Day 4 Undercard Matches to Watch


 

Day 3 was a day of firsts and saw many first-time meetings between rikishi in the top division. Day 3 also marked the first official bouts (maezumo) of a brand new crop of rikishi making their professional debuts. Included in this group were legendary Yokozuna Taiho’s grandson Naya and the former Yokozuna Asashoryu’s nephew Houshouryu. While their careers may have just started, these two have very bright futures ahead of them. If they can channel the spirit of their forebearers, they may one day become stars of the sport! With Day 3 in the books, let’s move on to Day 4, which has just as many exciting bouts on the undercard!

Daiamami vs. Myogiryu

Day 4 starts off with Myogiryu making a return to our TV screens for the first time since he pulled out of the Kyushu Basho in November. He will take on Daiamami, who I imagine is still trying to recover from being henka’d out of his mawashi by Ishiura yesterday. Daiamami has the size and strength to be a real threat, but he needs to get his sumo up to Makuuchi levels if he wants to stay in the division come March. These two have met three times prior, with Myogiryu leading 2-1.

Ishiura vs. Nishikigi

It looks like a stint in Juryo was just what Ishiura needed to get his sumo back on track! With three straight wins, he finds himself at the top of the leaderboard and one win ahead of his stablemate Yokozuna Hakuho. His Day 4 opponent is Nishikigi, who has only one win after three days. Nishikigi has spent the last three Basho straddling the line between Makuuchi and Juryo, and will need to start posting wins or he’ll be back in the second division before he knows it. Ishiura has dominated their rivalry 7-2.

Abi vs. Ryuden

It’s the face-off of the Makuuchi rookies! Neither Abi or Ryuden have had a great start this Basho, and both come into Day 4 with matching 1-2 records. After two days of over-committing on his thrusting attacks, Abi managed to get his tsuppari going against Grampa Bullfrog Takekaze to pick up his first win. Ryuden, on the other hand, started strong but has been out-muscled in his last two matches. This meeting should be an interesting one, as both fighters use very different styles. Abi and Ryuden have faced off only once before, in a bout won by Abi.

Asanoyama vs. Yutakayama

Don’t worry, you’re not seeing double! Asanoyama takes on his perfect twin Yutakayama, complete with matching oichomage, on Day 4. Asanoyama has been hot as of late and is looking like the confident young rikishi who won our hearts at Aki. With three straight wins, he has a share of the leaderboard going into Wednesday. His doppelganger Yutakayama, however, is struggling much like the last time he entered Makuuchi. Tomorrow marks the fourth time these look-alikes have clashed, and Yutakayama will be trying to even their series to 2-2.

Takekaze vs. Daieisho

Tadpole Daieisho will get a glimpse into his future when he meets Grampa Bullfrog on the dohyo tomorrow. Takekaze has not found much success in the new year and comes into Day 4 winless. Takekaze is the second oldest active rikishi in Makuuchi after Aminishiki, and as such, the possibility of retirement grows every Basho. But like Aminishiki, Grandpa Bullfrog still has a few tricks in the bag, and we may see them if his winless streak continues. Better stay on your toes Daieisho!

Shohozan vs. Aminishiki

Shohozan, you better not play too rough tomorrow! If you break Uncle Sumo, I don’t know if I’ll forgive you. After a terrible tournament in November, it looks like Shohozan has remembered that he’s one of the toughest S.O.B.’s on the dohyo, and he’s been brutalizing almost everyone he’s faced so far. Enter Aminishiki, who seemed a bit lost and confused today in his bout with Sokokurai. He will need to be focused tomorrow, or Shohozan may lay a beat down on him. Luckily for Uncle Sumo, the numbers are on his size, and he has an overwhelming 11-4 lead over Shohozan. Shohozan has lost the last nine times he’s faced the wily veteran, will tomorrow be the day the streak ends?

 

Terunofuji Withdraws from Hatsu Basho


Tachiai has learned that former Ozeki Terunofuji has withdrawn from the 2018 Hatsu Basho. This marks the fourth tournament in a row that Terunofuji has been forced to leave prematurely due to crippling lower body issues. As stated in a post article this Sunday by Tachiai writer Herouth, merely resting back at Isegahana beya has not been enough to bring the once mighty Kaiju back to health, and has only contributed to his weight gain.

