Haru Story 2 – An Ozeki’s Opportunity


Since Harumafuji’s untimely fall from honor, a gap has opened in the Yokozuna front. No longer able to consistently field grand-champions, both of the current Ozeki can’t help but set their sights on the Emperor’s cup, and a slim chance at promotion to sumo’s highest rank. But for both Goeido and Takayasu, this greatest of sumo’s prizes seem frustratingly out of reach.

First and foremost, the case of Goeido. Famously inconsistent, his Aki 2016 appears to have been an amazing and spectacular fluke, not to be repeated any time soon. Since his blazing 15-0 zensho yusho at that fabled Aki 2016, Goeido has reverted to form, and only achieved double digit wins at the 2017 Aki, when he took his 6th jun-yusho with a 11-4 record. Readers will have noticed that we frequently refer to Goeido in terms of a poorly constructed and malfunctioning piece of technology, rather than one of two men who hold the exalted rank of Ozeki. This comes down to our burning desire to see the Goeido of Aki be the Goeido who steps onto the dohyo every tournament. Until he can capture and summon that wild, unstoppable rikishi at will, he will continue to struggle.

Takayasu, on the other hand, has been confronting injuries since his promotion in May of 2017. At the Aki tournament he tore a major muscle in his thigh, and proceeded to struggle to regain his sumo. Since that injury, his technique on the dohyo has relied far too much on a massive shoulder blast at the tachiai, followed by wild and chaotic (almost frantic) moves across the dohyo. This is a far cry from the sumo that took him to Ozeki: calculated, confident, incredibly strong; with every move deliberate and with terrible purpose. That sumo has the potential to take him to a Yokozuna’s rope, but I fear he lost it, and cannot find it again.

So while it may seem that with a possible no-yokozuna basho on the horizon that the Ozeki are cleared to push for higher rank, both men are far from ready to mount the two consecutive wins needed to be eligible for promotion. But my intuitiuon tells me that we may see a new Yokozuna within the next 12 months, and it’s a 50/50 chance that it may not be either of the current Ozeki.

8 thoughts on “Haru Story 2 – An Ozeki’s Opportunity

  1. Osaka is Goeido’s home turf. Last year he was unlucky enough to be injured at Haru basho, but he previously had double digits in Haru basho in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2016.

  2. I think Goeido is a journeyman at heart and we’ve seen all he’s got. I want to believe Takayasu can get healthy and show the next level, and I won’t bet against it…but I won’t hold my breath either. Best bet is probably on some of the younger guys rising, surpassing those two, and grabbing the brass ring.

    But that’s why we watch! Who knows?

  3. Hey Bruce, you mention that it’s a 50/50 chance that the next Yokozuna would not be one of these two current ozeki. In that case, who else do you believe it could be?

    • Well, first you have to make Ozeki, which is typically 3 strong tournaments while already ranked in sanyaku, and then win two yusho as an Ozeki. Doing this within a year is…unlikely. Tochinoshin could potentially get there, as his 14-1 yusho gives him a bit of a head start. Mitakeumi and to a lesser extent Ichinojo could start an Ozeki run with strong performances at Haru. Beyond these three, someone has to establish themselves in sanyaku and start doing consistently well there to be in this conversation.

      • Haha thanks I know how to become an ozeki, I’ve been regularly commenting on the blog for over a year!

        I was mainly interested in which specific rikishi Bruce thought had demonstrated Yokozuna potential in light of his comment. Particularly because rikishi who might be expected to start ozeki runs aren’t currently turning in the kind of results needed for ozeki, let alone Yokozuna.

        • Sorry, didn’t mean to sound condescending, just echoing your point that nobody seems close, with the possible exception of Tochinoshin (and that’s based on a single tournament).


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