Aki Day 7 Highlights

Kakuryu Dohyo-iri

Its becoming clear that we may be seeing the limit of what Kisenosato can endure for now. After more than 18 months without a full tournament schedule, he may be finding himself running low on stamina. In his bout today, he was completely disrupted by Chiyonokuni, who dominated the match. In fact it was clear that both the Yokozuna and the crowd in the Kokugikan thought that Chiyonokuni had likely won the match. This marks the third time this basho that Chiyonokuni has blown a win by stepping out early, and it’s something he needs to correct.

Overnight Saturday US time, NHK World will once again be broadcasting live the final hour of Makuuchi. Team Tachiai is trying to decide if there will be a live blog or not. If we are going to live-blog the event, we will post a notice before evening.

Highlight Matches

Takanosho defeats Yoshikaze – Yoshikaze again gets too far forward, and is easily sent out. It was great to see Yoshikaze start 5-0, and it’s a good bet he will pick up the remaining 3 for a kachi-koshi. This win lifts Takanosho above .500, and he has to be pleased with his debut tournament thus far.

Takanoiwa defeats Ishiura – Takanoiwa anticipates Ishiura’s henka (everyone does it seems) and Ishiura has no way to escape the counter-attack. Its looking increasingly likely Ishiura will be back in Juryo.

Ryuden defeats Chiyoshoma – Two rikishi who have reputations for using matta and henka in their matches actually throw down and decide to battle. They both gave it a lot of effort, and it looked like real sumo.

Chiyomaru defeats Aoiyama – Once again, Aoiyama goes tumbling from the kind of shove that he normally laughs off. Clearly he is injured, and is struggling to stay on his feet and in balance. The win is good news for Chiyomaru, who needs to stay as close to the kachi-koshi line as he can.

Hokutofuji defeats Sadanoumi – The match moved from oshi to yotzu in a blink of an eye, and Hokutofuji was clearly dominating every key element. With a 7-0 start, he is looking increasingly likely to be a real contender for 2019. After recovering from his concussion, his hand injuries and god knows what else, his sumo is fast, tight and aggressive.

Kotoshogiku defeats Daieisho – Strong win by Kotoshogiku, he never did get chest to chest with Daiesho, but he was able to grab a firm hold of him and march forward with strength. It’s a shame this man’s body is fading, he can execute some solid sumo.

Tochiozan defeats Asanoyama – Best element of the match – the crowd gasps at the loud “crack” at the tachiai. Tochiozan, as is his custom, takes his time and dismantles Asanoyama with efficiency and power. Like Kotoshogiku, the level of skill he possesses far outstrips his aging body’s ability to execute. But on days when he can line them up, he can win.

Shohozan defeats Myogiryu – Setting sumo aside, these two decided to recreate the battle of Tsushima, with Myogiryu relegated to the role of the Russian fleet. Both men were bashing each other to bits, but in such a match, the advantage is always to “Big Guns” Shohozan.

Abi defeats Onosho – Onosho brought strength, Abi brought agility, and agility carried the day. I am a Onosho supporter, but he’s still trying to piece together his post-injury sumo, its clear.

Kaisei defeats Ikioi – Ikioi’s strength was not enough to overcome Kaisei’s significant mass and determination to drive forward. Clearly Ikioi is going to have a big reset down the banzuke for Kyushu.

Mitakeumi defeats Takakeisho – Takakeisho spent the first part of the match using Mitakumi’s face as a punching bag, and the blows rang loudly through the Kokugikan, eliciting gasps from the crowd. Mitakeumi absorbed them all and remained focused. In spite of having his heels of the tawara, Mitakeumi expected Takakeisho to overcommit and lunge to finish him off. He was not wrong. With the timing that underscores Mitakeumi’s sumo skill and ring sense, he moved aside just enough to give Takakeisho an express trip to the clay. Two take-aways from this match: Mitakeumi has rather impressive focus, Takakeisho is maybe a year away from walking the same path Mitakeumi is on now.

Tochinoshin defeats Ichinojo – Sadly, Ichinojo once again gave up, in spite of having the upper hand at the start of the match. It was good news for Tochinoshin, as he is still working to clear kadoban.

Takayasu defeats Tamawashi – These two have a long rivalry, and it showed in today’s match. Many opponents are disrupted by Takayasu’s tachiai, Tamawashi seemed completely unmoved and immediately launched to attack. But in he overcommitted, and Takayasu slapped him forward and down. Tamawashi is also likely to see a big drop down the banzuke for Kyushu.

Goeido defeats Chiyotairyu – Chiyotairyu could not repeat his magic for day 7, though he clearly got the best of the tachiai. But Goeido seems to be working on some kind of new GoeiDOS 2.2, and I have to say it seems to be a stable build.

