Haru Day 15 Highlights

It came down to a playoff. The playoff was tremendous sumo, possibly the best match of the year so far. The right man won. The loser was clearly heart broken, and I feel for him, but his sumo was fantastic this month, and he has another try in May.

Highlight Matches

Ichiyamamoto defeats Hidenoumi – Ichiyamamoto abandoned pushing and thrusting fairly early on, and went chest to chest with Hidenoumi. They then proceeded to try and pull on each other’s heads back and forth a few times before they decided that it was not going to work at all. Hidenoumi was unhappy with grip, went to change it up, and reduced his forward pressure, letting Ichiyamamoto run him out to the West. Both finish the day 8-7, with Ichiyamamoto reaching kachi-koshi on the final day.

Kagayaki defeats Terutsuyoshi – Kagayaki finished well, he shut down Terutsuyoshi’s opening moves, kept his pushing focused center mass, and quickly moved Terutsuyoshi out. He finishes 7-8, and I will leave it to lksumo to guess if he’s going to be on the Juryo barge back to Tokyo.

Myogiryu defeats Tochinoshin – A bit of a leap tp the left at the tachiai by Myogiryu had what was probably the desired effect – keep Tochinoshin away from Myogiryu’s mawashi. Tochinoshin eventually closes the gap, but insists on repeated pulling atttempts. Myogiryu tosses him back, then tosses him out to finish Haru 7-8.

Shimanoumi defeats Kotokuzan – The first Darwin match goes to Shimanoumi, but the offense was nearly all from Kotokuzan. But all it takes it the right moment, and Shimanoumi finds his opening, gets a body hold and moves Kotokuzan out. Shimanoumi kachi-koshi at 8-7, Kotokuzan 7-8 and make-koshi.

Wakamotoharu defeats Nishikigi – I love that Nishikigi decided to give Wakamotoharu an endurance check. They set up left hand inside at the tachiai, and there they stood, waiting the other out. Wakamotoharu whats the right hand outside grip, and eventually finds it, then gets to down to business. He moves Nishikigi to the edge of the ring and throws him down with an uwatenage. Both men finish with 9-6.

Kotoshoho defeats Chiyoshoma – Chiyoshoma hits first, but Kotoshoho gets his hands inside. Chiyoshoma could have made a fight of it, but was pulling Kotoshoho instead. Without an resistance to his forward motion, Kotoshoho made fast work of getting Chiyoshoma out. He finishes Haru 9-6.

Hokutofuji defeats Yutakayama – I liked this match because it’s been a while since we saw Hokutofuji’s lower body decide it was winning a match, no matter what. Outstanding offensive footwork form Hokutofuji, and I just have to wonder where is this sumo the other days of this basho. Yes, he smoked Mitakeumi on day 10 to knock him out of the yusho, but this should be his every-day sumo. Yutakayama takes his 8th loss, his third consecutive make-koshi.

Akua defeats Ishiura – Well, that was dumb. Not sure Ishiura wanted to even compete today. Go home and heal up. Akua improves to 4-11.

Takarafuji defeats Chiyonokuni – Also in the “no condition to fight” category, Chiyonokuni has little offensive power, and finds himself unable to move Takarafuji. Takarafuji takes control and drives Chiyonokuni from the ring to finish Haru 6-9.

Kiribayama defeats Kotoeko – Kotoeko still can’t find a formula to beat Kiribayama, it seems. He starts strong, but Kiribayama wraps him up, then gets him to all fours with what they labeled a kotenage. Kiribayama finishes Haru strong at 10-5.

Chiyotairyu defeats Meisei – At this point, Meisei is little more than a loss sponge. Meisei did manage one win, but maybe he should have gone for a spotless 0-15 instead. Chiyotairyu hit large at the tachiai, hit again to stand Meisei up, then pulled him down. Chiyotairyu’s final score: 7-8.

Onosho defeats Chiyomaru – Onosho locked on target center-mass at the tachiai, and all Chiyomaru could do was try to pull into his powerful advance. This sped up the process of sending Chiyomaru into the front row, giving Onosho has 6th win to finish Haru 6-9.

