State of play update: Day 13

The Yusho Race

We now know the answer to the ancient riddle: the unstoppable force prevailed over the immovable object. With his victory over Ichinojo, Tochinoshin now leads by two over “I got my Yokozuna kachikoshi” Kakuryu and “somehow I’m still in this thing” Takayasu. The two chasers face each other tomorrow, so only one of them can possibly remain in contention. Tochinoshin goes up against Shohozan; the big Georgian leads their series 10-5.

The Sanyaku

With his win today, Goeido improves to 7-6 and needs to defeat either Mitakeumi tomorrow or Kakuryu on senshuraku to avoid kadoban status.

Mitakeumi finally got his kachikoshi, earning it in impressive fashion against the fading Yokozuna. He will remain Sekiwake, with Tochinoshin set to join him at that rank in Osaka. At 8-6, Mitakeumi can still reach double digits, but will need to defeat both Ozeki to do so. Tamawashi won, keeping open the possibility that he will only drop to Komusubi. Despite his loss, Ichinojo actually solidified his claim to the open Komusubi slot when Endo defeated Kotoshogiku. With the victory, Endo takes over the lead for the second Komusubi slot should Tamawashi falter.

The Promotion/Demotion Line

Dropping to Juryo: Terunofuji. May or may not be able to save himself with 2 wins: Aminishiki.

Ishiura reached safety today with his 7th win, and will be in Makuuchi in Osaka. Still needing one win to definitely avoid demotion are Ikioi, Sokokurai, Asanoyama, Takekaze, and Nishikigi, while Daiamami needs to win both of his remaining matches to save his place in Makuuchi. The shadow of Ikioi faces the ghost of Terunofuji tomorrow. Aminishiki and Nishikigi square off, as do Sokokurai and Daiamami. Asanoyama will try to get his kachikoshi against Chiyoshoma, while Takekaze goes up against Okinoumi.

The list of promotion candidates in Juryo is down to four, with Myogiryu, Kyokutaisei, and Hidenoumi leading the way just ahead of Aoiyama.

25 thoughts on “State of play update: Day 13

  1. Maybe my math is off, but can’t Tochinoshin clinch the Yusho if he wins tomorrow? His record would be 13-1 going into Senshuraku, and even if he loses on Day 15 he’d still be 13-2. The best Kakuryu or Takayasu can do is 12-3, and that’s only if they win their last two matches.

    • A car containing Osunaarashi and his wife rear-ended another car a few days before the basho. At first, his wife claimed that she was driving. Then the police found a security camera that showed that Osunaarashi has been driving. He then admitted to police that he was driving. He said that he has an International driving license. But that license is not valid anymore. So police are set to charge him with driving without a license.

      The problem here is that he didn’t report any of this to the NSK nor to his stablemaster. Furthermore, the rule is that active rikishi are forbidden from driving cars or riding motorcycles. That’s why you’ll see rikishi in public transport and on bicycles (the high-ranking ones can get driven around by a chauffeur).

      So when he was questioned by the NSK, he said that he didn’t actually drive. He said that his wife was indeed driving, but that because she is pregnant and only has an Egyptian license, he decided to switch seats with her so that she isn’t accused of driving without a license.

      Now, the local police are still investigating, and the NSK does not intend to pursue this further before the basho ends. However, at the moment it’s clear that he failed to report, and this is the reason he went kyujo. If, once the NSK renews its investigation and talks to the police, it turns out that he was driving and made a false statement, he may face a much more serious punishment than he would just for violating the no-driving code per-se. The papers are saying at least a long suspension and possibly a request to retire.

      • Wow. Thank you very much for the story. Fascinating. Can I ask the reason for the ”no driving rule”? Does it have something to do with the wrestlers’ size and/or bulk? That would seem rather odd.

          • To reinstate driving would require banning drinking. Banning drinking would hurt weight. And take the fun out of Karaoke.

            • I don’t think drinking is a factor here. In Osunaarashi’s case, he is a practicing Muslim, so he probably wasn’t drinking. You can rear end a car even when you’re not high on anything. It’s enough that you drive with very little experience in a country that runs in the opposite direction than the country where you took your driving lessons.

          • I could be misremembering here, but didn’t the rule come in after a wrestler was in a bad accident and proved almost impossible to extricate from the wreckage because of his bulk?

          • Sorry for the poor joke about drinking and karaoke. Here is what I found searching online.

            1985: Recommendation to not drive following a crash that caused a popular wrestler to miss a tourney due to injuries.

            1999: Recommendation became an outright rule after two crashes in a short period of time.

            2000: Pedestrian killed. Looks to be pedestrian’s fault, but was a major scandal given the outright ban, and cultural expectation that the larger vehicle is at fault. Rikishi driving was devastated, and had press calling him a murderer.

            2007: Rikishi union petitions to lift the ban, citing needs of family life. Asashoryu also said to want to be able to drive his HumVee. Petition denied.

            No reports of alcohol contributing to any of the accidents.

  2. I have a question. As a relative newcomer to Sumo (started watching late 2016) if Tochinoshin wins, would he be the first caucasaian to win a tournament? I know there have been many non-Japanese tournament winners, but I thought they were all Asian/Pacific Islander. From Mongolia, Samoa, Hawaii, etc… has there been anyone caucasian, that is to say, someone who would commonly be counted as a “white” guy in the West, who has ever won a tournament, or for that matter, ever been a Yokozuna?

    • There have been two so far. Bulgarian former Ozeki Kotooshu was the first European to win the Emperors cup at the 2008 Natsu Basho, and Baruto from Estonia, also a retired Ozeki, won the 2012 Haru Yusho.

      • The Big Bird had a Ukrainian father and a Japanese mother. You might describe him as “mixed-race”, but everyone is mixed-race if you go back far enough.

  3. All I know is that I’ll be bumping some Ludacris and some Lil Jon to celebrate Tochinoshin’s championship. Atlanta, rejoice!

    What? Oh…

  4. If Tochinoshin wins the yusho would that bump him up to Ozeki or would the win alone not be enough to guarantee the promotion?

    • The win alone won’t be enough for ōzeki. San’yaku ranked with 33 or more wins in the last 3 tournaments and 10 or more in the most recent is needed to be considered for promotion.
      If Tochinoshin wins this and does really well in the next two basho maybe his wins in this basho could count.

      • As I understand it there are no hard and fast rules on promotion. There are guidelines and expectations but the JSA can choose to follow or ignore them. The 33 wins don’t have to be in sanyaku: Terunofuji’s ozeki run started with an 8-7 at M2. Another big score in March would, I hope, get Tochinoshin to that rank. Usually if someone is being looked at for ozeki we will get a vague statement along the lines of “If he gets 12 or 13 wins we may decide to consider him”.


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