Hatsu Day 11 Highlights

Last night we reported that Myogiryu and Shimanoumi had gone kyujo. At the time there were no reasons given, and some sumo fans worried that they had been caught up in a scandal. We now Myogiryu is out with a biceps injury, and Shimanoumi with a right hamstring. Both were in the funnel group, so I guess there will be one less Darwin match on day 15.

The co-leaders both won today, and we saw two Sadogatake rikishi achieve their kachi-koshi: Kotoeko and Kotonowaka.

Highlight Matches

Kotokuzan defeats Oho – Kotokuzan got one combo inside against Oho chest, and then decided to take both hands behind Oho’s neck and pull. He caught Oho at an opportune moment, breaking his balance. Oho was not able to regain his stance, and Kotokuzan sent him out. Both end the day at 7-4. Oho will have to try another day for his 8th win.

Kotoeko defeats Ichiyamamoto – Ichiyamamoto’s tachiai was vague and soft, Kotoeko went double inside immediately, raised Ichiyamamoto up and just walked him back for a simple but effective yorikiri. That’s kachi-koshi for Kotoeko as he improves to 8-3. Nice bounce back from November’s 3-12.

Aoiyama defeats Chiyomaru – Another straight ahead match, Aoiyama starts with an arm pit attack, getting Chiyomaru to lead back. He then converts that to a double inside grip and drives forward. Chiyomaru had no exit ramp, and Aoiyama pick up his 6th win. Both end the day at 6-5 and are still squarely in the funnel.

Chiyotairyu defeats Tochinoshin – Interesting opening gambit by Chiyotairyu. He uses both hands to immobilize Tochinoshin’s left hand, removing his primary weapon from use for a time. He shifts to a double arm pull down attempt, that gets partial effect. This sends Tochinoshin stumbling forward, but he does not fall. Chiyotairyu engages a second time with a hit to stand him up, and a pull to bring him down. Tochinoshin hits the clay, and Chiyotairyu picks up his 4th win to improve to 4-7.

Terutsuyoshi defeats Yutakayama – Some fun trickery by Terutsuyoshi at the tachiai. At first it seemed to have no effect, but I do believe that it caused Yutakayama to at least momentarily pause his opening move. Terutsuyoshi took this moment to place a right hand inside, which payed off a moment later with a glorious makiotoshi. It’s been a while since I have seen one of those! Terutsuyoshi improves to 5-6 and re-enters the funnel group.

Sadanoumi defeats Kaisei – Multiple times Sadanoumi tried to keep that left hand grip active and rotate to the side of Kaisei. To his credit, Kaisei knew he needed to keep Sadanoumi to his front quarter, and largely succeeded. Realizing he could not get around Kaisei, Sadanoumi drove forward. Kaisei attempted to rotate into a throw as he backed up to the tawara, but his ankle collapsed, giving Sadanoumi the win to improve to 7-4. I wonder if that damaged Kaisei’s leg.

Akua defeats Tsurugisho – Tsurugisho showed some solid defense today, and kept neutralizing everything that Akua produced in the opening moments of the bout. Tsurugisho could not find a way to convert to offense, and seemed to take his time and try to create an opening. That devolved into a chest to chest stalemate at the center of the dohyo. Eventually Akua had had enough standing around, lowered his hips and drove forward, inching Tsurugisho out for a yorikiri win. Akua improves to 3-8.

Ishiura defeats Tobizaru – This match had a lot of potential, and delivered on a fair amount of it. Tachiai saw Tobizaru get better hand placement, and Ishiura better body position. They lock up and struggle, yotsu-style, for advantage. The advantage broke Ishiura’s way, as he found a double inside grip, and took control of the match. Tobizaru worked to break Ishiura’s hold, but ran out of dohyo before he could free himself. Ishiura improves to 7-4.

