Hatsu Day 2 Highlights

Much as I worry about Hoshoryu and his big attitude, so far this January he has shown that he is the best of the named ranks. Two days in a row he fought like a champion, and prevailed. Day one he delivered the kind of speed and power I have not seen on the clay in many months. Today we saw him wait out a skilled opponent, and then turn the tables on him when it was to his best advantage. Today’s sumo reminded me of dear departed Harumafuji in many ways, including the little right hand pick, that set up the shitatenage. I hope he can carry this power forward through the rest of the 15 days.

I also must note that after a brutal absence that saw him stripped of Ozeki, the “good” Mitakeumi is back on the dohyo. When this guy is healthy, he so very potent. His big body and surprisingly good balance shut down so many avenues of attack that are normally open, as Wakatakakage found out today. Underestimate him at your own peril.

I think the schedulers see it this way too. We get Hoshoryu vs Mitakeumi on day 3…

Highlight Matches

Tsurugisho defeats Chiyomaru – Chiyomaru’s initial attacks were high, as was his body. He was wide open to Tsurugisho’s left hand, which latched on with an iron grip and gave Tsurugisho control. There were a couple of good attempts by Chiyomaru to break that grip, but it was all done 4 steps later. Tsurugisho advances to 2-0.

Takarafuji defeats Ichiyamamoto – It’s great to see Takarafuji back in fighting form. Today he prevented Ichiyamamoto from running his double arm thrusting attacks by continuing to close in and rob Ichiyamamoto of a full arm extension. I saw a couple of nice forearm blocks, and that right hand pushing back against Ichiyamamoto’s chest. Ichiyamamoto rallied for a moment, and looked to take control, but Takarafuji kept focused, saw that Ichiyamamoto had left his feet back, and delivered an hatakikomi to send Ichiyamamoto to the clay. He starts Hatsu with 2-0.

Azumaryu defeats Mitoryu – An outstanding, if sloppy, yotsu-zumo battle. Mitoryu had the advantage at the start of the match, but Azumaryu kept his balance centered and his stance wide. As Mitoryu kept working to get Azumaryu off balance, he missed the uwate, Azumaryu rotated into the throw and put Mitoryu down, giving him a 2-0 start.

Kotoshoho defeats Kagayaki – Oh dear, just what I have hopes that Kagayaki has his sumo straightened out, along comes this match. He opens up attacking Kotoshoho’s face. Sure that my be fun, but its not really as effective as Kagayaki’s better attack route to the chest. Its double frustrating in that Kotoshoho left his chest exposed twice, but Kagayaki just had to attack the face. Of course everyone knew that face attack was trying to set up a pull, and when it came Kotoshoho rammed him out in a hurry. Kotoshoho picks up a second win and is 2-0.

Kotoeko defeats Okinoumi – Much more true to form sumo from Kotoeko today. I like how he broke Okinoumi’s grip, and moments later his stance. Off balance and out of contact with Kotoeko, Okinoumi was not too tough to push out. Kotoeko’s first win puts him at 1-1.

Aoiyama defeats Chiyoshoma – Chiyoshoma chose to bash Aoiyama in the face for a bit. Unfortunately for Chiyoshoma that is interpreted by “Big Dan” as flirtation. This was not helped when Chiyoshoma put both hands around Aoiyama to apply a battle hug. Aoiyama clamped onto Chiyoshoma’s arms, and muscled Chiyoshoma out 2 steps later. Aoiyama with a solid 2-0 start.

Hiradoumi defeats Tochinoshin – That may not have looked like much, but I was well impressed with Hiradoumi’s sumo today. He bet that if he could deny Tochinoshin a left hand outside grip, that the former Ozeki would be completely driven to set that up. Indeed Tochinoshin ignored multiple opportunities to keep reaching with his left, so much so that it left him perilously off balance. Hiradoumi finished the job with an uwatenage to swing Tochinoshin to the clay, and score his first win to improve to 1-1.

Onosho defeats Takanosho – What he hell was that? Two days in a row someone gambles that Onosho is going to be off balance and instead finds themselves launched off the dohyo. Don’t pull this guy right now, he seems to be dialed into his sumo for January. Onosho now 2-0.

Endo defeats Oho – This was a fine match indeed. I had hoped that Endo could employ his experience to out-wit Oho, and he played it just right. Oho brought a lot of power and eager attacks to the match. Endo kept him from winning and waited for an opening, which happened when Oho’s body was out of position, and already half way to the clay. Endo finished him with a shitatenage to score his first win, improving to 1-1.

Ura defeats Hokutofuji – Ura continues his dominance over Hokutofuji, now with a 9-1 career lead. Beautiful focus on center-mass, he seems to have caught Hokutofuji by surprise. There was no recovery and three steps later Ura had the win. Both finished the day 1-1.

