Aki Day 9 Highlights

Kisenosato - Tochinoshin Day 9
Image courtesy of the Sumo Association Twitter Feed

The basho is rushing towards the close of act two, and the damaged are being sorted from the survivors. Nowhere was that more clear than the final match of the day which  saw Kisenosato and Tochinoshin battle for a single white star that only one of them could claim.

From now to Senshuraku on Sunday, we will see the highest ranking rikishi battle daily, while the lower ranks face increasingly unusual pairings. Many rikishi will have double digit losses this tournament – the fully-staffed upper ranks guarantee it. So don’t worry if one of your favorites is doing poorly; they will have another chance at glory in November.

Highlight Matches

Okinoumi defeats Yoshikaze – Points to Okinoumi for defeating Yoshikaze without actually touching his rash covered torso. It was painfully obvious that Okinoumi wanted no contact with Yoshikaze’s mystery rash.

Takanoiwa defeats Kyokutaisei – I always wonder why these guys come back from kyujo. They were busted up enough to seek medical treatment, and it’s clear they don’t have the mojo to compete. Kyokutaisei is make-koshi, and I am sure he is going to try and pick up enough wins to keep himself in the top division.

Sadanoumi defeats Kotoyuki – Kotoyuki put up a solid fight today, but ends the match with his obligatory crowd-surfing run, which ends with him cuddling Daieisho. Kotoyuki’s sumo is not quite together enough for Makuuchi this basho, so it will be a long shot for him to stay in the top division for Kyushu.

Daieisho defeats Ishiura – Also on the express Juryo return voyage is Ishiura, who has not been able to win in spite of putting his back into his sumo. The man has talent, and is clearly driven to excel, but something is missing (besides a kachi-koshi).

Ryuden defeats Shohozan – Ryuden masterfully shuts down Shohozan’s mobility advantage, and traps him in a painful embrace. Unable to clear the hold and unleash his barrage of blows against Ryuden, Shohozan struggles to free his arms, as Ryuden makes him dance to his tune. Every time he nearly breaks free, Ryuden locks him up once more. Actually a fantastic display of a specific, narrow strategy executed with grim determination to great effect. Ryuden scores his 8th win, and looks to be on track for double digits.

Takarafuji defeats Onosho – I am fairly certain that after the basho we may learn that Onosho’s knee is going to require further work. He simply cannot generate much forward pressure right now, and Takarafuji contains him and drives him from the ring. It’s important that Onosho get this thing healed up and working, as he has a lot of great sumo coming his way over the next few years.

Kagayaki defeats Hokutofuji – A bit of a surprise as Hokutofuji’s hot streak turns cold. It’s true that Kagayaki executed well, Hokutofuji’s handshake tachiai / nodowa did not last more than a moment, and Kagayaki successfully landed a right hand inside, with his left setting up the arm-bar. From there he rotated and rolled into the kotenage for the win.

Kotoshogiku defeats Asanoyama – Asanoyama foolishly goes chest to chest with the Kyushu Bulldozer and gets left in the ditch. The crowd loves to see him do it, and Asanoyama should have known better.

Abi defeats Tochiozan – Tochiozan could not pierce Abi’s “wall of tsuppari” to produce any meaningful offense. Abi advances to 6-3.

Shodai defeats Myogiryu – Back to weak tachiai from Shodai, but he is able to execute the kotenage while traveling in reverse. Myogiryu had higher intensity, but Shodai remained calm and executed.

Yutakayama defeats Chiyotairyu – Yutakayama finally picks up his first win, after returning from kyujo. Chiyotairyu delivered his typical thunderous tachiai, but ceded the inside thrusting position to Yutakayama who used it to dominate Chiyotairyu and control the match.

Kaisei defeats Tamawashi – Tamawashi lost this one at the tachiai, as he was beaten off the shikiri-sen by slow moving Kaisei. From there he was always reacting and could not quite generate any offense. This is Tamawashi’s 8th loss and he is now make-koshi and will almost certainly be out of the Komusubi spot next basho.

Ichinojo defeats Ikioi – Ichinojo decides to execute some sumo today, and easily tosses Ikioi aside for the win. Ikioi won the tachiai and pushed Ichinojo to the tawara. But rather than surrendering today, Ichinojo rallied and won. Ikioi’s win over Mitakeumi seems even more bizarre and worrying in this context.

Takayasu defeats Chiyonokuni – Chiyonokuni had command of the early portion of this match. He set the tone and tempo, and Takayasu was forced to follow. But yet again Chiyonokuni found himself stepping a foot out of the ring and losing. Somehow his typically good ring sense is gone, and his feet are costing him dearly needed wins. The disappointment on his face following the match betrays his frustration.

