Bowling Revolution P-League
|Bowling Revolution P★League|
Mitsuaki Ogawa, Ryo Izuno, Daisuke Fujita
Takashi Maruyama, Yoshimi Kitaoka, Kinta Yano
|Country of origin||Japan|
|No. of series||59|
|Original network||BS Nittele (BS日テレ).|
|Original release||April 2, 2006 – present|
|Bowling Revolution P★League Official site|
Bowling Revolution P★League (ボウリング革命 P★League Bōringu Kakumei Pi-ri-gu?) is a series of women-only bowling tournaments, developed solely for television. Entry into these tournaments is limited to selected members of the Japan Professional Bowling Association (JPBA), and amateurs who have qualified via open auditions. The show airs throughout Japan on BS Nittele (BS日テレ).
The "P" in P★League has five meanings: "Pretty", "Power", "Passion", "Performance" and "Perfect".
- 1 History
- 2 Participants
- 3 Tournament Details
- 4 Venue and filming conditions
- 5 Cast
- 6 Wild card
- 7 Banned from the next tournament
- 8 Tournament statistics
- 9 Tournament notes
- 10 Public affairs
- 11 See also
- 12 References
- 13 External links
By the late 1990s, the number had shrunk to only 600. In 2008, there were 1,100 bowling establishments and 25.1 million people bowled in Japan: about one in five Japanese.
In the 1970s, the JPBA produced a series of televised bowling tournaments, such as Ladies Challenge Bowl (レディズ・チャレンジボウル 1969-1975) and The Star Bowling (ザ・スターボウリング 1978-1998), in the attempt to further push the sport's appeal, as well as showcase the women who competed in the JPBA. Big names such as Ritsuko Nakayama and Kayoko Suda competed in these tournaments. The formula worked - as the show's concept is used in many other Japanese bowling promotions on television, leading up to the present day.
Nakayama, along with the JPBA, created P-League in 2006 in an attempt to revive bowling's popularity on television once enjoyed in the 1970s.
The P-League's television show premiered on BS Nittele on April 2, 2006, initially airing on Sunday nights at 7:30 p.m. JST. After Tournament 18 ended on March 29, 2009, the show was moved to the 5:30 p.m. timeslot beginning April 5, where it remained until the final episode of Tournament 36 aired on March 25, 2012. The show was then moved to Friday nights at 10:30 p.m., and it began airing in that time slot on April 6. On October 4, 2013, the show was moved one hour later to 11:30 p.m. After two years in that timeslot, the show was moved to 10:00 p.m. on October 4, 2015, where it remains to this day.
The women who compete in P-League have either been chosen by the JPBA, or qualified through a try-out. The bowlers who compete in P-League are among the best women bowlers in the world. Most of the competitors hold an average of 190 or better, and several have bowled 300 games and 800 series.
The television show consists of a series of tournament matches. An entire tournament is bowled and filmed in one day. However, when aired on television, the television coverage can span nine weeks because of the 30-minute time slot. Each tournament is bowled in a single-elimination bracket format.
- Tournaments 14 and later
The current format consists of a field of eighteen bowlers, being six groups of three bowlers (A through F) filled by lottery. In Round 1, the highest scorer in each group advances to a semi-final ABC or DEF match. The highest scorer in each ABC/DEF match advances to the finals. To keep the three-bowler format in the finals, the bowler who had the highest score among the remaining four bowlers from the ABC/DEF matches also bowls in the finals as the "wild card". The winner of the final match is the champion, with the remaining bowlers getting second and third place based on score.
Starting with Tournament 20, bowlers with a lower score in the first round may be banned from the following tournament.
Starting with Tournament 35, only members of the JPBA are allowed to participate. Members of the Japan Bowling Congress (JBC) and its National Team were allowed to compete in Tournaments 2 through 34.
Starting with Tournament 43, P-League is now grouping three consecutive tournaments (43, 44, 45) as a season, with a season-ending, three-bowler final match to be held after the third tournament's final match.
- Tie-breaking processes
- If bowlers tie in a match, a one-ball roll-off is used to decide the winner. The highest scorer of the roll-off wins the match. If the bowlers remain tied, the process repeats until there is a winner. (This process is also used when the lowest score in a first round match is a tie. The loser of the tie-breaker will be banned from the next tournament. See the "Banned" section.)
- If two bowlers are tied in the running for the Wild Card entry, the entry is given to the bowler who had the higher game score in the last non-tied frame. This is also called the "countback method".
- If bowlers are tied in the season-opening qualifying round, ties will broken by number of strikes, then by when the earliest strike occurred, then by a roll-off.
Starting with T43, P-League has implemented a seasonal system in conjunction with its regular tournament system. The seasons are designed to be in-line with the Japanese television seasons, which traditionally are broken into four three-month periods (winter, spring, summer, and autumn.) The first season, called S1 from hereon will group T43, T44 and T45 together.
In the first tournament of each season, 24 current P-League members will participate in a six-ball roll-off. The top 18 bowlers will bowl in the first tournament. The low six bowlers will be cut from the tournament, and will be used later on as fillers for the second tournament after the six low scorers are banned. The banned bowlers will then return for the third tournament of the season to fill in for the banned bowlers from the second tournament.
