Hatsu Day 6 Highlights

We start our coverage with sumo news. Firstly, former Ozeki Takayasu has withdrawn from the tournament, due to a knee injury. He was fighting poorly this January, and it’s likely better for him to preserve what he can of his lower body. This is par for the course of Takayasu. He gets on the cusp of an achievement, and some gnarly problem slaps him down. Wakamotoharu gets the fusensho, improving to 3-3.

Also, it is reported that Okinoumi has withdrawn from the tournament after starting 0-5, and will announce his retirement from the ring tomorrow (Saturday). He owns a kabu, so we will see him in a blue jacket before long. As we mused earlier this basho, he was looking ready for a hair cut. He has been in professional sumo for the 18 years, since the age of 19. He had 67 basho in the top division, and a record of 3 Jun-Yusho, 1 Shukun-Sho, 4 Kanto-Sho, 4 Kinbosh. Well done, sir! Mitoryu picked up the fusensho, and is now 3-3.

In November, I lamented the poor quality of the competition in the tournament. Everyone was hugging the center-line, and it seemed that nobody wanted to really run up the score. Everyone was happy just to take it a bit easy and coast. What a difference 2 months can make. After the day 6 action, there are no unbeaten rikishi, and there are eight (8!) men tied for the lead at the start of the middle weekend. This is more like it, and I hope we get a big rolling battle for the next few days to sort out the dominant ones from the pack.

I will call out that in Juryo, one man remains unbeaten. None other than former Ozeki Asanoyama, at 6-0 at the end of today. He’s ranked Juryo 12, so even a zensho would be unlikely to boost him back to the top division, but I would not be surprised to see him return in May. Is he, in all honesty, the next man to be promoted to Ozeki? What a crazy thing that would be.

Highlight Matches

Chiyomaru defeats Akua – In a battle of the green mawashi whales, it’s Chiyomaru with his first win of the basho. Chiyomaru made contact first, stood Akua up, circled behind and pushed him out. Surprising agility from a fellow that large. Chiyomaru gets his shonichi, and is 1-5.

Azumaryu defeats Tsurugisho – Tsurugisho allowed Azumaryu to set up a strong left hand outside grip at the tachiai. That left hand provided enough leverage and power to raise Tsurugisho up, and pivot him to the bales for an easy step-out. I am starting to get excited that after all this time Azumaryu may finally get his first top division kachi-koshi. Just 3 more wins to go at 5-1.

Takarafuji defeats Kotoshoho – Takarafuji extends his streak of wins over Kotoshoho to 4. Kotoshoho came in strong, Takarafuji gave ground and then as smooth as could be slipped to the side and let Kotoshoho tumble to the clay. Kotoshoho picks up his first loss and both finish the day at 5-1.

Kotoeko defeats Ichiyamamoto – Kotoeko won the match, but took quite a pounding in the process from Ichiyamamoto’s double arm thrusting combos. Kotoeko stayed as close as he could manage, and endured the rain of blows coming in second by second. Kotoeko was able to get his hands underneath, and in a lift and push combo, shoved Ichiyamamoto to his right, sending him to the clay. Kotoeko improves to 4-2.

Chiyoshoma defeats Takanosho – A wild, flailing match where both men spent time slapping each other at arm’s length, grabbing each other’s head and tugging and generally carrying on. But it seems that somewhere between the tachiai and Takanosho throwing Chiyoshoma to the clay, Takanosho pulled Chiyoshoma’s mage (top knot), and was disqualified. Chiyoshoma gets his first win and is 1-5.

Endo defeats Kagayaki – Endo employs a mini-henka, and Kagayaki buys it wholesale. The win gives Endo a 4-2 record.

Onosho defeats Aoiyama – Big early pushing attack from Aoiyama to start the match, and I thought he was going to overpower Onosho. But as it looked like he was about to rock the tadpole back, Aoiyama decided to pull. Sir, we already established that was not a good plan this month. Releasing forward pressure, he opened the door for Onosho to blast forward, shut down Aoiyama’s offense, and run him out from behind, winning by okuridashi. That’s Aoiyama’s first loss, and both end the day 5-1.

Hiradoumi defeats Oho – Oho is the only man in the top division competition that has no wins now. Fans criticize him, but he’s not that bad. I have to wonder what published injury shut down all of his forward power. He had a good tachiai, but Hiradoumi quickly took him to his chest, and pivoted into a sukuinage, slamming Oho to the clay. Hiradoumi advances to 4-2.

