Haru Day 11 Preview

Takakeisho-zeki, It’s Hakuho Time…

Today we start act 3 of the Haru Basho. Act 3 is sorting everyone in to make and kachi kochi, and finding the yusho winner. This tournament has been brutal to the top Maegashira ranks, and we find that the top 3 have a combined record of 16 – 44. Ouch! At Maegashira 4 we have a super-genki Ichinojo at 9-1, who balances out the 1-9 wreck of the SS Kaisei.

The leaderboard saw Kakuryu and Takayasu both drop to 2 wins behind Hakuho, and its increasingly looking like Hakuho may have a lock on the cup. Day 11’s chaser battle between Aoiyama and Ichinojo will leave us with a single rikishi in striking range of The Boss, unless Takakeisho can manage to send Hakuho to the clay.

Haru Leaderboard

Leader: Hakuho
Chasers: Ichinojo, Aoiyama
Hunt Group: Goeido, Takakeisho, Kotoshogiku, Kakuryu, Takayasu

5 Matches Remain

What We Are Watching Day 11

Terutsuyoshi vs Chiyoshoma – The question now: Can Terutsuyoshi scrape together enough wins to keep a rank in the top division? With only 2 wins following day 10, he’s in a tough spot for demotion, as lksumo pointed out. Chiyoshoma is fighting well, and has not even been using henkas in most matches.

Toyonoshima vs Kagayaki – Also in demotion risk is veteran Toyonoshima, who faces a resurgent Kagayaki on day 11. Kagayaki never matched against Toyonoshima as he rose through the ranks, and this will be their first contest.

Yutakayama vs Yago – Loser gets make-koshi, and Yutakayama finds himself in a must-win scenario, nursing a number of injuries and not in good form. Yago has faltered this basho as well, but we expect the solidly-built Oguruma rikishi to recover for May.

Ishiura vs Kotoshogiku – Ishiura should dust off the attack profile he tried day 10 and bring it to Kotoshogiku, I think it has a good chance of paying off. Kotoshogiku is already at 8 wins, and everything from here on out will dial up the amount of promotion boost he ends up with for May.

Asanoyama vs Ryuden – Winner here will get their kachi-koshi. Ryuden will go for a mawashi grip, and I am going to guess that Asanoyama will start oshi-style, and Ryuden will go for the mawashi. In the past, Asanoyama has proven to be faster, but Ryuden has shown greater endurance. Could be an excellent clashes of styles.

Shohozan vs Abi – A loss today will be Abi’s 8th. He’s at no risk for dropping out of Makuuchi, but its looking more like Abi will need to improve his sumo, or at least come up with variations along the lines that Takakeisho has done to make him a less predictable opponent.

Okinoumi vs Ikioi – Under normal conditions, I would be talking about how these two veteran competitors would be bringing a bristling array of sumo skill to the dohyo. But Ikioi is requiring daily medical intervention to continue competing, and is in no condition to fight. The big question now is can he find a way to win a few more, and hold on to his Makuuchi rank?

Yoshikaze vs Onosho – Onosho is still struggling with balance issues following his knee surgery last year, and each of his losses can be chalked up to poor balance, or missed foot placement. Yoshikaze is on the cusp of his 8th win, after a dismal start.

Aoiyama vs Ichinojo – Both men are 1 behind Hakuho, and at the end of this match, only one will remain. Both are enormous, both are strong. Ichinojo has been grabbing mawashi this tournament, and Aoiyama always likes to pommel his opponents into submission. This will be close to half a ton of rikishi in battle on the clay. Possibly the highlight match of the day.

Shodai vs Myogiryu – Could Shodai turn it around now and “win out”? That would be quite an achievement, and it’s not beyond his abilities. Myogiryu has not been able to take many wins from his named-ranked opponents in Osaka, and he will need 4 out of the next 5 to hit a minimal kachi-koshi.

Endo vs Hokutofuji – Loser of this match make-koshi, and both rikishi have struggled in Osaka. Hokutofuji specifically seems to be losing stamina as his daily matches feature a lot of mobility, and a lot of frantic oshi-zumo.

Mitakeumi vs Daieisho – It’s not out of the question that Mitakeumi could still finish kachi-koshi. But it will take 4 wins out of the next 5 to get there. Daieisho has the mobility to counter the injured Komusubi’s offense, but Mitakeumi has a great habit of keeping his opponents in front of him.

