Day 15 Recap and Comments

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The sumo has ended, and the senshuraku parties are raging on into the night. It’s a celebration in Nagoya as a new rikishi has won his first yusho after a remarkable run of victories. Mitakeumi makes for a really interesting champion, in that he has been remarkably consistent for some time now, but like Tochinoshin was just below the threshold of contender. Then something changed, and he became the man to beat in Nagoya. Part of this is, of course, the natural reaction to the top men of sumo being sidelined. Nature abhors a vacuum, and in the absence of the Yokozuna, new champions will rise. The real fireworks begin when the new champion confronts the aging kings of sumo. This is just one reason I expect Aki could be the most exciting basho in several years.

Mitakeumi is clearly in an Ozeki campaign now, and with good cause. The two big wrinkles to any claim he might make have to be the questionable loss to Takayasu, and the fact that Yutakayama beat him today. Don’t get me wrong, I am damn impressed with the sumo on display today by both men. And the fact that Freshman Yutakayama was able to take the fight to Mitakumi and prevail speaks clearly to just how much competition there will be in the next two years. As sumo’s current mainstays all fade and move on, the new crowd are going to battle it out to see who gets to take the top spots. Frankly, I can’t wait.

There may be a pretty good churn between Juryo and Makuuchi for the fall. Takanoiwa won the Juryo yusho in a playoff, and finished with an impressive 13-2 record. The man was on fire, and much like Mitakeumi, seems to have had a breakout basho. In all there were 4 rikishi who finished Juryo with 10 or more wins.

Lastly, I would be remiss if I did not mention that Yoshikaze picked up his second win on the final day, and by our sage’s predictions, this will possibly keep him in Makuuchi for the fall. Whatever ails Yoshikaze, I do hope he can heal up and overcome. A healthy Yoshikaze at the bottom of the banzuke is an unmitigated terror that I think every young rikishi should have the pleasure of encountering.

Some Match Notes

Ishiura resorted once more to solid “small man sumo” and used a leg pick to control Chiyomaru’s mighty bulk. By improving his make-koshi to 7-8, he has greatly cushioned his demotion for Aki. I also think that maybe Ishiura may have started a new chapter in his sumo.

Onosho finishes in double digits on his return to Makuuchi, and strongly repelled Myogiryu’s successful opening gambit. I am expecting some great things from Onosho in the fall. I think he will be just outside the joi, and will be “the cutter” of middle Maegashira.

Okinoumi was able to finish with a kachi-koshi as Chiyoshoma went kyujo on the final day. That means that yet another rikishi dropped from this torturous basho, and this broke Chiyoshoma’s near 500 consecutive match attendance streak.

Hokutofuji vs Chiyotairyu featured a false start that quickly devolved into a flurry of good manners and congenial behavior. This is one of the reasons I love sumo. Hokutofuji finishes with 11 wins and will be in a much tougher cohort for Aki.

Sadanoumi was able to overcome Daishomaru for his kachi-koshi, while his opponent Daishomaru dropped to 5-10.

Takakeisho went chest to chest at the tachiai against Asanoyama, and kept him there. I suspect Takakeisho is more versatile than assumed, and may be looking to broaden his sumo in wise preparation for maintaining higher ranks. Both rikishi finish in double digits. Asanoyama also picked up the fighting spirit prize (Kanto-Sho).

Abi’s long reach was equaled by Aoiyama, and it was quite the discovery process for both of them. I did like to see Abi do everything he could to try to keep Aoiyama from falling from the dohyo. But frankly Abi, there is only so much you can do when that much mass is in motion.

Then there was possibly THE match of the basho. Yutakayama gave his all against Mitakeumi, and beat him. Mitakeumi had the early advantage, but for some reason started trying to pull down Yutakayama. With these two so evenly matched, the pull attempt did little more than send Mitakeumi off balance and moving in reverse (not a good place to be). He eventually was able to recover offensive footing, but not before Yutakayama had chanced him around the dohyo. Now chest to chest, Mitakeumi advanced to deliver the yorikiri, but Yutakayama loaded and executed a rescue throw (kakenage) at the edge. Fantastic sumo.

Endo continued his fade, and delivered Ichinojo’s kachi-koshi for his final match. After trying to get some kind of offense going from the tachiai, Endo learns he cannot move the boulder. With one arm, Ichinojo lashes out and Endo goes flying.

Lastly, Ozeki Goeido finishes with double digit wins for the first time since Aki 2017 as Takayasu seems to be caught improvising into the tachiai. Both of you knuckleheads go back to Tokyo and get yourselves fixed up.

Thank you, dear readers, for once again sharing your love of sumo with us, and spending your time enjoying the sport on Tachiai.

36 thoughts on “Day 15 Recap and Comments

        • Mitakeumi’s Dewanoumi stable don’t have any other wrestlers in the top division,so the honour went to Tochiozan, who is from Kasugano stable which is in the same “ichimon” or group of stables. The alternatives would have been Myogiryu or Aoiyama.

