He won. Ichinojo fell on Saturday, Kakuryu on Sunday.
Despite the historic win, the story of the tournament continues to be Ichinojo’s success. He took home two special prizes, the Outstanding Performance and Fighting Spirit. Aminishiki claimed the Technique prize. Aoiyama and Ikioi had impressive performances. Hopefully both will find themselves among the higher ranks next tournament.
Whatever the matchups, I sincerely hope to see Osunaarashi’s aggressive brand of sumo battle Ichinojo’s grappling.
Goeido (7-6) powered through Hakuho (12-1), yes, powered through Hakuho, to hand the Yokozuna his first loss amid the flying zabuton. Then, Ichinojo (12-1) capped off the day with a victory over Kakuryu (10-3). It wasn’t a stunning victory at all. It was the SAME crafty victory he pulled off against Kisenosato (8-5). “Over eager” matta, feignting the direct tachiai, then dodging to the side for the easy henka victory when the fight goes “for reals”. Kakuryu should have been better prepared. He’s a yokozuna and shouldn’t have fallen for that especially since Ichinojo did THE.EXACT.SAME.THING against Kisenosato two days ago.
Meanwhile, Kisenosato secures his winning record and denies Osunaarashi (5-8) a winning record at the same time. The ozeki withstood the sand storm’s early aggressiveness but seemed to be at a disadvantage when Osunaarashi secured a hold on the mawashi. Osunaarashi tried to throw Kisenosato to his left side but maybe he was just too heavy? After the failed throw attempt, it then seemed he just ran out of space and tripped backwards over the straw bales.
In other ozeki action, Kotoshogiku (8-5) was shown the floor by an impressive Ikioi (9-4). Ikioi is still the only makuuchi wrestler to have defeated Ichinojo. Aminishiki, meanwhile, handed Okinoumi his third defeat. Both rikishi stand at 10-3, in a tie with Kakuryu. Aminishiki gets to take on Ozeki Kotoshogiku tomorrow while Okinoumi faces Tochinoshin (13-0) from Juryo. Tochinoshin will likely return to makuuchi next tournament after his recovery from his previous injury. It won’t be an easy win for Okinoumi but with all these interesting match ups it will make for an exciting weekend! That is, assuming Hakuho doesn’t fall for the same henka BS.
Hakuho (12-0) eased to his 12th win against Kisenosato (7-5). The yokozuna side-stepped his opponent’s rush, and didn’t even bother with a belt grip. He just wrapped his arms around the ozeki and ushered him over the side of the dohyo. Tomorrow he faces Goeido (6-6) who is in serious danger of not securing a winning record this tournament.
Goeido needed a win against the up-and-coming Ichinojo (11-1) but did not perform like an ozeki. Ichinojo had a clear size advantage and when he was able to get both hands on Goeido’s mawashi, Goeido seemed to know he was done. Ichinojo didn’t even seem out of breath when he dumped Goeido out of the ring. Next up: Kakuryu (10-2). Obviously, I look forward to seeing Ichinojo take on the Yokozuna but I’m also eager to see how he does against Osunaarashi, who’s been very aggressive and exciting of late. He even got Hakuho’s pulse rate up for a few seconds this tournament.
Kotoshogiku (8-4) secured his kachi-koshi winning record against Kakuryu today in a fairly even match. Both wrestlers were able to get belt grips and each seemed to gain the advantage in turn, but Kotoshogiku was able to get Kakuryu to the edge and over. Disappointed, the Yokozuna falls two off the pace and must face Ichinojo, the sensation, tomorrow.
Osunaarashi (5-7) aggressively battered Takekaze (5-7) out of the ring. Both have had impressive wins this tournament but need to win out this weekend to have winning records. Okinoumi (10-2) now has Kakuryu’s company two losses behind Hakuho and must face the surprising Aminishiki (9-3) tomorrow. Surely, if he wins, he’ll be thrown into the mix with Ichinojo and the two yokozuna on the final two days. An 11 win tournament will get him a pretty high maegashira seeding in November…and some stiff competition. Ikioi (8-4) got his eighth win today against Takayasu.
Endo’s (2-10) not having a good go of it this time ’round. With 10 losses this autumn, he’ll find himself among the mid-to-low level maegashira in November. His opponents have been thankful for all his promotion money, as they walk away with fistfulls of his prize money. They’re probably hoping Ichinojo’s success doesn’t draw away too much of Endo’s cash because they’ll be much less likely to mug the Mongolian mountain. He’ll be back in form soon, though. It’s a good indication that the competition is getting stronger.
Yes, Hakuho (11-0) still leads. He’s peerless, the best. He dispatched Takekaze (5-6) with ease. There was no surprise in that, unlike yesterday when Osunaarashi was, for a moment, able to challenge the Yokozuna.
What was surprising was Ichinojo’s (10-1) near-henka victory over Kisenosato (7-4). Kisenosato has a very slow tachiai. He draws more than his fair share of false starts – matta, in Japanese. However, I think the rookie and his coaches outwitted the Ozeki. After being “tempted” into two false starts where he appeared to charge straight at Kisenosato, Ichinojo dodged to his left – exactly opposite Kisenosato’s taped shoulder – and gave Kisenosato a shove to make sure he fell flat on his face. BRAVO.
