Hatsu Day 3 Highlights

Hatsu Day 3
Photo From the Sumo Kyokai’s Twitter Feed

Tachiai’s “Man in foreign lands”, Josh, was in the Kokugikan today, and he shared a great bit of color commentary on the atmosphere for day 3. I think aside from evolving tragedy that is Kisenosato, the big story is the weakness of the Ozeki rank. Two of them are injured (Goeido and Tochinoshin) and Takayasu has the flu. The resulting mess means that all 3 men are fighting well below their abilities, and for the injured ones, they have yet to rack their first win. At this point, its probably more prudent to swallow the kadoban and go seek direct medical treatment. For Takayasu, well, it sucks doing anything when you are running a fever, and battling a 300+ pound rikishi must be completely impossible right now.

Highlight Matches

Chiyonokuni defeats Daishomaru – Chiyonokuni has opened Hatsu with 3 straight wins, and seems to be charting a course away from the bottom edge of the banzuke. Winless Daishomaru attempted a rather limp henka, and Chiyonokuni had no problem reacting quickly for the win.

Chiyoshoma defeats Daiamami – Chiyoshoma in control from the tachiai, and he finished Daiamami with a swinging uwatenage. Hopefully this indicates that Chiyoshoma is getting his sumo back in order.

Yago defeats Kotoyuki – Kotoyuki beat Yago off the line, and his inital attack succeeded in driving Yago back. But Yago has quite the sumo-sense, and dropped his hips and counter attacked. Yago sealed his win by pulling Kotoyuki forward, sending him to his favorite spot, the crowd. Of course Kotoyuki milled about with the fans for a time.

Sadanoumi defeats Ikioi – Today’s “Battle Damage” match, both men had massive bandaged on their foreheads where they seem to have matching wounds following their respective bouts with Kagayaki. Sure, Sadanoumi won, but it looked like both of them should be on bed rest. At least there was no blood splatter today.

Abi defeats Kagayaki – Abi shows why he is a rising star, as he escapes his match with Kagayaki without picking up a head wound. Good job!

Kaisei defeats Endo – This is a great match, and worth watching a couple of times. The two drive chest to chest from the tachiai, and yotsu battle ensues. What impresses me is in spite of Kaisei’s tremendous advantage in weight and reach, how Endo manages to stay in the fight. Great effort from both rikishi.

Onosho defeats Ryuden – Onosho opens Hatsu 3-0, and seems to have put his knees into working order. I expect him to follow a trajectory similar to his friend Takakeisho for the remainder of 2019. All 3 leading tadpoles are unbeaten thus far.

Aoiyama defeats Okinoumi – Aoiyama has his sumo in great condition this tournament. His matches have been fairly one-sided thus far, and he won by simply grabbing hold of Okinoumi and marching forward.

Kotoshogiku defeats Yoshikaze – It’s clear that Yoshikaze has nothing left in his genki-box right now. He only offered token resistance to Kotoshogiku.

Shodai defeats Shohozan – Shohozan opened strong, and Shodai took it all, and waited for an opportunity to attack. When it came, he planted a hand on Shohozan’s throat and pushed him clear of the tawara. Shohozan is still looking for his first win.

Takakeisho defeats Tamawashi – Tamawashi absorbs Takakeisho’s initial thrusting attack, and rallies to re-center the match. During a split second pause, you can imagine Takakeisho moving the “wave action” dial off of setting 1, and unleashing setting 2, which blasts Tamawashi into the west side zabuton. Takakeisho opens the new year 3-0.

Mitakeumi defeats Goeido – This one was tough for me to watch. Goeido’s right arm is clearly unable to function well, and the Ozeki creates minimum forward pressure as a result. Mitakeumi seems determined NOT to phone it in this basho, and has been looking focused, strong and genki each match. The two go chest to chest, and Goeido just cant seem to find the leverage to overcome Mitakeumi. Goeido winless at the end of day 3.

Hokutofuji defeats Takayasu – Takayasu should be in bed nursing his fever, but instead he wanted to come play with the delightful Hokutofuji, who completely disrupted the Ozeki’s attempt at offense. Hokutofuji continues to improve his “handshake tachiai”, and its starting to really pay. Takayasu was high, off balance and looks like he feels miserable.

Myogiryu defeats Tochinoshin – Also in the winless column, Ozeki Tochinoshin can’t find his grip while Myogiryu gets to work straight away. I supsect that Tochinoshin’s thigh injury is impacting his performance, he is looking quite out of his element.

Hakuho defeats Ichinojo – I wanted to send Ichinojo a truck full of ice cream and a couple of freshly brushed ponies after this match. He really took the fight to the dai-Yokozuna, and made him work. What’s impressive is to note that for a time early in this mawashi battle, Ichinojo’s hips are actually lower than Hakuho’s. That is quiet and accomplishment for someone his size. Hakuho tries several of his distraction tricks, and Ichinojo does not fall for any of it. Great sumo all around, and Ichinojo continues to give me hope.

Tochiozan defeats Kisenosato – Of course he did. Kisenosato and Tagonoura oyakata may be the only two people in Japan who thinks the Yokozuna can still compete. Kisenosato gives up his 2nd kinboshi of the only 3 day old Hatsu basho.

