Day 13 – It’s Georgia. Not the US state, the country.

The Makuuchi Chamipionship is all but determined, as Tochinoshin goes from chasing to being chased. But before we make ourselves familiar with the Caucasus and the Georgian cuisine, rich in walnuts and cheeses, we already have a champion today – in the Makushita division.

Your shikona is Wakatakakage. Now repeat that 10 times at high speed.

The schedulers matched Wakatakakage (Ms #17) with the other yusho contender, Tochiseiryu (Ms #47). Both came into the bout with 6-0.

Tochiseiryu’s pre-bout looks similar to Tochiozan’s, doesn’t it? Anyway, W.T.K. dispatches of him easily, as the difference in rank would suggest, and wins a zensho-yusho. I believe his position is just below the Juryo promotion line, though, and in any case the upper Makushita have many kachi-koshi wrestlers waiting for one of the (probably 7) open Juryo positions.

One of those on line for those 7 positions is Prince Enho, who today had a battle for the kachi-koshi with Shonannoumi. Both coming into this match 3-3.

Ah… Enho… I guess with Hakuho’s royal feet being kyujo, Enho has to settle for taking lessons from Ishiura. Which is not something I’d recommend. What’s with the henka? Was that really necessary?

OK, I’ll try my hand at a bit of demotion-promotion speculation. Here is a summary of the situation of the bottom of Juryo:

#14E Akua Make-koshi, only four wins so far.
#14W Kizenryu Make-koshi, only three wins so far.
#12E Yamaguchi Make-koshi, only two wins so far.
#12W Tochihiryu Make-koshi, only four wins so far.
#11E Ura Full kyujo due to surgery.
#9W Toyohibiki Full kyujo due to injury.
#8W Osunaarashi 1 win. Kyujo due to scandal. Drop from Juryo certain, may face retirement.

The others in between are either kachi-koshi or minimal make-koshi. So these are seven potential slots, though I suppose Tochihiryu may still be saved.

The situation at the top of Makushita is:

#1E Yago kachi-koshi
#1W Terutsuyoshi kachi-koshi
#2W Shimanoumi kachi-koshi
#3W Tobizaru kachi-koshi
#4W Akiseyama kachi-koshi
#6E Enho kachi-koshi
#7E Takayoshitoshi kachi-koshi

So Takayoshitoshi is on the bubble, it seems, but he still has one bout to go, and if he wins it, he’ll have a better kachi-koshi than Enho and may pass him in on the promotion line.

Down in Sandanme, unfortunately, Torakio suffered an injury. I will not post his bout from yesterday as I don’t like to share videos of people rolling around in pain. He could not return to the dohyo for his bout after his loss, and he is now on the kyujo list. He will be make-koshi. Too bad to have an injury at such an early stage of his career, let’s hope it’s not as bad as it looked – shoulder and arm issue).

I’m not going to give you the Hattorizakura video this time – because the kid is back to his old way, walking backward just being looked at, which is a real shame. Anyway, he has now completed is usual set of 7 losses, and will have to wait until Haru to show us some progress again.

Tomorrow Yoshoyama-Osumifuji, both 3-3, vying for the kachi-koshi.

Up in Juryo, Kyokutaisei has ensured his kachi-koshi, and being Juryo #1, has ensured his promotion to Makuuchi. The papers make much of the fact that he is from Hokkaido, but I’m making much of the fact that he is from Tomozuna beya (Kaisei’s heya), and will therefore help the Isegahama ichimon a little bit in the coming power rankings. :-)

Kyokutaisei vs. Takagenji

Mitoryu has also ensured his kachi-koshi and will continue wearing his kesho-mawashi for a second tournament.

If you’re interested in the Juryo bouts, there’s this channel where the owner seems to upload each of the lower division’s complete bouts a few hours after each day ends.

So… we go up to Makuuchi, and what do we see?

Sokokurai trying hard to stay at Makuuchi. Today he faced Yutakayama who is still looking for a kachi-koshi. He can’t get a mawashi hold on Yutakayama, but eventually sidesteps and gets a hikiotoshi.

Today Ishiura decided to go for plain, forward-moving sumo. Maybe because Daishomaru is not much taller than he is. And what do you know, it worked! He grabs Daishomaru’s mawashi with his left hand and shows him the way out, yori-kiri.

