Kyushu Day 14 Highlights


Day 14 saw a conclusion to the battle for the Emperor’s Cup, with Yokozuna Hakuho winning his 40th career yusho among a decimated field of upper ranked rikishi.

Some fans are already complaining that the Kyushu basho was somehow boring or anti-climatic. True, there were few legitimate challengers to Hakuho, but then again that would likely be true no matter what. Out of the 8 rikishi in sumo’s two highest ranks, only two men are able to mount the dohyo on the final day of this tournament. Some readers took exception to Tachiai’s early forecast that the relentless Jungyo-Honbasho schedule currently in force was crushing sumo as a marketable televised sport, but now with a string of basho piling up where the top men are not present, that prediction may be worthy of examination.

The good news is that a large, vigorous crop of young men are ready to fill the gap, but first, the Kyokai will need to nudge several long-suffering athletes into retirement. Thus far it has not happened, but we may see that change in the next few months.

Sumo has enjoyed a rather welcome revival in its home country of Japan. First and foremost, Grand Sumo is a business, and we can trust the Sumo Kyokai to do what it thinks is best to keep sumo’s revival healthy and growing.

Highlight Matches

Kotoyuki defeats Asanoyama – Kotoyuki went straight for a nodowa and marched the struggling Asanoyama backward off the dohyo. After a terrible start in Kyushu, Kotoyuki rallied and is now kachi-koshi.

Ikioi defeats Kaisei – A power sumo battle dominated by Kaisei who landed a left-hand outside grip early. Ikioi was able to pivot at the tawara and land the Brazilian out and down to pick up his 8th win.

Chiyomaru defeats Aminishiki – Uncle Sumo’s bum legs have a tough time generating too much force, especially when he is facing a hefty rikishi like Chiyomaru. For the 4th straight day, Aminishiki failed to pick up his 8th win.

Tochinoshin defeats Kagayaki – After a somewhat shaky tachiai, both men battled to get an inside grip. Tochinoshin landed his right hand inside and took control of the match. His win gives him a kachi-koshi, while at the same time Kagayaki’s defeat secures his make-koshi.

Chiyonokuni defeats Tochiozan – With Tochiozan seeming to suffer problems with his lower body, this mobile battle of tsuppari favored Chiyonokuni from the start. Both men are suffering painfully disappointing records this basho, and desperately need to regroup.

Tamawashi defeats Okinoumi – Tamawashi has employed the push-then-pull tactic before in this basho, and Okinoumi was on the defensive straight out of the tachiai. Where Okinoumi prefers to get some kind of grip established, Tamawashi was not going to let that happen. Tamawashi is looking like a strong contender to return to San’yaku for January.

Takakeisho defeats Chiyoshoma – From the tachiai, Chiyoshoma started aiming to land blows on Takakeisho’s damaged face and lip. Sadly for Chiyoshoma, this really seems to have gotten Takakeisho very motivated. While Chiyoshoma was focusing on Takakeisho’s face, Takakeisho landed his left-hand grip and quickly proceeded to give Chiyoshoma a vigorous exit from the dohyo.

Kotoshogiku defeats Shohozan – Both men have deep make-koshi records, both are local favorites, and both decided to turn it up to 11. The highlight of the match, and possibly the day: Shohozan uses Kotoshogiku’s solid grip on his body, to lift and swing the former Ozeki around, with his feet flying off the ground. But Kotoshogiku landed both feet back on solid earth and began his hug-and-chug attack. When he can set it up, there are few ways to counter the Kyushu Bulldozer, and it was seconds later that Shohozan was out.

Onosho defeats Hokutofuji – “The power of the red mawashi could not be undone” –  After a matta appetizer, the main event saw Hokutofuji quickly drive Onosho to the edge. But that was all that was needed for the red mawashi to activate, and Onosho basted back, driving Hokutofuji backward and out. After losing 6 of his first 7 matches, Onosho reverted to the red mawashi and has now won 6 of the last 7. A win tomorrow would lock in a great come from behind kachi-koshi. With Hokutofuji’s loss, the door was now open of Hakuho to clinch the yusho.

