Hatsu Day 14 Highlights

Last Man On The Banzuke -> Unstoppable Force. An amazing sumo Cinderella story.

3 Darwin matches on Senshuraku.

1 Emperor in attendance.

Highlight Matches

Azumaryu defeats Kaisei – I am kind of surprised that Kaisei lost this mawashi battle, but he falls to 7-7 and will face a Darwin match on day 15.

Tochiozan defeats Terutsuyoshi – An immediate slap-down as Tochiozan catches Terutsuyoshi too far forward.

Ikioi defeats Chiyomaru – Chiyomaru gets the early advantage with a powerful attack against Ikioi’s neck at the tachiai. But Ikioi rallies and advances with strength to shove Chiyomaru into make-koshi, while nominating Ikioi for a Darwin match on Sunday.

Chiyotairyu defeats Shimanoumi – Sumo’s resident thunder spirit delivers a sharp, strong tachiai. Shimanoumi had no chance against this sort of opening gambit, and accepts his make-koshi for Hatsu. Chiyotairyu goes on to face a Darwin match tomorrow.

Tsurugisho defeats Sadanoumi – The injured Tsurugisho is somehow steeling himself daily in an effort to continue to fight. Today he managed to get morozashi against Sadanoumi and muscle him out before that knee once again gave way and sent him to the clay. Sadanoumi is now, dissapointingly, make-koshi in spite of some brilliant matches this tournament.

Kotoshogiku defeats Ishiura – Career win #700 for the Kyushu bulldozer, and if lksumo’s math is correct (it nearly always is), he had enough wins to remain in the top division for Osaka. Ishiura came in a bit too low, and found it tough to generate forward pressure against Kotoshogiku, who quickly realized his advantage and was on the march.

Kiribayama defeats Aoiyama – Kiribayama racks up win #10 in his debut top-division basho, sending “Big Dan” Aoiyama to double digit losses. Aoiyama has struggled this January, and I think it’s probably due to an undisclosed injury. We hope he heals up and returns genki in March. This fresh crop of rikishi wont bludgeon themselves to defeat, after all.

Takanosho defeats Okinoumi – Well, now both of them are 7-7, and face Darwin matches on day 15. Okinoumi opens strongly, but his repeated attempts to grab Takanosho’s head and pull him down threw the match away.

Tokushoryu defeats Shodai – Wow, what a match! Shodai starting with a weak tachiai? Check! Tokushoryu going chest to chest? Check! Shodai using his superior size and strength to seize control of the match, you bet! Tokushoryu once again defying imagination by performing ballet moves at the edge that should not be possible for a man of his size and somewhat comical body shape? Oh yes. Tokushoryu is now the sole leader of the yusho race.

Tamawashi defeats Kotoeko – Both of these men are having a terrible basho. Kotoeko could not even muster a reasonable defense, and just found the nearest exit point. Both of them need to heal up and return ready to fight in March.

Hokutofuji defeats Kagayaki – I really like that Kagayaki was able to get a half step ahead at the tachiai, he seems to be working on improving his speed. But his hips were high. Hokutofuji, in spite of superior body position at the tachiai, could not repel Kagayaki’s opening attack, and had to circle away. It was at this point where Kagayaki’s body position got a bit cattywompus, and Hokutofuji switched to attack mode. I am actually more impressed with Hokutofuji’s sumo instincts once again reacting at a speed almost too fast for video to catch to his opponents mistake.

Ryuden defeats Mitakeumi – Mitakeumi drops to 7-7, and would have been given a Darwin match, save that there were an odd number of Darwin candidates for the torikumi. The one time future Ozeki’s body has really had a tough year, starting with the partial kyujo for a knee injury last January that I am quite sure is still hampering his performance. Ryuden is now at 10 wins, good stuff, shin-Ikioi!

