Kyushu Day 8 Preview

Welcome to Nakabi, the middle day of the sumo tournament. This is the first day it’s possible to be either make-koshi or kachi-koshi, and sadly the only potentials we have on tap are a trio of 0-7 rikishi who may pick up their 8th loss today. Will the go kyujo once they do? Or will the press ahead for the full 0-15 score, earning the rare and seldom seen zenpai (opposite of zensho) score.

Normally this is the first time we publish information about the yusho race, but for the second basho in a row, there really isn’t one yet. Sure there are 4 rikishi at 6-1, but given that half of the banzuke is still in striking distance (at a middling 4-3), it’s best to wait to see if maybe today does not clarify the race a bit.

Late breaking news….

Chiyotairyu has announced prior to the start of day 8 that he is retiring from the sport. He is intai, and will not finish the Kyushu basho. His performance had waned significantly in the past year. There will be a more complete report posted to this site shortly.

What We Are Watching Day 8

Okinoumi vs Yutakayama – Today’s Juryo visitor is former top division mainstay, Yutakayama. He entered the top division about the same time as Asanoyama, but injuries robbed him of reaching is full potential. He’s a stable made of Shodai, so maybe whatever miasma has inflicted Shodai inflicts Yutakayama as well. He’s only won once against Okinoumi in 8 tries, so this may be a much needed win for Okinoumi today.

Atamifuji vs Oho – First ever match between these two new stars of sumo. I am not sure if Atamifuji is hurt now, perplexed or just overwhelmed by the demands of his daily matches, but he’s struggling now at 3-4. His opponent, Oho, has managed to piece together a 6-1 record without really showing definitive or dominant sumo, yet here we are.

Kotoeko vs Hiradoumi – A pair of 4-3 rikishi, with only a single prior bout between them, day 13 of the Aki basho this year. The win went to Hiradoumi, and if I recall, we had Kotoeko with a lot of energy, and a lot of bold, frantic motion, ultimately succumb to Hiradoumi’s stronger sumo fundamentals. Today is his chance to even the score.

Kagayaki vs Chiyotairyu – It’s almost certain now that Chiyotairyu will be heading for 8 losses or more this basho, at Maegashira 12, he should be able to remain in the top division. Depending on the nature of his injuries, it may not make much of a difference. Should this come to pass, it would be his third consecutive make-koshi, and I honestly think he has been hurt since the May tournament. This gives Kagayaki a clear advantage today. UPDATE: Chiyotairyu has withdrawn, and Kagayaki will get the default win today.

Onosho vs Terutsuyoshi – The open question: “Will Terutsuyoshi win any matches this November?” remains. He’s on less away from make-koshi, which I expect this day against Onosho. Hopefully Onosho has better control of his balance, and better foot placement in today’s tachiai.

Ichiyamamoto vs Kotoshoho – Kotoshoho broke his 3 match losing streak on day 7 against Takanosho, but he will be hard pressed to repeat that feat today against 5-2 Ichiyamamoto. Ichiyamamoto is not only fighting better than Kotoshoho, but has a 5-2 career advantage. Kotoshoho might have one opening early in the match if he can evade the first double arm attack.

Azumaryu vs Chiyoshoma – A pair of rikishi with 3-4 record, the winner gets to go to the make-koshi 4-4 center line, and the loser pushes farther toward their 8th loss. Azumaryu has won 5 of their 6 matches, and I think it quite likely he will continue that streak today.

Takarafuji vs Aoiyama – With his stable mate Terutsuyoshi likely hitting his 8th win earlier in the top division fight card, will Takarafuji be likewise looking at his 8th loos, and a nakabi make-koshi? It would not take much to get Aoiyama to stumble on that injured leg, but can Takarafuji muster enough muscle in his current state to do that? They have 28 career matches with Aoiyama leading 21-7.

Endo vs Abi – Endo, at 2-5, could be looking at his fifth make-koshi of the year, and the chances of his overcoming his 2-10 career deficit against Abi in this current condition are slim to none. Abi will be looking for a win to keep pace with the 6-1 leader group, and edge closer to a hoped for kachi-koshi in week 2.

Tochinoshin vs Ryuden – Tochinoshin is still big, and his upper body is quite strong, but his damaged undercarriage increasingly looks tenuous with each match on the clay. Add to that, Ryuden has a 5-2 career advantage, and is fighting reasonably well, and you have the makings for a 5th Tochinoshin loss.

