Mock Natsu Day 14 Highlights

With day 14 in the books, we have Mitakeumi alone atop the leader board. He has a final match against Hatsu yusho winner Tokushoryu, whom he has a 2-1 career advantage. If he wins that match, he will lift the Emperor’s cup for the 3rd time, putting him in a quite rarified group, 3 time yusho winners who do not hold an Ozeki or Yokozuna rank.

Should he lose, there could be as many as 3 rikishi who would contest in a playoff for the yusho, including Yokozuna Hakuho and Ozeki Asanoyama. Like the rest of you, we will be eagerly waiting the results from the mock basho’s final day.

Mock Natsu Leaderboard

Leader – Mitakeumi
Chasers – Hakuho, Asanoyama, Sadanoumi
Hunt GroupTokushoryu, Ishiura, Chiyotairyu, Nishikigi

1 Match Remains

Day 14 Matches

Kotoshoho (9-5) defeats Azumaryu (4-10) Hatakikomi – Filling the Kakuryu banzuke gap, former Maegashira Azumaryu, who is already deeply make-koshi, was unable to withstand a pulling attempt 32 seconds into his match against Kotoshoho. Azumaryu picks up his 10th loss, and Kotoshoho keeps hopes alive that he can score double digits in his Makuuchi debut tournament.

Shimanoumi (6-8) defeats Chiyomaru (4-10) Oshidashi – Joining the double-digit loss club is Chiyomaru, who seems assured a place in the Juryo barge of doom that will be pushing away from the banks of the Sumida river Sunday evening. Chiyomaru seems to have developed some manner of balance issue following his COVID-19 scare in Osaka, and has had a difficult time keeping his feet when facing a pusher/thruster opponent. We hope whatever has him diminished can be addressed in Juryo.

Kotoyuki (6-8) defeats Kaisei (3-11) Oshidashi – Never one to be outdone by Chiyomaru, Kaisei was able to find loss number 11 today against Kotoyuki, who also seems assured of demotion. There may be a giant log-jam of plump Maegashira headed to Sumida to board their barge back to Juryo.

Wakatakakage (9-5) defeats Myogiryu (6-8) Yoritaoshi – Loss number 8 means Yoritaoshi is make-koshi for May. Myogiryu got the better of the tachiai, and connected squarely with Wakatakakage’s shoulders, pushing him back before he could begin any kind of offense. But as Myogiryu pressed the attack, Wakatakakage landed a right hand inside grip. Not realizing Wakatakakage a grip, Myogiryu backed up and lost his balance, bringing Wakatakakage to the dirt after him, but losing the match.

Nishikigi (10-4) defeats Tamawashi (6-8) Tsukiotoshi – In what I can best describe as blind-man oshi-zumo, Nishikigi struggled (due to poor eyesight) to even target Tamawashi as the Mongolian stepped deftly around Nishikigi’s every counter strike. But Nishikigi is a survivor, and found an arm to grab, followed the arm back to the body and executed a combination arm pull / rib thrust to upend Tamawashi. I was not sure what the kimarite would be, but Tsukiotoshi seems to be a rough translation for “Heck if I know…” at times. Nishikigi improves to 10-4, while Tamawashi leaves the match make-koshi.

Shohozan (7-7) defeats Ikioi (4-10) Oshidashi – The only part of this match that really gave me a smile was the likelihood that Shohozan (7-7) would face a day 15 Darwin match. Ikioi joined the double digit loss club after Shohozan handled him hard a put him on the dirt. From the opening face slap to the final shove over the east side and into the zabuton, this was a grim match.

Sadanoumi (11-3) defeats Chiyotairyu (10-4) Oshidashi – Both of these veterans are having a well above average tournament, and deserve praise for their fighting spirit and their endurance. Both of them have double digit wins, and their sumo has been powerful and effective. But with both men coming into today 10-3, only one of them was going to take home the white star, the battle was speed vs power, and speed carried the day. Chiyotairyu blasted off of the line, and moved Sadanoumi quickly back to the tawara, where Sadanoumi rallied and took charge of the match.

