Hatsu Day 5 Highlights

It’s a tough time for fans of high ranking rikishi. Hakuho is out, Kakuryu is out, Takayasu is a long way from picking up his 10, and Goeido is struggling. Thankfully, Takakeisho is still doing well, and may even compete for the yusho this January.

But there is an enormous amount of high quality, exciting sumo taking place each day. Today the last rikishi who had not scored their first win, picked them up. For some it’s going to be a tough climb towards 8, but now everyone is at least on the path.

It’s been wonderful to be in Tokyo for the January tournament, and the sumo has been a notch or two higher than Kyushu, and that’s across the divisions. In Juryo, former Ozeki Terunofuji has started with a perfect 5-0, and is looking fighting fit and a bit unstoppable. Somehow we have Shodai, Kagayaki and Terustuyoshi all starting 5-0 in Makuuchi. The future is looking fantastic for sumo, and the talent just keeps rising to the top.

Day 5 Matches

Tokushoryu defeats Azumaryu – I don’t recall the last time I saw Tokushoryu this genki. The guy is really fighting well. Today he latched onto Azumaryu’s right arm and took complete control of the match. It was fast, effective, and I am guessing Azumaryu is still feeling it.

Kiribayama defeats Shimanoumi – A glorious battle of blows, each wanted to beat the other one into submission. Kiribayama focused his opening moves on Shimanoumi’s face, and Shimanoumi decided to return in kind. Grabbing, hitting, pushing, it was like lunch time at preschool. Kiribayama got a hold of Shimanoumi’s mawashi and ejected him with vigor. Great match.

Tochiozan defeats Kotoeko – Now that Tochiozan is back in good form, I am once again struck by just how efficient his sumo is. Every movement, every gambit is minimized, and expends not more movement than is absolutely needed to get the desired effect.

Kotoshogiku defeats Kaisei – As predicted, there was no lateral motion in this match it was grapple, hug and chug all the way. Kaisei always struggles with Kotoshogiku, and today was no exception.

Terutsuyoshi defeats Chiyomaru – I thought in the opening moments, Chiyomaru was going to crush Terutsuyoshi’s head like a grape. But while Chiyomaru was pressure-checking Terutsuyoshi’s skull, Terutsuyoshi somehow defied physics and landed a mawashi grip on Chiyomaru’s expansive green mawashi. Too late Chiyomaru discovered that Terutsuyoshi seems to be made from some incompressible substance, just as Terutsuyoshi rolls him like the human bowling ball he is. If it were not for the camera gaggle that broke is motion, Chiyomaru might still be rolling.

Ikioi defeats Tsurugisho – Yay! Ikioi won a match! They went chest to chest at the tachiai, but Ikioi had the better body position and the better grip. After consolidating his hold, Ikioi advanced and unleashed an uwatenage. The crowd breathed a sigh of contented relief.

Kagayaki defeats Chiyotairyu – Mr Fundamentals wins again. Chiyotairyu wasted precious energy on an ineffective face slap, which left his arms high as Kagayaki connected at the tachiai, and immediately had the inside position. Chiyotairyu began raining blows on Kagayaki, but because he was working outside, Kagayaki’s counter-strikes carried more force. It’s fun to watch Kagayaki use simple sumo, superbly executed, to win matches. 5-0… wow.

Ishiura defeats Sadanoumi – I had to watch this a few times before it made much sense. I would call it “strike and retreat” from Ishiura. With the Ishiura’s rapid release of forward pressure, Sadanoumi tumbled forward into the clay. A clumsy win, but it counts!

Yutakayama defeats Takanosho – Brutal opening gambit from Takanosho, as he attempts to pry Yutakayama’s head from his shoulders. But in response Yutakayama, an oshi practitioner, instead goes for a belt grip. Oh really? If this guy follows Asanoyama into gaining yotsu skill, this is going to be amazingly good fun. Ok, battle hugs it is. Yutakayama has the better grip, and Takanosho knows it. An attempt to escape leads to a well executed pull down by Yutakayama, and the win.

Aoiyama defeats Ryuden – In the preview, we estimated this match would last about 2 seconds, as one of these men pulled the other one down at the tachiai. They both tried to set it up, but this is Aoiyama’s favorite move, and Ryuden took a roll in the clay.

Onosho defeats Takarafuji – Onosho finally gets a win, and maybe that ring rust is now flaking away. Takarafuji’s normal tactic of stalemating and waiting was in full effect. But Onosho managed to keep his balance, and stay upright long enough to catch Takarafuji turned too far to one side. A push from behind, and it was okuridashi for Onosho’s first win this year.

