Haru Story 2 — New Ozeki?


All eyes will be on Kisenosato as he makes his debut as the newest Yokozuna. Kisenosato is one of the greatest ozeki of all time. His run of 31 consecutive tournaments at the rank, averaging 10.7 wins per tournament, is a testament to his longevity and his consistency. The answer to the question, “Why hasn’t he won or been promoted before?” needs a one word answer: “Hakuho.” As Bruce wrote in “Haru Story 1,” this new yokozuna chapter of his career is the top question going forward.

However, talk will quickly turn to the diminished ozeki ranks. The door is wide open for a young up-and-comer to challenge for promotion. So, I ask of our readership, “Who will be the next Ozeki?” I’m not asking who will make the “next ozeki run” but who will actually be the next wrestler to secure a promotion? It will happen this year(…or else I will be in a lot of pain).

The leading candidates are in the poll below. Takayasu is arguably already on an ozeki run. We will need to see him carry this through summer. He leads the group of youngsters, including Mitakeumi & Shodai. He’s the most experienced of the three and has been pretty consistently in the top portion of the makuuchi for the past few years. Mitakeumi and Shodai have both made their starts in professional sumo a full 10 years after Takayasu but their rises have been meteoric. Can one of them make a quick Terunofuji-like charge for a championship?

Tamawashi’s chances likely put him at the top of the “veterans,” which I’m including Sokokurai and Kotoshogiku (whose path is obviously easiest). Tamawashi’s been around for ages. He’s as old as Sokokurai and Kotoshogiku, all born in 1984 and all three having been in sumo for more than a decade, but as recently as May 2013 he was down in Juryo. He’s been a solid wrestler but unassuming. Has he just been biding his time?

Alright, enough with me asking the questions. Here’s the one I hope you all will answer:

16 thoughts on “Haru Story 2 — New Ozeki?

  1. Yep…I’m liking this site more and more! Solid design, interesting conversations, adding videos is a nice touch and adding the polling component is good interaction among the sumophiles. I like your reasoning Andy, and probably Takayasu does have the best shot (other than Kotoshogiky trying to regain his lost promotion) to be the new Ozeki blood. But something about Mitakeumi…have my eyes on him. Maybe it’s his bullying style of sumo (he needs to work on grabbing and fighting from the belt more). But time will tell the tale of the tape, right?

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    • What I think is really great about this basho is that even though Takayasu currently seems to be in “Beast Mode”, the rest of the San’yaku are surprisingly strong this basho. I suspect I am going to be wishing I could watch the full Juryo / Makuuchi feed, as I am guessing this basho may out do everything in the last year, including Aki 2016, which I thought was amazing.

      When Takayasu is on, he is awesome to watch. I would cite Nagoya 2016 as a fine example of his brand of sumo. He locks people up and wears them down. He keeps fighting his pressure until you tire, and shift your stance, even slightly. Then he attacks with speed you would not predict from a man his size.

      That being said, Tamawashi has been racking up the wins, and Mitakeumi may be Takayasu’s biggest obstacle to his Ozeki rank. As we said during Hatsu, we seem to be on the cusp of a big war for supremacy among a talented cohort of rikishi.

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  2. I think Takayasu will be an Ozeki very soon, no later than three tournaments’ time.

    I agree that Mitakeumi has a superb chance – raw talent and phenomenal drive in January picking up impressive wins against Yokozuna and ozeki. He could become Ozeki by the end of 2017.

    I think Takanoiwa has a tremendous chance to rise reasonably high into the Sanyaku – I’m not saying necessarily Ozeki any time in the very near future but he’s been looking in such good form recently

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  3. I think Takayasu will be an Ozeki very soon, no later than three tournaments’ time.

    I agree that Mitakeumi has a superb chance – raw talent and phenomenal drive in January picking up impressive wins against Yokozuna and ozeki. He could become Ozeki by the end of 2017.

    I think Takanoiwa has a tremendous chance to rise reasonably high into the Sanyaku – I’m not saying necessarily Ozeki any time in the very near future but he’s been looking in such good form recentlyi

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  4. Things can change very quickly in sumo: if you had done this poll two months ago I bet Shodai would have been near the top.

    Takayasu looks very ready for promotion and I think he will have been given a huge boost by Kisenosato’s elevation. He seemed to wilt under the weight of expectation in November but I don’t think that will happen again. And he has the advantage of not having Kisenosato on his dance card.

    Mitakeumi is an absolute wrecking ball. He may lack variety but as Kotoshogiku has demonstrated, it doesn’t matter if you’re a one-trick pony as long as your trick’s a good one.

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    • 🙂 I do wonder where the next crop of wrestlers will come from. Mongolian wrestlers aren’t going anywhere…Mongolian wrestling champions seem very well suited and motivated by the opportunities in sumo. But it’s been a while since the Americans: Konishiki, Akebono, Musashimaru. For the Samoans, the real money’s in the NFL, though. West African wrestling, Lutte Traditionnelle, seems similar.

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      • I wonder will the Japan Sumo Association ever treat their devoutly, home-based sumo as a true global event? I mean really letting in foreign, high-caliber athletes to train as rikishi and seriously promoting the sport world-wide? As you, P_Y, (and others) have mentioned — you currently have Japanese, Mongolians, Chinese, Korean, Brazilian, Eastern Europeans, U.S. American, Egyptian, etc.

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          • Musashimaru seems to be trying some new things in his heya, while still respecting the traditions. ALSO – Kotoōshū is about to get a heya going! This will be very cool indeed.

            Japan is a land of rich traditions that they dearly love, so our western notions of change don’t always translate well. I do think the NSK are keeping an eye on what seems to be a global following of sumo enabled by advancing technology. So let’s hope they find ways to keep bringing us fans an ever increasing diet of sumo action.

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        • Its clear that for the moment, sumo remains a sport for Japanese people living in Japan. Even folks who are Japanese heritage (or citizens) have a tough time getting any media in most of the USA. If there is any asian media on the air waves is Chinese or Korean. NHK seems to be far behind in influence and reaching a vast potential market.

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          • A delicate, balancing act, right Bruce. The NHK may appear to be “up-to-date” (with a website, social media and other online presence)…and trying to bring in newer rikishi (from far away places) in order to replace exiting rikishi, but I agree with you. A smoke screen. Trying to look modern.

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  5. Lutte Traditionnelle is something that I never heard of, Andy. Thanks for that! Hey, as my mom used to say, “If you live long enough, you’ll learn something new everyday.”

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