Aki Day 2 Highlights


The Body Count Increments Again.

Prior to the start of Aki, it was clear that this basho was going to be a jumbled and surprising event. With a number of mainstays out on medical leave, and a vigorous corps of new talent blasting their way up the ranks, it was clear that we were going to see many familiar names getting losses. But we can excuse fans in thinking that all of the injuries were accounted for up front. Sadly day 2 seems have have had a swarm of rikishi suffering lower body injuries, and one has to wonder if the yusho will simply be the last man standing.

We can start in the Ozeki, who are still suffering. Today both Terunofuji (his second) and Takayasu (his first) hit the clay. This is especially alarming for Terunofuji who has to pick up 8 wins to remove his kadoban tag. Prior to the start of Aki, I had assumed that he would be able to produce 8 wins without too much challenge. But clearly he is still recovering from surgery and not quite up to full Kaiju power yet.

Sekiwake? 0-2, both of them. Both of them are very capable rikishi. Both of them have gone down like Juryo punks in the first two days (this coming from a Yoshikaze fan). The frustration on Mitakeumi’s face was evident as Chiyotairyu put him away handily. Tochiozan shares the 0-2 start at Komusubi, and has looked a half step slower than the ranging sumo machine that went 10-5 in Nagoya. Yes, the first 3 days frequently feature favorites shaking off the cobwebs, but with the big bad Yokozuna sidelined, you would think the San’yaku would attack with a sense of purpose. The lone surviving Yokozuna, Harumafuji, is holding up fine for the first 2 days, but it’s clear to see that he’s competing in spite of the pain.

Finally it’s worth noting that Ura may have further degraded his injured knee today in his bout with Takakeisho, who was out for a clear victory, and achieved it. Ura needs to take care, and he should study the calamities that visited Endo when he was a rising star and fan favorite.

Highlight Matches

Myogiryu defeats Yutakayama – Due to the late breaking kyujo wave, there is an imbalance in the banzuke, so upper members of Juryo have been visiting Makuuchi daily to fill in the match list. Today Myogiryu, tomorrow we get “Uncle Sumo” Aminishiki.

Endo defeats Asanoyama – Endo has his hurt ankle taped, and he still looks a bit slow, but he managed to deliver a defeat to Asanoyama via a somewhat lucky slap-down. In general there seems to be traction problems with the dohyo already this basho. This after the Kyokai made a statement that they would use the same clay for every dohyo from here on out. Note – Asanoyama strikes me as one of these rikishi who is just happy to show up and get to do sumo today.

Okinoumi defeats Tokushoryu – The nature of Okinoumi’s chronic injury means his ability is more or less a day-by-day surprise package. At Maegashira 14, he has a fairly easy schedule for his “healthy mode”, which he currently seems to be in. The rather massive Tokushoryu gave him a very good contest today, but Okinoumi took his time and worked him to done.

Nishikigi defeats Chiyomaru – Solid effort from Nishikigi in his second match. He overpowered Chiyomaru and kept moving forward. Many bouts, it’s as simple as finding a way to do that.

Arawashi defeats Takekaze – Takekaze’s henka did not fool Arawashi for a moment, and it left Takekaze off balance and easy to thrust out. Who faces Takekaze and is not looking for a henka?

Ikioi defeats Kagayaki – Kagayaki needs to find a way to move beyond the “good effort” category he falls into in far too many bouts. Ikioi is quite strong, but he is a benchmark for Kagayaki – he needs to find a way to systemically defeat a rikishi like Ikioi if he wants to reach his goals of higher ranks.

Shodai defeats Ichinojo – Two large, hulking guys, wearing the same color mawashi. Moving kind of slow, seem to be kind of phoning it in. No wonder there was a Monoii. From the replay it was really hard to tell who touched out / down first. But the Shimpan did the right thing and called for a Torinaohi (re-match) and ran it again. Second run was all Shodai.

Takakeisho defeats Ura – Takakeisho blasted out of the tachiai and had Ura back and off balance. But being Ura, he attempted to distort space-time at the tawara, but his injured knee gave out as he went to evade Takakeisho’s finishing thrust. After the match it was evident that that damaged knee is now a much more damaged knee. They ended up taking him out via a wheelchair. I will be surprised if Ura sees Aki day 15, and frankly should be focusing on recuperating.

Chiyotairyu defeats Mitakeumi – This bout was all Chiyotairyu. A forearm blast out of the tachiai got Mitakeumi off balance and Chiyotairyu finished him moments later with a firm slap-down. Many fans have hopes for Mitakeumi, but at the moment he is looking really disorganized.