Myogiryu defeats Hokutofuji – Impressively low early moves by Hokutofuji. He was so low that even his early, poorly executed pull attempt did not leave Myogiryu with an attack route. But there is “too much” of a good thing. Myogiryu realized that Hokutofuji was going to stay low. Myogiryu straightens up just enough to apply pressure from above to push Hokutofuji to the clay. Myogiryu picks up his second win of January, and is now 2-4.

Ryuden defeats Nishikigi – Ryuden really showing some quiet excellence here at Hatsu. He absorbed Nishikigi’s tachiai and immediately went chest to chest. In prior matches, this is when Nishikigi ramped up the power and plowed opponents off the dohyo. Ryuden shut him down, and the two entered an endurance check at the center of the ring. In the middle of this contest of strength, Konosuke stops the match for a quick mawashi check, as it looked like Nishikigi was about ready to give the fans a show they did not sign up for. It was a race to see if someone could win before Nishikigi lost his mawashi. Fortunately for the sumo world, Ryuden turned up the power just enough to get an increasingly disrobed Nishikigi over the bales before much more could be revealed. Both end the day at 4-2.

Ura defeats Sadanoumi – Strong, potent, straight-ahead sumo from Ura today. He came off the shikiri-sen into a hazu-oshi, lifting Sadanoumi up by the armpits. Ura walked forward, and three steps later had Sadanoumi out with one of his traditional finishing flourishes. That’s 3-3 for Ura.

Mitakeumi defeats Nishikifuji – Much better form from Mitakeumi today, but it still seems to me that he’s only at about 80% power again today. I have to wonder what is going on with his body, and I hope it gets better soon. He kept Nishikifuji boxed up the whole match, and just ran him around until Nishikifuji stepped out. Mitakeumi now 3-3.

Daieisho defeats Kiribayama – Daieisho looks like he’s going to make a serious play for the cup, and I am delighted. He put wave after wave of hard pushing attacks into Kiribayama’s chest, leaving him no opportunity to recover, counter-attack, or do much of anything other than go along for the ride. 5-1 now for Daieisho.

Kotonowaka defeats Meisei – After an 0-4 start, Kotonowaka now has two wins in a row. Maybe he will revert back to good form? That’s not to forecast that he’s going to win all of his remaining matches, but I am starting to hope that maybe whatever was causing him to fight poorly has been resolved. Meisei had the forward drive in this match, but Kotonowaka opened up just enough space to push Meisei down before he had to step out of the ring. Kotonowaka now 2-4.

Wakatakakage defeats Tamawashi – Wakatakakage decided to leave his sumo at home today, and instead showed up with this crummy henka instead. Not even hiding it, just a blatant jump to the side. Lame. Both end the day 3-3.

Shodai defeats Tobizaru – The Monkey sumo is not very strong this month, as evidenced both by Tobizaru’s majority loss record coming into today, and his loss to Shodai on day 6. Tobizaru jumped about quite a bit, but never was quite able to escape Shodai, who was surprisingly stable in pursuit. A final shove pushed Tobizaru out, and both ended the day 2-4.

Midorifuji defeats Hoshoryu – When Hoshoryu picked up his first loss on day 5, I suggested it was time to see if he was ready to be a champion, by shaking off the loss and going back to winning form. It’s too early to be certain, but a second consecutive loss would seem to hint that the answer is “not yet”. Hoshoryu came off the line fast, grabbed Midorifuji, pinning his arms, then seemed to not quite know what to do next. He surged forward once, to have Midorifuji repulse the attack at the bales, to the cheers of the fans in the Kokugikan. A second rush forward a few moments later took them both over the bales, but a last minute pivot by Midorifuji dropped Hoshoryu first. Of course there was a monoii. The shimpan ruled that Hoshoryu was a “dead body” and the win belonged to Midorifuji. Both end the day 4-2.

Takakeisho defeats Abi – Undefeated Abi gets a physics lesson from the Grand Tadpole. After an opening blast from the double arm attack, he is off balance at the moment the counter blast from Takakeisho shows up. The second Takakeisho hit finds his chest wide open, and Abi is sent reeling. He manages to almost get his balance back, when the third blast sends him out. Abi takes his first loss, and both end the day at 5-1.

24 thoughts on “Hatsu Day 6 Highlights

  1. I’m thinking Abi might make it to ozeki if he keeps things going. He ran into Takakeisho, who’s starting to look determined to get that rope this time. I know there was much discussion on having a Yokozuna-Ozeki, but it’s quite possible we’ll have two of them in March. No one seems to want the ozeki rank after this tournament, for both good and bad.