To reiterate a point I made earlier today, unless Terunofuji chooses the path of medical intervention, he risks injuring himself beyond repair and ending his promising career before he reaches his full potential. Having gone kyujo just two days in, and baring an ill-advised return later in the Basho, we can expect to see him drop into the Juryo division come March. We at Tachiai sincerely hope Terunofuji takes the necessary steps to recovery, and that the mighty Kaiju rises again.

As a result of his withdrawal, Daishomaru will get the fusen win on Day 3.

Update: Rather than his ailing lower body as many had guessed, the official reason for Terunofuji going kyujo is health issues caused by diabetes.

Day 3 Undercard Matches to Watch


After a great Day 1, it seemed like some of the early basho rust began to show on the second day of the 2018 Hatsu Basho. We may see a bit more rust tomorrow as Rikishi get back into the swing of things. That being said, so far I’ve been very impressed with many of the young rikishi at the bottom of the banzuke. Here are a few Day 3 undercard matches that should be entertaining, including several first time encounters.

Ryuden vs. Asanoyama

The day starts off with what should be an excellent matchup between Asanoyama and Ryuden. Asanoyama looked dialed in on Day 2 and easily took care of Nishikigi. His more serious demeanor seems to be doing wonders for his sumo. Ryuden was not so lucky on Monday, and he will be looking to get back into the win column on Day 3. This bout has the potential to become an uwatenage competition, as both men are known for their skillful throwing techniques. They have met once before in Juryo at the 2017 Natsu Basho in a match Asanoyama won.

Ishiura vs. Daiamami

Ishiura and Daiamami will face off for the first time in their careers on Day 3. Ishiura is no stranger to fighting much larger rikishi and has beaten behemoths like Ichinojo, Chiyotairyu, and Chiyomaru with his patented submarine attack. The only difference now is that pretty much everyone and their okasan knows how to deal with Ishiura’s favorite move. Given that Daiamami has never taken on Ishiura, we may see the smaller man try the submarine once more. Daiamami will have to be quick on his feet if he wants to pick up his second win.

Takekaze vs. Abi

While watching Takekaze this morning, I realized that if he were fifteen years younger he’d fit in quite well with the rest of the tadpole brigade. Therefore, from now on I’ll be dubbing the veteran rikishi Grampa Bullfrog. On Day 3, Grampa Bullfrog will square off against newcomer Abi, who again over-committed in his match with Ishiura yesterday and paid the price. This is another first-time matchup, and both men will be looking to secure their first win this basho.

Daieisho vs. Kagayaki

It may be too early to tell, but Kagayaki might finally be coming into his own this Basho. He looks far more focused and comfortable on the dohyo and has dominated his opponents so far. Tomorrow he takes on Daieisho, another member of the tadpoles. These two have a very long rivalry going, and have met eleven times previously. Kagayaki has won 6 of their bouts. Will Daieisho even their series, or will Kagayaki keep chugging along?

Sokokurai vs. Aminishiki

Aminishiki surprised me with his straightforward win against Chiyomaru today, and I was even more surprised that his knees survived pushing around Chiyo’s bulk! On Day 3 he meets another wily veteran in Sokokurai, who has a history of using all the tricks of the trade to outmaneuver his opponent. Wouldn’t it be something if Sokokurai pulled a henka only for Aminishiki to side step him at the bales? This should prove to be a very interesting match.

Terunofuji vs. Daishomaru

Despite Terunofuji having the size advantage, my money is on Daishomaru to win when these two meet for the first time on Day 3. Time and time again we at Tachiai have stated that Terunofuji is not well, and at this point, it’s depressing to watch the man everyone pegged as the next Yokozuna barely able to hold his own on the dohyo. At Maegashira 10, were Terunofuji to pull out he would very likely drop out of the Makuuchi division. But if he soldiers on he risks cutting his career short before he reaches his full potential. Unless he follows in Ura’s footsteps and goes down the route of medical intervention, I fear we will continue to see the mighty Kaiju get his mawashi handed to him for some time to come.

This Basho has just started and already things are heating up! Here’s hoping Day 3 is just as good, if not better!

 

Day 2 Undercard Matches to Watch


Day 1 has come to a close, and what a day of sumo it was! While the first few days of any basho tend to be plagued by rusty rikishi and sloppy sumo, I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of competition today! With Leonid doing such a great job bringing readers coverage of the top matches to keep an eye on for each day, I thought I’d focus on the opposite end of the Makuuchi Banzuke and highlight a few bouts that may not make it on to the NHK highlights, but should still be quite good! So here are some undercard matches to keep an eye on for Day 2.

