Nagoya Day 11 Highlights

The big news for day 11 is that two more stables have detected cases of COVID, and are now kyujo. This includes Sadogatake, home to all of the “Koto” rikishi. Joining Sadogatake is Tamanoi heya, where Azumaryu trains. At this point about 1/5th of all rikishi in sumo are out due to COVID policies. This includes some rikishi that were in the middle of important, career elevating tournaments (Kotonowaka) that won’t get that momentum or experience back. As mentioned on prior days, given how virulent Omicron BA4/5 is, quite a few people in the sumo kyokai are likely infected now, and one has to wonder if they are even going to finish this tournament if they keep benching all of the talent.

List of fusensho (and opponents) today

  • Yutakayama – (Kotoshoho)
  • Oho – (Kotoeko)
  • Daieisho – (Kotonowaka)

The elimination of so many competitors from the top division has a dramatic impact on the television format, as the current producers for both NHK and Abema are struggling to fill the time that would normally be taken by the matches themselves. Lets hope we don’t get an Isegahama or Kokenoe covid-kyujo, or they will need to start showing Shin-Chan cartoons between bouts.

In action on the dohyo, the leader group is now down to two, with just 4 chasers. We will likely have a yusho race after all. Two more rikishi hit their 8th win today, and are kachi-koshi: Takakeisho and Nishikifuji, with another 4 on deck for a try tomorrow. The funnel crop is a bountiful as ever, and this could be one of the largest group of 7-7 rikishi I have seen in my lifetime on this earth, unless they all go covid-kyujo first.

Highlight Matches

Onosho defeats Daiamami – Daiamami’s injured ankle really can’t support much in the way of sumo right now, and Onosho makes fast work of him. It’s stand him up, slap him down. The tsukiotoshi takes Onosho to 6-5.

Chiyoshoma defeats Takarafuji – I marveled at Chiyoshoma’s work to keep Takarafuji from getting a proper mawashi grip, or setting up his defensive foot placement. That was high-skill sumo tuned for a very specific engagement, and I loved it. From the center-mass tsuppari chest strike at the tachiai, to the point where he chose to go chest to chest with Takarafuji, Chiyoshoma had this one dialed in. Both end the day at 5-6.

Terutsuyoshi defeats Chiyomaru – Terutsuyoshi grabs a drumstick and proceeds to walk Chiyomaru about for a while before dumping him off the dohyo. 8 losses for Chiyomaru now, and he is make-koshi and headed back to Juryo, 5-6 for Terutsuyoshi after that fine ashitori.

Midorifuji defeats Tsurugisho – Midorifuji had trouble deciding what to do with his left hand. He was inside and low, but changed up the spot he was gripping Tsurugisho’s mawashi, and it simply was not working out for him. But fortunately for him, his right hand was in excellent position to load the throw, and it was shitatenage time! Midorifuji improves to 7-4 and can earn his kachi-koshi tomorrow.

Nishikifuji defeats Chiyotairyu – Nishikifuji gets a deep double inside grip early and simply brutes Chiyotairyu around. It is surprising that as big and bulky as Chiyotairyu is, that he can’t overpower Nishikifuji, or if whatever injuries he’s dealing with rob him of any power to shut down the yori in any meaningful way. Nishikifuji scores his 8th win, and is kachi-koshi for July by yorikiri.

Myogiryu defeats Nishikigi – I think the false start wrecked Nishikigi’s timing, and he was not quite in normal form when the tachiai did take place. He struggled for hand positioned, and was well forward of his toes. Myogiryu was aware of this, took a step back and hit the hatakikomi. Nishikigi hit the clay, and Myogiryu advanced to 7-4.

Tochinoshin defeats Meisei – Fighting Tochinoshin involves a lot of guess work, it seems. There are days when he’s rather tender, and unable to really employ is overwhelming strength. Today was not one of those days. Meisei goes for the inside grip, Tochinoshin obliged. Tochinoshin worked to get his left hand outside, and then it was time for Meisei to endure some power sumo. A quick waltz across the clay, and it was a yorikiri win for Tochinoshin, with both men finishing the day at 6-5.

Sadanoumi defeats Shimanoumi – Sadanoumi finds his third win of the basho by overpowering the hapless Shimanoumi, lifting him and driving forward to win by yorikiri. Sadanoumi improves to 3-8.

