Five days remain in the Kyushu tournament, and eleven bouts matching rikishi in the named ranks are yet to take place. Most likely, we will get two a day from here, and three on senshuraku. Here’s what’s in store:
Day 11. Takayasu vs. Ichinojo and Goeido vs. Kaisei
Day 12. Takayasu vs. Tochinoshin and Goeido vs. Mitakeumi
The Day 12 torikumi was just posted. Going by rank, these bouts should have taken place on Day 13, but it looks like the schedulers want to postpone the juicy Takakeisho vs. Takayasu bout, which I was expecting to happen on Day 12. Below are my projections for the final three days, but it’s possible that the schedulers will rearrange things further in order to produce the most exciting finish.
Day 13. Goeido vs. Ichinojo and Takayasu vs. Takakeisho
Day 14. Goeido vs. Tochinoshin and Takayasu vs. Mitakeumi
Day 15. Goeido vs. Takayasu, Tochinoshin vs. Mitakeumi, and Ichinojo vs. Kaisei
No one on the Jonokuchi torikumi is leading for the yusho though there were a few hopefuls with an outside chance on one loss. I found a great video featuring the first four bouts of Day 10. This is a gem and shows why I stay the whole day when I get a chance to watch a tournament live. It moves fast, these four bouts take less than 10 minutes.
First up, Hattorizakura was set to battle Shishimaru to see who would pick up their first win. Shishimaru is a big guy and seems to toy with Hattorizakura, giving him a little hope by backing up to the edge. Quickly, and unceremoniously, Shishimaru pivots and throws the hapless Hattorizakura to the clay. Shishimaru picks up his first win and Hattorizakura picks up his fifth loss. All is right with the universe.
Next up we have Yada on the left versus Houn. This does not go the way I expected. Things start out with pushing, thrusting, favoring the larger Yada. He whiffs on a punch and Houn pounces, grabs the belt and takes control. He’s not strong enough to topple the kid 40 kilos heavier. Instead, he looks like a truck driver, steering his out-of-control rig around the dohyo and out. Houn gets his second win of the tournament, tying his best finish. Can he pick up a third? Yada is 1-4 in his debut tournament.
The third bout in this video features Tanaka on the left versus Toya. Tanaka is slight but has some serious moxie. The 68kg bulldozer drives Toya back and throws him in a heap off the dohyo. Lastly, Takamasaki on the left against Sawada. A solid tachiai but Sawada seemed unready for the fact that given the combined inertia of these two he’d end up going backwards, slipping to 2-3 while Takamasaki improves to 3-2.
I couldn’t find any Jonidan bouts so we move on to the sandanme bout of Ones to Watch regular Naya (right) against Shohoryu. Naya is a tall guy but still seems to be a bit too high after the initial tachiai and tsuppari. Shohoryu manages to get inside, drive Naya back a bit on the defensive. Then he uses that belt grip, and some flexibility, to get a great shitatenage under-arm throw.
Musashikuni began the Fukuoka tournament kyujo. He missed his first bout and came back in time for his second, which he lost. However, he has been on a tear since and picked up his third win on Day 10 against journeyman wrestler, Oazuma.
Oazuma has been in sumo for 12 years. He had a major setback in 2010 and fell back to Jonokuchi where he won the yusho. Since 2013, however, he’s been a makushita regular. In their bout, Musashikuni got a great drive off the line, pushing Oazuma straight back before he locked in with a solid belt grip with both hands and did his best Tochinoshin impression for a great yorikiri win. Musashikuni has a chance to pick up his kachi-koshi tomorrow against Obamaumi.
This Juryo digest video starts of with a great tachiai between Daiseido, visiting from Makushita with his kachi-koshi already, and Tomokaze who will want two more wins to stay in the professional ranks. Daiseido’s forceful charge sends Tomokaze back to the straw bales but the big guy is agile and manages to escape to the other side of the dohyo. After a few attempts at shoving Daiseido out prove futile, Tomokaze perceives his opponent over-committing, and slips to the side. Daiseido’s own momentum launches him, uncontrolled, across the dohyo and Tomokaze’s hatakikomi attempt turns into a twisting sukuinage as his right arm pulls up while the left drives down.
