Top favorite here is Ryuju Nagayama. The last non-Japanese to beat him was Lukhumi Chkhvimiani of Georgia, at the 2019 Tokyo World Championships but it was not a very convincing win. Nagayama had come in for an attack and ended up landing on his back. Chkhvimiani had enough control with his hands to be awarded the score but many were shocked that ippon was given. In any event, Chkhvimiani will not be in Budapest. And, as it turns out, the one player that Nagayama has had great difficulty with in the past, Ganbat Boldbaatar of Mongolia (who has beaten Nagayama twice) will not be competing in Budapest either. It looks like a clear path to victory for Nagayama.
The top seed is Manuel Lombardo of Italy, who has shown his mettle by defeating Hifumi Abe of Japan in the 2019 Paris Grand Slam. Some would argue he’s actually beaten Abe twice because at the 2019 Tokyo World Championships, he had countered Abe for what looked like an ippon but it was no recognized by the video judges. Lombardo’s definitely a top contender in this category but the dynamic Joshiro Maruyama of Japan is competing and he’s likely to take the gold.
It’s hard to imagine anyone else winning this category other than Soichi Hashimoto of Japan, especially with An Changrim of South Korea not competing.
Matthias Casse of Belgium is the No. 1 seed but there are a few top contenders. Tato Grigalashvili from Georgia has been looking very powerful lately and of course you have Saeid Mollei (now fighting for Mongolia) who, on a good day, can beat anybody in the world.
Spain’s Former World Champion, Nicoloz Sherazadalishvili, is the top seed but the most exciting player in that category right now has to be Sanshiro Murao of Japan, who impressed everyone at the Kazan Grand Slam.
At this weight class the top seed is the veteran campaigner Varlam Liparteliani of Georgia but he has many rivals for the crown. In recent years, Toma Nikiforov of Belgium, Peter Paltchik of Israel, Michael Korrel of the Netherlands, Jorge Fonseca of Portugal and Arman Adamian of Russian have all managed to beat him. The two who are likely to give him the most trouble are Fonseca and Korrel. Still, our choice is Liparteliani who, despite his advanced years (he’s already 32), is still hungry. He has never won a world title despite coming close three times. This could be fourth time lucky for him.
It would have been interesting to see Teddy Riner of France compete but in typical fashion, he will not be. In his absence, the two top guns to watch are Russia’s Tamerlan Bashaev and Japan’s Kokoro Kageura, who last year defeated Riner in the Paris Grand Slam. Both men are in top form. They have fought each other twice with one win each. So, it’s really a toss-up who is more likely to come up tops.
The top seed here is Distria Krasniqi of Kosovo. Two of her main rivals, Daria Bilodid of Ukraine and Funa Tonaki of Japan, are not competing in Budapest but the fast-rising Shirine Boukli of France (whom she lost to in the 2020 European Championships) will be there. Still, Krasniqi is the top favorite. She recently won both the 2021 IJF World Masters and the 2021 European Championships and is looking very impressive.
With the absence of Uta Abe of Japan, Amandine Buchard of France and Majlinda Kelmendi of Kosovo, the top prospect here has to be Ai Shishime, a former World Champion with a devastating uchimata.
This category is by far the hardest category in the women’s division. The top seed is Canada’s Christa Deguchi. Her main challenger is Momo Tamaoki who has fought Deguchi five times in international competitions and has won three of those times. Another rival whom she has had some difficulty with in the past, Rafaela Silva of Brazil, will not be competing due to a ban. The No. 2 seed is her domestic rival, Jessica Klimkait, but Deguchi is likely to prevail. She has fought Klimkait six times and has won all six of those occasions.
It’s hard to imagine anyone defeating four-time World Champion Clarisse Agbegnenou of France except perhaps Nami Nabekura of Japan who defeated Agbegnenou in the final of the 2019 IJF World Masters. However, at the recent 2021 IJF World Masters, these two met again and this time it was Agbegnenou who triumphed. She’s going to be hard to beat.
This is a tough category to predict. Marie Eve Gahie of France is the top seed but her performance has been rather uneven lately with four defeats to four different players this year alone. We think the best prospect is the consistent Yoko Ono of Japan who is seeded No. 3. She’s beaten Gahie once and lost to her twice but her performance in the past year has been more consistent than the French player.
The top contender here is World Champion Madeleine Malonga of France who won her last three competitions (all major events): 2021 IJF World Masters, 2020 European Championships and 2020 Paris Grand Slam. The person likely to give her a tough time is Anna-Marie Wagner of Germany who recently won the 2021 Tel Aviv Grand Slam and the 2021 Kazan Grand Slam. The last two times these two fought, it was Malonga who won though it should be said this was in 2018.
Without a doubt, the top prospect in this category would have been Romane Dicko of France who has been on a tear lately but she is not competing in Budapest. The top seed here is Idalys Ortiz of Cuba but her performance has been very uneven lately. We think the one to look out for is the No. 5 seed Sarah Asahina of Japan.