Ryuden (6-8) defeats Kotoeko (5-9) Oshidashi – Kotoeko got the better of the tachiai, placing his hands on Ryuden’s shoulders before he had even finished the tachiai. Ryuden attacked from underneath as Kotoeko tried to pull Ryuden down and forward. But the gambit failed and Ryuden rushed forward to push Kotoeko out. Both men went into day 14 make-koshi, but Kotoeko could really not afford a 9th loss.

Kotonowaka (8-6) defeats Hokutofuji (8-6) Hatakikomi – Hokutofuji’s matches are frequently an all or nothing engagement, he throws so much into his opening charge that any chance at a plan “B” prior to him finishing the tachiai is an instant defeat. Young Kotonowaka seems to have figured this out, grabbing Hokutofuji’s right hand in the tachiai, placing his left hand on Hokutofuji’s shoulder and slapping him down. That is Kotonowaka’s 8th win and a kachi-koshi for May.

Kotoshogiku (9-5) defeats Takarafuji (7-7) Sukuinage – Kotoshogiku runs up the score, and sends Takarafuji to a Darwin match on day 15. The first match ended with a Kotoshogiku hug-n-chug yorikiri featuring Takarafuji’s narrow escape and step out at the bales. While the gumbai went to Kotoshogiku, the judges decided it was too close to call, and ordered a rematch. The second bout was a bit more cautious than the first, but after being chased around the dohyo, Takarafuji was captured. Kotoshogiku pivoted immediately to his right and threw Takarafuji down.

Terutsuyoshi (5-9) defeats Kiribayama (5-9) Yorikiri – The second match in a row where the judges decided to get involved. Kiribayama got his hand behind Terutsuyoshi, pulling him down and forward as Terutsuyoshi was driving Kiribayama out. Did Kiribayama step out first or did Terutsuyoshi hit the clay? The janome clearly showed Kiribayama foot went out, but three different views seemed to be inconclusive. But the Judges reversed the gyoji’s gumbai and gave the win Terutsuyoshi. Both rikishi finish the day with 5-9.

Takanosho (7-7) defeats Enho (5-9) Yorikiri – In spite of what ever injury seems to be hampering Enho this tournament, he put in a solid effort today, starting with his hop and drop tachiai, which forced Takanosho to forego any attempt at direct offense, and focus on trying whatever he could to shut down Enho’s attack. I find it quite interesting how many of these rikishi drop all efforts of offense as soon as this little guy latches onto their mawashi. Enho managed to get both hands around Takanosho’s right leg and pulled with everything he could muster. Lost for a direct response, Takanosho grabbed a shoulder and a handful of belt and pressed forward. They struggled for just a moment before Enho gave way as Takanosho surged forward for the win.

Onosho (8-6) defeats Takayasu (8-5) Fusen – I am happy that Onosho picked up his 8th win and will remain in the joi-jin, but I have to wonder if this re-injury of Takayasu’s knee is the end of his sumo career. Should he miss the next basho, he would be relegated deep into Juryo, and that might be more than he would be willing to tolerate.

Endo (3-11) defeats Tochinoshin (3-11) Yorikiri – Possibly one of the most miserable sumo matches in the last 5 months, both are injured, both have double digit losses, and Tochinoshin seems destined for a drop to Juryo. I am sure the fact that Endo was able to easily get his preferred left hand shallow grip and completely dominate the massive former Ozeki is no comfort to fans who are worried about their favorites.