Yutakayama defeats Endo – Endo wastes precious moments at the tachiai working for his preferred left hand frontal grip, just to find Yutakayama blasting away at his upper body. By the time Endo response to Yutakayama’s oshi-attacks, Endo is being dismantled a piece at a time. A quick Endo rally transitions into another attempt at a belt grip, and another punishing volley from Yutakayama. Even gymnastics at the edge of the ring could not save Endo today, as Yutakayama completely dominates him. With 10 wins, I am expecting Yutakayama to return to the joi-jin and be a force in Osaka.

Onosho defeats Myogiryu – Onosho takes 8 of his last 10 matches, and like he did at Aki, he rallied from a terrible start to a kachi-koshi. I nominate him as the official kami of ring-rust now. I am guessing he too will join the joi-jin for Osaka. Don’t screw it up this time, Onosho!

Takarafuji defeats Abi – Points to Abi for getting this far at Hatsu given the problems he had pre-basho. It shows a lot of guts and toughness to fight for 14 days with that damaged knee. Mistake 1 was that your sumo depends on double arm thrusts against your opponents neck, which Takarafuji donated years ago in the relief effort for the great Tohoku quake. But Takarafuji’s “defend and extend” strategy found you too far forward with one of those incredibly long arms carelessly adrift (mistake 2). To him it looked like a natural handle, and he pulled it.

Daieisho defeats Enho – Enho’s submarine tachiai blew up today, and he was never able to offer much resistance to Daieisho’s attacks. Thankfully he is already kachi-koshi, so we will see more of him fighting the top rikishi in sumo in March.

Takayasu defeats Tochinoshin – Takayasu went left hand outside at the tachiai and rapidly pivoted to his left. This forced Tochinoshin to rotate rapidly on his damaged right knee, and the expected result was obtained. I have no sympathy here, as Takayasu has had every last chonmage wearing so-and-so taking their sumo frustrations out on that sore left elbow every day for the past 2 weeks. Hey, injured giants! If you step on the dohyo, it’s going to hurt.

Asanoyama defeats Takakeisho – I will make no secret that I really was hoping that Takakeisho would take this one and force a complex final day yusho puzzle. But instead Asanoyama was able to get past the thrusting attack and get a hand hold. I was quite impressed that not only did Takakeisho return the gambit, but nearly made him pay for it. The Grand Tadpole still has improvements to make, but this new yotsu attack gambit is most interesting. I think with a win tomorrow, Ozeki talk for Asanoyama might be back in fashion.

Shohozan defeats Goeido – The Shohozan matta trick is really stale, and smells like the interior of an izakaya at 2:00 AM. Watch the match in slow motion, you can see that Shohozan makes sure Goeido’s weight, and a good amount of torque is on that damages left ankle. Yeah, he should not be testing it like that, but Goeido made the decision to fight even though its probably not taking the strain well any more.

22 thoughts on “Hatsu Day 14 Highlights

  1. The Asanoyama vs Takakeisho bout was epic. It seems like it’s never easy for Asanoyama but he simply doesn’t give up. Oops, almost lost it there but, nope, I ain’t gonna give up and step out. And he doesn’t. He regroups and goes at it. I’m a big fan.

    Takakeisho, too, is broadening his repertoire. He’s clearly no longer a one-trick pony.

    Enho vs Daieisho. Chase him around the ring, around and around until we’re dizzy watching. Until finally an arm connects and pops the little guy into the stands. Daieisho did his homework and deserved the win (that Enho made him work for).

    Goeido vs Shohozan. Now THAT was disappointing for me.

  2. Unless I’m mistaken, and I can be. Tochinoshin’s lower leg and foot look pink to red. If it is, it’s VERY possible Tochi is suffering a case of Cellulitis on top of his knee problems.

  3. Also noteworthy, Terunofuji had his first loss today. It wasn’t a henka or any cheeky stuff, Nishikigi simply prevailed in a belt battle. This loss could come costly to him, as there arent a lot of demotion candidates and Nishikigi as well as Daiamami (whom he faces tomorrow already have 10 wins now and Wakatakage and Daishoho could join that group tomorrow.

    I’m really curious now, if we will see a playoff together. I almost doubt that mitakeumi in his 2nd week shape will beat Shodai. If on the other hand Tokushoryu were to beat Takakeisho all the talk about him not deserving the Yusho would be moot too, having then beaten both main contenders.

