Nagoya Basho Genki Report

Yokozuna-crew

Ready Or Not, Here It Comes!

The start of the Nagoya basho is just over 8 hours from this post, and it’s time to take a look at the top rikishi and discuss what kind of condition they are in for the tournament. The Nagoya basho is kind of a special animal. In July, Japan is hot and humid, and rather uncomfortable in general. The Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium has some air conditioning, but in general the interior of the venue is overly warm and moist for the duration of the basho. This makes the surface of the dohyo somewhat slick, and in the past there have been more than a handful of falls in injuries from rikishi losing traction. (Such as Hakuho’s broken foot last year)

Given the thermal challenges, the injuries and the general chaos of a basho away from the home stable, what can we expect?

Rikishi: Hakuho
Genki: ✭✭✭✭✭
Notes: The boss is primed and ready for Nagoya. He has a good chance of securing his name against the all time win record, and is an early favorite to be a yusho contender during week 2. He seems to be past his injuries from last year, and is frankly having fun again.
Forecast: Yusho contender

Rikishi: Harumafuji
Genki: ✭✭✭✭
Notes: Harumafuji took the yusho last year, and he could well do so again. His lingering lower body issues are compounded by an elbow injury that seems to be permanent now. If he can get power to ground, he is the man to stop Hakuho.
Forecast: Yusho contender

Rikishi: Kisenosato
Genki: ✭✭
Notes: Westerners may not understand why Kisenosato will show up and compete. Not only did he never get surgical attention to his ruptured pectoral, there are indications he re-injured it recently in a test match with Yoshikaze. To Kisenosato, he must soldier on and endure his difficulties and compete because he is Yokozuna. With knowledgable sources keeping quiet on his health, it’s a sure sign that he is in less than adequate condition to compete.
Forecast: Kyujo week 2

Rikishi: Kakuryu
Genki: ✭✭✭?
Notes: Kakuryu brings an unusual strategy to the dohyo, I call him the “Reactive Yokozuna”. He competes by letting his opponent over-commit to a battle plan and then exploiting every mistake. When he is healthy it is amazing to watch, as his opponents do most of the work for him. But Kakuryu suffers from nagging back and knee problems, and they have robbed us fans of his fantastic sumo for too many tournaments. Will he be able to go all 15 days this time? I think not.
Forecast: Kyujo week 2

Rikishi: Terunofuji
Genki: ✭✭✭
Notes: The Kaiju is an epic rikishi, who is limited by problems with his undercarriage. During pre-basho training, he was clearly having knee problems once more, and it throws huge doubt on his ability to be a serious contender. To be clear, if Terunofuji is healthy, he is a yusho candidate. But we worry he will limp his way through Nagoya.
Forecast: Double digit wins

Rikishi: Goeido
Genki: ✭✭✭✭
Notes: Indications coming out of Natsu were that Goeido’s surgical ankle rebuild may have been successful. So his healthy is good. Where Goeido falls apart is in his mind. He seems to have two modes: Goeido 1.0 who is satisfied to looks sloppy and out of control, this version is kadoban ready. Goeido 2.0 is this unstoppable sumo machine (from Aki 2016) that commits 100% to his attack and overwhelms his opponents. We hope 2.0 can mount the dohyo at Nagoya.
Forecast: Kadoban

Rikishi: Takayasu
Genki: ✭✭✭✭✭
Notes: Big, strong, healthy and during the lead up to Nagoya, giving Kisenosato a run for his money in daily training. With him now in the Ozeki rotation, his tough bouts will be in week 2, and that may be a problem for the shin-ozeki. He also tends to drop bouts after he suffers a set back, as a defeat throws him off his confidence. Our hope for Takayasu is to get his kachi-koshi, and finish Nagoya in one piece.
Forecast: Kachi-koshi

Rikishi: Tamawashi
Genki: ✭✭✭✭
Notes: He has been comfortable at Sekiwake for several tournaments now. Is it time for him to rally and push for double digit wins? He has to power, some times he has the speed. He has been training hard in the run up to Nagoya, and I think he is going to try some new stuff this basho.
Forecast: Double digit wins

