Nagoya Wrap-up and Predictions

The upper ranks

There will be no changes in the composition of the Yokozuna, Ozeki or Sekiwake ranks, and at Komusubi we will exchange 10-5 M3 Takakeisho for Shohozan, who took a 3-12 beating. I assume that Kakuryu’s 3-3-9 record will keep him on the East side ahead of 3-1-11 Hakuho. By winning their senshuraku bout, Goeido ensured that he will stay on the East side and keep Takayasu on the West side of the banzuke.

Will 8-7 East Sekiwake Ichinojo trade places with 13-2, yusho-winning West Sekiwake Mitakeumi? Prior to 2007, this would have been a no-brainer. The banzuke committee reshuffled the Sekiwake ranks after each basho based on performance, just like they do now with the Yokozuna and Ozeki. But starting in 2007, an 8-7 East Sekiwake has never been moved to the West side in favor of a better-performing West Sekiwake. Of course, in that time we haven’t seen a West Sekiwake performance quite like this one! The closest parallel was last March, when in the middle of his Ozeki run, Takayasu went 12-3 at S1w and was ranked at the same position the following tournament despite outperforming then-S1e Tamawashi (8-7) by four wins.

The new joi

Yutakayama, Ikioi and Kaisei will find themselves at the top of the maegashira ranks in September. It’s hard to know where to draw the joi boundary these days, given the frequent absences in the upper ranks. In Nagoya, M4e Kaisei faced all the key San’yaku rikishi who were still around, and while the bouts against top-ranked opponents thinned out from there, they extended all the way down to M6w Chiyotairyu. By the stricter definition, the new joi should also include Chiyotairyu, Shodai, Chiyonokuni and Endo, while the looser definition would add Abi, Myogiryu, Onosho, Asanoyama and Kagayaki. There’s more reshuffling than turnover in this group, with the only newcomers to the top 12 being Yutakayama, Myogiryu, Onosho and Asanoyama, who take the places of promoted Takakeisho and underperforming or injured Kotoshogiku, Daishomaru, and Yoshikaze.

The bottom of the banzuke

Speaking of Yoshikaze, his last-gasp victories on the final two days should be just enough to keep him in the top division! He should share the bottom rung of the banzuke with Ishiura, who pulled off a similar escape act. Victories by both men mean that Arawashi’s final-day victory was too little, too late, and he should occupy the top rung in Juryo at Aki. He’ll be sharing it with Aminishiki, whose chance to yet again beat his own record for the oldest age of return to Makuuchi evaporated with his senshuraku loss and victories by both Yoshikaze and Ishiura.

To recap, it should be 3 up, 3 down (and no epic churn, sorry Bruce 😉 ). Takanoiwa and Kotoyuki return to the top division, along with newcomer Takanosho, while Arawashi will be joined in Juryo by Makuuchi debutants Meisei and Kotoeko, who need to regroup after a rough introduction to the top division.

As usual, I will have a full banzuke prediction post up sometime in the next couple of weeks, once I’ve had a chance to fully digest the results, so don’t forget to check the blog even between the basho 🙂

Day 15 Recap and Comments

Mitakeumi Yusho Banner

The sumo has ended, and the senshuraku parties are raging on into the night. It’s a celebration in Nagoya as a new rikishi has won his first yusho after a remarkable run of victories. Mitakeumi makes for a really interesting champion, in that he has been remarkably consistent for some time now, but like Tochinoshin was just below the threshold of contender. Then something changed, and he became the man to beat in Nagoya. Part of this is, of course, the natural reaction to the top men of sumo being sidelined. Nature abhors a vacuum, and in the absence of the Yokozuna, new champions will rise. The real fireworks begin when the new champion confronts the aging kings of sumo. This is just one reason I expect Aki could be the most exciting basho in several years.

Mitakeumi is clearly in an Ozeki campaign now, and with good cause. The two big wrinkles to any claim he might make have to be the questionable loss to Takayasu, and the fact that Yutakayama beat him today. Don’t get me wrong, I am damn impressed with the sumo on display today by both men. And the fact that Freshman Yutakayama was able to take the fight to Mitakumi and prevail speaks clearly to just how much competition there will be in the next two years. As sumo’s current mainstays all fade and move on, the new crowd are going to battle it out to see who gets to take the top spots. Frankly, I can’t wait.

