初場所2022: Mitakeumi Yusho!

Congratulations to Mitakeumi on his victory over Yokozuna Terunofuji. In a thrilling final day, Mitakeumi clinched the yusho outright during the final bout. His strong ottsuke prevented Terunofuji from getting an inside grip. He then drove forward, forcing his opponent out. Terunofuji, for his part, tried to reach over Mitakeumi but it was too late.

During the broadcast of the yusho ceremony, the NHK announced that a decision on Mitakeumi’s Ozeki promotion was imminent. The interviewer shared the news with Mitakeumi during the yusho interview and he understandably became choked up with emotion. His mother was in attendance at Kokugikan and obviously overjoyed at her son’s win. He’s been on the short list for promotion for quite some time.

Though he’s been able to maintain a high-level of sumo, winning twice before and remaining consistently in sanyaku for much of the past four years, he’d not been able to string together the consecutive double-digit wins needed at this level. With both Takakeisho and Shodai kadoban in March, the shin-Ozeki will find a challenge as they will have extra motivation to perform well.

22 thoughts on “初場所2022: Mitakeumi Yusho!

  1. Excellent basho! A long time Mitakeumi fan here. I really took notice of Mitakeumi back in Hatsu 2017, as he defeated two Yokozuna (Harumafuji and Kakuryu) and Ozeki Goeido in the first few days of the basho. I always believed he had the ability to reach at least Ozeki – good balance between offence and defence, variety of kimarite, good ability in both oshi-and yotsu-zumo. I recall a few times – if I remember correctly – that it seemed injuries hampered his ability to get consistent double digits kachi-koshi. I hope he can stay healthy and achieve great success as an Ozeki!

  2. When I watched the fight in NHK world live I had the feeling that Terunofuji didn’t gave his all.
    I somehow read in his body language ” not only do I have to win THIS fight, but at least two more in the playoff”
    Maybe I’m wrong, but that was my impression.

    • Well, I think he injured himself in his bout against Meisei, he hasn’t been able to put quite the same intensity in his fights since. He probably thought putting too much resistance at the edge here wasn’t worth the risk of banging up his knee even more, especially with a 3-ways playoff ahead of him. I wish him a speedy recovery for the March basho!

      • He was too high and yeah, I think that was because of the knees. He couldn’t fight for an inside grip, or fight to prevent Mitakeumi’s. He went to reach over Mitakeumi for the back of his belt but by that time, Mitakeumi was already driving forward and it was over.

  3. Did anyone else think that Aoyiama’s double tap to Hoshoryu’s shoulder was suspicious?

    Call Takatoriki!!

    • Rikishi seem to do that all the time when they’re locked up. I suspect it’s a way of trying to fake out their opponent, make it seem like they’re about to shift stance or try to adjust their grip, so as to trick their opponent into making the first move.

  4. Congrats to Mitakeumi, he finally kept it together for 15 days. It was never a question of his ability because when he’s genki he was and is one of the strongest rikishi.
    Also happy about Abi, he moves better now and shows much better ring awareness than before his demotion. I still think he has to improve but it would be awesome to see him at ozeki one day.

  5. If I had a nearby Shinto shrine, I would be there now, praying for protection against the Curse of the Shin Ozeki, the injuries that have stricken most of the recent ones (and whatever it is that has afflicted Shodai).
    Certainly, based on his record, Mitakeumi is the strongest recent shin ozeki (not counting Terunofuji, who wasn’t actually new anyway). There is no rational reason to believe that someone who has already won three yusho won’t win more. absent malign forces.

  6. Mitakeumi has been Sekiwake for a long time, meaning that he has been able to maintain
    his Sumo at a high standard. But I think it’s not so much that his Sumo has
    recently improved, but that his competition is weaker.

    Shodai is a deeply unimpressive Ozeki, Takakeisho is one-dimensional
    (and with major fitness problems)
    and Asanoyama is out of the picture for now.

    If Kakuryu and Hakuho were still active (oh how I wish…) Mitakeumi would not have got
    33 wins in the last 3 basho.

    But given the standard of other Rikishi, it’s clear that Mitakeumi deserves to be Ozeki.

  7. Well, January 2022 is in the books and overall the JSA should be pleased except for the television viewership numbers still hovering in the teens. Regardless, they got the following:

    1) A new Ozeki, we all know the rank needed fresh blood after T-Rex did his drive-by on the way to Yokozuna

    2) The opportunity to create “buzz” for the March basho with the new Ozeki, the returning injured Ozeki, the challenge of the hapless Ozeki keeping his rank, and the anticipation of Abi’s further marching up the ranks (all storylines to be exploited in the media). Oh, almost forgot, the creation of chatter around T-Rex and the health of his knees going forward.

    3) A 13-2 yusho line, 12-3 yushos are always bad optics

    4) Hope for the future of Japanese rikishi in Abi and Mitakeumi, these are the 2 native rikishi that will put butts in seats right now, at least for the short term

    5) Positive optics that the Japanese rikishi can challenge the lone Mongolian Yokozuna. They won’t mention that T-Rex’s knee(s) were hurt in the Meisei match only that “the boys” can compete with “The Man”. We all know that’s nonsense but they’ll talk it up.

