Kyushu Day 9 Highlights


Let’s start with this – what on earth is Kisenosato doing? I do love some “Great Pumpkin” sumo, especially this close to Halloween, but he is fighting at mid-Maegashira level now. He certainly should not be out there as a Yokozuna, and I am sure that the Sumo Kyokai and the YDC are in an uproar that he returned to the dohyo well ahead of his full recovery. Last night prior to my US bed time, I was scanning all of the “usual sources” looking for the expected announcement that Kisenosato had withdrawn from the Kyushu basho with <insert malady here>. None came. I would guess that he is being counseled otherwise tonight.

In the race to catch Hakuho, all of the rikishi going in today one loss behind each went down to defeat, leaving “The Boss” out in front of everyone, undefeated, and with a 2 win lead starting the second week.

Highlight Matches

Kotoyuki defeats Okinoumi – Okinoumi has been on a winning streak, and it was a bit of a surprise to see Kotoyuki take control of this match and lead Okinoumi to his demise. People with skill in predictions have already been forecasting Kotoyuki’s return to Juryo for Hatsu, but perhaps he can in fact rally and stay in the top division.

Asanoyama defeats Nishikigi – The happy sumotori gave Nishikigi a solid fight right from the tachiai. Both men battled to the tawara where Nishikigi started the throw, but Asanoyama finished it. Asanoyama is not quite as genki as he was at Aki, but he still has some room to recover.

Takekaze defeats Aoiyama – Aoiyama needs every win he can squeeze from the remainder of the Kyushu basho. Getting off balance around Takekaze is a recipe for a loss, as Takekaze is experienced enough to make you pay.

Myogiryu defeats Ikioi – Ikioi gives up the inside grip in spite of clearly being a step ahead at the tachiai. Myogiryu is looking quite genki this basho – maybe he is back to his old self? Flagging Ikioi needs to pull himself together. I am going to assign this as another casualty of the intense jungyo schedule.

Daieisho defeats Aminishiki – Now that the push-me-pull-you pattern has run its course, Aminishiki is struggling to dominate matches. We all love uncle sumo, but the reality is he has damaged legs and there are limits to what he can do in a power battle with a young rikishi.

Chiyomaru defeats Kagayaki – Kagayaki clearly owns the start of this match, but Chiyomaru keeps giving ground, and Kagayaki is all too happy to chase him around the dohyo. This, of course, is a mistake as he gets his balance too far forward, and Chiyomaru pulls him down.

Kaisei defeats Shodai – Fairly good mawashi battle from these two, Shodai gave it everything he had and established moro-zashi almost right away. However, the massive Brazilian kept his defense solid. The match ended with a throw attempt at the tawara that Kaisei thought he lost, but Shodai touched down a split second earlier.

Endo defeats Tochinoshin – It was Endo from the start. I am going to guess that Tochinoshin’s knee is bothering him greatly, and he is unable to push against it with his massive strength.

Daishomaru defeats Ichinojo – The great boulder of Mongolia was not dialed in today, and Daishomaru got him high and out before he could gather his moss and recover. A bit surprising given how solid Ichinojo has been for the first 8 days. Hopefully, Minato Oyakata switches him back to Frosted Flakes, as the Count Chocula makes him seize up and idle rough.

Hokutofuji defeats Chiyoshoma – There was some naughty business just after a matta, with Chiyoshoma putting an extra “post matta” thrust into Hokutofuji’s face. Matta, matta again. On attempt 4 they get a successful launch, and with Hokutofuji now completely pissed off he blasted Chiyoshoma straight back and out.

Tochiozan defeats Arawashi – Now that he has his make-koshi secure, Tochiozan decides to win one. It’s clear that Tochiozan’s left knee can barely support doing sumo. The first match ended with both men touching down / out together, so a torinaoshi was called.

Chiyotairyu defeats Shohozan – “Sumo Elvis” takes down local favorite Shohozan in this mawashi match. Both men prefer to win by bludgeoning their opponents to victory, but for some reason, they decided to go chest to chest. Solid match, and with any luck, we are seeing a shift in Chiyotairyu’s strategy.

Onosho defeats Takakeisho – Onosho’s magic red mawashi is doing its job and seems to have reversed his fortune. For today Takakeisho got gravely off balance, and Onosho swung to the side and put him on the clay. So help me, the kimarite looked like a dog groomer trimming a collie. But it’s a win, and Onosho needs them.

Tamawashi defeats Kotoshogiku – Kotoshogiku launches out of the tachiai and applies maximum pressure, but Tamawashi was able to pull out a kotenage at the edge. From the crowd reaction, they thought that local favorite, Kotoshogiku, had prevailed.

Takayasu defeats Mitakeumi – A messy, crazy match. They both opened with tsuppari, but Takayasu tried to go chest to chest. Mitakeumi wanted no part of that (Was it the Rolling Stones that sang “I’m Not Your Teppo Pole?”) and Mitakeumi danced away from Takayasu’s embrace. This unrequited invitation to support his burly bulk seemed to drive Takayasu into a rage and he chased down a now fleeing Mitakeumi and drove him to the clay.

