Osaka Day 14 Highlights

As it so frequently does, the world of sumo has simplified matters going into the final day. The yusho race as been reduced into a single winner take all match between the Yokozuna, the winner takes the cup. Asanoyama’s Ozeki bid will probably fall short, as his match went to a monoii, and the judges overturned the gyoji’s gumbai (and rightly so). There are a slew of Darwin matches for the final day, and a number of deserving rikishi scored their 8th win today, to reach safety. Let’s dive into the action.

Highlight Matches

Kotonowaka defeats Nishikigi – Kotonowaka overcame poor body position at the tachiai to pick up his 8th win. Nishikigi’s attempt to change his grip opened door for Kotonowaka to go on the attack, and he rapidly put Nishikigi on the clay. That’s kachi-koshi for Kotonowaka in his first tournament in the top division.

Meisei defeats Ishiura – Ishiura lost this match when he attempted to set up a throw and released forward pressure, and Meisei read it correctly and charged ahead. Meisei improves to 7-7, and will enjoy a lovely Darwin match on the final day.

Shimanoumi defeats Ikioi – Ikioi gave it a full measure today, but Shimanoumi had acres of motivation, and a keen desire to stay out of the Darwin mosh pit on day 15. If you want to see two very strong people grapple and struggle to overpower each other, this match is for you. Both men exit the match 8-6 with well deserved kachi-koshi results for March.

Chiyotairyu defeats Kotoshogiku – Chiyotairyu gave ground at the tachiai, and pulled Kotoshogiku forward and down for a quick win to reach the safety of kachi-koshi. Chiyotairyu opened strong, but lost 5 of his last 7, and is fortunate to get 8 in March. Kotoshogiku drops to 7-7 and joins the Darwin squad.

Terutsuyoshi defeats Chiyomaru – Terutsuyoshi did a masterful job of disrupting Chiyomaru’s preferred attack mode, and took control of the match when he got beside the big man and danced him to the bales. I liked the little “get away from me kid!” slap as Chiyomaru’s overwhelming inertia drove him stumbling across the bales. Terutsuyoshi: kachi-koshi, Chiyomaru: Darwin time.

Tochiozan defeats Azumaryu – Tochiozan manages to piece together his second win of the tournament. You can see him losing power as Azumaryu increases his attack, but Tochiozan found some reservoir of genki and gave his opponent a final vigorous shove for the win. Both were deeply make-koshi before this match, so it’s down to 5-9 for Azumaryu and 2-12 for Tochiozan.

Sadanoumi defeats Shohozan – The timing on that tachiai was odd, and may have contributed to the lack of real offense from Shohozan. Sadanoumi uses his speed to get a hold of Shohozan at the tachiai, and escorts him out to improve to 6-8.

Tamawashi defeats Daiamami – Nice to see a little flavor of the Tamawashi of old. He came off the shikiri-sen looking to attack, and was able to get inside at once and apply a lot of energy into Daiamami. Both end day 14 at 5-9.

Myogiryu defeats Enho – Nearly everyone has done a solid job of shutting down Enho’s two main weapons, “Grabby and Squeezy”. They keep him at distance and hit him repeatedly. Today Myogiryu applied this well, but Enho did manage to get a left hand inside grip. As Enho pivoted to throw, Myogiryu expertly shut it down and send Enho to the clay for his 9th loss. Both are deeply make-koshi, and will end March with stiff demotions.

Tochinoshin defeats Yutakayama – Yutakayama, for some reason, focused high – putting all of his force against Tochinoshin’s face and neck. Tochinoshin focused on Yutakayama’s body, and got good results. Yutakayama has massive potential, but is still working out some of his mechanics, and Tochinoshin’s experience got him a much needed, and well deserved win. Yutakayama drops to 7-7, and joins the Darwin mosh pit.

Takanosho defeats Mitakeumi – Impressive that Takanosho overpowered Mitakeumi at the tachiai, I was not expecting that. Takanosho followed up with a solid right hand ottsuke, pinning Mitakeumi’s arms to his body, and shutting down any real offense. Mitakeumi went to shift his grip, and that just furthered Takanosho’s advantage. Realizing he was almost out of space, Mitakeumi tried a pull, which released forward pressure and allowed Takanosho to drive him from the ring. Nice sumo today from Takanosho, he advances to 11-3. In spite of his loss, Mitakeumi is in double digits for the first time sine his Aki 2019 yusho (12-3).