Kotonowaka defeats Takarafuji – To me it seemed that Takarafuji was focused on setting up defensively at the tachiai, but missed his hand placement, giving Kotonowaka a narrow chance to get his hands inside. Now able to deliver force against Takarafuji’s chest, he found that Mr “Defend and Extend” did not have his feet set, and Kotonowaka moved him rapidly over the bales, scoring his 8th win of January and minting his kachi-koshi.

Chiyonokuni defeats Okinoumi – One one hand I am happy that Chiyonokuni finally won his first match of January. On the other hand, I mourn the fact that Chiyonokuni blew what may have been his best opportunity for reaching the rare zenpai status. Chiyonokuni improves to 1-10 with a pull and thrust down of Okinoumi.

Abi defeats Ichinojo – Nice response to Abi-zumo from Ichinojo. I liked that Abi lost traction early, lost distance as well when Ichinojo went to grapple him. But Abi-zumo of today is a bit more flexible than a few years ago. He givs way to Ichinojo and pulls him to the side as Ichinojo advances. Sadly, had Ichinojo just taken hold and stalemated Abi for a minute or two, he probably would have prevailed. Abi improves to 9-2.

Kiribayama defeats Tamawashi – And still, Tamawashi cannot find a way to defeat Kiribayama! That’s 5-0 for Kiribayama against Tamawashi, and I marvel at the results. Its not that Tamawashi generated no offense this match, rather that Kiribayama found the right moment to grab Tamawashi bodily and throw him to the clay. Kiribayama improves to 5-6, and rejoins the funnel group.

Wakatakakage defeats Ura – Credit to Wakatakakage, his opening move was focused directly on getting Ura raised higher, and it seemed to have worked. They spent a few moments leaning head to head, attacking each other’s hands. It escalated quickly into a rapid exchange of combo thrusting and pulling attacks. Wakatakakage catches Ura off balance, lowers his head and drives forward. Ura does not have room to get to the side or rotate into a throw, and is stampeded out the West side and into the crowd. Wakatakakage improves to 5-6, and both remain in the funnel group.

Onosho defeats Daieisho – Daieisho connects first at the tachiai, and opens his big thrusting attack. But Daieisho can’t maintain the pressure as Onosho finds a gap inside when Daieisho pulls, and switches to offense. Daieisho moves back under the thrusting attack, and attempts a slap down at the tawara. Onosho improves to 7-4, Daieisho make-koshi at 3-8.

Hokutofuji defeats Meisei – Hokutofuji opened with a left hand armpit attack, which raised Meisei up, and robbed him of any chance to execute offensive sumo. This is another day to look at Hokutofuji’s lower body and marvel at its stability. Even though his upper body is flailing away, that lower body stays structurally sound and powerfully connected to the dirt. Once Hokutofuji was on offense, it was just a process to cut Meisei off from an increasing portion of the dohyo and drive him out. Hokutofuji improves to 5-6 and remains in the funnel.

Hoshoryu defeats Takanosho – Takanosho looks like he forgot to take his first step today. Hoshoryu gets to the side, gets a right hand grip and brings Takanosho down by the second step. Fast, efficient and done. Hoshoryu improves to 7-4.

Mitakeumi defeats Shodai – Shodai lost the match, but at least we were able to see him bring out some solid sumo today. He looked a bit lethargic compared to his winning form, but at least he went through the motions well. There was a brief moment where Shodai rallied, and I thought we were about to see the “Wall of Daikon”, but it was not to be. Mitakeumi hits double digits and is 10-1.

Terunofuji defeats Chiyoshoma – I give a nod to Chiyoshoma on this one. He put everything he could muster into this match. There is a brief moment before the Yokozuna lifts him like a bag of rice and drops him over the tawara, Chiyoshoma’s head is against Terunofuji’s enormous chest, and the expression on Chiyoshoma’s face reads “Join sumo, they said. It will be fun…” Terunofuji improves to 10-1 and remains co-leader.