Hokutofuji vs Myogiryu – This has all the makings of a big fight. Both Hokutofuji (4-3) and Myogiryu (5-2) have a good chance at a kachi-koshi next week, they have a 14 match career record that breaks 8-6 in Hokutofuji’s favor. Myogiryu is fighting well this November, so I eager to see this match.

Takanosho vs Nishikifuji – Takanosho, at 3-4, continues to under perform at a rank well below where he had spent most of the last few years. He’s only fought against Nishikifuji (5-2) once before, with Nishikifuji winning the match. I would love to see Takanosho back in good form, but I worry it may not be possible right now.

Nishikigi vs Midorifuji – It’s 3-4 Nishikigi looking to stay on in the middle with a win today against 2-5 Midorifuji, who has lost his last 3 in a row. Its looking more like his 7-8 score at Maegashira 1 may have been him having a good basho, and he will settle lower into a more natural range. Nishikigi will look for a body or belt grip earlier, and that will be Midorifuji’s chance to make his move for something energetic.

Ura vs Ichinojo – I am starting to wonder if Ura is going to join Takarafuji and Terutsuyoshi in the “zenpai” category of striving to achieve the rare zero win while still competing tournament. He’s not energetic, he’s not fighting with agility or strength, and looks like he’s running out of options. I would guess Ichinojo should be able to put him on the deck or over the side without too much work.

Takayasu vs Kiribayama – Who might Takayasu find today to put a dent in their Kyushu record? It’s Kiribayama! Kiribayama has won both of his prior two matches, and I think he will give Takayasu a big fight today. I am looking for Takayasu to once again open with a brutal forearm move, and go straight into punishing body blows. Kiribayama’s best bet is to employ his superior agility to attempt to not let Takayasu land those attacks with full force.

Tamawashi vs Meisei – At some point, Tamawashi will win his second match of the tournament. Today is as good a day as any for him to try this, as Meisei is part of the great mass of rikishi at 3-4 or 4-3. He has a slight 4-3 career advantage, and though he might be fighting hurt, he only needs one solid combo to get someone like Meisei down.

Wakatakakage vs Daieisho – Wakatakakage has a clear goal this basho, get to double digits to stoke his run for Ozeki. But he has dropped 3 so far, and that road looks a bit more rocky now. In fact, he needs to win 6 of the last 8 matches to hit that mark, and keep his run going. He is capable of that kind of performance, but the question must be, is he capable this November?

Kotonowaka vs Mitakeumi – The stakes for Mitakeumi are a bit higher still. He needs 10 wins to return to Ozeki, and that means 6 of the last 8 for him. I worry that he will get to the end of day 14 with a 9 win record, and face some kind of hideous meta-Darwin match for his 10th. He has only won once in 5 attempts against 4-3 Kotonowaka, so it may be a tough day for the original tadpole.

Tobizaru vs Hoshoryu – I am sure Tobizaru wants to get 8 wins, but to me it looks like he’s having fun on the dohyo, win or lose. That is many times the hallmark of a great athlete, the ability to enjoy the sport even when you are not winning today. He has an even 6-6 record against Hoshoryu who is in the 6-1 leader group, and may be part of the yusho race one it emerges.

Takakeisho vs Wakamotoharu – A big clash of sumo styles, with Takakeisho being a high power pusher who can’t survive once his opponent gets a belt grip, and Wakamotoharu who has turned into a solid yotsu-zumo technician, and will be grabbing for Takakeisho’s belt at every chance. This fight will come down to Takakeisho blasting Wakamotoharu out of the ring before Wakamotoharu can get a grip. They have split their two priors, 1-1.

Sadanoumi vs Shodai – Shodai may follow Mitakeumi’s path if he is not able to buckle down and crank out 4 more wins in the last 8 matches. This may sound easy, but the “hard” part of his schedule is yet to come. He’s beaten Sadanoumi twice before, but their last match was in November of 2019 when Shodai was a Maegashira 10.

8 thoughts on “Kyushu Day 8 Preview

  1. There’s every incentive for the 0-7 trio to stick around and try to pick up a few wins. We’ve seen plenty of cold starts that turned around; heck, Takarafuji himself went from 0-7 to 4-11 just this past May. The focus on KK vs MK misses the point—what matters is the size of the demotion. Terutsuyoshi is probably a lost cause as far as staying in Makuuchi, but he’ll want to be ranked as high as possible in Juryo, while Ura needs to find one win to guarantee a stay, and Takarafuji will probably hang on with 3, especially with Chiyotairyu’s retirement opening up a slot. The only rank at which it makes sense to go kyujo after the 8th loss is Ozeki.