      • There is no way that Abi can make it after th march basho. If he puts up strong numbers this basho and gets promoted to Sanyaku, this basho might mark the start of an Ozeki run, but he was Maegashira 9 last basho and thats definitely not going to be included in any run.

  2. Down in Juryo, there was a great belt battle between Roga and Asanoyama. Don’t miss it! The former ozeki had his hands full with the up-and-comer. Both are fighting very well this basho.

  3. A zensho is all but certain to see Asanoyama promoted, and a 14-1 is highly likely to. 13-2 is where it gets questionable.

    • Terunofuji went 13-2 at Juryo #13 during his comeback and was only promoted to Juryo #3. Getting promoted is a very tough hill to climb from that position.

      • 13-2 at J13 computes to J2. 14-1 at J12 computes to one rank above J1. It’s a small sample size, but everyone ranked J10 or lower who went 14-1 or better in the past 20 years got promoted, while it’s below 50-50 for 13-2.

        • Also, we’ve already got one retirement(Okinoumi), one forced kyujo which will lead to demotion(Ichinojo), one injury kyujo that will lead to demotion if he doesn’t come back(Tochinoshin), plus any number of guys like Chiyomaru or Tsurugisho or Mitoryu to go down normally.

          The last time we had 5 promotions to Maku we saw Chiyonokuni make it from J11W with a 14-1, and he wasn’t even last in line given there were a bunch of guys who made it without even being mathemically eligible.

  4. I feel bad for the 0-3 crowd down in Makushita, which includes Tomokaze and Daishomaru. Both were top division guys at one point and don’t look it anymore.

    As for the current Makuuchi crowd, Onosho is feeling to me like the Maegashira (besides Abi) that is gonna stick around on the leader board into week 2. His victory over Aoiyama showed determination, and a bowling ball with a head of steam is hard to stop. Kotoshoho, I don’t have as much hope for, and not just ’cause he took his first loss today. He still seems rattled from his injury/Juryo demotion.

    It’s feeling like Takakeisho really wants a yusho, but I think he’ll find he doesn’t want all the Yokozuna pressure that victory would bring. Ozeki really is all I see Takakeisho as, and him getting the rope after a January tourney win would be inevitable but unadvised, IMO. Hoshoryu is reverting to form, and Abi is too chaotic to trust.

    • Onosho is someone who I expected to break through a year ago and never did. He had a decent streak in the joi or just below but hasn’t cracked through. Let’s see.

    • I don’t agree with the Takakeisho take at all. Takakeisho would likely already be at Yokozuna if that neck injury (if that was what it was) hadn’t happened. It’s robbed him of much of his power and he’s had to adapt to a more hybrid style of sumo to compete. Which Takakeisho’s done given we still don’t know how badly it affects him and in a chaotic time of sumo he’s been relatively consistent.

      • Even before his injury, he was a very one-dimensional rikishi. Get his belt, and he panics most of the time. Takakeisho is good at one thing – his “wave motion” pushing and thrusting attack. Take that away, and he struggles to win at all. That, in my eyes, is not a recipe for winning often, much less being considered a candidate for Yokozuna. And he does seem to be trying to diversify his fighting style, either. His health beyond the neck concerns me, too, as I struggle to recall a sumo wrestler who seems to labor while breathing more than him up on the dohyo, even when his fights are short affairs.

        He has been consistent, when healthy, against a severely depleted field of competitors, too. He is the best by default right now; there is no better option ready. But give Takakeisho the rope and he’s gonna struggle to meet the expectations, whether through health concerns like Terunouji, or simply not always getting that Yokozuna kachi-koshi of 10 wins. His kadoban record as Ozeki should give you an indication of his level of performance… he can’t knock out back to back tourneys with winning records on a regular basis, so expecting him to be the standard bearer for the sport seems a step too far. I wish the younger crew were ready (heck, Takakeisho is still in their age range), but we might be entering a time with the top ranks looking even worse than the Ozeki debacle we’re currently going through. Right now, there’s one hurt Yokozuna, and no one else remotely close to earning that highest honor.

  5. It’s a strange time in sumo. We’ve got lots of rikishi with Komusubi- or near Komusubi-quality skills, but it seems there is no one (other than Terunofuji and Takakeisho) near ready to ascend to the top two ranks. This leads to plenty of exciting bouts, but leaves us without the buzz created by seeing real greatness. It’s a shame that new fans can’t see the impact a healthy Yokuzuna can have on a tournament.