There may be a pretty good churn between Juryo and Makuuchi for the fall. Takanoiwa won the Juryo yusho in a playoff, and finished with an impressive 13-2 record. The man was on fire, and much like Mitakeumi, seems to have had a breakout basho. In all there were 10 rikishi who finished Juryo with 10 or more wins.

Lastly, I would be remiss if I did not mention that Yoshikaze picked up his second win on the final day, and by our sage’s predictions, this will possibly keep him in Makuuchi for the fall. Whatever ails Yoshikaze, I do hope he can heal up and overcome. A healthy Yoshikaze at the bottom of the banzuke is an unmitigated terror that I think every young rikishi should have the pleasure of encountering.

Some Match Notes

Ishiura resorted once more to solid “small man sumo” and used a leg pick to control Chiyomaru’s mighty bulk. By improving his make-koshi to 7-8, he has greatly cushioned his demotion for Aki. I also think that maybe Ishiura may have started a new chapter in his sumo.

Onosho finishes in double digits on his return to Makuuchi, and strongly repelled Myogiryu’s successful opening gambit. I am expecting some great things from Onosho in the fall. I think he will be just outside the joi, and will be “the cutter” of middle Maegashira.

Okinoumi was able to finish with a kachi-koshi as Chiyoshoma went kyujo on the final day. That means that yet another rikishi dropped from this torturous basho, and this broke Chiyoshoma’s near 500 consecutive match attendance streak.

Hokutofuji vs Chiyotairyu featured a false start that quickly devolved into a flurry of good manners and congenial behavior. This is one of the reasons I love sumo. Hokutofuji finishes with 11 wins and will be in a much tougher cohort for Aki.

Sadanoumi was able to overcome Daishomaru for his kachi-koshi, while his opponent Daishomaru dropped to 5-10.

Takakeisho went chest to chest at the tachiai against Asanoyama, and kept him there. I suspect Takakeisho is more versatile than assumed, and may be looking to broaden his sumo in wise preparation for maintaining higher ranks. Both rikishi finish in double digits. Asanoyama also picked up the fighting spirit prize (Kanto-Sho).

Abi’s long reach was equaled by Aoiyama, and it was quite the discovery process for both of them. I did like to see Abi do everything he could to try to keep Aoiyama from falling from the dohyo. But frankly Abi, there is only so much you can do when that much mass is in motion.

Then there was possibly THE match of the basho. Yutakayama gave his all against Mitakeumi, and beat him. Mitakeumi had the early advantage, but for some reason started trying to pull down Yutakayama. With these two so evenly matched, the pull attempt did little more than send Mitakeumi off balance and moving in reverse (not a good place to be). He eventually was able to recover offensive footing, but not before Yutakayama had chanced him around the dohyo. Now chest to chest, Mitakeumi advanced to deliver the yorikiri, but Yutakayama loaded and executed a rescue throw (kakenage) at the edge. Fantastic sumo.

Endo continued his fade, and delivered Ichinojo’s kachi-koshi for his final match. After trying to get some kind of offense going from the tachiai, Endo learns he cannot move the boulder. With one arm, Ichinojo lashes out and Endo goes flying.

Lastly, Ozeki Goeido finishes with double digit wins for the first time since Aki 2017 as Takayasu seems to be caught improvising into the tachiai. Both of you knuckleheads go back to Tokyo and get yourselves fixed up.

Thank you, dear readers, for once again sharing your love of sumo with us, and spending your time enjoying the sport on Tachiai.

Nagoya Day 15 Preview

Macacon Of Victory

All too soon we have arrived at the end of the Nagoya basho. Ir has been rough and crazy, with an amazing number of rikishi dropping out due to injury. Some may try to limit or diminish Mitakeumi’s yusho by saying that it took place when none of the Yokozuna were competing. They are welcome to their opinions, but you can only fight the men who show up. With at least 13 (should have been 14) wins, Mitakeumi remained remarkably focused and consistent throughout the basho. I do not ever recall seeing him in this state of mind, and with his focus his sumo has flourished. Much will change now for this young man. There is a lot of celebration that follows a yusho, and there is a lot of media attention that will gravitate towards the man from Nagano-ken.

