Natsu Day 8 Highlights

Endo – The Golden

What better time to really shake up the basho than the middle day? The first week was nothing but warm up, a prelude if you will to the real contest that starts now. And change was afoot in the Kokugikan, with losses dealt to fan-favorites up and down the banzuke. Some of that will be covered in today’s “Ones to Watch” post, some of it… Now.

Day 8 Highlights

Daishoho defeats Terutsuyoshi – Terutsuyoshi tries to be as low as possible, and leaves himself wide open for Daishoho to apply lateral and downward force. The result is a nicely executed katasukashi, with Daishoho rendering a look of both satisfaction and amusement that Terutsuyoshi thought that what he was doing was going to work.

Kotoeko vs Tokushoryu – Tokushoryu suffers again from his “cab forward design”, as Kotoeko expertly uses Tokushoryu’s propensity to fall forward to great effect.

Enho defeats Chiyomaru – Everyone was hyped for this match, and it did not disappoint. Enho does a masterful job of not staying still long enough for Chiyomaru to do anything rather than get frustrated. Enho grabs a leg and helps Chiyomaru out. As I love to say, being enormous is not necessarily a sumo tactic. Especially if you fight Enho.

Shimanoumi defeats Ishiura – Ishiura tries a hit-grab-shift, but Shimanoumi stays focused on Ishiura’s center-mass and rolls with him, never allowing Ishiura to generate any real offense.

Shohozan defeats Yago – In the battle of the giant heads, it’s great to note that you have Yago expending a lot of energy flailing away, and you have Shohozan who stays compact and low. He keeps Yago in front of him, and is very efficient with his sumo.

Sadanoumi defeats Tochiozan – Sadanoumi gets the job done by repeatedly overwhelming all attempts by Tochiozan to change the pace and form of the match to his terms. Sadanoumi works quickly, and keeps changing the attack profile, and always moving forward.

Shodai defeats Tomokaze – There are days when (as readers note) I think Shodai is a complete chump who stumbled into the top division, but he’s so nice and so polite no one wants to ask him to leave. Then there are days when this form of Shodai shows up and you go “daayyymm”. True to form, Shodai’s tachiai is terrible, but after that it’s ka-boom!

Meisei defeats Onosho – Watch this match in slow-motion. Now watch it again. It’s over in a blink of an eye, but you can see Meisei instinctively react and execute with perfection after Onosho lands a forceful tachiai, and looks ready to bowl Meisei over.

Asanoyama defeats Takarafuji – It was not flashy, it was not amazing, but Asanoyama got the job done. He is looking really sharp this basho, and his fans hope that he’s made a step change to his sumo.

Kagayaki defeats Yoshikaze – again we don’t see much offense from Yoshikaze, but sadly we did not see much offense from Kagayaki either. This was a kind of pointless match where they both could have taken a kuroboshi and gone to the pub instead.

Ryuden defeats Nishikigi – Nishikigi still showing up, but whatever kami had a hold of him earlier this year is back in whatever massive tree it normally inhabits. Ryuden keeps plugging away, and we will see him near the top of the rank and file in July, I would guess.

Daieisho defeats Chiyotairyu – Chiyotairyu has nothing to bring to this match, no canon-ball tachiai, no blistering tsuppari, he’s just not brining his best sumo. Daieisho does his part by driving hard and focusing on Chiyotairyu’s expansive upper body.

Abi defeats Hokutofuji – Matta, Matta, ker-blam! Hokutofuji shuts down Abi-zumo for a moment, but then Hokutofuji decides to try a pull / slap down, and reaches high. This opens up his chest and here comes the double arm shove from Abi. Hokutofuji needs a formula to win against this guy.

Endo defeats Tochinoshin – Fans know Endo is a master technician who many times can’t quite execute his brilliant sumo plans. But then you have today where he sacrifices a chance at Tochinoshin landing his lethal left in order to latch a mae-mitsu with the right hand. He mixes that with a pivot and a bit of luck (Tochinoshin loses traction) and its uwatedashinage magic at the shikiri-sen. Tochinoshin picks up his first loss.