Yutakayama (7-7) defeats Abi (6-8) Yorikiri – Abi engaged his double arm attack against Yutakayama in the tachiai, but Yutakayama seemed to expect this, attacking Abi’s elbows from below. But even with the counter attack, Yutakayama was forced back under Abi’s nodowa / trust volley. Yutakayama applied increasingly forceful blows to Abi’s elbows to break the attack, until one blow missed and took Abi across the face and nose. As the tsuppari momentarily halted, Yutakayama leaped take Abi to his chest and drive him out. While it’s great Yutakayama got the win, it looks like it’s Darwin match for him on day 15.

Daieisho (7-7) defeats Aoiyama (8-6) Oshidashi – Aoiyama attempted the thrust up / slap down combo at the tachiai, but could not connect on the hitakekomi and found himself wide open to Daieisho opening attack. With both of Daieisho’s hands inside, and Aoiyama’s feet not set for defense, Daieisho made quick work of him and forced him back out of the ring on the west side. Daieisho also looks to be a candidate for a day 15 Darwin match.

Kagayaki (7-7) defeats Okinoumi (5-9) Oshidashi – With make-koshi on the line, Kagayaki pulls out a win against Okinoumi, breaking a 4 match winning streak. At the tachiai, Okinoumi went high and Kagayaki went center-mass. An exchange of thrusts and Kagayaki had the advantage, moving Okinoumi back. Okinoumi shifted right twice as the two exchanged pushes against their bodies. Kagayaki broke through Okinoumi’s defenses, landing first a right hand then a left against Okinoumi’s neck, driving him from the ring. Kagayaki also a candidate for a Darwin match on day 15.

Mitakeumi (12-2) defeats Ishiura (10-4) Hikiotoshi – Mitakeumi knocks Ishiura out of any further contention for the Emperor’s cup with a fast, high energy match. Ishiura attempted a nodowa at the tachiai, but Mitakeumi swatted him back as he charged forward. Mitakeumi threw a series of powerful thrusts against Ishiura’s head and shoulders, and Ishiura focused solely on keeping his feet. After the 4th of these exchanges, Mitakeumi followed up with a pull on Ishiura’s left shoulder, sending him to his 4th loss. Mitakeumi retains sole possession of the lead.

Asanoyama (11-3) defeats Shodai (7-7) Uwatenage – Asanoyama wins and Shodai becomes a candidate for a Darwin match? What a great outcome. Asanoyama did not immediately go for the belt, and the two exchanged thrusts to the head and chest, with Asanoyama finishing with a vigorous tug on Shodai’s right arm. This pull brought Shodai forward, and in a move best suited for Fred Astair, Asanoyama hooked his right arm around Shodai’s waist and rolled left into the throw.

Hakuho (11-3) defeats Tokushoryu (10-4) Hatakikomi – It took 4 tries for Hakuho to finally get his left hand in the correct position to pull Tokushoryu down, and he tried the same combo two times in a row. I think Tokushoryu was overwhelmed by Hakuho’s intensity, as the Yokozuna was a flurry of slapping and grabbing hands. Hakuho remains in the yusho hunt, while kicking Tokushoryu out of contention.

Mock Natsu – Day 15 Torikumi

Courtesy of Grand Sumo Breakdown and Tachiai – Its the final card of matches for our mock Natsu basho. It all comes down to Mitakeumi’s match against Tokushoryu. If Mitakeumi wins, it’s Yusho #3 for him.

Former Ozeki Takayasu Withdraws From Mock Natsu Basho

Following his day 13 re-injury to his knee, former Ozeki Takaysu has withdrawn from the mock Natsu basho. Luckily he had already reached his 8th win, and is kachi-koshi. But given the nature of the injury, there is a worry on his viability for the next tournament. Reason for kyujo is listed as inflammation of the Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL), 3 weeks rest.

His day 14 opponent, Onosho, will receive the forfeit win, which will make him kachi-koshi for the mock Natsu basho.

We hope that Takayasu can recover and return healthy for the next tournament.

