Hatsu Leaderboard Day 12

The biggest change in the leaderboard is due to the blistering attack Mitakeumi applied to the undefeated Hakuho to finally put dirt on the Yokozuna. Few expected that the “King Tadpole” would come back from kyujo, and many groaned when the schedulers fed this less than genki rikishi to the dai-Yokozuna. But Mitakeumi came to win, and he surprised Hakuho with some really top notch oshi-zumo. It is seldom we get to see Hakuho put in a situation where he does not have enough time or dohyo real estate to react, so savor the moment.

As a result the yusho race has taken on a bit of a wider set of possible outcomes. Now the rather genki Tamawashi is just 1 win behind, and he meets Hakuho head-to-head on day 12. A Tamawashi win would bring him even with the Yokozuna, and it would unleash a mad cap barnyard brawl to senshuraku. Waiting just in the wings is the very capable Ozeki hopeful Takakeisho, who showed impressive persistence and fighting spirit against Hokutofuji. If I had to guess, we will see Takakeisho face Hakuho day 13.

Leader: Hakuho
Chaser: Tamawashi
Hunt Group: Takakeisho, Kaisei, Endo

4 Matches Remain

Hatsu Day 12 – Lower Division Ones To Watch

Wakaichiro Seeks To Run Up The Score

As we head towards the final weekend of Hatsu, our lower division “Ones to Watch” have a light schedule today, with most of the heavy-hitters having competed day 11. Of special note is the crazy, unthinkable chance that Hattorizakura will pick up his first ever second win of a basho, and the hopes that Wakaichiro can run up the score and move closer to a return to Sandanme.

Hattorizakura vs Hamasu – Sumo’s perpetual loss leader has a chance to set a personal best for any basho by picking up a second win. His opponent is in his first basho as a rikishi, and lord knows what will happen.

Wakaichiro vs Tenichi – Wakaichiro lost his day 10 match, and is now in the 4-1 bracket and out of the Jonidan yusho race. Hopefully this eases any tension he may have felt. What is at stake now is the magnitude of his promotion in March. Tenichi is no easy mark, as he spent 81 basho in Makushita, and certainly has the skill to dismantle anyone in Jonidan. But declining health has left him struggling.

Kenho vs Kaorufuji – Giant Kenho is already make-koshi, and fighting in the 1-4 bracket to try and seek out his second win. His demotion back to Jonidan is more or less certain at this point, and he has never bested Kaorufuji in their 2 prior matches.

Torakio vs Hitenryu – Naruto heya’s Torakio needs to win his final 2 matches to exit Hatsu with a kachi-koshi, and a ranking near the top of Sandanme for March. He faces a former Juryo rikishi who is at the tail end of his career.

Midorifuji vs Koba – Midorifuji needs one more win to secure his kachi-koshi for January, His day 12 opponent, Koba, is a long serving Makushita main stay, who is fighting near his highest ever rank. Should be a good match.

Hatsu Day 11 Highlights

Day 11 featured some of the best sumo action of the basho thus far, as the Ozeki – with their backs against the wall – found the strength to put up a good fight at last. Lower down the torikumi, many fan favorites are starting to reach the safety of their 8th win. But day 11 was marred with kyujo, as both Chiyonokuni and Kotoyuki withdrew with leg and knee injuries.

Highlight Matches

Daiamami defeats Kagayaki – Kagayaki is make-koshi yet again (now 4 times in a row), and we have to wonder what kind of chronic problem this lad is battling to overcome. His usually excellent sumo mechanics have been hit or miss this basho, and he seems to have lost confidence in his approach. In a perfect world we could see Araiso oyakata work with Kagayaki for a time, as their approaches are quite similar, but Kagayaki seems to have lost faith in his ability to prevail, something Araiso (Kisenosato) never lost, even in the depths of his injury.

Daishomaru defeats Ikioi – Daishomaru finally wins one, from Japan’s top ICU candidate Ikioi. How this guy keeps going, I will never know.

Chiyoshoma defeats Takarafuji – Readers know I am not fan of henkas, but when Chiyoshoma unloads his “Flying Henka” the entertainment value is off the charts. Takarafuji rolls out into the zabuton zone, and gets “encouragement” from an enthusiastic fan.

Asanoyama defeats Yago – Yago seems to have stalled 1 win from the kachi-koshi line. Yago also seems to be following the route of going soft at the bales, is it an approach to avoid injury? Asanoyama’s win keeps his kachi-koshi hopes alive.

Ryuden defeats Meisei – The two go chest to chest and it quickly evolves into both men trying to finish a throw of the other first. Both go down in tandem but Ryuden touches last. Ryuden stays away from make-koshi for another day.

Onosho defeats Yutakayama – Onosho got the better of the tachiai, and focuses on a series of nodowa, which Yutakayama seemed able to withstand, and waited for Onosho to release, then took Onosho to his chest. Now outside his comfort zone, Onosho continues to try to thrust, and find some way to break contact. Yutakayama moves to the edge and throws, but the gumbai goes to Onosho.

Kaisei defeats Chiyotairyu – Great example of Kaisei-zumo. Chiyotairyu puts so much power into the tachiai, but Kaisei absorbs it all, and works to land his left hand outside grip. Once hooked, Kaisei advances and escorts Chiyotairyu out. Kaisei is kachi-koshi.

