Hatsu Day 12 Highlights


The mad-cap roller-coaster of Sumo that is our wonderful Hatsu basho took another wild and exciting turn on day 12. Unlike Kyushu, which was another relentless march of the dai-Yokozuna towards an inevitable victory, the sole remaining (weak) Yokozuna has made this basho exciting, unpredictable and frankly a whole lot of fun. Read no further if you don’t want to know what happened.

On day 11, Yokozuna Kakuryu lost to Tamawashi, making a tactical mistake that his opponent knew would come, and was eager to exploit. In that moment when Kakuryu, the sole undefeated rikishi lost, the yusho race opened wide, and a giant bear of a man stepped up. On day 12, that picture changes again.

So many good matches today. Many good bouts from all rikishi at all levels of the banzuke. The Hatsu basho continues to delight and impress.

Following Herouth’s approach, let’s start at the bottom of the list

Day 12 Matches

Hidenoumi defeats Ishiura – Visiting from Juryo, Ishiura gifts him with a shiny new kachi-koshi. From the tachiai, Ishiura attempts to hit and shift left, but Hidenoumi tracks him perfectly. Now Ishiura’s gambit is in trouble, as his back is to the tawara, and he’s very close to being out. Ishiura manages to break contact and attempt a slap, but Hidenoumi is completely dialed into Ishiura’s sumo, wraps him up, and delivers the yorikiri.

Nishikigi defeats Kagayaki – Massive respect for Nishikigi, who refuses to give up and go away to Juryo again. The match starts with a big hit at the tachiai, and both men lock up with each going for a left hand inside grip. The crowd goes quiet as each leans in, working to wear the other down. When Kagayaki lifts and shifts to try to get his right hand inside, Nishikigi makes his move. Well executed sumo from both, but Nishikigi showed superior skill.

Kotoyuki defeats Asanoyama – It’s clear from the tachiai that Asanoyama wants to get a belt grip and negate Kotoyuki’s oshi attack. Asanoyama comes in low aiming for the belt, and Kotoyuki opens by pounding on Asanoyama’s face and neck. To his credit, Asanoyama stands up to the beating for a while, struggling to land a grip, but Kotoyuki knows this game, and keeps moving forward. Asanoyama changes tactics, and tries to pull, but his transition puts him off balance and Kotoyuki finishes him off. Oshidashi for the win.

Ryuden defeats Daishomaru – Ryuden kachi-koshi. This bout was quite one sided, with Ryuden landing a double inside grip straight out of the tachiai. Driving forward, Ryuden prevented Daishomaru from mounting any real defense. It’s been a long hard road for Ryuden, and this winning record from his first Makuuchi tournament must be a sweet victory indeed.

Daiamami defeats Terunofuji – Rather the Ghost of Terunofuji. The poor Kaiju has nothing left. I rarely feel sorry for anyone who competes in a warrior sport, but this is just brutal to watch.

Takekaze defeats Aminishiki – Really Isegahama? What on earth are you doing? You are already somewhat diminished by the Harumafuji scandal, and now you put on this show of pain and suffering for the fans?

Shohozan defeats Sokokurai – What an awesome match! It starts with a traditional Shohozan bull rush with arms flailing, and Sokokurai gives ground, but does not give up. As they circle, Sokokurai is trying like mad to wrap up one of Shohozan’s massive arms, and he gets a good hold on the left arm at the wrist. He parlays that into a left hand inside grip, and the two are dancing to set up a throw. Shohozan launches an uwatenage attempt first, but Sokokurai counters masterfully. As Sokokurai rotates to try his own throw, Shohozan moves forward strongly and Sokokurai collapses. Yoritaoshi. Shohozan is kachi-koshi.

Abi defeats Chiyomaru – Abi tries a slap down henka at the tachiai, but Chiyomaru is either expecting it, or his bulbous midsection kept him slow off the line. Either way the move fails and Chiyomaru attacks a now back-tracking Abi. But Abi is an unstoppable ball of energy, and launches his now familiar thrusting attack, most of which is landing on Chiyomaru’s neck and face. Chiyomaru rallies at one point, but Abi’s attack is too intense, and Chiyomaru steps out. Oshidashi, with Abi kachi-koshi in his first top division tournament.

