Mitakeumi Got Robbed

No, I’m not talking about the bout you’re thinking of. He lost that one. As we established, sumo is not strictly about “who touched first.” I’m talking about special prizes. I think Mitakeumi should have picked up a second special prize to go along with his Outstanding Performance prize. He should have got the Gino-sho, or Technique prize. He won using eight distinct kimarite, more than any other wrestler in the July tournament. Terunofuji, who was actually awarded the prize, used five, as did Terutsuyoshi (which included ashitori and an amiuchi).

As with so many things I do lately, I’ve included a visualization to help make my point. This visualization also got me thinking about a possible new feature. What if we weight kimarite based on rarity or flashiness? Izori, for example, would be multiplied by a factor substantially higher than the humdrum yorikiri/oshidashi. This way, we at Tachiai can give an alternative special prize, one based on data.

I’m going to flesh out the details in this week and by next weekend hope to have a methodology. So while Terutsuyoshi may have used only five kimarite, maybe with the bonus factors he’d edge Mitakeumi? I still think Mitakeumi’s throws, especially the uwatenage against Asanoyama, are quality.

By the way, it’s also interesting to check out the other names up here near the top. Tamawashi’s oshi/tsuki/kotenage style is rather versatile. Hakuho, obviously, knows how to win. How’s Ura up here, though, considering he doesn’t even get half the bouts? I’m really looking forward to seeing him compete every day, and even eligible for special prizes.

20 thoughts on “Mitakeumi Got Robbed

  1. A great point, it would definitely be a really good idea to judge this based on variety of kimarite and the rarity of the techniques used. I loved Terutsuyoshi’s amiuchi and ashitori so would personally have liked to see him get it. And then give Terunofuji the outstanding performance award.

    Maybe if you come up with a good formula for awarding the technique prize you can sell it to the NSK

  2. Where did you get the idea that the gino-sho goes to the wrestler with the most distinct kimarite? How about a chart of past years’ gino-sho and the number of kimarite compared to others in that same basho?

    Also, why just the kimarite? Kisenosato lived on his ottsuke. That’s a technique, which makes his sumo good, but it’s not the last move in the match but rather constantly being used within it. Terunofuji’s bout with Asanoyama was about using the fact that Asanoyama went too deep with his grip, maintaining his balance and executing a good kaina-kaeshi at the end. People accuse Terunofuji of “just using brute force”, but he actually knows his sumo very well. Take a look at what his upper arms are doing through the bout with Mitakeumi.

    • I didn’t figure there were data-based criteria so I thought I’d come up with some. I, personally, prize diversity of technique so that’s why I thought of using the distinct count. There’s a great book that argues that it’s all about “maesabaki” instead of kimarite…but I have to make do with the data I have.

  3. I watch the NHK highlights. After each match, the winning technique shows on the screen and I thought it would be an interesting addition to number them by how rare they are. So Yorikiri would be 1 Yorikiri and Ashitori would be ? 30? out of the 84.

    • So far, ashitori looks to be around 15-20. I’ll post about the distribution. It’s also interesting how yorikiri’s dominance is being challenged by oshidashi.

  4. Nonetheless it speaks for him. His thrusting certainly is his strongest weapon, but as shown here he can do everything. Shame he is not an ozeki yet…

  5. Ura certainly looks extremely fit if nothing else. Close to Ishiura levels of jacked up. His first loss was also pretty much just being too aggressive when he didn’t need to be. He’s definitely a cut above most of the guys around him in the rankings right now.

  6. This should be easy. Divide each win by the % occurrence of the kimarite. Well, not that easy, because you shouldn’t give the award for 13 yori-kiri and 2 amiuchi. But that might be an avenue to cosnider.

    • If one wanted to use information theory, the right metric is negative log of the frequency of each technique.

      • But there’s got to be a “flashiness” or quality factor. Rarity would certainly be a attribute but I think a weight based on some subjective “popularity” could be very interesting. It may lead to a discount on kotenage, for example.

        • Fair enough, though I’d expect rarity and “flashiness” to be highly correlated. And of course, not every execution of a given kimarite is equally good, but that’s not going to be in the data base.

  7. To me, it feels those prizes have no real meaning a lot of the time. Just award then indistinctly to whoever did well, the name doesn’t really matter.

  8. Technically, the best wrestler in this basho was Terunofuji and that’s why he got the prize. Nothing flashy or flippy, just 15 days of perfectly executed yotsu-sumo. It was beautiful to watch. And to those who would say that it was just “power sumo” just rewatch the bouts: look at the subtle movements, the shifts in balance, the belt grabs. He isn’t what he could have been, but he might have become something better. I do get a bit sentimental about this man but I’ll say it: The Once and Future King!

  9. Part of it could be how long Mitakeumi has been in his rank and unable to move forward. He has been on a LOT of ozeki runs and have fizzled out each and every time. It could have something to do with that? They are kind of holding back on the prizes because they feel he needs to prove himself beyond this Basho?

    I mean there is part of me that feels even if he were to qualify for Ozeki, they stand a good chance of not promoting him just due to his constant under performing so often after he gets a good run or 2. They may want him to prove himself more before promoting him.

    • He’s actually only been in or near the san’yaku ranks for the past 22 basho (less than 4 years), and prior to the current potential Ozeki run, there have only been two, at the time of his two yusho, in July 2018 (when he hit 31 wins over 3 basho, 9-13-9) and September of last year (when he had 30 over 3, 9-9-12).


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