Aki Day 11 Highlights

There has been a fair amount of discussion about the yusho race for this basho on Twitter and Facebook, yep and even in our comments section. I look at it like this: the winning score will be between 11-4 and 13-2. I tend to think given how evenly matched folks are right now it’s closer to 11-4. From that I look at who can put together 11-4 mathematically. From that group I look at who has the stamina and focus to go 11-4, as the pressure of being in the lead group can crush a rikishi’s concentration in the last few days. Using that benchmark, I would come up with the following hypotheticals

11-4 Yusho Candidates

  • Takakeisho
  • Mitakeumi
  • Asanoyama
  • Okinoumi
  • Goeido
  • Endo
  • Shohozan
  • Meisei

12-3 Yusho Candidates

  • Takakeisho
  • Asanoyama
  • Mitakeumi
  • Okinoumi

13-2 Yusho Candidates

  • Takakeisho

Why not Meisei? His best ever record in the top division has been 10-5, and his highest ever rank Maegashira 4. He has never earned a yusho in any of the lower divisions, and may not have endured the pressure of a championship race. I think he has fought well, but if he makes it far enough to be in contention the final weekend, he would probably struggle with the likes of Asanoyama, Takakeisho or Mitakeumi.

I do think this will likely be an 11-4 yusho, and that means a huge amount of competition right up until the end. So far, everyone is on course for a big brawl to end it all.

Highlight Matches

Tochiozan defeats Chiyomaru – Chiyomaru’s lengthy thrusting attack had surprisingly little effect of Tochiozan, who seemed content to stand his ground, and exhaust Chiyomaru’s limited stamina.

Yutakayama defeats Nishikigi – This looked like they could have called a matta, as Yutakayama was early off the mark, but the Gyoji let them fight it out. Nishikigi found himself 2 steps behind from the start, and never had a chance to recover. Yutakayama one win away from kachi-koshi now.

Onosho defeats Takagenji – Onosho completely dominates Takagenji, who takes his 8th loss and a confirmed return to Juryo. I have no doubt he will be back once he gets his sumo and his life in order. He’s in a tough spot.

Meisei defeats Ishiura – Ishiura once again takes flight, and finds that sumo is usually about keeping your feet firmly on the clay. For some odd reason, he makes a leap to his right, I think anticipating a charge forward from Meisei that never happened. Instead he made himself weightless and an easy mark for a shove into the zabuton. Meisei maintains his share of the lead.

Sadanoumi defeats Kagayaki – Kagayaki again used solid fundamentals to control the early stages of this match, but he could not match Sadanoumi’s intensity. With his heels on the tawara, Sadanoumi finds a route to morozashi and attacks. Kagayaki has no response and finds himself with his 6th loss.

Azumaryu defeats Kotoyuki – Kotoyuki, even the fierce one, is weak against lateral motion. After a strong opening attack, Kotoyuki finds himself lunging for the east side shimpan after Azumaryu deftly steps to the side.

Takarafuji defeats Daishoho – After a surprisingly weak tachiai, and a moment where both men are a bit “soft”, the two go chest to chest, which clearly favors Takarafuji. After a protracted leaning session, Takarafuji switches his grip and drops Daishoho to the clay. Takarafuji gets his 8th win, and Daishoho his 8th loss.

Tsurugisho defeats Okinoumi – Co-leader Okinoumi finds himself face down on the dohyo thanks to Tsurugisho’s acrobatics. This knocks Okinoumi out of the leader group, but still within range of most possible yusho outcomes. Tsurugisho reaches his 8th win, and kachi-koshi.

Shohozan defeats Kotoeko – Both men take a left hand inside grip at the tachiai. I have noticed that Shohozan is working more on the mawashi now than ever, and we seldom see his mobile “strike and move” sumo. In a battle of strength, Kotoeko finds out what “Big Guns” has loaded as Shohozan dances him over the bales.

Enho defeats Kotoshogiku – And for another day, Enho delivers some of the most exciting sumo on the torikumi. To his great credit, Kotoshogiku absorbs a fantastic amount of “tries” from Enho: a throw, a twist down, a leg pick – and remains upright and in the fight. But when Kotoshogiku grabs Enho around his neck and tries to pull, he gives up the match. Great sumo from these two. Maybe this is why Hakuho is kyujo so much, he trains with this guy who is throwing the kitchen sink at the Yokozuna several times a day.

Myogiryu defeats Terutsuyoshi – Welcome back Myogiryu. Terutsuyoshi did not even really get off of the shikiri-sen before he had Myogiryu attacking with vigor.

Shimanoumi defeats Daieisho – This match was all Daieisho, as Shimanoumi absorbed thrust and blows at a frantic pace. But Daieisho over extended in a push to force Shimanoumi out, only to find Shimanoumi had stepped to the side and left Daieisho with a eye level view of the tawara.

Tomokaze defeats Aoiyama – No this is more like Tomokaze’s typical sumo. Sadly Aoiyama is a bit of a wreck right now, but at least we got to see Tomokaze moving forward and fighting strongly.

