As Bruce mentioned, Kakuryu has locked up the basho. Tomorrow he will close, win or lose, against Harumafuji. Therefore, the drama is in the jun-yusho. Can Harumafuji maintain his second place position? Will Kisenosato be a bridesmaid for the twelfth time? He’ll “battle” the Yokozuna’s stablemate Takarafuji. The Ozeki has dominated this matchup, winning 11 straight – mostly by yorikiri. Shodai has been great but did not have the insane schedule faced by Endo. By virtue of that lighter schedule, he’s in the running for the jun-yusho as well and will likely get it on the back of Arawashi, a Maegashira 10.
Impressive Performance, Outstanding Results
Congratulations to Yokozuna Kakuryu, who has had a long and difficult struggle to recover from injuries in 2016. The key to his victory in the Kyushu basho was adaptability. He was constantly on the move, and his approach to any given match could and would change in the blink of an eye.
With Kakuryu’s victory on day 14, there is no means that any other rikishi can catch him tomorrow, on the final day. With a 14-1 record tomorrow, or 13-2, the next closest would be Yokozuna Harumafuji, who could possibly finish 12-3 should he defeat Kakuryu.
Update: The original version of this post included discussion of a monoii for this match. Sadly this was my mistake given early morning match reviews via videos posted on the Grand Sumo app. Clearly I got that wrong, and I apologize.
The Final Drive To The Finish
The last weekend of sumo for 2016 is upon us now. While we now seem to have good indicators of who will with the championship for both Juryo and Makuuchi, I am sure that there are a few surprised, and several great matches left to enjoy.
The popularity of sumo seems to once again be on the upswing in Japan. Tickets are becoming harder to get, and venues outside of Tokyo are selling out more frequently. World wide, there are more opportunities today than at any other time in history for people do start following and enjoying sumo. Enough opportunities for me to suggest, short of some hideous scandal, that sumo is on the cusp of a broader global following.
There are distant rumors that NHK plans to expand sumo coverage as part of their world service, and frankly – I can’t wait. In fact, I have personally offered NHK heaps of my money on demand to let me stream the full Juryo and Makuuchi program at will. I have to imagine that I am not the only one.
Before we can close out Kyushu, we get to see the rest of the Yokozuna head-to-head matches, and watch the rikishi with marginal records scrap for the final wins, hoping to stave off demotion.
Myogiryu vs Arawashi – Myogiryu only needs to defeat Arawashi to secure his rank.
Takekaze vs Daishomaru – Can the veteran seal his winning record and deal a losing record to Daishomaru at the same time? Historically, the two are evenly matched.
Shohozan vs Sokokurai – Local sumotori Shohozan goes up against to try and finish with a winning record. These two are separated 9 slots in the banzuke, so it should be an easy win for Shohozan.
Ishiura vs Shodai – An even bigger mis-match than the previous bout, it’s time for rising star Ishiura to test his performance against Shodai, who has done very well this tournament. The mini-henka is not working against the upper Maegashira, so I am hoping that Ishiura deploys some real sumo today. Shodai already has a strong winning record, and will likely be san’yaku come January, so I am hoping for a really fun upset.
Tochiozan vs Endo – Tochiozan received a dirty henka on day 13 to deal him a make-koshi. Now it’s Endo’s turn to try and lock up a winning record, and a promotion towards the top of January’s banzuke. Historically, Tochiozan beats him up and steals his lunch money. So we will look for Endo to do something new and useful here.
Harumafuji vs Hakuho – Hakuho faded fast once he started his matches against the great San’yaku Battle Fleet. Now he faces his nemesis, Harumafuji. I am hoping the The Boss can escape without any further damage to his undercarriage. Under normal, healthy conditions – this is a Hakuho win. But for day 14, the edge goes to Harumafuji.
Goeido vs Kakuryu – The only thing to consider here is Goeido’s pride, and the yusho. If Goeido wins, there is a strong chance that the yusho will come down to the final day match between Harumafuji and Kakuryu. There is a great deal of rivalry between Goeido and Harumafuji, so it may worth considering that a loss by Goeido could put Harumafuji out of the running for the yusho. Ah, decisions decisions… My money is on Goeido taking his sumo to the Yokozuna. In the long game, Goeido must perceive that this is simply a warm up for his next Yokozuna run. However the career records strongly favor Kakuryu
Kakuryu Yusho Looking More Likely
As noted in prior news postings, the action on day 13 from Kyushu was big, the matches were outstanding, and the yusho race became a lot clearer. But for sumo fans wishing for a giant multi-way final day tournament to decide the ultimate winner, the Great Sumo Cat of the Kokugikan had other plans.
Likewise in Juryo, we had Osunaarashi go Kyujo with a right knee injury, handing the Juryo-yusho to Seiro for all reasonable purposes. Keep in mind, dear reader, that the Kyushu basho this year is a wily and unpredictable operation, and we may yet see at least one more twist in the tale before it concludes on Sunday.
With Kisenosato, Goeido, Hakuho and Ishiura all losing on day 13, the leaderboard has narrowed considerably
- Leader: Kakuryu
- Chasers: Harumafuji
- Hunt Group: Kisenosato, Shodai, Ishiura
2 matches remain
Arawashi defeats Ishiura – Bit of a slippi-toshi on this one. There have been reports of the Kyushu dohyo being especially slippery this basho. We have seen a large number of slips, and mechanical injuries due to uncontrolled descent of 150+ Kg men.
Hidenoumi defeats Chiyoshoma – Chiyoshoma was going for his kachi-koshi today, but Hidenoumi put on a great show of yotsu sumo and eventually forced Chiyoshoma out.
Takarafuji defeats Sokokurai – Takarafuji picks up his kachi-koshi in a fairly strange match. Sokokurai was expecting a henka, I am going to assume, and so was Takarafuji. So they grappled lightly, stood around for a bit, and came up with a new strategy. Takarafuji wins by yorikiri
Ichinojo defeats Shohozan – Quick bout that saw local favorite Shohozan quickly pushed out of the ring by Ichinojo. Ichinojo has been very inconsistent in Kyushu, but still has a chance at kachi-koshi
Shodai defeats Chiyootori – The Shodai train is not slowing down. He made very quick work of Chiyootori
Yoshikaze defeats Mitakeumi – Amazing move at the edge by Yoshikaze. It seems that once he secured his losing record, he remembered all of his really nice moves. Glad to see him educating the shin-Komusubi. The crowd, of course, ate it up – seems everyone loves Yoshikaze when his sumo is strong. Request for the Berserker – next time see if you can get more spiral on Mitakeumi (who is roughly football shaped), I would love to see if you can get him into the second tier of box seats.
Endo defeats Okinoumi – Great great match between these two, with this win, Endo has a solid chance of securing a winning record for Kyushu. Okinoumo – I want him to get healed / have surgeryury and come back strong for Hatsu in January. Great throw by Endo at the end of the match.
Tamawashi defeats Terunofuji – Excellent, but quick match by Tamawashi, who picks up his kachi-koshi from the injured Ozeki. This is the third time he has beaten an Ozeki this tournament.
Harumafuji defeats Goeido – Goeido once again facing a monoii? Yes, this guy has a curse on him. The Goyji awarded the match to Goeido, but the Shimpan decided to re-play the match. In the second bout, Harumafuji was clearly the winner via his patented mini-henka. This leaves Harumafuji the only clear challenger to to Kakuryu for the yusho.