Osaka Day 2 Highlights

Its still early days in the Haru basho, but there seems to be very little in the way of ring rust right among the top division. Asanoyama, Shodai, and Hakuho are off to good starts, but we continue to worry that Hakuho has damaged a foot, and his now struggling to transmit power to ground. Yes, the atmospherics of the tournament are creepy as can be, but it’s sumo, and we get to watch it. I do like that we can have an audio perspective on things that are normally covered by crowd noise. Once the initial discomfort of the empty hall wears off, you can get a nice perspective on what is happening by the sound of the rikishi’s movements. Normally you only get to hear this during practice sessions. In fact, as one of our fine commenters (redfern) posted – the whole silent basho does seem to lend an air that this is just an extra fancy degeiko session.

Highlight Matches

Meisei defeats Kotonowaka – Meisei had the better position at the tachiai, getting inside and staying lower as Kotonowaka tried for a left hand outside grip on the mawashi. From there it was all Meisei, as Kotonowaka found himself blocked and disrupted at every turn. Both move to 1-1. I did like that shoulder swing down! (katasukashi).

Shimanoumi defeats Daiamami – Shimanoumi got the better of the tachai, and quickly converted Daiamami’s poor body position into a thrust down. Shimanoumi improves to 2-0.

Azumaryu defeats Tsurugisho – Tsurugisho sacrificed body position to get grip, and Azumaryu kept his hips low, and every time Tsurugisho raised up to tighten his grip, Azumaryu inched lower and pulled closer. Interesting techique, and it worked. It also helps that Tsurugisho is fairly poor physical shape right now.

Chiyomaru defeats Nishikigi – Nishikigi drove inside to get chest to chest with the bulbous one. But given Chiyomaru’s enormous round belly, Nishikigi found himself struggling for balance. Chiyomaru stood him up, and pulled him down. Nice 2-0 start for Chiyomaru.

Kotoshogiku defeats Kaisei – Kotoshogiku continues his winning streak over the Brazilian. Both of these veterans are walking orthopedic patients, but it seems that Kotoshogiku can still generate explosive power early in the basho, but only for very short periods of time. It’s kind of a wonder to see him adapt what he can still execute into winning sumo.

Aoiyama defeats Ikioi – Ikioi, try as he could, was unable to close the distance to Aoiyama and get inside his bludgeon range. Big Dan kept the pressure up on Ikioi upper chest, with some of the better form we have seen from him in a while. As Ikioi became frustrated, his weight shifted forward and he was an easy mark for the slap down.

Ishiura defeats Sadanoumi – Really good tachiai from Ishiura set up his inside position to capitalize on Sadanoumi’s ill considered decision to release forward pressure and attempt to pull Ishiura down. With no fans on the zabuton, Ishiura takes a stroll up to the box seats in celebration of his 2-0 start to Haru.

Terutsuyoshi defeats Tochiozan – Terutsuyoshi brings in his “hop an dive” tachiai, but Tochiozan seems to be completely moribund right now, failing to generate much in the way of offense or defense. Hopefully he can shed his ring-rust soon.

Chiyotairyu defeats Tochinoshin – Its heartbreaking to watch former Ozeki Tochinoshin to continue to try and compete. It’s clear from his performance at Hatsu and continuing into Haru that his right knee can’t support much if any force. This has robbed him of his strength-based sumo, which has been so effective in the past.

Takanosho defeats Shohozan – I am calling it as Shohozan losing traction. Takanosho was surprised to see Shohozan on all fours immediately following the tachiai.

Kiribayama defeats Tamawashi – After a matta, Tamawashi’s timing was disrupted, and it seems his tachiai was a half step behind. Kiribayama’s hit and shift worked brilliantly, and Tamawashi stumbled for a loss.

Takarafuji defeats Myogiryu – Takarafuji’s lower back problems have appear to have cut down his mobility, but today’s win over Myogiryu was a model of minimized body motion. Takarafuji picks up his first win.