Kiribayama defeats Okinoumi – Kiribayama took control of this match at the tachiai with a left hand inside grip, and moments later converted it to an uwatehineri. The win gives him a kachi-koshi at his highest ever rank. He has been kachi-koshi in 8 of his last 9 tournaments. Wow! Okinoumi drops to 7-7 and joins the Darwin group.

Tokushoryu defeats Kaisei – A bit more of the Tokushoryu magic came out today. He did a masterful job of controlling Kaisei’s Newtonian sumo, and was able to execute his step back / pivot / thrust finishing move that fans loved in January. Tokushoryu improves to 4-10.

Daieisho defeats Ryuden – Amazing the amount of aggressive sumo that Daieisho output today. Ryuden is no easy mark, but Daieisho battered him with vigor, leaving Ryuden really no means to counter attack. That’s Daieisho’s 8th win, and kachi-koshi for March.

Hokutofuji defeats Kagayaki – Hokutofuji finds his tachiai after being a bit dull for most of March, and blasts Kagayaki out in a hurry, dropping him to 7-7 and placing him in the Darwin group.

Abi defeats Endo – Abi stood him up and then pulled him down. Given Abi’s height advantage and long arms, if he can get that set up, there is little that anyone of Endo’s stature can do to prevent it. Endo drops to 7-7 and is likewise relegated to the Darwin group.

Shodai defeats Takarafuji – Surprisingly sharp tachiai from Shodai today, I think it surprised Takarafuji as well, as Shodai was immedately on the advance, and Takarafuji had no chance to set up any manner of defense or deflection. Shodai now kachi-koshi, and he retains a Sekiwake slot. Nicely done.

Takakeisho defeats Onosho – Onosho had the early advantage, but Takakeisho got a moment to get both arms primed for a double arm blast, and that was really all it took to change the tone of this match. This is the first of many in the years to come, and I am glad they are going to battle it out as mainstays of the new era of sumo. This was a must-win match for Takakeisho, and he improves to 7-7. He has Asanoyama on the final day, and the contest more or less comes down to kadoban vs Ozeki promotion, I would guess.

Hakuho defeats Aoiyama – I am not sure I would call it nerves, but Aoiyama took his time to set up the V-Twin attack, and when he did, Hakuho so expertly deflected it that Aoiyama could not keep his footing. This kind of mistake Hakuho exploits with great skill and energy, and Big Dan was flat on the clay a moment later. Hakuho’s win sets the stage for the final match of the basho to decide the yusho.

Kakuryu defeats Asanoyama – Absolute showcase of Kakuryu’s reactive sumo. Asanoyama brought strong, careful offense today, and the Yokozuna absorbed it all. Asanoyama kept pouring it on, and for a long stretch he saw victory before him. Loading a throw at the bales, he pivoted just as Kakuryu pivoted as well. The went down in tandem, but poor body control saw Asanoyama’s left arm touch down first, costing him the match. That was solid sumo from the Ozeki candidate, but this means he cannot reach 12 wins to reach 33 over 3 tournaments this march. Will it matter? He showed excellent power, and great skill in this match in spite of the loss. Kakuryu joins Hakuho at 12-2, and will contest for the cup on the final match of the tournament.

21 thoughts on “Osaka Day 14 Highlights

  1. Dissapointed that all the multiway playoffs are already gone from the table, but not by the matches that caused it. On the other hand, Juryo did anything to keep a multiway playoff a possibility ;)
    I was quite dissapointed by Mitakeumi, Endo and Onosho today. Positive surprise was obviously Takanosho was a very positive surprise on the other hand. Also happy that Daieisho and Shodai managed a kachikoshi today.
    Tokushoryu was obviously the best today. If he can win with his sidestep, he makes that look so casual that not even Hakuho can compete ;)
    I’m not convinced that Hokutofuji is injured, just his timing/balance is a bit off this basho. As he proved today, it’s not the power he is lacking.

  2. Given the all the strangeness and stress, there is something comforting about it all coming down to a bout between the yokozuna. It seems so “normal”.

  3. Chiyomaru has a lot to be proud of in my opinion. Kujyo for two days and still has a chance for kachi-koshi on the final day. Good for him!

    Enho is already trying different things to see what works. If you watch his match against Myogiru he doesn’t immediately do a submarine tachiai nor does he aggressively attack. He’s being more measured and looking for more openings. Being willing to try new things and learn has gotten him as far as he’s gona already and if he’s still doing it, he’ll be in the top division for a long time.

