Haru Day 15 Highlights

Its a rare day indeed when one of my “Always regrettable” predictions comes to pass. I had picked Terunofuji for the cup prior to the tournament, and he delivered. This punctuates his climb back to Ozeki in absolutely grand fashion, and probably marks a “top” for his sumo career. I am very happy for him, and hope he gets a chance to savor it with all of his heya-mates who, I think, really did everything they could to help him get to this day of days. There are plenty of fans across the sumo world who are looking for Terunofuji to campaign for the rope. It would be a fascinating development. But we know that during this March tournament, Terunofuji re-injured at least one knee, and has been getting daily medical treatment to keep himself going. As Herouth pointed out when hits all began back in Jonidan. It’s clear that Terunofuji’s fighting spirit would carry on long after his knees has given up. We hope he can heal up and return healthy and strong for May. But for today, it’s celebration at Isegahama, and rightfully so. I hope that they make an exception to the COVID restrictions, and Shunba can attend the party.

Highlight Matches

Tokushoryu defeats Kotoshoho – Well, Kotoshoho did manage to get one win by coming back form kyujo. Also, Tokushoryu minimized his make-koshi to 7-8. The match was traditional Tokushoryu, giving way following the tachiai, and dumping his opponent at the edge. I guess Kotoshoho did not practice that one. Go get healed up, Kotoshoho.

Hidenoumi defeats Hoshoryu – This is possibly some of the best sumo of the entire basho. Hidenoumi stayed calm, absorbed everything Hoshoryu tried, and just wore him down. Both are kachi-koshi, so complimented to them for a solid tournament and some great sumo.

Tobizaru defeats Kaisei – Well, mini-henka from Tobizarum gets him enough leverage to get control of Kaisei’s big body. Tobizaru gets a bit of a spin going and rolls Kaisei to the clay to improved to 10-5. Tobizaru has a fair amount of potential. He just needs to be careful with the gimmick sumo, as it can rob you of the fundamentals.

Daiamami defeats Kotonowaka – Kotonowaka worked hard to make this an oshi-zumo match, but Daiamami would not follow suit. Under a series of Kotonowaka thrusts and hits, Daiamami kept working that right hand inside. That Daiamami right hand was the key to the win, and he improves to 9-6 to finish Haru.

Kagayaki defeats Kotoeko – Kagayaki wrapped Kotoeko early, and then kept his feet wide, bracketing Kotoeko’s stance. With Kagayaki in solid sumo form, Kotoeko did not have many options, and was forced out. Kagayaki improves to 6-9 to end Haru.

Terutsuyoshi defeats Tamawashi – Terutsuyoshi hops to the side at the tachiai, and engages laterally and low. Tamawashi has few defensive options, and not nearly enough room on the dohyo to implement them. It was a rapid trip to the tawara, as Terutsuyoshi picks up his kachi-koshi win on the final day.

Midorifuji defeats Okinoumi – When Okinoumi is hurt, he really can’t do much with his sumo. Today it was Midorifuji to show us some really good sumo, and put Okinoumi for a win. The oshidashi lifts Midorifuji to a final score 5-10.

Myogiryu defeats Ryuden – I look at Ryuden, and just hope he can get healed up and come back strong in May. Myogiryu was absolutely solid today, and lost no ground to Ryuden in spite of Ryuden’s repeated attacks. Myogiryu improves to 7-8.

Chiyotairyu defeats Shimanoumi – Another traditional Chiyotairyu bout, strong opening blast with the cannonball tachiai, into an immediate slap down. Chiyotairyu improves to 6-9.

Meisei defeats Tsurugisho – Surprisingly good mawashi battle, which netted Meisei the kanto-sho (fighting spirit). Once Meisei got him upright, Tsurugisho could not apply much pressure to stop Meisei’s slow advance to the bales. Meisei ends March 10-5.

Wakatakakage defeats Hokutofuji – Wakatakakage’s hit and shift sent Hokutofuji most of the distance to the west side bales, and a quick body shove followed up to send Hokutofuji out. Wakatakakage gets the gino-sho (technique), thought I did not think of much of today’s technique. He finishes March 10-5.

Chiyoshoma defeats Onosho – Chiyoshoma did not get a Darwin match, even though he was eligible. Instead he got to fight a very poorly performing Onosho. As a long term sumo fan, I am not used to seeing this kind of sumo from Chiyoshoma. No tricks, no henka, just straight ahead sumo. With the win today he is kachi-koshi, and I am happy he could do it with good form.

