Hatsu Day 14 Highlights

Please remember, there are no spoilers in live sports.

Abi-zumo delivered today, and he put himself back into contention for the yusho. His access to a playoff match now rests on hopes Terunofuji can defeat Mitakeumi in the “Brawl to end it all” tomorrow. That outcome may trigger a 3 way playoff between Mitakeumi, Terunofuji, and whomever wins the wildcard match between Abi and Kotonowaka. Kotonowaka and Abi have never faced each other.

To myself, the matter of Mitakeumi’s Ozeki big looks pretty cut and dried to me right now. He has muscled aside Shodai to take the role of challenger in the final match of the tournament. He is performing as the rival Ozeki now, regardless of his rank today. Should he prevail in tomorrow’s final match, he will take his third yusho, which is more than either of the current Ozeki. What seemed like a long shot 2 weeks ago, now looks fairly likely to me.

Highlight Matches

Nishikigi defeats Ichiyamamoto – Nishikigi, visiting from Juryo, makes short work of Ichiyamamoto. That’s win number 8 for Nishikigi, and he should be be back in the top division for March. Ichiyamamoto drops to 4-10.

Ishiura defeats Kotoeko – We had hoped this was going to be a high energy, high mobility match, and Ishiura and Kotoeko certainly delivered. After battling back and forth, Ishiura was able to get a quick pull and thrust combo to land against Kotoeko with the two near the tawara, and Kotoeko was out. Ishiura improves to 10-4, his best score since his top division debut in November of 2016.

Chiyotairyu defeats Aoiyama – Chiyotairyu moved for an early pull down on the second exchange out of the tachiai. It did not work, but it broke Aoiyama’s balance enough that he got Big Dan moving, and moments later thrust him out. Chiyotairyu improves to 6-8.

Yutakayama defeats Sadanoumi – Yutakayama employs a combo or right hand nodowa and left hand hazu to hurl Sadanoumi into the west side salt basket. The fall was spectacular enough that Yutakayama hustled over to make sure Sadanoumi was still in once piece. Yutakayama improves to 6-8, and Sadanoumi punches his ticket at 7-7 for a Darwin match.

Akua defeats Oho – Four losses in a row for Oho, and now as the bottom man on the banzuke, he’s got a 7-7 Darwin score. Akua kept him off balance and reacting, and it went poorly from there. Akua moves up to 4-10.

Chiyonokuni defeats Terutsuyoshi – The ghost of Chiyonokuni took a bit more material form today. Terutsuyoshi took an odd leap at the tachiai, and it left him off balance, out of position and a bit lost. Chiyonokuni made sure he never recovered, batting him about and using a double arm shove to send him into the front row. Chiyonokuni improves to 3-11, Terutsuyoshi is make-koshi.

Wakamotoharu defeats Tobizaru – In traditional Tobizaru style, he was all over the place today, and never quite on point with his sumo. Wakamotoharu stayed focused and centered, and kept control of the match to the point where he chucked Tobizaru into the waiting Okinoumi. That is his first win against Tobizaru in 6 attempts. Wakamotoharu picks up his 8th win and is kachi-koshi, Tobizaru his 8th loss and is make-koshi.

Tsurugisho defeats Chiyoshoma – Tsurugisho henka! Well, as much as someone of such ponderous bulk can henka. But there was early lateral motion involved to be certain. Tsurugisho improves to 6-8.

Tochinoshin defeats Okinoumi – The good news, Tochinoshin is not yet make-koshi. But he now has a 7-7 Darwin score. Tochinoshin got his left hand outside early, and there was not much Okinoumi could do from that position. He did try to rally, and put up a good fight, but Tochinoshin finished him with a slow motion uwatenage to improve to 7-7.

Tamawashi defeats Ura – Tamawashi finally finds his 8th win after 3 straight days of losses, and is kachi-koshi at 8-6. Ura gives him a solid grab-and-tug fight, but steps out to lose the match a moment before Tamawashi hurls him eastward in spectacular fashion.

Endo defeats Ichinojo – It was just like a regular match, but happening at ½ speed. Endo got solid hand placement early and converted it to a deep right hand inside grip. At this point Ichinojo found he was not set up to defend, and could not default to his “Boulder” tactic. Endo ran him about for a moment and then sent him out on the west side by yorikiri. Endo improves to 6-8, while Ichinojo has a 7-7 “Darwin” score.

Wakatakakage defeats Chiyomaru – Chiyomaru tried a bit of a hit and shift at the tachiai, but it was poorly executed, and did little more than remove any defense Chiyomaru might have employed. Wakatakakage attacked and quickly took Chiyomaru out on the east side for his 8th win, and is kachi-koshi for January. Chiyomaru joins the small group of 7-7 rikishi waiting for their day 15 Darwin matches.

