Hatsu Day 12 Highlights

Heading into the final weekend, it's a brawl to the end. Stock the fridge and call in sick to work, you won't want to miss any of this.
Heading into the final weekend, it’s a brawl to the end. Stock the fridge and call in sick to work, you won’t want to miss any of this.

A brief reminder that Tachiai is not spoiler free.

Tamawashi succeeded in his task, and took Hakuho to the clay for a second day in a row, dropping him to 10-2, and blowing the yusho race wide open. There are 5 rikishi who have a shot at the Emperor’s cup, and that number grows to 7 should either of the co-leaders lose again. Though, in reality, the race is between Hakuho and Tamawashi, with an outside chance of Takakeisho – should he also prevail against Hakuho in their day 13 match.

It should be noted that Takakeisho defeated Tamawashi on day 3, and at 9 wins he needs 2 more over the next 3 days to stamp his bid to become Ozeki. Takakeisho’s final 2 wins are not a certanty, and many Ozeki candidates fail their first attempts. Should he finish Hatsu with 10 wins, his goal in Osaka is a mere 10 wins, thanks to his 13-2 yusho in November.

More than any prior basho in recent memory, the winds of change a blowing with purpose.

Highlight Matches

Sadanoumi defeats Meisei – Sadanoumi locks in his kachi-koshi, This lightning fast match saw the competitors switch from oshi to yotsu and then, in tandem, attempt a throw.

Ikioi defeats Yutakayama – Yutakayama is getting painfully close to a make-koshi, but Ikioi is some kind of battle-bot now, a mass of wounds and maladies that mounts the dohyo and defeats you. With his pain.

Takarafuji defeats Yago – Yago drops his 4th in a row, and is suddenly looking a lot less genki. A Takarafuji kachi-koshi would be his first since this time LAST YEAR!

Abi defeats Daiamami – Abi gets his first kachi-koshi since March of 2018, and proves that his style of sumo can still be effective, if you are far enough down the banzuke.

Asanoyama defeats Chiyoshoma – A rough and tumble match that looked like Chiyoshoma was still battling after he had stepped out. These two threw everything into this match, and it switched styles and forms multiple times, but Asanoyama kept fighting. Great sumo from both.

Ryuden defeats Daishomaru – Daishomaru will be relegated deep into Juryo for March. He seems to have no forward pressure at all, and we can assume some manner of injury is keeping him from his full potential.

Daieisho defeats Kotoeko – A quick, ugly match that suffered from a false start. Both men are struggling, and it will probably come down to final day matches for both of them.

Endo defeats Chiyotairyu – Massive, brilliant match from both. Endo gets high marks for absorbing Chiyotairyu’s tachiai and subsequent attacks, and a great effort from Chiyotairyu, who showed his trademark strength, and uncharacteristic stamina.

Kagayaki defeats Onosho – Hapless, make-koshi Kagayaki takes Onosho down. This underscores that Onosho is still not 100%, and is probably low on stamina at this point of the tournament. During the match you can see him favoring his right knee, and his ability to push against Kagayaki’s attack is certainly limited. The time he sat out to address his knee injury is impacting his sumo, at least for a little while longer. Onosho needs one more win for kachi-koshi.

Kaisei defeats Okinoumi – Like many Kaisei matches, it as a low speed – high force affair that played to the Brazilian’s massive body size and immense strength.

Nishikigi defeats Shodai – Shodai suffered the painful side of a kotenage in his make-koshi loss. Nishikigi has been fading since the middle weekend, and is on the knife edge of make-koshi himself. Can he battle back and win out for his kachi-koshi?

Hokutofuji defeats Ichinojo – High marks for Hokutofuji’s effort in this one. The much larger, much stronger Ichinojo fought him well up until he was backed to the bales, and then once again went soft.

Shohozan defeats Myogiryu – Shohozan engages in a surprising mawashi battle, and comes up the winner. Myogiryu resisted well, escaping at least twice from potential Shohozan wins, but “Big Guns” stayed with it, and took the white star.

Mitakeumi defeats Tochiozan – Now one win away from a kachi-koshi, walking wounded Mitakeumi applies a hit-and-shift tachiai, and follows it up with a strong grapple and forward attack against Tochiozan. I cringe watching him, but he’s getting results.

Takakeisho defeats Kotoshogiku – It was evident that Kotoshogiku was a bit lost on how to attack. Takakeisho’s thrusting attacks blocked him from setting up the gaburi-yori, and all attempts to return Takakeisho’s oshi attacks were blunted by the fact that Takakeisho is so damn short. Kotoshogiku found himself getting a lot of hair, and not much rikishi. Kotoshogiku make-koshi.

Goeido defeats Yoshikaze – To be fair, this is the depleted relic of Yoshikaze, but I applaud Goeido for battling back from doom to at least a 6-6 score. 2 more wins out of the last 3 and he can escape what seemed to be an almost certain kadoban.

Takayasu defeats Aoiyama – Impressive effort from Aoiyama, he managed to use his superior reach to keep the Ozeki’s offense more or less shut down, but even his mighty strength was not enough to close the deal. Takayasu took his time and waited for the moment he could get inside, and then powered Aoiyama out.