It increasingly looks like Aki 2018 may be the pivotal basho for our long forecast tidal shift in sumo. The old guard continues to fade, and multiple cohorts of young rikishi seem to be coming into their own. At some point the old guard will rally, and there will be a tournament of some of the most intense competition seen in years. I think that could be Aki.

For fans, there is another Grand Sumo Live broadcast overnight in the US (daytime in Japan). For those who are awake, it should be a fun time with John Gunning and Hiro Morita in the booth.

What We Are Watching Day 15

Most of the make / kachi kochi rikishi have been sorted, but there are a few notable matches that still stand out.

Chiyomaru vs Ishiura – There is a chance that a win here might save Ishiura, even though he is already make-koshi.

Myogiryu vs Onosho – They are both 9-5. The winner will go double digits, and have a significant banzuke boost for Aki.

Chiyoshoma vs Okinoumi – A win here would be kachi-koshi for Okinoumi, his first since November of last year.

Hokutofuji vs Chiyotairyu – Both men are going to get a nice promotion, but this match is just pure fun. Both are fast, strong and sometimes brutal. Chiyotairyu has been hot or cold this basho, so it’s a puzzle which version of him is going to show up. Hokutofuji has a 4-2 career lead.

Daishomaru vs Sadanoumi – Sadanoumi comes into the match 7-7, needing to pick up one more win. Daishomaru is 7 ranks above him in the banzuke, so this will be one of these ugly matches where the underdog is in a must-win situation.

Asanoyama vs Takakeisho – Both rikishi have had very strong tournaments in Nagoya, and this is another “I want to see that!” matches. Asanoyama seems to have gotten a bit more serious since March, and is fighting with stoic determination. Takakeisho is going to be deep in the joi for Aki, which may be a very rough and dangerous assignment. His first tour was a bit of a disaster (they usually are), and I am eager to see what he has improved in his second posting.

Abi vs Aoiyama – And yet another of “I want to see that” matches. Its their first meeting, and we have two oshi fighters with impressive reach, a tendency to attack above center mass, and tons of attitude. Who’s going home bruised and pulpy?

Ikioi vs Kaisei – I think they should skip the sumo, and settle this through karaoke. Do you know who would win? That’s right – we would!

Shodai vs Kagayaki – I can’t help but think that in some old Soviet research lab, in a dark corner, is a frail but brilliant old surgeon who would be willing to part out both of these rikishi to create the ultimate Japanese battle golem. He could wear a half sky-blue half gold mawashi, and run around with twice the tsukebito, twice the chanko and just the good parts from both men. We could call him Fukugouyama. (複合山)

Yoshikaze vs Shohozan – Man, the battle of sadness today. Big Guns Shohozan has stunk this basho. But at least he’s done better than Yoshikaze. Yoshikaze needs a win to stay in Makuuchi, unless he’s planning a trip to the barbers.

Tamawashi vs Tochiozan – Why is this match happening? Well, you see, the schedulers ran out of matches that made sense. So they just put everyone’s shikona on a shōji and started throwing chopsticks. That or they hired one of those psychic octopuses that seem to always predict the World Cup. Anyhow, Tochiozan has this odd habit of beating Tamawashi. And after the hospital bill Tamawashi has racked up, he needs a bit of a beating.

Yutakayama vs Mitakeumi – We wanted a Sekiwake battle, but instead we got this guy against Captain Yusho / Ōkatō. Ok, fine. Let the chopsticks fall where they may. The only other time they matched, Mitakeumi overpowered him. Yutakayama has been especially genki, but I as long as Mitakeumi did not drain too many sake casks with his celebration, he will be able to dispatch this rising star.

Ichinojo vs Endo – Endo has faded like a “Relect Yoshihiko Noda” poster. But Ichinojo needs one win for kachi-koshi. But ask yourself, does Ichinojo deserve a kachi-koshi? I love the pony-tossing Mongolian behemoth, but his sumo has been terrible this tournament. I say turn him out and let him get his act together.

Goeido vs Takayasu – My advice to both, make it look good but nobody get hurt. Both of you survived in no small part because all of the bigger predators were sidelined. Be thankful and go home and get healthy. Especially you, you big hairy mess. I was happy to see that once you were really hurt you decided you could compete with sumo skill. So you didn’t forget!

