Aki Day 14 Highlights

A fine day of sumo for all. I am starting to think that Shodai has his act together. I am going to be interested to see if he can keep this level of consistency up, because if he can, he will be a force to be reckoned with. If he is going to be regularly at the top of the division, he may need some kind of occasional use nickname. One internet sumo fan suggested “booger”, as Shodai has been found on camera this past week picking objects out of body openings while he waits for his match. Leave your suggestions in the comments below.

The whole thing comes down to Shodai’s match against Tobizaru as the second to last fight of the tournament. Right now, Shodai controls his fate. He is the sole leader in the yusho race, with only Takakeisho and Tobizaru able to challenge if Shodai should lose tomorrow. Pro tip to Tokitsukaze oyakata – go buy the fish now.

Highlight Matches

Shohozan defeats Nishikigi – I liked this match because Shohozan actually was able to generate some offense against Nishikigi. Of course Nishikigi worked hard to establish an arm bar (his favorite grip), and lost the hold at least once. But Shohozan got a nodowa in with his right, and then pulled. This is a risky move, which frequently gives the initiator a swift loss, but Shohozan got Nishikigi down before he stepped outside himself.

Ishiura defeats Ikioi – Watching Ikioi get up after a loss like that is painful. I can’t imagine what it’s like for him. Both end the day at 3-11, and maybe they can fight it out in Juryo in November.

Sadanoumi defeats Ichinojo – Ichinojo never could set up any kind of defensive footing, and the smaller Sadanoumi moved him around the dohyo with minimal effort. Both are 7-7 and are headed for Darwin matches. Ichinojo continues to be an enigma, he will fight well one day, and be week and ineffective the next.

Kotoeko defeats Shimanoumi – Shimanoumi could not come up with anything other than defense against Kotoeko’s attacks. But that was a really solid defense. Kotoeko kept working to get his hands inside, and kept moving Shimanoumi back. Shimanoumi gets his 8th loss, and Kotoeko improves to 7-7 and qualifies for a day 15 Darwin match.

Kotoshoho defeats Tokushoryu – In sumo, much of a rikishi’s defense comes from their lower body. This is a great example today, as Kotoshoho maintains his stance and balance under Tokushoryu’s offense. We saw Tokushoryu load up that “magic” tsukiotoshi that took him to the yusho in January, but Kotoshoho kept his feet. Tokushoryu’s 8th loss, and is make-koshi for September.

Ryuden defeats Kotoshogiku – Kotoshogiku really has no power left in his legs. I marvel at how gentle Ryuden is with him. Good show sir. With a 2-12 score at Maegashira 11, we may be saying goodbye to the Kyushu Bulldozer soon. He might hang in for the November basho if it were to return to his homeland in the West, but I am pretty sure November it will be another basho re-homed to the Kokugikan.

Kaisei defeats Aoiyama – Aoiyama gave Kaisei a V-Twin attack, and Kaisei held his ground. Aoiyama found he could only move Kaisei a little, and tried for a doulbe handed slap-down. It was at that moment Kaisei lowered his hips and charged. His win leaves both of them at 7-7, and excellent candidates for a day 15 Darwin match.

Hoshoryu defeats Kagayaki – After getting multiple combos to his face, Hoshoryu shifted from direct attack to deflect and move. Kagayaki followed, keeping the pressure up. As Hoshoryu came perilously close to the tawara, he hooked his leg around Kagayaki and pivoted into kakenage. It was great to see, and some mighty fine sumo. Both end the day at 7-7, and its MORE DARWIN!

Meisei defeats Myogiryu – Congrats to Meisei for a solid kachi-koshi (now 9-5) in his rebound match from his quick trip to Juryo. He was there long enough to pick up a yusho, and rough up everyone in the farm league. Hopefully he has recovered from his injury in November of last year. Myogiryu’s 8th loss, and make-koshi.

Enho defeats Terutsuyoshi – We all expected there to be a parade of shenanigans when these two were already make-koshi and facing off late in the basho. Enho employed a flying henka, a reverse battle hug, a quick spin on the Enho-go-round and a push out by the rear for Terutsuyoshi. Bye!

Takayasu defeats Hokutofuji – Hokutofuji kept looking to get a nodowa in against Takayasu, and this caused him to reach in a few times toward the former Ozeki’s neck. Takayasu exploited Hokutofuji’s gambled and slapped him to the dohyo. Takayasu improves to 9-5.

