Haru State of Play Day 12 Update

The Yusho Race

Kakuryu (11-1) leads by one over Kaisei and by two over Takayasu, Goeido, Daishomaru, and Ikioi.

As I noted yesterday, the torikumi committee has given us the gift of Kakuryu vs. Kaisei on Day 13! Should the Yokozuna prevail, as he has in all 11 previous meetings between the two, the yusho is more or less his—he would lead by two with two days to go. If Kaisei somehow pulls off the upset, the race could go down to the wire. The two would be tied, and the winner of tomorrow’s Ozeki clash would be one off the pace and control his own destiny, as Kakuryu still has to face both Ozeki. There are also two dark-horse contenders lurking far down the banzuke in Daishomaru and Ikioi. Needless to say, anyone who wants to see an exciting conclusion to the basho should be cheering for the big Brazilian.

The Sanyaku

Tochinshin’s huge win over the previously undefeated Yokozuna earned him his kachi-koshi, preserved his Sekiwake rank, and kept his Ozeki hopes alive. He’s almost certain to be moving over to the East side, given how the other Sekiwake has been performing lately.

With his loss against Shodai, which dropped him to 5-7, Mitakeumi  now needs to win all three of his remaining matches to stay at Sekiwake, and two of three to stay in sanyaku. The schedulers gave him a huge break by allowing him to dodge the Yokozuna tomorrow in favor of Hokutofuji, but that’s hardly a gimme, given that Mitakeumi has lost his last 5, while Hokutofuji has won 4 in a row. I assume that Mitakeumi will still have to face the two Ozeki, though with the schedulers’ new-found flexibility, who knows? [Edit: If Kaisei wins tomorrow, does he take Mitakeumi’s place in Day 14/15 matches? Or has the torikumi committee decided to swap the two already?]

With victories today, Endo and Tamawashi kept pace in the race for promotion to sanyaku. Tomorrow, Endo faces the big surprise of the basho, 6-6 Chiyomaru, while Tamawashi has the seemingly easier task of taking on the struggling Yoshikaze.

Remaining intra-sanyaku bouts (my predictions for Days 14 and 15):

Day 13: Takayasu vs. Goeido; Kakuryu vs. Mitakeumi

Day 14: Takayasu vs. Mitakeumi; Kakuryu vs. Goeido

Day 15: Tochinoshin vs. Ichinojo; Goeido vs. Mitakeumi; Kakuryu vs. Takayasu

The Demotion Zone

Daiamami could use one more win, and Tochiozan definitely still needs one. Nishikigi needs at least one win and possibly two, while Myogiryu needs to win out. With his withdrawal, Sokokurai joins Kotoyuki and Hidenoumi in Juryo.

Day 13 Torikumi Released

The Day 13 bouts were just posted, and there’s a surprise! As expected, Takayasu faces Goeido in the Ozeki clash. But rather than matching Kakuryu with the struggling Sekiwake Mitakeumi, the schedulers give us the undefeated Yokozuna vs. 10-1 Kaisei! Depending on how tomorrow’s bouts go, this one could go a long way to decide the yusho. It’s unusual to say the least for a Sekiwake not to face a Yokozuna during a basho, but this departure from tradition is a welcome one for the fans.

Haru State of Play Day 11 Update

The Yusho Race

Kakuryu (11-0) leads by one over Kaisei and by two over Takayasu.

The remaining four matches for Kakuryu and Takayasu are set. Kakuryu gets Tochinoshin on Day 12, followed by Mitakeumi, Goeido, and Takayasu. If he drops a match in the next three days, or if Kaisei were to stay at one loss, the last bout on senshuraku could decide whether we have a playoff!

Takayasu gets Chiyomaru, Goeido, and Mitakeumi before taking on the Yokozuna. The schedulers have a lot of options with Kaisei. He gets Endo tomorrow, and depending on whether he remains in the race, could still face Tamawashi, Ichinojo Chiyotairyu, and Tochinoshin.

The Sanyaku

We know Chiyotairyu’s slot will be open, and, sadly, it looks increasingly likely that Mitakeumi’s might be as well, given that he’s dropped four in a row and would need to come up with two victories against Shodai (quite likely), the two Ozeki, and the Yokozuna. Ichinojo looks set to move up to Sekiwake. The battle for the open slot(s) most likely comes down to the two M1’s and Kaisei.