Nagoya State of Play, Day 14

mitakeumi-tochiozan-finish

The yusho race

Congratulations to Sekiwake Mitakeumi on his well-deserved first yusho! This performance should surely earn a special prize (or two) as well. If we count his 9 wins as Komusubi at Natsu, he now has 22 over two basho, with a chance at a 23rd when he faces Yutakayama on senshuraku. This is a strong start to an Ozeki run, and I’m going to say that 11 wins at Aki will secure Mitakeumi sumo’s second-highest rank.

The two big surprises of the basho, Yutakayama and Asanoyama, have clinched at least a share of the jun-yusho, and only Hokutofuji has a chance of joining them (from M16, no less!) should he win and they both lose. I’m guessing the Yama Twins are in line for special prizes as well. In yet another bit of curious scheduling, they don’t face each other (and neither do the two Sekiwake).

The San’yaku promotion race

Ichinojo’s close victory over Goeido today means that he will not drop out of San’yaku. The only thing at stake when he faces fading Endo tomorrow is whether he switches spots with Tamawashi. So only one slot will open up. By defeating Ikioi, Takakeisho has placed himself in the driver’s seat, and can take his second spin at Komusubi with a victory tomorrow over Asanoyama. If he falters, Ikioi can pass him with a victory. Whether a 12-3 M9 Yutakayama would jump over a 9-6 M3 Takakeisho is doubtful. Everyone else is out of the running.

Demotions to and promotions from Juryo

The lists of demotion and promotion candidates narrowed considerably after today’s action. In particular, all the marginal promotion candidates in Juryo lost, leaving only the certain to advance Takanoiwa, Takanosho and Kotoyuki and the likely to advance Aminishiki. This of course means that at least 3 and at most 4 top-division rikishi will be demoted.

The two men going down to Juryo for sure are Meisei and Kotoeko. The only other three in danger of demotion, in order of how likely they are to take the trip down, are Arawashi, Ishiura and Yoshikaze. Aminishiki advances with a win or with a loss by Ishiura or Yoshikaze. Yoshikaze can hang on to a top-division slot by his fingernails by earning his second win of the basho against Shohozan, or by having Arawashi and Ishiura both lose. Other scenarios will be sorted out based on tomorrow’s results by this quartet.

Nagoya Day 14 Commentary

Yoshikaze

Good morning all – rather than do full highlights, if you want the read on the matches and how action unfolded on day 14, let me direct you to the fantastic live blog Herouth conducted during the day 14 broadcast. Please note that there is another live stream from the good folks at NHK World overnight (Sunday afternoon in Japan). So if you are keen to see the final day’s action live, plus a lot of trophies, do tune in. The big question on everyone’s mind – what color will the macaron be this time?

Whatever demon had a hold of Yoshikaze’s sumo loosened his grip just enough for him to finally score his first win of the basho. It’s great that he did not finish Nagoya 0-15. On twitter there are nearly as many posts about Yoshikaze as there were for Mitakeumi, such is his support among sumo followers. His lone win (thus far) does not negate that there is something sadly wrong with Yoshikaze, and all of his fans dearly hope he can get well or at least get comfortable.

A group of rikishi that I call “The Freshmen” have really out-performed this tournament. This includes the last two men who had any credible chance of competing for the yusho: Yutakayama and Asanoyama. In addition, Ryuden, at the rallied to win 5 of his last 7 matches and secure his kachi-koshi. Hell, on day 14 Yutakayama convincingly beat Takayasu. Granted Takayasu is only at about 75% of his normal burly self, but Yutakayama was not intimidated, and executed some really solid sumo.

Then we have the “Tadpoles”. The Grand Tadpole / King Tadpole scored his first ever yusho. In the tags I have been carrying on for over a year, referring to Mitakeumi as “Future Ozeki Mitakeumi”. For the longest time, it was partially a bit of a taunt, as clearly he wanted it, but had not reached the threshold where his sumo could accomplish that goal. I think we now know that he’s made that step, and will campaign hard to score his 33 before the end of the year. Should Aki turn out to be a fully staffed roster in the Yokozuna and Ozeki ranks, sumo fans will be in for a real treat, as the confidence he gained in Nagoya works to power him against sumo’s best. I would also note the rest of the tadpoles (Onosho, Takakeisho) are already kachi-koshi, and it’s been a big success for that cohort.