You’re on notice, Kisenosato, Ichinojo exposed the weakness in slow-rolling your tachiai. He hopes to gain the advantage of knowing his opponent’s plan of attack – but Ichinojo disguised his planned dodge beautifully. This is speculation but I think the youngster planned to bait Kisenosato into thinking he’d take the injured left shoulder head-on. He faked it twice to reinforce the point…then dodged to Kisenosato’s right! Beautiful. I look forward to watching this youngster develop. He’ll face a desparate Goeido (6-5) tomorrow.
In other matches, Kakuryu (10-1) is tied with the young upstart, one loss off pace. Unlike Ichinojo, Goeido really was a bit over-eager to face the Yokozuna. He false started, and on the fair-start Kakuryu was able to quickly gain control and show Goeido to the floor. Osunaarashi fell to 4-7 against Kotoshogiku (7-4). Kotoshogiku bulled through Osunaarashi’s aggressive slapping attack and pushed the maegashira #4 off the dohyo.
Endo (2-9) got a win against Chiyotairyu (1-10). Ikioi (7-4), still the only rikishi to defeat Ichinojo, won his match against Takanoiwa (4-7). Aminishiki (8-3) is alone with 8 wins since Kyukutenho lost against Tochiozan (both on 7-4). Okinoumi (9-2) still has an outside chance for jun-yusho with his win over Sadanoumi (6-5) as Kakuryu and Ichinojo will be facing stronger opponents in the coming days. Both of them will be battling Ozeki tomorrow while Okinoumi will face maegashira #10 Kitataiki.
In non-tournament related news, I’m eager to start a conversation based on comments made by ex-Kotooshu where he expresses an intent to use data and scientific methods to improve sumo training. It’s a brief article and I’m very eager to learn more. I’m a data hound and love to pour over the data available over at sumogames (linked in the menu above). However, I know there’s so much more data that could be collected…like information on match duration, injuries, taped body parts, and how many ad banners each rikishi has from sponsors.
Hakuho (10-0) survived a scare against Osunaarashi (4-6). Osunaarashi went for an early pull-down and got Hakuho onto one leg. The fact that he maintained his balance helps demonstrate just how good he is. He was able to regain his footing up against the straw bales and turn the tables on Osunaarashi. In other matches, Kakuryu (9-1) bounced back with a solid victory against Takekaze (5-5). Kisenosato (7-3) fell out of any hope at a championship as he got thrown by Terunofuji (5-5) after a long, patient bout. Kotoshogiku (6-4) aggressively took control in his win against fellow Ozeki Goeido (6-4).
Ichinojo (9-1) continues to impress, dispatching Yoshikaze (6-4) with apparent ease. Yoshikaze started with a slap attack that seemed to catch Ichinojo by surprise, but as soon as he went in to grapple…Ichinojo just threw him. Endo (1-9) was on the attack and seemed in control against Jokoryu (3-7) but Jokoryu was able to get the throw victory while retreating, catching Endo off balance. Endo fell to the dohyo long before Jokoryu landed in the first row of spectators. Ikioi (6-4) survived against a charging Aoiyama (5-5). Aoiyama was pummeling Ikioi, but Ikioi was somehow able to shove Aoiyama out for his sixth win.
Okinoumi won to move to 8-2 and the old guys, Aminishiki and Kyokutenho, continue to impress. Both improve to 7-3.
My goals with this blog are to help promote the sport, particularly professional sumo, as well as help other fans find more resources out there.
Today is Day 9 of the Fall tournament. Hakuho leads with a dominant perfect 9-0 record. Kakuryu is one loss back from today’s defeat to Yoshikaze. Harumafuji withdrew earlier last week with an injury to his eye. I have yet to hear whether he has opted for surgery or if he will just rest it. Surgery means a 3 month recovery.
Ichinojo is also one loss back and faces Yoshikaze, who’d be fresh off his Gold Star performance from today. Ichinojo’s first real test in the Makuuchi came against Ikioi on Friday. Ikioi’s bloody throw-down victory made it to the Wall Street Journal’s blog this morning. For some context, the last time the WSJ covered sumo was when a picture of a bunch of wrestlers on a plane went viral in July. Kind of like, “how many clowns can we fit in a tiny car?”
Ichinojo has certainly been impressive against the lower ranks of the maegashira so I look forward to more challenging matches with the Sanyaku. I imagine that if he wins, he’ll find himself up against Kisenosato, Kakuryu, and maybe Hakuho.
The schedule also has Hakuho facing Osunaarashi tomorrow. Osunaarashi’s not had a great tournament but is always capable of getting a win. Aoiyama was strong against Goeido the other day so he could give Ikioi a challenge. Goeido’s going to have a difficult day tomorrow against Kotoshogiku. Both Ozeki really need to rack up more wins. Kotoshogiku was just under threat of kadoban last tournament but pulled through with a great July…
Elsewhere, in Juryo, Ga-ga-ga-ga-gagamaru needs a strong showing this week. He’s standing on 4-5.