Endo’s opponents after Kaisei are probably Chiyomaru, Shodai, and Shohozan. Tamawashi has Takarafuji tomorrow, likely followed by Kaisei, Chiyomaru, and Shohozan.

Remaining intra-sanyaku bouts (my predictions after Day 12):

Day 12: Goeido vs. Ichinojo; Kakuryu vs. Tochinoshin

Day 13: Takayasu vs. Goeido; Kakuryu vs. Mitakeumi

Day 14: Takayasu vs. Mitakeumi; Kakuryu vs. Goeido

Day 15: Tochinoshin vs Ichinojo (!!!); Goeido vs. Mitakeumi; Kakuryu vs. Takayasu

The Demotion Zone

Chiyoshoma, Ishiura, Ryuden and Aoiyama locked up their places in Makuuchi on Day 11. Daiamami could use one more win, and Tochiozan definitely needs one. Nishikigi, Sokokurai and Myogiryu still need multiple wins. Only Sokokurai picked up a (disputed) victory today, but it may have been a Pyrrhic one, given how hurt he looked after the bout. Losses by Kotoyuki and Hidenoumi removed any remaining doubt that they’ll be in Juryo next time.

Haru State of Play, Day 10


With two-thirds of the basho in the books, I am bringing back the posts that outline what is still at stake for various sekitori. Most will move up or down a few slots while maintaining their overall division and named rank, but more is on the line for some rikishi—primarily those near the top and the bottom of the banzuke.

The Yusho Race

Kakuryu’s easy win over Chiyomaru takes him to 10-0 and the sole lead. Why, oh why, dear schedulers, did we not get to see the much more interesting Kakuryu-Kaisei matchup? Instead, in a heavyweight bout of the day that lived up to expectations, Kaisei gave his all but lost to Ichinojo, dropping him to 9-1, and one off the lead. After Goeido yet again showed himself unworthy of the Ozeki rank with his blatant henka against lower-ranked Tochinoshin, Ichinojo joins Takayasu in a very small and elite 8-2 chase group.

Tomorrow, we get the match of the day, and possibly the tournament: Kakuryu vs. Ichinojo. Almost as interesting is the undercard bout of Takayasu vs. Tochinoshin. Kaisei will attempt to keep pace when he takes on the struggling Takakeisho. [Goeido gets Shodai, which at least means he won’t henka again. –PinkMawashi]

The Sanyaku

With his eighth win today, Ichinojo locked up his place in sanyaku for another basho, and has a chance to move up from Komusubi to Sekiwake, depending on how the last five days play out.

The other Komusubi, Chiyotairyu, is already make-koshi and will be vacating his slot. Where has the Chiyotairyu who absolutely blasted Tamawashi off the dohyo today been hiding this whole basho?

Despite his loss today, 7-3 Tochinoshin is likely to defend his Sekiwake rank—he needs one victory in the final five days. Less clear is the fate of struggling Mitakeumi, 5-5, who started his fade earlier this time around, and has lost 3 in a row.

If the basho were to end today, the open Komusubi slot would go to Kaisei. Also still in the running for promotion to sanyaku are the two M1’s, Endo and Tamawashi, who are both 5-5, followed closely by M4 Shohozan, 6-4.

The Demotion Zone

Most of the Makuuchi men are safe from demotion after ten days. Chiyoshoma, Ishiura, and Daiamami could use one more win each to be sure, while Ryuden, Tochiozan, and Aoiyama had better pick up one more win to stay in the top division. Nishikigi, Sokokurai and Myogiryu still need 3 additional wins. Onosho, who is kyujo, will be dropping to Juryo, where he will almost certainly be joined by Kotoyuki and Hidenoumi.

Who will take their places in the top division? Takekaze looks set for a return after a one-tournament absence. Sadanoumi is also making a strong case for promotion. Kyokutaisei, who just missed a promotion last time, is 5-5 and needs to secure his kachi-koshi to move up. There are also other contenders lower down in Juryo, who will get sorted out in the remaining days.

A Few Day 6 Matches of Note

The schedulers keep feeding Kakuryu cupcakes. Perhaps they mistake him for Ichinojo? Did you know that Tamawashi likes to bake cupcakes? But I digress. Tomorrow, the sole participating Yokozuna takes on the sad remains of former Ozeki Kotoshogiku, who is 1-4.

One of the Ozeki bouts also holds little intrigue. Takayasu takes on winless Takarafuji, whom he’s basically owned, especially recently. The other is a different story. Undefeated and very genki Shohozan comes up into the joi ranks to take on Goeido. Their record is surprisingly even at 7-10, with Shohozan claiming the last two. This one could be over in a blink, or it could turn into a street brawl all over the dohyo.