Kaisei defeats Daieisho – The new plus size Kaisei seems to be nearly impossible to move. Even Daieisho’s normally solid pushing attack had no effect. The bulk of the match is Kaisei breathlessly chasing Daieisho around the dohyo until Daieisho steps out. Kaisei gets his 8th win.

Shodai defeats Chiyoshoma – What has happened to the soft, flabby and unimpressive Shodai? I think he’s on holiday somewhere in Okinawa. This is the other Shodai, the one who wants to be an Ozeki, has fairly good sumo and can win in spite of a somewhat high tachiai. His win over Chiyoshoma was straightforward, he kept moving forward while Chiyoshoma was trying to find a grip. Solid sumo again from Shodai.

Chiyonokuni defeats Arawashi – This match was lost at the tachiai, when Arawashi went to land a left hand outside grip and missed. Chiyonokuni opens with an oshi attack, and Arawashi does not really get a good second chance to lock things up on his terms. Arawashi keeps trying to work inside, but Chiyonokuni has his thrusting attack on full, and Arawashi can’t even establish a solid defensive footing. Chiyonokuni wins by tsukiotoshi as Arawashi does his gymnastics tumble once more.

Chiyotairyu defeats Takarafuji – Straightforward thrusting match. Takarafuji could not overcome Chiyotairyu’s massive bulk and strong upper body. Takarafuji still needs one win for kachi-koshi.

Hokutofuji defeats Ikioi – Ikioi is hurt, and not really able to execute Makuuchi grade sumo. From the tachiai Hokutofuji stood him up with a firm nodowa, and then slapped him down. Both men are make-koshi and will need to try again in Osaka.

Ichinojo defeats Yoshikaze – As predicted last night, this match was almost painful to watch. Yoshikaze seems to be only at 75% of his normal self, and Ichinojo’s massive size and strength mean that normal forces of sumo, much like space-time, are warped and distorted the closer you get to him. Yoshikaze comes in low at the tachiai, looking to get a grip at center-mass, but Ichinojo lands a brutal choke hold, and moves forward. There was absolutely nothing that Yoshikaze could do to stop it. Ichinojo goes kachi-koshi while Yoshikaze is now make-koshi, and probably has a headache. Ichinojo faces Tochinoshin on day 13. Hoo-boy!

Kotoshogiku defeats Takakeisho – Dare I whisper it? Kotoshogiku may come back from a dismal start to be in striking distance of kachi-koshi? Takakeisho is a bold young man of immense strength, and he decided to try to push against the Kyushu Bulldozer. Kotoshogiku masterfully shuts down Takakeisho’s wave action tsuppari, and it’s down to a contest of strength. While not quite able to get the hug-n-chug running, Kotoshogiku keeps moving forward, and avoids Takakeisho’s last minute attempt at a hineri at the edge. Takakeisho kept grabbing his mage after the match, I was curious if he was trying to signal something. Yeah, Kotoshogiku’s hand was on the back of his head, but I am not sure it’s a mage pull at all. Takakeisho now make-koshi.

Okinoumi defeats Mitakeumi – Mitakeumi continues his meltdown, and it’s quite a disappointment to watch. As with prior matches, he tries to pull early on, but Okinoumi uses his backward motion to take control and win. After his failed pull, Mitakeumi cannot recover any forward momentum. Bad move, bad strategy, bad outcome for the Ozeki hopeful. Go back and try again.

Tochinoshin defeats Tamawashi – Tochinoshin prevails to stay at one loss, while Tamawashi is now make-koshi. From the tachiai Tamawashi lands a strong nodowa, but this seems to only power up the Georgain battle mech. With a strong shove, Tochinoshin breaks the neck grip and goes on the attack. Tamawashi puts everything he has into a couple of huge tsuppari, and nearly brings Tochinoshin down, but it also left him wide open. Tochinoshin surges forward and lands a double inside grip. We, of course, know how this ends with Tochinoshin’s massive yorikiri.

Takayasu defeats Goeido – Goeido, unable to exit debug mode, is once again stuck playing Tetris instead of Osumo. Takayasu is a half step ahead at the tachiai, and focuses on applying rapid pressure to Goeido’s shoulders. Goeido never has a chance to produce any offense, or set up any kind of defensive stance. Goeido now needs to pick up 2 wins to not go kadoban.. again.