          • tigerboy, thank you. I didn’t know any of that stuff. Odd that the flag holder would be the guy that Mitakeumi defeated to win the yusho. Just saying.

  1. After today’s bout, I would not be surprised to see Mitakeumi battle Yutakayama at the very top of the torikumi before too long, on a regular basis, and for years to come.

    Predictions on what the results mean for the Aki banzuke to come. Unhelpfully, SumoDb is down at the moment…

    • I just hope Mitakeumi stays healthy and keeps improving but it’s hard to make long-term predictions in sumo.Three years ago it was head-smackingly obvious that Terunofuji was going to be the next yokozuna and it was a case of “when”, not “if”.

        • When he was still Oyanagi there was a lot of hype around him. When he finally reached Makuuchi and changed his shikona, he went ice cold. Now it seems he finally arrived.
          Let’s hope he can build up some consistency. The tools seem to be there.

  2. I think Ishiura is benefitting from the presence of Enho. Maybe he practices with him more these days.

    Speaking of Enho, have you noticed that he no longer flies off the dohyo every time, win or lose? Maybe it’s that bit of bulk he added, or maybe he gained better control of his center of gravity.

    Abi, for all his childishness, has good manners, especially if his rival is injured.

    Day 14 and 15 saw Tamawashi become a shade of himself. Maybe it’s his own guilty feelings, maybe it’s Chiyotairyu’s trash talk, but he seemed very passive when he engaged and kind of afraid to take the initiative. I hope this doesn’t carry over to the next basho. I don’t really think he was breaking bones callously.

    As for Mitakeumi’s ozeki run – I don’t know. I’m sure if he wins 11 that don’t include at least a yokozuna and a strong ozeki, there is going to be a heated argument in the shimpan department about this, or the NSK board itself will not ratify the shimpan department’s decision. Of the 22 wins he has so far, there is only one win against an Ozeki – that win against Goeido yesterday – and that’s it. No Yokozuna, no Ozeki. So there will be a faction that will want to promote a fresh and genki Japanese because of popularity considerations, especially if Takayasu continues to fizzle (Goeido is one big fizzle anyway). And then there will be those who will compare his records to previous recent Ozeki advancements and go “humph”. Do they want to promote someone only to have him stay at Ozeki for 10 years with constant 8-7 records and the occasional kadoban?

      • Right, there is a difference between going 11-4 with losses to (say) Hakuho, Kakuryu, Takayasu and Tochinoshin, and going 11-4 when none of them are around or at full strength. BTW, in his Ozeki-clinching 11-4 basho, Takayasu beat Goeido and Harumafuji, and lost to Hakuho and Terunofuji (also picking up losses against Sekiwake Tamawashi and M5 Shodai).

    • Which makes it more of a shame that his bout with Takayasu was decided the way it was. If all the Yokuzuna and Ozeki beat him next time, that’s one thing, but if most of them aren’t around to fight again, well…

    • :”Do they want to promote someone only to have him stay at Ozeki for 10 years with constant 8-7 records and the occasional kadoban?”

      What’s wrong with that? Surely that would be better than alternate kadoban yusho?

      Inquiring minds want to know ..

      • I think the real reason they want to promote a young health Japanese is to replenish the yokozuna ranks. They would want a highly motivated, hate-to-lose man.

        • +100 on what Herouth said. While we fans love the match by match ebb and flow, the NSK is also looking at the future of their sport. All of the Yokozuna are near the end of their careers. They need some young folks who will show up every basho and fight for 15 days. While they can’t just say, “Hey, Endo – in late 2019 we are going to make you a Yokozuna”. They can work to arrange conditions that give some rikishi the chance to prove themselves. Sometimes quite a few chances.

    • Barring any injuries, we’re going to have three Ozeki and two Yokozunas start Aki. My assumption is Mitakeumi will be scheduled to face most off them in the first couple of days, so that he has to face them to see if he passes muster.

      • That would be very unusual. A sekiwake is never scheduled with t
        he upper echelon in the first week.

          • OK, I stand corrected. He could get a couple of Ozeki. But do you think the schedulers are likely to do it this way this time? Kisenosato is almost certain to be gone in the second week.

            • I don’t think they ever really plan the sanyaku matches with potential future withdrawals in mind; the assumption is that all the required matches will have to take place. The alternative just risks that they end up with an impossible schedule if the dropout doesn’t happen.

              It’s not quite the same thing, but they surely would have done Mitakeumi-Ichinojo instead of Mitakeumi-Tochiozan on Day 14 this time if they had been planning ahead for senshuraku with an eye on putting a maegashira against Mita there. But the plan was for Mita-Ichi there on Day 15 all the way, as customary, until they changed it at the eleventh hour.

              The most that happens – or at least happened in the past – is that severely underperforming sekiwake/komusubi will often have their sanyaku pairings moved up so that they all take place before the guy goes makekoshi early at 1-8 or whatever.

