This from Asashoryu to celebrate the New Year:
The banzuke for January’s tournament has been released. The top storyline will be Hakuho and his desire to break Taiho’s record 32 tournament victories. Will he do it?
Notably, two ozeki (Kotoshogiku and Goeido) are kadoban and face demotion if they do not finish with winning records. Kotoshogiku has been in this position before and each time seems to come roaring back with great performances. He came back from a disasterous May tournament to secure second place with a 12-3 record in July, one win behind Hakuho and tied with Goeido. This is Goeido’s first time facing demotion, however. I will be surprised if both survive demotion this time.
Should Ichinojo put up 10 or 12 wins he could be Ozeki by summer. Aoiyama joins the Mongolian for their second tournament at Sekiwake. Takayasu and Tochiozan are the new komusubi after their strong November showings: Takayasu, with two gold stars and 10 wins and Tochiozan, with one gold star and a winning record at top Maegashira.
November’s komusubi, Ikioi dropped to Maegashira #2 and Takekaze plummetted to Maegashira #9. Endo’s back in the upper ranks of the maegashira, paired with Aminishiki at Maegashira #3. Tochinoshin’s third tournament back in the makuuchi sees him back at top Maegashira. I hope to see Oosunaarashi back at full strength. He should dominate the lower ranks, if healthy.
Tochinowaka, facing another demotion to juryo division, has retired from sumo citing a lack of motivation. Since May, his last tournament with a winning record (9-6), he has had progressively worse performances. He had only won 27% of his bouts during the last half of the year. In his final tournament he lost each of his last six matches. His final win came against Juryo #1 Kagamio. His last victory of any real consequence was a win over then-komusubi Aminishiki on the final day of the Nagoya tournament in July.
I’m a bit disappointed that at such a great time for sumo he didn’t seem to want to be there. I don’t want to say ‘glad to see him go’ but I always like to think that every time any competitor sets foot in a ring, or on a field, they give it their all. This is probably why I’ve been so disappointed with the Redskins these last few seasons. The media hype in the pre-season leads to lethargic performances and bitter sniping…but that’s another story.
With American football players, however, they get paid millions. Sumo wrestlers do not. I would like to see more sumo fans shell out and sponsor wrestlers. As I’ve mentioned in my previous post, Kensho kin is quite affordable. If I had my own business, I would promote it in a heartbeat with sponsorship. It was amazing to see how seriously lower-ranked wrestlers take their matches against Endo, knowing that a win will add several hundred dollars to their wallets.
Admittedly, this isn’t news. It’s an annecdote from last year’s Fukuoka tournament. I was talking to my wife about this year’s basho and she mentioned how Paul McCartney is a big sumo fan and was a sponsor at last year’s tournament.
Since I learned how affordable it is, I’ve wanted to pay kensho-kin to have my name paraded around when one of my favorite wrestlers prepares to fight. If I am actually successful at starting my own business, I WILL DO IT. I was really surprised that it was so affordable. Apparently, each banner is about $600 which is about 10x cheaper than I thought it would be.
I thought I’d open this up for a poll. I started with the high profile and prize winners from this basho but left it open if anyone wants to suggest others. If I get some real traffic on here, I’ll publish the results. Not sure which wrestler I would sponsor, though. If Homasho makes it back, he’d definitely be on the list.
Hakuho has tied Taiho. He defeated Kakuryu pretty quickly to win his 32nd yusho.
The Outstanding Performance prize was awarded to Takayasu, who finished with an excellent 10-5 record and, most notably, two gold stars by defeating Harumafuji and Hakuho. It was that victory that really added a lot of drama to the latter half of the tournament as Kakuryu took the lead.
Fighting Spirit prizes went to Kyokutenho and Tochinoshin for garnering 10 and 11 wins, respectively. Tochinoshin’s 11-4 record makes for a very impressive return to makuuchi off injury. Hopefully he’ll find himself back as komusubi next tournament.
Endo picked up his 10th win pretty quietly. I don’t think he got an award because he lost so many times the first week. Ikioi lost to Kaisei and will surely drop to a maegashira 3 or 4 in January. He’ll be back, though. His first week schedule was a pretty rough one.
I look forward to January when Hakuho will likely move ahead of Taiho and become the undisputed greatest ever. I’m also hoping Homasho will be healthy enough to return, probably to lower Juryo rank.