Onosho defeats Kagayaki – Kagayaki had the better tachiai, but expended his advantage trying to immediately disrupt Onosho’s balance (not a bad gambit). But it failed and Kagayaki found himself too high and too far forward. Onosho kept him off balance and falling forward as he circled away and pulled him forward. Sloppy, but effective sumo from Onosho today.

Enho defeats Ryuden – Ryuden let Enho get his left hand inside, with his head buried in Ryuden’s belly, a favorite attack format for the pixie. I counted 4 trip attempts before Ryuden finally hit the clay. Enho gets his first win.

Mitakeumi defeats Abi – Abi-zumo has yet to really get rolling in Osaka, as Mitakeumi shuts him down early and stampedes him over the bales. Any time Mitakeumi can his feet set properly out of the tachiai, he can generate enormous forward pressure. He improves to 2-0.

Endo defeats Yutakayama – More very strong sumo from Yutakayama today, but Endo really had his lower body working well today, and kept the pressure on. Go watch Endo’s feet, look at how wide his stance gets once he goes on the attack, and how heavy his feet become. That guy can employ some really great sumo when he’s in the groove.

Asanoyama defeats Tokushoryu – It’s after midnight, Tokushoryu, and your glorious carriage has returned to pumpkin form. Sumo fans will always remember that January where you were Cinderella, but its back to the grind now, sir. Asanoyama off to a 2-0 start.

Shodai defeats Takayasu – Clearly, Takayasu is still a complete hodgepodge of malfunctioning sumo technique, which as a fan of his is a complete disappointment. Shodai shows more evidence that maybe his sumo has evolved, and he’s going to be a force. His grapple and sukuinage combo was really solid today. I am starting to like Shodai 3.0.

Okinoumi defeats Takakeisho – Okinoumi won this one at the tachiai where he was able to get chest to chest with Takakeisho. Unable to generate his typical offense, the Ozeki was off balance, one one foot and in danger almost at once. Takakeisho attempted a throw after recovering his stance, but his comically short arms had no leverage to move Okinoumi. My prediction is already regrettable.

Hakuho defeats Daieisho – There’s that foot again. I know some of our readers were not convinced, but maybe today? Compliments to Daieisho who showed outstanding defensive foot placement today, and really made Hakuho struggle.

Hokutofuji defeats Kakuryu – Kakuryu’s reactive sumo failed him today, and he found himself out matched by Hokutofuji. A miss step put Hokutofuji behind him, and there was really no recovery from that. Kakuryu picks up his first loss.

30 thoughts on “Osaka Day 2 Highlights

  1. Most of my favorites won today so I’m happy. Takarafuji—no messing around, perfect sumo. Enho (isn’t a particular favorite of mine) very impressive. No tricks, just a nicely executed throw.
    Mitakeumi vs Abi: what is wrong with Abi? He seems really out of it.
    Asanoyama. He’s my guy! Hope he keeps plugging away.
    Shodai vs Takayasu. I don’t think Takayasu is favoring his left. He just was beat fair and square.
    Okinoumi (who looks downright svelte next to Takakeisho) whipped the Ozeki.
    Hakuho. I’ll have to watch again to see what you’re talking about (re: foot).
    Hokutofuji. Yes!

  2. Since The Penguin and The Flying Monkey are both in Juryo, Ishirua’s run to the fourth row may be the rikishi distance record from the dohyo this basho! Run, Little Dude, run!

    Shodai and Asanoyama are officially in “The Real Deal” category. Wow!

    If Takarafuji is fighting with a hurt back, then he’s doing a hell of a job at it. Kudos to him for today’s victory.

    I wonder if Mitakeumi has worked with or learned from Takarafuji about stalemating his opponents. He’s done that in both of his bouts and that style of sumo is serving him well this basho.

    Keep an eye on Takayasu’s feet tomorrow. That’s where Shodai’s Sukinage put the pressure to get Takayasu to flip over. Ouch!

    Takakeisho might have short arms, but his feet slid out from under him on the dohyo when he attempted his throw. His body went backwards and down which is why Okinoumi kinda landed on top of him.