Day 14 was a solid day of sumo, and many of the Nagoya themes have played out as best they could within the brutal parameters of this basho. One last day to go, then it’s on to Aki!

Wakaichiro’s Kachi-Koshi Match Video

Our new savoir for lower division matches, “Sumo Samurai Hattorizakura” (what a name!) has come through again with video of Wakaichiro’s final match of the Nagoya basho.  Enjoy.

It’s been clear that Wakaichiro always seems to fight better in Tokyo, so I am looking forward to seeing him compete for his second consecutive tournament in Sandanme. There is also a tiny but non-zero chance that a returning Ura might end up somewhere near Wakaichiro’s ranking, leaded to an ultimate Tachiai fan match up.

Wakaichiro Finishes Nagoya With A Win

Wakaichiro-Noodles

Texas sumotori Wakaichiro completed the Nagoya basho with his 4th win, earning his first kachi-koshi in Sandanme, and ensuring his place in that division for September’s Aki basho. Over the course of the past two weeks, Wakaichiro has shown significantly improved sumo, and overcame an early string of losses, to “win out” and ensure his promotion.

The team at Tachiai extend our congratulations for an excellent, hard fought tournament. Even when he was down 1-3, Wakaichiro rallied and pulled it off. We look forward to harder matches and tougher competition in September.

We will bring you video as soon as we can find it, his expression following the match is carefully restrained elation.

Wakaichiro day 14
Day 14 Match Photo – Shamelessly Stolen From The NSK Twitter Feed

Nagoya Day 14 Preview

Yoshikaze Day 12

There are two men who could tie Mitakeumi if an unlikely series of events were to occur. Mitakeumi would have to lose his remaining two matches, and one the two valedictorians of the Freshmen class would have to win out. Word to Dewanoumi, I know its been a while, but get that fish ready.

Sadly, I must confess I have now re-watched the Goeido – Mitakeumi bout at least 5 times, and I have yet to watch the general broadcast with my family later today. That match simply does not get old. It’s on par with the Kisenosato – Terunofuji match from Osaka 2017 in terms of being evergreen.

Apart from that, most of the winners have been sorted from the losers, and the body count from Nagoya is higher than most tournaments anyone can remember. Three Yokozuna, one Ozeki, and two Maegashira all kyujo going into the final weekend. In addition we have Yoshikaze on some kind of death-march towards a perfect anti-yusho (hanyusho), which for his fans (which I am one) find heartbreaking. I am pretty sure it does not make the English language NHK highlight reel, but the crowds in Nagoya cheer Yoshikaze, yelling encouragement to him every single time.

For you fans who like to stay up in the middle of the night, or are up early in Europe, NHK will be streaming live in about 6 hours. Tune in and enjoy!

Nagoya Leaderboard

Leader – Mitakeumi
Chasers – none
HuntersYutakayama, Asanoyama

2 Matches Remain.

What We Are Watching Day 14

Sadanoumi vs Ryuden – Both men need one more win for kachi-koshi. Sadanoumi has been showing some good speed, but his sumo at this amplitude seems to be fairly chaotic at times. Some days it works, some days it fails.

Chiyomaru vs Hokutofuji – Hokutofuji has a chance to go for double digits, when he battles an already make-koshi Chiyomaru who has never beaten Hokutofuji.

Chiyoshoma vs Nishikigi – Nishikigi is one loss away from make-koshi, so they put him against Chiyoshoma, whom he has never beaten. But I think Nishikigi can and will gamberize. If for no other reason than hapless Chiyoshoma is really doing poorly right now.

Takarafuji vs Onosho – Takarafuji is one loss away from make-koshi, so they put him against Onosho, whom he has never beaten (see the pattern here?). As always, the scheduling team likes to end the basho on a very Darwinistic note.