Tamawashi defeats Hakuho – The Boss has done a great job convincing everyone he was genki, but it seems that mask has dropped. Hakuho is an ace competitor, but he made a fatal mistake and broke contact with Tamawashi, resulting in him facing the wrong way. Tamawashi sprang to action and escorted the Yokozuna out in a rush. It’s not often we see Hakuho make a mistake that large, and my compliments to “The Crippler” for seizing the opportunity.

14 thoughts on “Hatsu Day 12 Highlights

  1. Looking rough for hakuho. He tougher S and O opponents in the remaining days compared to what’s left for tamawashi.

  2. I sometimes wonder whether, when we perceive Ichinojo ‘going soft,’ it isn’t simply that he’s had his weight shifted back to his heels and it takes him a moment to get it shifted back. It’s gotta be like turning around a battleship — it takes a while.

  3. I think the “near misses” that Hakuho had earlier in the tournament convinced people that he was still at the top of his game. But, now that he’s still struggling, and losing, it’s more readily apparent that Hakuho is having issues with his sumo. I think the big takeaway from today is that yesterday’s bout with Mitakeumi wasn’t a fluke win.

    Goeido has a shot at not going kadoban, but it’s Goeido. I won’t believe he’ll get kachi-koshi until he actually does it.

    I think Hokotofuji definitely deserves more credit than he’s been given recently. He always puts in a lot of effort into his sumo. Ikioi is simply ridiculous. I don’t even know how he walks some days never mind anything else.

  4. Just for perspective:

    Victor Oladipo, a basketball player playing for the Indiana Pacers, ruptured his quad tendon in his knee last night. He will have surgery and will sit out for the next 9 months.

    Mitakeumi ruptured the same quad tendon in his knee a few days ago. He sat out for three days and is back wrestling against men who weigh 150kg.

    Until sumo gets rid of this culture of chasing 8 wins at the expense of long term health, we will keep seeing rikishi prematurely end their career due to eminently fixable injuries. Mitakeumi has the skills necessary to achieve great things in his career, but his desire to avoid a minimal demotion may well short circuit any future Ozeki or Yokozuna run.

    You can’t rely on the athletes themselves to decide on when to seek medical treatment. A competitor will always want to compete. But someone needs to step in and save these guys from themselves.

    • The Mainichi reported that, after defeating Hakuho, Mitakeumi said, “I’m fine. I didn’t want to succumb to my injuries. I wanted to do my best for the remainder of the tournament.”

      I suspect an American athlete’s attitude would be: ‘I’m hoping to have a long and successful career in this sport, so I’m going to do what is needed to get fully healed, then, when I’m ready, I’ll come back stronger than ever.’ The idea of not ‘succumbing’ to one’s injuries is a very dangerous one.

      On the other hand, I am reminded of an occasion back in the mid-80s, when Sparky Anderson was the skipper of my beloved Detroit Tigers. Our great shortstop Alan Trammell was playing in spite of an ankle injury. When queried about it by a reporter, Sparky famously responded, “Pain don’t hurt.”

      Sparky’s point was that some injuries produce pain, but carry little risk of causing further injury (e.g., Ikioi (maybe)). Perhaps that is Mitakeumi’s situation, but I doubt it. Besides, Alan Trammell wasn’t rassling 400 lb. opponents.

    • I remember reading somewhere that the Emperor had made a comment about the wrestlers taking the time to properly heal (probably re: Kisenosato.) I’m guessing even the Emperor of Japan can get the NSK to change that part of their attitude…

    • I do not think it’s fair to make a comparison between a team sport like Basketball and a solo sport like Sumo.

      Sumo system of rank and promotion/demotion is a little more unique even when compared to other solo sports with ranking like golf or tennis.

      So of cos a Basketball player who injured his quad tendon can take his time to heal properly. It may has some impact on his team performance (if he is their star player) but the team will cope.

      The system is the same for all rikishi (except the yokuzuna) It would not be fair to the other rikishis if an injured rikishis is allowed to keep his rank.

      • Maybe tennis is a more appropriate comparison, and we’re seeing the retirement of Andy Murray from hip issues and Serena climbing back after a long time away.

  5. Let’s play a few rounds of ‘What’s wrong with Hakuho?’. Not to pick on Hakuho, who after all is still tournament leader, and I am a fan. But he does seem off this yusho.

    At first I thought he was weak in his legs (compared to usual — we are talking about a top athlete here). This would be logical after the surgery he had — he clearly would have done only physical therapy leg moves for quite some time.

    After his day 9 bout, you can see him nearly fall backwards (Jason’s part 2 highlights video, day 9). This could be balance or it could be, again, (relative) leg weakness. Or it could mean he didn’t quite know where he was — he put his heels on the edge of the platform instead of the edge of the ring.

    Or are his current crop of wrestlers really that good?

    I thought he made a good start today, but when he turned away from Tamawashi, he couldn’t recover. Hmmn.

  6. I have been contemplating the concept of “stamina.” I am wondering if someone who is seen as having stamina is better at not getting banged up or doesn’t have a weak spot that gets worse as the basho wears on. Just a thought.

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