In addition, a point system has been created, starting with S1. The points are broken down as such:
- In the A-F matches, the winner will receive 3 points, the second high score will receive 1 point, and the lowest score will receive zero points, as well as a ban from the following* tournament.
- In the ABC and DEF matches, the winner will receive 3 points, the second high score will receive 1 point, and the low score will receive zero points.
- In the final match, the tournament champion will receive 5 points, the second high score will receive 3 points, and the low score will receive 1 point.
* In the third tournament of a season, a lowest score will not be banned for the next tournament due to the start of a new season.
The points during the three tournaments of a season are added up, and the top three scorers will bowl in a season-ending championship. The winner of the match will be crowned "Season Queen."
- Prize Money
All prize money is paid to the bowlers in Japanese yen (¥). Prize money is currently: 1st Place - ¥300,000. Second and third place are no longer paid due to the new seasonal setup. In the seasonal final: "Season Queen" - ¥1,000,000 (100万円), 2nd Place - ¥300,000 (30万円) and 3rd Place - ¥100,000 yen (10万円).
- Perfect Prize
Starting with Tournament 35, the prize money is ¥3.0 million (300万円), regardless of when the 300 game is rolled.
- Tournament 1
Twelve bowlers competed. Four of the bowlers had an automatic berth to Round 2. In Round 1, the eight remaining bowlers competed in four head-to-head matches, with the winner in each match moving up to the Round 2. The winners of the four head-to-head matches in Round 2 moved up to the semi-final round. The two winners of the semi-finals moved up to the final match, while the two losers moved into the consolation match. The winner of the final match placed first, while the loser placed second, and the winner of the consolation match placed third.
- Tournament 2
The field was changed from twelve to sixteen, consisting of two groups (A and B) of eight bowlers. In Round 1, each group competed in four head-to-head matches, with the winners moving up to Round 2. The two groups of two Round 2 match winners moved up to the semi-final round. The two winners of the semi-finals moved up to the final match, while the two losers moved into the consolation match. The winner of the final match placed first, while the loser placed second, and the winner of the consolation match placed third.
- Tournament 3
The field was reduced to fourteen bowlers, being two groups (A and B) of seven bowlers, with one bowler in each group given a bye into Round 2, while the remaining six bowlers in each group competed in three head-to-head matches, with those winners moving on to Round 2. The two groups of two Round 2 match winners moved up to the semi-final round. The two winners of the semi-finals moved up to the final match, while the two losers moved into the consolation match. The winner of the final match placed first, while the loser placed second, and the winner of the consolation match placed third.
- Tournaments 4 through 12
The field was again increased to sixteen bowlers. Four groups (A through D) of four bowlers were created. In Round 1, the two highest scorers in each group advanced to Round 2. In Round 2, two groups (AB and CD) were created, and the two highest scorers in each group advanced to the semi-final round. The four remaining bowlers are split into two head-to-head matches, with the winners advancing to the final match, while the two losers moved to the consolation match. The winner of the final match placed first, while the loser placed second, and the winner of the consolation match placed third.
- Tournament 13
In Tournament 13, the field was re-sized to fifteen bowlers. Five groups of three bowlers (A through E) were created. In Round 1, the highest scorer in each group advanced to the semi-finals. In the semi-finals, the five winners were split into two matches of three. For the sixth bowler, a wild card bowler was determined by the bowler who had the highest score among the losers in Round 1. The two highest scorers in each match moved up to the final match. The 1st through 4th places were determined by the order of the scores.
Venue and filming conditions
Currently, all the tournaments are filmed at the 68-lane Tamachi Hilane (田町ハイレーン) bowling center, located in Minato City, Tokyo, with the exception of T44, which was filmed at Tomikoshi Takashimadaira Bowl, located in Itabashi, Tokyo.
A temporary filming studio enclosure is constructed around three pairs of lanes (lanes 57 through 62 at Tamachi, and 27 through 32 at Tomikoshi), complete with additional lighting and a pink-themed decor. On the outer pairs of lanes, the first half of those lanes past the foul line is turned into seating areas for the live viewing audience, which can number over one hundred spectators. Lanes 59 and 60 at Tamachi (29 and 30 at Tomikoshi) are bowled on as the tournament "TV pair." As of T43, P-League features a new larger digital scoreboard above the far end of the pair. Many other parts of the establishment are turned into dressing rooms and interviewing areas.
While the matches are being filmed, most of the remaining competitors sit in the "settee area" to the left of the tournament pair, along with the viewing audience, watch the matches. In earlier tournaments, when a member of the Japan National Team bowled, her JNT teammates in the settee area would yell "saa iccho" (さーいっちょ) for encouragement just before the bowler made her delivery. The television commentators are situated in the settee area to the right of the tournament pair. Usually, the commentators cannot be heard by the people in the studio during the match. But, on occasion a commentator will yell with enthusiasm, stirring up laughter among the bowlers. Ryo Itsuno once yelled, "Nandedayō?" (何でだよう？ or "Why?") while working on Round 25, Match E when Yūko Nakatani left a soft 10-pin in a crucial must-strike situation. Other phrases popular with Itsuno include "YOSHA! SUTORAIKŪ!" (よっしゃぁ～!ストラッイクー!) or "JUST POCKET!" (ジャストポケット!) after a strike, and "GOOD JOB!" or "EXCELLENT!" after a great spare conversion.