    • Just a bit of devil’s advocate here (and I don’t want to put words in Bruce’s mouth but I think I know where he’s coming from) but the one big justification for a kyujo in that situation is if you think you can come back stronger with proper healing (ie you think you can do 11+ wins from J2 fully recovered rather than having to try and scrape 7 or 8 to stay in the division at M15), although that supposes that there’s a significant injury in play. We’ve seen that plenty of times before.

      That said, I think the question is if that’s the case, why you’d wait for the 8th loss, although that may well be cultural (ie gambarise until it’s beyond you). But for s’s and g’s, looking at the 3 cases, I don’t know that any of them are really suffering from a situation that a kyujo recovery would help them fix over the longer term:

      • Takarafuji – is probably injured but it’s a chronic wear and tear thing that at almost 36 isn’t going to change no matter how much he rests. Like Takekaze and Shohozan and Aminishiki and others before him he’s probably on the slow slide towards Juryo, helped to your point by the handful of wins he can put up in garbage time to slow the descent.
      • Ura – doesn’t appear to have fitness issues, just getting pumped in the joi as sometimes happens to him (in what is turning out to be a decent/competitive basho among the san’yaku without many disappointments)
      • Terutsuyoshi – might be injured but moreover just looks totally uninspired and is making poor choices with regards to how he attacks his opponents (this might be worth a full 15 day deep dive if I or someone else has the time). He might benefit mentally more than anything from not having matters made worse (or it may just be that the scouting report on him is out and top division opponents are good enough to stop him).
      • Takarafuji has an elbow injury I think. He’s certainly got extra strapping compared to usual. I agree there seems little benefit to him in going kyujo, especially as he’d lose his attendance record. I can’t see that the minimal effort he’s putting in on the dohyo is going to affect his rate of healing so he may as well turn up, keep his record, and hope that someone falls over (e.g. like Nishikigi, who probably should have lost against him).

        The Kyokai website has Terutsuyoshi at 107kg, and he’s been up as high as 117kg before. I don’t know how accurate the current weight is, but he definitely looks thinner to me. He may just be too small to do the things he was previously able to, and that frustration may be making him look uninspired. It must also be a little hard for him to go from the Heya No. 2 (he just missed out on heyagashira in 2020) to No. 6 on the banzuke presently. If he goes 0-15 presumably his fall would be cushioned and he’d end up lower juryo rather than lose sekitori status…?

      • All good points. I’d argue that seven days isn’t much extra time to heal for the next basho, unless the concern is aggravating an injury. After today’s win, Ura is now safely in the top division and I expect him to pad his fall in the remaining week.

  2. I think you nailed it with regards to Takayasu and Kiribayama, Bruce – for me that’s THE match of the day, and maybe even of the basho so far. For me, out of the four guys at 6-1, Takayasu is doing the best sumo and it’s not even close. I would say it looks like he’s doing some of the best sumo of his career or certainly at least of the last several years since he had that nasty thigh injury as an Ozeki.

    I know we’ve been here before but this feels like absolutely his basho to lose. Hoshoryu has done well to get to 6-1 but could just as easily be 3-4 (although that Day 7 win was really something). I can’t see Oho going the distance, but can see Abi easily racking up 11 or 12 from his artificially low rank.

    Atamifuji just looks overwhelmed on his debut and has lost some matches that a more seasoned veteran would have won. I don’t like saying everyone with a losing record is injured because sometimes you’re just not good enough at the level. I think he’ll do enough to stay in the division but even if he drops down I think he’ll be bounce back strongly. Rough basho so far for Isegahama beya apart from Nishikifuji who I think has been largely fantastic.

      • Not sure I’m coming with you there – Hoshoryu had two absolutely outstanding wins on Day 7 and 8 but before that he picked up 3 wins that could just as easily have been losses (especially including, but not limited to, Daieisho)

        Early on I actually thought he’d probably win the yusho here because sometimes the sign of a champion is getting it done even when you’re not on top form. He was excellent over Day 7 and 8 but I don’t think we saw anything like Hoshoryu’s best form before that in week 1 and Takayasu has been max effort almost every day.


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