Rikishi: Mitakeumi
Genki: ✭✭✭✭✭
Notes: Mitakeumi has put forth a huge effort, bashing down the door to Sekiwaki and finally claiming a spot to begin to consider the evolution to Ozeki. He is happy, healthy, powerful and clever. This could in fact be a break-out basho for Mitakeumi, but only if he can improve his record against the Yokozuna and Ozeki corps.
Forecast: Double digit wins

Rikishi: Yoshikaze
Genki: ✭✭✭✭
Notes: The Berserker is a rikishi that no one in San’yaku can expect to defeat. On any given day, he can unleash rapid fire attacks that leave his opponent defensive and ripe for defeat. To be certain his body has taken a pounding over the last few years, but he shows up and competes. He is looking healthy, strong and ready for battle.
Forecast: Kachi-koshi

Rikishi: Kotoshogiku
Genki: ✭✭
Notes: Ojisan Kotoshogiku’s heart is still willing, but it’s clear his body can no longer support his sumo. it’s really sad to watch him decay in place, but it’s more or less his choice to do so. From ichimon practice sessions leading up to Nagoya, it’s clear that he is feeling the damage to his knees and hips.
Forecast: Maki-koshi

Rikishi: Shodai
Genki: ✭✭✭✭
Notes: Young, powerful, strong and out of the firestorm of San’yaku – Shodai is poised to have a fairly good basho. Right now Maegashira 1 is a great rank for him, as he needs to refine his sumo. Especially his tachiai.
Forecast: Kachi-koshi

Rikishi: Takakeisho
Genki: ✭✭✭✭✭
Notes: As we covered at length earlier, this young rikishi is probably promoted into a brutal level for Nagoya. But it’s clear the NSK thinks it’s possible he may one day be a big deal, and it’s time for him to get exposure to the joi, and all of the challenges of facing the top men of sumo bring. He is excited, healthy and ready to go. My hope is that he does not incur any injuries.
Forecast: Maki-koshi with some great bouts, possibly a kinboshi.

Rikishi: Tochinoshin
Genki: ✭✭✭
Notes: The Georgian is hugely strong and powerful, but the mummy like wrap on his leg tells the story of why his fans worry each time he mounts the dohyo. Like many other rikishi mentioned in this report, leg injuries hamper his otherwise bright prospects. His final two matches in May (both henkas) indicate his leg troubles are a constant danger.
Forecast: Kachi-koshi

Rikishi: Hokutofuji
Genki: ✭✭✭✭✭
Notes: Hokutofuji is an excellent rank to make a play for a Komusubi promotion for Aki. If such a promotion would benefit him yet is another matter. Like many rikishi who have risen rapidly through the ranks, he will find himself challenged to adapt to the upper levels of sumo. He certainly has the strength and stamina to be a big deal, and he is worth following.
Forecast: Kachi-koshi, possibly a kinboshi vs Kisenosato.

Rikishi: Ikioi
Genki: ✭✭✭✭✭
Notes: Ikioi is looking better pre-basho than he has for almost a year. This could in fact be a big tournament for him, and he is ranked low enough that he is not under constant San’yaku bombardment. With the bonus of having plenty of new rikishi to encounter, he has a real chance at a strong kachi-koshi this time.
Forecast: Strong kachi-koshi

Rikishi: Endo
Genki: ✭✭✭
Notes: There has been little news on Endo going into Nagoya. We will assume that he will continue to struggle to be consistent.
Forecast: Kachi-koshi

Rikishi: Ura
Genki: ✭✭✭✭
Notes: Ura is probably headed for a maki-koshi in glorious style in Nagoya. Fast and unpredictable, his usual go-to move, to bend at the waist and be super-low, is a fast ticket to hatakikomi at this rank. So he will have to improvise. Frankly, we can’t wait.
Forecast: Maki-koshi with some great bouts, possibly a kinboshi.