The scores are tracked by the computer scoring system on the TV pair, and occasionally need to be corrected by the bowlers themselves.
Competitors in the upcoming matches practice outside of the studio, using the remaining available lanes.
At the end of most telecasts, supporter Saki Nakajima hosts a segment called Chotto Kininaru! or I'm Curious! (ちょっと 気になる！) where she meets with the members of P-League, and together participate in various activities, such as interviews, bowling tips, and skill challenges.
Active bowlers (T1 to T33)
Active bowlers (T34 to present)
Key to table:
- ☆ - Champion, ◎ - 2nd Place, △ - 3rd Place
- 2 - Eliminated in semi-finals ("ABC"/"DEF" matches)
- 1 - Eliminated in 1st Round (any A-F match).
- ▼ - Lowest score in a single A-F match (T31-present; starting with T42, lowest score does not matter in "season tournament 3" - see "Non-qualifier" below)
- "Blank" - Did not compete.
- × - Banned (after previous "▼"; T21-present. Starting with T43, bowlers can only be banned for season tournaments 2 and 3, see next entry).
- ● - Non-qualifier in six-ball roll-off ("Season Tournament 1"; T43 and every third tournament thereafter)
|Season 1||Season 2|
|1st audition winner|
|Seul Ki Kim
|3rd audition winner|
|2nd audition winner|
Inactive and former bowlers
- Mitsuaki Ogawa (小川光明)
- Ryo Itsuno (伊津野亮)
- Daisuke Fujita (藤田大介)
- Saki Nakajima (中島早貴) (supporter)
- Mai Yamagishi (山岸舞彩) (assistant)
- Saki Oshiro (大城さき) (assistant)
In Tournament 13, to fill the semi-final matches, a wild card bowler came from the highest score of the ten non-winning bowlers from the first-round matches. This was Urara Himeji with a 259 game, and she went on to win both her semi-final and final matches to win the tournament.
Starting with Tournament 14, the final match wild card bowler became the player with the highest score among the ABC and DEF matches, but not winning her match. The wild card bowls in the final match against the winners of those two matches.
|47||Seul Ki Kim||215||Win|
Banned from the next tournament
Starting with Tournament 20, P-League instituted a system where bowlers could be disqualified from the next tournament because of a low score.
- From Tournaments 20 through 28, bowlers with the two lowest scores in Round 1 were banned from participating in the next P-League Tournament.
- In Tournaments 29 and 30, the three lowest scorers in Round 1 were banned from participating in the next P-League Tournament.
- Since Tournament 31, but with the exception of T42, the lowest scorer in each of the A through F matches are banned from the next tournament. This change brings the number of banned bowlers to six. Starting with T45 (and every third tournament after), for the season-ending regular tournament there are no banned bowlers. Instead, all bowlers will open the next season and tournament with a qualifying round to determine eligible bowlers.
- In all, the banned bowlers are eligible to participate in the tournament following the tournament from which they were banned. There are, however, times where a banned bowler is chosen to bowl in the next tournament, usually to fill an open spot left by a bowler who leaves P-League. When P-League's active roster is greater than 24 bowlers, a banned bowler may possibly not bowl in the next tournament that she is eligible for.
Until T46, Hiromi Matsunaga was the only bowler never to be banned under the "Round 1 low score" rule. She missed the cut in T43's qualifying round.
|Tournament||Lowest scores||Roster notes|
|20||Risa Suzuki: 179; Aki Nawa: 169||Risa Suzuki and Aki Nawa become the first two bowlers to be banned under the new system. Natsumi Koizumi replaces Suzuna Miyagi's vacant spot within the JBC National Team. Rookie Mitsuki Nakamura is added to the JPBA roster.|
|21||Mitsuki Nakamura: 185; Ayano Katai: 181||Suzuna Miyagi leaves P-League permanently. Masami Satō replaces Miyagi.|
|22||Hiroko Shimizu: 158; Sanae Mori: 150|
|23||Nao Ōishi: 170; Miki Nishimura: 167|
|24||Hiroko Shimizu: 159; Mika Sakai: 146||Ayano Katai leaves JBC and applies for JPBA. Hiroko Shimizu replaces Katai despite her 2nd lowest score in #24.|
|25||Masami Satō: 165; Natsumi Koizumi: 164||Hiroko Shimizu and Mai Takasaka leave P-League permanently, both resigning from JPBA and joining LBO. Ayano Katai returns as a new JPBA member.|
|26||Yūka Kishida: 171; Rina Asada: 161|
|27||Mika Sakai: 162; Risa Suzuki: 154|
|28||Masami Hasegawa: 183; Mitsuki Nakamura: 172|
|29||Ayano Katai: 178; Aki Nawa: 174; Mika Sakai: 165||Natsumi Koizumi went on a foreign tour, leaving her unable to participate in this tournament. Suzuna Miyagi takes her place. The rules have changed from the lowest two scores to the lowest three starting from this tournament.|
|30||Mayumi Yoshida: 178; Masami Hasegawa: 178; Suzuna Miyagi: 159|
|31||Mitsuki Nakamura: 180; Nao Ōishi: 165; Akiko Tanigawa: 168; Ayano Katai: 183; Aino Kinjō: 173; Urara Himeji: 166||Rules have changed from the lowest three scores in first round to the lowest score in each of the six first round matches. Hasegawa returned to #31, replacing Asada, despite low score in #30.|
|32||Yūko Nakatani: 197; Junko Harigaya: 191; Risa Suzuki: 168; Misaki Mukotani: 206; Masami Satō: 201; Masami Hasegawa: 167|
