Osaka treated us to a fantastic show. The build-up and thrilling denouement, capped off by the storybook ending makes this one to remember.
Senshuraku does not often live up to its billing as the climax of a sumo tournament. Often, the yusho race is clear heading into the final weekend and the winner is crowned a day or two early.
Let’s take another look at our storylines leading into the tournament.
#1: Kisenosato Yusho. Clearly, this is the story of the tournament. With Hakuho out of the picture and contenders dropping like flies in Week Two, it looked like a sure bet. Then, Darth Vader defeated him in battle and worse, took his fighting hand. With defeat the next day to an apologetic Kakuryu, the Emperor’s Cup was Terunofuji’s.
Terunofuji was even ready for the henka but Kise was still able to shift the young Ozeki off-balance, forcing a play-off. In the play-off, Kisenosato locked Terunofuji’s arm with his right and brought both wrestlers down (Teru first) to pick up his second straight tournament victory.
#2: Takayasu’s Ozeki run. So many wrestlers came into this tournament with Ozeki hopes. The path was easiest for Kotoshogiku but with his hopes dashed, Takayasu is now poised to be the next rikishi promoted to Ozeki. He finished on 12 wins with his only losses going to two yokozuna and Yoshikaze. He’s been in sanyaku for the past five tournaments, a strong run as not many have stayed in the lower sanyaku ranks for more than two. With 10 wins next tournament, he’ll be promoted. The question for next tournament, though, is will there be four Sekiwake? The three current sekiwake all secured winning records and Mitakeumi deserves a promotion after his strong 9-6 finish. Maybe Celina’s bracket will come true, after all?
#3: Hokutofuji makekoshi. Hokutofuji’s run of kachi-koshi tournaments has come to an end. He finished with a very respectable 7-8 record so while he will slide a bit, it won’t be far.
#4: Kotoshogiku demoted. The henka on Day 14 which sealed his fate will always be controversial. However, the fact is, Kotoshogiku was fighting on one healthy knee. His on-again, off-again relationship with kadoban status was untenable in the long term.
Well, at least he was able to get a winning record this time but he will need to start from scratch and get 33 wins in three tournaments to get back to Ozeki. The question now is, does he have it in him to continue to compete or will he retire, like Kotooshu? I’ve got nothing but admiration for guys like Aminishiki who carry on as long as they can. BTW, Aminishiki finished with a 9-6 record in Juryo.
#5: Goeido kyujo, kadoban. I know I continually harp on injured wrestlers battling and risking further injury. If they listened to me, we clearly wouldn’t have had this epic finish today because Kisenosato would be at home on his couch watching Terunofuji hoist the Emperor’s Cup. But for every spectacular finish, there are several guys who make my knees hurt to watch them get up there: Kaisei, Tochinoshin, Osunaarashi, Myogiryu. In Goeido’s case, as an Ozeki he could have used the luxury of not starting this tournament to try to fully recover but his competitive spirit (like Terunofuji for the past year) draws him to the dohyo. I hope he has a full, speedy recovery.
#6: Ura kachi-koshi. Ura debuted fairly high on the banzuke at Maegashira 12 but was still able to achieve a winning record (though barely). He only lost once to hatakikomi but a few times his unorthodox style clearly gets him into trouble at times. He will climb the banzuke in May and I’m eager to see how he fares. Will he and Ishiura take their approach to the next level? Or will their gimmicks serve to confuse and confound those at the bottom of the table?
#7: Wakaichiro kachi-koshi. We at Tachiai are excited to see Wakaichiro pick up his first winning record and look forward to seeing him promoted into Jonidan.