Is it just me, or did Mitoryu attempt a henka? Azamaryu recovers but falls to a hatakikomi. Gokushindo has learned to keep Enho away from his belt at all costs. This bout is a lot of leaning with short bursts of activity which probably wore on Gokushindo’s focus. After a long wait, Enho pounces. While spinning and trying to keep those hands away from his belt, Gokushindo loses his balance and his hand touches the clay. A tiny mistake but that’s all it takes.
Welcome to the final act of the Kyushu basho. This is where we crown the yusho winner, and a lot of people suffer. For Makuuchi and Juryo rikishi, the final 5 days are a huge grind, and 15 solid days of top form sumo is exhausting. Many of the rikishi are already losing some energy, while others seem to be limitless heading into act 3.
During act 3, many of the normal match ranges amongst the rank and file are set aside, and the schedulers are eager to shape the yusho race, and sort the make from the kachi koshi. We see this kicking in already on day 11, and you may notice my rank annotations on some matches from here on out to highlight the wide gaps between competitors.
Arawashi vs Yago – While we give our heartfelt condolences to Arawashi for his impending demotion to Juryo, we marvel at the possibility that our Juryo visitor for the day, the 6-4 Yago, might get 2 more wins and possibly make a top division debut in January. Yago is a bit of a protege, and we will be looking for his typical good fighting form. Sadly Arawashi is in no condition to give him much of a fight.
Chiyoshoma vs Okinoumi – A win today would be an Okinoumi kachi-koshi, and it would be Okinoumi’s third straight kachi-koshi. For a man with a chronic injury that might have ended his career, his perseverance is humbling.
Aoiyama vs Yutakayama – Aoiyama is, at times, a sumo puzzle. When his health is good, his body is working and he is on his sumo, he’s a bit unstoppable except for rikishi in the named ranks. He appears to be in that mode going into day 11, and he faces a disrupted Yutakayama, who is still not quite right after injury, kyujo and returning to a beating or five during Aki. Should Aoiyama win again on day 11, we will see him face higher ranked opponents soon.
Kotoshogiku (M9e) vs Daiamami (M15e) – First match between these two, and I can almost imagine that they are feeding the smaller rikishi into the maws of hometown favorite Kotoshogiku to see what he will do. I think a kachi-koshi for the “Kyushu Bulldozer” could come before day 14, and maybe he can run up the score.
Onosho (M13e) vs Shohozan (M7w) – I have been saying since the start of the basho that Onosho was woefully under-ranked. Now it’s time for him to deliver some of his typically aggressive sumo to another hometown favorite, Shohozan. Both of these rikishi like to knock their opponents around, but I am going to give an edge to “Big Guns” today, as he seems to soak up the enthusiasm from the crowd.
Abi (M7e) vs Endo (M12w) – Endo has yet to beat Abi, so lets see if he can use the same disruption technique that saw Abi lose the prior two days with the same effect.
Daieisho vs Kagayaki – Daieisho holds a share of the chase group, and will look to hand Kagayaki his make-koshi today to remain one loss behind Takakeisho. Kagayaki is in no danger of a deep demotion at this point, and I expect that he will benefit from a period at the bottom end of Makuuchi.
Shodai vs Takanoiwa – Takanoiwa holds a 5-2 career advantage, but Takanoiwa is only fighting at a fraction of his normal power. Shodai, aside from his tachiai, is showing consistent and strong sumo for the past 5 days, and I give him an advantage to day.
Asanoyama vs Ryuden – Ryuden is also one loss away from make-koshi, which is not an uncommon result when a rikishi joins the joi-jin for the first time. It’s a rougher schedule at the top, and Ryuden will walk away from Kyushu with plenty of sore joints and bruises, and a couple of great wins over high ranking opponents.
Nishikigi vs Hokutofuji – Hokutofuji has never beaten Nishikigi, and given how he faltered in his match against tournament leader Takakeisho on day 10, we have to wonder if it was nerves or indication that he’s running out of gas in the marathon to senshuraku. Nishikigi has surprised everyone a few times, and I am sure we will all be watching him to see if he can do it again. While I think a kachi-koshi is unlikely this time, I think he may actually be able to hold his own at Maegashira 3 some time in 2019.