Kiribayama defeats Takarafuji – I am certain that Takarafuji is delighted this basho has ended. He sometimes has real performance problems, and suffers double digit losses, such as this March. As the two were fighting, they became a tangle of arms and legs at the bales, and Takarafuji dropped backwards to the clay. Kimarite was reported as okurihikiotoshi, or the seldom seen “rear pull down”. Kiribayama improves to 7-8.

Daieisho defeats Akiseyama – The first Darwin match goes to Daieisho, who completes a pretty impressive recovery to kachi-koshi from a cold start of 1-5. Daieisho kachi-koshi, Akiseyama make-koshi.

Mitakeumi defeats Ichinojo – Second Darwin match! Ichinojo goes soft as soon as Mitakeumi gets the advantage, and hands the Original Tadpole his 8th win for kachi-koshi.

Aoiyama defeats Takayasu – Takayasu finishes with a 1-4 record for act 3. He did, in essence, throw away the yusho. I have had some fans on Twitter and here on Tachiai suggest he just “choked”. I think we may come to find out that he re-injured either the elbow or the knee in the day 10 to 12 range. Aoiyama improves to 11-4, wins the kanto-sho (fighting spirit) prize, completes a very genki Haru.

Takanosho defeats Tochinoshin – Takanosho wins the final Darwin match, and all of the san’yaku who were “on the bubble” lock down their ranks on the final day. Tochinoshin got the better of the tachiai, but left his body wide open. Takanosho counter attacks straight at center-mass, and Tochinoshin is out 3 steps later. Takanosho improves to 8-7 and is kachi-koshi. Tochinoshin down to 7-8 and is make-koshi.

Terunofuji defeats Takakeisho – The big match, it was Takakeisho who took the early advantage. Terunofuji looked to my eye to set up to take the first step back, in exchange for landing a hold anywhere on Takakeisho’s body. It was only successful for a moment, but it was enough to open Takakeisho’s body. Terunofuji attacked center mass and drove Takakeisho back, and on the second shove, out. Terunofuji finishes Haru 12-3, takes home the Emperor’s cup, wins the shukun-sho (outstanding performance) priz, and a promotion to Ozeki. Not sure what else they could award the man, but I am sure he deserved it. He finished the ultimate sumo comeback story strong, and was utterly victorious.

Asanoyama defeats Shodai – Oh, one last matter to conclude while Terunofuji has his hair re-built. It was Asanoyama’s job to send Shodai home kadoban, and he made it happen. Again we saw Asanoyama pass on 2 chances to dominate the match, as he was solely focused on getting his preferred grip. Once Asanoyama’s left hand was in place, he was in business. His finishing uwatenage sealed the deal for Shodai, and the tate-gyoji who took a fall. Asanoyama finishes Haru 10-5.

Thus ends our coverage of the Haru basho action. Thank you, dear readers, for sharing your time with us, reading our posts, and taking the time to comment. Team Tachiai does this for the love of the sport, and we appreciate you coming along with us for this March tournament.

25 thoughts on “Haru Day 15 Highlights

  1. I will never not root for Takakeisho, but this was Terunofujis yusho to win, he deserves the title and of course the Ozeki promotion. I still feel a little bit sad for Takayasu, he was so close…

    • I have been a big Takayasu fan for years, and I am a bit sad for him that he let another yusho slip away. But there are mechanical problems with his sumo that are still unaddressed, and are easily predictable by, seemingly, nearly everyone. He also has picked up chronic problems with an elbow and a knee. We don’t know what combo of these headwinds gave him a 1-4 finish to Haru. But it is a bit tragic.

      • Thanks for summing it up Bruce. As sad as i am, doesn’t compare to what is going on in his mind and body.
        Regardless I will always be a fan.

      • Takayasu was indeed hobbling after each bout in the final week. Plus, his left ankle was taped in those late bouts.

        Takakeisho sought to pull Terunofuji after he had him pinned to the bales. Aargh!

        When was the last time two brothers each got ten wins in the same Makuuchi basho???

        Thanks to all at Team Tachiai for its wall to wall coverage of another exciting tournament!

  2. I totally accept your reservations about Terunofuji’s knees being an obstacle to yokozuna promotion. But this basho has made it clear that in talent and mentality he is on a higher level than his soon to be fellow ozeki. He looks ready now, whereas they look at least a year away, if ever. Takakeisho has the strongest mentality of the other three, but his talent is more limited. I just can’t see Shodai and Asanaoyama as yokozuna unless they develop stronger motivations.