Tochinoshin defeats Tamawashi – These two threw everything they could think of at each other. It was a wild and chaotic match, and the sumo on display here underscores how far both have degraded from their genki forms. Points to Tochinoshin for sticking with the shifting fight modes, and keeping his balance centered.

Takanosho defeats Onosho – Look at Takanosho’s stance. His amazing defensive posture and footwork robbed Onosho of his offense, and at one point his frustration leads to a pull attempt. But Takanosho is planted and is going nowhere. When he finally gets Takanosho on the move, Onosho’s too far forward and wide open for Takanosho’s hatakikomi. Not sure how Takanosho applied that much force when only his little toe had a grip on wrong edge of the tawara, but he made it work. Seriously genki pinky-toe. Feed it some roast beef, sir!

Kiribayama defeats Okinoumi – Very evasive sumo from Kiribayama, with a step to the side at the tachiai. But it was enough for kachi-koshi today, after sitting out a few days earlier in the tournament due to a shoulder injury.

Takarafuji defeats Daieisho – This is a great match to watch a few times at regular match and in slow motion, as Takarafuji has much to teach today. As is frequently his plan, he comes on with a strong defense and works to endure his opponent’s opening attacks. Note where his hips are relative to his feet when Daieisho attacks his neck. Takarafuji his high, but stable. His body is at the extent of Daieisho’s reach, so Daieisho can only apply fraction force. As the fight continues, Takarafuji keeps his feet as close as possible to the center of the ring. Although Daieisho is attacking like mad, Takarafuji converts any attempt by Daieisho to move forward into Daieisho circling around. It only takes a few exchanges before Daieisho notices this and tries to change up his attack. It’s at this point that Takarafuji engages offense, and Daieisho find he is nearly out of territory to work with. The match ends shortly after that. Lesson learned – control the center of the ring, and a strong stance correctly balanced can be a tool to overcoming a vigorous opponent’s energetic attacks.

Mitakeumi defeats Wakatakakage – Mitakeumi recovered after a rough start that saw Wakatakakage claim the attack position from the tachiai. Mitakeumi’s attempted a pull down, and that nearly cost him the match. I do wish he would cut that stuff out. A few moments later, Mitakeumi settles into the fight and gets a proper body position and hand hold on Wakatakakage, and takes him apart. I think this match is a great example of what may fans perceive as Mitakeumi’s inconsistency. He’s an opportunist, and frequently he has a tough time with his second step. Opponents have this figured out, and can goad him into trying to pull, and use Mitakeumi’s release of forward attack to beat him. Fortunately, Mitakeumi prevailed for his 8th win and is kachi-koshi. But yet again his campaign to reach Ozeki are likely reset to zero.

Shodai defeats Asanoyama – Good heavens, that version of Shodai is quite the overpowering monster. Asanoyama’s grip attempt at the tachiai failed, and he found himself turned to the side, with his right flank exposed. Shodai latched on and rapidly dispatched the surprised Ozeki. Excellent sumo, and excellent match plan from Shodai today. He is now the sole leader for the yusho.

Takakeisho defeats Tobizaru – Really impressed with how well Tobizaru did in this match. Takakeisho was trying whatever came to mind, and it was clear that Tobizaru was on defense, but his ability to hang in and stay on his feet was notable. I predict in a year or less, their future matches will have a different tone. Both men end the day 11-3, one win behind Shodai, whom Tobizaru will meet on day 15.

44 thoughts on “Aki Day 14 Highlights

  1. This is the second time I’ve seen Tobizaru lose, but still get up grinning his face off as if he’d been the one to win. I love that he is clearly up there having the time of his life and really hope he sticks around. So far, he’s a delight!

  2. Great fights on day 14! Very entertaining sumo. Good to see Shohozan brawl it out for a win and what a super win by Hoshoryu. If Takanosho keeps fighting like he did this tournament he’ll become a Sanyaku mainstay. If healthy, he and Terunofuji will make a pair of imposing Komusubi.
    Who else is hoping to see a playoff tomorrow? What happened to Shodai? Within a year he went from a talented but uninspiring fighter to a world-beater. Someone must have lit a fire under his bum.