Takayasu vs Tochinoshin – Takayasu is probably out of the yusho race, but his sumo tune up is still paying dividends. Tochinoshin’s road to 8 requires that he take a win from someone in the Ozeki / Yokozuna ranks, and this basho that is a tall order. Tochinoshin is really up against the wall now, and I expect him to do everything he can, including sacrificing his body, to get his 8.

Chiyotairyu vs Goeido – Goeido struggles with Chiyotairyu, mostly because the big Kokonoe rikishi employs a variation of Goeido’s own sumo strategy. Attack up front with everything you have, leave nothing for a second chance. But Goeido is in solid form, he is kachi-koshi already, and in front of his home town crowd. You read it here first – I would applaud a Goeido henka for this match.

Tamawashi vs Kakuryu – Kakuryu is likely displeased with his day 10 loss to Ozeki hopeful Takakeisho. Facing another oshi/tsuppari specialist, I would expect him to be more mobile, and not engage Tamawashi at close range. Tamawashi will need to contend with the Yokozuna’s ability to switch offense in the blink of an eye.

Hakuho vs Takakeisho – A win today would not give Takakeisho his 10, and a loss won’t disqualify him from an Ozeki bid. But I can assure you that Takakeisho has been counting off the days to this match. Hakuho is in rare form, as seen by his reality defying wins this tournament. But Takakeisho will mount the dohyo with a solid battle plan, and absolute confidence in his ability to be the first man in Osaka to put dirt on The Boss.

Haru Day 11 – Ones To Watch

Wakaichiro Fights For Kachi-Koshi On Day 11

Many of our “Ones to Watch” were competing day 10 in Osaka, with Hoshoryu picking up his second win, improving to 2-3 in a lengthy match that saw both rikishi struggle for a dominant position. Although it seems to me that Hoshoryu is getting frustrated by the fierce competition in the Makushita joi, the struggle will improve his sumo. It also gives Naya a chance to catch up, as Otake heya yusho hopeful goes into his day 11 yusho elimination match. We are also happy to point out that Wakaichiro managed to pick up his third win with a recovery at the tawara after his balance almost sent him over the edge.

We also have Terunofuji returning to continue his Jonidan yusho bid, and Amakaze competing as well. It’s a full slate for day 11, so grab something to snack on, fire up the stream from Japan and enjoy the lower divisions.

Day 11 Matches

Midorifuji vs Tochinobori – Midorifuji will be looking to pick up win #3, and draw even prior to his final match for Haru. A loss today would mean make-koshi, and a trip down the banzuke for May. His opponent today is Kasugano heya’s Tochinobori, who won their only prior match.

Wakatakamoto vs Kaito – Wakatakamoto has already locked in his kachi-koshi, and now he’s just seeing if he can run up the score. He has two brothers to join in the salaried ranks, and it seems to have motivated him. Day 11 he faces Kaito, who he has a 2-1 career lead against.

Musashikuni vs Horyuyama – Musashikuni is looking to avoid a second straight make-koshi in 2019, and needs to “win out” his remaining 2 matches. Day 11 he faces off against 167 kg (370 pound) Horyuyama. Musashikuni is no tiny fellow, but this is a lot of rikishi to battle. But Horyuyama seems to be having health problems and has been make-koshi for the last 2 basho.

Naya vs Kotoseigo – Naya continues in the yusho bracket, now at 5-0. Day 11 he takes on Makushita 58 Kotoseigo, from Sadogatake heya. Kotoseigo has had 3 extended periods where he sat out multiple tournaments, presumably for health reasons. He is currently fighting at his highest rank.

Torakio vs Baraki – The Naruto heya scion has yet to pick up even a single win for Haru. Is he injured? With lower ranked rikishi, one never gets to know. But we hope he somehow finds a reserve of genki energy and lands at least one win.

Wakaichiro vs Kasugamine – Texas’ own Wakaichiro returns to the Haru dohyo, with kachi-koshi on the line. A win today against Kasugamine would be his 4th, and jubilation would break out across the great state of Texas. As with day 10, Wakaichiro will need to overcome a sizable opponent, who outweighs him by at least 100 lbs.