Goeido defeats Takakeisho – Excellent work today from Goeido. He endured a flurry of blows to get inside of Takakeisho, who could only get one wave of attack in before Goeido applied pressure center-mass and advanced. I declare Goeido 2.2 to be one of the better upgrades in a while.

Hakuho defeats Mitakeumi – This match was entertaining because it featured a number of odd elements, including a lengthy pause in the middle with Hakuho nearly upright. In fact, he glanced across Mitakeumi’s back, taking stock of Mitakeumi’s body and leg position. Feigning a leg trip, Hakuho tap’s Mitakeumi’s calf, and breaks the deadlock, to Hakuho’s waiting attack. Ladies and Gentlemen, example 32 of dai-Yokozuna sumo. Mitakeumi’s Ozeki bid is close to failure now, it seems.

Kakuryu defeats Endo – Endo’s make-koshi bout was another example of Endo going through the motions in spite of some undisclosed injury that has left him in no condition to fight as a Maegashira 3.

Kisenosato defeats Tochinoshin – What I like to call a “Darwin” match, only one was going to survive, even though fans wanted them both to win. Kisenosato is now all but assured of a kachi-koshi as he faces Endo on day 10, and Tochinoshin is now in deep trouble in an attempt to clear kadoban. The big Georgian struggled to generate forward pressure, in spite of getting a favorable grip. Kisenosato was too high for most of the match, and it was alarming that Tochinoshin’s multiple attempts to throw the Yokozuna failed. Tochinoshin needs to find 3 more wins to reach safety.

39 thoughts on “Aki Day 9 Highlights

  1. I really feel Hakuho delights in presenting sumo techniques that the fans have never seen before. Who else would dare to stand straight up in the middle of a clinch in the middle of the ring in the middle of a match. And then take a casual glance over his opponent’s back to check either his grip and/ or his opponent’s stance. It’s as though he wants everyone to leave the arena talking about HIS bout. What a hoot.

    • For a while there, Mitakeumi looked like a sad little boy giving his Dad a good-bye hug before his father left on a long business trip. Can anyone translate what he yelled on his way back to the locker room?

    • My dad used to say that a smart man can get himself out of trouble a wise man would never have gotten himself into.

      At the tachiai it seemed that Hakuho has secured his favorite left-hand-outside grip. But as a matter of fact his fingers are holding on to the sagari strip, and with Mitakeumi circling around, that grip is lost and Mitakeumi has both the left-hand-outside, and a “sashi” on the right side – not yet a grip, but very dangerous.

      And at this point Hakuho doesn’t have a grip with his right hand, and when he achieves one, it’s only “ichimai” – only the outer layer of the mawashi, which is hard to get any leverage with.

      Mitakeumi is trying to get that grip with his right and maneuver the Yokozuna to the edge, and all Hakuho can do is defend. And he has Mitakeumi’s head lifting him up.

      It is at this point that all the cores in Hakuho’s CPU engage. He stands, checks where Mitakeumi has his legs, and waits for Mitakeumi to make a mistake. Mitakeumi avoids the #1 rookie mistake, which is getting pressured by the gyoji’s “Oi, Hakkeoi” and trying something prematurely. He waits.

      Hakuho uses that stalemate to catch his breath. Quite some time passes between him checking the leg and actually using it. As he sees that Mitakeumi doesn’t make that mistake or any other, he adjusts his own footing, and does that decoy-tap on Mitakeumis leg, drawing his attention away from his real intent: doing a makikae with his left hand. He doesn’t get a grip with it, but he manages to shatter all that Mitakeumi has achieved, and then uses that ichimai on the right for a push rather than a throw or anything that requires leverage.

      So it’s less about showing the audience tricks that they haven’t heard about, and more an awesome display of survival skills. Mitakeumi really showed some excellent sumo. It should have worked. It didn’t, because he was facing a genius.

      • Great description Herouth, made me go back and watch the replays. There was also a point before the stand up where Hakuho tried and failed to get the left hand makikae. Nice block by the sekiwake.

        At the end Hakuho’s left inside becomes a nodowa to finish the match – leaving Mitakeumi screaming in frustration…

        Not much of a final bow from Mitakeumi.

      • Very similar standing pose by Hakuho with his opponent in his chest, and same kick-trick happened in Osaka 2015 day 15. The opponent was of course the formidable Harumafuji and it took much longer for Hakuho to achieve yorikiri. Yesterday, Hakuho just went back in time in his mind and found the way to push out Mitakeumi.