Mock Natsu Day 13 Highlights

Entering the final weekend, its Mitakeumi alone atop the leader board. Amazing development as both Ishiura and Sadanoumi take a loss on day 13. Having won 2 prior yusho, this would be his 3rd cup if he can prevail against a snarling pack of hungry competitors just 1 loss behind. The final weekend promises to be a real barn burner, and Tachiai will be covering the senshuraku matches early in the day Sunday.

I would be remiss if I did not note that shin-Ozeki Asanoyama has really not broken stride for a moment since his promotion, crossing into double-digits today with his 10th win. Many fans see a potential for sumo’s highest rank in this young rikishi, and we hope he can stay healthy and continue to fight well.

Mock Natsu Leaderboard

Leader – Mitakeumi
Chasers – Hakuho, Asanoyama, Tokushoryu, Ishiura, Chiyotairyu, Sadanoumi
Hunt Group – Nishikigi

2 Matches Remain

Day 13 Matches

Tochinoshin (3-10) defeats Shohozan (6-7) Tsukiotoshi – By the slimmest of margins, it may just be possible that former Ozeki Tochinoshin may be able to remain in the top division if he can find some way to win his remaining two matches. Today he stood fast against Shohozan’s front assault, and managed to get superior hand placement and put that to work before his lower body capitulated. I think the key was reducing mobility to almost zero for Tochinoshin. He took a pounding from Shohozan, but he kept his feet set, never asking that injured right knee to do anything more than keep him upright.

Kotoshoho (8-5) defeats Shimanoumi (5-8) Oshitaoshi – Kotoshoho joins the kachi-koshi club at the same time he hands Shimanoumi his 8th loss. Shimanoumi opened strong with a three blow combo attack immedately after the tachiai. After dropping a step back, Kotoshoho surged forward and matched Shimanoumi, ultimately driving him from the ring.

Nishikigi (9-4) defeats Myogiryu (6-7) Yoritaoshi – Myogiryu jumped early for a matta, but when they finally got started, Nishikigi opened with his favorate left hand arm bar hold. Myogiryu returned the favor, barring Nishikigi’s right arm and the two were locked together. For a moment, Myogiryu had the advantage and moved Nishikigi back. Dropping his hips, Nishikigi lifted with his shoulders and drove forward. Myogiryu struggled to get his feet back to the clay, and the two collapsed side by side. Win number 9 of Nishikigi.

Chiyomaru (4-9) defeats Kaisei (3-10) Hatakikomi – There is possibly only one human being that Chiyomaru could henka, and that would be Kaisei. While the henka was far from the kind of grand spectacle you might see from Chiyoshoma or Ishiura, it was brutally effective as Kaisei went face first to the clay for loss number 10.

Ikioi (4-9) defeats Kotoyuki (5-8) Oshidashi – The eternal warrior, Ikioi, handed Kotoyuki his 8th loss with a might shove to lower chest. The two traded power pushes to the body before the tachiai was complete, with Ikioi struggling to overcome Kotoyuki’s boxy shape. But a well directed shove against Kotoyuki’s left shoulder sent Mr. 5×5 up on one foot, and Ikioi finished him.

Tamawashi (6-7) defeats Kotoeko (5-8) Yorikiri – Kotoeko was remarkably cautious starting this match, lining up well behind the shikiri-sen, and waiting for Tamawashi to make the first move. Tamawashi went high, putting both hands outside and on Kotoeko’s shoulders while Kotoeko went for Tamawashi’s arm pits. Kotoeko’s attempt to throw went to pieces when Tamawashi refused to advance into Kotoeko’s chest. Now off balance and struggling to set up defensive foot position, Tamawashi closed the gap and took a double inside grip. A few moments of grappling struggle later, Tamawashi had passivated Kotoeko, and calmly put him outside the ring. That’s the 8th loss for Kotoeko, and he is now make-koshi.

