Aki Day 12 Highlights

大蝌蚪

A pair of story threads for Aki came to a close today, and one more hangs by a thread. Ozekiwake Takakeisho scored his 10th win today, and returned to Ozeki status. It’s a remarkable story, and a great come-back from treatment for knee damage. In addition to getting his 10, he is (for the moment anyhow) the sole leader in the yusho race. Following Takakeisho’s win over Myogiryu, Goeido scored his 8th win, beating Ryuden, and clearing kadoban for the 8th time in his somewhat puzzling career.

But as one Ozekiwake exits, the final match of the day saw injured Ozeki Tochinoshin take one step closer to the drop. At 5-7, he needs to win all 3 remaining matches to clear kadoban, or he will be the shin-Ozekiwake for November. Tough times continue in the top ranks.

Highlight Matches

Yutakayama defeats Chiyoshoma – Yutakayama picks up his 8th win, and with his kachi-koshi moves away from the bottom edge of the banzuke, which has already gobbled up Toyonoshima and Takagenji.

Nishikigi defeats Takagenji – Nishikigi gets a left hand inside at the tachiai, and Takagenji is trapped. A valiant attempt by Takagenji to change his grip, but Nishikigi is latched on tighter than a tick in Texas, and uses his opponents gambit to escort him across the bales.

Daishoho defeats Tochiozan – Tochiozan has zero forward pressure today, and Daishoho stampedes him back and out. Tochiozan is perilously positioned should he end the tournament make-koshi.

Onosho defeats Kagayaki – Kagayaki meets Onosho’s push at the tachiai, but can only hold his ground for a few moments before the Onosho starts advancing. In spite of Kagayaki getting a good armpit attack going at the start, Onosho’s hips stay much lower, and his feet are much better set. Kagayaki cannot find a break to get lower, as Onosho is relentless. Much as I love Kagayaki, I think his long legs rob him of some natural sumo mechanics at times.

Tsurugisho defeats Sadanoumi – I think this kimarite should be renamed neko-nage, or “cat’s throw”. I see my cats do this to each other all the time. Grab your opponent by the whiskers and pull him down. Of course this would (in the cat world) be followed by biting and kicking, but… yeah whatever.

Terutsuyoshi defeats Azumaryu – Well, that was a henka. Sort of a crab-henka with a pincer move to the knee, so it had some interest to it, but it was still weak sumo.

Kotoyuki defeats Shohozan – This match tells me 2 things. First, the “fierce” Kotoyuki may be the next brawler we look to during honbasho. He takes it to Shohozan and overwhelms him at his own sumo. Second, Shohozan is only operating at a fraction of his power right now.

Okinoumi defeats Meisei – Former co-leaders battle it out, and the veteran takes the white star. Both are still in the hunt, as the group chasing the post day 12 leader is 5 men wide. Okinoumi prevents Meisei from setting up any offense at all, and just moves him away for the win.

Takarafuji defeats Enho – Takarafuji has always been a first-class sumo technician, and today we see that he has solved his version of the Enho puzzle with great results. Again and again Takarafuji stalemates everything Enho tries, and when Enho finally gets super-low and moves for the mawashi, Takarafuji gently lowers him to the clay.

Kotoeko defeats Ishiura – Ishiura brought all of the offense, but a great defensive pivot by Kotoeko at the tawara saved the match, and kept him from make-koshi. First rate effort.

Kotoshogiku defeats Tomokaze – Kotoshogiku had a superior tachiai, and just advanced well. Tomokaze could not respond in time to keep himself inside the ring. Perhaps some of Kotoshogiku’s frustration is now eased…

Daieisho defeats Asanoyama – Daieisho kept Asanoyama at arms length, frustrating the Natsu yusho winner in his efforts to get a mawashi grip. As Asanoyama’s efforts become more vigorous, they lead to him becoming unbalanced, which Daieisho reads perfectly to roll him to the clay.

Hokutofuji defeats Chiyotairyu – Chiyotairyu opens with his big tachiai, but Hokutofuji surges back after hitting the bales. Chiyotairyu is still looking wrecked after yesterday’s bloody result with Goeido, and as soon as Hokutofuji starts attacking Chiyotairyu’s face, he goes soft and concedes the match. I think a wise most given how painful that lip must be.

Aoiyama defeats Shimanoumi – Aoiyama takes his two-piston / V-Twin sumo out of the garage and runs over Shimanoumi. After some poor sumo from the man-mountain, it’s good to see him revert to “his brand of sumo” for a win.

