Hatsu Day 1 Highlights

Ah, a sumo weekend! For me it’s a glorious time. I work in COVID response, and many times there is an overwhelming amount of things to be done. I am happy for the work, and it’s nice that the work is helping others. But since the start of this pandemic, it’s had an effect on my sumo fandom. Weekends are my chance to enjoy the matches, and enjoy writing for Tachiai. So let’s drill into day 1. It was a treat.

Oh yes, and the gyoji were wearing robes made from fabric that had Pokemon balls patterns woven into them.

Highlight Matches

Oho defeats Kaisei – Oho debuts with a win. He focused power on forward thrust, while Kaisei was working to raise Oho up. Oho’s power broke Kaisei’s stance, and it was Oho’s match from that point forward. Very nice foot placement from the shin-makuu guy today. That was solid.

Kotoeko defeats Aoiyama – Aoiyama put the match on that left hand nodowa, which nearly delivered. As Aoiyama backed Kotoeko up, he became a bit cautious, and lost his fight tempo right at the edge when Kotoeko attempted what looked like some kind of nage. Kotoeko recovered first, put his hands inside and found Aoiyama had no defense. I worry Big Dan is still hurt, and will struggle even at this low of a rank (M16E). Kotoeko picks up his first win, and just maybe he can turn his sumo around.

Tochinoshin defeats Tsurugisho – Its day by day for Tochinoshin and his fans. We never know what kind of trouble the big Georgian sumo machine may be coping with. Today he was sharp, focused and dispatched 200kg Tsurugisho with some straight forward sumo. Tochinoshin got his left hand outside grip early, and that was the key to his dominance today.

Wakamotoharu defeats Ichiyamamoto – Ichiyamamoto opened with his best Abi-zumo style combo, which did not distract Wakamotoharu in the least. Wakamotoharu broke Ichiyamamoto stance, and had him on the move from there out. Wakamotoharu foot placement was average to poor, but his upper body execution was excellent. Ichiyamamoto, like Abi, tends to lack much ability to defend or consolidate his body once he has been captured, so the moment Wakamotoharu latched in, it was only a question of where Ichiyamamoto was going to exit the ring.

Kotonowaka defeats Chiyomaru – Kotonowaka was too eager in the tachiai, and nearly took an early fall thanks to Chiyomaru’s well executed slap down attempt. When Chiyomaru saw it was not going to work, he lunged to re-engage, but his feet were not set, his balance was not centered, and he fell into Kotonowaka. Kotonowaka, realizing his luck, helped Chiyomaru complete his journey to the clay. A classic “Slippiotoshi” in the finest Kintamayama sense.

Yutakayama defeats Chiyotairyu – A lot of oshi action in this match, with very little mobility. Both of them kept fairly good connection to the clay, and the match was carried by Yutakayama’s superior hand placement. Chiyotairyu is frequently using a “lots of power, and a lot less aiming” approach to his thrusting, and landed more blows. Yutakayama focused on where he was going to hit, and made them count. This was a solid strategy for him, as Chiyotairyu tends to lose power after about 6 seconds in a match, and Yutakayama was able to gradually gain control and force Chiyotairyu out.

Ishiura defeats Terutsuyoshi – Two small guys, each went low at the tachiai. As they settled into their battle-hug, it was apparent that Ishiura had managed to wrap and contain Terutsuyoshi. Terutsuyoshi had far better foot placement, but Ishiura had shut down any offensive route that Terutsuyoshi may have tried. With an iron right hand grip, Ishiura took Terutsuyoshi around the ring, and shoved him out to win his first match of Hatsu.

Sadanoumi defeats Akua – Akua had his heart set on a kagenage, so much so he tried it a second time after Sadanoumi shut down the first attempt. The kagenage requires the attacker to be balanced on one foot, and thus it was easy for Sadanoumi to just collapse the second attempt into a crumpling yoritaoshi that included a bonus tea-bagging. Yikes…

Myogiryu defeats Shimanoumi – Shimanoumi was a bit too much focused on defense in the first moments of this match. Myogiryu played into this, and led Shimanoumi to set up a bit too far forward. Even as Shimanoumi rallied, his balance was poor, and at the point where Myogiryu broke contact, Shimanoumi was off balance, his toes were behind him and his chest was wide open. That’s an easy mark for a top division rikishi, and Myogiryu put him away with a body combo. Nice finish. Maybe Myogiryu won’t have double digit losses this basho?