Kotoyuki gets an easy one against Daiamami. They call this a tsukitaoshi, but I’d say it was a tsukite (which is a hiwaza).

The ghost of Terunofuji meets Takekaze and gives the old man a little more padding against the Juryo drop. Terunofuji unable to do a proper tachiai, let alone keep from being pushed.

A… Asanoyama… where are you? Who is that scarecrow who mounts the dohyo in your place in the second week? Chiyomaru needed exactly half a second to pull Asanoyama to the ground. Is Asanoyama sitting too close to the Isegahama guys in the shitakubeya or what?

Shohozan makes short work of Daieisho, who seems to have lost his will to do sumo once he secured his kachi-koshi. Shohozan gets in a couple of harite, then wraps Daieisho’s body and flips him for a sukuinage.

Abi really looks like he is enjoying his work, even during the actual bout. He got Kaisei, who has a huge weight advantage on him. He starts as usual with a “morotezuki”, which means he thrusts with both hands. Then he sidesteps and nearly gets Kaisei off-balance. Kaisei stays on his feet but it’s enough for Abi to grab at his mawashi, turn him around and send him out by okuri-dashi. What weight advantage? The youngster is 9-4, and may actually get one of those sansho prizes he talked about.

Chiyonokuni seems to have improved once he got his make-koshi. He starts with his tsuppari attack before Nishikigi completes his tachiai, and then pulls for a tsukiotoshi.

Chiyoshoma gets in for a fine tachiai, but Kagayaki gets a grip on his belt, and they start dancing around the dohyo. Although Chiyoshoma manages to escape from that grip, that wild dance ends with him putting a foot outside the dohyo. Kagayaki secures his first kachi-koshi since Natsu.

The shimpan gave poor old Aminishiki a real scare. This match was nervous for both him and Ikioi (which one is more injured?), with two mattas to begin with. And then he threw a flying henka and somehow managed to get Ikioi down  before he ran out of dohyo. Not his usual precision, though. Anyway, Konosuke called it Aminishiki’s. The shimpan called a monoii. And as Kintamayama will tell you, a monoii on Konosuke’s shift is an exercise in futility. Finally the shimpan agree that Konosuke is right, and the head shimpan tries to explain the decision. But he seems to be in his cups – mutters and forgets what he wanted to say. He goes as far as saying that it was a “gunbai sashi-chigae” – which it certainly was not, before the crowd’s murmur wakes him up and he corrects himself and lets Aminishiki get his kensho. Poor Uncle.

Ryuden gets a better start than Takarafuji, but Takarafuji manages to get his left hand inside, which is his favorite grip. Ryuden circles and squirms and gets rid of that hand, while himself maintaining a hold on Takarafuji’s mawashi. A battle of grips ensues. Takarafuji gets Ryuden’s hand off his mawashi, but Ryuden still has a hold on his body. Ryuden tries to make a throw. Loses the mawashi grip he momentarily regained. Takarafuji manages to lock both Ryuden’s arm in front of his chest. But at this point Takarafuji runs out of stamina and eventually Ryuden yori-kiri’s him. I hope Takarafuji hasn’t contracted that Isegahama flu. Ryuden is an excellent wrestler, and I believe we’ll see him in sanyaku at some point. And yes, he has 9 wins, like Abi, and may also become a sansho winner.

Endo starts by pulling and sending a couple of slaps in Kotoshogiku‘s direction. Grabs at Kotoshogiku’s hand, then converts that into a right-hand-inside mawashi grip with Kotoshogiku between him and the tawara. Kotoshogiku dances and gains some ground. Grabs at Endo’s right hand and tries for a kotenage. Endo manages to retain his footing. Kotoshogiku still has his right hand, but he has his left on Kotoshogiku’s torso. He then pushes against the right hand – the one Kotoshogiku is still latched onto – for a yori-kiri. Excellent match, and Endo gets a kachi-koshi.

