Japan took the lead over rival China, 358.884-357.027, on day one of the men's qualifications. Neither team was sharp, however. Even five-time defending all-around champion Kohei Uchimura had a fall when he crashed his tucked double-double on floor exercise in the fourth rotation. The rest of his routines were superb, and he has a comfortable lead in the all-around qualifications with 90.564.
"My head hit the floor and I felt uncomfortable … I felt dizzy," he said. "It could have affected my last two events but I managed to compete on them by concentrating."
Uchimura had to wait an extremely long time to compete his floor exercise as the judges deliberated over the previous routine.
"It might have been better to come down from the podium and rest, which I didn't do," he said. "This is not an excuse. I have experienced long waiting times before."
Japan began on vault, where Uchimura earned his highest score, 15.633, with a clean roundoff half-on to Randi. After four subdivisions, his team ranked first on floor exercise, vault and high bar. Two world championship rookies, Naoto Hayasaka and Kazuma Kaya, had mixed results in Japan's first-place ranking. Kaya posted 88.431 as the second-best Japanese all-arounder, and his 15.300 on pommels was tops for the team. Hayasaka struggled on floor and pommels but hit vault for 15.200.
"Kazuma gave a really good performance," Uchimura said. "I feel the younger teammates really helped the team a lot. I can feel their youthful energy."
Deng Shudi led China and ranked third all-around (88.832), although he fell in the first rotation on pommel horse. His team rebounded by posting the top totals on rings (60.266), thanks to Liu Yang's stellar 15.866, and on parallel bars (62.099), where You Hao led with 15.700.
"I am satisfied but I was not perfect," Liu said. "Rings is my strongest apparatus, but today I did not feel strong enough."
China, winner of the last six world titles, appeared rough in areas, so this could well be Japan's best chance to finally win a gold with Uchimura on the team. Japan has placed second to China at the last four world championships and last two Olympics. None was more heartbreaking than a year ago in Nanning, where China won by 0.10.
Great Britain, sitting third (354.417) at present, competed in the first subdivision. After a rough start on high bar, where Brinn Bevan and Max Whitlock had falls, the team got on a roll. Like Uchimura on floor, Bevan was forced to rechalk a few different times while waiting for the green light. The first-time worlds competitor shook it off and posted a healthy 14.666 on both floor and pommels.
The Brits amassed the second-best floor total and the top score on pommels, where Louis Smith and Whitlock earned 15.533 and 15.266, respectively.
Daniel Purvis was steady throughout and sits in second place in the all-around qualifications. He was superb on parallel bars, as was Nile Wilson (15.500). After Bevan fell on his Tsuk-double pike on vault, Kristian Thomas saved the event with an excellent Yurchenko-double pike.
"We want to do as well as we can in the Team Final," Whitlock said. "We won bronze in the Olympics and were fourth last year, but the potential is there, and it depends what we do on the day to get one of those medal places."
Russia is in fourth (352.692), paced by all-arounders David Belyavsky (11th), Nikolai Kuksenkov (13th) and Nikita Nagorny (14th).
Day two of the men's qualifications will feature four subdivisions. 5: France, Ukraine, Hungary. 6: Canada, Spain, Mexico. 7: Netherlands, USA, Belarus. 8: Italy, Romania, Taipei.