Kyushu Day 15 Highlights


It’s going to be light for the commentary today, as I am traveling to faraway lands on business. There was some fantastic action today, including a great yusho speech from Hakuho. Scandal hounds are, however, locked to the pounce position waiting for the post-basho fireworks.

As I am sure lksumo will describe in due time, there is another San’yaku log-jam, with a crowd of high-performing rikishi all clamoring for a pair of vacated slots. While it’s great to see so many press for higher rank, this is a function of the devastated Ozeki and Yokozuna corps. Had the full roster been present and healthy, many of these men would be lucky to eke out an 8-7 kachi-koshi. Instead, we have, once again, significant score inflation due to a lack of top predators culling the herd. When there is Hakuho with his overwhelming sumo, and a crowd of everyone else, you have a rotating list of who gets to lose to Hakuho, and then everyone else slugging it out on more or less even footing. This makes the yusho race predictable, but it makes for exciting times lower down the banzuke.

Highlight Matches

Aminishiki defeats Chiyoshoma – Uncle Sumo defeats the increasingly annoying Chiyoshoma to secure a storied kachi-koshi on the final day. Aminishiki was visibly emotional, and the Fukuoka Kokusai Center erupted in joy to see the veteran succeed in his quest. With his victory, he picks up the kanto-sho special prize.

Chiyonokuni defeats Takekaze – Takekaze delivered a brutal tachiai, but Chiyonokuni seems to fear no pain and blasts Takekaze over the edge. Sadly Chiyonokuni appeared genuinely injured after the match. The loss leaves Takekaze make-koshi.

Aoiyama defeats Shohozan – Shohozan has fought well this basho, but he achieved an absolutely miserable 3-12 record. The win by Aoiyama in the final match may slightly cushion the man-mountain’s fall down the banzuke.

Takakeisho defeats Okinoumi – The match itself was quite straightforward, as there was really nothing left for Okinoumi to push for. Takakeisho’s oshi-zumo is quite impressive, and the team at Tachiai are waiting to see if he broadens his sumo to include more mawashi attacks as he strives for higher rank.

Tamawashi defeats Hokutofuji – Tamawashi made short work of Hokutofuji, and both men finish the basho with impressive 11-4 records. As with the prior bout, neither rikishi was going to push too hard and risk an injury, as both had achieved much and secured healthy promotions for Hatsu.

Onosho defeats Takarafuji – The red mawashi once again activated in a moment of need, powering Onosho over Takarafuji to place the mighty tadpole in competition for Yoshikaze’s vacated Sekiwake slot. Onosho had this match at the tachiai and easily picked up his kachi-koshi win. Takarafuji battled well this tournament but leaves with a 7-8 make-koshi. Scoff at the red mawashi superstition, but after starting the basho 1-6, Onosho reverted to his red mawashi and racked up 7 wins over the final 8 matches. It may have been as simple as a physical change to allow Onosho to emotionally re-focus his sumo.

Kotoshogiku defeats Ichinojo – In spite of a matta and re-start, the tachiai was mistimed and sloppy. Fans of local rikishi Kotoshogiku were thrilled to see the “Kyushu-bulldozer” lower the blade and push the Mongolian giant around the dohyo and into the abyss. Ichinojo finishes 10-5 and is at long last looking to be a serious competitor once more.

Mitakeumi defeats Yoshikaze – The all-Sekiwake bout was all Mitakeumi. With Yoshikaze injured, he picked up his 9th loss, and will likely be out of San’yaku for Hatsu. Mitakeumi improved to 9-6 after struggling with injuries to his foot at the start, but is still under-performing to launch an Ozeki campaign.

Hakuho defeats Goeido – Goeido put a strong effort into his sumo today, but Hakuho has been unstoppable this tournament, and after going chest to chest, the Yokozuna dispatched Goeido with his preferred uwatenage.

26 thoughts on “Kyushu Day 15 Highlights

  1. Despite nothing but pride on the line in their match today, Hakuho and Goeido did a superb job selling the importance of the musubi no ichiban on senshuraku. The anticipation they generated with that stare down was phenomenal. Both deserve a lot of credit for capping off a somewhat lackluster basho with an excellent main event bout!

    • It’s the job of the best to show, on senshuraku, how sumo is done correctly. It’s always a joy to watch Hakuho and company teach the kids how to do it right. It takes two to have excellent sumo!

      (It’s also why his infamous henka on senshuraku was so bad)

  2. Does the Tachiai team seriously think that Takakeisho will be able to develop mawashi attacks given his physical limitations (short arms, wide girth, short height)? Maybe that’s why he has been relying on tsuki/oshi sumo.


    • His little T-Rex arms are really evident in some bouts, so I agree that there will be fighters he struggles to handle. I’m mostly interested in seeing how he adapts around his reach-limitation, whatever that adaptation entails.

      • I guess that’s one aspect of sumo that makes it so interesting to me. Rikishi comes in all shapes and sizes and they havre to capitalize on what they are naturally equipped with while doing their best to minimize their limitations against different opponents. I would say that Takakeisho has certain intangible qualities that are probably even more important than his physical advantages/disadvantages: confidence, humility, and heart.

    • Sometimes you can do a grip with one hand on the mawashi, and the other around the opponent’s arm. It requires less reach, and it can be an opening for a throw.

      I think that limitation is the reason Hakuho doesn’t appreciate all those tadpole wrestlers. A good tall man with long arms can fight both oshi and yotsu. But a short, big bellied man is physically limited in his range of skills. At the high levels, you need all the skills you can acquire.

  3. That uwatenage Aminishiki did ended strangely. I’m used to see a korogari when somebody performs a throw, but Chiyoshoma just stopped himself with his hand.

