New Japanese Mahjong League tournament held in Tokyo
M-League is a new profession mahjong league with team matches. The league consists of eight teams and with three people on each team. The teams were selected from five professional mahjong groups by a draft held on August 7, 2018. The first tournament was held on October, 2018.
There were 80 games held in the first round of the competition and then the four best teams played a total of 24 matches after that. The prize for the winning team is ￥50 million. Matches are held in the exclusive M-League Studio in Minato-ku, Tokyo and the general population can watch the matches for ￥4,000 (about $40). Each player is guaranteed a ￥4 million annual income in the league, but gambling is strictly forbidden. If any player is caught gambling they will be fined and cut from the league.
The game is played with a set of 136 tiles based on Chinese characters and symbols, with some regional variations. Usually, each player begins with 13 tiles. Players draw and discard tiles until they complete a legal hand. Even though there are similarities, there are many regional variations to the rules. However, everyone must play by the same rules in the tournament.
Currently in Japan, mahjong is played at homes, at mahjong parlors, with computer games for domestic use and online gaming. Compared with the mahjong peak in the Showa era, the number of the mahjong parlors and the number of the mahjong specialized magazines have tended to decrease. However, playing mahjong online through networks has enabled the game to maintain its popularity.
The M-League was designed to create a better image for mahjong and to promote it for sport-like gaming use. Playing mahjong also helps in preventing or delaying dementia, so it attracts people from different generations.