  4. For the lower divisions, Ura is 7-0 in Jonidan and should have a playoff battle tomorrow. Wakaichiro is fighting his last bout tomorrow standing at a kachikoshi (4-2) already. Motobayashi had his last bout today finishing with a loss, but still a 4-3 kachikoshi. Prince Naya is battling it out with veteran and long time Herouth favorite ;-) Akiseyama tomorrow for a kachikoshi, as both stand at 3-3. Chiyonokuni once again stumbled on his trial to get back to Sekitori ranks, losing to another former Makuuchi in Toyohibiki and going makekoshi.

    As there will likely be 5 demotiopns from Juryo, the match between Naya and Akiseyama also seems to be the battle for a potential 5th promotion (MS1 Wakamotoharu 6-1, Ms2 Midorifuji 5-2, Ms4 Hakuyozan 6-1, Ms3 Chiyonoumi at 4-2). Not sure, if Sokokurai can save his rank with a win tomorrow, but Toyonoshima, Chiyootori, Sakigake and injured Irodori should be guaranteed demotion already.

    • Thank you for this report, Savaros! There’s a lot of good news to be seen here! However, it is unfortunate to see Chiyonokuni stumbling again.

  5. no question – these are exiting times.
    turning the ranks and established orders upside down.
    and we are privileged to watch and enjoy.

    my sole is sore, deep inside,
    three times 5-9.
    the ozeki fundament of the past 2-3 years has simply disintegrated.
    it feels like your grandma, active and vivid until yesterday, since this morning gets carried around in a wheelchair. and everybody asks you, when will you move her to the retirement home …
    true, its the injuries.
    and stablemasters, who didn’t understand that the pride of injured presence, just for (whom‘s?) sake, can kill a career.
    but maybe its not only that.

    somehow its feels like a greater curtain of change, which was (over)due, and was supposed to drop slowly. but which was stuck and stalled, and now it drops all the way at once. i wouldn’t be surprised if the two yokozunas would disappear behind the same curtain within the next few months.

    what is left?
    the deep-from-the-heart-wish for either of the three former ozekis to find a way out in dignity.
    it is heartbreaking to see kotoshogiku de-rumbling his body.
    on the unavoidable way down.

  6. If both Shodai and Tokushoryu lose tomorrow, the latter will, as far as I can tell, become the first wrestler to win a yusho without beating a single sanyaku opponent. In other words, the Torikumi guys will have perpetrated a most egregious charliefox,

    I suppose it’s somewhat forgivable: if Tochiozan or Kaisei had gone on a tear from the bottom of the banzuke you can bet your sweet bippy that they would have been stepped up to face top class opposition from day 10 onwards but Tokushoryu? Naah, no one’s taking that fat old juryo guy seriously.

  7. Obviously the headline news is Tokushoryu – and, following that, Asanoyama prevailing in that epic battle with King-Tadpole. EXCITING!

    But in the background, another theme for the day was many of the veterans having a belated (in some cases too belated) rally. At the start of this tournament it was almost too painful to watch Ikioi, but he seems to have somehow, through sheer willpower, fought himself back into some kind fighting form. Then we got a rare glimpse of the old Chiyotairyu cannon-ball tachiai in full effect once more. And having repeatedly suggested that it was sheer insanity for Tsurugisho to be continuing to fight after his leg injury, he has somehow managed to notch up 3 more wins and now may well finish 5-10 rather than 2-13 – which at M12 is a pretty big deal. (OK, at 28 years old Tsurugisho doesn’t count as a ‘veteran’). And THEN Kotoshogiku pulls off his status-saving win! OLD SKOOL!

    • Isn’t Mitakeumi the King Tadpole, and Takakeisho the Grand Tadpole, or is it the other way around?

      Either way, I liked how that period when those started winning yushos was labelled “the rise of the bullfrogs.”

      When Takakeisho does that squat two-footed hopping forward, it makes me think of a bullfrog.