Nishikigi defeats Kakuryu – Nishikigi takes a kinboshi in his first ever match against a Yokozuna. The two went chest to chest at the tachiai, and Nishikigi advanced strongly. Driving the Yokozuna back, Kakuryu attempted a throw at the bales, and both men went out in unison. The gyoji gave the gumbai to Nishikigi, but a monoii ensued. Watching the replay, I am not sure that Kakuryu was the dead body here, but the shimpan upheld the gumbai, and it was Nishikigi’s 3rd consecutive win.

36 thoughts on “Hatsu Day 3 Highlights

  1. If it wasn’t for the Kisenosato saga, we would be sitting here worrying about Kakuryu having already lost two bouts in the first week which is not a good thing by Yokozuna standards. But Yokozuna standards seem not to apply anymore.

    Besides, this is so because the first week is the “easy” one and one assumes critical losses will come in the second week. But the way the Ozeki look, he may well be able to get a 6-1 in the second week, so no problems…

    • I agree that Kakuryu and Hakuo have, apparently, three “easier” wins with the Ozeki on their schedule. However, the rest of the top of the banzuke looks incredibly challenging. I don’t think any other matches will be easy even for Hakuho.

    • I just can’t get over Nishikigi. I thought he had the seeds of higher performance in him, but I could not imagine it would come to this. He has Kisenosato day 4, so if that stubborn Yokozuna shows up, it’s kinboshi time again, perhaps.

      Kakuryu is having problems with mobility, and that is the key to his reactive sumo. I predict a kyujo by nakabe.

      • He is going to get flack for that from the YDC for sure. “You shouldn’t have come back if you aren’t fully recovered” etc. – that is, assuming Kisenosato retires and allows them to go back to normal.

  2. I think we’re officially in a Changing of the Guard period in the top division. Kisenosato is essentially on a deathwatch, Kakuryu can still compete but is one injury away from retiring, and even Hakuho is officially under a “wily veteran” status in my book. All three Ozeki are essentially done unless Takayasu has a serious resurgence. Goeido can’t use his right arm and Tochinoshin is physically breaking down bit by bit. I don’t know how long it will take, but Takakeisho, Onosho, Nishikigi, and others will launch themselves upwards on the banzuke in short order. I think a number of haircuts are on the horizon, if not imminent, especially if we include Juryo in the discussion.
    Competition is so FIERCE right now across the board. Ura lost today and that shows just how difficult even navigating Makushita is these days. There are currently only a handful of unbeaten rikishi in both Juryo and Makuuchi and only one of them is a top ranked rikishi. It’s crazy and I love that Kintamayama continues to express his astonishment and lack of words for what we’re seeing right now in his videos.

    • Takayasu looks like hell. Get him over the flu, and he will be physically fine. But the situation with his senpai may be working him over perhaps even more. I can imagine the stress in Tagonoura is high, and the Kisenosato death watch has to be a tremendous distraction.

      Goeido – no two ways about it, he needs to get that arm repaired or hang up his mawashi.
      Tochinoshin – probably ok if he can get his thigh muscle sorted. It’s telling that during the “Easy” week we have not seem him lift-and-shift for a win yet.

      • I’m not sure about Tochinoshin. His entire arsenal relies on healthy legs and knees. But, that’s where all of his injuries are accumulating. He’s been able to perform well because the rest of the lower half of his body helped support his knee issues. Now, one of his thighs is busted. We’re assuming that a) his thigh will go back to its former level of performance and b) the thigh injury won’t negatively affect all of the other muscles and joints while they compensate for both his knees and his busted thigh. Tochinoshin did try to lift Nishikigi. He did move him, but not as far as he wanted. He’s on reduced power and he apparently doesn’t have a Plan B strategy.

      • Kintamayama’s comment about, “Two ships passing in the night,” about Takayasu walking silently past Kisenosato in the hanamichi was very interesting. They probably never engage each other there but the serious tone of late puts it in a new light.

  3. If my calculations are correct the Kisenosato is 36-35-102 as a yokozuna.

    Would the powers that be allow him to continue for 2 more days and maybe have a career losing record as a yokozuna? Aren’t yokozuna supposed to be winners?

    • I get 36-35-97, but regardless of 97 or 102 missed, the win-loss ratio is terribly unsatisfactory by any objective standard.

      10-5 is the minimum expectation for Yokozuna.

      • Sorry Barry it is 102 missed. Before his injury, Kise was averaging more than 12 wins per basho as Ozeki. A very sad injury situation.

  4. Onosho has been surprisingly direct in interviews. He and Takakeisho are long time rival competitors. Onosho believes he should be equally competitive and intends to be competing with Takakeisho for Top Tadpole. May be inspiration.

    I’m surprised they didn’t call Kakaryu’s left foot out, half a step before he went dead body. Maybe there was so much damage to the dust ring, that they could not confirm the foot touch. It sure looked like dust kicked up to me on the replay. Maybe dead body was easier to call, and not have to deal with the foot touch question.

