Update: Kyokutaisei kyujo; Day 12 Torikumi Posted

Following his brief ill-advised comeback, during which he appeared to further hurt his injured knee, maegashira 11 Kyokutaisei has once again withdrawn from competition. This seals his return to Juryo. Tachiai hopes he will take the time to seek appropriate treatment and heal before returning to the dohyo. Chiyomaru gets a much-needed freebie, and Meisei visits from Juryo on Day 12.

Speaking of Day 12, the torikumi was just posted, and the top-division matches are as predicted: Tochinoshin vs. Hakuho, Kakuryu vs. Takayasu, and Kisenosato vs. Mitakeumi. The schedulers have indeed given Endo a break, instead pulling up Abi to fight Goeido.

Aki lower Makuuchi, Day 10

Iksumo has already done a stellar job of reviewing the top of Makuuchi, where all eyes are probably firmly glued to Tochinoshin and Mitakeumi’s struggle and to the Yusho race. Here, though, I’d like to take a moment to discuss the bottom of Makuuchi.

Who’s struggling to avoid demotion? Well, starting from the bottom of the Banzuke and working up, we immediately find M16w Ishiura in the very lowest spot, with a 3-7 record. Compounding his problems is the fact that, at the bottom of the division, his opponents generally come from higher and higher in Makuuchi as the basho goes on. If he doesn’t win every single one of his remaining matches, he’ll very likely be dropping back to Juryo just in time to meet his stable-mate Enho on the way up. He fights a fairly genki Nishikigi tomorrow, an opponent against whom he has a decent winning record of 7-5.

M16e Kotoyuki‘s 4-6 record puts him in nearly as much trouble, but it’s worth noting that he had a run of three losses at the start of the basho during which his sumo was, to put it frankly, terrible. He’s since sorted that out, and although he’s picked up another three losses, it’s possible that he’ll be able to scrape together a bare kachi-koshi. His opponent tomorrow is Ryuden, though, who is in good fighting form and against whom Kotoyuki has two losses and no wins. It’s not looking great for the owl.

M14w Chiyomaru‘s cuteness won’t save him, but the small buffer between his current position and the bottom of the division might. A 3-7 record isn’t good, but if he finishes at, say, 6-9, he might just about stay in Makuuchi. Worse than that, though, and he’ll be rolling back to Juryo.

The other thing that might save Chiyomaru is some minor disasters from higher up the banzuke. M11w Kyokutaisei is the eternally round one’s opponent tomorrow, he has only managed one win so far, and he is pretty obviously injured. If he can’t make a near-miraculous recovery, he’ll be back out of Makuuchi after holding on for three tournaments.

Glancing a little higher we have Aoiyama, who I would normally consider as safe as houses at M10e, but his 2-8 record and obvious knee injury put him in real peril. His opponent tomorrow is Onosho, which isn’t quite as bad for the Bulgarian as it sounds because Onosho hasn’t been fighting particularly well either this basho.

Juryo Yusho Arasoi

Out of these five in-trouble rikishi – plus new Makuuchi entrant Takanosho, who at 5-5 and M14e could go either way in the last few days – how many are likely to fall to Juryo? Well, frankly, your guess is as good as mine because seriously look at this nonsense.

To the right is the Juryo leaderboard for day 10. Basically everyone is either 6-4 or 5-5. There could be six or more prospective promotees, or there could be zero. Arawashi seems likely to make a Makuuchi comeback, since from his J1e position, he’ll now mostly be facing opponents from mid- rather than upper-Juryo, and Meisei and Yago seem well placed to accompany him. Although, of the three, only Arawashi has faced a Makuuchi opponent so far.

This would be Yago’s Makuuchi debut, and I know Herouth at least is very much looking forward to it. Plus, he’ll finally be allowed a shikona.

Tachiai Aki Coverage Notes

Tachiai banner worried guy

A word to all of our readers, whom we deeply appreciate. Through good fortune and good friends, I am on my way to Tokyo to watch days 13/14/15 of Aki. While I am enjoying being in the Kokugikan, you will see a bit of a change up from our regular authors, and our normal posting format. We have several great contributors here at Tachiai, and they will be filling in for any of the basho news slots I might miss. Never fear, all is well (better than well!), and Tachiai will continue to be your source for all of the sumo you can wrap your hands around, each and every day.

