Natsu Day 2 Highlights

A spate of fall / slip / traction / balance failures in today’s matches. I will chalk it up to ring rust in most cases, and maybe some poor surface conditions on the Natsu dohyo. The surface, I am certain, will be addressed overnight. The ring rust? Well, that’s what act 1 is all about.

I need to give a shout out to Kotonowaka. He’s now put 2 Ozeki down for his first 2 days. Not usually what you see from a Maegashira 2, and I think it portends that he’s getting closer to his actual level of ability. He finishes the Ozeki trifecta with Mitakeumi on day 3. Then there is Tamawashi, who is also 2-0 to start, and has scored white stars against both Sekiwake, who have a fair amount of well deserved hype attached to their names. At 37 years old, this guy can still dog out these younger rising stars, and you just have to admire the guy’s mojo.

Highlight Matches

Midorifuji defeats Kagayaki – Midorifuji struggles to get any offense going at first, but I love how he stays in the match and is able to break contact one step before crossing the bales. Kagayaki did not change his sumo one bit when Midorifuji grabbed his shoulder, and a moment later, it was katasukashi time! Very nice, both are now 1-1.

Ichiyamamoto defeats Kotokuzan – Its common to compare Ichiyamamoto to Abi, both use a double arm thrusting style, I can see the similarity. Today is a great example of how Ichiyamamoto may be a touch better in terms of overall sumo. Kotokuzan delivered a strong counter-attack time and again, but Ichiyamamoto endured and just kept moving forward. Great fundamentals, and he’s now 2-0.

Oho defeats Azumaryu – Oho worked for a right hand outside mawashi grip, and the instant it landed he was in control. Nice work to keep Azumaryu fighting on the top half, but losing on the bottom half. Oho’s first win and is now 1-1.

Yutakayama defeats Meisei – If you want a big thrusting contest, this is your match. There are at least half a dozen moments where Meisei could have put Yutakayama on the deck, as Yutakayama was off balance, on one foot, and did not have his hips square to his opponent. But Yutakayama kept plugging away and gets Meisei to lose balance and step out. He is now 2-0.

Myogiryu defeats Chiyotairyu – Second day in a row, Chiyotairyu goes to immediately pull his opponent down, and gets a quick exit for his troubles. He had Myogiryu moving downward, but he was one step too late and exited the ring before Myogiryu hit the clay. Myogiryu advances to 2-0.

Chiyoshoma defeats Sadanoumi – Sadanoumi opened strong, but to me it looks like Chiyoshoma’s opening move was to set up the shitatenage, and it payed off wonderfully. Sadanoumi rotates and hits the clay with a satisfying thud, and Chiyoshoma picks up his first win to improve to 1-1.

Aoiyama defeats Okinoumi – “Big Dan” Aoiyama had his hands center-mass, and never gave up that advantage. This match is a great lesson about how effective that can be. Okinoumi made matters worse by attempting to pull, giving the advantage to Aoiyama, who picks up his second win for a 2-0 start.

Nishikigi defeats Tochinoshin – Tochinoshin had a great start, got his left hand outside grip, but lost it. When Nishikigi counter attacked, Tochinoshin collapses, falls off the dohyo and is clearly in pain. I have got to assume that right now his right knee is in poor condition. Man, you hate to see this kind of outcome. Nishikigi picks up his first win and is 1-1.

Kotoshoho defeats Shimanoumi – Very straightforward match, with Kotoshoho completely dominating the winless Shimanoumi. Seriously, Shimanoumi had nothing, and caught a Kotoshoho combo full force. Kotoshoho now 1-1.

Kotoeko defeats Terutsuyoshi – I had some fairly high hopes for this match, but Terutsuyoshi could not keep his feet and quickly ended up with his hands on the clay. Kotoeko seems to have had the same expectation, and was left standing waiting for the next Terutsuyoshi move. Kotoeko 2-0.

