Photo/IllutrationThe eight major "shogi" title holders are, from left, Yoshiharu Habu, the Ryuo holder; Amahiko Sato, the Meijin holder; Taichi Takami, the Eio holder; Tatsuya Sugai, the Oi holder; Taichi Nakamura, the Oza holder; Akira Watanabe, the Kio holder; Toshiaki Kubo, the Osho holder; and Masayuki Toyoshima, the Kisei holder. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

One match away from his unprecedented 100th title, Japan's longtime "shogi" king Yoshiharu Habu found himself bowing to another young gun at the end.

On July 17, Habu lost the fifth and deciding match in the Kisei tournament to Masayuki Toyoshima, 28.

A one-time shogi prodigy, Habu at one time held all seven major shogi titles at the same time. But that was back in 1996.

And although the 47-year-old Habu is still one of the top players, he is no longer as dominant as he was two decades ago.

High school whiz Sota Fujii has dominated most of the news in the shogi world since turning pro in 2016 as a 14-year-old. In a less-publicized development, a wider group of younger professionals has emerged to challenge Habu's long stranglehold over the shogi ranks.

With the defeat, Habu now holds only the Ryuo title.

In fact, the eight major shogi titles are now held by eight different players.

The last time such a development occurred in shogi was in 1987 when the seven major titles were held by seven different players.

The Kisei title is the first for Toyoshima, who turned pro in 2007 when he was 16. He was considered one of the four top up-and-coming shogi players from the Kansai region along with Tetsuro Itodani, 29.

However, Toyoshima has until now not been able to win a title. He first challenged for a title when he was 20 but his past four attempts all came up just short.

Asked by reporters after his win over Habu how he felt, Toyoshima said, "I am really glad because I had always made it my goal to win a title."

For a long time in shogi, there were only seven major titles, but the Eio title was newly added in 2017.

The holders of the six other titles are Amahiko Sato, 30, who holds the Meijin title; Taichi Takami, 25, the Eio holder; Tatsuya Sugai, 26, the Oi holder; Taichi Nakamura, 30, the Oza holder; Akira Watanabe, 34, the Kio holder; and Toshiaki Kubo, 42, the Osho holder.

Habu received the People's Honor Award earlier this year, the first shogi player to do so.

But the loss to Toyoshima keeps him one title short of a magical 100.

"I hope to seek that plateau with the next opportunity presented to me," Habu said.

He would reach that mark by successfully defending his Ryuo title.