Sumo Fans – Break Time Is Over

day12

Osaka Banzuke Arrives Today

in between tournaments, it can be tough to be a sumo fan. Everything goes quiet and there is no source of news or events anywhere. You find yourself with “Learn Kanji” books trying to decode things on Japanese web sites, and all you come up with is Toyonoshima talking about his grannie’s recipe for Oden.

This time was somewhat different as the excitement of shin-Yokozuna kisenosato kept everything buzzing for several weeks after the end of the Hatsu tournament in January. But eventually the Kisenosato mania died out, and even the Japanese sumo press seemed to have run out of things to talk about.

All of that changes today as the banzuke (ranking sheet) for the March tournament in Osaka arrives in a bit under 9 hours. As always, Tachiai will bring you a box-car of sumo love throughout March, starting later today with our possibly painful comparison of the official banzuke with our amateur attempts to rank Sumo’s top men.

Ozeki Goeido Prepares For Haru

goeido-keikio

Injured But Competing?

Readers will note that we have been following with great interest the story of Goeido’s injury on day 12 of Hatsubasho against Endo. It was clear the Ozeki, and Aki tournament winner, was seriously hurt in that bout. Later stories surfaced of significant damage to the Osaka native’s ankle, possibly requiring hardware to repair.

Now according to the Japanese sumo press, Goeido’s injuries were worse than originally feared, including a report of torn ligaments. As a result Goeido has been off of his ankle since his injury, and has not been able to take full training. He has compensated by focusing on his upper body only, doing push-ups, dumbells and other strength training that did not require him to stand.

In spite of his injuries and the slow nature of their recovery times, Goeido is quoted in the article as still intending to compete in Osaka. Goeido is a home-town favorite, and his zensho yusho in September only made him more of a star.

With the banzuke announcement only a few days away, we will soon see which of the damaged rikishis are going to be in, and who will have to sit.

Countdown to Haru Basho

osaka-build

Just Over Two Weeks To Go

Attention Sumo fans! We are just a few days away from the official Osaka banzuke which will be quickly used to sweep away the questionable forecasts of the writers at Tachiai. Word from the sumo press is that most of the Beyas have actually started relocating to their temporary facilities in Osaka, and that rikishi are preparing themselves for the two week tournament.

There has also been word that one of the most important stories in Osaka is going to have a rough start. De-frocked Ozeki Kotoshogiku is still injured, and struggling to train. He has a one time chance to regain his Ozeki rank if he is able to secure 10 wins from his position at Sekiwake. As both Andy and I have stated, in his current condition it is likely impossible.

Tachiai will start our coverage of all the action leading up to Haru starting Sunday, when US fans get the banzuke during the afternoon hours. From there we will be wall-to-wall bringing you all things sumo leading up to and including the tournament itself.

Photograph above courtesy of John Gunning’s “Inside Sport Japan” twitter feed.

*Additional photos, including the one below showing Otake Beya’s temporary training area in Osaka can be found at Otake’s web site.

Ōtake Beya Haru.png

Andy’s Banzuke: Lower Maegashira

The wrestlers in my lower banzuke are a mix of three groups: young up-and-comers, injured vets, guys who aren’t going any higher.

Group 1: Young Up-And-Comers are headlined by Ura and Ishiura. I also include Kagayaki, Takakeisho, Daieisho and Daishomaru in this group. However, I don’t see any sanyaku potential from any of these guys, yet. It will be more likely to see makekoshi records among these guys than 10+ wins. I don’t think any of these guys have reached the level of an Ikioi, Endo, or even Sokokurai. Chiyoshoma is tricky. I want to place him in this group but the guy has skill and may be ready to graduate and become a solid maegashira in his own right. He actually has a winning 2-1 record against all three solid maegashira: Ikioi, Endo, and Sokokurai. He and Kagayaki are probably the two wrestlers who will be fighting for advancement rather than just hoping to preserve their maegashira ranks.

Group 2: is the Injured Vets, led by Okinoumi, Myogiryu, Tochiozan, and Kotoyuki. These are veterans with strong skills who’ve got sanyaku experience when healthy. Okinoumi’s injury is painful and really inoperable if he wants to stay in sumo. He’ll probably try to muscle through for a while, but ouch *hat tip to Celina and Bruce*. The success of either of these guys depends on their injuries more than their skill. They have the ability to clean house down in these lower ranks. As they won’t be 100% but do have experience and skill, they will present great learning experiences for the younger wrestlers. I hope we don’t see any demotions into Juryo from this group and instead see some 10 or 11 win records.

Group 3: Guys who belong here and no higher. I’m not expecting stellar performances from these guys. These guys will bounce around the maegashira ranks, dip into Juryo, but likely won’t go much higher. They’ve been around a while but don’t demonstrate promise for serious advancement or long careers. Gagamaru would be my prototype for this group as he finds himself back in Juryo. Given his round physique, I’ll call these guys the yo-yos. Sadanoumi, Kyokushuho, Chiyoo (if he doesn’t get demoted), and Nishikigi. I’m tempted to drop Chiyoo into Juryo and will check the Japanese news to see if that decision’s already been made.

 

Rank East West
9 Kagayaki Sadanoumi
10 Chiyoshoma Daieisho
11 Ura Okinoumi
12 Kotoyuki Tochiozan
13 Myogiryu Ishiura
14 Takakeisho Daishomaru
15 Kyokushuho Nishikigi
16 Chiyoo