Hokutofuji defeats Kiribayama – Quite a messy bit of sumo from these two today. I think the theme from this is that Hokutofuji was staying in contact with Kiribayama no matter what. Once he had that grip, his lower body kept him in the match in spite of the fact that his upper body could not really find a decent avenue of attack. So it was down to carefully moving Kiribayama back a piece at a time until he could walk him out. Hokutofuji improves to 7-8.

Onosho defeats Meisei – Onosho hits double digits for the second time in six months. Meisei had early advantage, and was moving quite well. But Onosho broke contact with a big lateral move that left them both off balance. Onosho lunged in, connected with Meisei at center mass, and the mega-thrust was on. Two steps later, Onosho had his 10 win, improving to 10-4.

Daieisho defeats Myogiryu – Myogiryu got one combo in, and then it was all Daieisho. A big thrust to the middle of the chest, and he kept Myogiryu moving in reverse. Daieisho improves to 6-8.

Mitakeumi defeats Takarafuji – You can see Takarafuji try to set his feet to defend and drag the match out, but Mitakeumi’s forward pressure is just too great, and he is forced to give up territory again and again. Takarafuji tries an escape that works, but just for a moment, and Mitakeumi pushes him over the bales. 12-2 for Mitakeumi, and he’s at 32 wins in the last 3 basho now.

Kotonowaka defeats Takanosho – Takanosho came in strong, and I would say a bit too strong and a bit too eager. Kotonowaka gave ground, and I think this convinced Takanosho to press his advantage. But all that was really happening was that he was moving himself closer to the bales, where Kotonowaka pivoted and threw him into the front row. Kotonowaka improves to 11-3, and remains just behind the leaders. Takanosho make-koshi at 6-8, and he will vacate his Sekiwake position for March.

Hoshoryu defeats Shodai – We saw the “wall of daikon” today, as Shodai poured on the big-body sumo against Hoshoryu, sending him face first into the tawara. Hoshoryu emerged bloody to find a monoii, as the shimpan discussed the result of the match. It was deemed to close to decide, and a torinaoshi rematch was declared. The second match, Hoshoryu did not let Shodai go chest to chest, but kept him at about a half arm’s length. At that distance, Shodai’s sumo fell apart, and Hoshoryu danced him about before sending him to visit Terunofuji in the front row. Hoshoryu improves to a commanding 10-4.

Abi defeats Terunofuji – Abi succeeded in breaking Terunofuji’s balance on the third volley, and it was all down hill from there. Unable to lower his hips or set his feet again, Abi dialed up the power and sent the Yokozuna out the west side. Abi takes the kinboshi, and both end the day at 11-3.

10 thoughts on “Hatsu Day 14 Highlights

  1. It took five years of incremental banzuke depletion, to the point a sekiwake is the second highest ranked rikishi able to fight, but seems Mitakeumi has finally made it. Grats to the slow tadpole.

  2. Very interesting!

    Happy for the Onami brothers, sad for Tobizaru and Ura, impressed by Terutsutoshi’s mighty hop back onto the dohyo (macho response to being checked on?). Wished Hoshoryu could have gotten a bandage for his forehead before going back in (and Enho an eye-wash the other day, looked like he was fighting a torinaoshi with sand in his eyes). Good luck to Oho. Chiyoshoma got a taste of his own medicine, after he had mostly reformed….

    I want Terunofuji’s knees to recover and Mitakeumi to become Ozeki and don’t really care whose win leads to that. Probably better for Terunofuji’s knees for Mitakeumi to win right off and spare a 3 way playoff, cool as that would be.

  3. NHK World’s live broadcast is giving us an extra half hour tonight!


    This is good because usually we don’t get the first half of bouts but this means Abi vs Kotonowaka will likely be part of that broadcast.

    I have to say I was shocked at Abi’s win, mostly because there was no indication prior to the tachiai that he was fired up and ready. I guess it is all relative when you see Teru’s scowl and huffs. Also, Teru looked like a magician performing the tablecloth trick last time they met. Gomen nasai, Abi. I underestimated you.

  4. As long as Terunofuji is in the yusho race and healthy, I think he’ll stick around as Yokozuna. My expectations are he’ll do that until suddenly he has a horrific tournament and then goes intai because his body literally will give out and not recover. I hope I’m wrong because that situation has a huge impact on his long-term health.

    Tomorrow is going to be a big moment for Mitakeumi’s mental state. If he wins, he’ll have confidence and be more relaxed on the dohyo. If he doesn’t, he’s going to second guess himself a lot and will potentially run into issues on the dohyo regardless of where he is on the banzuke.