Kisenosato defeats Chiyonokuni – Kisenosato won, but once again we have a marathon struggle against a Maegashira that might have gone either way. I would say that Kisenosato is suffering from not having to do 15 days of tournament sumo for the past 18 months, and his stamina may be spent at this point. If he can rack 2 more wins, he can at least claim his kachi-koshi. There is also the specter that he may have had an ankle injury when Chiyotairyu fell on him after Goeido ejected his opponent to win the match.

Hakuho defeats Endo – Endo is a mess right now, and the winning move is listed as koshikudake, meaning Endo fell down on his own. Hakuho was in full battle mode, and his momentum carried him into the first row of zabuton. Looking at the replays, it looks like Endo’s knee gave out. Hopefully it’s not another case for surgery.

Kakuryu defeats Shodai – Straightforward Kakuryu sumo, he continues to look strong and fight in forward gears. I suspect he will be the man to beat for the yusho.

8 thoughts on “Aki Day 7 Highlights

  1. Kisenosato’s took some time to come to terms with Chiyonokuni’s fast, shifting, all-action oshi attack; that was understandable given that we know he is far from 100%.and that his opponent came out like a Tasmanian Devil with a Scotch Bonnet chili up his bum. The problem is that when he did get a left hand belt hold he couldn’t do a damn thing with it. Kisenosato v Chiyonokuni in a belt-wrestling contest should take about 2 seconds before the little guy is gently escorted over the bales but it just wasn’t happening. This should have been Kisenoato’s easiest match, the additional push-over he gets against a low-ranker to fill out his card because he doesn’t have to fight Takayasu. I’m sure he’s going to gut it out to the end, because he is a proud warrior, but I don’t think that this story is going to have a happy ending.

    • He’s clearly not his old self, and may never be again, but he’s 6-1. Of his remaining eight matches, 5 will be tough: 2 Yokozuna, 2 Ozeki, and promotion-seeking Mitakeumi. But the remaining 3 look very winnable: an underachieving Ichinojo, Endo, who’s barely showing up for his bouts, and Abi (who, okay, judging by today, might be a lot to handle). 9-6 or even 8-7 buys him time to try to improve further by Kyushu.

      • Don’t forget that he does have to fight Tamawashi tomorrow so it will probably be Endo OR Abi. Please let it be Abi! I have been waiting for Tamawashi to snap out of his torpor but he has been fighting like an absolute lemon this basho. Given Kisenosato’s rotten luck however, (Chiyotairyu falling on his sore ankle etc) tomorrow will probably be the day that Big Tam bring out the rocket launchers.

      • I too think he will get his kachikoshi. I think there is a good chance he even gets a win out of the 5 difficult fights. Tochinoshin is clearly not full strength and Goeido often stumbles in week 2. For Mitakeumi the pressure will rise, we will see how he deals with it (depends when they face each other). I think tomorrows match against Tamawashi will give us a good idea. Thats another difficult match up in his current shape. besides the miserable record, I think Tamawashi is tougher challenge than Chiyonokuni..

  2. I hope Kisenosato didn’t hurt his ankle. The look on his face signaled some pain as chiyotairyo fell on it. I think the bewildered look on his face at the end of the battle was actually more like “did he really go through with this after stepping outside 1m?!?!?”. You can see he already stopped any resistance against the throw.

    Anyway, the fight went more or less as I expected. A Kisenosato in top shape would probably get a grip at the tachiai and this fight is over, but Kisenosato is a bit more reactive all basho. He was just waiting out Chiyonokuni, letting him tire and wait for his pick. His balance and defensive stance is still impressive. Wouldn’t say Chiyonokuni dominated the fight, but he was surely the active part

    • You’re absolutely right there. He looks down, sees Chiyonokuni’s foot is out, and I think at that point he rolls with the throw rather than risking injury.

      Pre-injury Kisenosato would have destroyed Chiyonokuni in short order, but we’re not getting that guy back. I honestly don’t mind if Kisenosato goes intai immediately after this tournament; what matters to me is that he bit the bullet, came back, and is showing that he has so much honed skill that he can still hang at the top of Makuuchi even without the pectoral muscle on his dominant arm.

  3. I just watched some Ichinojo action from 2015. It’s striking to see how much more active and athletic he was back then. The immense amount of weight he’s added over the last three years has turned him into a Daimajin statue. In fact, Ichinojo has become the bizarro version of Daimajin: He’s (marginally) animated until he gets whacked; then he turns into a statue.

  4. I think I would almost feel insulted if I were Tochinoshin; Tochi’s one of the few rikshi for whom Ichinojo usually at least tried, but this time, he didn’t even do THAT much! And yeah, I heard about the ankle thing on Twitter just before going to sleep and winced watching it on NHK World over dinner. (Dinner and sumo belong together like rice and soy sauce, in my book.) Going to have to DVR the live airing, though; I can’t do those 3-4 am mornings like I used to be able to.

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