Chiyotairyu (10-3) defeats Kotoshogiku (8-5) Oshidashi – This was an interesting hybrid match, with Kotoshogiku trying to close “hug-n-chug” range and Chiyotairyu thrusting him back. After the 4th exchange, Kotoshogiku conceded the point placed his hand behind Chiyotairyu’s head, and as Chiyotairyu pushed him back, Kotoshogiku pulled. Chiyotairyu toppled to the dohyo as Kotoshogiku fell out of bounds. A monoii reversed the gyoji’s call and gave the match to Chiyotairyu, who has an impressive 10 wins in our mock-basho.

Tokushoryu (10-3) defeats Takayasu (8-5) Oshitaoshi – Tokushoryu also picked up his 10th win today, but in the process Takayasu aggravated the knee injury from March. Unable to walk or stand, it took several painful minutes for the giant wheelchair to appear to take a wincing Takayasu back to the dressing room. Reports are he was taken directly to the hospital for treatment. I have a bad feeling about this.

Kotonowaka (7-6) defeats Ryuden (5-8) Yoritaoshi – Kotonowaka delivers loss #8 to Ryuden. At the tachiai, Kotonowaka shifted a half step to his right, capturing Ryuden’s left shoulder with both hands, turning him before Ryuden could begin his attack. Ryuden responded with an attack to Kotonowaka’s face, which left his chest unguarded. Moving his hands in and up, Kotonowaka was rewarded with a double inside grip, which transformed to a double hand thrust to Ryuden’s chest which dropped him to the dohyo for the win.

Wakatakakage (8-5) defeats Enho (5-8) Yorikiri – The first match should have been a matta to begin with, and Enho knew it, giving only token pressure in return to Wakatakakage opening attack. The Shimpan interceded and declared torinaoshi, and both men went back to the lines. In matches where Enho can’t get low and inside, he is at risk of being captured and turning into nothing more than fly-weight butsukari ballast. Add that Enho looks like he’s got some lower body problem, and his 8th loss was little more than a formality. Wakatakakage kachi-koshi, and staying in the top division a while longer.

Onosho (7-6) defeats Abi (6-7) Oshidashi – A single double arm thrust to Onosho’s neck was all that Abi could muster before Onosho leaned dangerously far forward, putting massive pressure on Abi’s chest and shoulders. Abi was forced to step back, but Onosho was setting the pace, and Abi was not able to respond with anything more than token pressure. Onosho has won 5 of his last 6 matches, after a crummy 2-5 start.

Aoiyama (8-5) defeats Takanosho (6-7) Hatakikomi – When Aoiyama gets his tachiai opening move down, it looks to be tough to beat. Again Big Dan stood his opponent up with an upward thrust at the tachiai, and immediately thrust them to the clay. That’s kachi-koshi for Aoiyama – he’s had a solid tournament and I would not be surprised to see him finish with double digit wins.

Yutakayama (6-7) defeats Kiribayama (5-8) Oshidashi – Yutakayama took an early advantage, keeping his elbows tucked together in front of his chest, and putting his hands against Kiribayama’s shoulders at the tachiai. Kiribayama responded by attempting to pull down Yutakayama, but the release for forward pressure played directly into Yutakayama’s attack. Lifting and striding forward, the “Big Unit” took Kiribayama to the tawara a shoved with his right hand for the win. The loss is Kiribayama’s 8th, and he is now make-koshi for the tournament.

Terutsuyoshi (4-9) defeats Endo (2-11) Yoritaoshi – Both of these rikishi have suffered a miserable basho, complete with injuries and humiliating losses. While its a bit heart wrenching for the fans, it’s the nature of sumo, and Endo specifically has hot and cold tournaments. This one has been stone cold. Terutsuyoshi was able to break his early left hand shallow grip, and converted that to morozashi. As Endo fought to escape, he lost his footing and went down. If the sumo association had made Kintamayama’s slippiotoshi official, this might have been listed as the kimarite instead.