    • I think Teru seems willing to sacrifice his future “being able to climb stairs easily” in order to get the rope. Good idea or not, I hope he manages it if he tries.

      • I have really mixed feelings about this. He could end up with a Kisenosato type Yokozuna career. As an Ozeki he has more leeway to get away with makekoshi or minor kachikoshi like 8-7 or 9-6. I don’t know about his knees, but I think making it to Yokozuna could significantly shorten his career.

    • You make a good point, but let me go adjacent to what you expressed. He is clearly the best man on the dohyo right now in terms of skill and sheer fighting power. This will cause the other Ozeki to elevate their sumo, and I predict that this could be the catalyst for the “step change” that Asanoyama and Takakeisho have yet to make. You ask, “What about Shodai?”. Shodai…

  3. Still incredibly dissapointd about Takayasu, but I agree, it looked a bit like he went out of juice for some reason.
    Terunofuji won out the last 5 days. Something I didn’t expect. Even if some of those wins were a bit shaky, a well deserved Yusho. I’m a tiny bit dissapointed thought that we didn’t get a playoff.
    Asanoyama had a mediocre tournament and still finished 10-5. Takakeisho also had a decent tournament, but he looks less dominant with his oshi game than earlier in his career.

    I’m happy that Oho secured his return to Juryo straight away. I was very surprised to see Yago matched up against Ms7 Ryusei who had a 1-5 record today. Was that an “you are going down, but we are softening the drop” kind of gift? ;)

    Overall i really enjoyed Hoshoryu this tournament. He sometimes lacks the consequence to finish of a bout like today, but he has quite a variety of moves. 7 different winning techniques in 8 wins. Not bad;)

    • This is definitely the biggest “What if…?” story of the past couple of years. If Terunofuji’s knees had held up, he’d probably already have a rope.

      • The same could be said about a lot of others. Tochinoshin is (was?) even stronger than Terunofuji. Had he not blown his knees out early in his career, who knows what could have happened with a guy who could sky crane even Hakuho?

      • At one time Ichinojo was considered the more promising of the two Mongolian giants. I think he had the potential but his body simply lacked sufficient resilience (and he probably got too heavy too fast).

        • Ichinojo’s promise lives on in my heart, if you can believe such a wild claim, because I don’t think physical resilience is the real distinction here between these guys. Terunofuji, with effective nurturing, has developed the mental fortitude of a champion to surmount his injuries. Whereas Ichinojo lost his sad bouts to Takanosho and Mitakeumi before he ever set foot in the ring.

  4. Such a great tournament overall. I feel pretty comfortable saying that as I started watching full time in January last year, this is the best basho of the lot so far for me. So many people wrestling well and a really compelling title race until the last day.

  5. Awesome basho, great winner.. And an everlasting sadness that Takayasu supporters know too well 😁. Thanks team tachiai, thanks a lot Bruce and Andy for your efforts. I look forward to reading the highlights and preview every day. And because I live in France, and mostly because of Bruce’s Swiss like punctuality, a fresh article awaits as soon as I finish my working day! I am very grateful, thanks guys.

  6. I have to disagree, when Takayasu lost his second match giving away a 2 win lead you could see it in his face, when he lost on day 14 it was even more evident. He was disappointed in himself. He took down Kaiju and was riding high, then he lost and I feel panicked. That’s it, straight panicked and couldn’t recover. He’s been chasing a yusho for so long and to have a 2 win lead and haven taken down your strongest challenger, only to hand it over to him in the final stretch.

    I really do love Takayasu, but I feel when the chips are down, he still cracks. This was his Yusho to lose, and he did…

  7. Thanks to Bruce and all the Tachiai team!
    I am already counting down the days to the next tournament…

  8. My thanks to Bruce, the Tachiai team and all of the people who comment.
    Every visit is a learning experience and enjoy reading the thoughts of others regarding Sumo.
    Now on to May and a refreshed and healthy Takayasu.

  9. Many thanks for your daily reports again. Disappointing for Takayasu, again, but it can’t be denied that Terunofuji makes a great story. Weird to think how close we came to the spectre of an Aoiyama yusho. Bet nobody had that in their predictions.

  10. Always arriving late, but thank you Tachiai for the round ups. Always helpful and interesting to collect different points of view to help fully understand this great sport. The Tachiai Crew is doing great work!


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