Endo defeats Kakuryu – Yes, sumo fans. Big K dropped his match with Endo, leaving Tochinoshin as the sole leader of the yusho race at the end of day 12. As with day 11, his attempt to pull left him off balance, and Endo was ready for it. Endo moved strongly forward and made the Yokozuna pay. Endo picks up a kinboshi, and Kakuryu loses his share of the lead. The cushions fly in the Kokugikan.

That’s it for day 12. It’s a brawl right to the end now, with a decent chance that a rank-and-file rikishi could lift the Emperor’s Cup!

28 thoughts on “Hatsu Day 12 Highlights

  1. That right-armbar-left-nodowa move worked on Yoshikaze for both Takakeisho yesterday and Ichinojo today. I wonder if that’s a particular weakness of Yoshikaze’s or if it’s a killer combo that’s just tough to land on a fully operational rikishi or if there is a defence but Yoshikaze is in no condition to use it at the moment or…

    • It’s really painful to watch, too. Ichinojo really dismantled him today in just seconds. I wonder what kind of strategy he is going to apply to his day 13 Tochinoshin match. I am tempted to stay up into the middle of the night just to watch that one.

        • I was genuinely freaked out by how brutal that nodowa was and exclaimed to my screen “He force-choked the s*** out of him!” Is there a line you can cross with that move where it becomes illegal? Because that had to be close to some kind of line. If Ichinojo embraces the dark side, he might be yokozuna in 2019. That was scary.

          I also think Tamawashi really pissed off Tochinoshin late in their match with that head slap. The Georgian had a “Hell no!” look on his face when he surged into him and drove him out.

          • Tochinoshin stayed reddish for a long time after his match, and had a case of resting bear face at the side of the ring. So I think Tamawashi did rile him up quite a bit.

            The crowd seemed somewhat taken aback and full of murmurs at the Ichinojo choke attack. It really did look more brutal and painful than most nodowa.

            I am of course rooting for Ichinojo to take him down today, both for his sake, and for Kakuryu’s chances. Endo falls even further down the ranks of the heart’s banzuke.

          • Watching the Tochinoshin match, frame by frame, you can see him react and go into angry bear mode. Yeah, the Yoshikaze match, its legit sumo, but boy did that look ugly.

          • If the Twitter rumor is true — that the kyokai has banned all wrestlers from going abroad for now — Tochinoshin is entitled to all the Hell No he can carry.

            (Does anyone with information access know what’s up on that front? If this is really how it is, I hope he channels some of that into these last four bouts — if management can’t behave reasonably when faced with the prospect of yet another gaijin holding the Emperor’s Cup, let’s see how they do when the gaijin is whimsically being kept away from his cub.)

          • That nodowa was certainly borderline. Usually it’s designed to press against the opponent’s chin and force his head up and back in order to disrupt his upper-body balance – Ichinojo pretty much pressed right against the throat and bent back Yoshikaze’s entire body at once. It’s legal as long as the hands don’t close, but I don’t think they’d let him get away with it on a regular basis for too long.

          • “I was genuinely freaked out by how brutal that nodowa was ”

            You and me both. And to think I thought Ichi was a gentle giant. I’ve been disabused of that notion.

      • I always thought that Ichinojo was a big teddy bear. I can only imagine what took place in the west shitaku-beya beforehand.

        Minato Oyakata: Now, you need to go out there ready to fight. Take him down hard, don’t give any ground.
        Ichinojo: He’s so much smaller than me, though. Maybe I can lift him up and carefully carry him out?
        Minato Oyakata: No… No, look. He’s very, very fast and he hits incredibly hard. You don’t need to be gentle with him! If you see an opportunity I want you to smash him to the clay.
        Ichinojo: But what if I hurt him?
        Minato Oyakata: …Ok, work with me for a minute here. Can you visualize something for me?
        Ichinojo: Sure thing.
        Minato Oyakata: I want you to imagine Yoshikaze reaching across and taking your last yakitori stick.