Okinoumi (5-8) defeats Takarafuji (7-6) Katasukashi – Since locking in his make-koshi, Okinoumi has won 4 straight. I genuinely think that he was having injury problems in week 1, but his bounce back in week 2 almost defies explanation. The seasoned veteran has an encyclopedic skill list, and today we were treated to a seldom seen katasukashi after Okinoumi was able to capture Takarafuji as he circled away, and Okinoumi’s attempt at a pull down morphed into this when his left hand stayed latched to Takarafuji’s right arm pit.

Daieisho (6-7) defeats Kagayaki (6-7) Tsukiotoshi – Both men are facing a real danger of a day 15 Darwin match, and both of them were eager to avoid that fate. Daieisho had the early advantage, and was able to stay lower and drive inside. Kagayaki’s defensive foot placement was, as always, impeccable – thus Daieisho struggled to move him back. After Daieisho’s third thrusting volley, Kagayaki recognized Daieisho could not move him back, and Kagayaki went on offense. As Daieisho neared the edge of the ring, Daieisho tried a last gasp pull, which brought both men down. During the mono-ii that followed, replay showed the remarkable effort Daieisho put into keeping his foot in place while Kagayaki fell beside him. The gyoji’s gumbai was upheld, and both men leave the dohyo 6-7.

Mitakeumi (11-2) defeats Sadanoumi (10-3) Oshitaoshi – A head to head match between two of the leader group? Yes please! It was Sadanoumi’s speed vs Mitakeumi’s strong forward attack, and it did not disappoint. At the tachiai, Mitakeumi went high and Sadanoumi went fast and low. Sadanoumi had his right hand inside before Mitakeumi could launch his first attack, and conceded the form of the match to a grappling mawashi battle. Sadanoumi had his feet wide and his hips square, and Mitakeumi struggled to move him back, as the two men strained against each other at the center of the dohyo. The stalemate lasted several long and sweaty seconds, and broke when Sadanoumi attempted to shift his grip. In a blink of an eye, Mitakeumi dropped his hips and charged headlong toward the edge of the ring. The win leaves Mitakeumi at the top of the leader board.

Asanoyama (10-3) defeats Ishiura (10-3) Sukuinage – The shin-Ozeki once again shows how he got here, in a high stakes match he stays focused, patient and effective. I really liked Ishiura’s opening gambit to force Asanoyama into a yotsu grip he tends to avoid (left hand inside), and then used that left hand of the Ozeki’s as a pivot for a half spin that nearly cost Asanoyama the match. In spite of this early set back, Asanoyama kept himself upright, in the ring, and in control of his body. Unable to complete the swing and throw of Asanoyama, Ishiura was forced to release his right hand grip, and a moment later Asanoyama settled into his right hand inside grip and immediately loaded the throw which won the match. Both rikishi finish the day with double digits wins at 10-3.

Hokutofuji (7-5) defeats Kakuryu (8-4) Fusen – I am hoping that the Sumo Kyokai reads their roster and puts no pressure on Kakuryu to retire just yet. He’s older, he hurt, but they could quickly find themselves in a no-kozuna situation for a time before Asanoyama or anyone else can string two consecutive yusho together. Purists will remark, “big deal, there are plenty of eras in sumo where Ozeki was the highest rank on the banzuke”. This is technically correct, but sumo needs headline stars in these tournaments to attract fans and attention to their broadcasts. Hopefully they go easy on Big-K and let him continue on for a while longer before there are candidates to take the rope.

Hakuho (10-3) defeats Shodai (7-6) Hatakikomi – Shodai took a right elbow from Hakuho directly to the face, but this really seemed to just fire him up, and he charged at the Yokozuna, planting his hands on either side of Hakuho’s face and applying a sharp twist to the left. This seemed to really agitate Hakuho who responded with a powerful thrust to Shodai’s chin with his right hand, and a brutal slap down from his left. Points to Shodai for giving it right back to The Boss. I think that as he fades out, opponents like Shodai are less willing to take punishment from him without returning in kind.