Nagoya Follow Up #4 – Mitakeumi’s Sekiwake Debut

Mitakeumi Kensho Stack

In early July, we anticipated that shin-Sekiwake Mitakeumi would make the most of finally breaking into the Sekiwake rank, after waiting for multiple basho for a slot to open up.

Nagoya marked a milestone achievement for Mitakeumi, after nearly a year bouncing between Maegashira 1 and Komusumi, he was finally able to land a position at Sekiwake. Mitakeumi has had a fascinating career since he joined professional sumo in 2015 (yes, just two years ago). He came from being a college Yokozuna at Toyo University, straight to a started rank of Makushita 10, where he proceeded to kick everyone’s butt in brilliant and overwhelming fashion, including taking the Yusho in his first basho in Juryo.

It was clear from the start that Mitakeumi was never going to slow down, and he has been continuing to be the leader of the class of the new generation of rikishi. He has been competing at Sekiwake for at least two basho prior to Nagoya, but the clog of Takayasu waiting to move up and Kotoshogiku waiting to move down prevented him from taking his slot to begin an Ozeki campaign.

That campaign likely did not start at Nagoya, as it seems young Mitakeumi still needs to tune up a bit before he can start pressing for double digit wins at Sekiwake, turning in a 9-6 result and a second Shukun-sho (outstanding performance) special prize. His Nagoya record includes a rather impressive defeat of dai-Yokozuna Hakuho, handing him his only loss, and braking any chance he could start another run at the Futabayama consecutive win record. He also defeated the damaged Yokozuna Kisenosato on the first day.

With his winning record and outstanding performance, he remains at Sekiwake, and will push for double digits in Tokyo this September. For Aki, we anticipate that he will be Sekiwake 1 East, and play foil to both kadoban Ozeki, each of which will need to score a win against him to help stave off demotion.

13 thoughts on “Nagoya Follow Up #4 – Mitakeumi’s Sekiwake Debut

  1. So, it seems Mitakeumi is a fan of Hokutofuji…

    He seems not to be very stable, though. That lovely steal, for example, was followed by three kuroboshi.

    • Hell, what’s there not to like about Hokotofuji?

      1) He looks like Kaio
      2) He is much much larger in the middle than he is at either end
      3) He has really nice manners
      4) Always buys the first round of drinks.

      I rest my case.

          • Nice opportunity for me to share this tweet, which shows a bout between Aminishiki and Sadanoumi during the Jungyo.

            Inexplicably, there is kenshokin at the end of the bout. In a jungyo? I didn’t know this was a thing. And neither, it seems, did Aminishiki, who gives the envelope a look like “is this thing real?”. Must have been quite hisashiburi for him.

    • Ok, all kidding aside – Mitakeumi has some work to do before he can consider advancing. He has the raw ingredients, so I think it’s a matter of time if he can stay healthy.

      • He may end up another Kaio – trapped forever at Ozeki, with the kadoban system protecting him from hard falls.

        • I am hopeful that if he ever makes that level he won’t go kadoban…certainly not as frequently as we have been seeing.

        • I think that Mitakeumi will go all the way: let me explain why.

          Right now there is no-one ranked above Mitakeumi who is younger than him and as the top boys retire in the next few years he hould naturally rise up the rankings. The only ones ranked above him who are likely to be around in five years time are Terunofuji (if his legs hold out) and Takayasu, who would be 32 or 33 and probably on the slide if not retired. And it’s worth noting that a lot of the “young” guys arent really that young: Hokutofuji, Shodai and Ura are all older than Mitakeumi.

          The thing is that promotion in sumo is not a measure of abolute merit, it’s determined by how well you perform against the opposition. If the makuuchi division consisted of me and 41 small, pacifist gerbils I’d be a yokozuna in no time, although those little suckers can be hard to catch.

          • You don’t have to catch them. They are famous for their quick tsukite. :-)

            But the question is not how much younger the other people are. It’s a question of taking two yusho in a row. And if you have talented people around you, no matter if they are two or three years older than you or two or three years younger than you – they’ll grab their own Yusho.

            I read a comment today regarding the “four-Yokozuna era”, and the author mentioned that in the four-Yokozuna era of Chiyonofuji, all of those four retired within more or less a single year. I took a look, and yes, it is true – two retired in late 1991, the others in the first half of 1992. And then, there was no Yokozuna for six months: Hokutoumi retired in Natsu, and Akebono secured his second yusho in Hatsu 1993. In fact, there was nobody dominant since Hatsu 1991 – the Yusho was taken by Maegashira four times until the poor Ozeki managed to string two.

            There is no reason to believe that if Mitakeumi is Ozeki, and there are no killers at the top, the rest of the talented crop won’t do the same kind of damage. It’s not that the gap of quality is that large.

            • You guys are raising excellent points. Bruce and I were wondering who will be the next non-yokozuna yusho winner. “Two in a row” takes it to the next level.

          • And of course the real wildcards are people who aren’t even on the radar yet. Maybe there’s some 18-year-old prodigy out there who’ll join next year and be yokozuna by the time he’s 22, and 28-year-old Mitakeumi gets stuck at ozeki, just like Kaio, Chiyotaikai and Tochiazuma did when Asashoryu usurped them. Being the best of a small age group doesn’t guarantee top level success in sumo.

            (Actually, that’s wrong. The real real wildcards are injuries.)

  2. I think Mitakeumi will take a few more basho to get going on his run, and like Herouth I don’t see him making noise at yokozuna level. But career ozeki ain’t bad!


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.