Natsu Day 11 Highlights

We all knew that with Hakuho out, it was going to get wild, and while there had been some fun days leading up to the start of act 3, the opening day of the final third of this basho decided to unleash the unexpected, and take this tournament into overdrive.

For starters, the Ozeki corps, including the Ozekiwake, ate clay today in matches that saw their opponents deliver better sumo than they could. Furthermore, Yokozuna Kakuryu paid the price for one of his “bad habits” by delivering a cherished kinboshi to Myogiryu, summoning the zabuton rain at the Kokugikan.

However, Asanoyama won, leaving the Maegashira 8 in sole possession of the lead at the end of day 11. I will state that this guy deserves at least a special prize. His sumo has been dead on since the start, and so far he is not showing any fade into week 2. Now the pressure of being the leader rather than the underdog may crack him as soon as tomorrow, but I think it’s an indication that Asanoyama is going to be one of the stars of sumo in the new era.

Highlight Matches

Chiyomaru defeats Kotoeko – Today Chiyomaru’s sumo was working, and he completely disrupted Kotoeko’s attempts to attack or evade.

Yago defeats Daishoho – A very evenly balanced shoving match that saw no clear advantage until Yago dropped his hips and put more travel in his oshi.

Terutsuyoshi defeats Tochiozan – Terutsuyoshi’s effective submarine-tachiai allows him to lift Tochiozan by the mawashi and charge forward for a much needed win.

Chiyoshoma defeats Kagayaki – Kagayaki looks completely lost in this match. His oshi attacks are focused high, when he runs out of ideas he takes Chiyoshoma to his chest, and that is where he really shut down. I am going to guess that Kagayaki ends up deeply make-koshi.

Tomokaze defeats Enho – Some nice gymnastics out of Enho today, especially recovering his footing and balance after Tomokaze nearly pushes him into a seated position. I still assume Enho will hit kachi-koshi before Sunday.

Nishikigi defeats Tokushoryu – Once again, Tokushoryu’s cab-foward design causes him to have huge trouble slowing his forward momentum. Nishikigi uses this today with great effect.

Asanoyama defeats Sadanoumi – In the first “What the hell was that” moments, the shimpan call a monoii, and then completely confuse everyone, including themselves with their resulting narrative. They eventually called the match for Asanoyama, after explaining how Sadanoumi was the winner. From the replay, it’s clear Asanoyama had won the match, and they knew it too, but could not communicate it.

Meisei defeats Ishiura – Meisei gets lower, stays lower and pushes harder to take the match. Ishiura still has some work to do.

Shodai defeats Shohozan – The whole time, Shodai is far too high, but his feet stay stuck to the clay, and he wears Shohozan down, and then finishes him off. Good job Shodai!

Shimanoumi defeats Yoshikaze – Yoshikaze manages some offense today, but it’s only a fraction of what he is capable of, and Shimanoumi shoves him from the dohyo. Yoshikaze make-koshi.

Takarafuji defeats Onosho – There probably should have been a monoii on this one, but after the Asanoyama debacle, I am guessing the shimpan did not want to further confuse matters with a rambling, babbling explanation that left everyone puzzled and anxious.

Tamawashi defeats Chiyotairyu – Solid Tamawashi sumo today that ends with a Chiyotairyu slippiotoshi. Tamawashi takes the initiative at the tachiai, and Chiyotairyu is left struggling to keep his balance.

Okinoumi defeats Daieisho – When you watch this one, pay attention to Okinoumi’s feet. I love how they barely leave the clay. That’s excellent defensive sumo skill on ample display.

Kotoshogiku defeats Hokutofuji – After a matta, Kotoshogiku sets up his favorite hold and applies the hug-n-chug with great effect. Hokutofuji seems likely to end up make-koshi, and he needs to refine his sumo to effectively operate at this rank. I have confidence he will get there.

Endo defeats Mitakeumi – Endo gets mae-mitsu early, and has firm control of the match, Mitakeumi backs away and attempt to load a throw, but the pivot fails and leaves Endo behind him in control.

Abi defeats Tochinoshin – Tochinoshin’s triumphant 10th win is delayed as Abi employs his best Abi-zumo with devastating effect. It seems Tochinoshin ramped up the forward pressure the counter Abi’s expected double arm thrusts, and Abi turned that forward lean into the seed of the winning hatakikomi.

Ryuden defeats Goeido – Goeido got into trouble when Ryuden landed his right hand grip and used it to keep Goeido leading forward to compensate. This was not Goeido doing crappy sumo, this was Ryuden really doing fantastic sumo.

Aoiyama defeats Takayasu – Frankly some of the best sumo I have seen from Aoiyama in a year or so. He was low, he was relentless and he never let Takayasu really enact any offense.