Rikishi: Kagayaki
Genki: ✭✭✭✭
Notes: Kagayaki quietly goes about his sumo. He’s more of a technician that someone like Ura, but he has real potential. He has been training hard to recuse himself well for his highest ever ranking, and we expect him to have some good matches this basho.
Forecast: Kachi-koshi

13 thoughts on “Nagoya Basho Genki Report


  1. I’ll start believing in Ikioi when he can finally manage to turn or throw someone. Any rikishi that can put the breaks on his admittedly awesome forward drive can beat him. Watching him get stopped and then fail to get any kind of lateral fight going is sad.


    • Yes it is, but I think that the intensive training session between May and July may have provided him with an opportunity to upgrade. He was looking really solid by some reports. I am eager to see how he tunes up in the first 5 days.


    • I anticipate a blood bath M3 and down. With a good dose of kyujo around day 8, we get more lower Maegashira being fed to the Ozeki and Sekiwake.

      But keep in mind, this is just a sleep deprived Bruce putting his finger in the wind, purely for fun and discussion.


    • Especially in the M1-M3 ranks, with everyone except Takakeisho predicted to go KK. These ranks have been a bloodbath in recent basho.


      • I strongly encourage readers skeptical of my 3 hours sleep, “lets have some fun” predictions to post their own.


        • Your Yokozuna and Ozeki predictions are right on target I think, though I expect Takayasu to get double-digit wins. I predict that Mitakeumi will struggle to go KK, let alone double-digit wins. Shodai might go KK, but I’m expecting Takakeisho, Tochinoshin, Hokutofuji, and Ikioi to all go MK (Kayagiki too), and find themselves down in friendlier parts of the banzuke for Aki.


          • This from the author that gets the banzuke right – take this with some measure of assurance, dear readers. I appreciate you posting this.


  2. Taking Bruce up on his suggestion…my just-finalized picks for gaming purposes:

    13-2 Hakuho
    11-4 Harumafuji
    10-5 Kisenosato
    9-6 Kakuryu

    8-7 Terunofuji
    8-7 Goeido
    10-5 Takayasu

    8-7 Tamawashi
    8-7 Mitakeumi
    6-9 Yoshikaze
    6-9 Kotoshogiku

    7-8 Shodai
    6-9 Takakeisho
    5-10 Tochinoshin
    6-9 Hokutofuji
    6-9 Ikioi
    7-8 Endo
    6-9 Ura
    6-9 Kagayaki


    • I worry that Kisenosato and Kakuryu are not healthy enough to finish the basho. With Tochinoshin it all comes down to what kind of shape his damaged leg is in. I seriously think either Goeido or Terunofuji (most likely Goeido) goes make-koshi and we have another kadoban situation for Tokyo.

      Thank you very much for posting this.


      • Yeah, these are middle-of-the-road expectations where appropriate, e.g. with Terunofuji’s track record he’s probably about equally likely to be in yusho contention, to drag himself across the KK line half-injured, or to bomb out early altogether, so 8-7 it is. Similarly for Kise and Kakuryu. The rest are pretty much straight-up predictions though – last basho notwithstanding, IMHO Tochinoshin is back to where he was for most of his career, as an easy pushover for top-ranked opponents. If the knee is bad, I can see him drop to even worse than 5 wins.


    • I also expect a couple of San’yaku slots to open up for Aki, and a dearth of contenders to fill them. Someone down the banzuke will have to do well. Onosho perhaps? Who else?


  3. I don’t recall Ura being particularly vulnerable to hatakikomi in spite of his low stance — his base is wide and he doesn’t overbalance. (It’s not like his opponents don’t try…)

    There is one rikishi who has Ura’s number (I forget who it is); in one match, the commentator noted that the consistent vulnerability of Ura’s stance is that he presents the tops of his shoulders as a target for powerful tachiai charges that allow his opponent to establish forward momentum.

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