remained tantalisingly out of reach for the competitors. Although several came close, such as Omori Akira in Sasuke 1, Tanaka Hikaru in Sasuke 2 and Yamada Katsumi in Sasuke 3, the final stage remained unconquered.

In 1999's Sasuke 4 however, Akiyama Kazuhiko, who had competed in both Sasuke 2 and 3 (timing out on the 2nd Stage's Wall Lift both times), managed to break through. The Crab Fisherman beat the 2nd Stage before looking beyond. Despite the heavy modifications made to the 3rd Stage, including the addition of the brand new Cliffhanger obstacle, Akiyama managed to clear, narrowly saving himself on the final Pipe Slider jump and pulling himself to safety.

Akiyama alone then advanced to the Final Stage. There, his true skill became clear. He scaled the final tower quickly and efficiently, pressing the buzzer with exactly six seconds to spare and becoming the first Sasuke Grand Champion in history. Akiyama was 26 years old at the time, and achieved Kanzenseiha in spite of an eye-condition named Degenerative Retinosis that would continue to plague him for years.

Nagano Makoto

Moving into the fifth Sasuke tournament, the course was drastically upgraded in response to Akiyama Kazuhiko's Total Victory, with the now iconic Warped Wall and Jump Hang obstacles making their debut, along with a more difficult Cliffhanger and Final Stage. The ensuing era would be characterised by constant changes to the course, the formation of the Sasuke All-Stars and the emergence of many new strong competitors.

One of these competitors was Fisherman Nagano Makoto, who after first appearing in Sasuke 7, quickly established himself as a top-tier competitor. In three consecutive tournaments: Sasuke 11, 12 and 13, Nagano attempted and failed the Final Stage, coming painfully close to the buzzer each time.

Despite these setbacks, in 2006's Sasuke 17, Nagano finally had his day. He beat the first three stages with ease, taking revenge on tricky obstacles such as the Metal Spin and Jumping Bars and progressing to the Final Stage for a fourth time, along with professional trampolinist Nagasaki Shunsuke. There, he achieved the impossible, scaling the final tower with 2.56 seconds to spare and becoming the second Sasuke Grand Champion in history. Nagano was 34 years old at the time, making him the oldest competitor to have achieved Kanzenseiha.

Urushihara Yuuji

Following Sasuke 17, Nagano Makoto's Kanzenseiha was met with even more rigorous modifications to the course. Indeed, in Sasuke 18, almost every obstacle was new or modified, providing a fresh challenge for all one-hundred competitors, including now-famous obstacles such as the Jumping Spider, Salmon Ladder and Shin-Cliffhanger. The era known as Shin-Sasuke had begun.

Despite the continued prominence of many greats from the previous era, Shin-Sasuke also saw the rise of newer, younger competitors, who would eventually form the Shin Sedai, or New-Stars. Amongst them was Urushihara Yuuji, a Shoe Salesman who had been trying to get on the show since 2003 and who was more than ready to take on the course.

This dedication and training quickly payed off, as Yuuji reached the Final Stage in only his second tournament: Sasuke 22, showing off the skills he had developed practising as an Unlimited Cliffer at Muscle Park, although he still came up half a meter short. Two tournaments later however, in 2009's Sasuke 24, Yuuji showed his full potential when he became one of five to reach the Final Stage, besting all of his fellow competitors and the final tower to achieve Kanzenseiha with 3.57 seconds to spare, thus making him the third Sasuke Grand Champion.

But Yuuji was far from done. Despite succumbing to the 2nd and 1st Stages of Sasuke 25 and 26 respectively, Yuuji never relented and never gave up on his training. This persistence would soon pay off again in 2011's Sasuke 27, when Yuuji overcame his demons to reach the 3rd Stage for a third time. There, Yuuji showed great technique on the brutal obstacles, becoming only the second ever to pass the Ultimate Cliffhanger before clearing the entire stage, progressing to the Final Stage alongside fellow Unlimited Cliffer: Matachi Ryo. In the Final Stage, Yuuji managed to hit the buzzer with 6.71 seconds remaining, becoming the only competitor in history to have achieved Kanzenseiha twice and seemingly becoming the final Grand Champion in Sasuke history due to the impending bankruptcy of Monster9.

Morimoto Yūsuke

Despite the bankruptcy of Monster9, in 2012 the production of Sasuke was resumed by TBS, beginning a new era of the show named Sasuke RISING and signalling the return of many competitors from previous tournaments. One of these competitors was Morimoto Yūsuke, a student who has been competing on the show since he was fifteen years old, and who had reached the 2nd Stage in Sasuke 27.

Despite skipping Sasuke 28, Morimoto performed well throughout the RISING era, narrowly missing a Final Stage attempt in Sasuke 29 and timing out on the 2nd Stage's Wall Lift in Sasuke 30. But in 2015's Sasuke 31, expectations on him were lower due to Matachi Ryo and Kawaguchi Tomohiro having reached the Final Stage in the previous tournament, which proved to be the boost Morimoto needed.

In Sasuke 31, Morimoto cleared the 1st and 2nd Stages with ease, progressing to the 3rd for a second time. There, he beat impossibly tough obstacles like the Crazy Cliffhanger and Vertical Limit Kai and took revenge on the Pipe Slider, advancing to the Final Stage alone. In the Final Stage, Morimoto was faced with the same tower that Nagano Makoto had beaten in 2006, with the additional challenge of an added 1.5 metres. Despite this, he reached the same heights as his idols when he scaled the tower with 2.56 seconds to spare, the same as Nagano, finally earning Morimoto the coveted title of Sasuke Grand Champion.

Due to occupational reasons, Morimoto was unable to compete in SASUKE 32, however he did return the following tournament.

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