|33||Yūka Kishida: 164; Miho Yanagi: 160; Rina Asada: 200; Mitsuki Nakamura: 191; Natsumi Koizumi: 186; Aki Nawa: 185|
|34||Kana Shimoide: 179; Misaki Mukotani: 172; Urara Himeji: 209; Akiko Tanigawa: 226; Aino Kinjō: 206; Junko Harigaya: 213||Debut of Kana Shimoide and Natsuki Sasaki, both members of the Japanese National Team. Due to the withdrawal of the JBC the following tournament, this was their first and last participation.|
|35||Ayano Katai: 184; Yoshimi Kobayashi: 187; Masami Satō: 180; Masami Hasegawa: 189; Suzuna Miyagi: 159; Mika Sakai: 176||Starting with this tournament, JBC members are not permitted to participate, resulting in the debut of Ami Tanaka, Yoshimi Kobayashi, and Miki Takehara, all recently inducted JPBA members.|
|36||Seul Ki Kim: 161; Sanae Mori: 167; Miki Takehara: 169; Aino Kinjō: 165; Ami Tanaka: 190; Urara Himeji: 199||Debut of Seul Ki Kim, the first Korean pro bowler to participate in P-League, and Hitomi Andō, the only professional to have passed the P-League open auditions.|
|37||Yūka Kishida: 159; Mayumi Yoshida: 182; Hitomi Andō: 183; Ayumi Kobayashi: 143; Risa Suzuki: 205; Ayano Katai: 156||Debut of Mina Endō. She is the sole amateur in this tournament.|
|38||Yoshimi Kobayashi: 174; Akiko Tanigawa: 200; Sanae Mori: 191; Miho Yanagi: 190; Urara Himeji: 196; Ayano Iwami: 191||Debut of Ayano Iwami, a P-League open audition winner who joins Endō as the second of two members. Ōishi also returns as a JPBA member, last participating in Tournament 34.|
|39||Yūka Kishida: 190; Aki Suzuki: 173; Mitsuki Nakamura: 166; Amu Tanaka: 198; Mina Endō: 177; Keaki Watanabe: 164|
|40||Hitomi Andō: 193; Sanae Mori: 195; Akiko Tanigawa: 183; Mika Sakai: 210; Seul Ki Kim: 165; Ayano Iwami: 123|
|41||Mina Endō: 213; Ayano Katai: 171; Mariko Sakurai: 201; Ayumi Kobayashi: 190; Mayumi Yoshida: 190; Mitsuki Nakamura: 166||Debut of Mariko Sakurai (see below); T41 may be Ayano Katai's final appearance in P-League, as she is to move to the United States with her husband.|
|42||No bowlers were banned as a result of scores.||A six ball qualifying round was held to start T43 to determine eligible bowlers. The lowest six scorers were Hitomi Andō (46), Mayumi Yoshida (49), Nao Ōishi (50), Yoshimi Kobayashi (51), Hiromi Matsunaga (51), Miki Takehara (51).|
|43||Mitsuki Nakamura: 189; Suzuna Miyagi: 182; Masami Satō: 175; Yūka Kishida: 186; Aki Nawa: 201; Aki Suzuki: 185||Bowlers who missed the cut during the six-ball qualifying round will fill the six available spots in T44.|
|44||Nao Ōishi: 150; Mai Funamoto: 177; Keaki Watanabe: 196; Mika Sakai: 149; Masami Hasegawa: 191; Mariko Sakurai: 185|
|45||No bowlers were banned as a result of scores.||A six ball qualifying round was held to start T46 to determine eligible bowlers. The lowest six scorers were Shoko Furuta (49), Asami Sakurai (50), Seul Ki Kim (52), Mariko Sakurai (53), Keake Watanabe (53), Aki Suzuki (53). Urara Himeji, Mina Endō, and Hitomi Andō also had 53. They won the tiebreaker by having more strikes than Mariko Sakurai and Watanabe, and their first strike was in an earlier frame than Suzuki's.|
|46||Hiromi Matsunaga: 192; Yūka Kishida: 180; Mayumi Yoshida: 179; Akiko Tanigawa: 167; Ayano Iwami: 127; Nao Ōishi: 194||For the first time, Hiromi Matsunaga is banned under the "Round 1 low score" rule. Natsumi Koizumi returns as a JPBA member. Bowlers who missed the cut during the six-ball qualifying round will fill the six available spots in T47.|
|47||Shoko Furuta: 163; Miki Takehara: 194; Mina Endō: 177; Natsumi Koizumi: forfeited; Risa Suzuki: 216; Mika Sakai: 163||New JPBA members Asami Sakurai and Shoko Furuta debuted in this tournament.|
|48||No bowlers will be banned as a result of scores.||A six ball qualifying round will start T49 to determine eligible bowlers. The lowest six bowlers were Mika Sakai (48), Risa Suzuki (49), Aki Nawa (51), Mariko Sakurai (52), Natsumi Koizumi (53), and Yuka Kishida (54). They will fill the spots made available in T50.|
|49||TBD||Ami Tanaka makes a return since her last participation in T39. Mai Funamoto and Yoshimi Kobayashi also resume participation in this season after having not participated in Season 2. This season (T49, T50, and T51) will not feature any left-handed bowlers.|
- Number of tournament wins: 9 - Matsunaga (T18, 19, 21, 29-32, 37, 39)
- Number of continuous tournament wins: 4 - Matsunaga (T29-32)
- Consecutive finals reached: 4 - Matsunaga (T29-32), Nishimura (T35-38)
- Consecutive semi-finals reached by winning Round 1: 7 - Nishimura (T33-39)
- Consecutive tournaments bowled without being banned (T20-41, T43- ): 23 - Matsunaga (T20-T42*)
- High score, single game: 289 - Himeji (T18)
- High three-game total (T13-current): 789 - M. Sakai (T34; 275-257-257)
- High four-game total (T1-12): 994 - Ōishi (T12; 258-247-235-254)
- Most strikes, single game: 11 - M. Sakai (T11), Mori (T13), Himeji (T17), A. Kobayashi (T35), Funamoto (T43)
- Consecutive strikes, single game: 10 - Matsunaga (T17), Himeji (T18), A. Kobayashi (T35)
- High two scores in a single match: 567 (T17) - Matsunaga (288) and Himeji (279)
- High three scores in a single match (T13-current): 748 (T21) - Matsunaga (277), Mori (223) and Ōishi (248)
* T42 did not use the ban system. (See "Current Format" above for more details.) In the six-ball roll-off prior to T43, Matsunaga did not qualify for T43.
