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.