Ichinojo defeats Yoshikaze – Yoshikaze clearly is having a lot of problem with the foot he injured earlier this week and has very little defensive or offensive push available. Thus Ichinojo only needed to use his massive size and strength to push Yoshikaze out. Yoshikaze is now make-koshi, and will possibly be out of San’yaku for January.

Mitakeumi defeats Arawashi – Mitakeumi locks in his kachi-koshi, overcoming a set of lower body injuries as well. While not yet performing at a level that could indicate a chance at campaigning for an Ozeki rank, his ability to hang onto San’yaku has been worthy of note. Mitakeumi’s 6th winning tournament this year.

Goeido defeats Takarafuji – Takarafuji put up great resistance to Goeido’s offense, but the Ozeki carried that day. Goeido was in control of the match from the tachiai, and for a moment both men struggled for grip. Goeido landed a right hand inside early, and proceeded to use that leverage to progressively contain Takarafuji, and force him out.

Hakuho defeats Endo – This was always an odd match, with Endo not in a rank range that would typically face a Yokozuna, especially this late in the tournament schedule. But with so many Ozeki and Yokozuna out with injuries, it was pretty much “anything goes”. The match was over in a flash, with Hakuho’s tachiai blasting Endo completely off balance, and on his way off the dohyo. Hakuho then finished the job but sadly applied one of his dame-oshi at the close.

20 thoughts on “Kyushu Day 14 Highlights

  1. For Endo, standing between the Dai-Yokozuna and a milestone yusho must have felt like standing between a hungry lion and a piece of meat :) It looked like maybe Endo wasn’t definitively over the tawara when Hakuho gave the final push?

    • It looked like Endo stepped over just after Hakuho had started his final attack. You can see it on Hakuho’s face that he realized Endo was out and he starts to put on the brakes, but by then it was too late and Endo got a love tap.

      • Agree, I don’t think that was one of Hakuho’s extra-curricular shoves. Just bad timing. Endo was starting to stand up and surrender but his feet were still in when Hakuho started that push. Can’t get on the big fella for not fighting to the bell and then take issue when he does.

        • Right. I’m usually the first to accuse Hakuho when he does his unnecessary little tricks, but this one is not the one to bookmark as evidence for future generations.

  2. Hokutofuji has accomplished enough to check off the first tournament of an ozeki run. A win over Tamawashi tomorrow will really wrap a bow around it. Two other rikishi who could be at the start of an ozeki run — especially if they win their matches tomorrow — are Takakeisho and… Ichinojo!? This basho’s 11-4 from M4w will get him to at least M1 and second double digit performance in January will almost certainly get him into sanyaku. If this tournament truly marks a return to his debut form then we might be looking at ozeki Kaiju II. That would make me so, so happy — I love redemption story lines.

    • At least as I understand, the 33 wins in 3 tournaments Ozeki ran needs to take place entirely in San’yaku…

        • I seem to recall his case was somewhat exceptional. Those two consecutive tournaments at Sekiwake—wow!

        • That was more a case of the first result being irrelevant than it contributing to a total performance. Nobody was considering him to be on an ozeki run prior to the third basho. What got him promoted was going 25-5 with a yusho.

          • Hmm. You could be right — there are no hard and fast rules for promotion to ozeki.

            I did a little digging and I found a few other rikishi whose records might bear on this question. They are Kotooshu, Asashio Taro IV, Yutakayama Katsuo, and maybe Kaio. I didn’t find any relevant cases where the rikishi was not eventually promoted to ozeki. After inspecting these records and taking into account the usual standard of at least 33 wins in the previous three tournaments, I’m inclined to believe that all three of the last three tournaments really do matter — it is not the case that Terunofuji’s 25-5 with a yusho was sufficient for promotion on its own. I believe that it is the quality of the opponents that were defeated in all three of the previous tournaments that is the critical factor; Terunofuji’s victories

            What does that mean for my ozeki run claim? With so many top-ranked rikishi kyujo, fighting injured, or performing poorly, it’s hard to find a lot of quality opposition — all three of our contenders have beaten the two struggling sekiwake. Let’s see:

            Hokutofuji beat both ozeki and Kotoshogiku and looked pretty good even in his losing matches. Verdict: a victory over Tamawashi tomorrow means it’s on (i.e., this basho counts).