Aoiyama defeats Takakeisho – On one hand, I could complain that Man-mountain Aoiyama executed a henka like a chump. Or I could look at this as the easiest way to defeat Takakeisho without taking much of a chance at further injuring him. One thing is clear, the path to kachi-koshi just got a lot more risky for Takakeisho.

Takayasu defeats Okinoumi – Okinoumi made this harder than it should have been, but I liked it because it was an excellent showcase for Takayasu’s really outstanding yotsu abilities. I am sticking with the theory that Takayasu is low-function now due to injury.

Goeido defeats Mitakeumi – Goeido gets a lucky break when the tata-gyoji scampers to a bad position on the dohyo and arrests Mitakeumi’s forward pressure, allowing Goeido to rally and carry the match. Truth be told, Goeido looked sharp this match, putting in doubt my theory that his ankle is back in poor shape.

Tamawashi defeats Kakuryu – Tamawashi focuses, pushes and drives. He is rewarded with his 3rd kinboshi and a storm of zabuton flying at the dohyo. Kakuryu takes his first trip to the clay, and suddenly the chase for the Emperor’s Cup is blown wide open.

With no rikishi now undefeated, the stage is set for a brutal brawl to the finish, it’s anyone’s guess who will take the yusho.

14 thoughts on “Natsu Day 8 Highlights

  1. Managing injuries on a rolling basis is a reality of sumo, but it does feel like A LOT of rikishi entered this basho with injuries that meant they’ve been trying to limit the outcome to the least worst (Aoiyama, Yoshikaze, Ichinojo, and others, even Takayasu and Kakuryu).

    Re Hokutofuji’s match, is there any likelihood that data analysis is going on in-house at heya? Needlessly pulling when you are in a strong position (as opposed to when you’re back-pedaling and desperate) is widely discussed as a bad habit, but are rikishi getting the stats that show, for example, that if they pull when moving forward, they only win X% of the time compared to Y% if they continue pushing?

    • Yes, there did seem to be a lot of inadvisable slap/pull-down attempts today. As well as Hokutofuji there was also Yago and Tomokaze who paid the price today. Perhaps this is a side-effect of Ichinojo’s strange run of pull-down victories last tournament?

  2. Well blow me down! Who would have picked Endo as the upsetter of Tochinoshin!

    I’m wondering when Yoshikaze is going to go Kjujo. Seems to me something’s going on with this right side, but I could be wrong.

    Mitakeumi was robbed — by the gyoji! A very bad break for Mitakeumi.

    Good job, Tamawashi. I did not want to see Kakuryu defeated, but Tam drove him out quickly and effectively.

    • Well, Endo did beat him in March, and had a 4-3 edge (excluding fusen)…

      I agree, the gyoji did a terrible job of positioning himself!

      • Yes, the NHK commentators were remarking on that. Not only has he done it before, but (says they) he did it exactly the same way. Nice job, Endo!

        It still surprises me, though. :-)

    • It seems like the gyoji being in the way was enough interference that it should be a rematch – but who would call that? Is saving face for the gyoji the reason for not calling a rematch? Or is there just no procedure for doing that?

      • Probably just considered an accident. Kinda like, you slipped on your sagari? Yeah, that sucks, don’t do that next time. Slipped on the salt? Yup, that will happen. Gyoji got in the way? Sure, stuff happens. Sucks to be you.

      • I doubt there is a procedure. In most sports, the ref is considered part of the field of play (rugby being the only exception I can think of). Most other combat sports don’t move fast enough for the ref to interfere. Although, there have been incidents in boxing where the ref was accidentally knock out.

    • Yeah, I was half expecting Goeido to break his wad of cash in half and hand one half back to Inosuke.

      Not that he would do that. His oyakata once said that Goeido presented him once with the pack of envelopes, much to his delight, and then he opened the envelopes and they were all empty. Goeido gave him just the envelopes. So I don’t think he would be sharing them with no gyoji.

  3. I’m coming down on the side of Aioyama was trying not to hurt him. He tends to try to keep his opponents from falling off the dohyo and getting hurt, so it seems to me being an a-hole would be out of character.

  4. It was not lost on me that Endo used a tactic that Enho uses regularly to defeat his opponents. Methinks The Pixie will influence more than just his bouts the longer he remains in the top division.

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