Natsu Day 1 Highlights

First – Takayasu withdrew from the May tournament before his first match. It seems some sort of thigh injury took place in morning practice, and he id not fight today, giving Hoshoryu a default win for his first day, sending him to 1-0.

The whole sumo word was eager to see Yokozuna Terunofuji fight again for the first time in 8 months. There have been a lot of reports in the sumo press about his struggles to recover from surgery, his battle with diabetes and the challenges of de-conditioning during his medical leave. But he was up to the job today, shutting down Shodai’s signature move, and winning on opening day.

I was also eager to see what kind of condition Takakeisho was in, but it seems at least for day one that is “good enough”. Its been a while since anyone tried to make sure that Abi’s arms were securely seated in their sockets, and we all owe Takakeisho our thanks for taking on that difficult job.

Highlight Matches

Oho defeats Kagayaki – Neither one of these guys looked especially sharp in this match. I am sure they were hitting hard, but the movement seemed lethargic. The match came to a close when Kagayaki got too far in front of his toes, and Oho gave him a solid tsukiotoshi the moment he stepped out of the ring. Oho advances to 1-0.

Tsurugisho defeats Mitoryu – Tsurugisho set up an immediate left hand deep grip at Mitoryu’s mawashi belt, and used that leverage point to control the match. A few short steps later he had Mitoryu out by yorikiri, improving to 1-0.

Myogiryu defeats Ichiyamamoto – Ichiyamamoto really only got in one volley before Myogiryu found a clear path to Ichiyamamoto’s chest when Ichiyamamoto attempted a pull. Ichiyamamoto was caught pretty far forward, and had no defensive foot placement to absorb Myogiryu’s thrusting attack. Myogiryu wins by oshidashi to start Natsu 1-0.

Asanoyama defeats Chiyoshoma – Thankfully, no sumo nonsense from Chiyoshoma today. His tachiai was direct and potent, but Asanoyama found his favored right hand inside grip at the first step, and completely dominated Chiyoshoma for the four steps it took to deliver the yorikiri. Asanoyama marks his return to the top division with a win to start 1-0.

Aoiyama defeats Kotoeko – While not a full power, it was good to see Aoiyama use a bit of the V-Twin thrusting attack today against Kotokeo. Sadly for Kotoeko, a lot of it went to his face. Points though to Kotoeko as he stayed in the match and kept moving forward. With his heels on the tawara, Aoiyama delivered an hatakikomi to bring Kotoeko down a moment before he stepped out of the ring. Aoiyama starts 1-0.

Hokuseiho defeats Daishoho – I worry about Hokuseiho’s sumo. We have seen him compete in a fair number of top division matches, and it looks like he has a natural ability to absorb a lot of punishment. But to my eye, he can’t really put up too much of a fight. Sure he wins against lower ranked guys, but I suspect his enormity gives him an “easy mode” that won’t work once he makes the upper ranks, and he may find himself unable to compete. He certainly took a lot of sumo power from Daishoho, who frankly had much better form today. But Hokuseiho was able to stalemate him for a time, and even survive a pretty solid rally from Daishoho. Hokuseiho was confident enough to keep the leaning match going for a solid 2 minutes or so, wearing out Daishoho, and finally shuffling him out by yorikiri to start Natsu with a win at 1-0.

Takarafuji defeats Ryuden – Solid match from Takarafuji today. Given his last couple of tournaments, it’s tough to know what you might get from him. But he was able to defend against Ryuden’s opening combo, set up a right hand ottsuke, and drive forward for a yorikiri. I certainly hope that Takarafuji’s healthy and in fighting form this basho, he starts 1-0.

Hiradoumi defeats Onosho – Onosho put a lot of power forward after breaking through Hiradoumi’s initial attack set. But as is traditional with Onosho, he got too far forward and was an easy mark for Hiradoumi to side step and send him out by tsukiotoshi. Onosho has to have “hot” and “cold” basho, hopefully he keeps his other opponents centered in front of that forward rush before this tournament turns cold. Hiradoumi at 1-0.