Aki State of Play, Day 10

Kakuryu and Hakuho both remained undefeated and on track for a final-day showdown for all the marbles. Their bouts against Mitakeumi and Ichinojo, respectively, went about how you’d expect Yokozuna vs. Sekiwake matchups to go—good entertaining sumo, but with the outcome never really in doubt. Tomorrow, they both face Ozeki challengers. Kakuryu takes on Tochinoshin, who needs every win he can get. The lifetime record favors the Yokozuna 22-2, although they’ve split their last two bouts. Hakuho will battle the lone 9-1 chaser, Takayasu, who is 2-16 against the Dai-Yokozuna.

Kisenosato got his all-important 8th victory against the shadow of Endo, and lives to fight another day. Tomorrow, he will attempt to get closer to the “Yokozuna kachi-koshi” of 10 wins against Ichinojo. Interestingly, their record only favors the Yokozuna by 8-5, with Ichinojo winning the last two, but those bouts both took place during recent tournaments that Kisenosato was not able to complete.

Goeido lost his Ozeki clash with Takayasu, and falls two off the pace in the yusho race. He will attempt to bounce back against 5-5 Shodai, who is very much in the hunt for san’yaku promotion. Their record is quite even at 6-4, and Shodai has claimed two of this year’s three prior meetings.

Mitakeumi could not pull off an upset against Kakuryu, and his Ozeki run hangs by a thread. His attempt to run the table starts tomorrow against Kaisei, who’d won all of their prior matches until the Sekiwake finally prevailed during his breakthrough yusho-winning July campaign. If he fails to get the 11 wins he likely needs for promotion this time, Mitakeumi will want to carry as many wins as possible into Kyushu for a chance to try again there.

Forecast for the remaining upper-rank bouts

Day 11: Mitakeumi vs. Kaisei, Goeido vs. Shodai, Kakuryu vs. Tochinoshin, Kisenosato vs. Ichinojo, Hakuho vs. Takayasu.

Day 12: Mitakeumi vs. Kisenosato, Tochinoshin vs. Hakuho, Takayasu vs. Kakuryu

Day 13: Goeido vs. Kakuryu, Kisenosato vs. Hakuho

Day 14: Mitakeumi vs. Takayasu, Goeido vs. Hakuho, Kisenosato vs. Kakuryu

Day 15: Tochinoshin vs. Takayasu, Goeido vs. Kisenosato, Hakuho vs. Kakuryu

In the final four days, Mitakeumi will also face 2 maegashira opponents (Yutakayama and Endo?), as will Tochinoshin (Shodai and Endo?), while Takayasu and Goeido will face one apiece (Endo for both?). Given Endo’s 1-9 record and obvious lack of fighting shape, perhaps the schedulers will take pity on him and bring up some better-performing rikishi from just outside the joi (Abi, Myogiryu, Asanoyama) to face the upper ranks instead.

In tomorrow’s post, I’ll take a closer look at the san’yaku promotion race and the fight to stay out of Juryo.

Day 10 Highlights

Takayasu Salt
Image courtesy of the Japan Sumo Association Twitter Feed

Act two is in the record books, and the yusho race is down to three credible contenders. Entering into the final 3 days, the Ozeki and Yokozuna will face each other daily, and the level of competition will ratchet higher. It’s still possible that Aki will be won with an unbeaten 15-0 record, which would be a great mark to achieve during a year of tournaments plagued by injuries and absent rikishi.

Highlight Matches

Ishiura defeats Ryuden – With no room for another loss, and his position in the top division at stake, Ishiura finds his sumo. Today’s match was some of his best, and one has to wonder where this has been for the past year.

Yoshikaze defeats Nishikigi – I swear, you can see Nishikigi get nervous as Yoshikaze pulls him to his chest, and Nishikigi realizes he is in contact with the Yoshikaze mystery rash. You know, if its all over your torso anyhow, why not use it to help win? Dekimono-kiri anyone? In better news, it does look like the rash is clearing up.

Takanosho defeats Sadanoumi – Sadanoumi starts strong, but Takanosho rallies after he lands a nodowa. With his neck pinned back and his body too high, Sadanoumi can offer little defense as Takanosho drives forward and wins.

Kotoyuki defeats Kyokutaisei – Much to my surprise, Kotoyuki looked strong and forceful today, and did not go sailing into the zabuton. Instead he won over Kyokutaisei, who may have compounded his right knee injury.

