Anyhow, after reading mitethe's summary of Genius 287, I finally actually started to *think* about the matchups.
It seems like Tezuka wants Ryoma to play Atobe in order to push himself further. (You will recall that in the manga, Ryoma and Atobe have never played.) To make him grow. Which makes perfect sense.
It wasn't until just now that I finally figured out that Atobe must be doing the same thing with Kabaji.
I really haven't thought about the Atobe-Kabaji relationship all that much. I doubt if too many people have. But here we're seeing a real parallel to Tezuka-Ryoma. It makes me wonder what Atobe does for Kabaji. All we see is Kabaji following Atobe, carrying his bag, doing whatever he asks. The perfect kohai.
I don't think Atobe would neglect his reciprocal duty. Of course, he'd go about it in his own outrageous way, but Atobe isn't one to fall short of expectations. So he must be a good senpai to Kabaji.
Oh, now I want to know more. I want to see them together, practising, working. And I almost, almost, want Kabaji to win. If he does, I won't cry.
*hearts them all*