Day 14 – and the winner is…


Yokozuna Hakuho, in a year of injuries, in which he previously completed just one basho, is back, and is breaking records. Today he won his 41st yusho. It was also his 1000th Makuuchi win, with Kaio trailing far behind with 879. Also, this is the 13th consecutive year in which he wins at least one yusho – breaking Taiho’s record of 12. In the shitaku-beya he said “I am leaving the children who will be entering Grand Sumo in the future a big challenge to aim for”. I doubt if the child who will break those records is going to be born any time soon – perhaps if sports medicine advances far enough, and the world of sumo changes its mindset well enough, to extend an average rikishi’s viable career as a sekitori into his forties. Then, maybe, maybe.

But the Yokozuna’s yusho was just the cap on yet another good day of sumo, so let’s dive right in.

Arawashi visited Makuuchi today, to see if he should be exchanged for Kotoyuki. Kotoyuki denies him any access to his mawashi, and in the tsuppari match that ensues, Arawashi’s foot slips to the janome (the ring of fine sand surrounding the tawara). This has been happening a lot this basho. Bales slippery or buried a tad too deeply? Only the Yobidashi and the gods of the dohyo know. Arawashi needs to win his bout tomorrow to still secure his kachi-koshi and return to Makuuchi – especially now that Aminishiki is make-koshi and will not advance (Aminishiki has been the victim of two consecutive henkas by men almost half his age, believe it or not).

Chiyoshoma, who has secured his kachi-koshi for the first time since the Haru basho (the only Kokonoe sekitori to do so so far), got a mawashi grip on Okinoumi right from the get-go. However, it was Okinoumi who executed a lovely uwatenage, usually Chiyoshoma’s expertise, rolling the Kokonoe man to the edge of the dohyo. Okinoumi is kachi-koshi.

Ryuden aims to get a morozashi on Sadanoumi. He achieves a left hand inside with a good grip, while Sadanoumi latches on with his right hand outside. The two fight over the hold with the other hand, Ryuden trying to lock his armpit, and Sadanoumi getting a “nozoki” (his left hand peeks through). Then Sadanoumi suddenly reverses direction, and uses the good hold he has on Ryuden with his right to pull the man in the black mawashi over to the edge and force him out with a yori-kiri. Both fly to the front rows. Sadanoumi checks with Ryuden that he is alright, Ryuden nods. Sadanoumi is kachi-koshi, and Ryuden may yet get to double digits, but not today.

Takanosho and Daieisho both use their arms to pad their impact. From there, it takes Takanosho half a second to drop Daieisho to ground. Oshitaoshi.

Hokutofuji seems to be Takanoiwa‘s Kryptonite. Takanoiwa has not beaten him in any of their bouts. It seems Takanoiwa is always aiming for a right “sashi” (hand insertion), and Hokutofuji always succeeds in sealing that side off. And this time, too, he gets rid of the posky right hand and proceeds to destroy Takanoiwa’s game plan. Oshidashi, Hokutofuji wins, both are 9-5, may get double digits tomorrow.

Ishiura tries to get a mae-mitsu grip on Daishomaru, but realizes that he has achieved a morozashi (both hands inside), and simply proceeds to yori-kiri the Oitekaze man. Where was this Ishiura for the length of this basho?

Aoiyama, who only two days ago pommeled Ishiura in anger for trying a henka, decided to go that way himself, and sidestepped Takarafuji mightily. Does Aoiyama really need to henka the fading Isegahama heyagashira? Takarafuji is now make-koshi and in sore need of rest and recuperation.

Nishikigi continues to surprise. With a large bruise on his right elbow he faces Shohozan, whom he has never beaten before. Shohozan starts with a harite, and while the two fumble with their arms on one side, Shohozan manages to insert his left hand inside through Nishikigi’s ottsuke on the other. But Nishikigi cooly converts that ottsuke into a kotenage – remember, that’s his injured elbow – and Shohozan finds himself below the dohyo. Nishikigi is yet another rikishi who may secure double digits tomorrow. Shohozan, on the other hand, is make-koshi.

