Disappointing Second Makuuchi Tournament.
Ishiura debuted in Makuuchi during the November basho in Kyushu, bringing a lot of power in a compact package. Entering the tournament at the bottom of the Maegashira ranks (M15), he faced a fairly easy list of competitors, and pounded them into the clay, finishing 10-5 and securing the fighting spirit special prize. With such a strong opening, we wondered how he would fare in his second tournament.
In his second basho, he was ranked Maegashira 9, and faced somewhat more fierce competition. While most of the “up and coming” were running wild while the Sanyaku crumbled, Ishiura continued to struggle. A protoge of Hakuho, Ishiura has been working on a model of intense sumo training coupled with impressive strength in a small, fast frame.
It is not uncommon for rikishi to have problems with their second tournament in a new division, and it was clear that Ishiura had a limited set of opening moves that he was comfortable using. But after Kyushu, most of the Makuuchi men had watched the video of his bouts, and knew what to do to blunt his attacks. He also got distracted a bit from his sumo when he became a spokesman for the Tokyo McLaren dealership. As a result he turned in a disappointing 6 win / 9 loss record in January.
Tachiai continues to watch Ishiura with great interest, as we think that he represents a bold experiment in building a better rikishi – one that does not rely on mass alone – to dominate. We expect he will be training hard with the rest of the crew at Miyagino Beya, and we hope that Hakuho is motivating him daily to higher levels of performance.
We certainly hope that Ishiura will return to Osaka ready to win.