Sadanoumi defeats Takanosho – Takanosho put all of his hopes on a brutal right hand nodowa that he set up at the tachiai. When he could not maintain the pressure against Sadanoumi’s chin, he got a dose of just how face Sadanoumi can be. In less that two steps, Sadanoumi attacked from the left, and a tsukiotoshi put Takanosho on the clay. Sadanoumi is 1-0.

Hokutofuji defeats Tamawashi – Hokutofuji was able to keep Tamawashi centered, and drive forward. A couple of attempts to bat Hokutofuji aside failed, and Tamawashi had no where to go but out. Hokutofuji with the win to start 1-0.

Meisei defeats Mitakeumi – A nice, even start to this match as neither man was able to gain much advantage. The early phase ended with the two separating, and Mitakeumi diving back in to reengage. That lunge forward was the key element, as Meisei stepped to the side and pushed from the rear to win by okuridashi, starting Natsu 1-0.

Kotoshoho defeats Kinbozan – Kinbozan looked like he wanted to dictate this match as a thrusting / hitting battle, but Kotoshoho was able to get inside and set up a left hand inside grip. Kinbozan responded in kind, but to me looked to have a much better set up. The key element was that Kotoshoho kept his hips lower, and was able to drive forward with enough power to move Kinbozan. Kotoshoho gets a day 1 win at 1-0.

Ura defeats Nishikigi – Neat combo from Ura today, he starts with what one announcer seemed to refer a hazu-ottsuke. Ura had his elbows locked to his side, but hands in Nishikigi’s armpits. This shut down Nishikigi’s preferred battle-hug attack mode. After powering forward, Ura moved back and dropped Nishikigi with a tsukiotoshi, starting Natsu 1-0.

Kotonowaka defeats Tobizaru – I give a lot of credit to Kotonowaka for enduring a battery of Tobizaru monkey-sumo in the opening moves of this match. When you fight Tobizaru, you really must be ready for just about anything to be combo’d up with anything else, and Kotonowaka was able to capture Tobizaru and lock him up at the center of the dohyo. The second Tobizaru offensive combo broke Kotonowaka’s stance, but Kotonowaka was able to bring Tobizaru down with a tsukiotoshi at the bales. Even Tobizaru liked that one. Kotonowaka starts 1-0.

Wakamotoharu defeats Endo – With these two, you had the ingredients for a solid yotsu-zumo match, and they delivered. Endo started with his left, as expected, but Wakamotoharu was quick to respond. Nice amount of power from Wakamotoharu pushed Endo back, hoped Endo’s stance, and set up Wakamotoharu’s match winning uwatedashinage. He’s 1-0.

Daieisho defeats Nishikifuji – Nishikifuji was bold enough to bat away Daieisho’s initial thrusting attack, and nearly set up the belt grip that would have given him control of the match. Check out that counter from Daieisho! A blistering return put Nishikifuji out of the ring on the third step, giving Daieisho his first win by oshidashi at 1-0.

Kiribayama defeats Midorifuji – Midorifuji nearly had this match one. I think he surprised Kiribayama at the tachiai and had the Ozeki hopeful’s heels on the bales in the blink of an eye. But how cool is it that Kiribayama counters, and wins with a katasukashi? Talk about eating your own dog food. Kiribayama starts 1-0.

Takakeisho defeats Abi – Say, that was neat. Abi attempted his normal double arm thrust attack, and Takakeisho grabbed an arm and gave it a solid tug and twist. Sort of an Ura style there, and it seemed to surprise Abi as much as it did the fans. Takakeisho kept his hold, but pushed with the other hand, and got Abi out by oshidashi for a first day win. He’s 1-0 and needs 7 more to clear kadoban.

Terunofuji defeats Shodai – It was touch and go, as Shodai brought out the “Wall of Daikon” in response to Terunofuji’s tachiai. But as Shodai rushed forward, using his broad body as a ram, Terunofuji summoned his enormous strength and tossed him aside. A sukuinage win for the Yokozuna, and he is 1-0.