Goeido defeats Yoshikaze – Yoshikaze dominated this match, but kept overcommitting to each attack. Goeido worked to just stay on his feet and stay inside, waiting. His persistence was rewarded with Yoshikaze put himself off balanced and Goeido was able to flick him out with minimal effort. Very sloppy match that Yoshikaze should have won.

Hakuho defeats Chiyonokuni – I am not sure anyone can stop Hakuho if he remains uninjured, and it was certainly not going to be this form of Chiyonokuni. I am surprised to see Hakuho go for the mini-Henka two days in a row. Perhaps he is bored and wants to see how many times he can deploy it before his opponents get wise.

Takarafuji defeats Kisenosato – I am sure they gave Kisenosato a solid but middling Maegashira 5 in order to define just how poorly he is doing. The answer is – quite poorly. I love some Takarafuji in the mornings, yes I do. But Kisenosato should have been able to bag and tag this guy in the blink of an eye. Instead, the match raged on as a mighty yotsu battle that saw Kisenosato take Takarafuji to the edge and run out of gas. Go kyujo, Great Pumpkin. High marks for your enthusiasm to return to competition, but you are not quite ready yet. You and Takayasu need to spend a couple of months hulking out again.

15 thoughts on “Kyushu Day 9 Highlights

  1. Wow, this turned out to be way too much unnecesary text. Probably full of mistakes too, so no need to read it all :D But I was really feeling down this morning about watching Kisenosato lose again so I had to write down my thoughts on that to calm down a bit. Just my personal story and feelings regarding our newest Yokozuna.

    The whole Kisenosato situation makes me really sad. Back when I started to get into Sumo about two years ago he was the first Rikishi I started to follow and watch out for actively. His history of always coming in one step short and never quite being able to get a championship and yokozuna promotion seemed very tragic to me back then. His defensive style of letting the opponent attack in whatever way he wants, shut him down and then push him out was what I considered “yokozuna-Sumo” (though that has changed a bit the more I saw of The Boss).

    I was fine with him staying a very strong Ozeki forever, but then came the Hatsu Basho of this year and for once, he didn’t throw the important bouts! He got the championship and became yokozuna and I was overjoyed. I didn’t need him to be super successful afterwards, I thought it was just fin if he continued doing as before, getting some jun-yusho, maybe clutching another championship here and there with his newfound confidence or if the Boss wasn’t around. Then Haru came and Kise exceeded my wildest expectations, going undefeated until meeting fellow Yokozuna Harumafuji on day 12.

    That fateful Friday I was at the Leipzig book fair (Germany) all day but I couldn’t wait to check the results until I was back home, so I looked at the Honbasho discussion thread at Sumo-Forum and one of the first comments I saw said something about Kisenosato being injured. I was absolutely shocked. I was prepared to see Kise lose, but injured? impossible, Kisenosato doesn’t injure himself! That’s one of his biggest qualities! The day was ruined for me, I worried about Kise all the time and couldn’t shake off the feeling that something horrible had happened. At some point I couldn’t bear it anymore and watched Kintamayamas video of the day in a quiet corner. When Kise was pushed off the dohyo and held his breast and shoulder in pain it tore my heard apart and I knew this probably wasn’t some light injury that he could come back from fast.
    The next day confirmed my worries when he was quickly put away by Kakuryu. Kakuryus gentle pushout and sympathetic demeanor however made me love him that day. Afterwards as we all know Kise went on to win the Championship against Terunofuji in glorious fashion shutting (most of) his critics down. For that day I was in bliss and awe at his achievement but at the same time I worried about his future. I thought I knew my Pumpkin good enough to predict that he would’t go the smart way of getting surgery right away and sitting out the next few tournaments.

    And indeed, he tried to tough it out and it didn’t work. Now there we are, with the fourth tournament after the injury and although his body has healed, his strength hasn’t come back yet at all. I actually got my hopes up before the tournament because training seemed to go much better than it did ahead of the previous Basho he entered. But this was maybe a bit of wishful thinking. No miracle healing for Kise. It seems to me like a bit part of it is also “Ring-rust” and probably also undertraining, but it also seems clear to me that he especially lacks offensive strength in his arms witch is most likely a result of that injury.

    This whole story is just so sad for me. The “almost-man” Kisenosato, eternal Ozeki, finally gets his Yokozuna promotion, only to be heavily injured right away. Instead of becoming a decent Yokozuna with several more years left to go he is now on a good way to finish his Yokozuna career without even a single kachi-koshi!

    At this point I still have some hope that with some time to train more (with Takayasu especially) Kise can still get back to at least San’yaku level, but it seems unlikely he will ever be back to his Yokozuna form. Which is not only sad because I like him so much and wish for his success, but also because Basho with Hakuho in them become quite boring without any real competition for the Dai-Yokozuna. With all three fellow Yokozuna fading away quickly, Ozeki Goeido having trouble to show 2.0 mode consistently, Ozeki Takayasu losing his important training partner and the various promising youngsters not quite being there yet at top level, I don’t see anyone who can challenge Hakuhos reign in the immediate future. Which is impressive by Hakuho, but also more boring for me personally.