  3. This Tobizaru guy is pretty good, it turns out. And I bet he goes to a salon to have his eyebrowns done.

  4. Shodai feels so stRRRong right now. Whether withstanding Takakeishos charges, or bulldozing through Asanoyama (and takarafuji, and takayasu) he feels so much stronger than in the past.. I also loved Tobizaru resilience.. When Takakeisho makes that side step and launches his left hand haymaker, bigger men have fallen. Terutsuyoshi being out-henkaed by Enho was very satisfying, I am sure you liked it too Bruce 😁

  5. Shodai can look uncharacteristically (and unrealistically) physically strong sometimes. Sometimes it’s like, yeah there’s shodai, he is ok, big, inconsistent, whatever.

    Then its like, how did shodai just rag doll Terunofuji and Asanoyama wtf just happened?

    I suspect they are twins, one eats chanko the other just roids and horsemeat

  6. I really can’t explain why but Shodai has always been one of my most favourites – no matter how he performed… I find his (so called) “cartoon sumo” entertaining, and I’m impressed how often he was able to win although everything seemed lost already. I could be wrong but I think it’s his strength, agility and an advantageous build to keep the balance.

    Looking for nicknames? I call him Kumamonster now, or daikon-kun (inspired by onigiri-kun ;-) )

    I hope he wins the yusho, but wouldn’t mind if it will be Tobizaru or Takakeisho – I like them all…

    • Oh, I like Kumamonster! I had been calling him Kumamoto Boy sometimes, as he is from Kumamoto which is the first place I’d been to in Japan. Kumamon is the mascot of Kumamoto Prefecture, a sweet looking black bear with red cheeks which bears some resemblance to Shodai in body shape.

      • @kukufuji – Sadanoumi has a keshomawashi with a Kumamon design, I don’t know if he’s still wearing it because I can’t watch the dohyo iri often… *sorry -off topic

      • I would love to not call anyone booger, but perhaps it is story time. Once long ago I was in the Marines, and worked with an aviation unit. In that day, all aircraft had at least one person flying it, and was their custom, the crew sometimes had “handles”, or nicknames. You see them in the movies like “Maverick”, or “Goose”. Some folks think, yeah, I would have had a cool call sign.

        In reality, you don’t choose those, they are chosen for you by your squadron mates. Usually for something you would rather not have done. So Shodai picking his nose in glorious 4K video certainly is square in the category of naming events. For example, there was a tragic incident where a trainee pilot from a middle eastern country went berserk and killed a number of people in the US. This took place because he was very upset with his new callsign. The call sign came about after an inspection of his quarters – “Porn Stash”.

        I myself went from a handle that I adored, “Scotty” to “Goldilocks” in response to a very embarrassing incident that took place after a night of over-consumption of local beverages.

        Given my history, I do have a bias towards callsign type nickname selection. But I do promise not to use “Booger”. At least not frequently.

  7. Shodai reminds me a lot of Snorlax. Big, fat, usually just lazes around. But provide the proper incentive and all of a sudden, he turns into this fierce and agile beast that can shove and throw any opponent in its way. There was a Pokemon sumo episode that involved Snorlax doing just that.

  8. HOSHORYU!!! That has to be the winning move of the tournament – even better than Endo’s marvellous victory on day one.
    Great analysis of takarafuji’s win – i love how he always wears the expression of a long-suffering bouncer in a nightclub who finds himself, yet again, trying to escort some loud and lary drunk off the premises with minimal risk or fuss.

    This question will reveal my shameful ignorance, but… why were there two visitors from Juryo today? (Ikioi & Nishikigi) I thought the point was to even up the numbers when there is an odd number in Makuuchi? Can some knowledgable Tachiai reader can enlighten me?

  9. I floated a Shodai nickname a year or so ago: the Cartoon Kaiju. He’s got strength out of nowhere, and is already adept at defying physics. Now his skill has caught up with his innate talent. His tachiai has improved, and he’s looking like he’s having fun whilst he’s dominating most of the opposition. And, he’s stayed healthy. Who knew the new era would be dawning with Shodai, of all rikishi, being a standard-bearer?

  10. It’s interesting reading Shodai’s Wiki page, explaining how he was a university yokozuna, was the third fastest rikishi to reach makuuchi in the modern era (11 tournaments), second fastest to gain a special prize (12 tournaments), and second fastest to reach sekiwake (17 tournaments), while also touching on his responses in interviews leading him to be labelled a pessimistic / negative rikishi.