    I am completely tired of seeing Hakuho land on other rikishi and remain there to “establish his dominance” or whatever reason he continues his irritating behavior. Is his ego so fragile that being one of the greatest rikishi of all time isn’t enough to stop him from acting that way? Good grief.

    • Since The Penguin and The Flying Monkey are both in Juryo, Ishirua’s run to the fourth row may be the rikishi distance record from the dohyo this basho!

      In top division, yes; however, check out today’s Terunofuji bout. It’s an interesting aspect of this tournament: with no spectators in the way, you can end up really, really far out there.

    • Hakuho falls over on his opponents because his toes are shot and falling over keeps them from being injured further. You’re right that it’s not a good look, which is why I doubt he’s actually staying on them for any longer than he has to.

  3. Hakuho is fading, none of the yokozuna power left… His bouts don’t excite me anymore and his sumo is ugly.
    Takakeisho needs to avoid losses against the likes of okinoumi if he wants that second yusho.
    Mitakeumi and Shodai look like the favourites this time around.

  4. I watched the Hakuho bout again, focusing on the right foot. I don’t see it. In fact, Hakuho attempted to use his right foot to trip up Daieisho. There’s nothing wrong with the foot as during the match itself he’s putting weight on it and pushing off.

    • Since he was using his right foot to trip, it means he wasn’t putting weight on it. And yes, he was visibly limping after the bout.

      • Ha! Of course, he wasn’t putting weight on it when he was going for the trip. He was earlier/after, though. And I’m doubtful he’d use an injured foot to apply pressure to an opponent. But he’s a Yokozuna. Maybe he would.

        • It’s better to use it to trip than to have it support you while the other foot is doing it. And, if you note, the trip failed. Well, Hakuho always has a plan C, plan D etc.

  5. Very impressed with Endo today. Before the bout, my stereotyped expectation was that Endo would go for his standard shallow grip at the front of the mawashi – if he landed it, he’d probably prevail, but in an oshi-zumo battle ‘Big Unit’ Yutakayama, who seemed to be in good form, would surely have the upper hand.
    But of course, as it transpired, that was totally wrong and Endo won by oshidashi. In fact I think he was trying and failing throughout to land a belt grip, but he managed to maintain thrusting dominance nevertheless.

    Also pleased to see Onosho gradually improving his form and also winning in the manner he did. Kagayaki is big and strong and if he lines you up right he will march you straight out of the dojo – but he does have a rather plodding, un-athletic style. Nimble and inventive he is not – which allowed Onosho to improvise a win whilst on the retreat.

  6. The Hakuho haters are out, I see they mistyped “look at how Hakuho masterfully nullifies his opponent’s right arm, despite the fact Daieisho got a quality tachiai”.

    Tochinoshin looked like he didn’t even want to plant his right leg today. I hope it’s not as dire as it looks but this kind of a loss is very concerning.

    I picked Takayasu to have a bounce back tournament. The only thing he bounced off today was the clay from the force of Shodai ejecting him.

    • Hakuho plays at sekiwake level at most. Now, sekiwake level is not bad, but it’s still not the kind of sumo you expect from a Yokozuna. Tsurugisho nullified Nishikigi’s arms yesterday. Okinoumi nullified Takakeisho’s oshi. Everybody who wins does so by being slightly better than their opponent. In the past, Hakuho was more than slightly better than his opponents. Is it just us who don’t understand what we see? Then why did the Yokozuna receive a single, lonely, kensho envelope today? There were more envelopes on Enho than on Hakuho.

  7. Yes, totally see the foot issue with Hakuho,… more obvious as he stepped gingerly back to his mark after the bout – it must be restricting him in the bout itself. It’s no slight on him, btw… his length of career just has to come with lots of wear&tear… he’d be inhuman if it didn’t.
    Tochinoshin is pretty much done sadly. He has no brakes left – when an opponent out-‘tachiai’s him (which is nearly always these days) and they get him moving backwards, it’s over in a blink as Tochi stops resisting and steps backwards over the bales (reminiscent of tired-version Ichinojo from the last couple of years). Tochi’s no fool and knows how bad this is for him now so he’ll be desperate to get a white star on the board,…. I’d go ahead and call it now… a Tochi henka is coming very soon (and possibly as soon as tomorrow). 😞

  8. Hakuho is such a tease. So far he has shown just enough positives to suggest that he might go 15-0, and just enough weaknesses to suggest that he might lose two of his next three and bail out.