Myogiryu vs Tamawashi – It took Tamawashi a while to get warmed up, but he seems dialed into his sumo now. I expect he is going to give Myogiryu a fierce battle on day 11. Myogiryu holds the edge in agility and speed, Tamawashi the edge in strength and precision. This will either be over in the blink of an eye, or a great battle.
Takakeisho vs Tochiozan – After opening strong, Tochiozan has lost 4 of the last 5 matches. But he is the same rikishi who defeated Takayasu, Goeido and Kisenosato last week, and given the right scenario, he could be trouble for yusho race leader Takakeisho. The odds are against it, as Takakeisho holds a 5-1 career advantage.
Mitakeumi vs Yoshikaze – What’s going to happen here? Lord, who knows. I would like to think Mitakeumi is going to break out of his doldrums against the always intense Yoshikaze. Yoshikaze is still on a trajectory that could see him secure a kachi-koshi, but he is not nearly as genki right now as he was during Aki.
Goeido vs Kaisei – Go ahead Goeido, I dare you.
Chiyotairyu vs Tochinoshin – Tochinoshin’s opponents seem to have gotten very good at keeping the Ozeki away from a working mawashi grip this tournament, and it would seem to be frustrating the Georgian’s sumo. Chiyotairyu has a lot of fast power, but seldom shows much stamina, which Tochinoshin seems to possess in buckets. So I am going to expect for the Ozeki to let Chiyotairyu discharge his opening gambit, then get to work.
Ichinojo vs Takayasu – It seems that Takayasu might give Ichinojo his 8th loss today, and many in the sumo world would be sad to see the big Mongolian behemoth vacate the Sekiwake slot that had to be enlarged, at great cost, just to hold him. The one redeeming thought in this match up is that Takayasu has a lot of trouble winning against Ichinojo, with a slim 5-4 margin. A loss by Takayasu would disrupt his chances to contend for the yusho.
Takakeisho leads with 9 wins. Tomorrow, he faces fading Tochiozan, against whom he is 5-1. After that, the biggest test for the young Komusubi is his one remaining upper-rank opponent, Ozeki Takayasu, who is one off the pace at 8-2. Takayasu leads the head-to-head 4-2, and the two have split their two most recent matches. If the schedulers stick to the usual pattern, we should be treated to this bout on Day 12, with the Ozeki set to battle Ichinojo on Day 11. In the final three days, Takayasu should face Tochinoshin, Mitakeumi, and Goeido, probably in that order, while Takakeisho has only maegashira opponents remaining. Going by rank, he would face Tamawashi, Nishikigi, and Yoshikaze, although it’s possible that the schedulers will pit him against some of the lower-ranked yusho contenders instead.
Currently, the 8-2 chase group also includes M9 Daieisho, M12 Aoiyama, and M13 Onosho. None are matched up tomorrow. Today’s results have culled the two-off-the-pace hunters to Ozeki Goeido (no comment) and M11 Okinoumi.
The Ozeki Corps
Takayasu has secured his kachi-koshi and is looking for more. Goeido seems set to secure his by cough any means necessary. Tochinoshin got a much-needed victory today against Ichinojo to even his record to 5-5, and now needs to go 3-2 or better the rest of the way to avoid going kadoban. This seems doable against a fight card that starts with Chiyotairyu tomorrow, followed most likely by Asanoyama, his two fellow Ozeki, and Mitakeumi.
The Sanyaku Ranks
We can finally pour one out for Mitakeumi’s Ozeki run, as his loss today means he can’t mathematically get to 33 wins over three tournaments. At 5-5, he needs to worry about defending his Sekiwake rank instead, and still has to face all three Ozeki. His defense starts against Yoshikaze tomorrow, followed likely by Chiyotairyu before the Ozeki gauntlet.
Sekiwake Ichinojo’s record stands at 3-7, leaving no further room for error. It seems unlikely that he can pull off a second consecutive 5-0 escape act with two Ozeki and Kaisei still on his schedule. In fact, it’s more probable that he picks up two or more losses and relinquishes his sanyaku position after five straight basho.