Hokutofuji defeats Wakamotoharu – Hokutofuji did an excellent job of keeping Wakamotoharu from settling into any manner of offense or defense. Hokutofuji attacked multiple points via clever combos, and left Wakamotoharu wondering what would happen next. With Wakamotoharu trying to respond to the last attack, Hokutofui grabbed a leg and powered forward. The resulting watashikomi gave Hokutofuji the win, and he finishes the day 6-5.

Ura defeats Okinoumi – This was about as vanilla a match as you might ever find from Ura. He was straight into the grapple against Okinoumi, and battled him face to face. But Okinoumi could not resist the temptation to reach that left hand for Ura’s belt. Ah ha! A stray appendage to grab and tug! Well, that was the end of Okinoumi as Ura unleashed a tottari, giving his opponent a face full of clay. Ura improves to 5-6.

Tamawashi defeats Kiribayama – I am all smiles that a seemingly injured Tamawashi achieved his first ever win against Kiribayama today. Tamawashi was all forward power and attacking Kiribayama’s face and neck, until the moment when he moved a hand behind Kiribayama head and pulled forward. The power transfer was large enough that it flipped Kiribayama end over end to win by hatakikomi. Both end the day at 4-7.

Ichinojo defeats Abi – Abi learns the hard way that his double arm thrusts are utterly worthless against the Boulder when Ichinojo is on his game. A stray arm was a perfect hand hold for Ichinojo, and Abi found himself on the receiving end of a kotenage attempt. Abi did not go out, but did not recover. Horribly off balance his 200kg beast of a rikishi chased him down and pushed him out from the rear (okuridashi). Ichinojo improves to 9-2.

Aoiyama defeats Wakatakakage – Its 3-0 now for Aoiyama against Wakatakakage. Somehow this giant man-mountain has Wakatakakage’s number, and can put him on the deck any time, any place. At the rapid conclusion of today’s match, you can see the frustration on Wakatakakage’s face. Aoiyama improves to 5-6 and pulls Wakatakakage back to the middle of the funnel.

Shodai defeats Endo – I am sure Endo did not know what to expect, having no idea which version of Shodai would show up. Looks like Ozeki Shodai was on the clay today. Endo showed some great offensive combos, but Shodai was ready for all of it. Note that Shodai’s form was terrible, but his sumo was good enough to overwhelm Endo and propel him out by yorikiri. Shodai improves to 7-4, and somehow has managed to get himself one win away from kachi-koshi, and clearing kadoban.

Takakeisho defeats Tobizaru – I am absolutely impressed that Takakeisho was able to keep Tobizaru off his belt, and keep his own balance under control in the face of the antics of the flying monkey. Tobizaru put a lot of energy into this match, and I complement him for all of the work to prepare. An off-balance combo left Tobizaru struggling to stay upright, and Takakeisho slapped him down for the win. That’s kachi-koshi for Takakeisho, he picks up his 8th win of Nagoya.

Terunofuji defeats Hoshoryu – Where to start with this. Well, Hoshoryu, that was a jerk match. Yes, it’s a combat sport, and he was focused on the win, but that whole match was executed to put maximum torque into Terunofuji’s damaged knees. That first time when Terunofuji tossed you away, then waved you back in, that should have been your first indication that you had the Yokozuna’s interest. My compliments to Terunofuji for focus, concentration and patience. You let Hoshoryu expend his energy, then locked him up, took him apart and tossed way the husk. You have a long way to go, Hoshoryu, before you might fight like that, hope you enjoyed the comparison. The look on Hoshoryu’s face following his ejection from the dohyo told to story. Terunofuji improves to 9-2.

9 thoughts on “Nagoya Day 11 Highlights

  1. Fingers crossed that we actually get to finish the basho. I critique the NSK when they don’t do things properly, so it’s important to give them credit when they’re doing the right things too. I fear there will be a lot of hand-wringing and long discussions while creating the next banzuke.

    I don’t blame Terutsuyoshi for being a “one trick pony” with his ashiyatori, but I’m waiting for someone to either shift out of the way and give him a face full of clay or catch him completely off-guard straight off the tachiai soon.

    Watatakakage is definitely hitting a “sophomore slump” this basho and it’s honestly not surprising. I think he’ll be fine in the long run, but he definitely has to make some adjustments to his sumo.

    I am interested to see how Midorifuji, Nishikifuji, and others who haven’t been in the top division long will do if/when they get their kachikoshi this basho. While the next banzuke might be “pause and give it another go” for all of the COVID kyujo rikishi, I think there will still be quite a bit of shuffling around otherwise.

