Hello dear readers, I am back from Japan and the amazing action that concluded the Aki basho. I must thank the rest of Team Tachiai, including Herouth, lksumo, Liam, Pink Mawashi and Andy for the great coverage while I was in Tokyo. I will work to put together a trip report in hopes of helping others should they choose to travel to Tokyo to watch sumo live. It’s an experience I strongly recommend to any fan.
For fans who only recently started following sumo, the events of Aki 2018 may have been quite a thrilling surpise, as all of the top rikishi were competing, relatively on their sumo, and stayed in the competition for all 15 days. The result was an absolute make-koshi machine that butchered the ranks of many solid performers. Up until recently, this kind of basho was the norm, where the Yokozuna and Ozeki harvested win after win at the expense of the lower ranks of the joi-jin. As we are currently in a transition period, this kind of “strong” basho may not happen every time, but it was quite refreshing after an extended period of declining participation by the top two ranks.
Some short comments coming out of Aki
Hakuho – He is not what he once was, but it’s clear that he can still dominate every other man in sumo today. I am fairly certain we may not see anyone successfully bid to become Yokozuna as long as he remains active.
Kakuryu – Faded in week 2, but turned in a solid performance. If I had to guess he may have re-injured his hand. This also explains the odd ending to his day 15 match.
Kisenosato – He surprised me by getting his 10. The sumo fans in Tokyo adore this guy, and from what I understand some fans were in tears when he picked up his 8th win.
Goeido – Maybe he finally has his health under control, but he looked consistently good throughout the basho. I am delighted to see him in his best form, he’s kind of terrifying when he can do this.
Takayasu – For a man who started with performance limiting injuries, he gamberized his way to excellence.
Tochinoshin – I was really worried he was going to have to fight as an Ozekiwake at Kyushu. I think he has a lot of work to do to strengthen his injured feet.
Mitakeumi – He exited the basho with his kachi-koshi, but he was wholly unprepared for this basho. He consistently came up about 10% short, but it was enough to cost him the 2 wins he needed for an Ozeki bid. I am sure he will improve.
Ichinojo – The big Mongolian continues to be a puzzle. One day he is a teddy bear, the next an unstoppable force of nature.
Tamawashi – Solid, strong sumo, but totally obliterated. Everyone was taking his lunch money, daily. I expect him to be a terror in the mid-Maegashira for November.
Takakeisho – He matched Mitakeumi’s schedule, with nearly the same opponents. This guy is the real deal, and I expect him to be a san’yaku regular.
Ikioi – He had nothing to show for Aki until he blasted Mitakeumi off the dohyo. But is 3-12 record kicks him far down the banzuke
Kaisei – Sometimes being freaking huge can work as a sumo strategy.
As already noted in previous posts, there is going to be a mega-tsunami scale churn in the banzuke for Kyushu. If the top 6 are genki once more, it could be as high-energy and exciting as Aki turned out to be.