Chiyomaru starts his bout with Tochiozan with a morotezuki – thrust with both hands – and then pulls and tries to slam the veteran Kasugano rikishi to the ground. Tochiozan survives, wraps his arms around the Eternally Round One, and sends him rolling with a tsukiotoshi. Chiyomaru is now officially make-koshi and in danger of demotion to Juryo. Tochiozan will have to wait until tomorrow for his kachi (or make) koshi.

Kotoshogiku doesn’t leave much to write about. He slams into Kagayaki, lifting him up, and then drives him out Goeido-style before Kagayaki can think of any response. Kotoshogiku wins, and both parties are now 7-7 and wait for senshuraku to decide their fates.

Asanoyama tries to land a yotsu hold on Yoshikaze. Yoshikaze pulls and drops the young man to the ground. Experience, experience… Yoshikaze and his magical rash are in double digits. Asanoyama has to wait for tomorrow to try for a kachi-koshi.

Endo‘s present to Yutakayama for his birthday is a quick and merciless tsukidashi. Yutakayama is 2-10-2, Endo 3-11. Both are not going to be anywhere near the joi the next basho, and I hope they’ll both find some time to heal (whatever it is that is ailing Endo).

This is followed by yet another match-of-the-hapless, in which Ikioi manages to win yet another one of those kensho envelopes pledged for him by his fiancee’s sponsor. A barrage of tsuppari finds Onosho spread on the dohyo by hatakikomi. Onosho doesn’t look injured, but like Yoshikaze in the previous basho and Endo in this one, something seems to be plaguing him. Both parties are now 3-11.

Chiyotairyu somehow fools himself into believing that going chest-to-chest with Kaisei is going to benefit him. Although he has a morozashi, he doesn’t use it to secure a hold – probably because he doesn’t have the reach, with both Kaisei’s bulk and his own increasing the circumference he needs to cover. Kaisei, on the other hand, secures a good grip in a soto-yotsu, much like Tochinoshin had a few days ago, and calmly walks Chiyotairyu to the edge. Chiyotairyu increases his losing score to 4-10. Kaisei is now 7-7, and if he wins on senshuraku, may find himself in sanyaku again.

That sanyaku spot is going to be vacated by Tamawashi, who faced Chiyonokuni. They start a tsuki-oshi exchange, but Chiyonokuni manages to land a couple of thrusts that set Tamawashi spinning like a top. Tamawashi is not really with us. Next basho he is probably safely away from any Yokozuna and Ozeki.

Takakeisho pulls Myogiryu down in a typical hikiotoshi. Takakeisho is kachi-koshi, and will stay in sanyaku. Depending on Ferdinand the Bull he may even advance to Sekiwake – but we’ll get to Ichinojo in a minute.

So Ferdinand, I mean, Ichinojo, slams into Shodai and the impact drives the maegashira almost to the edge. The two frantically attempt to land a grip and defend against being gripped, when Ichinojo realizes that he has gained enough ground to safely pull. Hatakikomi, and as is usual with Ichinojo, this means Shodai is spread on the dohyo like Philadelphia cheese, and Ichinojo is hovering over him with a slightly worried “Did I do that?” face. Shodai manages to stand up. It’s Ichinojo’s win, and somehow, unbelievably, Ichinojo once again finds himself with a possibility of a kachi-koshi on senshuraku. If he does that, he maintains his Sekiwake position, and his winning streak at 7 consecutive kachi koshi. If he doesn’t – well, he’ll be komusubi, and Takakeisho Sekiwake. Shodai, by the way, is make-koshi.

Tochinoshin finds a way through Abi‘s tsuppari, and catches on Peter Pan’s mawashi. The latter squirms and bends. I’m pretty sure he actually touched the dohyo with the top part of his foot at some point there – but it’s a moot point, as Tochinoshin performs the shitatenage, and finally gets that precious 8th win that he needed so dearly. Tochinoshin maintains his Ozeki rank, and avoids repeating Musoyama’s quick relegation to Ozekiwake following one kyujo as shin-ozeki and one kadoban in 2000 (Musoyama went on to win 10 bouts and regained his Ozeki rank at the time). Everybody in Georgia lets out a sigh of relief – we still have three Ozeki going into Kyushu. Abi, by the way, is now make-koshi.