Endo defeats Yoshikaze – Rather the ghost of Yoshikaze. Whatever that sad remnant of Yoshikaze has going on, he has my sympathy. But with this rather disappointing match did give Endo his kachi-koshi.

Shohozan defeats Ichinojo – Shohozan does a great job of executing a Harumafuji style mini-henka, and Ichinojo’s combination of mass and forward velocity do all of the work.

Tochiozan defeats Nishikigi – Nishikigi is fading toward make-koshi, and the surprisingly genki guy from Kyushu and the first half of Hatsu is just a fond memory. I suspect we will see him again, and he will turn up throughout the coming year.

Myogiryu defeats Shodai – If Shodai goes make-koshi and stays in the joi-jin I am going to be outraged. This puffball rikishi gets an insane amount of banzuke grace applied to him, and frankly it’s hurting his sumo. Make him grind through the bottom, or take a trip back to Juryo. It’s the only way he’s ever going grow into his potential.

Tamawashi defeats Kotoshogiku – For an old timer with bum knees, Kotoshogiku shows remarkable agility and persistence. Tamawashi throws the kitchen sink into this match, and responds with skill and strength when Kotoshogiku lands his grip and begins to push. Holding Kotoshogiku’s head down, Kotoshogiku breaks off and rallies, but Tamawashi has him on the run, and knocks him out. Good sumo from both.

Takakeisho defeats Hokutofuji – As good as the prior match was, this match took things a notch higher. Both rikishi were blasting away with tsuki and oshi attacks, with advantage shifting every moment. Most opponents succumb to Takakeisho’s wave action attack after a few cycles, but Hokutofuji took them all, and kept fighting. Hokutofuji’s big weakness is his reliance on a nodowa, and Takakeisho defended against that with great skill, and it kept Hokutofuji from getting into a winning position. Meanwhile Takakeisho focused center-mass, and carried the day. Dare I hope for a long running rivalry between these two?

Takayasu defeats Okinoumi – Takayasu is back in form, and makes quick work of Okinoumi. Takayasu is now above the .500 line, and I am getting hopeful he can rescue a kachi-koshi out of this basho.

Goeido defeats Aoiyama – It was clear that Aoiyama was nervous going into this match, and Goeido knew what to do. Aoiyama has a habit of being very far forward the step after his tachiai, ands Goeido used that problem with Aoiyama’s balance to bring him down. Dare we hope Goeido can avoid going kadoban, even with that manky arm?

Mitakeumi defeats Hakuho – Day 11 had one more gift to offer. Coming back from kyujo, fans noted that injured Mitakeumi was given Hakuho for his first match. Thoughts of body parts being torn asunder and landing in the balcony came to mind. Instead we saw Mitakeumi come in low, hard and fast – he took the fight to the Yokozuna and kept control of the match. Hakuho immediately found himself in trouble, as Mitakeumi stayed Kisenosato low, and advanced. Normally Hakuho would have have an emergency exit move or two he could deploy, but Mitakeumi gave him no room to work with. Damn impressive effort from Mitakeumi, think I will go watch it again…

Nope, it’s even better the 4th time

Day 12 Torikumi Posted

As expected, the big bout on Day 12 will be Yokozuna Hakuho (10-0) vs. his only serious remaining pursuer, Sekiwake Tamawashi (8-2).

In other expected top pairings, it’s Ozeki Takayasu (5-5) vs. M5 Aoiyama (6-4), Sekiwake Takakeisho (7-3) vs. M4 Kotoshogiku (4-6), Komusubi Mitakeumi (5-2-3) vs. M1 Tochiozan (4-6), and Komusubi Myogiryu (4-6) vs. M3 Shohozan (3-7). The one slight surprise is that Ozeki Goeido (4-6) gets a gift from the schedulers in the form of struggling M5 Yoshikaze (2-8). Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised every time they arrange the matchups solely by rank, foregoing more threatening opponents such as, in this case, one of the M6 pair, Chiyotairyu and Onosho, both 6-4.

You can see the whole thing here.

Chiyonokuni, Takanosho, and Kotoyuki go Kyujo

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As expected, Chiyonokuni has gone kyujo following the knee injury he sustained during his Day 10 match with Ikioi.  He has been prescribed two weeks rest and treatment for left knee ligament damage. This is a very disappointing turn of events, as Chiyonokuni was having his best tournament since his fantastic 12-3 performance last May. However, with 8 wins Chiyonokuni has secured his position for the Haru Basho and won’t have to worry about how far he’ll drop down the rankings. Chiyonokuni’s Day 11 opponent Abi will pick up a fusen win.

[Update] Down in Juryo, Takanosho has bowed out of the Hatsu Basho for a second time due to a nagging knee injury he sustained on Day 2. He has submitted a medical form to the NSK for one month of treatment due to a right anterior cruciate ligament injury.

[Update] Completing the trio of Day 10 victims is Kotoyuki, who has also gone kyujo. According to his medical form, Kotoyuki is suffering from a right femor contusion and right leg joint lateral ligament damage. His Day 11 opponent Daieisho will get a much-needed walkover win.

We at Tachiai hope Chiyonokuni, Takanosho, and Kotoyuki make full recoveries.