Onosho defeats Yoshikaze – Yoshikaze put up a good fight, but man, can Onosho really pour it on! If Onosho can stay healthy, he has a lot of great sumo to offer for years to come. Yoshikaze’s dismount looked really ragged, and I am willing to guess that he, too, lost his footing.

Tamawashi defeats Takayasu – This whole bout was all Tamawashi. I don’t know if Takayasu’s mawashi was on too tight or if he had too much sake Sunday night, but he looked surprised and unable to respond to Tamawashi’s explosive tachiai. Blasting your opponent off the dohyo at the tachiai is usually Takayasu’s forte. Worryingly, Tamawashi and Tamawashi both seem to have wrenched their ankles. Both limped off the dohyo, but moments later Takayasu rode a wheelchair back to the dressing room.

Kotoshogiku defeats Terunofuji – The Kyushu Bulldozer was able to lock up the big Kaiju and hip-pump him across the bales. It was a classic Kotoshogiku attack strategy, and it underscores that Terunofuji may not yet be ready to compete at full strength.

Goeido defeats Hokutofuji – This is more like the Goeido we wanted to see day 1. Strong, confident and committed to his attack strategy. Hokutofuji put up some firm resistance, but was not match for Goeido booted up in 2.0 mode. Watch the slow motion replay for some great upper body work by Goeido to disrupt Hokutofuji’s effective opening gambit.

Harumafuji defeats Tochinoshin – Another solid day of sumo from the surviving Yokozuna. The big Georgian went down in a quick mawashi battle that Harumafuji made look easy. When he’s on, he’s a joy to watch.

Closing note – How many more kyujo before the end of week 1?

29 thoughts on “Aki Day 2 Highlights

  1. I think the members of the San’yaku have been caught off-guard by the spirited sumo of their opponents. Except for the Shodai/Ichinojo bout, which you mentioned was lackluster, every other match today was full of vigor and intent to win. This is a radical change from the previous basho and I believe that having an open path to a yusho has motivated a lot of rikishi including the Angry Tadpoles. It will be interesting to see how the effects of this basho influence the coming events this year when the Yokozuna return.

    Unfortunately, it’s obvious that Terunofuji’s knees are not up to strong sumo. I am worried that he has permanently damaged them by attempting to come back to early in the previous basho. Mitakeumi is being humbled after his “Hakuho Destroyer” moment in the last basho, but I don’t see that as a bad thing. Competition means that he will work harder and be more focused from now on.

    Tomorrow brings an important match quite early in the basho: Kotoshogiku against Haramafuji! Will the yusho be decided on the third day of the basho? It’s entirely possible which is crazy to consider, but Aki is proving to be completely unpredictable this year.

      • If that happens, we shall declare a “Kotoshogiku Day” on Tachiai, and we shall decorate everything in honor of the Kyushu Bulldozer. And I shall bake a cake in his honor. i shall also serve Chanko Nabe at my house as we revere his fighting spirit.

        It shall require the Tachiai staff to do back bends at the top of every hour, and to enter or exit any doorway with a rhythmic, hip pumping action. We will edit video of these actions (along with any readers who want to join us) and sound-track it to Queen’s “We Are The Champions”

    • I don’t think Terunofuji’s problem is his knees. He put on several kilograms (I wish the sumo database kept the weight records straight) – something like 10kg if I’m not mistaken – and none of it is muscle, it seems. Neither his thighs nor his arms are up to Ozeki sumo. The knees can’t do the work all by themselves.

      I don’t think it’s entirely his fault – while injured he could not train, obviously – but anyway, it’s something that can be fixed with time. Only, he doesn’t have that time now, and he may need to restore his Ozeki title back from Sekiwake in Kyushu. He should have kept his mouth shut about taking yusho this time, though.

      • I hope Terunofuji can at least squeak 8 in. I recognize we are now entering the period of turmoil and turnover in the ranks, so some of these mainstays are going to fade. So maybe I am just being sentimental.

        • I really hope he can manage a winning record. With all the injuries flying around, would Terunofuji perhaps end up with an easier match schedule down the line?

          He’s been my favorite since we attended last year’s Aki basho, so I’d hate to see him be crippled by injuries at such a young age. I can’t fault a man whose bento is full of delicious beef tongue.

  2. I think Mitakeumi is just having a bad basho. Hopefully he shakes off the cobwebs and gets to 8, but these things happen.

    Terunofuji’s base is definitely busted; he should seriously consider kyujo because he’s not making it to 8 like this. Or he’s going to get hurt trying.

    The last thing I said before the Takakeisho tachiai was a deep exhale and “Watch out, Ura.” Tremendous attack and, if it weren’t for the injury that followed, a cool floundering finish. Can’t feel good about it after the guy is carried off though.