Abi defeats Shodai – Well, now I am at the point where I am feeling sorry for Shodai. He is not really a 2-10 rikishi, he’s just having a bad basho. I am sure there are distractions outside of the dohyo that may have his mind less than sharp right now, and his chaos sumo is just not paying out like it normally would.

Tamawashi defeats Endo – Endo clearly had a high-skill match in mind, with a nuanced opening gambit with that left hand of his. But then Tamawashi just gunned the throttle and plowed him out of the way. The up-side being all of the fans along the west-side hanamichi who got up close to “Endo the Golden” for a moment as he struggled to bring himself to a halt.

Takakeisho defeats Myogiryu – Takakeisho stood Myogiryu up, and threw him down. Simple, effective and elegant. Welcome back, Ozeki Takakeisho. I once again anoint you as the Grand Tadpole – (大蝌蚪)

Goeido defeats Ryuden – So Goeido blows up Ryuden at the tachiai, but somehow it was a matta too. Shikimori came very close to a handing out a second jicchuugi-sho in as many days. Ok, let’s try again. Then… matta-matta-matta mo’matta. When they finally get things going, Ryuden is able to lure Goeido into a yotsu battle, and even Murray thinks Ryuden has the advantage here. But Goeido keep his cool and dominates Ryuden, expertly swinging him into an uwatenage for his 8th win, clearing kadoban. Crazy ass match.

Mitakeumi defeats Tochinoshin – You know what this match needs? That would be matta with a tart matta gravy. Is this because there are so many kyujo that they need to stretch the broadcast? It seems really out of place. Once they get going, it’s all Mitakeumi, but to be honest I am sure both contestants were probably expecting Shikimori to call them back again. Just one fan’s suggestion here, let the rikishi battle it out, sir. I know in the US, a lot of fans abandoned the NFL because the referees too frequently got in the middle of what should have been legitimate plays, and ruined the sport.

25 thoughts on “Aki Day 12 Highlights

  1. The gyoji’s matta antics in the final two matches was appalling. Was he still pissed about getting plowed off the dohyo the day before?

    • Fists were not down therefore matta. He might have been somewhat strict but certainly not appalling. The real issue is the rest of the gyoji who don’t even try to enforce the correct rules of the tachiai.

      • I can’t disagree more. If every other gyoji interprets the rules differently, then you’re the one who’s wrong.

        Sumo wrestlers program their reflexes to what is expected of them. If they go their whole careers programming their tachiai to a certain standard, only to have it change once they reach musubi no ichiban, that not only disrupts the wrestlers, but damages the sport as a whole. Most of the matta he calls would be just fine for any other gyoji.

        And even when the wrestlers try to conform, it’s not enough. This isn’t the first time he’s made a scene like this, either. There was an ugly spectacle a few basho ago that went to 4 or 5 starts and ended up bloodying Tochinoshin before the bout even got underway. This isn’t “spirit of the rules” officiating, it’s “rub your nose in it” officiating.

    • The inconsistency with which the matta rule is applied is appalling. Some obvious mattas are not called out by the gyojis or the judges but in some other instances, like this one, they are overly strict. This the same gyoji, who could not even stand-up quickly to get control of the match when the other gyoji went flying, then didn’t have the agility to get out of the way of Tochinoshin / Takakeisho. Why are these geriatric gyojis still officiating?

  2. Congratulations Grand Tadpole. You’ll be swapping places with Tochinoshin!

    On the topic of Tochinoshin, I truly do think we are about to see him slowly crawl down the Banzuke. I really don’t think he can do much in the way of sumo anymore. It’s extremely sad as I’ve always been a fan of him, but at some point you just have to concede that those knees are absolutely done and each basho will just keep damaging them further.

    • I hope Tochi can somehow get his 8 wins. Not only for Tochi, but to improve Banzuke luck for the usually unlucky current occupant of M1e.

      • It would also need either Abi/Endo or Asanoyama to completely break down over the last 3 days for Hokutofuji to benefit from this. Not the likeliest scenario.

  3. Yutakayama’s victory was crazy – it was like he was channeling Shodai! I barked out in surprise just at the same moment that Yutakayama barked out in victory. But I feel a little sorry for Chiyoshoma who did so much good work against a bigger, stronger opponent.