The next bout features the suffering Mitakeumi against the near-perfect Takayasu. Takayasu’s usual slam is properly met by the sekiwake. Takayasu tries to slide his left hand through, and Mitakeumi uses a ferocious ottsuke while both of them are also defending on the other side, keeping their mawashi away from each other’s arms. Takayasu does manage to overcome Mitakeumi’s ottsuke and gets to Mitakeumi’s Mawashi. At the same time Mitakeumi pierces his right side. But Mitakeumi converts his ottsuke into a strong lock on Takayasu’s arm, and drags him down the dohyo. Both of them fall. The gyoji points to Mitakeumi.

The result of the monoii deliberation: both are out, “dotai”, but since Mitakeumi was clearly the attacking side, it’s his win.

So Mitakeumi gets the win, secures his kachi-koshi, and maintains his Sekiwake status. Takayasu, however, goes 11-3, and loses his place in the Yusho race.

Then follows the Yokozuna bout of the day. Kakuryu starts with a good forward-moving attack, and Kisenosato defends with all the tools that he has – mainly his lower body. At some point Kakuryu runs out of energy, and a leaning session ensues, as both try to find an opening. But then Kakuryu makes what seems to me like a rookie mistake – he reacts to the gyoji’s call of “oi-hakioi”, trying to do something prematurely. This leaves him open, and Kisenosato, one-armed Yokozuna though he is, seems to be very sharp this basho. Sharp enough to envelope Kakuryu and get him to the nearest edge. Kakuryu loses for the fourth day in a row. Amazingly, the Yokozuna who looked like he was going to take the Yusho only five days ago, winning decisively and brilliantly, is suddenly neck to neck with the Yokozuna we all predicted will have a hard time getting an F-ing kachi-koshi. Hats off for Kisenosato. He achieves his yokozuna kachi-koshi of 10 wins.

Musubi no ichiban. Hakuho is zensho, but had some very precarious bouts in this basho. Goeido, other than his first day bout, has been magnificent this basho. Who is going to prevail? The bout is preceded by yet another set of matta. Both the fault of Hakuho, who seems to be very tense. Upon the second one, I was sure we are going to see the Yokozuna being swept away by a raging Ozeki.

Er, nope. Nopity-nope-nope. Hakuho goes straight forward, grabs Goeido’s mawashi with his left hand, and within a couple of seconds the Ozeki is in a heap on the nearest shimpan. Hakuho is feeling magnanimous enough to help Goeido back up the dohyo. The dai-yokozuna gets his 41st yusho, his 1000th Makuuchi win, his 1094th win overall, his 13th year in a row winning a yusho, and who knows how many more records, with just one typical uwatenage.

All that is left is to see whether Kakuryu will manage to spoil his zensho.

Kakuryu and Kisenosato tied. Unbelievable.


27 thoughts on “Day 14 – and the winner is…

  1. Your commentary is greatly appreciated especially the Japanese for various sumo terms and the corresponding physical description. If you have an opportunity I would like an in depth explanation of what the gyogi shouts. I am able to discern only two of the many.

    • To complete the Sumopedia article:

      As the wrestlers get ready for the actual battle – the gyoji says “matta nashi” – “without delay”. Basically “Get ready”.

      Then he usually follows with “te o oroshite” (“lower your hands”) or “te wo tsuite” (“touch your hands [to the ground]”).

      If there is a false start, the gyoji will either go “matta” or – more often – “mada mada mada” (“Not yet, not yet, not yet…”). It’s a matta either way – it’s just not necessary to use the word itself.

      Once an acceptable tachiai is performed, the gyoji shouts “hakki yoi” (“good spirit” – think of it as “get going”). Then, as long as the two wrestlers are moving, “nokotta” (sometimes sounds like “nokatta”). That means “Remaining” – “Still in”.