Endo defeats Tamawashi – Ah, time for the next Darwin match. Tamawashi opened strong, lost his footing, and that was all Endo needed. He kept Tamawashi off balance, and drove him around the ring before sending him past the waiting Okinoumi and into a conclave of brown-coats. Endo kachi-koshi at 8-7, Tamawashi make-koshi at 7-8.

Tobizaru defeats Ichinojo – Ichinojo stayed strong, patient and nearly immobile against Tobizaru’s high mobility antics. He had total dominance over Tobizaru, until he tried an arm lock throw, and Tobizaru used the weight shift to get him moving, then moved him out. Both end the day with worthy 9-6 records for March.

Ura defeats Okinoumi – Ura finds the inside lane ofter Okinoumi bats Ura’s head around a few times. Ura rushes forward, sending Okinoumi out, Ura finishes 4-11, and needs to regroup from a lower spot on the banzuke.

Daieisho defeats Aoiyama – Next Darwin match! Aoiyama got one partially effective thrust in, his chest was open and the inside route was Daieisho’s for the taking. Three steps later, Daieisho had Big Dan out, handing him a losing record for Haru, and taking home a 8-7 kachi-koshi.

Hoshoryu defeats Kotonowaka – Hoshoryu had a tall order to finish with a winning record, but he made it work. Kotonowaka opened well, but he gave Hoshoryu an opening, which Hoshoryu filled with a hearty shitatedashinage. This knocks Kotonowaka out of yusho contention, as Hoshoryu finishes 8-7.

Sadanoumi defeats Takanosho – Both men took a turn at dominating this match, with both having a left hand outside mawashi grip. Neither could find a way to finish the other. The match ended when Takanosho tried an off balance throw as Sadanoumi was backing away, and both men went out. A monoii took place to try to sort the mess out. Review showed that Takanosho hit first, and Sadanoumi picks up his 5th win of March to finish 5-10.

The final three, it’s time for Big Sumo

Abi defeats Takayasu – Abi opened strong, had full impact on Takayasu’s face and neck, and Takayasu could not hold his ground. Abi got him turned, and then pushed him out quickly from behind. Sad news for Takayasu fans as he picks up his 3rd loss, but Abi manages to put the finishing win into his kachi-koshi to end Haru 8-7. The yusho is Wakatakakage’s if he can beat Shodai.

Mitakeumi defeats Takakeisho – The Ozeki battle was quite anti-climatic. Takakeisho hits hard, Mitakeumi steps to the side, and Takakeisho hits the deck. Mitakeumi finishes Haru 11-4. Kind of a dud match.

Shodai defeats Wakatakakage – Wakatakakage opens strong, and has Shodai defensive. But Shodai summons the Wall of Daikon, and Wakatakakage’s offense crumbles as Shodai uses his big body to plow the dohyo clear of any trace of Wakatakakage. Shodai found his sumo at least, finishing 9-6 for Haru, and sending the yusho to a playoff.

Playoff Match

Wakatakakage defeats Takayasu – Dear lord what a battle! Takayasu saved his sumo for this brawl to end it all, and he was attacking very well against Wakatakakage. I give Wakatakakage high marks for staying on his feet and staying in the match under Takayasu’s withering barrage. Too many times Wakatakakage tried to pull Takayasu, and points to Takayasu, he remained patient, worked to keep his balance centered, and did not advance too rapidly into the pull. His footwork was poor and his balance all over the place. Takayasu found Wakatakakage’s feet on the tawara, and gave him a mighty one arm shove to send him out. But a lingering Wakatakakage hold on Takayasu’s left wrist pulled him forward and down, hitting the clay a moment before Wakatakakage stepped out. Wakatakakage wins the Haru yusho in glorious style. Well done to both competitors.

This ends Tachiai’s daily coverage of the Haru basho. What a great tournament this has been. Thank you all for sharing your time with Team Tachiai, and stopping by to read our write ups. It’s been a lot of fun, and I look forward to sharing my love of sumo with all of you again soon.

12 thoughts on “Haru Day 15 Highlights

  1. Wowza, what a great basho. Thank you so much Bruce and team Tachiai!

    Sad for Takayasu but glad for Wakatakakage, what a great last move, such nimble tawara dancing. And yay for Shodai!

    So many talented rikishi to look forward to seeing again!