    I hate to see Ryuden lose, but Goeido’s throw proved to me that he still deserves to be an Ozeki (at least for a little while longer).

    Both Onosho and Abi today showed just the right amount of patience mixed in with their aggression and so did not over-commit and unbalance too soon with their thrusting attacks.

    Takakeisho yet again wins with a thrust down. He is so effective at this because he is never moving backwards, rather he always circles round to his left. Opponents need to start trying to anticipate this side-step + left-arm-thrust-down combination.

    • “Takakeisho yet again wins with a thrust down. He is so effective at this because he is never moving backwards, rather he always circles round to his left. Opponents need to start trying to anticipate this side-step + left-arm-thrust-down combination.”

      Well spotted – you are exactly right

  4. “Takarafuji gently lowers him to the clay….” Yep, and Enho was fortunate that it really was gentle. I can’t help but think Enho is really going to get badly hurt one of these days as he contorts his body and gets so low to the ground. If someone twice his size falls on him, with his knees/legs at a bad angle, he’ll find himself crushed.

    • Enho is extremely flexible, but with how low he goes and how he torques himself I forsee an ACL tear in his future.

  5. Way to go Takakeisho!

    I love Enho, but I’m also fond of Takarafuji for completely different reasons. He seems calm and good-natured and competent and not in the least arrogant. And those paint ads were fun.

    Besides the sometimes seemingly arbitrary standards on matta calls, I have some other questions about gyoji. The promotion by seniority seems tricky in a role that demands agility and good eyesight. Kounosuke is such a stand-out for the way he darts nimbly around to keep an eye on things and stay out of the way, squatting deeply to get a good view, flicking fallen sagari out of the way. I can’t fault other gyoji for not having that speed or acuity as they age, but… Is it possible for them to say “I don’t think I have what it takes for this job anymore” before their official retirement age?

    • Seniority system is very anti-meritocratic. At the least NSK should establish minimum standards for accuracy of calls, agility and eye sight and gently send the gyojis who don’t cut it into retirement.

  6. There was some confusion about what kimarite to assign to Terutsuyoshi’s victory. It seems that he’s found an entirely novel way to knock someone over — step out of the way and push on the leg at the tachiai. In the end they called it hatakikomi.

  7. That Enho bout went exactly like anticipated. Takarafuji isn’t the fastest most explosive rikishi, but he isn’t easily confused.
    I’m a bit worried for Ishiura. This was actually quite a good bout from him, still he lost. Hope he doesn’t resort back to henka.
    Week 1 Okinoumi was back today after a 3 day vacation. Probably just prefers the come from behind Yusho ;)
    Some Ozeki didn’t pay attention that Tomokaze goes for a hatakikomi every bout, but some ex-Ozeki did. When Tomokaze tried to pull, Giku walked him out.
    Daieisho is no easy oipponent and much better than his score, but Asanoyama was a bit careless today. Too bad … his promotion chances are getting slimmer. I think he needs to wind out unless tochinoshin miraculously saves his position.
    Shodai … well, he had the opening gambit of Abi contained and then … not sure what he intended, but Abi was ready.
    Endo was never really in this bout today. At the tachiai the clash head … not sure if that affected him for a moment, but there was zero attempt for anything from him today.
    Takakeisho never at any risk, every quick bout and repromotion secured.
    Ryuden vs Goeido was a joke. I lost count of how many matta that were. Ryuden pulled a real one in between, but where was that gyoji when Tsurugisho didn’t get a matta? Overall very impressed by Goeido thought. After all that gyoji induced distraction, he expertly handled Ryuden on the belt.
    Finally Tochinoshin was just a sad afair. At this level the only thing he can go for with any chance of success is a henka and you can’t pull that every day. SO very easy fight for Mitakeumi.

  8. “I see my cats do this to each other all the time.”

    If sumo wrestlers were cats, part 1. The neko-rikishi would get bored with all the preliminaries and go to play with the pretty tassels hanging from the corners of the canopy.

  9. Cats and ticks and sumo tricks, oh my! Great stuff, Bruce.

    I was very frustrated with Sumo Elvis today. Chiyotairyu had Hokutofuji pinned to the bales and upright, then ceded all momentum, position, and force by trying for the pull-down.

    • Thank you, I am going to guess we are seeing flagging performance from Chiyotairyu due to some kind of injury. I know I get taken to task for making that call, but it would explain how he has been so weak this basho. He’s not a dainty fellow at all.

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