Ryuden vs. Daiamami

Jerking the curtain on Day 2 will be Makuuchi newcomer Ryuden and big Daiamami. Fan favorite Ryuden looked good in his first match against Nishikigi and showed no signs of top division jitters. Hoepfully he carries this confidence into his bout with foe Daiamami, who at Maegashira 17 sits all alone at the bottom of the banzuke. These two have had quite the rivalry, with Daiamami holding a 5-2 edge over Ryuden.

Asanoyama vs. Nishikigi

Are my eyes mistaken or did anyone else think Mr. Happy Asanoyama looked… angry today? Fresh off his first make koshi and finally sporting his  oicho-mage topknot, Asanoyama took control right from the tachiai and finished Daiamami off with a nice overarm throw. On Day 2 he will take on Nishikigi, and we will see if this attitude adjustment is permanent. If I’m Nishikigi, I’m hoping to see Mr. Happy on the dohyo tomorrow, because a focused, angry Asanoyama could be a fearsome opponent. These two have met three times prior, with Asanoyama leading their series 2-1.

Abi vs. Ishiura

After delighting fans with his superb shiko and nearly bending Daieisho in half on Day 1, Makuuchi newcomer Abi will try and secure his first win when he meets Ishiura on Monday. With his stocky torso and long limbs, Abi reminds me of a young Takanohana. If he can learn to use his proportions as effectively as the former Yokozuna, he has a very bright future ahead of him. However, he first needs to work on not over-committing to his thrusts, as doing so was the primary cause of his Day 1 loss. Should he overcommit tomorrow, the crafty Ishiura will make him pay for it. Ishiura holds a 4-3 lead over Abi.

Sokokurai vs. Takekaze

Sokokurai received a hearty welcome back to Makuuchi from the Tadpole committee courtesy of Daishomaru today. On Day 2 he will meet a fellow member of the old guard, Takekaze, who is also looking for his first win following a quick loss to Kagayaki. After a terrible 2017 where he recorded only two kachi koshi, one has to wonder just how much longer the 38-year-old Takekaze will go on before calling it a career. Hatsu very well could be his final Basho.

Kagayaki vs. Daishomaru

Despite a poor start, Kagayaki finished strong and looked calm and in control as he escorted Takekaze off the Dohyo. He meets fellow young gun and old foe Daishomaru on Day 2. While both of these men are talented pusher thrusters, the much larger Kagayaki has a big reach advantage, which he has used to take a 5-2 lead in their series

Terunofuji vs. Kotoyuki

Oh Terunofuji, it makes me sad to see you like this. The once mighty Ozeki, crippled by knee issues, was unable to do much against the bulky Chiyomaru. Things don’t get much easier for the Kaiju on Day 2 when he takes on Kotoyuki, who picked up his first win over Fuji’s stablemate Aminishiki Sunday. Expect Kotoyuki to go right for the jugular with his thrusting flippers, and if he can get Terunofuji to the bales his chances of winning are pretty good.

Sumo is off to a good start this year, in what may prove to be an awesome Basho!

 

Takanoiwa Withdraws from Hatsu Basho


Takanoiwa Yoshimori, the victim at the centre of the Harumafuji scandal that rocked sumo in November of last year, has officially withdrawn from competition for the 2018 Hatsu Basho, citing the cranial injury he sustained after being repeatedly struck with a karaoke controller by the former Yokozuna Harumafuji. Takanoiwa missed the entirety of the Kyushu Basho due to the same head injury and was subsequently demoted from the top division to the rank of Juryo 3. Given the circumstances surrounding his injury and having provided the proper medical assessment, the Japanese Sumo Association has declared that Takanoiwa will not receive another demotion for missing the Hatsu Basho.

While many were devastated by the retirement of Harumafuji, it’s important to not blame the victim in this situation. We at Tachiai hope that Takanoiwa makes a full recovery and returns to the top division once more.

