Osaka Day 9 Highlights

Day 9 is in the record books, and we continue to see Yokozuna Hakuho dominate every single match. While the week 2 action continues, everyone awaits Chiyomaru’s test for COVID-19. The latest explanation for his 40°C (104° F) fever is a suspected to have a case of cellulitis passed through an open wound. But just in case he is undergoing a PCR test for Corona. Kokonoe beya currently has no other rikishi with any symptoms, but they are isolating him behind a wall of rice, beer and curry just in case.

Highlight Matches

Kotonowaka defeats Hidenoumi – Hidenoumi achieved a right hand inside grip at the tachiai, but really could not do much with it. After stalemating for a moment, blocking Kotonowaka from getting a grip, Hidenoumi advanced strongly, but it was directly into Kotonowaka’s arm bar throw. That grip on Hidenoumi’s bandaged elbow made me wince. Yikes! Kotonowaka improves to 7-2.

Daiamami defeats Azumaryu – Daiamami picks up a much needed win, and this in spite of Azumaryu superior right hand inside grip. Both men exit day 9 at 4-5.

Kaisei defeats Meisei – Meisei came in strong and low at the tachiai, and bounced off of Kaisei’s broad belly. A few thrusts from Kaisei, and it was oshidashi for tea. Kaisei has now won 5 of his last 6, to improve to 5-4 after a cold 0-3 start.

Ishiura defeats Ikioi – Everyone, including Ikioi, read that henka. It did seem to fire Ikioi up, and he went after Ishiura like Ishiura had just pooped in Ikioi’s lunch box. The vigor and energy eventually worked against Ikioi, as the more nimble Ishiura was able to get behind the beloved veteran and send him over the salt basket. Ishiura improves to 7-2.

Shimanoumi defeats Terutsuyoshi – Terutsuyoshi stumbled at the tachiai, and went immediately to a pull down attempt, which worked even less well than his tachiai. Easy oshitaoshi for Shimanoumi, with an extended jog into where the fans should be sitting.

Aoiyama defeats Chiyotairyu – To me it seemed like Chiyotairyu flinched at the last moment as he was about to make contact with Aoiyama just blasted right through. Aoiyama picks up a well deserved day 9 kachi-koshi.

Kotoshogiku defeats Tochiozan – Tochiozan has absolutely nothing to offer this tournament. I feel sorry for him mounting the dohyo each day just to be defeated again and again. He has enormous sumo skill, but clearly some unannounced injury has him in shreds.

Nishikigi defeats Shohozan – Well, there is a surprise – Nishikigi picks up a win by advancing in force following a Shohozan face slap at the tachiai. Nishikigi avoids the inevitable make-koshi for another day, as both rikishi finish day 9 at 2-7.

Takanosho defeats Tamawashi – Tamawashi once again opened strong, but quickly ran out of power and clay, finding himself over the bales on the East side. That’s a kachi-koshi for Takanosho, who has been fighting brilliantly.

Takarafuji defeats Kiribayama – Once again, a textbook example of Takarafuji’s sumo style. He lets Kiribayama come in strong, taking him to his chest, and completely robbing him of any meaningful offensive hand placement. Try as he can, Kiribayama can’t find any path to get a grip, and is expending energy in every try. After a time, he goes quiet and tries to decide what to do next. This is always Takarafuji’s cue to get to work. He locks Kiribayama’s arms up, and marches him out. Takarafuji improves to 6-3.

Kagayaki defeats Sadanoumi – Kagayaki showed very nice speed today, getting inside Sadanoumi, and applying power early. Kagayaki improves to 6-3.

Myogiryu defeats Tochinoshin – Myogiryu shifts left at the tachiai, and gets to the rear of Tochinoshin, who circles to defend. But he could not turn in time, and Myogiryu lunges to push Tochinoshin out.

Tokushoryu defeats Onosho – Onosho went too high at the tachiai, taking a hold of Tokushoryu’s face rather than applying force center-mass. Tokushoryu’s unusual shape means that his head is the least vulnerable part of his body. Tokushoryu takes the golden opportunity Onosho has given him and waltzes him across the bales for a much needed win, staving off make-koshi for another day.

Daieisho defeats Okinoumi – Daieisho worked hard to get the inside path, and did not waste the opening when it came. Okinoumi showed a lot of defensive energy and skill, but Daieisho drove hard and got the win. He improves to 6-3.

Endo defeats Enho – The kawaii battle ends with Endo shutting down Enho’s wild, chaotic combination attacks. Fans have started to wonder if Enho’s small man sumo has found its natural limits, or if he is struggling with some kind of injury. We are confident he will bounce back for the next tournament.

Mitakeumi defeats Hokutofuji – Hokutofuji left the inside route open, and Mitakeumi wasted no time in applying a rippling volley of thrusts to first unbalance, then move Hokutofuji backward and out. Mitakeumi improves to 7-2.

Asanoyama defeats Shodai – The Sekiwake battle started with what looked like a mis-timed tachiai, with Asanoyama launching before Shodai, and opting for a left hand outside. He was never able to land a grip with that left hand, but it proved enough to shut down Shodai’s energetic escape moves, and win the match. 7-2 for the Ozeki hopeful.

Yutakayama defeats Takakeisho – Yutakayama did a brilliant job of matching Takakeisho blow for blow, and eventually grabbing the Ozeki’s right arm, disrupting the tsuppari train. From there Takakeisho’s entire offense fell apart, he blew his stance, blew his body position, and moments later lost the match. We know the lone surviving Ozeki is hurt, and days like this much give the NSK fits.

