Haru Day 14 Preview

The Miyazaki Prefecture Trophy – A Delicious Cow Held Aloft By Strong Men

It’s all come down to the final weekend. With everyone but Ichinojo mathematically eliminated now, it’s up to Takayasu or Kakuryu to put dirt on Hakuho, or watch him go home with his 42nd cow, lifetime of gasoline, and giant trophy full of mushrooms. In fact, I would wager that Hakuho’s house is made of vitrified beef steaks, stacked high and painted to look like wood. Seriously, what does this guy do with all of these prizes? What does he do with all of that money?

The answer is, of course, a whole lot of good. American sumo fans don’t get a full media diet about sumo, and so we don’t see some of the amazing charity that the kanban rikishi undertake. Most of them have personal community enrichment projects, and the ones from Mongolia (I am looking at you, Harumafuji) work hard to improve life in that poor and isolated country. Some of my favorite photos of Harumafuji include him visiting children, some of them critically ill, in his yellow and black “hornet stripe” yukata. Hakuho has a laundry list of good deeds and causes he attends to and funds. In general these guys really do live up to a higher standard than what most western star athletes do.

Again lksumo takes on and explains how the final weekend will decide several important story lines for Haru, and I encourage everyone to read it. Part of that story are the 12 rikishi who can still mathematically reach kachi-koshi, who will be increasingly fighting for rank. This portends a great weekend of sumo ahead. For myself, I am going to be once again cooking a pot of chanko for Sunday, and taking it all in.

What We Are Watching Day 14

Ishiura vs Takagenji – Loser is make-koshi, and the list of rikishi in the bottom third of the banzuke who have 8 or more losses will be most impressive. There will be a veritable train-wreck of rikishi who could mathematically be demoted, if only there were stronger rikishi with winning records in upper Juryo.

Terutsuyoshi vs Kotoeko – Kotoeko could join that group with a loss today. Terutsuyoshi seems to have found his sumo again, and his over the top mobility and agility might be more than Kotoeko’s strength can overcome.

Ryuden vs Daishoho – Daishoho is also in a must-win situation, or join the herd that will be frustrating the banzuke committee.

Shohozan vs Tomokaze – Shohozan is safe from joining the Juryo candidate dog-pile, but he still needs to win both of his last 2 to end with a kachi-koshi. This first time match against Tomokaze will feature some energy.

Chiyoshoma vs Yago – Chiyoshoma’s match today could have him reach safety, if only he can overcome Yago’s giant head tempting him to just give it a tug… pull it down. Just a little hatakikomi… GIANT HEAD! G I A N T H E A D ….. There, I said it. The guy reminds me of Juggernaut from the X Men.

Asanoyama vs Kagayaki – Asanoyama has lost 3 straight looking for that 8th win. Kagayaki seems to be very calmly going about his sumo, and I have to wonder if Asanoyama has run out of steam now 2 weeks into this tournament.

Yoshikaze vs Kotoshogiku – In the battle of genki veterans, we will see what happens when you let seasoned rikishi go almost 4 months without a jungyo. You get sumo masters who have regained their strength and stamina, beating the tar out of the younger crowd. Now they face each other, both with 10 wins, both of them facing a huge leap higher on the banzuke for May. Kotoshogiku holds a 24-7 career lead.

Aoiyama vs Meisei – Another battle of the mega-genki, Meisei is quick enough that he does not have to let Aoiyama hit him if it’s not in his plan. Aoiyama has trouble with quick, busy guys like Meisei (see the day 13 match with Yoshikaze), they can duck and dive and get behind the man-mountain, and send him to the zabuton zone.

Daieisho vs Abi – We have Daieisho one win away from kachi-koshi, and Abi one loss away from make-koshi. If Abi were to pull out an 8th win this tournament, it would be amazing. But I think he might just do it. Thus it would postpone the day he figures out what more he can do in sumo now that everyone figured out his “one weird trick”.

Okinoumi vs Myogiryu – Okinoumi needs one more win for his 8, and the chances are good he will get it today. He tends to win against Myogiryu when his health is good, and he has been “well enough” for Haru.

Mitakeumi vs Chiyotairyu – Chiyotairyu needs one more for kachi-koshi, and possible big bounce up the banzuke for May. Mitakeumi will be vacating his Komusubi slot, and we know he will be back in the named ranks once he can get his undercarriage repaired.

Takakeisho vs Ichinojo – The records state that Takakeisho holds a 7-2 career advantage, but statistics cannot tell the story of this match in this basho. Ichinojo has uncovered a seemingly endless well of fighting spirit, and is using it to flatten every opponent save one. Takakeisho knows how to beat Ichinojo, but can he beat this version of Ichinojo? A win today would give Takakeisho his 10th, and punch his ticket, validating his bid to be considered for Ozeki.

