Hatsu Day 12 Highlights

I would label today “pull day”, as so many matches were decided by one man pulling on another man’s neck. Most of the ones doing the pulling went on to lose their matches, but a couple actually made it work. I think much of the top division are growing tired after 12 days of non stop battles against the best in the world, and we are starting to see some sloppy sumo.

The leader board has shifted, as the Junior Tadpole, Onosho, has his moment in the sun. Onosho won his day 12 match against Tamawashi, when (you guessed it) Tamawashi decided to pull, and found that Onosho was ready to run him out in response. In the final match of the day, Takakeisho failed to keep a working distance between himself and Kiribayama, found himself in a shoulder hold, and quickly tossed to the deck. That leave Onosho all alone at 10-2, leading the yusho race for Hatsu with just 3 days to go.

Highlight Matches

Tohakuryu defeats Chiyomaru – Chiyomaru goes for his favored “stand them up then pull them down” technique, while backing away quickly, and gets Tohakuryu face down in a hurry. But a mono-ii is called, and Chiyomaru is disqualified for a top knot pull. Tohakuryu returns to Juryu with a kachi-koshi, and is now 8-4.

Kagayaki defeats Takarafuji – Well, at least there was no henka. Takarafuji does an artful job of keeping Kagayaki’s hands away from his chest for a time, but is unable to have enough defensive power through his feet to the ground to stand fast. Kagayaki pushes him back, and out by oshidashi. Both end the day 7-5, and Takarafuji will have to try again tomorrow to come up with that 8th win.

Aoiyama defeats Kotoeko – Aoiyama was off to a good start, firing up the V-Twin and pushing Kotoeko back. But Kotoeko managed to capture Aoiyama, and it quickly transitioned into a mawashi battle. Both men attempted a throw, but Aoiyama had mass and leverage on his side, and dropped both himself and Kotoeko with that kotenage. Aoiyama up to 7-5.

Azumaryu defeats Hiradoumi – A glorious day at Tamanoi heya, Azumaryu, after several attempts, finally has a kachi-koshi in the top division. It was a fast grab and throw match against Hiradoumi, who ate the uwatenage at the bales. Azumaryu 8-4.

Tsurugisho defeats Takanosho – Well, it was too much to hope for, wasn’t it? Tsurugisho steps to the side, gets behind Takanosho and pushes him out from the rear. Now, at about 200kg, I am not sure you could call what Tsurugisho did a henka, but it was crap sumo no matter what its name. Both end the day at 5-7.

Endo defeats Ichiyamamoto – Ichiyamamoto never really got his offense coordinated, so I am not surprised that Endo took him apart and shoved him out as rapidly as he did. Congrats on your kachi-koshi Endo, please practice not using a henka now. He is 8-4. Yes I am still annoyed at all the henka.

Mitoryu defeats Oho – The sadness that is Oho’s record just keeps going on and on. Today Mitoryu spun Oho around, and pushed him out from behind. We are at the point of a tournament where a handful or rikishi have so many losses, I wonder daily what has happened. The Hatsu winner of that race has to be Oho. Mitoryu now 5-7, and avoids make-koshi.

Hokutofuji defeats Chiyoshoma – Well, at least there was not a henka. Chiyoshoma was not quite as potent at Hokutofuji at the start, and he gave up early and tried to pull. It almost worked, but Hokutofuji was able to keep his feet thanks to that independently operating lower body assembly. Chiyoshoma hits the deck before Hokutofuji is out, and Hokutofuji moves to 7-5, one win away from kachi-koshi.

Kotoshoho defeats Nishikigi – He may have gotten knocked out of his share of the lead, but Kotoshoho is headed for double digits, and nothing is going to stop him. With one more win he will tie his best ever result in the top division, and there 3 days to go. Today he showed some impressive agility in pushing Nishikigi to the side and out, just as Nishikigi was pressing forward to finish Kotoshoho off, Kotoshoho now 9-3.

Abi defeats Ura – Well, at least.. oh damn. Abi 7-5.

Onosho defeats Tamawashi – Impressive fight, Tamawashi delivered some power in his thrusting volleys, and Onosho returned in kind. For the first few exchanges, they were dead even. It all went wrong when Tamawashi made the mistake we know everyone else learned in week one. Don’t pull Onosho right now, it’s not going to work and you will lose. Onosho 10-2.

Tobizaru defeats Myogiryu – It looked like Myogiryu was not really sure what to do with Tobizaru’s sumo today. So he settled for keeping him at distance, and just batting his hands back every time Tobizaru tried to reach in. Myogiryu got bored with this quickly, and tried a pull. Of course this gave the match to Tobizaru who pushed him out in response, improving to 5-7.