Takakeisho is obviously in no danger of demotion, and is almost certain to become Sekiwake in the new year. Game but injured Kaisei has only three victories and, like Ichinojo, is highly unlikely to run the table and save his Komusubi rank.
So while nothing is set in stone yet, two sanyaku slots are likely to open up, and three wouldn’t surprise me. The leading contenders to fill these slots sit right at the top of the maegashira rankings, with M2e Tochiozan and M2w Tamawashi, both 6-4, currently holding a narrow edge over M1e Myogiryu and M1w Hokutofuji, both 5-5.
The M16 duo of Arawashi (1-9) and Chiyomaru (2-8) is already make-koshi and headed down to Juryo barring a combination of remarkable turnaround and extreme banzuke luck. As of now, they would be joined by M13 Takonosho (3-7) and M11 Chiyonokuni (2-8), who need strong finishes to avoid demotion. The next-worst position belongs to M14 Daishomaru (4-6). M15 Daiamami (5-5) and M14 Chiyoshoma (5-5) could use a couple of victories apiece, while one should be enough for M15 Meisei (6-4) and the M10 duo of Sadanoumi and Yutakayama, both 4-6.
Down in Juryo, J1e Yago (6-4) and J5w Terutsuyoshi (8-2) are currently on track to make their Makuuchi debuts, while J1w Kotoeko (6-4) and J3e Kotoyuki (7-3) are in good position for a return to the top division, but a lot can still change in the remaining five days.
It’s the end of act 2, and we saw another narrowing of the yusho race. But there is still a broad set of genki rikishi that remain in the hunt, waiting for Takakeisho to lose another match. Takakeisho thus far shows no signs of easing up. As we had expected, Takakeisho is likely to be an important rikishi in the future, provided he can keep his body healthy and his mind sharp.
There may be a few new folks reading the web site, and it’s been a while since I have done this, so let me explain some of the “why” of Tachiai.
Tachiai is purely a fan weblog. It is a non-revenue site, meaning we don’t sell ads, we don’t sell your data, and we don’t ask our readers to do anything more than spend some time with us and enjoy sumo with us. The contributors to this site, myself included, receive no compensation for our efforts, and do it purely for the love of the sport, and our shared desire to bring sumo to more people in the English speaking world. That means all of us have “day jobs” that pay the bills, and allow us enough free time to follow sumo.
As far as I know, none of the contributors are journalists, or people who write for a living. On Tachiai, there should be no expectations of the following:
Protection from “spoilers”: Sumo happens in the middle of the night, US time. Most US fans won’t get a chance to see results until much later in the day. But we report on proceedings well before most sumo fans have watched video of the matches. It’s ok to wait to read Tachiai until after you have enjoyed your favorite video feed (we recommend the excellent NHK World, Jason’s All Sumo Channel on Youtube, and of course Kintamayama).
Objective reporting: As fans, all of the contributors have favorites. We have things we like in sumo, and things we don’t like. All of the contributors (along with the readers and commenters) can and should feel free to chime in with their views too, but we insist you keep it polite.
Comprehension of Japan, Japanese custom XYZ, mastery of Japanese culture: To “get” sumo, it helps to have some knowledge of how it came about, and how it relates to the broader cultural landscape of Japan. That being said, I am pretty sure none of the contributors to this site are Japanese, or wish to replace their own cultural aesthetic with that of Japan. We do our best, but we are not, and never will be Japanese.
Good, with that back in writing for the first time in several months, let’s enjoy today’s mayhem.
Kotoeko defeats Chiyomaru – Big Chiyomaru goes down to Kotoeko’s slapping attack, and is now make-koshi. Barring some improbable circumstance, he will return to Juryo to sort out his health and his sumo. His most recent tour of Makuuchi began in July of 2017, and he has gathered a following. We hope whatever is plaguing him, he overcomes in short order.
Onosho defeats Chiyoshoma – Onosho stays in the yusho hunt, and picks up his kachi-koshi. Chiyoshoma took an early advantage, but Onosho rallied and repulsed the Mongolian, with both visiting the west side zabuton.