Roga vs Wakayamanaka – Jonidan yusho bracket match, Mongolian rising star Roga is looking to improve to 6-0, and knock Wakayamanaka out of the race. Wakayamanaka is a former Sandanme rikishi how dropped out of sumo for a time and re-entered, whereas Roga is a young powerhouse who has yet to lose a match.

Kenho vs Sakai – In the really disappointing bracket, the already make-koshi Kenho is clearly not functioning well, and has not generated much offensive or defensive sumo during Haru. Hopefully he can survive his last 2 matches without further injury, and can recover in time for May.

Terunofuji vs Shimomura – Another Jonidan yusho elimination match; former Ozeki Terunofuji is unbeaten in his first basho back in sumo since taking an extended leave of absence to get his health under control. Although not looking quite healthy or fit, he has been fighting well and as a result is in the thick of competition for the Jonidan yusho. His competitor today is 18 year old Shimomura, who is only in his 2nd tournament as an actual ranked rikishi.

Amakaze vs Sakaefuji – Amakaze has a good day of sumo ahead. He is already kachi-koshi in his return to active sumo, and he is safe from further demotion. So the schedulers give him the gargantuan Sakaefuji for his 6th match. Amakaze is a skilled sumo practitioner, but it’s always quite a difficult to battle a human being that large.

Hattorizakura vs Sawada – Having run out of people in Jonikuchi to lose to, they have brought Hattorizakura up to Jonidan to face off against Sawada, whom has beaten him once before. Hattorizakura is my reminder that there are many paths to happiness in this world, including many I don’t understand.

Haru Storylines, Day 10

The Yusho Race

After avenging the second of his three losses at Hatsu, Yokozuna Hakuho (10-0) remains the sole leader. Tomorrow, he will try to avenge the third against Takakeisho. The 9-1 chase group is down to two men. Quick, who thought that the big yusho race showdown on Day 11 would be M4 Ichinojo (9-1) vs. M7 Aoiyama (9-1)? Losses by Yokozuna Kakuryu and Ozeki Takayasu drop them into the two-off-the pace hunt group, which also includes Ozeki Goeido, Sekiwake Takakeisho and M8 Kotoshogiku.

The other Day 11 bouts with yusho race implications see Kakuryu facing Sekiwake Tamawashi (4-6), with the head-to-head record favoring the Yokozuna 9-4, Goeido taking on M5 Chiyotairyu (6-4), with the head-to-head nearly even at 7-6, Takayasu battling Ozeki Tochinoshin (6-4), whom he’s defeated 9 times in 17 encounters, and Kotoshogiku in an apparent mismatch against M15 Ishiura (6-4). The two have never met. I would fully expect Ishiura to pull out a henka against a much larger and higher-ranked opponent, and shame on Kotoshogiku if he doesn’t see it coming.

Kadoban Ozeki Tochinoshin

Despite surviving the initial charge and getting into a yotsu bout with Goeido, Tochinoshin could not notch his 7th win, and now needs 2 from 5 bouts to clear kadoban. He will try again tomorrow against another tough opponent trying to stay in the yusho race, Takayasu.

Takakeisho’s Ozeki Run

Takakeisho took a big step toward promotion today, notching his 8th victory and defeating a Yokozuna in doing so. Tomorrow, he goes up against The Boss, whom he bested for the first time in four tries last basho. After that, his fight card includes three Ozeki and a maegashira to be named later.

The San’yaku Ranks

West Sekiwake Tamawashi needs to record 4 victories in his remaining 5 bouts to maintain his rank, and 3 to limit his demotion to Komusubi. East Komusubi Mitakeumi won today and also needs 4 victories to defend his rank, while West Komusubi Hokutofuji lost and cannot afford even a single additional defeat if he is to extend his first San’yaku appearance beyond a single basho. Ichinojo and Aoiyama continue to lead the promotion race, and an Ichinojo win tomorrow would come close to locking up a return to the San’yaku ranks.

The Makuuchi <-> Juryo Exchange

Dropping out of the top division: Chiyonokuni. Taking his spot: Shimanoumi (J1e, 9-1).

Demotion danger level red (likely need to go 5 for 5): Yutakayama (M16w, 3-7), Terutsuyoshi (M14e, 2-7).