    • Very similar standing pose by Hakuho with his opponent in his chest, and same kick trick happened in Osaka 2015 day 15. The opponent was of course the formidable Harumafuji and it took much longer for Hakuho to achieve yorikiri.

  2. It was hard to know who to root for in the Tochinoshin – Kisenosato match! I am still rooting for both of them, and Mitakeumi.

    If an ozeki doesn’t clear kadoban, and gets demoted, what do they need to do to get back to ozeki? I’m hoping he wouldn’t have to start from scratch.

    And if Mitakeumi doesn’t get 11 wins this time, he still has a chance to reach ozeki if he has a really good basho next time, right?

    • If he is demoted to sekiwake (or as we like to call it, ozekiwake), he needs 10 wins to be re-established as Ozeki.

    • kukufuji, I’m not even going to try to answer your questions because every single poster here knows more about those things than I do, but I absolutely agree about how difficult it was to root against either desperate wrestler in that bout. I rooted for Kis because I think he needed the win and the accompanying confidence that came with the win more than the Georgian, but I like them both.

    • If Tochinoshin can’t make it to 8 wins, he is demoted to a special Sekiwake (we call it Ozekiwake) and can regain Ozeki rank with 10 wins. A healthy Tochinoshin can pull down 10 wins. An injured on will likely struggle.

      Regardless of the outcome of this basho, Mitakeumi needs 33 wins across 3 tournaments to secure a valid Ozeki promotion bid.

      • Yes. The potential saving detail for Mitakeumi, is that his 9-6 May basho will drop off the total and be replaced by what-ever he manages this time. So even a 9-6 at Aki, leaves him no worse off.

        The thing that would really help him in November is to have a handful of the top rankers call in sick.

    • For me, it was an easy bout to choose someone to root for. The person who is doing their best and not being given extra special chances: Tochinoshin.

      I just cannot, in good conscience, root for Kisenosato. I feel that he has no business being there to begin with.

      His treatment flies in the face of the meritocracy that sumo claims it is. The only reason he was given this long of a time to flounder in tournaments or miss them all together due to injury is because he is the only Japanese Yokozuna, and they are desperate to keep a Japanese person as a Yokozuna as long as can be. If he was ANY of the other three Yokozuna that have been active since he reached his rank, he’d have been forced to retire about 2 or 3 tournaments ago, I believe.

      Rooting for him is rooting for someone to make the best of an undeserved opportunity.

      • Yeah, but Jared, IF he had opted for the surgery and IF the post-surgical healing process had taken this long, would the man not deserve a year plus to regain his health and fighting ability?

        • I think that those are big ifs. If he had done that, straight away, I could not fault him.

          But, he didn’t. He tried to perform, and failed utterly. Then he took time off and is back.

          What we are left with is what he did and how he’s been treated, and I believe that he’s been the beneficiary of some advantages solely because of his nationality.

      • This is just your very subjective opinion. Takanohana sat out 7 straight bashos before returning. Kisenosato sat out or went kyujo for 8 tournaments, which is only 1 more. Unlike Takanohana however he didn’t immediately take time to heal, but tried to fight through his injury.
        It is obviously moot speculation, but if he hadn’t been the lone japanese Yokozuna, he could have probably done the wise thing and immediately take off to heal and eventually undergo surgery.
        It’s possible that the other Yokozuna would have been asked to retire earlier. But there would be also reasons to do so. Kisenosato has never pulled off a tournament before this, while Kakuryu has been perpetually injured and his performance was often soso. The question the YDC has to answer is how likely is it that a Yokozuna can return and can return to Yokozuna level sumo.
        Kisenosato will have to answer this in the next 2 or 3 tournaments I think. This tournament a kachikoshi will probably suffice, but if he cant return to regularly putting double digits on the board, he will retire.

        • Yea, I make no bones about stating that it is my own hangups as to why I cannot root for Big K, not some objective truth. Haha.

          You do make a solid point that this could be a 2 or 3 tournament “probation” period, if you will, and that he has to get better each one and show he can still perform as a Yokozuna should. If not, hes out like a light.

          I just don’t think that I can root for him to succeed in what I see as blatant favoritism giving him this opportunity.

          Citing Takanohana doesn’t dissuade me of this opinion seeing as how Takanohana is also a Japanese Yokozuna.

          But hey, it is the way of things, and Kisenosato is doing ok at this point in time. Maybe he will continue to perform well and win me over down the road. One never knows.