        ༼ つ ͠° ͟ ͟ʖ ͡° ༽つ

      • Vizzini: Finish him. Finish him your way.
        Ichinojo: Oh good, my way. Thank you Vizzini… what is my way?
        Vizzini: Grab him by the throat and throw him from the doyho.
        Ichinojo: My way is not very sportsmanlike…

        And also:

        Fezzik: We face each other as God has intended. No henka, no tricks, skill against skill alone.
        Yoshikaze: And then we kill each other like civilized people? Frankly I think the odds are favouring you in hand to hand fighting.
        Fezzik: It’s not my fault for being the biggest and strongest. I don’t even exercise.

        There are quotes for every situation in life in The Princess Bride…

  2. Isegahama has lost his mind. The man who was once Sumo’s leading developer of young talent has become a butcher, contributing to the maiming of his own rikishi. Does anybody in that heya even have a working knee? Somebody needs to step in and stop the madness.

    • Satonofuji still has knees. Probably because he uses them for the yumi-tori. But he is still make-koshi. Like most of Isegahama (15 currently Make-koshi, 4 kachi-koshi, the rest still await).

        • Actually zubuneri is a bit of a Satonofuji speciality — he’s won with it twenty-three times, making it his fourth most used kimarite after tsukiotoshi, yorikiri, and oshi-dashi. He’s also won with uchigake twenty-three times, but his use of that kimarite tapered off in the first half of his career whereas his use of zubuneri has come mostly in the second half of his career, perhaps because as he’s aged into wily veteran status he’s had to resort to pressing his head on his opponents’ chests.

          • Maybe that’s why he’s a fan favorite. Just the right height for chest to head action. ;)

            I’d assume the combination of the horrid flu outbreak + scandal hassle has put a real dent in training regimens.

    • That’s the main reason he resigned his position and isn’t seeking re-election. His heya is in shambles and there unfortunately aren’t many pieces to recover.

      • I’d say it’s rather the fact that there’s a huge public outcry waiting for him and the entire Association if his punishment for the Harumafuji affair were to end after just three months, considering other guys in his position have taken years-long demotions after less scandalous incidents. Even his own group’s members supposedly cautioned him against running.

  3. Ichinojo is an absolute beast when he wants to be. Sekiwake really is the minimum we should expect and once he gets back there who knows. Of all the young uns he seems the most ozeki likely to me.

    Very much enjoying his resurgence alongside Tochinoshin, and really been impressed by shodai too, who had a tough first week of match ups but should be looking to finish strong.

  4. Can anyone explain why top level rikishi such as Kakuryu and Mitakeumi have suddenly decided hikiotoshi is the way to win, going backwards no less – even though it seems to be so ineffective?

    They’re not the only ones too. Everyone’s frantically flailing for their opponents appendages!

  5. That Kakuryu bout was excruciating beyond words, how oh how has he done the same mistake twice in two days? After such incredible sumo in the first ten days. Super sad as a comeback yusho would have been a fantastic story and I love his sumo when he’s not trying to push down.

    If Tochinoshin wins 13-2/14-1, what does that mean with regards to an ozeki run? As he got a pretty good kachi koshi in Kyushu

    • Tochinoshin will probably be promoted to Sekiwake, especially if he wins the basho. He’ll have to begin his Ozeki run from there, although if he puts in two more 14-1/13-2 records in succession, they might promote him anyway.

  6. Yoshikaze entire basho with a few notable exceptions has been painful for me, but Ichinojo’s nodowa had me gasping for breath- Legit or otherwise- I can’t watch the numerous replays of it. Hope my boy’s ok! Ironically I did love Ichinojo fist pump and smile in the tunnel
    The overseas travel ban explains why the bear hasn’t been able to see his little girl yet-something needs to change ASAP otherwise the sleeping bear they’re prodding once he’s taken Hatsu – a distinct probability- will be really cranky- and the powers enforcing the ban will just look petty and cruel

  7. Despite all my love to Kotoshogiku, I really think there might have been some mage-action with his slap-downs. They were not clean, I watched the replays couple times. He won in the end in a different way, but I also had a feeling that Takakeisho was annoyed and trying to suggest something to the judges.

    BTW. No Kakuryumeter this time? :) Shouldn’t we add a new one – A Grizzlymeter? :D


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