Nishikigi defeats Myogiryu – I feel for Myogiryu. That matta tipped his tachiai plan, and he really struggled to pull it off the second time. Nishikigi countered well and just waited Myogiryu out, charging forward when he got the chance and winning by oshidashi. Both are now 1-1.

Nishikifuji defeats Sadanoumi – Excellent, sharp tachiai from Nishikifuji. It seems to have triggered a half step forward from Sadanoumi, leaving him off balance. Nishikifuji ripped into an hatakikomi in response and sent Sadanoumi tumbling. Wow, that was fast and aggressive sumo from Nishikifuji, he is now 1-1.

Midorifuji defeats Ryuden – No, no indeed. That katasukashi never gets old, and I love it each time Midorifuji puts it to work. Today’s passenger was Ryuden, who I hope enjoyed it as much as the rest of us did. Midorifuji opening perfect with 2-0.

Abi defeats Wakamotoharu – It started as Abi-zumo punishing Wakamotoharu, but credit to Wakamotoharu, he was able to grab a hold and shut it down. From then on it was a straight up playground brawl, with both men hitting the clay more or less together. A monoii resulted, and replay showed Abi touching down last. Having started now at 2-0, we have to wonder if Abi is going to be strong through week 1. Could be an interesting wrinkle to the story line.

Tamawashi defeats Meisei – It was almost denshamichi, with Tamawashi playing the part of the Tohoku Shinkansen. Meisei ended up in Aomori without a return fare. Tamawashi now 2-0.

Mitakeumi defeats Wakatakakage – As much as I loved this match, I wish we could have seen this in November. Mitakeumi is clearly back in fighting form now, and he’s using his tadpole body to full advantage. He basted Wakatakakage back at the tachiai, and dominated him even when Wakatakakage managed to rally and fight back. A poorly constructed throw attempt was greeted with Mitakeumi bodily pushing him from the ring. Mitakeumi now 2-0.

Daieisho defeats Shodai – Its been a while since Daieisho was in good form, but this is his sumo when he’s dialed in. Shodai left his chest wide open, and Daieisho decided, “sure why not”. The windmill thrusts where more than Shodai could absorb, and there was no sign of the “Wall of Daikon”, which would have saved him. Daieisho starts 2-0.

Kiribayama defeats Takayasu – What could be more Takayasu than being on the cusp of an important winning streak, and starting 0-2? Again we had Takayasu wild man sumo, and his balance was all over the map. Kiribayama took full advantage of this, and kept Takayasu from regaining control. He picks up his first win and is now 1-1.

Hoshoryu defeats Kotonowaka – Second day in a row we see Hoshoryu really dominating his match. Even when Kotonowaka had what looked to be a commanding hold. Hoshoryu waited him out and put him down like a rookie in this first basho. Hoshoryu now 2-0, and looking like maybe he has taken the next step. We should know better by nakabi.

Tobizaru defeats Takakeisho – I have to wonder if Takayasu landing on Takakeisho earlier may have put the lone Ozeki off of his sumo. He missed the initial strike against Tobizaru, and Tobizaru proceeded to keep Takakeisho out of thrusting range, and turning to face him. It did not take too long for there to be a lost of balance, and Tobizaru finished him with a hatakikomi. Both end the day 1-1.

6 thoughts on “Hatsu Day 2 Highlights

  1. Well, Takekeisho does have a shot at making yokozuna if he wins, so history tells that he’ll leave the tournament injured. That might have been the injury.

    Similarly, Shodai needs 10 wins, so a 0-4 start sounds about right. He always starts slow and makes it interesting.

  2. I’m wondering if Takayasu is so high because he wants to keep his head away from collisions at the tachiai. It wouldn’t surprise me given his recent injury.

    It seems that Jungyo keeps more people in fighting form when it happens between basho. There is an obvious lack of ring rust so far.

    I think Abi winning a Cup might have helped him turn a corner mentally. Even during the last basho, if his opponent got in close he would panic and lose. In this match, he welcomed his opponent in close quarters and fought. It’s a stark difference.

  3. Takakeisho really didn’t show up today, that was almost too easy for Tobizaru.
    Takakeisho is better than his current peers which is proven by his records, but it’s always those stupid losses early in the tournament which put him 1 or 2 wins behind the leader from the get go. Now he’s already in a situation where he can’t afford any more losses (maybe one) if he hunts for the yusho.

  4. Can we go one day without hearing about Hoshoryu’s attitude? It’s old man yelling at clouds at this point.

  5. I think its a bit of a stretch that Hoshoryu dominated this match. He just got lucky that Kotonowaka felt a bit too much in the drivers seat and got a bit careless. Obviously great use of that opportunity. It’s one of his qualities that even at a disadvantage he makes use of any small opportunity you leave him.


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