    I also am happy for the Onami brothers! What an amazing feat for the two of them. A lot of the results this basho aren’t suprising (except maybe Kotonowaka and Chiyonokuni for polar opposite reasons), but the “change” we’ve been expecting over the last year or two is really starting to arrive across the board in sumo. Terunofuji is a worthy Yokozuna, but as I’ve said before it’s good for him to be challenged over and over again. That will drive the rikishi in the lower divisions, and him, to work hard on their sumo and fight to win. I think Juryo should be literally two moving escalators shuffling rikishi between Makushita and Makuuchi. That’s the way it is right now and that, again, makes everyone in those divisions keen on winning and working hard. This is the last basho of “gimmie” spots for the top two divisions (unless someone near the demotion/promotion line gets injured and can’t compete of course) and that will also motivate the rikishi to go for wins too.

    I don’t like statements about “banzuke depletion” because that’s a natural thing in the sport. Hakuho was able to win more yusho and had an easier time of things because Haramafuji suddenly went intai and Kakuryu was injured more often than he was, but no one ever talks about that in reference to his wins or his record. The rikishi fight who they fight and a yusho is a yusho. Look at Tokoshoryu, for example. The rikishi at the lower end of Makuuchi should challenge for the yusho! Fans can harrumph all they want about it, but as we say in other sports, “that’s why the games are played”.

    The Darwin matches tomorrow are going to be quite interesting because there’s a lot on the line for everyone involved. I feel bad for Oho, but he’s had his chances to punch his ticket for the next basho and he hasn’t gotten it done. If he does go down, I’m assuming he’ll be at J2 or J3 at the lowest which means he’ll have a decent shot at getting back to the upper tier next basho. He has a lot of “upside”, so regardless of how he does tomorrow I think he’ll be fine. Tochinoshin deserves a lot of credit and I find it interesting that he’s trying to figure out how to use his strength to his advantage without the “sky crane”. If he starts slinging people around horizontally more often, he might stick around longer than fans expect.

    Ura will be fine. He’ll still be in the top division, he’s learned a lot this basho (which isn’t surprising and is already a bit obvious based on his strategy from his recent bouts), and I’m interested to see how he does after his body gets to heal a bit more. It takes a looooong time to recover from knee surgery (over a year, usually), so I’m expecting his lower body to keep getting stronger over time as long as he doesn’t injure himself again.

    Lastly, this feels like a “turning point” basho for Hoshoryu. Especially with his win over Shodai (twice, based on the instant replay, although I understand why the torinaoshi was called). That’s a biiiiiig confidence booster, for sure. Ditto for both of the Onami brothers.

    • The reason nobody talks about that (that being a supposedly benefit by Hakuho of Harumafuji intai and Kakuryu kyujos) is because Hakuho won 6 of his 45 yushos in said period, which lasted 4 years. So, not much of an argument at all.

      • Everyone in their careers benefits from changes to the banzuke. Kyujos, intai, and literally where other rikishi are placed affect the opportunities that they have to win. The bashos you reference are “only 6” because it’s Hakuho. Not having those opponents also meant that he had more ability to take care of his own body and prolong his career. Also, do you have the same opinion about Terunofuji becoming a Yokozuna? Is he any less deserving of that rank because the other Yokozuna went intai and the banzuke was “depleted”?

  5. I think Terunofuji is carrying a game-changing injury from his loss to Meisei. On day 13 he got a dominant position on Takanosho immediately and blasted him out which is, first, not his style at all, and second, no test of his knees. I expect him to either get the same sort of win over Mitakeumi or, to my mind much more likely, fail to get an immediate advantage and lose to Mitakeumi’s forward pressure.

  6. Forgot to say a peculiar-looking thing happened at the end of Mitakeumi’s win over Takarafuji: Takarafuji was stuck trying to resist the okuridashi with just his right leg, which was insufficient of course, but his backward pressure caught Mitakeumi by surprise slightly out of position and knocked him back on his heels!

    • Yes, I saw that, too. And I fear that Mitakeumi may have tweaked a knee when he was knocked backwards. He appeared uncomfortable afterwards.

      On an entirely different subject, Chiyomaru began this basho 4-1, looking terrific. He’s since gone through a pretty miserable 3-6 stretch.

      Is it just me or does it seem that Kiribayama needs to add upper body strength? He loves to set up throws, but against big guys like Hokutofuji he just doesn’t have the overpowering might to pull them off.

    • Yes due to this Takarafuji actually had much more time than he realised, and could perhaps have spun round and reset himself.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.