    • Tamawashi found himself in a pretty odd position on the final weekend which might go someway to explaining his lacklustre efforts. Having got his KK on day 13,there was nothing he could do to advance his status: he was sure to retain komusubi rank but promotion to ozeki was entirely dependent on the performance of Ichinojo. Then we had the news that Ichi would not be going up against Mitakeumi as expected,but would be facing Endo. When that pairing was announced Tam must have known that his chances of promotion dropped from about 70% to around 30%,and there was absolutely nothing he could do about it. “Ah,screw it,I’ll save it for Aki” was an understandable response.

    • Whether or not he gets promotion after next basho, if he just goes 11-4 the remaining two bashos, he will be at 35 wins after aki and should get promoted wheter or not he has a stellar Yokozuna record or not.
      Seems easy if he can somewhat conserve his form from this basho, given how shaky/not genki the top has looked lately.
      With Kisenosato probably out forever and Hakuho not getting really genki again, the toughest machups for him are also gone or more doable. Remains to be seen how strong Tochinoshin will return and if he can mount this Yokozuna run.

      • People often tend to see the latest result as an indication of a trend. My fave basketball team won the Euroleague Championship in 2014. For some years before that it has had a lousy record, but after that performance in 2014, everybody was saying “They are back to their glory days!” and bought tickets expecting to see them in the Final Four every year.

        In reality, that was a statistical outlier. The team continued its declining trend in the years that followed and has not recovered yet. I think the term is “regression to the mean”.

        What I’m trying to say is – Mitakeumi so far – even with a couple of kyujo yokozuna – has not performed all too wonderfully. This tournament he looked good but it may be just like that 2014 basketball thing – the next basho he goes back to single digits. Take a look at his last four basho, not just his last one.

        If he is really the future of sumo, he has to prove it. Now, if this was the first basho to count in his Ozeki run, with two more to go and nobody speaking of that lousy 9-win Natsu as part of it, then that’s fair. Let him pull off two good basho in the future. But counting that 9 win basho seems to me to be playing too much for the numbers and too little for the real aim of showing stability as a winner.

        The head of the Shimpan department – who are the ones who decide on Ozeki promotions – said in an interview that it’s not just about the numbers, and that he doesn’t set a specific number of wins, as he wants to see quality. If he said it this explicitly (when usually Japanese are very circumspect about these things), I’m pretty sure that if Mitakeumi’s Aki basho includes 11 wins and no Yokozuna win, he will be asked to win 11 more at Kyushu before the okami-san can wear her dress kimono.

        Bottom line: beat 2 Yokozuna in Aki, and he’ll probably be Ozeki even with just 10 wins.
        Beat no Yokozuna in Aki, but 11 wins – he should wait for Kyushu, and win 10-11 there.

        • All fair points. Given the 9-6 basho at Komusubi as a “start”, 11 “vanilla” wins might not be enough. But I’m betting 12 would be, even if he loses to Hakuho, Kakuryu and Tochinoshin (assuming all 3 are participating) and beats everyone else…

        • Future of sumo =! needs to be the next yokozuna. Ozumo can always use another average ozeki, especially one who’s young enough to potentially stick around for half a decade. Speaking of fallacies, the notion that every ozeki candidate needs to have yokozuna upside or he’s somehow unqualified is very wide-spread among foreign sumo fans for some reason.

          And there’s always somebody who says that the quality of the wins will be important. It’s a boilerplate statement to imply that the shimpan committee is taking its job seriously and is not just a glorified win-loss counting club.

          • It may be a fallacy generally, but at the moment I believe the NSK is desperately seeking it’s next Japanese Yokozuna. They couldn’t care less if Tochinoshin, for example, shows no tendencies towards the rope, but I don’t think they look at Mitakeumi the same way.

  3. mitakeumi looks like a pikatsu, no other sumo player looks so much like a living picachu :P

    i am no sumo or jappanese expert but if yoshikaze goes to juryo after his bad scores this nagoya basho, juryo might be more interesting to watch than makuuchi :P

    Mitakeumi – Yutakayama day 15 match, now thats the power sumo we all like to see more often

    • Many Yoshikaze fans worry that his decline is career ending, and that if he does drop to Juryo, he would fare no better than he did in Nagoya.

      • I have not seen any reports on what have plagued him. For me it looked like he was simply running out of fuel after a while. Maybe a carry over effect from a flue or cold before basho or something?

  4. I could wish that Ishiura could reach M5/M6 and hold in that area, then maybe I’d get to see more of his bouts. (and not just because he has a cute tushi.

    “I did like to see Abi do everything he could to try to keep Aoiyama from falling from the dohyo”

    I saw several instances of rikishi trying to keep opponents from falling, or helping them back up. I prefer this behavior over late hits to knock someone down. You’ve won the bout, there is no reason to hurt your opponent. The sport is rough enough.

    Strange basho but still fun to watch.


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