          • There are only 6 foreign born rikishi to ver become Yokozuna. Hakuho and Kakuryu are still active, Harumafuji and Asashoryu finished their career due to non health related issues, which leaves only Akebono and Musashimaru ending their career due to injury. Among those two Akebono ended his career more or less immediately after the injury while Musashimaru stumbled through 7 basho (either sitting out or pulling out with losing record) before he retired.
            I totally agree that such a long period of not performing as a yokozuna is uncommon, but it’s not unheard of and even among the two eligible cases of foreign born yokozuna you find a similar case.
            I think it’s simply not correct to call that an unfair bias/favorism towards Kisenosato.
            Wakanohana had 7 tournaments in a row without a kachikoshi (sitting out, pulling out and one 7-8record) before retiring).
            Takanosato had a streak of 8 tournaments, where he had one kachikoshi and otherwise sat out or pulled out before retiring.

  3. Absolutely gutted by Tochinoshin’s loss today. My cat Bob sensed my distress and tried to cheer me up by presenting me with a freshly killed shrew. It didn’t help. As Bob is a huge, dark, hairy beast with a permanently mournful expression I suspect he roots for Takayasu anyway.

    Just a brief further thought. It may look as though the top-ranked wrestlers are dominating (well let’s face it, they are) but they still have to fight each other which means that there are still plenty of losses to be distributed. A lower ranked wrestler could still slip through the pack and sneak an upset jun-yusho. Hey Takanoiwa! I’m talking to you!

    That’s him jinxed.

  4. I need to get a super hd tv or something as I’m not seeing any rash on Yoshikaze! Frustrating as in the real world I’m into rare diseases/ mystery illnesses.

  5. From now to Senshuraku on Sunday, we will see the highest ranking rikishi battle daily, while the lower ranks face increasingly unusual pairings. Many rikishi will have double digit losses this tournament – the fully-staffed upper ranks guarantee it.

    It’s ridiculous.
    (More venting, sorry.)
    It’s not really that much of a deal, but Chiyonokuni has already been hoisted by Kisenosato and Takayasu, where Abi hasn’t face anyone ranked higher than poor Endo (poor, sweet, hapless, koshikudake-suffering Endo). How is that any kind of right?

    Everything feels so luck-of- the-draw right now, with the upshot veing that too few wrestlers below sekiwake had not much chance to accomplish anything.

    Okay, I’m done now.

    • You do make an interesting point of the divide there. Presumably Chiyonokuni served as Joi-filler for Yutakayama’s kyujo.

      • My view is that this shows how much more highly valued any kind of marginal kachikoshi from Shodai or Kaisei should be versus a potentially much bigger winning score from the likes of Abi who haven’t faced the same severe opposition

        • Dang it, now I’m back to thinking about the legitimacy (or lack there in) of RPI systems. That’s never good.

      • Perhaps. And that Yutakayama/Kyokutaisei situation certainly improved things a tiny bit for Aminishiki and Arawashi at the other end, so there’s that. (By the way, Aminishiki turns 40 in a few weeks. I can see what it means now, but I’m curious as to it’s historical significance, if any. I’m so tacky. 😈)

        Anyway, maybe I’ll turn into a full-blown conspiracy theorist before day 15. 😁

    • I still vividly remember Kyshuu 2016. Endo at M3E had a 7-8 record, while Shodai at M3W finished with 11-4. Only that Endo had been fighting 3 Yokozuna, 4 Ozeki, 2 Sekiwake and 1 Komusubi, while Shodai had been fighting 1 Yokozuna and 2 Ozeki. Not only that, but he also wasnt fighting any of the Maegashira ranked ahead of him. On day 13 e.g. he got matched vs M12 Chiyootori sitting at 6-7, while Shodai had a 10-3 record. Endo on the other hand got matched with Sekiwake Okinoumi.
      Shodai shot up to Sekiwake, but since then has never been fighting like the next Ozeki again. Maybe too much pampering ones schedule might jinx them ;-)

      • I think that sums ig up pretty well. At least new banzuke seem to consider things like beating a yokozuna no matter how wildly overmatched the lower-ranked wrestlers may be (I see you Abi, but I’m still rooting for you) when dealing with losing records, otherwise, it’s a whole bunch of shenanigans that should be called.

    • The reason Chiyonokuni has had to fight Takayasu and Kisenosato is that those two are from the same stable.. With 10 men in sanyaku the jo’i should go down to M3w, but as Taka and Kise can’t fight each other they have an extra slot available which is where M4e Chiyonokuni comes in as the next highest ranked available opponent. If one of the top men and gone kyujo then Abi would have had a similar schedule.


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