            Ichinojo defeated Goeido and made Hakuho work hard for his win. On the other hand, he lost to Takayasu and looked terrible in his losses (except to Hakuho). Verdict: even if he beats Kotoshogiku tomorrow it’s iffy. He’ll need some spectacular performances.

            Takakeisho beat Takayasu but not Goeido and also lost to both komusubi. Verdict: probably not even if he beats Okinoumi tomorrow.

  3. Was very uncomfortable with the way Chiyoshoma appeared to be hitting Takakeisho around his badly damaged lip/ face

  4. If anybody wondered why the schedulers stuck Hakuho with Endo, check the number of kensho banners in today’ match. If I’m not mistaken, it’s the first time in this basho that Hakuho descended the dohyo with a double pack of envelopes. Yep, Grand Sumo is a business alright.

    But about the “oh, well, the injuries get old people out and we get new blood in” thing – I’ll reiterate: Ura is not “old” and was a kensho magnet. Terunofuji is only celebrating his 26th birthday in a few days. We are losing young talent as well as old. I don’t give any credit to the Kyokai for “knowing their business” in this case.

    Curiously, the +5 Blessed Scarlet Mawashi, if it gets Onosho a kachi-koshi tomorrow, will also bring him a promotion, as there is a free Sekiwake slot just waiting for a winning Komusubi to claim it.

    Personally, though, I’d prefer to see Takarafuji somehow beat the tadpole and get his kachi-koshi. Oh, evil schedulers, how did you get the only remaining Isegahama guys to face stronger 7-7 opponents on day 15? Uncle is going against Chiyoshoma. And while I’m absolutely certain the entire Fukuoka Kokusai Center will be cheering for Aminishiki and Chiyoshoma will only get cheers from his Tsukebito, the two are both wily wielders of wonderful waza, and… Chiyoshoma is much genkier. :-(

    Takekaze somehow managed to rally and get himself 7-7. He seemed heading down to Juryo at one point.

    Ichinojo tried several times to get some sort of grip and get into a leaning match with Yoshikaze, who, of course, would have none of that. When Ichinojo finally realized that, he was all like “Oh, so you want tsuppari? Well, take this [BOOM!], and this [BOOM!] and finally, this [KABOOM!]”. If this was a cartoon, Yoshikaze would have birds tweeting in a circle around his head.

    In the winning interview, Hakuho is asked “This was the 14th day, when you’re supposed to have a bout with someone from the Yokozuna/Ozeki ranks, and instead you faced a rank-and-filer. Do you have any thoughts about that?”. He got Hakuho speechless for a few seconds, searching for something diplomatic to say… eventually he said something unrelated to the absences, and that would not sound disparaging to Endo.

    Oh, and did anybody besides me notice how Onosho nearly danced when he won? He did a “Yeah!” face. Then grabbed his kensho-kin with extra glee, Hakuho-style…

    • Would be very interested to hear Hakuho’s response to this, did you manage to have it in English anywhere?

      • No, not really. It was something about “Obviously there’s that feeling that this is a match that I must not lose”, but I couldn’t really get the next sentence.

      • NHK World should have a translation of this interview on their daily video. If not, Jason usually includes post-match interviews on his videos, although the translations are done in real time and are a bit rougher.

  5. I thought it was a great day for sumo watching, some fantastic matches that had my wife and I screaming at the TV. And how about my main man Takakeisho! Looking forward also for the last chance kachi-kochis tomorrow also. Seems like a really fast 2 weeks, I’m sad about that.


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