Hokutofuji defeats Asanoyama – Hokutofuji surprises Asanoyama, completely disrupting his attempts to establish a belt grip and an offensive stance. For readers asking about the “handshake tachiai”, it’s on full display today. Asanoyama finds himself trying to react to the resulting nodowa, rather than getting a belt grip and getting to work. Asanoyama drops one back from the leader group, but still very much in yusho contention.

Endo defeats Shodai – Endo has control of this match from the tachiai, granted the tachiai was against Shodai. But he catches Shodai shifting his stance and rotates into a beautifully executed uwatedashinage.

Tamawashi defeats Abi – Abi gets his preferred double arm thrust to Tamawashi’s neck at the tachiai. But Tamawashi has his hands pushing against Abi’s chest, and Abi find himself out matched. Abi continues to try working at Tamawashi’s face, which I think Tamawashi has long since written off, and focuses his thrusting attack at Abi’s body, completely disrupting him, and taking the match.

Ryuden defeats Mitakeumi – Ryuden spends most of this match trying to absorb everything that Mitakeumi throws at him, which seems to be quite a bit. But Ryuden stays in the fight and finds a route to Mitakeumi’s chest. In fantastically timed move, he moves in with his right hand and pivots, turning Mitakeumi who struggles to regain his footing. Before the Sekiwake can plant his feet, Ryuen shoves hard and gets Mitakeumi over the tawara. Great recovery from Ryuden, and he also knocks Mitakeumi out of the leader group.

Takakeisho defeats Tochinoshin – A wild and chaotic match that was one part yotsu, two parts oshi. Was anyone else amazed to see Takakeisho go for a deep right hand grip as Tochinoshin attempted what looked like a kubinage? With Takakeisho latched on to his belt, the kubinage falls apart, and Tochinoshin falls forward. Takakeisho moves behind and pushes Tochinoshin into a surprised and gyoji, dropping not only the Ozeki but the highest ranking referee in sumo. In the more ancient forms of sumo, this would have counted as 1 win for Tochinoshin (oshidashi vs the gyoji), 2 wins for Takakeisho (Tochinoshin by okuritaoshi, the gyoji by oshidashi), and would have resulted not only in the immediate re-promotion of Takakeisho back to Ozeki, but an on the spot presentation of the rare and seldom awarded jicchuugi-sho (十柱戯賞) special prize.

Goeido defeats Chiyotairyu – The matta fest was the attraction, the match itself was a brief and bloody affair. One more win for Goeido to clear kadoban.

33 thoughts on “Aki Day 11 Highlights

  1. Enho handled the Bulldozer far better than I thought he would. I love Kotoshogiku but I love Enho more, excellent work from him today and a further testament to what he brings to sumo. Even if he doesn’t go kachi koshi each basho, the raw energy that he brings to the fans of sumo is so vital. Every time he steps onto the Dohyo he breaths a little more life into sumo.

    Great work from Hokutofuji today, I still think Asanoyama can take the Yusho however. It’s a good learning experience for him going against someone who’s plan is to distract you at the tachiai.

    I really do think Ryuden has a lot of potential. His incredible stamina and pretty good awareness will take him far. He’s just got a bit more to learn before he gets there. I really do feel like him and Abi should have switched places.

    I appreciate seeing Takakeisho switch to a skill he isn’t particularly good at almost seamlessly. Good match awareness from king tadpole today. It will be nice to have him healthy at Ozeki. I’m sure he will do well as long as he stays healthy.

    I look forward to the coming days! What an exciting Act 3 we have ahead of us! On a side note though I’m SUPER STOKED for the Makushita Yusho Match!!!!!

    • For readers who may not know, the Makushita yusho will be decided between two former Makuuchi mainstays, Terunofuji and Chiyonokuni. Should take place on Friday (Thursday overnight in the US).

      • Both being relatively low in makushita, does the makushita yusho winner get a chance back in juryo, or still another tournament to go?

          • I’m pretty sure Terunofuji has 1 more basho in Makushita if he performs well, He will be in the Joi for sure. I think Chiyonokuni will have 3 more Basho in Makushita if he keeps performing well as well.

            • Chiyonokuni will be up to Makushita 19-23ish with a loss to Terunofuji, and up to Makushita 5-6ish with a win. So it’s very feasible that he could make it back to Juryo for January.

              • The prospects of both Terunofuji and Chiyonokuni back in the salary ranks are incredibly exciting.

        • It will be another tournament in Makushita for both of them. Makushita 15 is the line for automatic promotion from a 7-0. Terunofuji will be around Makushita 10ish no matter what, and a win (though you’d have to say he’s the underdog here) will probably elevate him to Makushita 1-3.

          • I think in his first fights Chiyonokuni looked quite dominant, but not so much in his last ones. Then again his high energy and mobility sumo is probably not the best fit for someone without knees. I think this will be a pretty even fight.

        • I think the magical line is around Ms20, but Terunofuji should be in a position for promotion next time. Chiyonokuni would probably end just outside the top 10 witha yusho.