  6. When was the last time the same megsshira fighter won two bashos in a row? While being megashira both times (abi was obviously promoted from last basho but still megashira)

    Has that ever happened before? A megashira wrestler repeating wins?

    • For back to back yusho, Futabayama and Terunofuji did it as Sekiwake followed by Ozeki. Everyone else was Ozeki or higher to start with.

    • Looks like Sadanoyama won twice in a year (’61-’62), once as Maegashira and the next as Sekiwake…but not consecutive. To be frank, a lot of the Maegashira winners, with the exception of Terunofuji (and he should have asterisks) many didn’t win again. Yokozuna win repeatedly and generally come from guys who win in sanyaku. http://sumodb.sumogames.de/Yusho.aspx

    • Well, if we’re talking about Abi, the joke is that he shouldn’t really have been a Maegashira at all. He was a sekiwake (8-7), sekiwake (7-8), komosubi (8-7). Then he went kyujo, came back as M9 and won the yusho. I think it ought to be obvious that his sumo skills didn’t magically disappear because he missed one basho. He was and remains, a komosubi level rikishi.
      I don’t see him winning this time, but would love it if he did, because it would expose just how nuts the Banzuke Committee policy on injuries is. What would they do if he won two in a row? Promote him to M1?

  7. I can’t really blame Hoshoryu for losing today. Midorifuji îs probably the only guy atm that is actually consistently even faster/quicker than Hoshoryu, taking one advantage away Hoshoryu relies on a lot. It showed immediately when he lost the tachiai allowing Midorifuji to get both arms inside. The impressive thing was that he then was able to lock both arms preventing Midorifuji from getting a belt grab. It may have looked like he didn’t know what to do with it (although he almost won by kimedashi), but in fact it was just his counter to prevent Midorifuji from a morozashi, which probably would have ended the bout immediately.
    Great sumo by both rikishi from there. The end was pretty clear to me. Hoshoryu was first to be airborn and first to touch down. Tomorrow he meets Abi. Another tough test. Could almost say his schedule is going to get easier from there.

    Kotoshoho proved again, that he isn’t the guy from 3 years ago anymore. His ring sense, his balance and his decision making just never really recovered. I think the problem is somewhere inside his head, so maybe a string of good tournaments could rebuild that once promising rikishi. Todayhe was just easy prey for Takarafuji.

    I had little hope for Oho today as Hiradoumi is fighting very well and is quick on his feet and and Hiradoumi made short work of it. I’m not sure if Oho has some injury. I rather think the problem is somewhere inside his had as well. He is just constantly making bad decisions and reacting too slow. Maybe it just needs 2 good bouts to turn things around.

    Onosho is just not falling flat on his belly this basho and he proved that again today vs. Aoiyama. Better don’t pull vs him, but that just happens to be Aoiyamas prefered tactic this basho.

    Ura had his first convincing bout this basho. Maybe he can build on that. Can he untie Nishikigis belt tomorrow? ;)

    Daieisho is looking really strong this basho. Kiribayama had no chance to grab a belt today and that was quickly the end of the bout. He seems to be in better control of his balance than in previous basho. Yet I predict he will fall victim to a henka or two as some guys will try to avoid that beating.

    Dissapointed by Wakatakakage, but if you aren’t in form to continue your Ozeki run, henkaing to get closer to a kachikoshi might turn out to be a smart thing. I feel like his window of opportunity will close soon and maybe he is feeling that pressure too.

    Takakeisho had Abisnumber today and made sure that no one is running away from him.

    As someone pointed out already Asanoyama remained victorious in his bout with Roga today to remain the sole unbeaten rikishi in Juryo. He had to work really hard, as Roga was the one dictating the bout for all but the last few seconds.

    One interesting thing about Juryo atm is that it swallowed out most of its long term incumbents/makuuchi veterans already. Of the 28 guys there I think only 6 are above 30 and Chiyosakae seems on his way out already again. It feels like about half of them have a year or less of Juryo experience. This could also explain, why Terutsuyoshi is faring equally bad there than in his last Makuuchi basho, fighting all those hungry guys. Though today he helped out Shimanoumi with a white star.

    Quite happy with this basho so far. Both Makuuchi and Juryo have a lot of good sumo. In Makushita i was rooting for Tomokaze, but he is 0-3 now. He could still go 4-3, but realistically I’m hoping he isn’t falling down too much. My other guy there Kototebakari is 2-1, so I hope he can continue his climb. Maybe Kotoshoho gets fired up a bit in Makuuchi if his younger brother starts to close the gap more ;)


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.