Natsu Day 11 Highlights

It’s one of those days in sport, when the judges and referees get involved and fans everywhere are going to be unhappy one way or the other. I am referring to the matter of the mono-ii that followed the Terunofuji Myogiryu match, and the somewhat unclear evidence of Terunofuji’s hand pulling Myogiryu’s ochi-mage. I am fine if Terunofuji was derailed from his zensho by poor sumo or being bested on the clay, but to have his win reversed by, what is to my eye, not a clear example of the infraction, is just terrible. I hope that Terunofuji shows real mettle and does not let this turn of events derail him from his good sumo, and his march to the yusho.

Also, Darwin smiles across the large cohort of rikishi who ended the day at 6-5 or 5-6.

Highlight Matches

Enho defeats Chiyomaru – Chiyomaru makes first contact at the tachiai, but Enho’s speed gives him a broad attack window, and as Chiyomaru is moving forward he steps to the side. Lunging in to apply lateral pressure, he gets Chiyomaru moving, and never lets him recover. It is just barely possible, should Enho “win out” that he could still reach kachi-koshi and return to the top division in July.

Kotonowaka defeats Kaisei – Kotonowaka had his hands inside at the tachiai, and immediately converted Kaisei’s forward momentum into enough energy to power a throw. Kotonowaka improves to 6-5. It was smooth and elegant.

Okinoumi defeats Tamawashi – Tamawashi had the opening advantage, pushing Okinoumi back to the bales. Okinoumi had his hands in Tamawashi’s armpits, inputting lift to Tamawashi’s attack. With his heels on the bales, Okinoumi pivoted and pulled, sending Tamawashi to the clay, and picking up his 8th win for kachi-koshi.

Kagayaki defeats Chiyoshoma – Chiyoshoma attempt at a deep right hand grip at the tachiai missed its mark, and that gave Kagayaki his chance. Although Chiyoshoma continued to attempt to attack, Kagayaki kept his hands forward and inside, and kept Chiyoshoma moving. Kagayaki improves to 5-6.

Shimanoumi defeats Ishiura – Shimanoumi snaps his 3 bout losing streak by keeping up the pressure on Ishiura and not letting him take even a single step forward. Both finish the day at 5-6.

Endo defeats Chiyotairyu – Chiyotairyu loses his second in a row, missing out on kachi-koshi again today. Chiyotairyu’s sumo was push – pull – pull today, doing the bulk of the work in the match. Endo stayed low, stayed stable and just kept moving forward. Endo improves to 9-2.

Tsurugisho defeats Akua – Tsurugisho displays the danger of someone so massive trying a kimarite like abisetaoshi. Both tumble out of the ring, with Tsurugisho narrowly missing Daiamami but clobbering a shimpan. Both end the day at 4-7

Takarafuji defeats Daiamami – Daiamami went chest to chest at the tachiai, and Takarafuji obliged by immediately stalemating him at the center of the dohyo. Takarafuji locks into his tradition defend and extend mode of sumo, and Daiamami seems a bit puzzled about what to do. Everything Daiamami did from there on out allowed Takarafuji to incrementally improve his position, until he had a right hand outside grip. He did not have to wait too long, and Takarafuji finished him with a sukuinage. Both end the day at 5-6.

Ichinojo defeats Kotoeko – Most sumo fans wanted to see Kotoeko take down the boulder today, but Kotoeko chose a henka, and Ichinojo was ready. Three steps later, Kotoeko was dumped into the salt box and Ichinojo had his kachi-koshi.

Terutsuyoshi defeats Hidenoumi – Hidenoumi’s post tachiai hold went high, and found Terutsuyoshi’s head. This left his body wide open, and Terutsuyoshi attack low, and stayed low. Terutsuyoshi’s left hand frontal grip went to work and two steps later the uwatedashinage hit, sending Hidenoumi to the clay. Terutsuyoshi improves to 5-6.

Kiribayama defeats Tochinoshin – Tochinoshin worked so hard to keep pressure off of that right knee, but Kiribayama’s right hand inside grip meant there was only one way to escape the pressure. Eventually Kiribayama wore him down and threw him across the bales. Tochinoshin’s 8th loss, and both end the day make-koshi at 3-8.

