Personally, I was worried that once again the special prize committee would rule that “no one deserves a special prize” as they did at Aki. That decision was not popular in my circle of sumo fans, but as an outsider (which I assure you I am), you just shrug and go about your business. For Kyushu, the special prizes were a tadpole sweep:
Takakeisho: Shukun-sho & Kanto-sho
I do wonder about consideration for Aoiyama and Okinoumi, who performed very well indeed. Then there is Nishikigi, who defied expectations and actually was able to put together 8 wins at a rank far above anything he has ever held before. Some additional information if you want to pick through he kanji here.
The final result is quite the signal for the road ahead. With Takakeisho winning the Kyushu yusho, we have 2 tadpole yusho this year (Mitakeumi and Takakeisho). Interestingly enough, it was Mitakeumi who sealed the deal with his win over Takayasu in the final match of the tournament. For Takayasu, he is forming a record surprisingly like his senpai, consistent good scores, but no Yusho to show for it. This is his 4th Jun-Yusho, all with a 12-3 finish.
At 22 years old, yusho winner Takakeisho continues on his meteoric rise. Over the past 3 basho he has racked 32 wins, over the past 4 that number goes to 42. In the past year he has honed his trademark attack, that we have taken to calling “Wave Action Tsuppari”. Where most rikishi land blows and thrusts in an alternating left / right arm cycle, Takakeisho works to set up a period group of double arm thrusts that arrive in waves. The net result is visually obvious, his opponent has just enough time to react just a bit before the next wave arrives. In many cases that reaction is to either escape or counter attack, and almost always leaves the opponent on less than excellent footing. If he can stay healthy, young Takakeisho has a lot to offer the sumo world.
Onosho defeats Yutakayama – Onosho picks up the Kanto-sho, and blasts Yutakayama out directly. Yutakayama finishes 5-10, and is in dire need of repair to his body. At one time a promising member of the Freshmen cohort, he has suffered greatly since posting to Maegashira 2 at Aki.
Kotoshogiku defeats Meisei – No special prize here, but it’s great to see Kotoshogiku shine again. Meisei’s hopes of double digits bit the clay with his first trip on the hug-n-chug Kyushu Bulldozer. Kotoshogiku is probably looking at a big lift in rank for January, and I am curious to see what he can do with it.
Chiyoshoma defeats Abi – Is it reasonable to consider the dominance of Abi-zumo is past its peak? Chiyoshoma dismantles the obligatory double arm attack and makes fairly easy work of Abi. Fans know Abi has a lot of potential, and are wondering when the next evolutionary stage will hit. Not that I think he will (or should) abandon the double arm attack, just as Tochinoshin will never abandon the lift and shift when he can get there. But we know Abi has more in his sumo book.
Aoiyama defeats Yoshikaze – Aoiyama has really gotten his sumo together this basho. He typically does quite well in the Maegashira 12-9 rank, but seems to falter more the closer he gets to the top. With a 11-4 finish, he’s headed for the joi-jin, and he will have another chance to demonstrate if his sumo is effective against the top rikishi. Yoshikaze make-koshi on the final day, he could not get close enough to the man-mountain to produce an effective offense.
Ryuden defeats Daieisho – Deeply make-koshi, Ryuden never the less continues to work on his sumo, and battles for every win. The guy’s work ethic seems solid, and at Maegashira 3, he was out-matched, even in a nokazuna tournament like Kyushu. All of the freshmen were make-koshi this time out, so it’s time for them to heal up and get ready for 2019. They are about 18-24 months behind the tadpoles in their evolution, so we should see them start to contend in a serious way late next year, early into 2020.
Okinoumi defeats Tamawashi – Matching his 11-4 from Kyushu last year (at about the same rank), Okinoumi seems to really improve in the western basho, and then pays for it in January. While I am sure Tamawashi would have rather closed with 10 wins, he is still in solid shape to return to the San’yaku for the New Years basho.
Shodai defeats Tochiozan – Tochiozan ends Kyushu with a kachi-koshi, but he certainly faded after a blistering start. Tochiozan opened the match in good position, but Shodai was able to break contact and recover, gaining the inside pushing position and focusing his force center-mass. Solid defense-offense change up combo from Shodai to pull a kachi-koshi out at the last minute.
Hokutofuji defeats Takanosho – I kind of feel for Takanosho, he got his head handed to him this basho, but kept his positive outlook. He’s going back to Juryo for January, but first he had the honor of being Takakeisho’s standard bearer for the yusho parade. I am going to guess that Takakesiho will have a happy, willing new Kouhai for his future career at Chiganoura. Hokutofuji finishes 7-8, and may get a chance to face more named ranked rikishi in January.
Myogiryu defeats Chiyotairyu – The Darwin match, where only one survives. After Chiyotairyu launches early and a matta is called, his primary offensive gambit, the cannon ball Tachiai, is defused and Myogiryu makes quick work of him.
Takakeisho defeats Nishikigi – For a brief moment, Takakeisho found himself perilously off balance as he yet again lost his footing near the edge. Nishikigi was not fast enough to put him away, and Takakeisho showed why he’s a force in sumo by rallying and taking the fight back to Nishikigi.
Kagayaki defeats Ichinojo – What should have been a gimme match for Ichinojo turns into a one-sided battle, with Kagayaki taking control and making surprisingly easy work of the ex-Sekiwake. A healthy Ichinojo is to be feared, sadly this Ichinojo needs recuperation.
Shohozan defeats Tochinoshin – One of the poorest run matches in memory, I have to wonder if the NSK is really going to promote Kandayu in 2019 after that mess. Tochinoshin spent his stamina in the first match, and maybe a bit more in the second. Shohozan had something left in reserve, and battled through a cut lip to win the 3rd and final attempt. Tough to describe the level of nonsense here, so please watch it via NHK, Jason or Kintamayama.
Mitakeumi defeats Takayasu – After some lackluster matches out of the future Ozeki, he rallies and brings his “A” sumo to Takayasu for the final match of the basho. When the match went to a leading contest, I thought it was Takayasu’s for sure, as he seems to have an almost inhuman endurance and can carry out a contest like this for a good long time. But Mitakeumi wore him down, and was able to find his time and make his move. My heart goes out to Takayasu, as a win at Kyushu would have been an important step towards supplanting Kisenosato, who may not be in sumo much longer. But that is for another day.
Thank to all our readers who spent part of their time enjoying the Kyushu basho with us. These nokazuna tournaments make for interesting contests, and November delivered an excellent fortnight of sumo. We count down the 49 days to Hatsu, and hope you will join us again when you think of sumo.