Technically, she didn't get banned in T42, but she did fail to reach T43, so the record stops at 23.
All errors are the result of the first ball, unless otherwise noted.
- Reika Sakai - T7, 1B, 6th frame - gutter (6 pins on 2nd ball)
- Rie Totsuka - T17, 1A, 9th frame - foul (8 pins on 2nd ball)
- Mika Sakai - T22, 1A, 9th frame - gutter (9 pins on 2nd ball)
- Hiroko Shimizu - T24, 1F, 6th frame - foul (10 pins/spare on 2nd ball)
- Hiroko Shimizu - T24, 1F, 8th frame - foul on 2nd ball (9 pins on 1st ball)
- Miki Nishimura - T27, 1A, 9th frame - gutter (6 pins on 2nd ball)
- Junko Harigaya - T30, 1C, 7th frame - foul (10 pins/spare on 2nd ball)
- Seul Ki Kim - T38, 1B, 4th frame - gutter (9 pins on 2nd ball)
- Mariko Sakurai - T41, 1C, 7th frame - gutter (10 pins/spare on 2nd ball)
- Urara Himeji - T46, 1C, 8th frame - foul on 2nd ball (9 pins on 1st ball)
- Nao Oishi - T49, ABC, 10th frame - foul on final ball (2 strikes in 10th, no spare attempt)
Tournament 17: Hiromi Matsunaga makes P-League history by scoring the highest three-game series of 781 by way of games of 278, 288 and 215. The two semifinal matches are among the most exciting thus far. In the ABC match, Urara Himeji stays behind Matsunaga, and matches all but just one of Matsunaga's 10 consecutive strikes leading to the 10th frame. Himeji finishes first by striking out in the frame for a 279, and takes some of the pressure off of Matsunaga, while she deals with the possibly of rolling a perfect 300-game. Unfortunately, Matsunaga throws the ball high and leaves the 4-7, and finishes with a 288. In the DEF match, Mika Sakai keeps a steady lead over both Sanae Mori and Nao Ōishi. Mori's soft-10 pin leave in the 9th frame takes her out of contention. In the 10th, Sakai loses her chance of shutting out Ōishi by leaving a ringing 10-pin on the first ball. Sakai finishes with a 237, and forces Ōishi to strike out in the 10th to take a one-pin victory. Ōishi rolls the first two strikes, but leaves a half-10 pin on the last ball, to tie the match at 237. Ōishi wins the one-ball roll-off 10-9. Himeji takes the wild card position with her 279 score. Himeji takes advantage of her second wind via the wild card, and fires off a five-bagger to take command of the final match, and wins the match and tournament with a 238.
Tournament 28: For the first time in P-League history, all members of the Japan National Team won their first round matches (Ōishi, Asada, and Koizumi) and reached the ABC/DEF matches. It is also the first time all three positions in either the ABC or DEF match are filled by members of the Japan National Team. It is the first time all amateurs (four of them in Round 28) have qualified for the ABC/DEF matches. It is also the second time (previously T12) the final match consisted entirely of amateurs (Asada, Harigaya, and Ōishi as the wild card). With her win, Harigaya is the first bowler without affiliation to the Japan National Team nor the JPBA to win.
Tournament 30: Hiromi Matsunaga matches Urara Himeji's record of five tournament wins. The final match had a line-up that matched the line-up in Tournament 29 (Mori, Matsunaga, and Nishimura). The win was also the second time that Matsunaga won two consecutive tournaments (T18 and 19). This round also introduced Saki Nakajima as a supporter.
Tournament 31: Hiromi Matsunaga sets new records for not only the most tournament wins with six, but also the number of continuous wins (three). The rules changed in Round 31, where the lowest scorers in each of A-F matches are banned from the next tournament. This rule changed the dynamics of the A-F matches, as each bowler is now faced with not only losing the first round match, but also not rolling the worst score in the match. The mood was noticeably more serious in the A-F matches than in previous rounds.