Tobizaru defeats Chiyonokuni – Nice contrast in goals in this match. Tobizaru working to keep his hands in the inside route, and his feet underneath him. Chiyonokuni was fully committed to the hit-and-shift offensive pattern. Chiyonokuni tried a kotenage, but that opened the door for Tobizaru to go chest to chest. Chiyonokuni’s feet were poorly place, his body as open and it was clear he was not ready to fight Tobizaru at close range. A single Tobizaru combo delivered his first win, on opening day.

Abi defeats Takarafuji – This revised Abi-zumo mode has some notable features. He’s a bit more consolidated, he’s doing a better job of managing his balance and center of gravity. He’s also embraced fighting closer in to his opponent. This really took Takarafuji and ran him aground today, robbing the veteran of any opening to try and blunt, defect or stalemate Abi’s attacks.

Hoshoryu defeats Chiyoshoma – Wow, step through that tachiai. Superb form from Hoshoryu, and it completely robs Chiyoshoma of his first step. Compliments to Chiyoshoma for fighting back and staying in the match. He even managed to get the superior position for a time and had an open late to attack Hoshoryu’s body. But once Hoshoryu landed a right hand grip, we all knew it was time for his counter attack. Chiyoshoma took the first move, pivoting into a throw, which met a perfectly executed sotogake, sending Chiyoshoma to the clay. Nice sumo.

Onosho defeats Hokutofuji – You had to know both of these guys would be pouring it on into the tachiai. Both of them were going to be too far forward, and whomever pulled first was going to most likely take the match. This time it was Onosho, who dialed up the forward pressure early, and managed to step far enough to the side to send Hokutofuji tumbling to all fours.

Endo defeats Okinoumi – Okinoumi was a bit too high at the tachiai. Endo lost his opening reach for a frontal grip, but kept his head in the match. As Okinoumi rushed forward to break Endo’s stance, Endo pivoted and escorted Okinoumi across the bales. Simple, effective and subtle. Perfect match for these two.

Tamawashi defeats Meisei – In his 15 millionth consecutive sumo match since he first fought against the ancient Jomon deities for permission to secretly guide the sport of sumo, Tamawashi’s balance and foot placement (read: defense) kept Meisei from doing much more than motivating him. Meisei had a few good hits, but they were all on his way across the bales.

Ichinojo defeats Takanosho – This was really two matches sandwiched together. The early one where Takanosho is on the attack, and Ichinojo almost gives into the impulse to pull Takanosho down. I applaud Ichinojo’s self-restraint as he instead goes chest to chest with Takanosho, who quickly learns just how heavy a boulder can be. A hint, big-stuff, Takanosho was ready for that pull and would have put you on your face. You made a great choice and picked up a win as a result.

Mitakeumi defeats Ura – First off, this match had potential, and none of it was realized. Ura had one moment of offense at the tachiai, failed, and had no way to stop the original tadpole from pressing forward. I count this match as a success as nobody was injured. Fighting at his highest ever rank, Ura may struggle to find winning formulae against some of these brutes at this level. Oh yeah, Mitakeumi in nearly perfect form today. Go Tadpole!

Shodai defeats Kiribayama – I grow weary of Gyoji Tamajiro habitually being in the wrong spot and impeding the match. It happens far too frequently, and it’s a distraction. That being said, I really liked Kiribayama’s morozashi power move. He had Shodai in deep trouble, but Shodai was able to employ a rescue move at the bales that kept him in the ring a second longer than Kiribayama. I will have to wait for tomorrow for my next chance to see the “Wall of Daikon”

Takakeisho defeats Wakatakakage – Hey, that was new. Rather thank thrust, break content, reset and thrust, Takakeisho just maintained contact and stampeded Wakatakakage back. Wakatakakage did manage to break contact, but he was off balance, unsure of his position in the ring, and wide open. The Ozeki re-engaged with a blast amidships, and Wakatakakage went to visit the fans. Solid, and maybe somewhat upgraded, sumo from Takakeisho today. I am going to keep a sharp watch on Takakeisho to see if he’s going to be using this “Plowman” style sumo this basho. Could be a big deal if he can use it in combo with his traditional “Wave Action” attacks.