Ura defeats Takarafuji – Takarafuji wisely did not come in strong at the tachiai – you just never know what Ura is going to try. But today was straight ahead sumo day for the man in pink, and used some really good technique to never let Takarafuji get close enough to grapple. At one moment Takarafuji pulls forward on Ura’s neck, and from there it’s 2 steps and Takarafuji is out. Ura’s first win and is now 1-1.

Tobizaru defeats Wakamotoharu – While I was looking forward to grand clash of styles, what happened instead was Wakamotoharu loosing his footing and tumbling to the clay. Unexpected, but.. ok. Tobizaru, undeterred, takes one of his customary runs through the crowd anyhow to celebrate that he has a 2-0 start to Natsu.

Onosho defeats Endo – Classic Onosho sumo, Endo came in strong and hit hard at the tachiai, but Onosho was already moving forward. With his hand center-mass, Onosho blew through Endo’s stance and just kept moving. Quick oshidashi win and Onosho is 2-0.

Takanosho defeats Daieisho – Daieisho had the stronger offense at the tachiai: superior hand placement, attacking from underneath, everything you would look for. But As Takanosho moved to escape, Daieisho could not keep his feet and hit the clay. Both end the day at 1-1.

Tamawashi defeats Wakatakakage – As dialed in as Wakatakakage’s sumo is right now, you could wonder how Tamawashi pulled this off. Go watch the combo attacks against Wakatakakage’s upper body. There is a small pull in there that rather than attempt to drop Wakatakakage, is just there to put him off balance, and the second one works. Tamawashi finishes him with a hikiotoshi. Brilliant sumo, his first win against Wakatakakage in 6 attempts, and he’s 2-0.

Abi defeats Hokutofuji – Nice change of opening from Abi, did not immediately deploy the double arm attack before his opponent could stand up. I think this change threw off Hokutofuji’s timing and his balance. When the double arm thrusting attacks began, he found Hokutofuji not set up for defense, and rapidly took him off balance, and moments later out of the ring. Abi picks up his first win and is 1-1.

Hoshoryu defeats Mitakeumi – No other way to put this, Mitakeumi blew the tachiai. He let Hoshoryu dictate the opening move, and never had a second chance to generate any offense. This happens in sumo matches, and it just as easily could have gone the other way. Both end the day 1-1.

Takakeisho defeats Kiribayama – Takakeisho.. winning by… YORIKIRI? Ok, this is indeed seldom seen. But again we saw a somewhat soft tachiai, and Takakeisho leading his attack with his weaker left hand, protecting his right. Both are 1-1 now, but I am quite concerned with Takakeisho’s sumo these two days, and what it implies for his condition.

Kotonowaka defeats Shodai – Kotonowaka steals Shodai’s “cartoon sumo” and finds a way to stay in the ring and on his feet a moment longer than Shodai. The whole match was off balance and a heartbeat away from calamity, so crazy to watch. Kotonowaka has a 2-0 start.

Terunofuji defeats Takayasu – Great battle here, and I really was happy to see Takayasu keep both feet on the clay. Terunofuji was able to transmit power to earth through those knees, and the fight was on. But as Takayasu improved his grip, and broke the Yokozuna’s left hand hold, his right knee gave way and he hit the clay. Terunofuji improves to 1-1.

13 thoughts on “Natsu Day 2 Highlights

  1. Is it just me, or is the lighting on the dohyo a bit darker than usual for this tournament?

    Mitakeumi lost, and I think it might be down to weight gain. To me, he looks noticeably heavier, and it seemed to affect his balance a tad today. Kotonowaka really wants a sanyaku spot, and he’s making a case by showing the Ozekis what-for. Shodai’s got this deer in the headlights look about him. Takakeisho, surprisingly, kept his cool when his opponent got in close. Why can’t all three Ozeki act like their rank dictates on the same day?

    I feel sorry for all those who slipped today, especially Tochinoshin. Ouch! Though Takayasu’s collapse due to slip/crushing elbow grip also looked rough.

