Hatsu Day 13 Highlights

Takakeisho Preps For His Ozeki Final Exam

There was a time, in the earlier days of sumo, when we were blessed with a dai-Yokozuna, named Chiyonofuji. He had been dominant for a long time, and people wondered how he could ever be bested. But as time marched on (and time is the great equalizer), the demands of sumo, and the damage it accumulates in the body, wore him down to the point where he become quite a bit more beatable. He still dominated, and still took most yusho, but being able to beat Chiyonofuji became the litmus test for passage to the top ranks.

Its tough to know what is ailing Hakuho right now, there are a number of options ranging from the surgery he had just a few weeks ago, to the influenza virus that seems to be touring Japan. But it’s clear that in the past few days that the Yokozuna is not at his best. Does this mean he is done for? I should think not. He already has a Yokozuna’s kachi-koshi, and he is disappointing nobody but himself right now. But his string of 3 straight losses has turned this Hatsu basho into the much desired brawl that sumo fans will enjoy.

Highlight Matches

Sadanoumi defeats Yutakayama – Yutakayama provided most of the offensive power for this match, but Sadanoumi had the experience to stalemate his opponent until he was off balance, and applied a tidy uwatenage for the win. Yutakayama is dangerously close to make-koshi now, and this far down the banzuke it might cause him quite a bit of trouble.

Abi defeats Kotoeko – Abi adds some garnish to his kachi-koshi, while at the same time I am sure Kotoeko is wondering about which division he will compete in come March.

Daishomaru defeats Takarafuji – I admit that I am puzzled in that it seems that Daishomaru is starting to get some of his sumo back. It’s far too late to save him from Juryo, but I am interested to see him get inside of a surprisingly docile Takarafuji.

Ikioi defeats Kaisei – A somewhat heroic tale for Ikioi, who is pushing through quite a few injuries and problems to prevail no matter what and get his 8th win. The “thud” from the tachiai was probably felt out on the street.

Daieisho defeats Chiyoshoma – Another member of the walking wounded, Chiyoshoma, gets his make-koshi. There are a good number of rikishi in the bottom quartile of the Makuuchi banzuke who are make-koshi, and its going to make the promotion / demotion race a bit interesting this time.

Daiamami defeats Ryuden – The accidental head-butt at the tachiai seems to have briefly stunned or disoriented Ryuden, and he goes down for his 8th loss. His over-promotion at Kyushu seems to have impacted him, and we hope that the extended break (with no jungyo) following Hatsu will allow him and others to get their bodies and their sumo back in order.

Yago defeats Onosho – Yago finally finds his 8th win after 4 consecutive losses. Onosho seems to be struggling quite a bit after a fierce start to Hatsu. Again, given his recovery, he will be doing well if he can get his 8th win, which is likely in the final 2 days. There were a number of rikishi who seem to find traction problems with the dohyo today, and Onosho was a good example.

Kagayaki defeats Yoshikaze – A weird set of matches. The first one saw Yoshikaze more or less demanding that a matta be called, leading to embarrassing confusion among pretty much everyone. But the judges called for a do-over, and Yoshikaze lost a second time. Given how poorly he is doing, todays match just compounds the pain for his fans.

Aoiyama defeats Endo – Strong opening attack by Aoiyama, but as with Onosho, Endo looks like he loses traction and goes down.

Asanoyama defeats Okinoumi – This was all Asanoyama, and Okinoumi seemed to been completely out-matched. Asanoyama’s recovery from a horrible start to the basho is both dramatic and welcome.

Nishikigi defeats Shohozan – Shohozan’s matta / early launch did not seem to rattle Nishikigi, who delta Shohozan his make-koshi with good forward motion, and efficient application of force.

Shodai defeats Tochiozan – Tochiozan also picks up his 8th loss. Shodai was able to get the inside position against Tochiozan, and wasted no time in standing him up and pushing him back. Shodai’s tachiai actually looked pretty good today.