14 thoughts on “Natsu Day 1 Highlights

  1. The yokozuna-ozeki, ozeki, and potential-ozeki ran the table today. Obviously that can’t hold up the entire tournament (they’ll fight each other at a minimum), but it was a good sign for those fretting about the ozeki issue.

  2. Today was a Tsukiotoshi day.
    Meisei bout was funny, he deceived Mitakeumi, by display forward attack stance and then moved side ways.
    Takakeisho bout was good, Abi’s hands got stuck and was in an awkward stance to generate any power

  3. Maybe I’m imagining it but it seemed to me watching Terunofuji’s dohyo-iri that he’s really built up his upper body — not that hasn’t always been extremely well-muscled, it just looks even more so this time. I guess this basho we’ll find out how well a yokozuna can perform with just an upper body (it was sufficient to defeat all of Shodai, anyway).

    Another striking visual was Hokuseiho towering over Daishoho, almost made Daishoho look like a member of the tadpole cadre in comparison. I didn’t expect Hokuseiho to have the stamina to win a Takayasu-style endurance competition but he proved me wrong.

    Classic Meisei left shoulder deflection, very nice.

    Takakeisho’s choice not to attack Abi head on seems like a bad sign to me; he’s not really the canny strategic type so I worry he’s just not able to employ his signature style. The way the bout played out was very interesting — Takakeisho kept deflecting Abi causing him to travel in a circular path that intersected the tawara. But Abi was just the warm-up for Takakeisho’s real battle: stepping down off the dohyo without losing his balance. His ankles must be in terrible shape.

  4. Gonna b good basho w lots of quality players and young talent across all Makuuchi rankings

  5. Tsurugisho and Takakeisho both used the same opening move: a quasi-sidestep into a left-hand grip. It wasn’t a “henka” nor was it a “Hamarafuji Special” (i.e. a “hit and shift”), but it is an interesting move that opponents can’t prepare for easily.

    It’ll be interesting to see how things shake out this first week. A lot of rikishi could easily either be 6-1, 1-6, or somewhere inbetween.

    I do feel bad for Hoshoryu that his first win is a fusen. The Committee will hold that against him if he’s considered for Ozeki and it’s not really his fault.

    • Plenty of Ozeki runs have included fusensho; they seem to count just as much as any other win.

      • I’m glad if that’s the case. It wouldn’t surprise me if they do that if one or both of Terunofuji and Takakeisho don’t perform well.

  6. Another Basho, another fortnight of twice-daily predictions, commentary and analysis from, what’s not to love?!

    I really enjoyed Day 1. Here are my takes:

    Great to have the Yokozuna back and see the dohyo iri (especially with newlywed Nishikifuji in attendance, congratulations to him but I hope he’s not distracted, especially after today!)

    I loved seeing a bird’s eye view of Tamawashi disentangling himself from the gyoji he landed on!

    Ura v Nishikigi, Ura looking accomplished and I hope he appreciated his fans with their bright pink signs as much as I did!

    Kotonowaka v Tobizaru, exciting and dynamic.

    End v Wakamotoharu, powerful sumo from WMH.

    Daieisho v Nishikifuji, always sad to see Nishikifuji lose but at least he didn’t get “launched skyward”! He just couldn’t pivot correctly inside the tokudawara. (P.S How come Nishikifuji never seems to get a fusen win? Not since July ‘22, at least!)

    Midorifuji LOSING by katasukashi??? WTF???

    I think the Japanese commentators were saying that Takakeisho wasn’t really doing “his brand of sumo” and (with my limited experience) I see what they mean.

    Terunofuji pulling it back for Isegahama after a win and two losses earlier in the day. He’s not looking in great shape, but I really hope he gets a kachi-koshi at least this tournament.

    On Day 2 I’m looking forward to Tobizaru v WMH and Midorifuji v Hoshoryu. Bring it on! And I await the preview with interest!


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