Tournament 33: After four straight tournament wins, Hiromi Matsunaga loses to Aino Kinjō in Match 33C, 225-226. After a strike in the foundation ninth frame, Matsunaga brought a 21-pin lead over Kinjō with her to the 10th frame. Matsunaga rolls the ball straight into the head-pin, leaving the difficult 4-10 split. Missing the split, Kinjō is forced to cover 20 pins in the 10th frame. A strike on the first ball gives Kinjō a comfortable position to collect the needed ten pins in the last two balls. Kinjō was then defeated in the ABC semi-final match against Miki Nishimura. Nishimura and best-friend Urara Himeji meet up with Ayano Katai in the final match. Nishimura started strong with a turkey in the first three frames, along with Katai's four-bagger. Katai falls out of contention with consecutive opens in the fifth and sixth frames. After a slow start with a 65 in the fourth frame for Himeji, she finishes the match with eight straight strikes for a 245 - forcing Nishimura to match her, starting at the eighth frame for any chance of taking advantage of a break by Himeji. Nishimura ends up short, rolling a 233 and a second-place finish. It is Himeji's sixth tournament win, and is only one win away from matching Matsunaga's record of seven tournament wins.
Tournament 34: Three new members of P-League make their debut. Ayumi Kobayashi (age 21) earned her JPBA membership earlier in 2011. Satsuki Sasaki (23) is the newest member of the Japan national team. Kana Shimoide (17) is also a Japan national team member, and is currently attending high school. Mika Sakai breaks Hiromi Matsunaga's three-game record by rolling games of 275, 257 and 257 for a 789 series. Masami Hasegawa makes the final match for the first time. Mayumi Yoshida and Sakai tie in the final match with a 257-257 score. Yoshida wins the tie-breaker and tournament 10-7.
Tournament 35: Yūko Nakatani retires from P-League after Tournament 34. Three new JPBA members are added to the active roster: Yoshimi Kobayashi, Miki Takehara and Ami Tanaka. For the first time since Tournament 1, no members of the Japan National Team or JBC are in the line-up.
Tournament 36: Two new bowlers are added to the active roster: Hitomi Andō, a winner of the P-League open auditions, and Seul Ki Kim, a KPBA member.
Tournament 37: Mina Endō, one of the amateurs who passed the P-League open auditions, is added to the roster. This is the first appearance by an amateur after two tournaments. In the first semi-final match, Mitsuki Nakamura and Miki Nishimura both finish with a 237; using a frame-by-frame tie-breaker rule, where the last highest score in a frame wins, it was determined Nishimura was eligible for the Wild Card position. They both had a 217 in the ninth frame, but Nakamura had a 188, while Nishimura had a 197 in the eighth frame—this gave her the win.
Tournament 38: Ayano Iwami, the second amateur who passed the P-League open auditions, is added to the roster; she is the first "back-up ball" bowler (throwing with her right hand but hooking like a left-hander's ball) to feature in the show's history. Nao Ōishi, who was a member of the Japanese National Team, topped the pro test in 2012, regaining her eligibility into P-League. Ōishi, a three-time winner, was featured in "dream match" E, consisting of eight-time winner Hiromi Matsunaga and five-time winner Urara Himeji. These three bowlers, at the time of the tournament, are the three highest average bowlers in P-League history. Mitsuki Nakamura makes it to the final match for her first time with 267 scores in each of her first two matches. The final match was filled with 10-pin leaves, making for a low scoring event. Nakamura had a slight lead heading into the 10th frame. However, in the 10th, her first ball doesn't bite the lane, missing the head pin completely and leaves the 1-2-4-10 washout. Barely missing the spare, she finished with a 193. Needing just a 7-count on her last ball in the 10th, Miki Nishimura strikes and scores a 197, to secure her third P-League tournament win. Nakamura finishes second. Mika Sakai, after making the final as a wild card, places third with a 181.
Tournament 39: Hiromi Matsunaga extends her record for tournaments won to nine.
Tournament 40: For the first time since P-League switched to its current format in Tournament 14, the winner of Match C in the first round wins the overall tournament. Urara Himeji breaks the jinx by defeating Miki Takehara and Suzuna Miyagi. It is Himeji's seventh tournament win. It was also both Takehara and Miyagi's first visits to the final match. Himeji takes over second place in all-time scoring average with a 220.3 average for 67 games. Nao Ōishi drops to third place all-time at 220.2 after 47 games. Hiromi Matsunaga, averaging 231.2, continues to lead P-League in this category. Ayano Iwami bowls an all-time P-League low score of 123 in the first round.
Tournament 41: Aki Suzuki wins her first P-League tournament and becomes the first bowler since Tournament 26 to win after qualifying for the final match as the wild card. Mariko Sakurai becomes the second bowler in P-League history to convert the difficult 4-6-7-9-10 split, also known as the "greek church," doing so in Match C. Aino Kinjō previously converted the split, doing so in Tournament 10 in the 3rd-place play-off match.
Tournament 42: Seul Ki Kim becomes the first foreign bowler to win a P-League tournament.
