Originally Posted by Kato
Not too argue too much against it but I still wonder if this is indeed a universal trope or if someone can name a subversion that's not due to a aborted tournament.
It's actually a pretty common (well, at least a couple of time) subversion on sport manga, of suddenly making the main character fight the supposedly strongest character. I can think a few of it at least.
Maybe fighting the ultimate rival early isn't that common, but I think fighting the supposedly strongest participant in the tournament is pretty common.
A few is from Eyeshield 21, when the seeding make them fight the supposedly strongest team on kanto tournament, Shinryuji Naga, as first match (it was supposed to be a HUGE surprise).
They also fight their ultimate rival, Oujo White Knights (and their last fight ever, in fact), in semi final, and fight a previously completely never heard team for the final.
Another one that I can remember is in Slam Dunk, where they also fight the supposedly strongest team and the winner of the previous tournament early in the interhigh.