    While I agree that specifically targeting weakened limbs of an opponent isn’t great for the long term health of the rikishi with the issue, we have to remember that sumo is a combat sport and literally the only thing that matters is winning. I don’t blame Hoshoryu for his strategy today because it’s based on the same mentality that Terutsyoshi used when he did an ashiyatori on Daiamami in their bout, for example. It’s also the same mentality that any rikishi has to use when they bundle their opponent over the edge of the dohyo like a sack of rice. Everyone knows there’s a chance of injury in those situations, but they happen anyway because those things can be used to obtain a win on the dohyo. Which is the literal reason the rikishi mount it in the first place. If Hoshoryu, Terutsuyoshi, or any other rikishi continually goes to that well to get wins, I agree they should be ridiculed. (This is what happened when Tamawashi used a bunch of kotenage repeatedly in previous bashos if I remember correctly.) But, a lesser skilled rikishi using this tactic against a better skilled opponent isn’t surprising and is an okay thing to do as a one-off attempt in my opinion.

    I am also not surprised that Hoshoryu’s tactics didn’t work on the Yokozuna because I suspect he’s been waiting for someone to try to pull those shenanigans for awhile. Similarly to his match with Wakamotoharu, I believe that Terunofuji relishes the chance to engage with an opponent who is willing to attack and challenge him instead of bundling up an intimidated rikishi and depositing them over the bales. There was definitely a similar “You gotta beat me a different way, so let’s go” vibe from Terunofuji today that we used to see with Hakuho. I suspect, and hope, we’ll see it a lot more from him in the future too.

    • If you want to be a god of wind
      You have to beat me

      If you want to be a god of wind
      You must take my skin

      If you want to be a god of wind
      You must use my nails

      If you want to be a god of wind
      You must be like me

  2. The efforts put forth by both Terunofuji and Tamawashi are not indicative of injured men. They persevered and dominated today. It was also nice to see Ozeki-level sumo from the two remaining in the tournament. Sure, both have their issues, but at lest the rank will be populated come next basho. It was a real worry there’d be none soon beforehand.

    The Covid kyujos are really wrecking my bingo card. Kotonowaka, especially, ruined a few good chances I had. The banzuke committee is going to need quite the copious amount of sake to decide what to do with this mess after the basho ends. I don’t envy them their task. This whole tournament seems to be dictated by those fabled monkeys locked in a room with typewriters.

  3. Shodai may have started 0-3, but he went 7-1 since then. He is kinda showing his Ozeki Sumo again. Hi slast 3 days will be against Wakatakakage, Takakeisho and Terunofuji. will be interesting to see how that plays out. None of them looks unbeatable atm.Takakeisho is only one win behind the leader and has the same matches for the last 3 days as Shodai.
    Given how this basho started, its surprising, that we still have 2 Ozeki in the yusho race at this point.

    Kotonowaka being pulled out is areal blow. He is at a career high rank and was looking like he is going for double digits. It looks unlikely that we will have more than one Sanyaku slot open (and that isn’t sure either), which by the current trend ichinojo is primed for, but this was looking like kinda a breakout tournament anyways for him.

    Juryo is a mess atm. Other than Ryuden noone is looking like a promotion case atm. Ofcourse a strong finish by Hidenoumi or Kagayaki could brighten that picture a bit, but atm it looks like we will have more demoteable records than promotable ones.

    Im really looking forward to next basho and Kinbozans debut in Juryo.

  4. Murray Johnson on the English NHK highlights of Day 10 had an interesting story that after Day 3 (or 4?), Hakuho approached Shodai and told him he needs to start warming up and getting his head right before his bouts. He invited Shodai to come to the Miyagino section of the locker room to do exercises with him and the others. Since then, Shodai has been on absolute tear. Coincidence? Who knows.

    Also, I don’t agree with the stance on Hoshoryu in this at all. Sumo is a sport and it’s a sport engineered that the ONLY measure of success is winning. Beating Terunofuji for the first time would raise the stock of Hoshoryu exceptionally. It may not be nice, but you can’t fault a rikishi for doing what he has to do to try and win and advance their career when the sport actively encourages that behavior.

  5. Seems to me like Kiribayama tucked his shoulder in a little as he fell, so that it turned into a roll rather than a crash? Learning how to fall is so valuable. I like seeing that, and I like seeing how Tobizaru stays on his feet when he goes flying so he can run off the momentum without crashing. I don’t fault Shodai for his upright tachiais either, since they keep him from concussions.


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