    When Shodai sent Wakatakakage into the front row, Mitakeumi leapt up – I guess because people were falling over next to him. At first I wondered if it was a reaction to the result, but I guess that would be very unprofessional. Still, it made me wonder about rikishi’s inner reactions to other current rikishi’s results apart from how it affects their own. Quietly rooting for friends, admiring someone’s style, being impressed or surprised at what someone pulls off….

  2. We have been waiting for a basho like that for ages. It seems sumo future will be bright from now on.

  3. Thanks to Bruce, all the Tachiai team (and all Tachiai commenters!)
    That play off was just off-the-scale thrilling!
    Already dreaming about the May basho… Can’t wait for some lksumo predctions and analysis…

  4. Awful for Takayasu. I had to watch the final moments many times to understand how Wakataka survived Takayasu’s final push. Still don’t understand it.

    A win is a win no matter when it comes but we often note how hard it is to keep focus in the last week or so when title-dreams so often crumble to dust and thus remark on Shodai’s wins all coming bar one in the last two thirds of the basho. To my mind Shodai’s main tactic is to be pushed to the bails and then swing – sadly it is a risky strategy which will not always come off.

    Roll-on May.

  5. Thanks to Team Tachiai for the daily write ups once, along with Natto (not the beans) an indispensable basho companion.

    So thrilling to see the likes of Wakatakakage, Hoshoryu, Kiribayama, Kotonowaka start to make an impact at the top level. Along with the likes of still-youthful Takakeisho and Abi, it just feels like the next few post-Hakuho years are going to be highly entertaining.

  6. It’s easy to get caught up in hype after a performance like this tournament but Wakatakakage has shown great growth since hitting the top division and for most of the tournament was performing at an exceptionally high level with great diversity in his offense and strong defense. It’s really hard not to look at him and see that maybe Japan could finally have the Yokozuna they’ve been longing for. Kisenosato’s body gave out before he could be that guy, but maybe Wakatakakage can finally carry the baton. It’s been nearly twenty years, the Japanese fans have waited long enough.

    Mitakeumi at times also looked like he could make a run but in a few bouts he fell back into his old habits where before the match even begins he seems defeated. When Mitakeumi was “on” this tournament he was a monster. It’s all about consistency and whatever mental hold ups plague him.

    It really did feel like this was the coming out party for a lot of wrestlers. Even the ones who went 8-7 like Hoshoryu showed impeccable technique at times. It’s just about finally putting it all together. Abi seemed like he was plagued with something for most of the tournament but he still finished strong with the dominate victory over Takayasu. Kiribayama finished with a quiet but very good record of 10-5 which in most other tournaments would get far more attention. Down in Juryo and Makushita there’s a ton of young talent coming up as well.

    I truly do wonder if the specter of Hakuho lingering over everything being gone has finally unlocked the confidence in wrestlers. It’s been four tournaments since Hakuho retired and the growth in many of the wrestlers has been staggering. For so long he was the ultimate final boss that even the current Yokozuna couldn’t best. He even ended his final tournament with a perfect record something that no one else can do. But now he’s gone. And that allows the wrestlers to see their path towards the top without fear and with hope of not being held down by Hakuho’s immense presence and ability.

  7. I really thought Tobizaru was actually giving Ichinojo the business and Ichinojo was doing well to stay in that match, having to focus on his footwork with all of the inside and outside trip attempts going on

    For Takayasu, I think Bruce both you and at times Hiro Morita came to a similar conclusion which is that when he was wild he was off his sumo, it’s all about his composure and when he has that he did well. The playoff was really remarkable for me because even in his wild man days you rarely saw a tachiai from him with that much aggression, it was really something. A bit heartbreaking how he lost, you could see how much he actually wanted it and was devastated to lose, and he’s not one to show emotion.

    But I agree the best man won.

    Also have to say, he doesn’t always get the most love but I thought Hiro Morita’s commentary on Senshuraku was outstanding, in terms of his emotion and describing the action. They really deserve to have (good) co-commentators back in the fold, but sumo is often short of moments for “iconic calls” and I thought Hiro really rose to the moment.

    I have too many posts I want to write right now, but that could be one.

  8. Thanks Bruce, lksumo, and everyone else for the brilliant writeups. Great final day from the ridiculous (Tobizaru…!) to the sublime. Nice to see Shodai putting a shift in when he didn’t need too.


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