Enho defeats Shohozan – Brutal match, Shohozan took an early launch to give Enho a solid shove. Shohozan loves to pull these matta at times, and it’s pure intimidation. I don’t know what Enho had in mind originally for this match, but I am sure you can guess what happened next. The second tachiai was and Enho henka that gave Enho a firm grip on Shohozan’s right arm, and position behind him. At this point Shohozan is visibly agitated, and out come the “Big Guns”. Furious blows against Enho’s head and face, which bloody Enho’s nose. But in his fury, he loses balance and hits the dohyo. The look Enho gave him following the match – oh, there’s going to be some fire in that rematch come March.

Meisei defeats Tochinoshin – Tochinoshin’s disastrous attempt at a slap down cost him that match. Poorly timed, poorly executed.

Shodai defeats Hokutofuji – An absolutely huge match, as somehow Shodai has started Hatsu undefeated. Has he ever looked this strong? I don’t recall, to be honest. Hokutofuji failed to connect his nodowa correctly to Shodai’s neck, and Shodai rushed forward, collapsing any offensive Hokutofuji might have deployed. Shodai expertly shifted to thrusting center-mass, and it was all over. Tack-sharp sumo from Shodai, I am not sure where this guy has been, but I am happy he is here.

Abi defeats Myogiryu – Abi is clearly hurt, and this match was more challenging than it might have otherwise been. I would guess Abi can only generate about 80% of his normal forward force from those double arm thrusts. But he nearly always strikes first, and can many time (as with today) control the match. A welcome win for the Komusubi.

Daieisho defeats Takayasu – Takayasu had this match won a couple of times, but could not finish Daieisho. I am starting to fear there is no reasonable path to 10 for Takayasu. It’s going to be a shame to lose him too. I place blame squarely on Tagonoura oyakata. If Takayasu can’t regain Ozeki, Tagonoura will have grossly mis-managed the careers of two kanban rikishi. Compare this with Takakeisho’s injury, and the way Chiganoura oyakata handled it. The results could not be more different.

Endo defeats Asanoyama – In our daily episode of “Endo the Unstoppable”, he dismantles Asanoyama. I really like how Endo cycled through plans A, B and then C to get this win. I have not seen that kind of flexibility in him before.

Okinoumi defeats Goeido – The first match ended with a joint throw that saw them touch town together, and a monoii decided to call for a rematch. Frankly, Goeido should not have struggled this much with Okinoumi. I would say that re-constructed ankle is just about out of structural integrity, and every day is a challenge for our last “Legacy” Ozeki. The rematch was a quick tottari for an Okinoumi win, and a 1-4 start for Goeido.

Takakeisho defeats Tamawashi – This was forecasted to be another “2 second” match. Takakeisho stood Tamawashi up, and slapped him down.

 

25 thoughts on “Hatsu Day 5 Highlights

  1. I was very happy to see Enho defeat Shohozan. I thought Shohozan leaned too far forward, perhaps trying to keep Enho from latching onto him.

    Tochinoshin: maybe he was trying to save his strength but, yeah, that was odd sumo from him.

    Hokutofuji just got whipped by Shodai. I was surprised by how little effort Hokutofuji seemed to make. Or maybe Shodai just was that good.

    I like both Daieisho and Takayasu but have to agree with you. Takayasu had this in the bag…and couldn’t finish it off.

    Asanoyama is my main guy but I like Endo, too. Endo was the better one today. Really good sumo from both of them.

    Goeido got a second chance even though he touched down first in the initial match. But still couldn’t pull it off.

    Takakeisho. Finally, an Ozeki victory.

    • Goeido’s “second chance” was vastly undeserved. His hand was down first – way first. Or was there some sympathetic application of the “inevitability rule,” which I see applied only in certain very select situations. Translation: Goeido lost the first time and the judges tried to fix it for him.

  2. It’s looking more and more likely that the yusho will go to a non-sanyaku rikishi. Takakeisho should be the favourite on paper, but his sumo has looked a bit soft so far. He’ll have to step it up when he goes against rikishi who are hungrier for wins than he is. If Kagayaki goes into week 2 with fewer than 2 losses he’ll likely be put up against at least some of the sanyaku rikishi and that’ll be the end of his yusho hopes. I like Shodai’s sumo this basho, I think he’ll be strong against the sanyaku rikishi when they come his way, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him challenge Takakeisho and Endo for the yusho.

    And fast forward to Hatsu 2023 when Ozeki Wakaichiro defeats Yokozuna Hoshoryu to take his first yusho :-D

  3. Ishiura is a lucky boy, could easily have had gone to a mono-ii…
    Really, really pleased for Onosho.
    Enho v Shohozan was superb fun while it lasted, but I greedily wanted another 10 seconds.
    Mixed emotions watching Goeido – once again, in the initial bout he pulled off an inspired/desperate throw, which had me shouting in celebration. But it is clear in the replay that he touched down first. Okinoumi managed to retract his arm and had the willpower and self-control to force his body to land face first when his every nerve-ending must have been screaming to his brain to break the fall with this arm! Whereas Goeido couldn’t help but stuck his hand out. So I guess in the end justice was served as Okinoumi won the rematch.