      If one of the wrestlers loses or is “flying”, the gyoji will stop shouting “nokotta”.

      If the match has not been decided, but the wrestlers have stopped moving, the gyoji will also stop shouting “nokotta”. Instead, he’ll shout the occasional “oi, hakki-yoi” – “hey, get going”.

      Sometimes, if the wrestlers don’t notice that he stopped shouting, and continue to fight, you’ll hear the gyoji saying “owari” – “it’s over”.

  2. I’m afraid to say that once I saw the Tochinoshin result I was completely happy with this baho and stopped caring about the rest of the matches. Oh, Hakuho won again, how awfully nice for him etc.

    Ichinojo sits under the cork tree and smells the flowers but when that bee stings watch out. If you ranked all the wrestlers on how good they are at their very best Ichinojo would be no lower than #4 and unless he goes back to flower-sniffing mode tomorrow against Myogiryu he will retain his rank. And he may also pick up a sansho.

  3. hakuho plays his tachiai like witchcraft, as if the ritual was not enough before the tachiai we have to see mr hakubo do his mind games. Goeido got what he diserved cause he does some of that witchcraft before tachiai too when for example he steps over the white line of his side teying to intimidate the oponent. Hmmm is ok to see that stuff i guess but when “te wo tsuite” is called stop your stupid mind games dammit and prove you are a top rank because of experience, strength and skill.

    Dammit, just few bouts like that can mess the entire image of the basho for me and it was a good basho till that thing.

    • For me it looked like a bad case of nerves by Hakuho, after all, there was a basho and a new record on the line. It seems that Mr. Hakuho may be human after all… ;-)

  4. ” I’m pretty sure he actually touched the dohyo with the top part of his foot at some point there”:
    Yes, the top of Abi’s foot definitely touched beforehand.

  5. C’mon, guys, isn’t this what we’ve all wanted for months and months and months? Hakuho dismantling everyone placed before him and claiming yet another championship. All the Yokozuna remaining healthy enough to finish the basho and get double digit wins. The big Georgian dramatically maintaining his Ozeki status. Poo Bear appearing strong and healthy and in the running until Day 14. I know all the tadpole-lovers are disappointed but, I, for one, do not want to watch Onosho and Mitakeumi battle for the championship on Day 15. Sorry.

    • I was actually hoping for Kakuryu to win the Yusho, not Hakuho for the seven millionth time. Yeah, I get it, the man is half demon, and the fluid running through his veins is liquid Schwartz. But I’m sick of his tricks and dame-oshi and his one-track mind. I’m with you on the tadpoles, though. I don’t like tadpole sumo. I prefer people who can occasionally grab a mawashi with both hands.

      • Whatever faults he may have, I for one feel privileged to watch the Dai-Yokozuna do his thing one more time. I wasn’t following sumo yet when he was winning most of his yusho, but I’ll be able to say that I watched the greatest sumo wrestler we’re ever likely to see compete in something resembling his prime, rather than just read about it in sumo histories.

  6. May Tobizaru and Wakatakagake rot in Makushita for years to come! Karma has to strike back.

    Kisenosato has always been kind off a nemesis for Kakuryu. Really great to see him return in style. Now getting the rust off, I hope he can fix his tachiai for next basho. He might never reach pre injury level again, but as long as he can post regular double digit basho, I’m happy to see him back.

    • Considering that they haven’t done anything that Aminishiki himself hasn’t done at least three times every basho, I wouldn’t bring karma into it.

      • ain’t that the truth, Uncle Sumo probably has the record for total career henkas, and I doubt its that close.

  7. First off, many thanks for these recap articles! Having just gotten into sumo earlier this year, it’s educational and entertaining to find a place that discusses individual matches in such detail!

    One suggestion is to be mindful of how articles are titled to avoid spoiling results. When pulling up the site’s RSS feed to read through your day 13 analysis, seeing the headline for day 14 saying “And the winner is” unfortunately made it very obvious that Hakuho had won his match on Day 14.

    But otherwise, thanks for enriching all of our enjoyment of sumo!


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