Mitakeumi defeats Ichinojo – The injured Mitakeumi keeps the pressure on against the much larger Ichinojo, and once again Ichinojo goes soft at the tawara. This marks his 8th win, and given that he took several days off, and is fighting more or less on one leg, this performance is somewhat miraculous. With Myogiryu already make-koshi, Mitakeumi will at least be moving over to the East Komusubi lost for March.

Kotoshogiku defeats Myogiryu – This see-saw match had Kotoshogiku throw everything he could at the Komusubi, and eventually wore Myogiryu down. Multiple times, Kotoshogiku applied his hug-n-chug attack, but Myogiryu was able to escape. The end came with both men spent, but Kotoshogiku having just enough left to advance and heave Myogiryu out at the edge.

Tamawashi defeats Hokutofuji – Tamawashi keeps the pressure on with todays win. Another case where a rikishi (Hokutofuji) seems to have lost traction and hit the clay. To be clear, Tamawashi had the pressure on high, but Hokutofuji lost as much as Tamawashi won.

Goeido defeats Takayasu – Very impressive Goeido. He came from a miserable start, nursing arm damage, and has battled back to the brink of his 8th win, and he beat Takayasu to do it. Goeido used his trademark speed to get the inside position and prevented Takayasu from generating much offense.

Takakeisho defeats Hakuho – How many fans remember the first match between these two? That odd affair in Nagoya in 2017 that devolved into something akin to butsugari, where Takakeisho was attempting to use his nascent “Wave Action” attack, and Hakuho more or less said “Isn’t that cutie”. Day after day, hour after hour, Takakeisho’s attack modes have been refined, honed and improved. Each time he has tested against Hakuho, it was clear he was getting stronger, better. Today, on his 4th attempt, he prevailed. Takakeisho is now just one win away from a bid to be promoted to Ozeki, and to some extent this was his final exam. Hakuho’s loss gives Tamawashi the sole lead for the Hatsu yusho, with Hakuho and Takakeisho one win behind. Fantastic way to hit the final weekend of a basho.

18 thoughts on “Hatsu Day 13 Highlights

  1. I am extremely happy for Takakeisho!! If anyone has seen my comments over tv last 2-3 weeks, they will know I am not only a big fan of his, but have confidence in his career progression. Hakuho is the one rikishi he has really struggled against. That win will do Takakeisho the world of good!

    By the way, if Takakeisho makes ozeki, when was the last time a shin-Sekiwake got ozeki promotion? I’ve gone back to 1970 so far and can’t see any ozeki promotions that have come after just one basho at Sekiwake.

    • You’re right, it hasn’t happened in the modern era of sumo. The last time was 1940, when there were only two basho a year and the promotion criteria may have been quite different. The man to do it, Itsutsushima, had a 3-basho record (spread over a year) of 9-6 at M2, 11-4 at M1, and a 13-2 jun-yusho in his Sekiwake debut. This story does not end well—he had losing records in his first two Ozeki basho, was demoted to Sekiwake, and retired.

      • I also checked on sumodb (you got here first). It’s worth noting that in addition to Itsutsushima and a couple of other wrestlers who topped out at ozeki, the 27th yokozuna Tochigiyama, 35th Yokozuna Futabayama, and 36th yokozuna Haguroyama all achieved this feat.

    • I think that’s more of a fun fact, if he makes it. There are a lot of things that need to come together technically for that. I think you can’t start the Ozeki run from Maegashira ranks, so you need two strong tournaments at komusubi before your shin-sekiwake basho. Some guys get directly promoted to sekiwake, some just spend one tournament at komusubi.
      But anyways, even if he benefits a lot from the weakness/injuries etc. of the top ranks … you gotta make use of it and after some stumbles midway, he is doing exactly that in convincing fashion.

      • I think they’re both too stubborn, unfortunately, to say nothing of pressure they may be getting from their stablemasters and supporter groups =-\

  2. Brave sumo from Goeido to lock onto the belt while being whalloped. I think bravery in the face of injury and adversity has been the prevailing theme this basho. I take my hat off to these warriors.