    If you heard an odd noise during the broadcast of the Onosho v Kagayaki bout that was me. My cries of “come on lad, get him, get him, aaaargh, buggerit” may have seeped out through my internet connection and gone all the way to Osaka.

    My absurdly early prediction is that this one is going to a sekiwake. I’ll bet a flying golden pig on the winner of the Asanoyama v Shodai match to take the yusho.

    Of the three struggling ex-ozeki, Kotoshogiku stands out as the one who looks like he is still having fun out there. Takayasu is on the slide and Tochi, sadly, looks like he’d rather be somewhere else.

  9. Hokutofuji surprised Kakuryu at the tachiai by foregoing his usual ‘handshake’ technique and, instead, grabbing and yanking on the Yokozuna’s arm.

    Meisei wore a support on his left arm on Day One, but went without it on Day Two. If that arm has recovered, then he may rack up a bunch of wins at the bottom of the banzuke.

    Mitakeumi is showing very solid form; will we see a Mitakeumi-Shodai battle for the yusho?

    One thing is clear: Fighting with no fans sitting near the dohyo is MUCH safer for the rikishi.

    • Fighting with no fans sitting near the dohyo is MUCH safer for the rikishi.

      Let’s just hope no one trips over the railing which that Juryo guy masterfully jumped today!

  10. Today the NHK highlights show missed 5 matches. Coincidentally, it also ran the long opening to the show with the history of sumo, etc., and had a lot more replays and commentary in general. I guess each of the commentators has their way of putting together the highlights package, but it was jarring how much empty time/space was in today’s show versus yesterday’s. The commentary itself was better, but the show was worse due to not being as complete as it could’ve been.

    The sumo is coming out of the gates strong this basho. Shodai is surprising me. I thought he’d have a tourney where it clicked, then revert to form. He might be in the joi to stay. And Takakeisho looks like his oyakata has never taken him aside and shown him not to panic when he gets wrapped up. His first attempted strike once captured was almost at his opponent’s top knot level and was ineffectual, leaving him off-kilter and vulnerable for the remainder of the match. But up and down the banzuke, the quality level of sumo shown so far has me fervently hoping the whole basho gets in without the virus rearing its ugly head.

    • Yeah. It’s such a shame that they went back to the old format of leaving some bouts out.

      I seriously doubt that the commentator has a hand in deciding how the highlight show is put together. It’s more likely that a NHK editor put the show together and pass it on for the English commentary.

      I really like how the Day 1 show was edited. Brisk through the lower ranked and/or less exciting bouts. Give a bit more emphasis to the higher ranker/more exciting bouts with replays and pre-bout ritual.

      I guess we will have to wait and see whether all bouts will be shown in future highlight shows.

  11. Takakeisho continues to look completely helpless the second his aite lands a grip. That after all is what gave Tokushoryu the yusho in January.

    • Helpless? He has lots of power in the clinch — he just doesn’t have ozeki-level technique yet. He’s got a lot of raw talent so I think it will come with time and practice.

      • He’s got 4 career wins and 18 losses by yorikiri, and zero wins and 10 losses by uwatenage. Almost helpless?

        • All I’m saying that in the actual engagement he’s not just getting muscled out — he can move his opponents. He has potential — his yorikiri victories over Mitakeumi and Okinoumi demonstrate this — and the more experience he gets the more dangerous it will be for his opponents to assume that victory is in hand just because the mawashi is in hand.

  12. A loss for Oshoryu today in his first bout in Makushita … well deserved for making me search the banzuke 3 times as to what has happened to Motobayashi. But seriously, what was wrong with Motobayashi. We already have Hoshoryu and Shohoryu and now we get Oshoryu … Karma didn’t like it, let’s hope KArma can be forgiving ;)

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