Haru Day 1 Preview

Wasabi Mawashi

It seems like a long time, waiting for the Osaka basho to get underway. Part of that was due to the Olympic news blackout – the sumo world kept quiet in order to let the Olympics have the stage. Now the snow party in Korea is done, it’s time for the big men of Japan to take to the dohyo and compete. Oh boy, are we ready for some sumo!

If you are just now joining our coverage, a few things to note

  1. Tachiai is not spoiler free – we report things as they happen. If you want to wait until you can watch things on NHK or YouTube, you will want to visit us after you watch the highlights.
  2. We will attempt to live blog tonight, in conjunction with NHK showing the second half of Makuuchi live on NHK World. It may be a spectacular flaming train wreck, but it will be fun read along as we all watch live sumo together
  3. Tachiai is a team effort. There are multiple authors contributing to the content here, and we are greatful for all their efforts. Please be kind to them, or at least respectful. They give up their free time to comment on a sport we all love. Nobody here gets paid, we do it for the love of sumo.

With that down in writing, lets get started!

What We Are Watching Day 1

Aoiyama vs Kyokutaisei – The man-mountain Aoiyama made it back to the top division by the barest of margins, and his first match is against a Juryo rikishi filling a gap brought on by Onosho going kyujo. Aoiyama has been struggling, and frankly his mass has gotten out of control. We will be looking for him to put everything he has to stay in the top division.

Ikioi vs Sokokurai – Ikioi at Maegashira 14? What manner of cataclysm is this? Ikioi has been struggling for the last several basho, and his nursing injuries. With no jungyo tour this February, we all hope that he has gotten himself back together, and is ready to compete. Going against Sokokurai should be a fairly easy win for a healthy Ikioi, so it will be time to guess if he’s genki. Sokokurai holds a 5-1 career advantage

Daishomaru vs Asanoyama – Sumo’s happy boy goes up against Daishomaru, who has never lost to Asanoyama. This is usually a thrusting battle that gets Asanoyama off balance and out. With Asanoyama looking to bounce back from a somewhat disappointing Hatsu, he will need to break with tradition and defeat Daishomaru top one strong.

Ishiura vs Kotoyuki – My compliments to both rikish for surviving Hatsu, both of which have spent a good amount of time slumming in Juryo over the last year. Ishiura is still looking for a way to compete in spite of his small size, and tends to get confounded by larger opponents. Kotoyuki goes all out, and quite possibly Ishiura will use this against him. Even chances of a henka on this one.

Yutakayama vs Chiyonokuni – Chiyonokuni’s Grumpy Badger Sumo has not taken him as far as one might imagine, and after a disastrous Hatsu, he’s now down at Maegashira 10. Yutakayama won their only prior match, and his 30 kg mass advantage will likely be the deciding factor.

Okinoumi vs Ryuden – The perpetually injured veteran Okinoumi faces off against rising start Ryuden. One has to wonder how much longer Okinoumi will stick with professional sumo, where Ryuden has caught quite a bit of attention with double digit wins during his first Makuuchi tournament. This is their first match.

Abi vs Yoshikaze – I hope and pray that the NHK live stream starts here. This is possibly the highlight match of the day. Yoshikaze was a fraction of his normal level of genki during Hatsu, and I expect him to be fully recovered from the flu or cold or whatever plagued him. He faces off for the first time against leading man of the Freshman class, Abi. This will either be Yoshikaze dispatching the youngster with a deft and rapid kimarite, or it could be a great battle that rotates between oshi and yotsu-zumō in the blink of an eye. This is their first career match.

Kaisei vs Hokutofuji – Kaisei is near the top of his effective rank these days, given his weight and the limitations it places on his sumo. For a time Hokutofuji was a force of nature, but a series of small, but performance limiting, injuries kept him from living up to his awesome potential. With the Hatsu-Haru break, we can only hope that he returns to the dohyo healthy and ready to advance once more. These two have split their prior 2 matches.

Chiyomaru vs Shodai – The crew are all waiting for the day that Shodai fixes his tachiai and becomes a contender. Could Haru be the time we see him snap off shikiri-sen, catching the bulbous Chiyomaru by surprise? More likely, Chiyomaru will use his enormous belly to keep Shodai away from his mawashi, and dominate the match. Chiyomaru has won their only prior match.

Shohozan vs Takakeisho – Oh goodie! “Big Guns” Shohozan goes against Takakeisho’s “Wave Action Tsuppari!” In their prior two matches, Takakeisho has carried the day. But Shohozan is a street brawler with the strength to overwhelm the tadpole. This is likely to be fast and brutal, and we can watch it live!

Ichinojo vs Kotoshogiku – Ichinojo’s back in San’yaku, and he’s put on a vast amount of additional weight. This guy is so seriously huge that an awkward fall is an instant mechanical injury and possibly a ride in the oversized wheelchair. Day one he faces fading former Ozeki, the much loved Kotoshogiku. We all know that Kotoshogiku’s going to try for his hug-n-chug, and will likely get it. But will Ichinojo’s ridiculous bulk be too much for Kotoshogiku’s damaged knees?