Tobizaru defeats Aoiyama – Aoiyama’s return to action this week is looking at lot more questionable, as he pick up his second straight loss. AT the tachiai, Tobizaru steps back and to the side and pulls on Aoiyama’s right arm. Aoiyama loses balance and drops to the dohyo. Tobizaru improves to 2-9.

Wakatakakage defeats Hoshoryu – Both showed excellent form in this match, but Wakatakakage had better foot placement at the tachiai, and his hips were lower. He bundled up Hoshoryu and marched forward to take his 7th win.

Meisei defeats Daieisho – Daieisho took his eyes off of Meisei at the tachiai. This let Meisei get his hands inside, and laid on the attack. Daieisho rallied just for a moment, but it was all Meisei today, and he advanced to join the group at 5-6.

Hokutofuji defeats Mitakeumi – In a battle of the over-sized head bandages, it Hokutofuji who kept his hips lower, and his stance open. Mitakeumi is able to shut him down for a few seconds, but Hokutofuji’s second surge forward breaks through Mitakeumi’s defense, and he rushes forward to improve to 4-7. Mitakeumi’s week 2 fade seems to be coming into full bloom.

Takakeisho defeats Takayasu – Takayasu decides to get into a tsuppari contests with Takakeisho. Even my cat knows how that’s going to turn out. Takakeisho adjust the power setting to “3” and launches Takayasu over the bales. Takakeisho improves to 9-3.

Asanoyama defeats Takanosho – Takanosho was late off of the shikiri-sen, but hit with power. Putting his right hand under Asanoyama’s chin, he drove forward, and looked ready to take the match. But a ring’s edge rescue move from Asanoyama worked, and Takanosho found himself thrown to the clay. Asanoyama improves to 7-4.

Myogiryu defeats Terunofuji – Myogiryu gets both hands inside, and executes a strong opening combo. But Terunofuji defends well, consolidates his position and throws Myogiryu down for what looks like win 11. But a mono-ii is called. The judges want to look at that right hand against the back of Myogiryu’s head. The shimpan declare Terunofuji disqualified because of a hair pull, and the kaiju is handed his first loss. Terunofuji’s hand placement was sloppy, but I personally would not have called it a hair pull. I always hate it when officials reverse performance on the field, and the evidence is not exceedingly clear. But then again, I am just a fan, and I was not there. Myogiryu improves to 5-6, and I am going to guess he will be ripe fodder for Darwin in a few days. Just like that, without anyone actually beating Terunofuji, Endo and Takakeisho are now just 1 win behind.

Shodai defeats Onosho – Shodai absorbs Onosho’s big opening move, and his subsequent attempt to set up his big push goes nowhere, as Shodai already has him moving back. Realizing he is sunk, Onosho tries a pull, but that just feeds his loss, and Shodai pushes him out. Both end the day at 6-5.

20 thoughts on “Natsu Day 11 Highlights

  1. It feels weird having a match that was 100% finished reversed by an infraction that happened after the rikishi was past the point of no-return. Myogiryu was not coming back from that position regardless of a hair pull, he was virtually upside down. So even if Terunofuji’s hand did get caught in Myogiryu’s top knot it was so far past where it would have given him an advantage that punishing him for it seems pointless. But that’s for more educated people in the rules of sumo to debate then me.

    My immediate conspiratorial thoughts were that they were looking for something. Not because they want to punish Terunofuji or racism or anything but simply that if he’s so far ahead of everyone else then the tournament is lackluster. A closer tournament = more excitement = more eyes watching. Every sport does it when referees or judges are involved to some degree.

    • I think it was clear from the replay that Terunofuji’s fingers were tangled in Myogiru’s top knot at the end. In 30 years of watching sumo, one of things that’s been consistent is that fingers in the top knot is a no-no, regardless of the amount of pull (vs. tangle) or the point in the bout. I attribute this to consistency rather than conspiracy. Your mileage may vary.

      Too bad for Terunofuji since I agree that it was likely a tangle rather than a pull and that outcome was already decided. I suspect this went from being a controversy to an afterthought given the Asanoyama news.