Terunofuji defeats Daieisho – Our heart goes out to Daieisho. He tends to put a lot of mojo into his big matches, and he genuinely poured it on against Yokozuna Terunofuji today. He had the top man in sumo on one foot several times as he pushed with everything he could deliver. But good lord, watch Terunofuji incrementally consolidate his balance, quiet his lower body and then shut down Daieisho. Once his defense was running, the rest of the Terunofuji arsenal came into play. Solid effort from Daieisho, but you are going home dirty today.

6 thoughts on “Hatsu Day 1 Highlights

  1. It was very nice, and a tad surprising, to see so little ring rust in the opening day’s bouts. Lots of energy all around. The only rikishi who truly look in trouble are the aging cohort at the bottom: Kaisei, Tsurugisho, and especially Aoiyama. The joi is certainly looking up to the task of providing a challenge and factoring into the yusho results for the sanyaku wrestlers. Great start to the basho!

  2. Oho definitely looked good today. If he keeps this up, he’s definitely sticking around in the top division. Ditto for Wakamotoharu.
    Tochinoshin won today, but Tsurugisho was literally escorted out of the ring. I’m worried he’s injured. That would be incredibly unfair to him (and probably give him a ride on the Juryo barge) because he’s a solid rikishi when he’s healthy.
    Ichiyamamoto needs to bring something new to the table. He’s going to get absolutely pasted if he keeps trying the sumo he used today.
    Sadanoumi is defintely making a bid to stick around, isn’t he? That was a thunderous flip from Akua!
    There’s something about Abi that still makes me think he’s a “one trick pony” and he still has a lot of work to do. Sure, his sumo is effective. But, can it win him a basho?
    Not only do I want to commend Ichinojo for not pulling, but also for adjusting Takanosho on the bales to get his opponent out of the ring. A lot of rikishi would just plow forward in that situation. Ichinojo, however, realized the problem, shifted his opponent around and then moved him out of the ring. More of that, please!
    Ura’s attitude at the end of his match is why his opponents should be worried. He knows all of his matches this basho will be against faster, smarter, stronger, more agile opponents. His reaction to losing to Mitakeumi was to smile, bow, and thank his opponent for the lesson. Smart as a whip, that Ura.
    I literally said, “Oh NOOOOOOOOO” out loud as Daiesho fell to the clay. It is good that Terunofuji needs to fight his opponents to win. It is good that they challenge him and make him use all of his skills. It galvanizes all of the rikishi to work harder for the chance to be victorious.

  3. Best winning move of the day: Hoshoryu.
    Best bout of the day: Teru v. Daiesho.
    Honourable mention for valour in the face of violence: Tobizaru for taking significants beats but emerging victorious.
    Moment when I fist-pumped the air and emitted a strange barking noise: Ichi not capitulating and showing ‘fighting spirit’ for his Win. (He is listed at 206kg – a good sign. If he could lose another 5-10kg he would be getting near his ideal fighting weight,)

    Happy new year to all the Tachiai crew and readers!

  4. Day 1 grades for a few –
    Asa Junior (Horshoryu) A, what a magnificent and perfectly executed winning move
    The Big Itch – A, please Please PLEASE bring this kind of sumo everyday and stop teasing us with what could be
    Mitakeumi – A, no nonsense purposeful sumo
    Nodai – C-, lucky to escape at the edge, more pathetic sumo from this Faux-zeki. More than ever I’m convinced that this guy is now solidly the second coming of Kaio, He’s going to hang on as long as possible and make us all suffer watching him take up an Ozeki slot on the banzuke.
    Butterball – A-, power/form/strength and straight forward sumo except for that little twist at the edge
    Daiesho – A+ for effort, brought it all and left nothing behind
    T-Rex – B+, so hard to grade, in trouble at times but just never panicked and was patient and struck when presented with the opportunity


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