    • To be fair to Bruce, I used to type Chiyomaru Chiyomary all the time. It became a muscle memory thing for me, perhaps it’s the same for him as well? To err is human.

  4. The crowd’s “sigh of contented relief” at Ikioi’s victory today should have been short-lived as the big guy’s ankle was causing him excruciating pain after the bout. The agony on his face seemed to say: ‘How am I ever gonna get through ten more days of this?!?’ But, this being Ikioi, you know he will.

    Meisei v. Tochinoshin was the battle of the one-armed rikishi against the one-legged rikishi. The result indicates that healthy legs may be more important than healthy arms for sumo’s purposes. Meisei basically just uses his injured left arm as a club. As with Ikioi, he looked like he was fighting back tears of pain from that damaged arm after the bout.

    Takayasu, too, looks like he did further damage to his injured arm today. He was holding it awkwardly after his loss.

    On a positive note, Abi was not hobbling after his victory over Myogiryu. He actually looked like he had a bit of a spring in his step.

    On another positive note, is it just me or does Shodai’s tachiai seem a bit sharper, a bit quicker, in this basho?

  5. Both Endo and Asanoyama fought well, Endo is just on another level this basho. I think Asanoyama will still make Ozeki this year, just maybe not this basho.

    Tochinoshin isn’t looking good, that was pathetic sumo from the guy we know can lift a bus when he is healthy.

    Takayasu injures that arm of his again, if he doesn’t go Kyojo then someone needs to get his Oyakata removed.

  6. Tochiozan expended just the right amount of effort shoving Kotoeko’s neck after the bout was over to get the desired effect; I guess he was salty about his 0 for 3 score against Kotoeko going into the match.

    I think what happened in the end of the Shohozan/Enho match was that Shohozon went for the slapdown with his left arm and Enho slipped under his arm so slickly that the resistance Shohozan expected wasn’t there, causing him to overbalance to his right.

    Is it just me or are the shimpan now returning torinaoshi verdicts on monoii that in years past would have been judged one way or the other? It seems to me that recent controversies about close calls have made the judges more inclined to do-overs.

    • The Goeido-Okinoumi bout wasn’t really a close call. I’ve seen much closer calls given as a win. I saw it as a favor to Goeido, because of his situation. But he’s too far gone to be able to use it.

  7. Kotoshogiku has a new gimmick — arm rolls at the tachiai. It seems to be working for him.

    Meisei seemed to be in pain after defeating Tochinoshin. Let’s hope it is not serious!

    Another solid win from Endo. And he is still in the running for the tournament!

    Goeido got handed a gift with that re-match — from Natto Sumo’s video, he clearly touched down first. Sadly, he couldn’t get the win.

  8. one year ago …
    who can ever beat this ozeki-skycrane tochinoshin?
    will takayasu first be yokozuna or win a basho?
    when is the next basho due for goeido?

    and now?
    tochinoshin down in mediocracy.
    takayaso inevitably on the way down.
    goeido the next ozekiwake.

    hardly believable.

    and hakuho substantially shaken by the endo defeat …

  9. I don’t think the slap-down attempt per se was the problem for Tochinoshin. It almost worked, and had Meisei off-balance. The defeat came when Tochinoshin was overly eager to finish Meisei, and rushed at him heedlessly.

    • Tochinoshin charged through and I thought, no! If there is anyone who has the mental fortitude to come back from serious injury it’s Tochinoshin but at this stage in his career? I don’t know…

  10. Too few words about Shodai. The man is his shape, it’s his momentum. If this guy suddenly awaken, and related with the sinking of the ‘zunas and the old squad of ozeki, there is his path. The corridor is open for the not realy younger, but new wolves. Endo, Asanoyama, Shodai …. and maybe Mitakeumi (like I said this guy has the pottential to won more torunaments then Kakuryu, but never reaching the Ozeki status). Takakeisho …wait the summer or maby autumn for him. He is still not in his boots, he is still “limping”. From this pack, I can pick up Endo and Shodai, because their sumo has a plenty of techiniques, they are not linear like Takakeisho, they are able to solve more situations then the Godlike Meatball.

    • And while Endo’s and Shodai’s careers were going up and down, Takakeisho is among the fastest to ever rise to Ozeki. Endo and Shodai both don’t have the consistency and mental strength to reach ozeki, they might win a yusho in the years to come but that should be it. It takes a lot more than technique to reach the highest ranks of sumo.

  11. I think Shodai’s “weak Tachiai” has evolved into a “Tachiai distruptor,” converting his opponents forward momentum into upward momentum and allowing him to set the balance of weight and fight on his terms.

    Asanoyama wasted all his forward momentum trying to get a preferred grip… twice. And Endo was too experienced not to take full advantage.

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