Endo defeats Arawashi – Arawashi can barely stand on his injured leg, so this was a “gimme” for Endo. Arawashi will be joining the barge of sadness sailing back to Juryo.
Meisei defeats Sadanoumi – Meisei picks up his first ever win over Sadanoumi, and Sadanoumi made him work very hard for it. In fact Sadanoumi was in the driver’s seat for the balance of the match, but Meisei unleaded a well time hatakikomi at the edge to rescue the win.
Daieisho defeats Takanosho – Daieisho stays in the hunt group and scores his kochi-kochi. The match was a messy thrusting battle that could have gone either way, but Daieisho got the gumbai, and the shimpan upheld.
Aoiyama defeats Takarafuji – Aoiyama may be the only man in sumo to accomplish the nearly impossible: finding and then attacking Takarafuji’s neck. Takarafuji battled bravely, but Aoiyama had too much forward pressure interleaved with powerful blows to Takarafuji’s upper body. Aoiyama joins the rest of the crew who achieved kachi-koshi today, and remain 1 loss behind Takakeisho.
Okinoumi defeats Abi – Veteran Okinoumi completely disrupts Abi-zumo, the second straight loss via the same processes. We may have reached the expiration date on the daily use of the double arm thrusting attack from Abi. Now it gets interesting, because we will see what else this guy can do.
Shohozan defeats Chiyonokuni – Chiyonokuni was protecting his right arm the past two days, but that was gone in today’s match against “Big Guns” Shohozan. Both men are brawlers, and both men got their match today. A running brawl that traversed the dohyo repeatedly, they exchanged fierce blows, thrusts and anything they could think of. The crowd was going wild for home town boy Shohozan, and then the two went chest to chest. Go watch this match. Then go watch it again. Chiyonokuni is now make-koshi, but he fought was great vigor today.
Yutakayama defeats Kagayaki – Another high effort bout, and it was unusual to see Kagayaki having a difficult time controlling his balance. Yutakayama is still less than 100%, but he put forth a great effort today, and was rewarded with a much needed win.
Takanoiwa defeats Ryuden – Ryuden’s false start / matta likely blew his concentration, and Takanoiwa applied an expertly timed slap down for the win.
Yoshikaze defeats Tochiozan – A brief struggle for grip or inside position at the tachiai quickly evolved to Yoshikaze bracketing Tochiozan and motoring ahead in 2nd gear. A monoii reviewed the final moments, but Yoshikaze got a much needed 5th win to keep kachi-koshi hopes alive.
Nishikigi defeats Myogiryu – I dare say that after his string of strong wins, Myogiryu’s loss to Nishikigi may come as something of a surprise. But Nishikigi was able to contain Myogiryu, and progressively work his position into a win. Nishikigi is holding up to his tour through the upper ranks much better than I could have hoped.
Takakeisho defeats Hokutofuji – An uneven tachiai that might have been a matta, or just Hokutofuji missing the launch, but the goyji did not call it and the fight was on. Hokutofuji had no chance to set up either offense or defense in any real sense, and Takakeisho completely blasted him up and back.
Tamawashi defeats Kaisei – Tamawashi had to put in a lot of effort, as there is just a tremendous amount of Kaisei to move. Tamawashi’s normal bash-bash-push approach was rendered, but yielded little forward motion, as Kaisei for a moment reminded me of Andre the Giant in “The Princess Bride”, looking at Wesley mid battle, and saying “I want you to feel like you are doing well…”
Shodai defeats Mitakeumi – I kid a lot about Shodai, but his effort at Kyushu has been noteworthy. Today against the one time Ozeki hopefully once again illustrates that if he can survive the tachiai, Shodai has solid fundamentals, and acres of strength. Mitakeumi is in dire need of 3 more wins in the next 5 days.
Tochinoshin defeats Ichinojo – and the Tochinoshin fans breath a well-earned sigh of relief. Ichinojo consents to allow the Ozeki an attempt at a lift and shift, and Tochinoshin is all to happy to oblige.
Takayasu defeats Chiyotairyu – A solid yotzu battle from two enormous, burly rikishi. This is not Chiyotairyu’s strong sumo, but he put up a good battle. Takayasu prevailed for his kachi-koshi, and remains in the yusho hunt group.