Demotion danger level orange (need at least 3 wins): Toyonoshima (M14w, 3-8), Daishoho (M16e, 4-6), Ikioi (M9w, 1-9).

Demotion danger level yellow (need 1-2 wins): , Chiyoshoma, Yago, Kotoeko, Ishiura, Tomokaze, Sadanoumi. Reaching safety today: Kagayaki and Shodai.

Chiyomaru (J1w, 7-3) should lock up a return to the top division with one more victory. Enho (J2w, 6-4) needs at least two and likely three to assure a Makuuchi debut. Sokokurai is a dark-horse promotion candidate with a 7-3 record down at J7w; he may need to win out to return to the top division, and his hopes will be on the line against Chiyomaru tomorrow.

Haru Day 10 Highlights

Ichinojo Once Again Shows Us How To Deal With A Bad Pony

What a fantastic close to Haru’s act 2. Exiting act 2, the yusho race solidifies, and it seems that Hakuho will be the man to beat to take the cup. We also have a vast swath of devastation in upper Maegashira, and the churn between the top and the middle ranks will be impressive for May. Many capable rikishi are headed for make-koshi, some of them could see double digit losses. The Yokozuna and Ozeki are all kachi-koshi save Tochinoshin, who will probably struggle well into act 3 to clear kadoban.

Headed into act 3, we will see matches with an increasing banzuke gap, as the schedulers work to sort the winners from the losers, and try some rikishi likely due for a big move (up or down) out in something closer to their new slots. Will fans get to see Kotoshogiku face Toyonoshima? Many of us are hoping we do.

Tomorrow (day 11) will see Tachiai’s “man in foreign lands”, Josh, return to the EDION arena for another day of sumo. Looking at the Torikumi, it’s a full day of action, including lower division yusho battles featuring many of our “ones to watch”.

Highlight Matches

Chiyomaru defeats Daishoho – Chiyomaru, visiting from Juryo and wearing his “Safety Green” mawashi overpowers Daishoho to move one win away from kachi-koshi. Chiyomaru has a lot of fans around the world and on Tachiai, and his return to the top division will be welcome.

Chiyoshoma defeats Tomokaze – Chiyoshoma’s superior mobility was the deciding factor. Chiyoshoma fought quite a bit of this match in reverse, but his agility made it work.

Kagayaki defeats Terutsuyoshi – Terutsuyoshi’s opening gambit was blown by multiple mattas, and as a result he had nothing to bring to the tachiai. Terutsuyoshi is now make-koshi and at risk of returning to Juryo.

Meisei defeats Yutakayama – This match was carried by Meisei’s superior speed and mobility. The match unfolded at a blinding pace, and the injured Yutakayama could not react quickly enough to counter Meisei’s attacks.

Toyonoshima defeats Yago – Toyonoshima won the tachiai, and never gave up the initiative, maintaining an inside position that forced Yago to react to Toyonoshima’s sumo.

Yoshikaze defeats Ikioi – Yoshikaze turns a ripe 37, and picks up a win against Ikioi, who is a little more injured each day. Already with 9 losses at Maegashira 9, could this mainstay of the top division be headed to Juryo?

Asanoyama defeats Ishiura – Ishiura had this one for a win, but could not maintain his grip on Asanoyama. I have to compliment Ishiura for an inventive and effective offensive plan, and Asanoyama for having the strength and mobility to escape it.

Aoiyama defeats Shohozan – Shohozan never gets close enough to really start landing blows on the Bulgarian man-mountain. Aoiyama employs his overwhelming strength to toss Shohozan around, and then off of the dohyo. Aoiyama remains 1 win behind Hakuho.

Abi defeats Sadanoumi – Abi finally gets another win, and does it with Abi-zumo. It looks like Sadanoumi did not get the memo…

Kotoshogiku defeats Onosho – Kotoshogiku is kachi-koshi, and Onosho is still struggling for balance nearly every day. Kotoshogiku’s 8th win, coupled with the obliteration in the top Maegashira ranks, signal a possible big move higher for May.

Shodai defeats Nishikigi – Shodai got his first win, and actually used good sumo to get there. The look of relief on his face at the end of the match gave everyone a happy feeling inside. Go ahead and watch that part… It’s like when they rescue a puppy who fell down a well.