    6) A somewhat decent outing from Taiho’s grandson Oho. Yes he finished 7-8, yes he lost his last 5 matches, and yes he’s on the Juryo barge but I’m sure they still look to him to be a future Japanese success story and at least he wasn’t an epic failure or embarrassment.

    On a side note, to me it’s both interesting and disappointing that they decided to dis Hoshoryu and not award him any prize. Personally, I believe they should have awarded him another Gino-sho (Technique Prize) like in July 2021. While I can’t point to anything specific and I may have my head up you know where, I get the sense that the JSA doesn’t like him because his attitude and mannerisms reminds them too much of his uncle.

    A little more polish on his part and learning a bit more patience in the ring and he’s going to be an irritant for the JSA for years to come and I believe he can make it to Yokozuna. Once he gets the confidence of bagging his first yusho he’ll be tough to stop.

    • I’m the odd one out here who hopes that the future isn’t Abi. He literally has one style, no lower body balance, and is haphazard. He catches people off guard with ferocity and aim and that’s it. Sweep his leg or side step him and you’ve learned Abi. I’m not a fan of thinking of him as the future.

      • I’m with you Giku Squad.

        I only mention Abi because he’s 1 of 2 currently creating buzz for the Japanese fans and the JSA. I think he and Ozeki Butterball (Takakeisho) are both one dimensional.

        Abi has zero belt technique and neither does Butterball. Both are lost on the belt and both are always in trouble if their opponent chooses to use lateral movement and the supporting footwork.

        Frankly, I believe Mitakeumi is also very one dimensional. The key to success for many of his opponents will be a hard tachi-ai, lateral movement, good footwork, and solid belt grip if possible.

        • Personally, I think Abi has developed better balance and footwork. I also think he’s got potential on the belt where Takakeisho doesn’t.

    • I was both very happy in the first half and very sad in the second half of this basho about Oho. Overall I think he is consistently improving and has a lot of potential still to show, but for some unknown reason he developed some pulling habbits those last bouts that cost him dearly.
      I also hope Kotoshoho will ride his Juryo yusho and leave back whatever struggles had befallen him down in Juryo.
      I agree on Hoshoryu. It’s a bit surprising that an 11-4 at M6 by the second youngest rikishi in top division doesn’t warrant a price. It may not mean that much t6his basho, but with SHodai and Takanosho there were an Ozeki and a Sekiwake among his scalps. He also beat Abi …
      He is probably a tad too light still, but he has geat potential for sure.

  8. So here’s a question – does Mitakeumi getting promoted affect whether or not Oho stays up?

    I know that as things stand he’s going to go down either way. But shuffle a few results around and let’s say he gets 7-8 at M18E, but there are other guys with more demotable records and not that many Juryo rikishi with promotable records.

    In that case, there would have been a possibility that he stayed up, right? But given that Mitakeumi will almost definitely get promoted, M18E is gone, so if Oho was to stay up he would be at M17W which would be a promotion, so he is now a lock to be demoted. Am I thinking about this right?

      • That’s what I’m asking about. Tobizaru for instance has gone 7-8 and kept his rank at M8W. But say there was an extra sanyaku rank created. Would it be possible for Tobizaru to have been “promoted” to M8E instead?

        • I think in this case you’re right; he could have stayed M18e but there’s no way they’ll keep him by moving him to M17w.

    • I think it’s a moot question, as there are 4 candidates with promotable rtecords from Juryo in Kagayaki(J1E) 8-7, the J2 Nishikigi 9-6 and Kotoshoho 11-4 and J4W Kotokuzan at 10-5 (who also beat Oho). It would only become a remote possibility, if the wanted to demote Akua and Chiyonokuni over Oho, which I don’t think is a possibility mathematically.
      I think the 7-8 still makes him the 2nd demotee after Kaisei and before Tsurugisho and Ichiyamamoto (thought there might be some leeway ordering those 3).

  9. Brief Mitakeumi career recap: it took him six basho in the top division to put together enough wins to earn promotion to sanyaku; in the 31 basho since then he has spent 3 in upper maegashira, 10 at komusubi (and four or fives times banzuke luck has seen him promoted to or stuck at komusubi with records that would easily get him to sekiwake if slots were available), and 18 at sekiwake. In that time he has gone 6-9 twice, 7-8 five times, 8-7 seven times, 9-6 nine times, 10-5 twice, 11-4 three times, 12-3 once, and 13-2 twice.

    • The thing that worried me about Mitakeumi was his interview afterwards, where he seemed to implyi it felt like a long basho because he had to concentrate on every match. I’m a big Mitakeumi fan, but that’s Mitakeumi, like it or loathe it. I fear his concentration will be at an all-time low next basho, so will be kado-ban straight away. Hope I’m wrong!

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