      • I agree with you Zod. It seems like Western viewers favor the clear evidence principle of review by default. Yet from watching ozumo, it appeared to me that once the fingers are in the hair, pulling it or not, it is hansoku. This might seem unfair since it could just be an accident, but it is actually quite logical to punish accidental fouls the same as intentional fouls, that way one learns to avoid even the conditions that could cause an accidental foul and the judges avoid the farce of judgement calls. So while Terunofuji probably didn’t pull his hair, he did get tangled up and created the conditions for the monoii. The worst part is it was entirely unnecessary for the execution of his throw. A hand to the back of the neck would’ve provided just as much leverage and not raised any questions. Honestly, I think Myogiru’s strong start to the match caused Terunofuji to lose his composure and finish sloppily in desperation, in which case, as a would-be yokozuna, he earned his loss.

  2. I never considered how much Hokutofuji is like Yoshikaze until now. He really is the latest incarnation of the Dreaded Pirate Berzerker.

  3. BREAKING NEWS in from Japan. According to many outlets, including Kyodo newswire, Asanoyama is being sanctioned for violating current COVID restrictions in effect in Tokyo. He visited a hostess bar after hours and was drinking past hours allowed. He will sit out the rest of the basho for behavior unbecoming an Ozeki.

  4. MORE: news of this first broke out in weekly magazine Shukan Bunshun’s website. When this caught the JSA’s attention, Asanoyama denied it to the JSA compliance officer. Upon further grilling, he changed his tune. That worsened matters for him. At the very least, he will go kadoban. Duration of suspension yet to be determined, but an announcement is forthcoming from the JSA.

  5. I don’t know if anyone has heard but Asanoyama broke Covid restrictions to go to a bar 2 days before the Basho… He will be Kyujo as of today and possibly end up having to retire…. What a moron

  6. Asanoyama: Say it ain’t so!
    Terunofuji: Agree with you 100%, Bruce.
    Ishiura: What appeared to be a promising basho for Ishiura is turning bleak. Four losses out of his last five bouts. The problem seems to be a bad right thumb. Check out how his right hand is bandaged. He is unable to grasp anything with that hand.

  7. Good grief! We could be down to two ozeki in July, unless Shodai comes through with two more wins. (At least he won’t have to beat Asanoyama)
    You’d think the example they made of Abi would have sunk in. It’s worse because Asanoyama has let down the rank of ozeki that he vowed to uphold.

  8. Given reports on the Asanoyama front, and assuming serious repercussions for the man himself, might his absence have other knock on effects in this basho. Shodai’s situation is a case in point – needing 2 more wins, & imagining he does win the win over Takanosho next bout, I’m not sure whether his fight remaining card having someone other than Asanoyama on it would make his task easier or harder…. I can’t see him (in his current form) getting a lot of change out of Takakeisho (still less Terunofuji), so Asanoyama was prob the do-able one of his Ozeki bouts. Might he see Endo or Ichinojo line up on the opposite side of the dohyo? … and would it be any better for him if he did? We’re looking at the real possibility of only 2 Ozeki fighting in July. Come back Hak, the July tourney needs you.

  9. To focus on the dohoy first … and with all sympathy for Terunofuji … he was really sticking to the top knot for a prolonged period, so I think the ruling is perfectly in line with how such cases are usually handled. Whether or not Miyogiryu would have been able to recover from that position doesn’t really matter.

    I was quite dissapointed by Hoshoryu (and the bout) today. Not that I expected him to win, but he lost the Tachiai so badly, that it was over in 2 seconds. Good job by Wakatakakage of course.

    Takakeisho vs Takayasu was really weird. Did Takayasu have some sort of black out? He litterally voluntarily turned his side to Takakeisho asking to be pushed out. Not that he was in an advantageous position or anything, but he simply bent over …

    Asanoyama somehow channeled his inner Shodai today … not that it matters anymore. Maybe he knew that he had been caught already earlier, which would explain his shaky performance to some degree. Curious how this will play out. In a best case this probably kills any Yokozuna aspirations forever. In a worst case it will be an intai.

  10. Terunofuji and his hair pull disqualification can be put in context if we recall Daieisho’s January run to the Cup. In that case, he clearly pulls Meisei’s topknot, you can see Meisei’s head (and torso following it) getting yanked to the side as a result. It was not called and Daieisho won the bout and the Cup. However, the shimpan were aware of it as a day or two later, they mono-ii’d to discuss whether Kiribayama had hair pulled even though there was far less evidence than even Terunofuji’s hairpull in that case. So this far into the basho, they may be more sensitive to such possibilities and calling things out.


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