  3. There were a bunch of slips today, Hokotofuji was definitely one of them, but Endo fell because he went to push at Aoiyama’s chest and completely whiffed. Kintamayama’s video has a good replay that shows it well if you’re interested.

    I am rather happy that Asanoyama is now performing his sumo well. He’s become one of my favorite rikishi and his bad run didn’t make any sense. An invisible injury? Some bad mental habits? Who knows, but he’s apparently over them.

    I’m really disappointed in Onosho. He continues to make the same mental mistakes that cause him to over-commit and the other rikishi make him continually pay for it. If he learns a bit more patience on the dohyo, his record will definitely improve.

    Today’s performance by Goeido is why I feel he’s the most frustrating rikishi to watch. Why don’t we see consistent performances like his match with Takayasu today?

    It definitely says a lot that Hakuho felt he had to be the aggressor and lunge for Takakeisho’s belt today. That’s a very un-Boss like decision and, to me, it feels like Hakuho thought he was losing control of the match at that point. Maybe his loss from yesterday was on his mind.

    • That’s 3 times he appears to get his strategy wrong! We’ll see a Mongolia-sized henka before this Basho is out

  4. Haku-NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! What’s wrong, buddy?

    He’s feeling it too. Just watch his face at the during the bow after the bout (NHK highlights version).

    Whatever ails you, get better soon, dai Yokozuna!

    This weekend will be very exciting!

  5. It was amazing how much power Ikioi can generate from his broken body. He applied upward-forward pressure on the much heavier Kaisei. I thought he would explode.

    Nishikigi sure has lots of matta. By now I’m pretty sure it’s his eyesight. Glad to see his wrist is back in order.

    Takayasu had a horrible tachiai. I think perhaps he wanted to avoid a Goeido henka, so instead of going forwards he went upwards. But the result of this was that he was standing with his ass so high there was no way for him to keep his balance.

    My own speculation about Hakuho is that he has some sort of back ache. I’m ruling out influenza because all rikishi got shots in time. If the shot doesn’t cover the suspected strain, there should be many more rikishi contracting it, especially from the same heya (or Nakagawa beya, where a couple of his tsukebito belong). So far it seems there are none.

    One thing I noted in the past few days is that his movement is a lot slower than expected. When Tamawashi had him turned round yesterday, well, usually the Yokozuna turns back in the blink of an eye and lunges. This time it looked like it was taking him forever to turn round. His lunge towards Takakeisho’s mawashi was also slow. In fact, in the past few days his tachiai has been slow, with little forward momentum, and his attack was mainly untypical tsuppari. I interpret all this as having some sort of pain that limits his range of motion.

  6. On a more minor note, pleased that I called a few of these bouts correctly in my pre-match analysis (got a few wrong as well!)

    Among them though would have been my prediction of Kotoshogiku beating Myogiryu. I was watching to see if Myogiryu would try and get on the mawashi – and he did try, but he was never able to land the grip (later settling for raising up Kotoshogiku’s arms), and I think this was ultimately the difference between him being able to escort or throw Kotoshogiku out. Kotoshogiku can deploy the gaburi-yori regardless of where he has a grip as long as he has traction, and eventually he was able to get it done.

  7. On Aoiyama-Endo, my impression was that Endo was trying very hard to get a low position against Aoiyama and the big guy just shoved him down. Traction may have been an issue, too.

    Most entertaining match of the day was Kotoshogiku-Myogiryu. It was worth the price of admission to watch Kotoshogiku crank up the chug time after time only to see Myogiryu escape.

    When was the last time Hakuho lost three straight? I suspect that Herouth has correctly diagnosed his current woes.

  8. I don’t know what’s going on with Ichinojo – it’s just not right that Mitakeumi with one functioning leg should be able to march him straight out like he did

    • Ichinojo starts out like gang busters but cannot go the whole race. He loses steam about half way through tournament and bombs out. I feel if he lost weight and worked on endurance training and did leg work to build up the strength his legs need to support his tremendous weight he would do alot better in the later days of a tournament. He really is a hot or cold only wrestler

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