      • What I see is from Kintamayama is: Left foot on the straw. Right heel on the straw. Left foot swinging and a darker cloud “kicked up”.

        But maybe that dark cloud kicked up is shadow from the over head lights, rather than dust? Is that how you see it?

        I’ll watch the NHK later to see if they have replay from different angles.

        • There is a replay from a different angle on Kintamayama’s reel as well – during the monoii discussion. 15:30 and after. There is no cloud and no mark in the Janome.

    • I noticed Kakuryu’s left foot swipe the dohyo outside the tawara just before they went flying out. George is right. It is clear in Kintamayama’s slo mo replay. Just watch Kakuryu’s left foot. The mini cloud of dust is there.

      • Oops! My bad. I just watched the NHK video with much higher resolution. What I thought was a cloud of dust was, in fact, merely a shadow of Kakuryu’s foot.

  5. The upsets at the top of the banzuke remind me of the very quiet atmosphere on a day One Nagoya Basho 2017, when a load of the top rikishi lost.

    Hokutofuji is quietly putting together a very good run.

    Nishikigi keeping on track for that Yokozuna promotion

  6. Serious question:

    If Takakeisho wins a zensho yusho, he’ll have one two in a row. Could he in theory bypass Ozeki to jump up to Yokozuna? I’m assuming not but wanted to clarify

      • To be fair, there is no precedent for winning two in a row from the lower sanyaku, but I think they will want to see a consistent record of performance as an Ozeki first, especially given cough recent events cough.

        • “Recent events” as in “Someone who had a good record as Ozeki for several years then flopped as a Yokozuna”?

          • Yeah yeah, I know, I just don’t think there’d be much appetite for anything other than a slam-dunk Yokozuna promotion right now. In any case, the only lower sanyaku yusho winner to then win a second consecutive yusho was Futabayama (in his first tournament as Ozeki) and they made him wait another basho (and yusho) before promoting him.
            Futabayama 1936.05 S1w 11-0 Y 1937.01 O1e 11-0 Y 1937.05 O1e 13-0 Y 1938.01 Y1w 13-0 Y

        • Anyway, I don’t think it’s a matter of precedent. I believe traditionally a Yokozuna has just been considered an Ozeki with a special decoration and dohyo-iri. That’s why they can serve as symbolic Ozeki if there are not enough ozeki on the banzuke to start a basho. The condition for advancement is “As an Ozeki, win two consecutive yusho or equivalent scores”.

  7. congrats to all the other big winners today – some fabulous bouts made it a very exciting day (thanks Yago!) and Ichinojo – i’m gonna help Bruce with the costs of icecream machine and a few freshly brushed ponies for you! phenomenal performance – keep it up young man!

    • Not sure what’s in Ichinjo’s Wheaties this time around, but this match blew me away — for some reason his mental game seems to be strong so far this basho. I can think of of a number of bouts where even a sub-Hakuho opponent evidencing some persistence would have caused him to check out after 15 seconds; that Ichinojo hasn’t shown up yet in January. Very exciting.

  8. Query: Doesn’t Takayasu always look kinda miserable? It’s a part of his bearish appeal.

    Since the henka has become fashionable again in this basho, I’m wondering when Goeido will resort to that familiar arrow in his quiver.

  9. I swear it looked like Kise gave up at the edge, Ichinojo-style. Maybe I’m imagining things…or maybe that’s when his decision was made. I kind of want to knock Tagonoura oyakata in the head; from what I’ve read, he was a big proponent of Kise “healing naturally” and made no efforts to encourage him to get surgery, just did a lot to perpetuate Kise not retiring with his dignity in tact, and now he has Takayasu out there WITH A VERY CONTAGIOUS VIRUS! I know we joked about Yoshikaze’s rash last year, but the flu can be serious freaking business and the flu shot isn’t always effective. If I were an oyakata and one of my deshi caught Takayasu’s flu, I’d want to read his oyakata the riot act >.>

    The Hakuho/Ichinojo bout was probably the high point of the day, and I say that as someone who’s no real fan of either wrestler. I think if Ichinojo always fought like this, 1) I’d be a huge fan, and 2) He’d probably be a freaking Ozeki by now, and in better competing shape than any of the three we currently have =-(

  10. I agree Hakuho-Ichinojo probably the best bout of the day. I was disappointed in the small stack of kensho riding on that bout. In fact, it was scandalous. (Yes, I am one of those fascinated at the wrestlers getting cash envelopes as soon as the bout is ended.) Even today’s musubi no ichiban kensho was disappointing (to those of us keeping track).

    I believe the ‘distraction’ Bruce mentions is actually Hakuho trying to leg trip Ichinojo — twice. Trip a 227 kg solid mass? What was he thinking? Still very impressed at the one arm throw. He looked more tired than Ichinojo, but I guess all Ichi really has to do is stand in one place to make The Boss sweat. Ichinojo has just completed his toughest bout of the yusho. Who knows how far he could go this time? What excitement!

    I agree with Bruce that Kakyru didn’t look all that dead. He should have gotten a rematch, but at least he got a mono-ii.

    As I said before, it’s sad to see Kisenosato go out like that. Good luck, Kise, in your new career as coach and oyakata!

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