    After his fast start, he was then makekoshi in 12 out of 17 tournaments from 2017 until November 2019. Could it be that his pessimistic outlook led to him losing his confidence and retreating into negative and chaotic sumo having faced adversity for the first time in his sumo career, and he’s only now regaining self-belief now that he sees the path open up as the leadership at the top age out?

    I wasn’t following in 2016: was there a sense that he might amount to something when he arrived in makuuchi, or was he just another unremarkable new guy who was fodder for the top guys (who just happens to have got his act together now)?

    • I also wasn’t following until 2016 but Kintamayama’s videos and commentary around that time sometimes alluded to Shodai as having failed to live up to his promise as “the next ozeki”.

    • The story of Shodai is easily told. When he came into sumo, he just mafrched quickly through the ranks. SImilarly to Terunofuji or Ichinojo, he was just a tad too much for the competition in Juryo or Makuuchi rank&file.
      Once he reached the Joi-in, he bounced of what was a very solid Sanyaku wall at that time. we talking about fairly genki Yokozunas in Hakuho, Harumafuji and Kakuryu, 4 Ozeki in Kisenosato, Goeido, Kotoshogiku and Terunofuji and Sekiwake/Komusubi that included the likes of Takayasu, Tochiozanm Okinoumi etc., so not unexpectedly SHodai bounced in and out the joi-in every other basho until Kyushu 2016.
      In Kyushu an absolute miracle happened. Shodai started the basho at M3W, while Endo started at M3E. In week one (until day 7) he face two Ozeki and one Yokozuna and no one else ranked above him, finishing with a fairly strong 5-2. From day 8 to day 15 he then didn’t meet any other rikishi ranked above him to finish the basho 11-4.
      Now lets look at Endo for a change. He met 3 Yokozuna, 3 Ozeki and a Sekiwake in his first week, finishing with a respectable 4-3. From day 8-10 he got a little breather going 2-1 vs M8, M5 and M6, before finishing his schedule with the remaining Oteki, the remaining Sekiwake, and Komusubi, M2 and M1.
      Lets just call this insane banzuke luck for Shodai …

      At the end of the tournament there were only 3 rikishi among the top 10 Maegashira with a winning record (which wasn’t uncommon at that time, if you look at how loaded the top was), Shodai at M3w with 11-4, Shohozan at M5e with 8-7 and Takarafuji at m5w with 9-6.
      East Sekiwake Takayasu had an 7-8 record, Okinoumi at Sekiwake west finished 5-10, Mitakeumi as East Komusubi ended 6-9 and only Tamawashi as West Komusubi had a 10-5 winning record.

      Obviously an 11-4 at M3 qualifies for a Sekiwake promotion in such a situation, but he got that without any proper competition. In the next tournament he finished 7-8 losing to any genki Sanyaku, beating only Terunofuji, Tochinoshin and Kotoshogiku, none of which was in fighting shape. The next basho he finished 4-11 at Komusubi, with 2 of the wins coming in the first 3 days vs. Hakuho and Goeido, who both pulled out soon after …

      He then spent 2.5 years going up and down the banzuke, but never reaching Sanyaku again until this year, enjoying some famous banzuke luck.

      To wrap it up, on his first stint, he got rather unprepared and untested to Sekiwake and got murdered there. Pretty sure that didn’t help his confidence. On top of that his tachiai was/is notoriously bad and his opponents just quickly abused that.

      I have actually been a fan of him since he entered sekitori status and he is probably responsible for as much grey hair as Endo himself. I sincerely believe that he would have grown much quicker without this totally undeserving first promotion to Sekiwake. He just wasn’t ready at that time.

      Also it has been stated multiple times … we are in a transition period. The competition at the top is so much weaker now than it was in 2015-2017 (I think it started to fade out in 2017 … Kisenosato & Terunofuji & Takayasu injuries, Harumafuji intai, Hakuho skipping every other basho, …). The new guard isn’t reall there yet, at least not with the consistency and the numbers.

  11. Ever since Terunofuji withdrew I really don’t have a dog in this fight as far as the yusho goes. Tochinoshin is on a steady decline, Ichinojo has been disappointing, while Kagayaki has just done the Kagayaki thing and seems content to hang on to a mid-maegashira slot until the end of time. Kiribayama and Meisei have done well but I hope that the former is not being too brave for his own good.

    In the absence of any of my favourites at the sharp end I am going to throw my 110kg (honest doctor, those scales must be wrong and I had my jacket on!) behind Shodai. I hope he makes short work of the soaring simian tomorrow.

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