Ichinojo and Tochinoshin… what is a yusho-related bout doing here, so early in the day? Well, Ichinojo and Tochinoshin grab at each other’s mawashi right off the tachiai. It’s a migi-yotsu and both of them have firm mawashi grips on both sides. So who’s going to be stronger? For a moment it looks undecided, but Ichinojo loses his left hand grip, and Tochinoshin goes for the kill. Ichinojo sticks to the tawara – good boy! But Tochinoshin applies some sideways force and gets Ichinojo out. Titanic.

Note to self: don’t try tsuri-dashi again on this guy

Hokutofuji comes in strong at Yoshikaze. The man in the green mawashi seems not to have completely recovered from yesterday’s Force-choke. Hokutofuji finally gets to show the sumo he became famous for. Oshidashi.

Chiyotairyu overwhelms Takakeisho who once again finds himself flying off the dohyo (and into Arawashi’s lap). Oshitaoshi.

Shodai once again comes straight off the tachiai into a morozashi. But Tamawashi gets himself released and answers with an expert tsuppari attack that sends Shodai outside, looking for his kachi-koshi elsewhere.

Arawashi, still suffering the effects of a Takakeisho bomb landing on him, has to suffer yet again as the Takayasu locomotive slams into him. Boom! Seismographs around Tokyo register a level 3 tremor while the Eagle flies into Goeido’s arms. Sitting on the East side of the dohyo today has been a serious health risk. Takayasu gets double digits for the first time since his Ozeki run.

Goeido gets a grip on Okinoumi‘s body and pushes forward, though it looks half-hearted. Gets his 7th win. Will try to get his kachi-koshi vs. Mitakeumi tomorrow.

And now, the musubi-no-ichiban. It’s a bit of an anti-climax as we already know that Tochinoshin maintained his lead. But let’s see…

Mitakeumi just lifts the Yokozuna’s upper part with his left hand and pushes forward. Kakuryu finds himself backpaddling again. And out again. And… the yusho flies away, probably never to return.


The Yokozuna has his Yokozuna kachi-koshi, that’s true. But this crumble at money time is bound to raise murmurs among the YDC this Monday. One of the guys on Twitter wrote something along the lines of: “In the first few days, all my friends were saying Kakuryu stands up to pressure much better than Harumafuji. I had to nod. But now we can see the real difference, because Harumafuji’s nerves held up much better once the yusho was on the table”.

The Yokozuna still has a couple of days to improve his score. But the chances that Tochinoshin will drop two consecutive bouts are very slim. And who knows if it’s the Yokozuna who’ll be doing the playoff with him if that happens.

Yusho Arasoi:

Leader (12-1): M3 Tochinoshin

Chasers (10-3):

  • Yokozuna Kakuryu
  • Ozeki Takayasu

Tomorrow those two face each other, and oh boy, Takayasu looks much better at the moment.

So, start learning about Georgia, because it sure looks like the Emperor’s Cup is going there right now.


16 thoughts on “Day 13 – It’s Georgia. Not the US state, the country.

  1. Perhaps Enho and Ishiura play rock-paper-scissors to determine who is going to henka each day of the basho? ;)

    Even though he lost, I am impressed with Shodai’s performance. Tamawashi is skilled, even though he hasn’t done well this basho, and to come that close to beating him shows that Shodai is trying his best to win.

    • I personally think the henka was a solid tactical call in this bout. Enho was out-classed in size, and Shonannoumi launched at him early and gave him a solid shove. I would assume that young Enho seized on the thought “Time to eat some dirt, fatso”, and applied his best approach to put him on his back with a teabag to finish.

  2. I am going to suggest now that we are seeing Kakuryu implode because he has re-injured his back. I have no evidence or reports from the Japanese press. But this is the one thing that sticks out in my mind that would cause Big-K to go from dominant to weak mode over the course of 24 hours. As we know from history, when this guy is healthy he can and does fight at a Yokozuna level. When his back or feet are hurting him, he is terrible.

    For people who were disappointed in the Tochinoshin-Ichinojo match, Ichinojo seems to have had an idea going in that he was too big / heavy for Tochinoshin to lift and overpower. Turns out he was wrong. Ichinojo traded mawashi grips right off the line, and it was clear that he wanted to go chest to chest with the bear. Turns out, yes, Tochinoshin really is that strong. You can see the look of surprise on Ichinojo’s face when Tochinoshin lifts him.