Takarafuji vs Tochinoshin – January’s yusho winner goes up against Takarafuji the neck-less wonder. There have been reports that Tochinoshin may have injured himself in training, and this will be our first peek at if the party circuit post-Hatsu took its toll. Their match in January was some solid sumo, with Takarafuji able to block and counter Tochinoshin’s left hand with impressive skill. They are evenly matched with the 8-7 career score slightly favoring Tochinoshin.

Mitakeumi vs Arawashi – The Mitakeumi faithful are hoping that he will finally elevate his sumo and be able to turn in double digit wins at Sekiwake. With a likely cull in the Yokozuna ranks coming in the next 12 months, there is no better time to start driving for higher rank. But Arawashi is not going to be an accomplice to that plan. Though Mitakeumi leads their career bouts 3-1, Arawashi is fast, flexible and not afraid to deliver a henka.

Tamawashi vs Goeido – Tamawashi is frustrated. After losing his coveted Sekiwake slot, he has been a man on the outside looking in. He starts Haru by facing home town favorite Goeido, who may be the key man in this basho. If he delivers his “good” sumo style, he could be unstoppable. Tamawashi is a powerful oshi practitioner, and Goeido will need to get inside fast, and then endure punishing blows to win.

Takayasu vs Endo – Since his thigh injury, Ozeki Takayasu’s sumo has gotten sloppy. He tends to bounce around, not minding his hips or his center of gravity. He relies on a shoulder blast at the tachiai to put him in control of the match. Endo is my sleeper favorite going into Haru, and I would delight to see him counter the Ozeki’s predictable opening move. They are evenly matched at 6-6 for the career, so this is no easy walk over win for Takayasu.

Kakuryu vs Chiyotairyu – Though he is missing his side burns, Chiyotairyu will always be sumo-Elvis to me. We know he’s facing an injured and diminished Kakuryu, who’s main right hand weapon is not working well at all after a bad fall on the final day of Hatsu. So fans should restrain their reactions if Kakuryu uses a lot of pulls and “reverse sumo” this tournament. I give him huge credit for showing up and giving it his all.

16 thoughts on “Haru Day 1 Preview

  1. I truly hope Kakuryu is fit enough to participate. I am such a fan of his technical sumo and he seems like a good guy too. I’d hate for him to withdraw mid yusho, to raise those retirement calls to a new volume.

    From what I’ve read, Tamawashi has been looking tremendous in keiko recently. Could be ready to upset Goeido on day one.

    • Kakuryu himself admits that he is “probably no good”. Says he may be able to pull 8 wins. He’s basically the same as Kisenosato, deprived of his main weapon. Only he is in a better general shape.

        • I am fairly sure that the NSK and Big K have an understanding. He’s the least banged up rope in the set, so he is going to take one for the team, and everyone is going to be grateful.

  2. I wouldn’t be surprised if Kakuryu didn’t last past day 2. Depending on which Chiyotairyu shows up, I’m not even sure Endo will get his chance at a kinboshi.

  3. Well here we go. I don’t expect that Kakuryu’s match will reveal much as he should see off Chiyotairyu as long as he has at least two functioning limbs. The five matches building up to this one however look fascinating:

    Ichinojo should splat Kotoshogiku as he’s bigger, better, younger and primed for an ozeki run but you never know with Ichi. If Kotoshogiku starts well and employs his bump ‘n grind offence Ichinojo might just decide that this one isn’t worth the candle and politely step over the bales.

    Tochinoshin has a decent test against Takarafuji Whatever his injury problems are, I am expecting a convincing win. Anything less could spell trouble for the Gorgeous Georgian.

    Mitakeumi really needs a win on day 1. The red mist descends. He charges: Arawashi dodges,and out he goes. Mitakeumi picks himself up from the clay with a “what just happened” expression on his adorable chops.

    Tamawashi wants to go “blam,blam,blam”, but Goeido isn’t going to fall for that in front of his hometown crowd. He hops around in an inexplicable manner before getting one hand on the mawashi and winning by yori-kii. This one will not be a technical masterclass.

    Takayasu is probably the tournament favourite. Endo is the wildcard. This one will be tough for the fans to pick as they are both much loved. I’ll go for Takayasu but whatever happens, this one could be very instructive.

  4. Aoiyama v Kyokutaisei-not much mentioned about my Hokkaido bit Kyokutaisei and how well he did in Hatsu, and the ultimate irony he was promotes J1e to J1w but gets the vacated slot for the upper level anyway 😉💛

  5. Para-olympics started today so that’s still goin on..
    Tak, tochinoshin, and Jo r top pics. Waiting to c tochinoshin day 1

  6. It is a wonderful idea to put wasabi on Takanoiwa’s mawashi,now all we have to do is put a gallon of srirascha in Takanohana’underware!

    • You say that is if 1) He wears any 2) He’s every going to run out of his own supply. Why do you think he has that expression on his face?

      • Of course he wears underwear. Three layers, actually. One silk. One printed with the face of his late father, and one down-filled.

        (In that strange “tell-all” interview he actually claimed his late father lives on inside him. And he meant that literally, not in the sense of “I remember and cherish his memory every day”. More in the sense of… ever read Children of Dune? More in the sense of Baron Harkonnen in Alia’s consciousness).

  7. Para-olympics started today so that’s still goin on..
    Tak, tochinoshin, and Jo r top pics. Waiting to c tochinoshin day 1

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