    Onosho looked awesome and so did Hokutofuji, briefly, but once Goeido disrupted him and tried for a pull it was all over. He needed to smash Goeido again.

    Hard to believe Takayasu and Tamawashi took each other out of the basho with freak injuries. This is an insane basho.

    • Tamawashi, it seems, merely twisted his ankle. He’ll probably be in tomorrow with some heavy bandaging. But Takayasu… the media (and Raja Pradhan in the NHK highlights) say he tore his muscle. He will probably undergo some MRI and whatever during the night and we’ll hear all about it tomorrow morning Japan time.

      I mean, given the Tagonoura attitude about torn muscles, this may be the last we see of Takayasu.

      • I don’t know, that was a pretty ugly ankle-roll. I can imagine that being bad enough to force him out.

        Are they allowed to compete with hard braces or does it have to be tape?

  3. It looked like Takayasu stepped down off the dohyo too hard and jolted his leg, rather than turning his ankle as Tamawashi did. I really hope these two recover before the end of the basho. Ura looks kind of mangled and I think he’s probably out.

    Chiyotairyu and Harumafuji have been the star attractions so far. Chiyotairyu gets Tochiozan tomorrow, who will be a challenge for his usual momentum-based style. Harumafuji has his *sixty-fifth* bout with Kotoshogiku.

  4. Love the google translate version of Takayasu’s injury: “Injured when Kojin Jade eagle pushed for the first black star. I could not walk on the flower road.”

    • And this, my friends, is why I’m not afraid of the AI apocalypse. All humans have to do to fend off the machines is switch to communicating in Japanese.

    • Hanamichi (花道, “flower path”) – This kills me. You know the corridors that lead back on the east and west side are called Hanamichi, same as the raised walkway in Kabuki.

      • Japanese is just full of those idioms. What is a poor bot to do? “mizushobai” is not the water business, A “mimai” is not watching a dance, and apparently, an ozeki is not really a great barrier.

  5. Onosho keeps looking like a monster. Joi is not a big deal to him at all. Chiyotairyu also looks really mean with his newly added weight. The challengers to Harumafuji might come from some of these maegashiras. I suppose Goeido can still make a run.

    • I quite fancied Goeido based on his pre tournament appearances, but it’s a mixed bag so far. Still, if he can get his kachi koshi early, 12 wins might be enough for the Yusho. Frankly, this basho is wide open and the sanyaku are dropping like flies. Staying healthy is half the game!

  6. So there is a bit more info on today’s injuries and breakages. I am thinking of posting an emergency Genki Report. Harouth – email me any details you have turned up if you will. I will probably post it in about 3 hours or so.

  7. Looking at the videos again, Takayasu did not hurt his ankle. He hurt his right thigh as he dropped off the dohyo with his left while his right foot was still on the upper level. This is one of the reasons rikishi do all those amazing splits to keep themselves flexible. I wonder if the Ozeki has been working on his stretches of late.

  8. So I think we can safely say that Onosho passed his early test in the joi with flying colours. He’s young so inevitably there will be some inconsistent performances to come but I really am excited to see what he can do this basho and over the next year. He’s the real deal.

    Maegashira 3 is clearly the place to be. Chiyotairyu is not a rikishi I’ve paid much attention to hitherto, but really impressive bulldozery so far this basho.

    I’m hoping Mitakeumi has not fallen for his own hype and comes back strongly. Disappointing so far.

    And the return of Kotoshogiku is strangely wonderful to behold. May the ‘hug and chug’ continue to work its magic for the foreseeable.

  9. Onosho is totally blowing me away with his aggression and follow-through. I really hope Takayasu is able to get treated and take some time to recover – he’s wonderful to watch, and I don’t want him felled by an injury so early into his ozeki career.

  10. OK wowowow let’s talk about this

    First of all – disappointed we didn’t get more matches in the NHK highlights – but it’s a good excuse for being tanimachi on the grand sumo app!

    Chiyotairyu v Onosho is going to be a hell of match. Chiyotairyu is looking great. He’s a dark horse for me. At the rate people are getting injured and given who he has already faced down, there may not be many folks who can deal with his tachiai by the time this is over. I criticised Kokonoe-beya rikishi for lack of composure in Nagoya (and Chiyonokuni is certainly making me stand behind that) but with the caveat that Chiyotairyu was starting to put it together and he looks great.

    I am just loving Kotoshogiku right now. Given that he has no more ozeki to fight and just Harumafuji from the Yokozuna crew, this is going to get real interesting.

    Re: Mitakeumi – after both days it seems as though his opponents watched that NHK Sumo Preview where he talked about his super fast tachiai allowing himself to get two steps in – he hasn’t been able to do that on either day.


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