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Inspiration for the WRC2020 logo: the giant Ferris wheel in Vienna's Prater park (photo credit: Peter Rigaud)

VIENNA, Austria - Minutes ago a brand new website was launched which disclosed the name of the hosting country of the third edition of the "World Riichi Championship" in 2020: Austria. Lena Weinguny, who claimed a top eight position at the "World Riichi Championship 2017" in Las Vegas, and Alexander Wankmüller will be inviting players from all over the world to the cultural, economic and political centre of Austria, where both residents and visitors can indulge their senses enjoying theater, opera, classical music, fine arts and great food: Vienna.

According to Mrs. Gemma Sakamoto, President of World Riichi Championship, a total of four countries expressed their interest hosting "WRC2020". She quickly adds Lena Weinguny's stellar performance at the last "World Riichi Championship" had no bearing on the decision to favor Austria: "Not at all. I’d rather she played and won in 2020 rather than be busy organising! What was very relevant was the experience Lena, Alexander Wankmüller and their respective clubs [Vienna-based 'Kasu' and 'Ryan Pin' in Graz, ed.] bring to the scene. They also had attempted to host the "European Riichi Mahjong Championship" in 2019 so had already developed a team and a plan that will prove easy for WRC to modify for its needs. Further, they bring a huge amount of enthusiasm to the game and community which was infectious."

Limited Information

Even though the name of the city which will be the stage for this prestigious event is revealed, it is premature to provide information on the venue or the number of participants. Mrs. Sakamoto: "We do not have a venue locked down yet. I am working with them [hosts Lena Weinguny and Alexander Wankmüller, ed.] to ensure that a venue is chosen to accommodate the specific needs of WRC especially with regard to the increased media interest shown in our event after two previously successful editions. Hopefully, our current plan for the number of players will not be limited by the venue. But we cannot confirm the number of players yet because we expect there to be a change from 2017." [...] "We are making due consideration to ensure that an excellent experience can be had by as many people as possible while ensuring a high level of skill expected from a world championship is present." Nor is a date set: "That is very much depending on venue availability, local climate and schedules of other major international events. We are considering the best time possible but it is likely to be in a similar time frame as the Vegas event."

The official WRC2020 logo, designed by Corinna Gerhold (@c_resbery)

Participation Pros

One of the key features of the "World Riichi Championship" is the unique opportunity to go head-to-head with professional Japanese players, but Mrs. Sakamoto is unable to go into detail: "We’re still in discussions with Japanese organisations about the third edition and their intentions on fielding teams. They’re very excited to be having the opportunity to visit “Lena-chan’s” home now. Unfortunately the sad news of Mr. Kojima has meant that some aspects have been delayed. We hope that we can create an event worthy of the legacy he started."

High Hopes And New Experiences

Mrs. Sakamoto: "I have high hopes for some differences from the 2017 edition, [i.e.] better communication with players. I think we can all agree that some of the problems with seating and directions at 2017 could have been avoided. [...] Players were very patient, but we hope to not avail them of their patience for this event so their full attention can be on learning and fun!" [...] This is the one benefit of having an organisation that works with each host. The experience and learning can be taken with us to the next edition. We were overwhelmed by several factors, including the massacre, but we’ve come out of it more experienced and the players were remarkable in their understanding as we righted the ship. Next one will be better (or different problems)." She adds the event has grown faster and far bigger than imagined, resulting in the reviewing how WRC is organized, bringing more people and more skills on board.

Player Inclusion

Attending high profile tournaments can be a financial burden on players. In extreme cases countries have no representation and are completely absent at these competitions. Mrs. Sakamoto: "WRC is aware of the financial obstacle posed to attending the event and we will work to reduce that as must as is within our power to. [...] Things like entry fee, I’ll be reluctant to discuss too soon, because I am really hoping to get sponsors. [...] Budgets are always very difficult for these events and “break even” is the best we will probably ever manage. [...] Certainly if there is spare money, it will go to investing it in perhaps stuff like sponsored seats where possible. But these are vague ideas and we don’t have access to the finances at this point to make those offers." She points out: "If players know of opportunities for sponsorship within their country, WRC is happy to support their personal bids. We can write letters confirming the event’s status and why it would be a worthy sponsorship opportunity. I’m aware some players have sourced sponsorship from external groups and we will support that wherever possible."

Lena Weinguny and Alexander Wankmüller having a chat prior to Lena's first semi-final at the WRC2017 in Las Vegas

"Lass Uns Spielen!"

"I feel very honored and excited that we were chosen to continue this great event!", says host Lena Weinguny. Alexander Wankmüller: "I'm Looking forward to organizing the event and hope everybody will have a great time participating." With the support from their club members from 'Kasu' and 'Ryan Pin' both organizers have already started preparations for "WRC2020". Featuring the "Wiener Riesenrad" ("Giant Ferris Wheel") in the official logo was a no-brainer according to Ms. Weinguny: "Because it's one of Vienna's most iconic landmarks!" The WRC2020 motto is equally appropriate: “Lass uns spielen!" which roughly translates as "Let's play!".

More information will be released as it is confirmed at the tournament’s website, the organization’s website, Facebook pages in English and Japanese, and Twitter.

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