Myogiryu defeats Kakuryu – Kakuryu gets stalemated, loses patience, decides to pull, and Myogiryu is waiting for it. Excellent planning and execution by Myogiryu, and I am sure Kakuryu is chiding himself for falling into his bad sumo.

17 thoughts on “Natsu Day 11 Highlights

  1. What a day of upsets! This is easily the most exciting day of the basho, demonstrating you can’t take anything for granted!

    I was really impressed when Enho almost, but not quite, sat on the dohyo. That fantastic recovery didn’t get the win. Maybe he is just exhausted heading into the final stretch. I’d like to see him kachi-kochi, but we’ll see. The look on his face after the last two matches …

    Abi-Tochi … He’s getting shade from on-line detractors, but in this case, he knew he couldn’t brute strength a win, so he used strategy. Good on ya, Abi! Tochi will have to win tomorrow against Meisei.

  2. it looked like Tochinoshin’s lips were moving as he returned to the dohyo to say good-bye. Wondering what (if anything) he had to stay. Only a very small token bow afterward. Frustrated with himself, or with that last Abi push?

    Yes Abi, did give him a final swat on the backside, but Tochi wasn’t out at that moment, so can’t fault Abi for making sure.

  3. Damn, Tochiozan knew the henka was coming and he still got beat. I think Terutsuyoshi’s matta was a double fake-out. Tochiozan’s pre-tachiai routine is so standardized that Terutsuyoshi’s early launch with contact was obviously deliberate. Why do that? To make Tochiozan mad or to make him think Terutsuyoshi was over-eager? No — I think Terutsuyoshi was counting on Tochiozan being too much of a wily veteran to fall for the obvious ploy; he wanted Tochiozan to soft-pedal the tachiai in expectation of a henka, thereby becoming a sitting duck for the leg pick.

  4. I thought it was very clever of Abi, but I do wonder if Tochinoshin what he mumbled. Should be mad at himself for not paying attention to the way Abi was beaten the last 2 days.

  5. Sheesh, you seldom see Special K screw up that badly! I’m hoping that he uses this mistake to stoke his competitive fire and steamroll to the yusho.

  6. What a head turner of a day. So many unexpected wins. I went 11/19 on my scorecard for Day 11 but the ones who I expected to win took it hard.

    Asanoyama is unleashed. What did he drink before the basho!?

    Tochinoshin will get his 10th, but I do feel like it will come down to the final 2 days.

    Excited to see Ichinojo come back on day 12 but I’m nervous for him. A knee injury at his weight is scary.

  7. Tochinoshin was muttering “Don’t make me angry. You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry”.

  8. “Okinoumi defeats Daieisho – When you watch this one, pay attention to Okinoumi’s feet.”

    Wait a minute, don’t look at his feet, look at his hand and realise that he touches the ground first!
    Daieisho got robbed and you don’t even mention that? ;)

    Also, I know I am harping on about Tomokaze, but this one bout alone confirmed my evaluation. Barring injury he will become Ozeki sooner or later. He is nearly twice the size of Enho but outmatched the pixie in raw speed! This guy is the real deal.

    • I agree, Okinoumi’s hand clearly touched first outside the dohyo, and it wasn’t especially close—it’s several frames before Daieisho touches. Another one that should have been a monoii and either a reversal or at least a redo, but I guess they were gun-shy after the hash they made of Asanoyama’s bout.

    • Tomokaze didn’t have a single makekoshi since he entered sumo, so he is the real deal for sure, but he was also shown his limits quite a few times this basho already. The question is if and how fast he can take the next step. You only need to take a look at “The next Ozeki” Shodai or Ichinojo for guys who came in as the sure next thing and then hit a wall.
      I think Tomokaze will have to diversify his game a bit to crack join-in and sanyaku, but I’m hopeful he will get there soon.

      • ” […] but he was also shown his limits quite a few times this basho already.”
        Hmm, I emphatically disagree on that observation. ;)
        He made ugly mistakes no question, but not once was he ‘shown his limits’ in my eyes.
        One could argue that he was shown to be inferior in belt sumo in his loss against Asanoyama, but even than he did not look absolutely hopeless. And anyway there is probably no need form him to go yotsu sumo against Asanoyama of all people…

    • Agree 100% that Okinoumi’s hand touches first. To me, that’s it, game over. But I recall similar situations in which it was ruled that the “inevitability factor” (Daiesho in the air, has to come down outside) overrides. Could that have been the case here, or just a judging error?

  9. Wow that was intense! Seeing Endo then Abi then Ryuden all win in a row had me jumping up and down and shouting for joy!
    Endo very often seems to try to immediately land that shallow right hand grip on the front of the mawashi, When it works it works and when it doesn’t he often gets easily blasted away. Today it worked for him.
    Kakuryu’s performance again suggests to me that his ineffective pulling is due to some kind of mental bad habit – it didn’t appear to be a coping strategy or reaction to some kind of physical niggle (though of course appearances can be deceptive….).

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