Myogiryu defeats Kaisei – Its hard to know if Kaisei is injured or completely demoralized, but his sumo has gone sour, and the speed and power of Myogiryu made quick work of him today.

Mitakeumi defeats Endo – Mitakeumi is only at about 80% right now, but he managed to piece together a win against Endo. Endo’s opening move, a left arm bar pull, was premature, and opened him to Mitakeumi’s attack. When you watch this match, note how Mitakeumi holds ground at the center of the dohyo, and it’s Endo who is moving around. This is a solid strategy for someone with a bad knee.

Daieisho defeats Hokutofuji – Both men are flailing franticly, and the whole mess is going nowhere. But as is his custom, Hokutofuji obliges by sloppy footwork and poor balance, and Daieisho seizes his chance to slap down the Komusubi.

Goeido defeats Tochinoshin – Excellent yotsu-zumo from Goeido today, and he takes the risk of going chest to chest with Tochinoshin, and wins. Did anyone else wince as Goeido rolled Tochinoshin left, forcing him to pivot on that bad knee during the throw? Goeido gets his 8th win for a kachi-koshi in Osaka.

Ichinojo defeats Takayasu – Takayasu brought the shoulder blast back for his day 10 match with the Boulder, and he paid for it. It was worth a try, but Ichinojo in his Boulder form is too solid, too massive and too strong to be pushed around by Takayasu. The two go chest to chest, and Takayasu has an excellent grip. But he miscalculates in trying to raise Ichinojo, and instead brings his center of gravity too high. Ichinojo expertly reads the situation, and swings the Ozeki around and thrusts him down. Quality sumo, excellent execution and a well deserved with for Ichinojo, who persists in the 1 loss group.

Hakuho defeats Tamawashi – Once again, Hakuho gets his body into a losing position, just to turn it to his advantage in the blink of an eye through sumo that would be tough to believe if it were not recorded to video. I had to watch it a few times just to sort it out myself. Tamawashi manages to get The Boss turned to his side, and is applying force from behind the Yokozuna. But Hakuho’s super-human agility and ring sense kick in, and he pivots as Tamawashi pushes forward, ending up behind Tamawashi. Hakuho faces Takakeisho tomorrow. What kind of unthinkable sumo will come from that?

Takakeisho defeats Kakuryu – This win puts a big bold line under Takakeisho’s bid to become Ozeki. This was a “quality” win. Kakuryu went toe to toe in a oshi-battle with the Tadpole, and finds himself overpowered. Takakeisho gets his 8th win, and will be seeking out at least 2 more to once again claim the credential for promotion.

Haru Day 10 Preview

Time To Make Your Case…

Welcome to the end of act 2! Act 2 was where we sorted the survivors from the damned, and we started to see who was going to contest for the cup. As Josh pointed out in our weekend podcast, the old guard has decided they were going to make a stand, and re-assert their dominance over sumo. The result has been a return to form that we saw at Aki 2018, where the named ranks devastate the upper 3 Maegashira, and the final week is dominated by the greats of sumo blasting each other around the dohyo. From all appearances, everyone remains genki and in increasingly good fighting condition each day right now. It portends a tumultuous and entertaining finish to the tournament.

Haru Leaderboard

Leader: Hakuho
Chasers: Kakuryu, Takayasu, Ichinojo, Aoiyama
Hunt Group: Goeido, Takakeisho, Kotoshogiku

6 Matches Remain

What We Are Watching Day 10

Daishoho vs Chiyomaru – Beloved Chiyomaru returns to the top division in his new “safety” mawashi, which may or may not have been picked up from Akua when he had to return to Makushita. With a 6-3 record, Chiyomaru is just 2 wins away from securing a bid to return to the top division.

Tomokaze vs Chiyoshoma – First time meeting between these two, with Chiyoshoma having a distinct advantage in speed over Tomokaze. It’s been a few matches since we have seen a Chiyoshoma henka, so be ready…

Terutsuyoshi vs Kagayaki – A loss today would give Terutsuyoshi a make-koshi and put him at risk to return to Juryo. Kagayaki has shown that he is effective against a fast rikishi (he beat Ishiura), so Terutsuyoshi has his work cut out for him. We know his sumo is up to the task if he can get a good position at the tachiai.