Daieisho defeats Mitakeumi – I, for one, am weary of these stalemate matches where the rikishi that should be trying doubly hard to win gives up and pulls their opponent. So far all of those “pullers” have lost. Here it was Mitakeumi, who was losing ground to Daieisho, and lost his nerve. Daieisho gladly accepted the gift, and is now 8-4.

Sadanoumi defeats Meisei – Sadanoumi decides to share the make-koshi joy by (oh yes, I know) pulling down Meisei. A mono-ii is called, and we all assumed it was another hansoku (top knot pull), but they decided everything was close enough, Sadanoumi at 4-8 now, as is Meisei. With his make-koshi, he will be vacating on of the numerous san’yaku ranks for March.

Midorifuji defeats Wakamotoharu – After so many of these matches failed to push their competitors to a 6-6 outcome, it was a good sign that this one turned out right for getting at least a few rikishi ready for a Darwin finish on day 15. Wakamotoharu had all he could manage trying to contain Midorifuji, and keep his balance at the same time. Really an impressive ottsuke from Wakamotoharu, and I hope he uses that all the time from here on out. Reminds me of Kisenosato with that move. But Midorifuji never fought Kisenosato, and once being shut out by that marvelous ottsuke, goes “kitchen sink” and tries about 3 things in the space of two seconds, ranging from a shoulder grab to a leg pick. This leaves Wakamotoharu completely bamboozled, and an easy mark for the oshidashi. Both are now 6-6.

Wakatakakage defeats Kotonowaka – Kotonowaka blew the tachiai, giving Wakatakakage a good position attacking from below, with both hands inside. Not many routes you can come back from that one, Kotonowaka. Wakatakakage battle hugs and stomps ahead, placing Kotonowaka out by yorikiri, and improving to 6-6.

Shodai defeats Nishikifuji – Ok, well – maybe Shodai kachi-koshi? It’s so frustrating with this guy, as he has the sumo chops to be a winner, but somehow can’t always put it together. Nishikifuji starts out the aggressor, but again today we get to see a half hearted use of Shodai’s “Wall of Daikon” sumo style. As flaccid as his signature move is right now, it’s still enough to hustle Nishikifuji out for his fourth consecutive win. Shodai is now 6-6.

Ryuden defeats Hoshoryu – Both of Hoshoryu’s opening gambits failed, and he settled for a right hand inside mawashi grip. This is not what he was looking for, as that left hand was pretty deep, and he could not really use it to move Ryuden around with it. Ryuden countered with a much more shallow left hand outside grip, that did seem to give him some leverage. The result was a see-saw battle with Ryuden the aggressor, and Hoshoryu trying to stay stable on that damaged ankle. Excellent work by Ryuden, forcing Hoshoryu to defend from the left, putting increasing pressure on that ankle, until Hoshoryu could not hold ground any longer. Brutal and effective, both are now 7-5.

Kiribayama defeats Takakeisho – There was a time, a few days ago, when sumo fans were hoping for a 14-1 Takakeisho yusho, and a Yokozuna dohyo-iri at the Meiji shrine later this month. But 2023 in sumo is starting a lot like 2022 in sumo, with no real champions, and no consistent performers. Takakeisho gets one good volley in just after the tachiai, but is too close to Kiribayama. Kiribayama captures him and immediately spins up a sukuinage, which puts the Ozeki face down on the clay. Takakeisho vacates his share of the leader group, and is now 9-4. Kiribayama is 8-4 and kachi-koshi for Hatsu.

7 thoughts on “Hatsu Day 12 Highlights

  1. Abi just won a yusho and he’s fighting scared because he doesn’t have a kachi-koshi yet. He ain’t getting to Ozeki with that mentality. Ye Gods.

    I am also 100% okay with an Onosho yusho if he can pull it off.

  2. Takakeisho vacates his share of the leader group, and is now 9-4.
    These numbers arrived one day early — you’ll have to wait for Takakeisho – Onosho before he can be 9-4 :)

  3. Onosho is entering uncharted territory. His best-ever Makuuchi basho was an 11-4 third place finish back in November ’18. I doubt he’s ever been the leader this late in a top division tournament.

    My reading of Shodai is that, since he lost the prospect of picking up 10 wins and a quick return to Ozeki, he is fighting free, easy, and effectively. He looks like a weight has been lifted from his shoulders and sumo has become fun for him again. It wouldn’t surprise me to see him have a long run as Sekiwake.

    And, yes, that most definitely was a Tsurugisho henka. You might even call it a flying henka, or as close to flying as a man that bulky can get.

  4. “Chiyoshoma hits the deck before Hokutofuji is out”

    Actually, Chiyoshoma was out before Hokutofuji hit the deck.


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