Aki Day 3 Highlights

Some fine matches went pear shaped when the rikishi with advantage tried to pull their opponent down today. Once in a while such a move works, but any time it is tried, the puller bets everything on move. Today, many of those gambles were a suckers bet, especially for Mitakeumi and Takakeisho today, handing losses to a pair of high ranking 2-0 rikishi with prior yusho experience. A “Surplus of Almost” indeed.

Much as we worried, Kotoshogiku went kyujo at the start of day 3, citing injury to a calf muscle, and requiring 2 weeks rest. This would put the former Ozeki squarely in Juryo for November, and I would guess he may decide to retire instead. Kotoshogiku owns a kabu, and is only waiting to assume a new role as a sumo elder.

Highlight Matches

Kyokutaisei defeats Hoshoryu – Impressive focus from Kyokutaisei in this match. I think Hoshoryu started in better position, but Kyokutaisei kept his left hand latched to Hoshoryu’s mawashi. Although he tried a leg trip against Hoshoryu, it was ultimately Kyokutaisei just blasting forward that won the match.

Ichinojo defeats Shohozan – Well, that’s one of Ichinojo’s “good” modes. When he is doing that kind of sumo, there is not much an opponent is going to be able to do. Ichinojo stood Shohozan up, and immediately batted him down.

Meisei defeats Shimanoumi – Meisei got his hands inside at the tachiai, and kept Shimanoumi out of cadence. In this case, Meisei’s pull payed off, and sent Shimanoumi staggering forward, and handed control of the match to Meisei. That finishing shove was excellent form for Meisei.

Tobizaru defeats Kotoshoho – This match did not disappoint. We previewed it as one of the day 3 highlights, and we saw the two start the match with a furious thrusting and slapping volley, both men struggling for advantage. But look at where Tobizaru’s hips are – the man is impressively low. Tobizaru gets into a shove-and-move cadence that works very well for him, and Kotoshoho is relegated to counter-attack only. Tobizaru improves to 3-0.

Kaisei defeats Kotoeko – Kotoeko looked completely impotent in his day 3 match, and remains winless. Kaisei did not really look much better, but sometimes in sumo being enormous is enough.

Sadanoumi defeats Enho – Its heartbreaking to watch these matches with Enho, it just seems he can’t generate any offense, and his height and mass leave him with almost no options for defensive sumo. So day after day we are treated specticals of Enho tossed about like a cork on an angry sea. At this rate, I worry that the next basho to feature Hakuho will have both of his minions out of the top division.

Onosho defeats Wakatakakage – Another swift, brutal match from Onosho, facing Wakatakakage for the first time. What I love about this match is the amount of high-skill sumo being employed in subtle ways that only reveal themselves in the replays. Fantastic tachiai from Wakatakakage, but he yielded the inside position to Onosho. No longer in danger of being too far forward (he could lean against Wakatakakage), Onosho shows some solid chest to chest sumo, bringing Wakatakakage to the tawara. That rescue throw at the edge by Wakatakakage was exquisitely timed, but Onosho somehow levitated just long enough to make sure Wakatakakage hit first. The more times I watched that finishing move, the better it looked. Well fought to both.

Aoiyama defeats Tokushoryu – Ah.. yep. Tokushoryu is always going to have a huge bias to his front, and Aoiyama just helped nature take its course.

Kagayaki defeats Takayasu – For myself, a match featuring Takayasu, Kagayaki AND a freshly returned Konosuke? YES! If you can go frame by frame on that match, just look at Takayasu’s body position at the tachiai, sheer perfection. But Kagayaki was ready for the former Ozeki to reach deep with his right hand, and shut down the opening gambit. At that point Kagayaki has his hands inside, and is thrusting upward against Takayasu’s jaw. Takayasu responses with a vague attempt to place his hands for a pull. In response, Kagayaki advances, and Takayasu loses solid footing. Kagayaki reads this perfectly and takes a step back while Takayasu falls forward for the loss.

Takarafuji defeats Ryuden – Takarafuji had no need to extend and defend today, he got his left hand inside, taking Ryuden to his chest. A strong advance with a firm grip on Ryuden, and the match was won.

Tochinoshin defeats Yutakayama – Yutakayama was able to get the initiative in this match, and dictated a mobile oshi-battle. Much as that might favor Yutakayama, Tochinoshin gave a bit better than he received, disrupting every attempt Yutakayama made to square his hip and push. I really worry that Yutakayama is hurt in some way and it’s going to be a return to Juryo for him at some point. Tochinoshin picks up his first win.

Kiribayama defeats Terutsuyoshi – A matta broadcast both rikishi’s opening gambits, which favored Terutsuyoshi. It may seem like a throw-away, but notice how Kiribayama immediately modifies his tachiai on the re-start. Not as fast to contact, his stance is wider. As a result, Terutsuyoshi makes contact mid-stride rather than with his feet on the clay, and Kiribayama deftly bats him down in the split second his body is not quite supported by his feet. Just brilliant sumo.

Tamawashi defeats Okinoumi – With 22 (now 23) matches in their combined history, these two know how the other fights. Both men had traction problems thanks to Terutsuyoshi’s salt wash left on the dohyo. If you want to see two big rikishi trade blows to the neck and slip around the dohyo, this is a match for you! Tamawashi picks up his second win, while Okinoumi is left still looking for his first.

Takanosho defeats Mitakeumi – The tachiai was quite even, and moments into the fight Takanosho tries a half-hearted pull. For reasons I can’t quite fathom, Mitakeumi decides to respond in kind, and releases forward pressure. Well, it seems Takanosho was ready for that, and pushes Mitakeumi back and out. First loss for Mitakeumi, and frankly he threw that match away with that pull attempt Takanosho baited him into making.