Tochinoshin vs Tamawashi – Tochinoshin needs two wins, and his day 14 match against Tamawashi is probably his easier match. He has a 16-10 career advantage, and Tamawashi looks only about 80% of his normal self. Of course Tochinoshin has been less than the awesome rikishi he was a year ago.

Hakuho vs Takayasu – This is going to be fun to watch, for the reason that Takayasu seems to once again be under Kisenosato’s active tutorage. Kisenosato had a specific ability to confound and dismantle Hakuho’s sumo, and many times when no one else could stop the dai-Yokozuna’s winning streaks, up would step Kisenosato and drop the boss. Can Takayasu deploy some of that knowledge on day 14, and bring one last surge of excitement to a throughly enjoyable Haru Basho?

Goeido vs Kakuryu – Rapid attack vs rapid react. I am going to guess Goeido will go for a massive opening attack that either works before Kakuryu can counter, or will leave Goeido in such an indefensible position that it’s a quick loss.

15 thoughts on “Haru Day 14 Preview

  1. I mean, Kisenosato went 16-45 against Hakuho, for a 26% win rate. It’s better than most, but hardly anything to lord over Hakuho about. Harumafuji was a much more formidable foe, winning 36% of his bouts against the dai-yokozuna, but I don’t see that leading to any advantages for Takarafuji or Terutsuyoshi against Hakuho either.

    • They’re head to head was pretty one sided in the beginning, but over the last few years of Kise’s career it became more balanced. He even beat the boss three times in a row around the time he made yokozuna promotion.

      • After being promoted to ozeki Kisenosato’s record against Hakuho was 9-21, so not really better than his full career record. However, if we pick the most favorable possible time period starting with a yoritaoshi victory at Nagoya 2013 and exclude the post-injury period (one loss in 2018), then Kisenosato’s record is 8-12.

        The only people to beat Hakuho 10 times or more were Asashoryu, Harumafuji, Kisenosato, and Kotooshu. The only other opponent of note was Terunofuji, who managed a 4-9 record — some hints of a worthy challenger there. Wakanosato is an interesting false positive; his record was 6-11 but he won the first six and lost the last eleven.

  2. Bonus point yusho race Day 13: Hakuho 19, Goeido 14, Ichinojo 13, Ryuden 11, Aoiyama 11 Takakeisho 10, Chiyoshoma (?) 10

  3. So if Hakuho goes 14-1 and so does Ichinojo, then there will be a playoff? Seems unfair that Ichinojo could win the yusho that way when Hakuho beat tougher opponents.

  4. In September 2014, Ichinojo was M10 and a new entrant in Makuuchi. He was fighting exceedingly well and was one behind Hakuho, exactly like now. The torikumi for Day 14 was changed at the last minute to set up a match between the Yokozuna East and Maegashira 10.

  5. Semi-random question: I’m watching the Abema feed this time around and notice that Hokutofuji has a very particular set of motions before his bouts — touches his closed hand to his forehead, and then to his mouth, with a very serious expression. It’s…meditative, almost. A personal ritual?

    • Definitely! Many of the rikishi have their own little signature ritual going on. Ikioi has his standing march, Hakuho stares into the distance and gives a nod to someone or something etc etc.

      • In my house, we call Hokotofuji’s pose his “what’s-my-motivation?” moment. It’s really interesting to see all the different ways the rikishi prepare themselves.

  6. The torikumi for day 15 is out. Looks like we’re sure to have three ozeki and three ozeki only in May.

  7. Could you explain more about why you attribute Takayasu’s improved sumo to practice with the former Kisenosato? I had understood they were in the same heya and always practised together anyway.

    • I don’t have any inside knowledge – first off. As Takayasu worked towards Ozeki, he and Kisenosato were constantly sparring, sometimes for hours a day. It made a noticeable and steady change to Takayasu’s sumo.

      Once Kisenosato became injured, Takayasu’s sumo changed again. It became more wild and unfocused. The power was off the charts, but it was not really under his control. Now we know that Kisenosato has retired from the dohyo, and news tells us he and Takayasu are back to training like madmen again. Lo and behold, we see a change in Takayasu’s sumo back towards the form he had in his run up towards Ozeki. So I attribute that to Kisenosato re-engaging has his coach.

      Am I assuming things? Yes, you bet.

      I am also going to state that it may take a few months for the transition to fully take root. I think Takayasu’s sumo has improved quite a bit this basho, and we will probably see him take his first yusho this year. The Ichinojo angle is a new one, and Takayasu is going to need a good recipe for handling that giant.

  8. Nishikigi got screwed. Endo was clearly out first. His toes touched out as his leg swept back for balance.

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