Endo vs Asanoyama – Asanoyama is still technically in the yusho race. But when you put him against Asanoyama, there is a strong chance that he will be rinsed out of contention. But it’s not a lock. Endo has faded quite a bit since his kachi-koshi, and Asanoyama seems to be unintimidated by higher ranked rikishi. Endo does hold a 2-0 career advantage, but Asanoyama strikes me as the kind of person who would not let those numbers enter into his mind.

Meisei vs Yoshikaze – Well, you’ve come this far, my hero of the dohyo. You may as well see it done.

Ikioi vs Takakeisho – A fun battle to sort rikishi for san’yaku slots in September. We have Ikioi, who’s sumo has the subtle finish of a cast iron mallet, and we have the Takakeisho’s wave-action technique. Frankly I don’t think Takakeisho is going to get to use any wave-action on day 14. Ikioi will charge him down from the start. Takakeisho holds a 2-0 career lead over Ikioi, so I think its time to start to even that score.

Shodai vs Abi – I look at this as a confidence rebuilder for Shodai. But he is habitually high at the tachiai, and Abi works well when his opponent can present their face for punishment. Seriously though, I think Shodai has a clear advantage here in that he’s due to turn the corner and find his sumo.

Tamawashi vs Chiyotairyu – Thanks to Herouth, we know what Chiyotairyu said about his day 14 match: “Chiyotairyu asked about his bout with Tamawashi tomorrow: “Oh, it’s Crusher Tamawashi? I’ll take care not to be a victim. Revenge [for Chiyonokuni]? I’ll kachi-age him all the way to Ulaan-Baatar… though I’ll end up in [Tokyo] Machiya Eki-mae myself…”

Kagayaki vs Shohozan – Both are already make-koshi, so file this one under “The joys of large men hitting each other rather forcefully”. With any luck we will get so see some of Kagayaki’s school of sumo.

Tochiozan vs Mitakeumi – An odd bout, but ok! We have Maegashira 9 Tochiozan going up against the yusho leader. I have been enjoying Tochiozan’s sumo quite a bit. When he’s on its great to watch how tight and efficient he fights. So I will watch with interest as he takes on Mitakeumi, who seems to have an idea of how to beat everyone who is still competing in this crazy, broken down, half hospitalized basho.

Goeido vs Ichinojo – Ichinojo is one defeat from a well deserved make-koshi. All of us can only hope that Goeido actually remembers to win on day 14. He has cleared kadoban, so this is just a match to bring Ichinojo closer to the cleansing, natural soil of Yamato.

Yutakayama vs Takayasu – Takayasu had to fight someone before the day 15 match with Goeido. Why not let the leading freshman, and quite genki, Yutakayama square off against an Ozeki? Naturally this is their first time meeting, but I am going to predict we will see them fight many times in the next few years.

Wakaichiro’s Final Nagoya Match – Day 14

Wakaichro nagoya Day 9

Texas sumotori Wakaichiro enters his final match with a 3-3 record, and the outcome of this last bout determines if he ends the tournament with a winning or losing record. His opponent on day 14 is Sandanme 99 Fudano, from Azumazeki heya. Fudano is a recent newcomer to sumo, who has been ranked as high as Sd95 in May of 2017.

A win would mean that Wakaichiro would stay in Sandanme for the Aki tournament in Tokyo, and a loss would signal a likely demotion to the top ranks of Jonidan. As with his prior matches, we will bring you news of the results as soon as we know them.

Nagoya State of Play, Day 13

The yusho race

Following his great bounce-back win over Goeido, Mitakeumi leads by two over the down-the-banzuke duo of Yutakayama and Asanoyama with two days to go, and has clinched at least a playoff spot. Everyone else is now out of yusho contention. A win by Mitakeumi tomorrow against Tochiozan or against Ichinojo on senshuraku seals the deal, as would losses by the two chasers.

I find the scheduling slightly curious. While 9-4 Tochiozan is a worthy opponent, I expected Mitakeumi to be matched up with the higher-ranked Endo, who instead is pitted against Asanoyama. And if you go way down the banzuke to match up Mitakeumi with a maegashira 13, why not the other maegashira 13, none other than Asanoyama? Or why not Yutakayama, who instead gets his stiff test against Takayasu in the final match of the day? And are the schedulers saving Asanoyama vs. Yutakayama for Day 15?