  2. Kisenosato is in a pinch w.r.t. kyujo. The Japanese papers note that this will be his fourth in a row, and the YDC is going to be as enthusiastic about it as it is with Kakuryu.

    Also, as I already mentioned, Takanoiwa created a problem for kyujo seekers. The kind doctor who gave him an exaggerated certificate is currently being grilled by the NSK, and it will (a) be hard to find an obliging doctor who will dig up old injuries for you, and (b) it will risk Kisenosato’s career, or what’s left of it, if there is even a hint of exaggeration or falsification in his certificate. We know there is a trainer that was interviewed in the past and said that there’s actually nothing wrong in Kisenosato’s arm/chest MRIs. And if that’s true, he’s going to be hard pressed for even an old injury to come up with.

    Regarding Ikioi, I don’t think it’s the Jungyo schedule, as he only joined it on October 21st. But the reason he missed most of it was that bulging disc, and that’s not going away. I had a colleague who suffered from this, and he could not even do office work when it hit him, much less sumo.

    • So for Kisenosato it’s quite easy – declare that you are going to seek surgical treatment for the pectoral muscle and you are done. Then go do it.

      • Well, if there is no tear in the MRI, “declare” is not something you can do.

        And if he does that, he may need to be kyujo for how many more basho? He should have done that in March. After four kyujo already…

        • I am working on the assumption that the diagnosis was done in March, and no miracles have taken place repairing the tendon’s attachment to the left pectoral. Shame on these guys for trying to “heal naturally”, I get that it’s a cultural thing, but at some point science takes over.

    • Harumafuji could return from the shadows seeking to clear his name, fighting off a tag-team of Takakeisho and Takagenji when Kisenosato tries to break up the unsanctioned match. Then Kisenosato gets thrown into the crowd again. But that storyline only works in pro wrestling matches. :P

      Or maybe Chiyoshoma will “accidentally” bump into him, knocking him down two flights of stairs.

      As a fan I love seeing kinboshi raining down on all the kids, but I’m sure the sumo officials are starting their work day with a facepalm regimen right now.

      • A couple of days ago “Beat” Takeshi suggested that Harumafuji and Takanoiwa settle their differences on the dohyo and be done with it. No bearing on Kisenosato, but it seems like great minds think alike. :-)

        I think the officials, more than they are worried about the loss of a really small sum of money, are worried about the huge loss of their Japanese Yokozuna, together with some thick kensho envelopes and many spectators. In fact, they are running out of Yokozuna fast, without great offers in the Ozeki ranks to take over.

        • True enough, there’s a decent amount of local cheering squads in the crowd for the local rank and file in Kyushu, but that’s not going to pay the bills. Maybe they can figure out a better way to monetize the overall viewership directly like esports and Twitch streaming has done. But for that they are going to need to appeal to a younger, wider audience and Hakuho isn’t all that personable.

          • They have a ~$25 million TV contract and ~$100 million overall revenues. I really don’t think they’re playing in the same league as Twitch streamers.

  3. Happy to see Takayasu and Endo prevail, and Chiyotairyu trying something new and making it work. Not happy to see Goeido retreating, Ichinojo plodding, and Kisenosato looking nothing like a yokozuna. Doubly unhappy to see Chiyoshoma’s ill-conduct.

    • Two solutions to the problem: “This guy really annoys me, I want to slap him. What do I do?”

      Solution 1: Hakuho

      “Hmm. Everybody knows I start every bout with at least one slap to the face. So what I do is, perform my usual tachiai routine, but in jikan-mae. Mr. Annoying gets a slap, and everybody writes it down as part of an odd matta. Or at least they can’t prove it isn’t.”

      Solution 2: Chiyoshoma

      “Oh, so in a matta you can slap your opponent with impunity. See, even Hakuho did it.”

      Difference in IQ: about 50 points.

  4. I attended my first basho on Day 9 in Fukuoka. It was so much fun to see most of the rikishi in person that I have been watching compete on nhk world/YouTube the last few years. We thought for sure that Kisenosato would be kyujo and we would not get to see him. But to our surprise he was present although as mentioned, not in good form. Goeido is my personal favorite and I was lucky enough to see him up close as he entered the building, which was exciting for me. I had an awesome time. My only regret was not getting tickets for more than one day. Thanks again for providing a great website for sumo fans!

  5. Cannot believe how cool Hokutofuji stayed after that slap. He didn’t bat an eye. I’ve loved him for a while now, but that takes him to a whole new level for me. I’m only sad he didn’t send that punk airborne into the fifth row.

  6. What’s up with Ichinojo? Even the NHK commentator said he just gave up at the edge. I had hoped the big guy would at least push back with his arms.

    Also wish Yoshikaze had taken just one more step towards Goeido before that last shove. (Ah … arm chair sumo …)


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