Are you ready? The last basho of the year is getting ready to start this weekend in the magical city of Fukuoka, and Tachiai will be bringing you all the best. As with many of the tournaments for the past few years, injuries at or near the top are stealing headlines early, but the aggressive young rikishi are ready to move ever higher as the injured bow out.
Without further delay.. the Genki report!
Notes: He took the Aki yusho by sheer force of will alone. It was clear that every day was misery, but he mounted the dohyo and gave battle to everyone. He throttled back quite a bit during the fall jungyo, and he has been rather guarded about his condition.
Forecast: Nobody stops Harumfuji, they will need to carry him out on a stretcher first. He’s in until double digits, even if it kills him.
Notes: He sat out Aki, and has been hit or miss during jungyo and the run up to the Kyushu tournament. His surgery last year to repair his toe and his knee still bother him from time to time, but he seems together enough to at least start the basho.
Forecast: The boss wants 40 yusho, but he seems to have new found appreciation for his age and the wear that is showing on his body. His first week is against lower rankers, so I expect he will be cautious from the start.
Notes: The Great Pumpkin has been in rough shape since he ruptured his pectoral muscle in Osaka. I can state with some certainty that he did not get the recommended surgical treatment, but instead tried to nurse things along until he was “better”. He has looked fairly convincing in practice for several weeks, and maybe he’s good enough?
Forecast: We should see within the first few days if he is really going to be able to compete. Millions of sumo fans want him to be healthy, and he seems ready to go.
Notes: Goeido can be compared to a great opportunist. He heads into Kyushu without any kadoban risk, and with questionable condition among the Yokozuna and his fellow Ozeki, Takayasu. He has looked solid in practice, and some of his blistering tachiai launch sequences were on display this past week.
Forecast: If we start losing Yokozuna, he is a Yusho contender, I predict.
Notes: A healthy Takayasu is a force of nature. Strong, stable and with almost inhuman endurance. In a battle of strength there are none who can best him consistently. Sadly his thigh muscle injury seems to not be completely healed, and he is literally limping into Kyushu looking to clear his kadoban status.
Forecast: By hook or by crook, the newest Ozeki is going to pick up 8 wins if he can go the distance. If he’s as injured as I think he is, it’s going to be daily agony for him.
Notes: After some decent coverage prior to Aki, Mitakeumi really failed to deliver; even against a depleted Ozeki / Yokozuna roster. Sure, even the best sumotori have bad tournaments, but Mitakeumi has not really been displaying dominant sumo in the days leading up to Kyushu.
Forecast: Much as I like Mitakeumi, I think he may go make-koshi this tournament. The upper San’yaku all need a lot of wins, and that means Komusubi and Sekiwake are going to get pounded this time.
Notes: Yoshikaze is a stalwart. No matter what is happening, he puts it all on the line every day. But he’s also rather “Streaky”, meaning that he goes on both winning and losing runs for multiple days. He’s in his home ground now, and the people of Oita are likely to be in attendance to cheer on the Berserker.
Forecast: I also think he is a strong candidate for make-koshi, in part because of the pressure from above to pick up wins, and the fact that a 7-8 record could put him at Komusubi for January. Losing a few to the right people might go far.
Notes: Entering Kyushu as an Ozekiwake, he needs 10 wins to return to Ozeki standing. A healthy Terunofuji could do this with a smile in between runs to McDonalds, but our dear Kaiju is in terrible physical condition.
Forecast: I just hope he is not more seriously hurt, the double digit wins seem almost impossible, but I know he is going to give it everything.
Notes: Who thought that the Kyushu Bulldozer could battle back into San’yaku? Not me, that is certain. But as of late, Kotoshogiku has really been turning up and delivering burly, aggressive, dominant sumo. A Genki Kotoshogiku is pure magic, and I sincerely hope he’s in good form for Kyushu. As a hometown boy, I can assure you that his fans will be out in force. Look for a week 2 match against Terunofuji if the Kaiju looks to be getting close to his 10 wins.
Forecast: Probably a solid basho from Kotoshogiku, likely kachi-koshi and retaining San’yaku for the new year.
Notes: Super-tadpole Onosho has been laying low, and avoiding high intensity training with the big guns. Prior to Aki, he worked sailing with some of the best, and took a pounding. This really helped him get ready to excel during September, but for Kyushu he has stayed mostly at home to train. We will see if it works.
Forecast: Make-koshi to be certain, but he is going to take a few scalps. He will be back.
Notes: You can bet your finest Okonomiyaki that Takakeisho wants to put Onosho behind him on the January banzuke. He is tough, he is motivated, and reports are he is in great condition. I expect that like most of the joi, they are going to be bled hard this tournament.
Forecast: The re-match with Hakuho should be a highlight match in the first week.
Notes: The supersized edition of Chiyotairyu was really producing during Aki and he’s looking to repeat in Kyushu. But if the Yokozuna and Ozeki corps are going to be competing all the way through Kyushu, he may have a tough road. Chiyotairyu does not seem to be worried, he trains like a mad man, and may be in his best condition ever.
Forecast: The rest of the joi are going to get wise to his thunderous tachiai, and that will leave him off tempo.