      • Well, shows what I know. He just seemed to be spilling over his belt more today, and acted off-balance like Onosho (too far forward over his toes). I put that down to bulk, but on a rewatch Hoshoryu showed skill and Mitakeumi got ahead of himself.

  2. Today really confirms that you can flip a coin to pick your winners for this basho. Holy crow.

    I was surprised that the judges sat on their hands and no mono-ii happened today even though there were two very close results. I guess the winners were obvious at the dohyo level and no one watching the replays yelled about anything? It’s still surprising given how quickly they’ve been called in the most recent basho or two.

    I will give bonus points to Tobizaru and his “Excuse me, pardon me, I don’t want to land on you” tapdance down the aisle today. I was hoping he didn’t injure himself by doing that and he seems to be fine. Phew!

    Tochinoshin’s landing is worrying not just because his knee crumbled. Fortunately, he landed on his shoulders and his head, but that’s still a whole bunch of OWCH going on there. I hope he’s okay across the board. Fingers crossed.

    Daiesho and his inconsistency is frustrating this basho. Beating Terunofuji yesterday and not staying on his feet today against Takanosho. Ay carumba!

    Tamawashi definitely isn’t injured and is fully motivated this basho. It’s good to see him start so well after dealing with a lot of challenges recently.

    I think saying that Takayasu “slipped” doesn’t give enough credit to Terunofuji. His final grip in the match is on Takayasu’s shoulder/elbow, as you wrote, and he was pulling his opponent off-balance. It’s a sneaky move and I think that’s what won the match more than the surface of the Dohyo.

    Finally, if you had told me that the 2-0 bracket for this basho would be Yutakayama, Ichiyamamoto, Myogiryu, Kotoeko, Aoiyama, Tobizaru, Onosho, Tamawashi, and Kotonowaka I wouldn’t have believed you. It’s a heckuva start to the basho and I can’t wait to see what happens next!

    • Slipped is leaving the door open that maybe Takayasu’s previous knee injury did not just re-assert itself. It would be so much in keeping with his career if he blew that knee out again on day 2 and had to be kyujo for a couple of tournaments.

      On the subject of Tobizaru, I am shamelessly stealing this from an astute commentator on Twitter. Worth it’s weight in chanko.

  3. Why Ishiura and Ichinojo not playing?
    And why Takarafuji not in the dohyo iri of Yokozuna?

    • Ishiura – kyujo with neck injury. Ichinojo – kyujo with COVID. Takarafuji: Good question….

  4. What a bizarre start to the tournament! After 2 days the named ranks are a collective 7-9, 43.75% winning average. Not one of them has a winning record so far.

    By Rank:
    Yokozuna 1-1
    Ozeki 2-4
    Sekiwake 2-2
    Komusubi 2-2

    I know it’s early going but this is not at all what I’d expected from the top 8 ranked guys on the banzuke. Even if you remove The Wall Of Disappointment (Shodai/Nodiai) at 0-2 the remaining top 7 are still 7-7.

    WTF!?!?!???!!!And keep in mind that Act 1 is always supposed to be easy for at least the Yokozuna and Ozeki as they’re routinely fed cannon fodder in Act 1.

    • Prior to shonichi, we were sizing up the top 10 guys in Maegashira, and guessed this one was going to be brutal for the named ranks. Keeps them on their toes!

  5. Pleased for Yutakayama today – always had a soft spot for him. For a big guy who does not always display the best balance and agility, he showed great patience on a day when so many ended up slipping over.

    I feel like Shodai should have at least had a mono-ii to check the decision. (Watched the replay a couple of times now and it still looks pretty darned close to me.)

  6. Tochinoshin is worrisome because it looked to me that his left knee was the one that gave out, not his bad knee, though that tumble off the dohyo didn’t do him any good either.

  7. Had the game been Football, Shodai would have been screaming at the ref McEnroe style. He may have touched down first – just – but he clearly to my mind had Kotonowaka beaten. Sumo is a very strange sport.


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