    Chiyomaru decided to engage Asanoyama in yotsu-zumo. Now, you’d think this would favor Asanoyama, who is the yotsu man, over Chiyomaru the oshi man with too much belly for good grips. But it didn’t, and Chiyomaru yori-kiried the taller man right out. I wonder what’s up with Asanoyama. He says that he needs to improve the speed of his tachiai and that yotsu seems not to be enough, but what I think is that he still has to work his legs. They are too weak. Kisenosato may have been right in his “you can’t get anywhere without keiko” back in the jungyo.

    Red mawashi or not, Onosho Had the entire sanyaku – three Yokozuna, two Ozeki, and two Sekiwake – in the first week, and then a bunch of maegashira in the second week.

    Ichinojo still has that problem that he gives in too easily on the tawara. I hope next basho he learns to always fight back.

    And it seems to me – and to the Japanese commentators as well – that Goeido was the one who initiated the throw at the end of his match. But Hakuho just used it against him.

    Now, that yusho “interview”. Hakuho is a future politician, for sure. He had his own messages to deliver, and barely payed attention to the questions.

    “Bla bla bla bla bla bla?”

    “First, I would like to apologize again for my behavior in mid-basho, as someone who is supposed to represent all rikishi to the fans”

    (Applause. This was important. Of course he already apologized, but that was a formal apology. The Japanese think an apology is necessary for every infraction of any rule, but a sincere one is much better, and if you offer it on your own initiative, they appreciate it)

    “When I came here at the age of 15 weighing 65kg, nobody thought I would get where I got. But the Gods of the dohyo and the spirit of this country allowed me to achieve what I achieved today”

    (Applause again. Always show appreciation for Japan and its values)

    And then we get to the highlight point of the “interview”

    “As I stand here beside this dohyo, I vow that I will speak the truth, drain the puss, and get Harumafuji and Takanoiwa back up on the dohyo”.

    (Loud applause. The puss thing is a metaphor for cleaning up an ugly mess. And he adds Takanoiwa to sound “fair and balanced”, though there is really no reason to believe Takanoiwa will be absent from the dohyo.)

    Then the interview proceeds as a normal interview, with Hakuho evading the question about the “great Yokozuna feeling tired”, repeating his wish to appear on Tokyo 2020 (applause), then finally leading the audience in a triple “banzai” which had some commentators saying that he overdid it. Anyway, if there were polling stations anywhere around the Kokusai Center, Hakuho would have gotten the votes of everyone in the audience that day.

    Which is important, because that vow was a declaration of war.

    It got Hakkaku bewildered (“We’re waiting for the crisis management committee to complete its work. That’s all.”).

    And… he has the support of his oyakata. Which may sound surprising, as these two are not always on the same side (remember the “wedding gate”?), but I had a feeling Miyagino is going with him on this, when Hakuho decided to speak out in the middle of the basho. You can’t do that without the permission of your stablemaster (or you can, but then there’s a backlash).

    Now let’s see if Hakuho is as good at internal politics and diplomacy as he is at sumo.

    • I agree that Goeido was the one to try the shitatenage. Like we saw (more dramatically) a few days ago, Hakuho reversed it on him. This time it wasn’t so incredible because Goeido was not in a great position for the throw and there’s no way on God’s green earth he’s going to arm-strength Hakuho’s counterweight out of the ring. He tried to keep the boss off his belt, eventually failed, and the throw was his last shot. Hakuho just made him eat dirt for it.

    • Good point about Onosho’s schedule—it’s easy to forget now that the San’yaku was relatively formidable in the early days of the basho.

      • I just realized: Hakuho had a much easier schedule… Two komusubi, two sekiwake, one Ozeki, and all the rest were maegashira.

    • I just did in my comment above. The parts in quotes are what he said (well, the “bla bla bla” is the insignificant question that he was asked). The parts in parentheses are my commentary.

  4. So are we going to talk about the fact that Arawashi threw another match to Chiyotairyu?

    Okay, fine, this is a disputable assertion, not a fact. So have a look at Kintamayama’s day 13 video, 8:02, in slow motion (no links because they make posts go to the moderation and also the polldaddy bug). Now, go to the day 5 video, Shodai vs Arawashi, 5:00. In slow motion, watch Arawashi’s left hand go for the mawashi at the tachiai. He misses and gets the sagari instead; the point is that he’s grabbing and pulling. Also have a look at the final day video, Ikioi vs Arawashi, 5:25. Now back to the day 13 video. Arawashi gets his left hand on Chiyotairyu’s belt and rests it there — no pulling! — until Chiyotairyu bomps him on the left shoulder. Then he moves it toward the ground as he starts bending forward just a moment before Chiyotairyu smacks him on the back of the neck, ostensibly slapping him down. Did that look real to you? It didn’t to me.

    • Nah. He didn’t pull because he didn’t have anything to pull at. Chiyotairyu’s mawashi was very tight.

      Really, it’s hard to call a yaocho based on the contents of the bout. That first hit at the tachiai may have knocked the breath out of him so he wasn’t functioning well, and sometimes a certain pairing causes similar things to happen in different basho.

      • The hand thing is weak; Arawashi’s match against Tochinoshin on day 3 features a similar immobile hand, albeit not on Tochinoshin’s mawashi but rather on his, um, flank. Really, I concede that my whole contention is weak. Maybe Chiyotairyu did knock the wind out of Arawashi and maybe the bomp on the shoulder was enough to start him toppling. Maybe. But if you held a gun at my head and made me bet, I’d wager on a work, not a shoot.

    • People cried yaocho all the time before 2011, but they never did about the matches that actually became known to be yaocho. In fact, I think if a match looks to be yaocho, it’s more likely *not*. If the outcome is prearranged, they’ll have prearranged something to look reasonable. Laziness is more often a factor than corruption.


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