11 thoughts on “Hatsu Day 11 Highlights

  1. I really like Chiyoshoma today. Ultimately Terunofuji was just a tad to heavy for his sumo, but he made it a serious contest even though it was totally game over once Teru got his grip.
    Terutsuyoshi looked just so casual in dispatching Yutakayama. Ishiura vs Tobizara and Wakatakakage vs Ura were both fun to watch small men bouts.
    After today I actually have a little confidence in Mitakeumi that he run for the Yusho or at least Ozeki promotion territory. When Shodai recovered from his usual terrible Tachiai it looked for a moment as if Mitakeumi could fall back to his dissapointing week2 state, but then he rallied again and drove Shodai out convincingly.

    Down in Juryo Kotoshoho secured hie Makuuchi return with win #9 today. There is also a 3man group in the lead now. Atamifuji won on his second visit to Juryo yesterday and is now 3-3 at Ms1, but 1-3 vs Makushita opponents. Let’s hope he gets another visit to Juryo then ;) Ryuden went 6-0 today and logged in his return to Juryo, whether or not he also gets the Yusho.

    • Only Hidenoumi is sure to go down, so Kotoshoho might not have clinched is quite yet, as Kagayaki can still end up ahead of him in the queue.

  2. About that „Darwin funnel“: the difference between an 8 to 7 and its mirror record are a few positions on the next banzuke. So please tell me what is so important about a kachi-kochi? Thanks in advance.

    • Kachi-kochi means you don’t go down the banzuke (i.e. lose rank). A winning record is always better than a losing record.

        • A kachikoshi is important when there are not enough slots in a particular area of the next banzuke for the rikishi who “deserve” (by the numbers) to be there.

          An 8-7 wrestler might end up with a very generous over-promotion because that was the only way to fit everyone in. Similarly a 7-8 wrestler might get harsh treatment.

          As you say, often an 8-7 wrestler will simply move up one rank while a 7-8 wrestler will just move down one.

          But by getting his kachikoshi a wrestler gives himself a chance to benefit from “banzuke luck”.

    • I love this question – as it underscores one of my favorite engineering topics – process vs outcome. The outcome is kachi/make kochi. And maybe there is little difference in many cases between 7-8 and 8-7. But that takes an overly narrow view of the whole matter. What if your torikumi opponents are limited by an external control factor, I chose to call it a “funnel”. It means that your opponents are restricted to those that will drive you to a day 15 7-7 score. Where if it did not exist, you might more easily it 9-5 or 5-9 to start the final day. Surely you are not going to tell me that there is very little difference in ranking between 8-6 and 6-8?

      As a former member of the US Marines, I can tell you the mental grind of something like the funnel is quite real and can be demoralizing. I would not be surprised to find that it’s really messing with Shodai, as he’s in it for the second straight basho.

      For some fans, maybe not a big deal. But as a fan of sumo myself, I think when I see them trot that thing out, it just amplifies the brutal zero-sum nature of this sport. The first time I saw them doing it, I was a bit outranged and maybe empathetic. But now, I have learned it only shows up the middle weekend, and everyone knows the entry criteria. So fight hard week 1 and stay out of the funnel.

  3. Kaisei definitely hurt his ankle today. Even if it’s just a tweak or slight sprain, it’ll make a difference over the next couple of days.

    I wonder if Hoshoryu is having back problems. He remained ramrod straight even when performing his off-dohyo duties as the winner of his bout.

    I agree that Chiyoshoma threw everything including the kitchen sink at Terunofuji. That’s honestly what should happen every time, but people get squirrely and don’t go all-in when they attack.

    • You’re right, but any rikishi who doesn’t specialize in run-and-gun oshi-zumo is facing a Kobayashi Maru exercise going up against Terunofuji; it’s no surprise that some of them lose confidence in their sumo I guess.

  4. NHK live sidelines reporters asked Chiyoshoma after the match how he felt about it. Chiyoshoma answered “I forgot how good being in the joi was”. So despite the pained expression, apparently the man had fun.


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