Who’s That Rikishi #12: Ichinojo Takashi


Age: 24
Birth Name: Altankhuyag Ichinnorow
Home Town: Arkhangai, Mongolia
Stable: Minato
Highest Rank: Sekiwake

While most sumo fans like to imagine the boulder-sized Ichinojo rolling down a mountain and onto the dohyo to do sumo, the truth is that he was born on the beautiful plains of Arkhangai province, Mongolia. While far from the first Mongolian to enter Japan’s national sport, he was the first of his countrymen from a nomadic clan to join sumo. As a boy, he took part in traditional Mongolian wrestling called Bokh, going so far as to win his provinces Bokh championship when he was 14 years old. Moving to Japan for high school, Ichinojo initially practiced Judo until the school’s sumo coach convinced him to join his team. The young Mongolian went on to win five titles and the rank of amateur Yokozuna. His success caught the attention of Minato Beya, who recruited Ichinojo in 2013, making him their one allotted foreign-born rikishi. Due to his amateur Yokozuna title, Ichinojo was allowed to skip the bottom two divisions and debut in Makushita, making him the second foreign-born rikishi to do so. Upon debuting he automatically became the highest ranked member of his stable, as none of his stablemates were ranked higher than Sandanme. Ichinojo’s first official tournament in January 2014 was a huge success and marked the beginning of a meteoric rise up the banzuke for the young Boulder.

By May of that same year, he burst into the Juryo Division, having only lost two bouts in his career thus far. Despite the drastic increase in competition, Ichinojo held his own in Juryo and won the division Yusho in a four-way playoff. He nearly captured his second consecutive Juryo Yusho at the following Nagoya Basho, but fell to Tochinoshin in a playoff bout. Nevertheless, his 13-2 record was more than enough to warrant a promotion, and in September he made his Makuuchi debut at the rank of Maegashira 10. Like previous Honbasho, Ichinojo mowed through the competition, collecting six straight wins until a Day 7 loss to Ikioi. This turned out to be just a minor set back for the young Mongolian, who quickly returned to his winning ways. As the tournament progressed, Ichinojo began facing stronger opponents much higher up on the banzuke. However, even they couldn’t stop him. Having defeated both Ozeki Kisenosato and Goeido and Yokozuna Kakuryu, Ichinojo was matched up with Hakuho on Day 14, but he was unable to beat the Boss. Finishing in second place with a record of 13-2, Ichinojo was awarded both the fighting spirit and outstanding performance special prizes, and his rank was elevated all the way to Sekiwake for the following tournament.

Perhaps a symptom of the increased media attention and fanfare following his success in September, Ichinojo developed a bad case of shingles during the lead up to the 2014 Kyushu Basho. Unable to practice for much of the inter-Basho period, he failed to replicate the impressive numbers he had posted at Aki but managed to hold on to his Sekiwake rank with an 8-7 record. He was not so lucky at the 2015 Hatsu Basho. Recording only six wins, the young Boulder dropped out of San’yaku. An impressive showing in March and May, including a kinboshi victory over Harumafuji, resulted in Ichinojo regaining his Sekiwake rank for the 2015 Nagoya Basho. This tournament would prove disastrous for the Mongolian Rikishi, and he finished with a record of 4-11 and once again joined the Maegashira rank and fillers. Having firmly established himself as a Makuuchi mainstay, Ichinojo spent much of 2016 alternating between winning and losing records, until a herniated disk forced him to miss the Aki Basho. This injury, most likely a symptom of his ballooning mass, prompted the nearly 500 pound Mongolian rikishi to begin reducing his weight. Upon returning, the much lighter Ichinojo picked up right where he left off and continued flip-flopping between kachi koshi and make koshi. At the 2017 Kyushu Basho, Ichinojo scored double-digit wins for the first time in well over a year, when he finished the tournament with a 10-5 record and a gold star victory over Kisenosato. Building on his Bokh wrestling background, Ichinojo is a fierce belt wrestler, and his favorite grip is a right hand inside, left hand outside migi-yotsu. His preferred winning maneuver is the yorikiri forceout.


Ichinojo (left) vs. Ikioi (right), Aki Basho, 2017.


Links:
http://sumodb.sumogames.de/Rikishi.aspx?r=12107
http://www.sumo.or.jp/EnSumoDataRikishi/profile/3498/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ichinoj%C5%8D_Takashi

Hatsu Basho Scorecard


Hatsu Scorecard PreviewWith the return of sumo just a few weeks away, I’ve put together a new scorecard for the 2018 Hatsu Basho. I wanted to take a moment and thank everyone for the great feedback the first scorecard received! I’m glad that everyone enjoyed it and I plan on having updated versions for each basho from now on.

As for filling out the scorecard, here is the system I use during each basho:

Win= White circle.
Loss= Black circle.
Kinboshi= Gold circle.
Kyujo= Black circle, cross out all remaining days.

There is really no wrong way to fill it out, however, so feel free to come up with the system that works best for you. Here’s to a Happy New Year and more great sumo in 2018!!

Hatsu Basho Score Card Part 1
Hatsu Basho Score Card Part 2