The upper ranks

Tamawashi locked up a San’yaku slot today, and Ichinojo’s loss made it more likely that the Komusubi will be promoted to Sekiwake. Ichinojo still has to face Goeido and Mitakeumi, and two losses would drop him into the maegashira ranks.

Takakeisho’s loss today, combined with Ikioi’s freebie, means the latter has nosed ahead in the race for the first open San’yaku slot. And what do you know, the schedulers have pitted them against each other for tomorrow, with the winner taking pole position. Just off the pace is Kaisei, with Yutakayama closing fast. Endo and Chiyotairyu are the only others who still have an outside shot at promotion.

Demotions and promotions

Heading down to Juryo: Kotoeko, Meisei.

Needs two wins to survive: Yoshikaze.

Needs two wins—or one plus banzuke luck—to survive: Arawashi.

Should be safe by winning one of two: Ishiura, Okinoumi, Chiyoshoma.

Everyone else is safe.

Heading up to Makuuchi: Takanoiwa, Takanosho, Kotoyuki.

One win might be enough, while two ensure promotion: Aminishiki.

Have an outside shot with two wins: Daiamami, Takagenji.

Everyone else is almost certainly staying where they are (if they’re not heading down to Makushita).

Nagoya Day 13 Highlights

Nagoya Day 13 Banner

So the theory that there was no Takayasu – Mitakeumi rematch due to time gained a bit of traction in my mind with day 13. Headed into the final division, the entire day’s events were about 20 minutes behind schedule, and the rikishi were encouraged to be prompt and shorten up the pre-match routines. As it was the day’s matches went right to the end. Clearly the new head shimpan and the timekeeper are having some problems organizing the basho.

Fans who were worried about Mitakeumi are encouraged to watch today’s match against Goeido in slow motion. Don’t worry, NHK, or Jason and Kintamayama on YouTube can and will supply footage. True champions overcome adversity and setbacks. Even when stupid calls don’t go their way. They show up and they play the game, and if they lose they go back and play again.

Highlight Matches

Meisei defeats Akiseyama – Akiseyama had early control of the match, but lost initiative when he attempted to change his grip and failed. From there it was Meisei’s match and he pushed hard for the win.

Onosho defeats Kotoeko – Onosho reaches kachi-koshi in the blink of an eye. One push against Kotoeko, followed by a slap down and it was all over.

Hokutofuji defeats Aoiyama – Aoiyama continues to compete hard, even though both legs are massively taped. Hokutofuji again unleashes a sharp tachiai, but bounces off Aoiyama’s massive body. Aoiyama lays on the attack, but Hokutofuji’s upper body endures it, while his lower body keeps moving forward. When Aoiyama attempted to pull, he gave up forward pressure and Hokutofuji surged ahead for the win. We have seen this from Hokotofuji again and again, it’s as if there are two separate processes at work, and more than once it has won the match. Hokotofuji is probably back at mid-Maegashira for Aki, and it’s going to be great to see him challenged.

Nishikigi defeats Sadanoumi – Nishikigi picks up win #6, with a good tachiai and working hard to get inside and then applied maximum force to Sadanoumi’s center mass.

Arawashi defeats Chiyomaru – Chiyomaru picked up his 8th loss, and is now make-koshi. Arawashi took a shallow double hand grip immediately at the tachiai, and pushed forward strongly to win the match.

Yutakayama defeats Tochiozan – Yutakayama goes to double digit wins, but it was an odd match. Yutakayama attacked high, and pressured Tochiozan backward to the bales. Both men lost balance and headed out simultaneously, but in spite of some nice acrobatics, Tochiozan touched down first. Tochiozan is now out of any possible yusho contention.

Asanoyama defeats Myogiryu – Asanoyama joins fellow freshman Yutakayama in double digit wins with his win over Myogiryu. Myogiryu took control early while Asanoyama struggled to find a firm hold. When Myogiryu backed him to the tawara, Asanoyama found the edge and held firm, bringing Myogiryu to his chest, and took control.

Ishiura defeats Kyokutaisei – I am starting to have hope. For the last few matches, Ishiura has been showing us a new level of his sumo. He is more fierce, more focused and more inventive than he has been since his debut tournament in Kyushu of 2016. And it’s giving him wins. Will it be enough to stave off a return to Juryo? I almost think that it might.