    Very happy to see Shodai keep his rank! Great stuff from him today!

    I am also curious to see how Tokoshoryu does lower down the banzuke. I think he’ll stick around in the top division for a bit.

    Asanoyama has a lot to be proud of today. He realized his mistake with putting his arm out as he was falling, but Kakuryu won the game of “who hit the ground first” chicken with him today. He may not have the numbers, but he’s right at the doorstep of Ozeki based on his skill and how he’s performed in this basho.

    Lastly, if you haven’t seen the Yago/Fujiazuma bout in Juryo, it’s a great match. There is A LOT riding on tomorrow’s results all over the banzuke too.

    • Asanayoma forgot the rule of “Let your head hit the ground first” while Kakuryu had internalized it.

      • To put it another way, Asanoyama’s normal human instinct kicked in a split second before his trained sumo response. I am always in awe of these kind of finishes: when being pitched onto a rock hard surface by a twenty-five stone man how much conditioning must it take to pull your hands away and take the impact on the face.

  4. Kiribayama = KK!! Hooray!
    It seemed like Onosho maybe felt some kind of macho pride/compulsion to try to match King Tadpole in a straight-up battle of Oshi- firepower. A valiant but inadvisable strategy.
    Made me smile how at the end of his victory over Aioyama, Hakuho did not manage to detach his left grip on the mawashi and the sheer momentum of all that Bulgarian flesh dragged him tumbling out of the dohyo in its wake – he kind of looked like a farmhand who’d got his shirt sleeve caught in the threshing machinery.

    I am very happy to be corrected by those who understand this ‘dead body’ rule better than me – but to my untrained eye it seemed like Asanoyma at least deserved the torinaoshi, no?

    • I completely agree. Kakuryu’s foot left the dohyo and he went flying before Asanoyama’s arm hit the clay. Also, did anyone else see Takanosho’s hand hit the dirt BEFORE Mitakeumi’s foot?

    • Dead body rule is very simple: If you lost your balance irreversibly, you are dead. The usual interpretation of this is that if you have a foot inside the dohyo (and nothing touching outside it, obviously), even one toe pressed to the ground firmly, you are still alive.

      That is, the dead body rule doesn’t determine who wins and who loses! It merely defines a state. Now the question is: Is only one of the rikishi in this state? Then he loses. If both of them are in this state – well, that’s more complicated.

      At first I thought today that Kakuryu was still alive when Asanohana touched the ground. But upon looking again at the replay, both are flying. Both are dead bodies. Now it comes to questions like who attacked, and who touched down first. The “who attacked” question doesn’t help, because both of them seem to have loaded a throw at the same time, and you can see the hands are firmly on the opponent’s mawashi on both sides. So it gets down to the touchdown question.

      (This interpretation is not an authoritative answer, but I do listen to what the more experienced commentators say on the Japanese broadcast.)

  5. Was it this basho that some were thinking Hakuho had foot issues and was favoring it? I’ve forgotten already. Anyway, I don’t think it affected his sumo.

  6. A lot of half-hearted efforts today. Looking at the records before the bouts, I could predict the winner in most of them – except for the three important matches. Ishiura, Takarafuji, and Onosho were all predictable no-effort losses.

  7. Is no one going to talk about how Kakuryu robbed Asanoyama’s advantage by executing a very well timed left hand outside to inside switch? That, with his refusal to break his fall with his hand, is what gave the Yokozuna the win.

  8. Most makunouchi wins (by my reckoning) in the last six basho heading into day 15 of Osaka:

    60 Asanoyama
    53 Mitakeumi
    52 Shodai
    48 Endo
    47 Onosho, Abi, Hokutofuji
    46 Terutsuyoshi, Daieisho, Enho
    45 Kagayaki, Okinoumi

    Point being that Asanoyama is, by a clear margin, the most consistently the most successful wrestler at the business end of the sport,

  9. developments …

    day 11 – delighted.
    day 12 – excited. reading cinderella in bed.
    day 13 – anxious. checking vodoo-doll-offers with amazon.
    day 14 – disillusioned.
    day 15 – not him again :( !!!

  10. Terrible mistake by Asanoyama to put hand in front of him to cushion impact, especially as Kakuryu was going to hit the ground first.

    Last two fights of the day and the yusho will be something special for all of us.


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