Ryuden vs Kotoeko – Shin-Ikioi will take on micro-hulk today. Kotoeko had nothing but problems with Meisei’s “speed sumo” on day 9, and we can expect that Ryuden learned from that match. Ryuden is not always known for rapid offense, so it’s likely he will leave an opening for Kotoeko to employ his superior strength to weight ratio with great effect.

Yutakayama vs Meisei – Yutakayama is already close to the Maku-Juryo line, and he is clearly struggling for wins. Normally he would have no problems overcoming Meisei, but in his injured state, there is no telling how this will go.

Toyonoshima vs Yago – Experience vs youth, and both are in dire need of wins. Toyonoshima especially must be worried about his lack of wins headed into the heard of week 2. Toyonoshima looks just a touch too slow right now. Something happened between Hatsu and Haru. Chances are we will never find out what.

Yoshikaze vs Ikioi – Oh come on! Ikioi will put on a brave, limping fight. Yoshikaze will get his his 7th win, and may exit the dohyo with blood on his face (a Yoshikaze specialty).

Asanoyama vs Ishiura – Both have matching 6-3 records, but their 4 prior matches all went to Asanoyama. Frankly, Asanoyama seems to have consolidated his sumo in the last couple of months, and everything seems to be connecting more smoothly. Ishiura is fighting well, and even winning matches without having to resort to cheap moves. This could be a solid match.

Aoiyama vs Shohozan – Oh goodie, I have been waiting for this one. Two sluggers ready to trade heavy fire at medium range. If Shohozan can get close, it’s going to be tough for Aoiyama, who seems to receive less well than he gives.

Sadanoumi vs Abi – I am sure that Sadanoumi knows by now how to shut down Abi-zumo. Will this be the day that Abi decides to try something else?

Chiyotairyu vs Takarafuji – Chiyotairyu put a lot into his day 9 match against Takakeisho, and I think that he might be a bit depleted when he faces off against the highly technical Takarafuji. If Takarafuji can dodge the initial Chiyotairyu gambits, he likely has a win.

Kotoshogiku vs Onosho – Onosho’s balance is still off due to his lengthy recovery from knee surgery, so I am going to suggest that Kotoshogiku has the upper hand. A win today would secure a kachi-koshi for the Kyushu bulldozer.

Tochiozan vs Okinoumi – Another great match for day 10. Both are high stamina, high skill sumo technicians who will put a lot of thought into their day 10 match. We may see some rare sumo today.

Nishikigi vs Shodai – Shodai holds a 3-1 career advantage over sumo’s Cinderella Man. Already into make-koshi land, a win today would hand Nishikigi his maki-koshi, too. Shodai holds a 3-1 career advantage – is day 10 the magic day for Shodai?

Kaisei vs Myogiryu – Speed vs size today, and I am going with speed. Myogiryu has a terrible record for the basho, but his tour through the named ranks is done now, and he has a real chance to exit with a winning record.

Mitakeumi vs Endo – This could also be a fun match. Mitakeumi’s injured knee is keeping him from showing us his “good” sumo, but he is still quite formidable. Their career record is a balanced 3-3.

Daieisho vs Hokutofuji – Hokutofuji seems to be improving into week 2, and I expect he will disrupt and overcome Daieisho’s offense. Hokutofuji will go for an early nodowa courtesy of his “handshake tachiai”.

Tochinoshin vs Goeido – Ozeki fight! If it goes longer than 8 seconds, I would expect Tochinoshin to win. Goeido is going to go for an immediate kill – blasting off the big Georgian from the Osaka dohyo.

Takayasu vs Ichinojo – I am positively giddy about this one. Ichinojo is looking his toughest in a long time, and Takayasu has been tuning up his sumo. Both men are in the chaser group, and the winner will remain 1 behind Hakuho.

Hakuho vs Tamawashi – Tamawashi gets a Hakuho flying lesson. We love you cookie-man, but The Boss is genki and you are today’s practice ballast.

Takakeisho vs Kakuryu – Takakeisho has never beaten Kakuryu, whose sumo is tailor made to disrupt and defeat someone like Takakeisho. A win today by the Sekiwake would put a very bold stroke on his potential Ozeki bid, and give him his kachi-koshi. Great final match for the final day of act 2!