The other joi matchups also have high entertainment potential. Endo takes on Sekiwake Tochinoshin. Both men are 3-2, and neither wants to pick up a third loss. Both prefer to fight on the mawashi. Tochinoshin prevailed in their last meeting, punctuating his 14-1 yusho with a senshuraku victory, but their 3-2 career record slightly favors Endo, who claimed their two previous recent bouts.

The bout before this one is a battle for tadpole supremacy. The king of the tadpoles, Sekiwake Mitakeumi, is one off the yusho pace at 4-1. He takes on upstart Takakeisho, who is having an up-and-down basho with a 2-3 record. The two have split their four previous meetings.

Closing out the sanyaku bouts is the Komusubi clash between Ichinojo and Chiyotairyu. The two have mirror records (4-1 and 1-4, respectively) and not much recent history. Chiyotairyu has the bulk, if not the skill, to challenge Ichinojo. Will the giant boulder continue to bounce back from his hiccup against Mitakeumi and stay in the yusho race?

Two matches not involving sanyaku wrestlers are notable because of the opponents’ shikonas. In the joi, we get the battle of the Eagles: Arawashi vs. Tamawashi. And further down the banzuke, two mountains clash when Aoiyama takes on Asanoyama.


“Revenge of the Tadpoles” or “Regression to the Mean”

A quick and incomplete Day 4 wrap-up. Things really heated up today!

As expected, Kakuryu made quick work of winless Arawashi. The Yokozuna stayed undefeated, and should have another easy day at the office tomorrow against also-winless Takarafuji, who lost today to the previously-winless Komusubi Chiyotairyu. Kakuryu has dominated the career series 12-1.

Endo (3-1) continued his strong basho, observing Goeido (2-2) well and pulling him down within a second of the tachiai. The hometown-favorite Ozeki seems to lack focus. Takayasu and Tamawashi rained heavyweight slaps on each other, with the Ozeki delivering the knockout blows.

Now on to the title of this post. Ichinojo is not as dominant as he looked in the first three days, and at times at Hatsu (at least not yet). Tochinoshin had several matches at Hatsu that could have gone either way, and all broke in his favor. Today, these rikishi ran into motivated tadpole opponents. Mitakeumi (3-1) got in low at the tachiai, pushed forward strongly, and after overcoming the initial resistance, managed to move the boulder back and over the tawara, handing Ichinojo his first loss. Takakeisho broke Tochinoshin’s initial left-hand grip on his mawashi and turned the bout into a frantic running battle, which gave him a chance. Takakeisho could daily have gone down or out on multiple occasions, but in the end the Sekiwake fell first.

Tomorrow, Takayasu takes on Kotoshogiku. The career record is deceptively even at 12-11, but the current Ozeki has won the last 9 over the former one. Goeido faces off with Takakeisho, who memorably defeated the Ozeki once (in four tries) back in September. Mitakeumi battles Tamawashi and Tochinoshin goes up against Chiyotairyu in the daily intra-sanyaku bout.

Perhaps the most intriguing bout is the bulk vs. skill matchup of Ichinojo vs. Endo. The two don’t have much history, splitting four bouts, with the most recent taking place exactly a year ago, on Day 5 of Haru 2017 (Endo got a moro-zashi grip and won a spirited bout by yorikiri).

Haru Day 3 Match to Watch


This one is easy: at the very top of the torikumi, it’s Kakuryu vs. Tamawashi in the only battle of the unbeaten (okay, 2-0) rikishi among the upper-rank bouts. Kakuryu was moving backwards today against Endo, which is not an encouraging sign despite his victory. Tamawashi looks determined to regain his sanyaku rank. The career record is 6-4 in favor of the Yokozuna, but Tamawashi has claimed the last three matches, including dealing Kakuryu the first loss at Hatsu on Day 11 that started the Yokozuna’s 4-day slide out of yusho contention. Will Kakuryu achieve vengeance, or will we see Happy Tamawashi again?

Also intriguing: 2-0 Mitakeumi vs. Endo (1-1) and Kotoshogiku vs. Tochinoshin. Both rikishi are 1-1, and Kotoshogiku has dominated the career series 24-6, but that was mostly in his better days as an Ozeki; the two have split their last four bouts, with Tochinoshin prevailing at Hatsu.