Kakuryu defeats Abi – Points to Abi for dictating the early elements of this match. He connected well with his double arm strikes, but Kakuryu’s sumo is built in stalemating his opponent, and waiting for them / helping them to make a mistake. He did not have to spend much time before Abi’s back was turned to the Yokozuna in a forward rush turned away, and it was Kakuryu’s moment to strike. The Yokozuna improves to 7-2.

Hakuho defeats Ryuden – Ryuden gave him a solid fight, but it ended with Ryuden taking a now familiar dash into the empty zabuton area beside the dohyo. Hakuho improves to 9-0.

12 thoughts on “Osaka Day 9 Highlights

  1. For me, this has become the basho of sadness. I’ve generally been a ‘glass half full’ kind of guy concerning the contemporary makuuchi division. No more. This glass definitely is half empty at best. A whole fleet of the rikishi who could be counted on to deliver solid battles day in and day out (as Takarafuji is doing this basho) no longer can muster the skill and energy to do so. Shohozan, Sadanoumi, Tochiozan, and Myogiryu all seem to be playing out the string. It’s only a matter of time before Ikioi takes his well-earned intai. In how many more basho will we see these Yokozuna competing? No more than four or five between them, I’d guess. Goeido gone, Takayasu likely gone, Tochinoshin all but gone. The lone remaining Ozeki Takakeisho no longer seems able to consistently marshal the technique that earned him his high rank. Apart from Asanoyama, no one seems anywhere close to becoming the next Ozeki. A host of up-and-comers have been crushed by injury. Someone help me out! I’m having a hard time remaining optimistic about the near-term future of this sport I’ve come to love.

    • The more of those old guards drop out, the easier it will become for those fresh guard to raise in ranks. Kotosho and Hoshoryu raise steadily through Juryo and Kotosho could very well debut in Makuuchi next basho. Both are still very young. Mitakeumi and Shodai are still young enough to smash down this mental barier preventing them from consistently performing well and take over Ozeki positions. Takanosho is one to watch. He hasn’t been healthy very often while in Makuuchi, but is having a great basho. I’m not convinced of Hokutofuji – the way he fights I fear he will get injured sooner or later. Both Onosho and Yutakayama are regaining their form after long injury caused drop downs and could look way different by the end of the year.

      We probably won’t see anything like a Hakuho level dominance soon again, but someone stepping in Kakuryus shoes … I don’t think that’s too far fetched.

  2. Well played Yutakayama! That was a fine old scrap. He took some mighty blows from the Grand Tadpole to begin with, but grabbing on to the arm was an inspired plan B. Though he is currently only 4-5, the ‘Big Unit’ has now faced all of the Sanyaku except for Shodai (i think?), and has defeated Asanoyama and Takakeisho over the past 2 days, so I am still hopeful he will make his KK.

    What has happened to poor old Shohozan’s form? He looked like he was trying to channel Hakuho today with the opening face-slap gambit – but he just ended up gifting Nishikigi a morozashi.

    My beloved Abi at least put up.a fight – plus it looked like his right knee was not too badly injured from yesterday. An honourable defeat.

    • Yutakayama looks like a completely different guy in week 2. Unlike Takakeisho, who looks to be on his way to a makekoshi, it’s realistic for Yutakayama to win 4 of 6 and finish kachikoshi.

  3. After how this tournament started, I can’t believe that I’m saying that, but a Zensho Yusho for Hakuho looks possible. He seems to have adjusted to his troubles, while his opponents seem to be unable to exploit those. I could see Kakuryu put dirt on him, in fact I would expect Kakuryu to do that, but Asanoyama fumbles his tachiai too often and Shodai … well, if we could see the one from last tournament again … but his tachiai isn’t the strongest either. Don’t think Takakeisho will manage to take one of either of the Yokozuna.
    Will be interesting to see how long Aoiyama and Takanosho kann stay in contention. I guess they will get matched against each other on Wednesday.

  4. this basho seems to reveal, more than any basho before, the mental aspect of sumo.
    certainly the empty-seat-atmosphere is a motivation drawback for some rikishi, such as enho.

    we tended to „excuse“ weak basho performances usually with hidden injuries. certainly the right assumption in a lot of cases.

    but the current „empty-road-run“ for ozeki status reveals another, maybe equally immanent problem.

    most of the current ozeki candidates seem to be overburdened with the pressure of continuous 10+ performance and the related media, fans and stable expectations.

    this performance pressure exists throughout top level sports, be it skiing, tennis, athletics – you name it. and throughout top level sports, mental trainer have become an essential part of the coaching team.

    but not in sumo.
    millisecond technique sequences are analyzed forth and back by experts after the bout.
    but no one seems to „care“ about the prior mental status of the rikishi, which might have a much bigger impact on the performance during the few seconds of the bout.

    time for a change?

  5. Anyone else having the impression that Takakeisho’s problem is not injury per-se but rather a cardio-respiratory issue? To me he seems very out of breath after all bouts (at least for the last 3 bashos) and not able to do anything effective if bouts last for more than 30 seconds.

    • To be fair, many wrestlers struggle with bouts of 30 seconds or more. I think Takakeisho’s problem is that although he is trying his best to find an effective Plan B he hasn’t found one yet. Once he gets into a grappling match he always looks second favourite.

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