  8. I disegree a bit with detracting from a possible Tokushoryu yusho, for lacking a sanyaku win. He has beaten Yutakayama, Kagayaki and Shodai this basho. What did Sanyaku have to offer better than that? Abi? Takayasu? Even if he loses to Takakeisho, there is no shame in that. He has faced only people higher ranked than himself, which nobody else can claim. I really like Takakeisho and hope he wins tomorrow so we can watch a playoff, but he has shown himself less worthy of lifting the cup than the other two this time.

    • I see what you mean. When Ichinojo went on his amazing makuuchi debut run in 2014 he was thrown to the lions quite early (and tamed most of them). But in that basho there were three yokozuna and three ozeki, so there were plenty of leonine options. It’s not Tokushoryu’s fault that the upper ranks were so flimsy and if he wins there will be no asterisk against his name on the list of champions: you can only beat the man in front of you.

    • He has beaten Yutakayama, Kagayaki and Shodai this basho. What did Sanyaku have to offer better than that?

      Asanoyama, perhaps. But then again, Tokushoryu’s rank being what it is, maybe he just gets to enjoy the privilege of winning a tournament with an easier schedule. It might have been in large part due to that one trick he does at the edge, but even so – it’s not as if he didn’t fight well.

    • It’s actually not true that he faced only people ranked above him (a claim I’ve seen several times). One of his victories is against a visitor from Juryo (Chiyoshoma).

  9. Although I’ve watched each day’s bouts with careful attention, I still was shocked to realize that Ryuden had gained his tenth victory on Day 14. That is the most under-the-radar double-digit win total I can recall in recent tournaments. I never had a sense during this basho that Ryuden was being particularly effective. Kudos to him.

    Abi’s big mistake was putting his head down for one last big thrust against Takarafuji. He never saw the wily vet grab his arm.

    It was hard to watch the emotion (and tears) on Takakeisho’s face, as he sat by the dohyo after his loss to Asanoyama. This was a crushing defeat for him. However, his sumo made great strides in this basho, which bodes well for his future.

    • Ryuden is a bit like Myogiryu. Both are very classy performers whose talents are not always reflected in their results. It either “he looked so good, how come he ended up 5-10” or “how did I miss him racking up such a great score”. Guys like this seldom hog the headlines or get to contend for the yusho, but they have long, successful careers and gain bucketloads of respect. See also Okinoumi and Takarafuji.

  10. Forgive me if this is easily found elsewhere or has already been answered, but how many times has the lowest man on the banzuke faced the highest (remaining) man on the banzuke? Very excited to see that tomorrow.

  11. After the two Yokozuna dropped out, I’m sure there wasn’t a rikishi out there that didn’t see this as an opportunity (almost too good to be true). Especially for those in the lower ranks as , again, everyone knew how beat up and on the way down a number of the big-names (forced to soldier on) were. That Tokushoryu persevered and came this far is quite the accomplishment. I can just imagine his state of mind when he faced Shodai. And it’s not like he gets his name announced, throws some salt, and then gets it over with. The tension must be almost unbearable!

  12. Yea, Kotoshogiku is strong, 700 wins in Maukunuchi, 809 overall. He`s almost 36… I hope he will last until November basho. Interesting tournament. Many unexpected situations.

  13. Yes, maybe with a win tomorrow Asanoyama will start an Ozeki run. If not, well, he’s young, talented and hungry. There’ll be another time.

  14. It was funny seeing Shohozan picking up that huge wad of kensho after winning the musubi no ichiban, then very demonstrably refuse to hand the wad over to the waiting yobidashi for safe-keeping as he dismounted the dohyo, preferring to keep that cash-filled stack of envelopes in his mits as he strolled off-stage!

  15. There’s actually an even number (8) of guys with 7-7 records. But instead of pitting Shohozan and Mitakeumi head-to-head, the schedulers chose to use them as opponents for Endo and Shodai, respectively, so that everyone in those bouts has something at stake (most likely a san’yaku slot for Endo, and of course a possible playoff slot for Shodai).


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