Ryuden defeats Daieisho – After a matta / false start Daieisho opened strong, and may have actually pushed out Ryuden’s heel, but no one called it and the match continued. Ryuden rallied strongly, and kept impressively low, bringing the battle back to the center of the dohyo. Daieisho became off balance when he hauled up hard on Ryuden’s loose mawashi, and inadvertently fell forward to lose. Daieisho now make-koshi.

Abi defeats Yoshikaze – The march to the hanyusho continues, and no force in nature seems to be able to stop it. Abi seems to take special care to keep Yoshikaze from falling, just as everyone else has. It seems whatever has robbed him of his sumo is a fairly open secret right now, and everyone gives him a lot of courtesy and protection. It both breaks my heart to know something is wrong, and does me glad to see how every competitor takes care.

Tamawashi defeats Kaisei – Tamawashi foregoes the obligatory kotenage and does a masterful job of disrupting Kaisei’s balance, and keeping him struggling for dependable footing. With repeated glancing collisions, eventually Kaisei falls down and nobody goes to the hospital. Success! Tamawashi picks up kachi-koshi as well.

Chiyotairyu defeats Ichinojo – Chiyotairyu hits his kachi-koshi as well today by keeping Ichinojo adjusting to what kind of sumo will happen next. The match ends with an all too familiar moment where Ichinojo seems to give up.

Takayasu defeats Endo – It was not even a real contest, as Endo was overwhelmed by Takayasu’s freight-train tachiai, and bounced off towards the south-east. Takayasu was happy to help give Endo another shove to ensure his rapid exit and loss.

Mitakeumi defeats Goeido – After day 12, fans who were hoping for a Mitakeumi yusho were incensed, with good cause. Even the commentators for NHK really could not line up behind the shimpan’s unexplainable call. Fans worried that Mitakeumi would lose his edge, would begin to doubt his sumo, and his winning streak would end. Well, take a look at what he did to Goeido. It was Goeido who lost his nerve as they went to the shikirisen, and had to reset. Look at Mitakeumi’s body language, his posture as he faces Goeido prior to the match. This guy has put his mental problems in a box, and put the box some place far far away. Goeido did indeed blast out of the tachiai, and he did succeed in knocking Mitakeumi back and lifting him. But look at Mitakeumi’s footwork in the split second following the tachiai. He absorbs the shock and rotates to his right. Goeido is now perilously overcommitted, and Mitakeumi’s left hand already hooking a grip. With his left hand on Goiedo’s mawashi, and his right hand on the back of Goeido’s neck, Mitakeumi has his feet firmly on clay, and swings Goeido towards the bales. Goeido recognizes he has crafted his own defeat, and we get to see the massive power of his legs come to play in an effort to slow his forward motion. But Mitakeumi follows through and forces Goeido out from behind. The home-town crowd goes wild for their favorite son as Goeido steps out. Top notch planning and execution from Mitakeumi. He played Goeido like a shamisen. At the end of the match as they go to bow. THAT LOOK! Goeido has found a new appreciation for his opponent.

NHK Grand Sumo Live This Weekend

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Following a pattern set by previous tournaments, the NHK sumo crew is broadcasting live for both Day 14 and Day 15. This maps out to Saturday and Sunday afternoon in Japan, starting around 5:00 PM Japan time. The broadcast typically starts just after the top of the hour news break, so it will be 50 to 55 minutes of live sumo, with an ensemble cast of commentators including Murray Johnson and John Gunning.

During prior live broadcasts, Tachiai has live-blogged the matches. We are working out the logistics of covering two nights of sumo and staying sane.

Grand Sumo Live Times

04:00 AM Eastern (US)
03:00 AM Central (US)
02:00 AM Mountain (US)
01:00 AM Pacific (US)

09:00 AM UK
10:00 AM Europe

Chiyonokuni Withdraws From Nagoya

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Another one of Tamawashi’s opponents has gone kyujo after a rough kotenage caused an injury during the match. This time it is Chiyonokuni, who sustained injury to his left elbow during the throw. This gives a fusen win to Ikioi, and gives ikioi his kochi-koshi.

The team at Tachiai sincerely hope that Chiyonokuni recovers soon, and returns to action in September.