Tournament 43: T43 is the first of three tournaments that make up Season 1 (the others being T44 and T45.) Hiromi Matsunaga failed to qualify for T43 during the six-ball qualifier, which breaks her record of consecutive tournaments bowled without being banned at 23. Mai Funamoto makes her P-League debut by rolling the highest game of 264 by a first-timer. Masami Satō returns after being away from P-League since T35 due to an injury. Tamachi Hi-Lane will undergo renovations during T44. P-League will return to Tamachi Hi-Lane in T45. Sanae Mori wins her first P-League tournament by defeating Miki Nishimura and Mika Sakai.
Season 1 Final: Sanae Mori qualified for the Season 1 Final with 24 points by winning T43, semi-finals in T44, and 2nd place in T45. Yoshida Mayumi qualified by winning T44 and T45, despite failing to qualify for T43 during the six-ball qualifier. Miki Nishimura qualified with 13 points. She lost in the first round of T45 to Mori, and had to wait for the results of the matches for Ayumi Kobayashi (lost in 1st round T45, 10 points) and Hitomi Andō (lost in semi-finals DEF T45, 10 points). Mayumi became "Season Queen" with a score of 227. Mori and Nishimura tied at 213 and had a 1 ball roll-off for 2nd and 3rd place. They were tied after 3 roll-off frames, but Mori claimed 2nd place after she rolled a strike and Nishimura rolled 9 in the 4th roll-off frame.
Tournament 46: Mina Endō became the first amateur to win the tournament since Junko Harigaya in T28. Natsumi Koizumi finished 3rd in her first tournament as a professional. Sanae Mori bowled the lowest score (so far) to get the wild card over Aki Nawa by one pin (197-196). She finished 2nd. For the first time, Hiromi Matsunaga gets banned from the next tournament under the "Round 1 low score" rule in Match A.
Besides its weekly television show, P-League also sells merchandise for fans, in the form of DVDs, books, calendars, and other merchandise.
Currently, P-League has released seven DVD sets. None of the content have been shown in the television series. Volume 1 profiles the original members of P-League. Volumes 2 and 3 include "doubles" tournaments. Volume 4 features an "East v. West" team challenge, where the 20 competitors are divided into two teams of ten, based on their hometowns.
On April 25, 2011, P-League released a five-year anniversary commemorative DVD set, including all four previously released DVDs and an all-new P-League Volume 5. First editions of the DVD set includes a logo'd hand towel and pin. The first half of the DVD includes a top-10 matches showcase, followed by a split-making review from past tournaments. The second half includes a segment called "P-TALK", and is moderated by Japanese tarento Teruyuki Tsuchida.
P-League released volume 6 on March 21, 2012. The top four bowlers at the time (Matsunaga, Himeji, Nishimura, and Mori) become team captains, and participate in a P-League draft. Sixteen bowlers are picked by the captains, forming four teams of five bowlers - including the captains. The teams battle in a best-of-three competition, combining team, doubles, and singles matches. Each of the winning teams move on to the final match, while the losing teams play for third place.
Volume 7 was released on November 30, 2012. Four Japanese tarento are appointed as team captains, and participate in a P-League draft. Twenty bowlers are picked by the captains, forming four teams of five bowlers - with the captains not participating in the matches. Captains are:
- Maggy Shinji (マギー審司), a magician famous for his signature large ear;
- Takehiro Murata (村田雄浩), an actor who stars in many Japanese television dramas, including Wataru Seken wa Oni Bakari;
- Kazutomo Miyamoto (宮本和知), a former professional Japanese baseball player, who played for the Yomiuri Giants;
- Guadalcanal Taka (ガダルカナル・タカ), a comedian and a member of Beat Takeshi's entertainment group;
Tournament format is similar to Volume 6. In the first round, the matches are Team Murata vs. Team Taka, and Team Miyamoto vs. Team Shinji. P-League's first 300 game is also featured in the volume set, although the scores in the DVD sets do not count towards official P-League statistics.
Volume 8 will be released November 30, 2013. The P-League draft and tournament format remain the same as Volumes 6 and 7. In Volume 8, all four captains will bowl in the matches.
P-League has released four sets of collectors cards, each using the tagline Fairies on the Lane. The cards are similar to baseball cards in that the cards feature a photo of the bowler on the front, and her P-League statistics on the back. The sets were released in 2009, 2010, 2012 and 2013. The 2014 edition is scheduled for release in Winter 2014.
P-League also publishes desk calendars. In Japan, October is often considered the start of calendar season, where stores and other sources throughout Japan release calendars for the following year. The more popular calendars are usually sold out within one month of release. The P-League calendar is only available via mail-order directly from the JPBA. Calendars for 2013 and 2014 have been made available.
To market P-League in Japan, the members take part in television shows and magazines, as well as bowling clinics, demonstrations and practice sessions throughout East Asia.
In the August 26, 2008 issue of the swimsuit modeling magazine Friday Dynamite (フライデーダイナマイト), Aki Nawa, Sanae Mori, Junko Harigaya and others were showcased in a pictorial, posing in both bowling and casual attire.
In 2009, Aki Nawa represented P-League, along with other women representing other sports, in a comedy variety show. Nawa participated in a cosplay fashion show, dressing up as a Japanese high school girl.