  2. Funniest commentary of the day: “Abi continues to try working at Tamawashi’s face, which I think Tamawashi has long since written off…”

    I was really impressed with Enho’s sumo today.

    Asanoyama is my guy…but then, so is Hokutofuji. Hokutofuji had this won from the start. He just is relentless.

    Mitakeumi: yeah, he’s too heavy and it’s slowing him down. Nice job by Ryuden.

    Takakeisho was impressive. I guess he does bring more to a bout than just thrusting.

    • I was really puzzled with Kotoshogikus sumo. He was slowly wearing that energy bundle down, fighting off all attacks and then decideds to move backward (near the tawara) and try a pull down against the most mobile guy with the best balance in Makuuchi? This might have been a potential move against other rikishi, but not vs Enho. Enho ofcourse jumps that chance perfectly.

  3. Tochinoshin is like a magnet to crazy stuff, both on to him and on to others. Everytime something bizarre happens, you can bet he is somehow in the middle.

  4. It seemed like Tochinoshin gave up hallway through turning around, like he knew his knee wouldn’t hold him if he tried to catch himself. Look at the replay, especially. I hope he can make it to eight.

    I’m impressed with the Grand Tadpole, he’s recovered from a knee injury that had me worried. And then looking at the younger crew, there is hope and excitement for sumo! This basho is brilliantly showing all the skills and weaknesses of each person, I think. Is it because the myth of the upper ranks is broken and each sekitori thinks he can win?

  5. Why is Takarafuji out of your Yusho candidates? He is on a 6 bout win streak (including one fusen) and has actually looked decent. He is far enough down the banzuke to probably not get matched up too high and already had Meisei and Okinoumi. Tomorrows match against Enho will be interesting, first time they are meeting, but I could imagine his patient style fitting relatively well with Enho.

    • Takarafuji is a solid journeyman pro who gets 8-7 or 7-8 most of the time. No frills, gets the job one, banks another paycheck. Yushos don’t happen for guys like that.

      Did someone say “Cinderella Man”?

    • Its what Tigerboy1966 said. I love me some Takarafuji, even made a fool out of myself last year at Aki screaming at the top of my lungs for him prior to his final match (I even have his cheer towel). But that guy is not going to put himself through the wringer to go above 10.

    • I’m pretty sure they practiced a lot together, though. Or at least, Takarafuji had enough time to observe Enho do pretty tricks all over the Isegahama practice floor.

      And he really looked nice today. It wasn’t his yotsu, and he still won. Apparently, Daishoho prefers migi-yotsu, and Takarafuji definitely hidari-yotsu. He tried a makikae that failed, so he just settled for the grip he had. It’s one of his best basho in recent times, but still, I don’t think he’ll make the front pages.

      • I completely agree that he isn’t the guy you would typically expect in a Yusho race and probably he will prove me just wrong today, but this basho he looked really very good, like you said, and I wouldn’t rule out for him to finish 3-1. He has Enho and Trurugisho the next two days, which he can both win I think. He could face Ryuden after that, where I don’t see him win, but I just don’t think he will be matched with Asanoyama or Hokutofuji or even Tomokaze. He will probably just not have to go through a lot of strong competition.
        It’s just that this is a basho where unlikely things happen … Okinoumi had never been KK (in Makuuchi) at Nakabi before and he is 34 in his 57th basho … so why not for Takarafuji to break out of the ordinary too. After all it’s the 2 year anniversary of the last Yusho for Isegahama (at 11-4 … can this be coincidence? :P )

  6. Am I the only one who saw Kotoshogiku pulling at Enho’s hair and then giving him a little complimentary push down after he lost? It’s not the kind of thing I’d expect Kotoshogiku to do. I’ll go through the replays later to see if it was a real hairpull or not, but still.

    • He does seem to be rather frustrated lately. I’m wondering if he’s injured and it’s causing him to just be more irritable or if he keeps feeling like he’s getting robbed somehow. I’m unsure. Either way I hope he gets some R&R and heals up after this basho because he isn’t performing nearly as well as he could, that undercarriage of his is in really bad shape. I feel like his time in the top of Makuuchi is coming to an end.

    • A few days ago when Kotoyuki went off the dohyo and stayed down for a while to get his bearings, Giku, who was ring-side, looked like he was annoyed that Kotoyuki was taking so long and started gesturing for him to get up and go back onto the dohyo.

      Had never seen him act like that before; I think Giku Squad has it right that he’s carrying an injury that’s preventing him getting full forward power on the hug n chug, and so he’s frustrated.

  7. Takakeisho was actually moving really well in that grapple with Tochinoshin. That the head grab and twist might have had some effect against a less well-balanced and mobile opponent but Takakeisho was able to move with it. (It’s clear from the replay that the technique itself was too much for Tochinoshin’s right leg; he immediately stumbles.)

    • I was actually surprised by how mobile Tochinoshin was in the first few seconds of that match. He’s been going backwards all basho, but today he was all action until he realised his position was hopeless once the Grand Tadpole had him turned.

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