Shodai defeats Endo – Endo can be counted on to reach for the front of his opponent’s mawashi, and Shodai was ready to welcome that opening move. Shodai’s body has some atypical proportions for a sumotori. His legs are not quite so long, and he has an extended torso. This means his hips can be lower, even when his upper body looks high. Endo’s mawashi grab misses by a kilometer, and for some reason he decides plan “B” includes a step back. The release of forward pressure catches Shodai a bit by surprise, and for a brief moment he is perilously on one foot and too far forward. But Endo can’t exploit that. Shodai regains his stance and overpowers Endo at the tawara for his 3rd win.

Myogiryu defeats Daieisho – Myogiryu opened strong at the tachiai, but in the next heartbeat, Daieisho dialed up the tsuppari and took control of the match. But a well timed side step by Myogiryu, as Daieisho lunged to finish the match, gave Myogiryu his 3rd win for Aki.

Hokutofuji defeats Takakeisho – Takakeisho picks up his first loss when he tries to pull Hokutofuji down. Typically a foolish move, as Hokutofuji tends to have periods of super-natural balance. I have remarked that at times it’s as if Hokutofuji’s upper and lower body are loosely consolidated, independent creatures cooperating to imitate sumo. You can pound his upper body with brutal blows, but his lower body keeps working to win. In some way he reminds me of the Chicago Bears of old. You can completely route the offense (Hokutofuji’s upper body), but the defense (Hokutofuji’s lower body) is perfectly capable of defeating you on its own.

Terunofuji defeats Asanoyama – Maybe Asanoyama did not appreciate that within Terunofuji’s battered body is the skill, cunning, and tenacity of an Ozeki. I also suspect that maybe Asanoyama’s problems are not just nerves. Perhaps there is some physical injury or other problem at work. Asanoyama opened strong, and even had morozashi with Terunofuji’s heels on the bales. He should have been able to finish the kaiju, but the Ozeki fire that still dwells in Terunofuji broke free of whatever kept it prisoner, and we were back in 2015 for a moment. Like some otherworldly clamp, Terunofuji would not let go of Asanoyama’s salmon colored mawashi, and it was time to answer the young Ozeki’s opening. Unable to push Terunofuji out, Asanoyama tried to swing him into a throw, but all he did was unbalance himself and Terunofuji continued the rotation with that left hand as the fulcrum, pitching Asanoyama like some 150kg bowling ball. Terunofuji picks up his first win, and it was against the top ranked man on the torikumi.

12 thoughts on “Aki Day 3 Highlights

  1. Never have I been as angry about match results as I have today. I yelled “NO! NO! NO!” at both Mitakeumi and Takakeisho as I watched them give away their matches. Incredibly disappointing results from both of them today.

    I will give credit where it’s due and say that even though Hoshoryu loses, he makes his opponents earn their wins. He is just on the cusp of becoming a better rikishi and he will be fearsome when everything clicks.

    Am I correct that we classify what Big Dan did today as a “henka”? It wasn’t a huge move, but just enough to throw off Tokushoryu’s sumo and let gravity do it’s thing.

    I don’t think Asanoyama has an injury, or that it’s a large one if he does, because of how he manhandled Terunofuji around the dohyo. The problem, in my opinion, was he allowed Terunofuji to reset his feet after his throw attempt. That ultimately created his doom.

    • After the Takakeisho-Hokutofuji match, I was yelling at my screen, “Why the hell did you pull?!?!” Needless to say, I got some strange looks.

  2. “The more times I watched that finishing move, the better it looked.”
    Exactly!
    Wakatakakage pulled off a sweet clockwise corkscrew as he was falling out of the dohyo, but then somehow (in possible defiance of the laws of physics?) Onosho managed to corkscrew back anti-clockwise in mid-air !!!
    I’m glad i didn’t have to decide the mono-ii – they seemed to hit the clay pretty simultaneously to me, though I guess Onosho was the aggressor.
    Fun to see Tochi win with some frantic Oshidashi for once.
    I was interested to learn that Kiribayam’s win over Terutsuyoshi – which to my ignorant eyes looked like a plain old hatakikomi slap-down – got classed as a ‘katasukashi’. Learn something new every day…

    • ….ps: i noticed that according to Natto Sumo’s statistics, an awful lot of rikishi seem to have lost significant amounts of weight. At both ends of the scale: Kaisei and Ichinojo are both under 200kg now. Whilst Enho is listed as only 92. Is there an explanation? Or just random fluctuation?
      (On the other hand, Takakeisho is supposedly 183kg now!!! This is surely too much, no? Both from a tactical perspective and thinking of his medium-to-long-term health.)

  3. Great write up Bruce. Chock-full of much appreciated technique insight.

    So unclear what is up with Asanoyama. To my novice eye he just looks like he is trying to force things that aren’t there, like the extra throw attempts after the first failed and Terunofuji had clearly re-balanced.

    C’mon SHODAI!!!!!

  4. I sure hope that this isn’t the end of the road for Kotoshogiku. Unlike, say, Shohozan, he still seems to have a lot of fight left in him, enough to keep climbing those all-time lists.

    Is it just me or does there seem to be a problem with this dohyo? We are seeing an awful lot of rikishi having difficulty gaining purchase on that surface.

    Chiyonokuni is looking sharp, quick, and resourceful in Juryo. Will his knee hold up into the second week of competition?

    • I think that the surface has been looking slippy since Meisei did the splits on Day 1.

      Kotoshogiku is facing the dilemma of many fading stars. If he fares badly he thinks “I don’t want to go out a loser, one more try”: if he does well it’s “Hey, I’ve still got it, one more try”.

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