In 2010, Urara Himeji and Miki Nishimura visited South Korea, and competed against two members of the Korean Professional Bowlers Association (KPBA). In April 2010, a group of P-League members, along with Mika Sakai's father Takeo Sakai, competed with various Japanese tarento in a one-minute strike competition.
In 2012, select members of P-League participated in the Japanese TV variety show Honoo-no Taiiku-kai TV (炎の体育会TV) in a split making competition with various Japanese tarento. Sanae Mori, Rina Suzuki and Ayano Katai were guests on Takeshi's Todoroki Base, hosted by Beat Takeshi, along with Emiko Namiki (並木惠美子), JPBA license 5 and a member of Class 1 (1967) when the JPBA was first founded. This show covered the history of women professional bowling in Japan, and ended with a pro versus tarento match.
DHC, LBO and JBC
According to a blog entry made by Mai Takasaka in 2009, Daigaku Honyaku Center (DHC) was very displeased with JPBA president Ritsuko Nakayama appearing in a television commercial for Suntory, a direct competitor of DHC. DHC's chairman, Yoshiaki Yoshida is a major supporter of bowling in Japan, including the JBC. Soon after Yoshida learned of Nakayama's appearance in the Suntory commercial, he said that as a JPBA officer, Nakayama was irresponsible, and even used the term "evil" when describing her involvement in the commercial. Soon after, DHC cancelled the DHC Ladies Bowling Tour, the DHC Cup Girls Bowling International, and anything else it had to do with the JPBA.
DHC then created the Ladies Bowling Organization (LBO), in order to compete directly with the JPBA. In February 2010, Hiroko Shimizu and Mai Takasaka resigned from the JPBA and P-League, and joined the LBO. Other non-P-League members of the JPBA also resigned and moved over to the LBO. Koji Yamamoto, an expert analyst for P-League, resigned from the JPBA to become Secretary General Executive Director of the LBO.
Soon after the creation of the LBO, DHC and the LBO faxed a letter to the JPBA making a proposal to have P-League consist of both JPBA and LBO bowlers. The JPBA did not accept the proposal. DHC is now sponsoring a weekly TV show in Japan, with emphasis on the LBO, JBC and amateur bowlers alike. The show is hosted by the DHC Bowling Girls (Junko Harigaya is no longer a member, but she can still be seen in the opening and closing credits, along with current LBO members Yūki Akiyoshi and Yūka Sasaki.)
Other complaints about the JPBA include management from within, and the decline of tournaments and prize money. Members of the LBO are also DHC employees, and therefore work in other capacities within DHC, such as endorsements of DHC products. JPBA members, on the other hand, need to work in other jobs outside of the JPBA to earn a living. Before moving to the LBO, Shimizu worked nights in Tokyo at a bar as a hostess. She is currently vice-president of the LBO.
Despite the intensity between the JPBA and DHC/LBO, DHC-sponsored bowlers Keaki Watanabe, Miki Nishimura, Mika Sakai and Aino Kinjō stayed with the JPBA and P-League. Also, former Japan National Team members Nao Ōishi and Natsumi Koizumi chose the JPBA over the LBO when deciding to become a professional. Current JNT member Junko Harigaya repeated her 2011 win in the amateur division of the JLBC's 2012 Professional Women's Bowling Rookie Battle, solidifying her commitment with the JPBA. Harigaya currently works in marketing for Sunbridge - a Japan-based distributor for Brunswick Corporation's bowling division.
As of Tournament 35, no JBC members are allowed to participate in P-League. According to the JBC, there were reported incidents where its members were being stalked in public by fans of P-League. As a safety measure put down by the JBC Board of Directors on September 25, 2011, the JBC will no longer participate in P-League.
To fill the void left by the departed JBC members, P-League held a "Next Era P-Leaguer" audition, and was publicized throughout Tournament 35. Female bowlers - regardless of amateur/professional status - between the ages of 16 and 28 were allowed to participate. Hitomi Andō, Mina Endō and Ayano Iwami were the top qualifiers. Andō, a professional bowler, debuted in Tournament 36, followed by amateurs Endō (T37), and Iwami (T38).
- "Bowling Babes". JAPUNDIT. 2006-08-15.
- What happened to the biggest bowling centers in the world?
- "Sexy Schoolgirl, Rina Asada Strikes Out for Bowling". Rising Sun of Nihon. 2008-09-27.
- "P-League official site, Tournament 14". P-league.jp. Retrieved 2013-03-03.
- "P-League official site". P-league.jp. Retrieved 2013-03-03.
- "P-League official site, Tournament 1". P-league.jp. Retrieved 2013-03-03.
- "P-League official site, Tournament 2". P-league.jp. Retrieved 2012-09-23.
- "P-League official site, Tournament 3". P-league.jp. Retrieved 2012-09-23.
- "P-League official site, Tournament 4". P-league.jp. Retrieved 2013-03-03.
- "P-League official site, Tournament 13". P-league.jp. Retrieved 2013-03-03.
- P-League Tournament 41 Round F (at 5:05)
- P-League Tournament 41, Round D (at 5:11)
- P-League Tournament 41, Round A (at 4:10)
- P-League Official Merchandise
- 8月12日発売 講談社フライデーダイナマイトに掲載
- Mai Takasaka blog entry, August 5, 2009
- Start New TV Show "Strike Bowling Girl"
- JBC Members' Participation Has Ended