    I was very impressed with Abi today. His bout against Kaisei was going to be a huge challenge, and he found a way to win. A lot of these new faces have a great first basho, then struggle to continue to produce (Asanoyama, Ishiura), let’s hope that Abi can buck that trend.

    Not sure what happened with Endo, but that was some absolutely amazing sumo. That failed throw by Kotoshogiku earns a “What the hell was that?” award. Almost Ura-like in its defiance of the laws of physics.

    • I don’t really buy the injury theory. He moves quickly and doesn’t seem to be limited in his range of motion.

      • So either he’s just made some bad tactical decisions and just plain got beat, or, as Andy suggested yesterday, he’s satisfied with his “Yokozuna kachikoshi” and is taking at easy to avoid injury and live to fight another basho?

        • I don’t believe he can afford to “take it easy”. The YDC will be watching and will be critical, and it’s still a “live or die” basho for him. The 10 win line is a bit arbitrary. They may decide that 10 is not enough. I don’t think they will recommend that he retire at this point, but they could suggest that his next basho will be yet another “test case” and that will limit him from going kyujo if he needs to etc.

          • I agree regarding the ten wins: as the only yokozuna for most of the basho I would have expected at least 12 wins to confirm his status. I think 10 wins would leave him in exactly the same position for March.

      • I respect your opinion on all things sumo. I have however noticed that since his performance has began to crater, the he no longer lunges forward at the tachiai (he just stands up0, and that he can’t really apply forward pressure at all. This could be the feet again, it could be his lower back. His posture is off, and the position he holds his hips has changed.

        We will likely never know, but I don’t think Kakuryu is sandbagging this one at all. He had the yusho to lose, and a true competitor, a person who possesses the drive to become a Yokozuna, would not willingly let that go.

        • You know what, I’m taking it back. You may be right. I just read in Sponichi that he skipped Asa-geiko to spare his feet, and that he says that “It’s useless to say that my feet hurt”. So I take my hat off and bow to your diagnosis.

  3. Tochinoshin has been my favourite since I started watching sumo again in in 2014. This was mainly because he was so easy to recognise: no-one else looked like the product of an unnatural coupling between Nickolas Cage and a Grizzly Bear (see the remake of “The Wicker Man”). Around 8:10 GMT tomorrow we could see the greatest moment in sport since Ben Watson’s 91st minute winner in the 2013 F A Cup Final.

    It could be an astonishing weekend for Kasugano: apart from Tcohinoshin they have Tochikodai and Tsukahara in play-offs for sandanme and jonokuchi respectively AND Aoiyama still in with a squeak in the juryo race.

    WKTKKG’s hair looks long enough for a topknot to me: maybe he just likes the long and oily look.

    • Throwing you a Like on the Wicker Man reference — though once you’ve mentally seen that image you apparently can’t mentally unsee it. Um. Eek.

      I too was wondering about WKTTG’s chonmage. At what point *must* the rikiski keep his chonmage in place day to day? I know there are tokoyama on the scene in case something goes wrong with an oishi and a chonmage has to be re-dressed, but is it a requirement that a rikishi’s hair always be in chonmage in public if it’s possible to do so? Because of all the injuries and abuse rikishi take, I think traction alopecia would be one of those small but truly annoying things… #noobquestions

  4. A few thoughts, in random order:

    Takayasu is now looking like the guy who was just overpowering opponents with ease and flinging them off the dohyo last year when he made Ozeki. Love that guy.

    The obaa-san tachi in the crowd love them some Georgian beef and who can blame them. Ridiculous lifting power. Shohozan is going to resemble a reluctant toddler being placed on the naughty step.

    Ryuden looks the real deal from this vantage point. Looking forward to seeing how he gets on further up the banzuke next time out.

    Enjoying Abi’s game but less sure ‘his brand of sumo’ will translate to the higher echelons.

    Bring on 2018!

  5. One more though: what is it with the Tokyo crowd and sending their zabutons flying? That’s at least twice they’ve done it when a yokozuna has lost to someone else in Sanyaku. I guess any opportunity will do, but standards are slipping I feel!

    • Well.. Kakuryu lost the last 2 days to Japanese rikishi. There might be something else here at stake.. ;)


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