Takanoiwa defeats Tochiozan – Takanoiwa reaches kachi-koshi on day 10, cementing his return to the top division after almost a year recovering from injury and battling his way back up the banzuke. Kimarite is listed as sotogake, for that leg trip he applied to Tochiozan at the tawara.

Kagayaki defeats Aoiyama – Kagayaki’s first ever win over the Bulgarian meat mountain. Clearly Aoiyama desperately needs some recovery time, and is now make-koshi.

Onosho defeats Daishomaru – A quick but effective hatakikomi, notable in that it’s only Onosho’s 3rd win of the tournament.

Myogiryu defeats Kotoshogiku – Myogiryu’s speed and intensity prevents Kotoshogiku from setting up any offensive sumo.

Asanoyama defeats Hokutofuji – After a blazing 7-0 start, Hokutofuji seems to have hit a wall, and is now on a three-match losing streak. Hokutofuji invested too much time trying to get his nodowa to pay off, all the while Asanoyama was moving forward and maneuvering Hokutofuji’s body into an increasingly perilous position.

Chiyonokuni defeats Shohozan – It was a given that these two would show a lot of action, and it did not disappoint. Repeatedly charging each other, it was more a game of bumper cars at first. The match ended before there could be any bloodshed when Shohozan lost his footing and stepped outside the bales.

Takarafuji defeats Abi – Takarafuji shows us how its done. He patiently absorbs Abi’s double arm thrusts, carefully deflecting part of each thrust and circling a step to his left each time. Forced to constantly adjust his stance, Abi’s rhythm is disrupted. Takarafuji reads this with great skill, finds an opening, and drives Abi out. Great tactics from Takarafuji today.

Shodai defeats Chiyotairyu – Chiyotairyu picks up his make-koshi. The NHK team did not necessarily concur with the gyoji’s indication that Shodai had won the match, but none of the judges asked to review the gunbai.

Tamawashi defeats Ikioi – Both rikishi fought with a lot of power, with Tamawashi finishing the match with a burst of strength that lifted and threw Ikioi from the dohyo. That was big!

Takakeisho defeats Yutakayama – Solid Takakeisho style oshi-zumo today, Yutakayama was powerless to mount any kind of useful defense. Why did he come back from kyujo again?

Tochinoshin defeats Kaisei – Kadoban Ozeki Tochinoshin sores a much needed win against Kaisei, keeping the chances of him clearing kadoban plausible. The two were chest to chest from the start, and both men were trying to outmuscle the other. Both were able to lift each other, but struggled to do more than stand in the center of the dohyo, keeping their opponent at bay. Kaisei tired first, and Tochinoshin lifted him enough to carry him out. Tochinoshin’s magic number is now 2.

Takayasu defeats Goeido – The two Ozeki surprisingly decided to go chest to chest and fight it out yotsu-style. This seems to have been a smart move for Takayasu, as Goeido’s mobility did not factor into the match, and Takayasu was able to contain and control his fellow Ozeki. For fans of unusual winning moves, we got to see Takayasu apply a kainahineri, or a two handed twist down. This leaves Takayasu as the sole rikishi one loss behind the Yokozuna.

Kisenosato defeats Endo – As expected, Kisenosato picks up his kachi-koshi and completes his return to active sumo competition. A series of matta marred the match, and when they finally launched on the fourth attempt, Kisenosato charged forward ahead and took Endo out quickly. With win number 8, the pressure on Kisenosato subsides a bit. He can remain an active, competing Yokozuna, and work to improve his performance at Kyushu. The sumo world breathes a sigh of welcome relief.

Hakuho defeats Ichinojo – Glad to see Ichinojo actually put in an effort today. He had Hakuho working to keep the giant contained, and several times Ichinojo was able to generate good forward pressure. However, Hakuho remains undefeated and tied for the lead.

Kakuryu defeats Mitakeumi – Points to Mitakeumi for a strong tachiai and backing the Yokozuna to the tawara, but Kakuryu rallies and hands Mitakeumi his 4th defeat. This likely puts his Ozeki bid on hold until Kyushu unless he can find a way to overcome both Kisenosato and Takayasu. Frankly, Mitakeumi is not looking genki enough to pull that one off, as stamina is starting to play a role in everyone’s sumo.