The Kyokai announced that there are three new Juryo debutants and one wrestler making his return to Sekitori status. Kotoyusho, Shiba, and Kitanowaka are being promoted for the first time. Shiba is changing his shikona to Shiden to mark the occasion. Chiyoarashi is being repromoted after an *eight year* absence. Congratulations to all of the new sekitori!
The final day of the Kyushu tournament saw 14% more envelopes awarded than the final day of Aki. But the rest of the tournament did not see a substantial boost, even with the much publicized involvement of Pokemon. There was more kensho awarded in Kyushu than in blistering hot Nagoya, Hakuho’s finale, but it was the second lowest kensho total for the year. Kyushu 2021 definitely outperformed November 2020 (in Tokyo), mostly from the senshuraku boost as well as a modest boost during the middle weekend. But overall, Kyushu 2021 paid out 15% fewer kensho over the course of the tournament than the high-water mark set at Whacky-Aki.
The pledges made by ranks had some interesting trends. The Ozeki pairing of Asanoyama and Takakeisho averaged higher kensho than the recent Takakeisho/Shodai pair but that is a bit misleading since Asanoyama and Takakeisho also got boosts from sharing the lucrative musubi-no-ichiban when the Yokozuna were absent. Terunofuji has enjoyed about double the pledge rate of Ozeki during these last two tournaments. In all, he won more than 350 envelopes which puts his haul at 10,770,000 yen, or just under $95,000 at current exchange rates. That does not include his regular salary or yusho bonus.
At the other end of the spectrum, Shodai lost the most money of any wrestler this tournament. His opponents walked away with 85 envelopes stuffed with 2.55 million yen. He didn’t walk away a pauper, though. His nine wins netted him more than 2 million yen in kensho. But he is leaving a lot of money on the dohyo. His performance has not met the expectation of an Ozeki as he has yet to win 10 and has frequently been kadoban — or in danger of going kadoban.
Mitakeumi, Terutsuyoshi, and Kagayaki have been fortunate enough to have had kensho-kin pledged on all 15 bouts over the course of the last 8 tournaments. As people noticed on Twitter, Terunofuji, Takakeisho, and Endo all had some kyujo. Still, Terunofuji, Takakeisho, and Shodai have been the Top 3 kensho winners over the eight tournaments, followed by Asanoyama, Mitakeumi, and Endo.
For January, I will take a look at how pledges correlates with winning to see whether wrestlers win more bouts in tournaments when more money is up-for-grabs. I imagine it will not be the same for all. The tricky bit that I am trying to control for is the strength of competition. Obviously more money is riding on sanyaku competitors and they are more difficult opponents. So when Kiribayama plays up, he has more money pledged but likely a lower probability of winning because of the opponent difficulty. But would the pledges give him a “boost” or extra encouragement to give 110%, vs 100% against someone like Takarafuji or Akua?
In the end, the Jonokuchi title came down to one bout: undefeated Inoue against Tsukubayama, a Jonidan-ranked wrestler with one-loss. I was a bit puzzled by the pairing, frankly. Inoue had faced both Chiyoshishi and Goseiryu on his path to the yusho, so I had assumed he would face Raiho. Instead, Inoue faced Tsukubayama, a young man from…you guessed it…Tsukuba city in Ibaraki prefecture. He’s another young’un who started his sumo career last summer and has remained in Jonidan but at Jonidan 91, even a 6th win would likely not be enough to secure a promotion to Sandanme.
Inoue pressed forward and defeated Tsukubayama, without breaking a sweat. Tsukabayama half-heartedly tried a henka, shifting to his right at the tachiai. Inoue’s coming off an injury, so he’s not going to be charging headlong into the crowd. Inoue just pivoted left and bulled forward, shoving Tsukubayama out. Congratulations, Inoue, on the yusho!
Chiyoshishi tossed Takabaho for a dominant ouchie-ta-ouchie win. And lastly, Raiho defeated Goseiryu. Raiho latched on quickly to Goseiryu’s belt with his left-hand, and then came down hard with his right, throwing Goseiryu to the ground.
The Jonidan yusho race came down to three wrestlers with 6 wins; Chiyoyamato, Yurikisho, and Kaiho. Higher-ranked Kaiho was paired against Sandanme yusho contender, Taiyo. Chiyoyamato faced Yurikisho in the bout from the tweet below.
With Yurikisho’s victory assured, he still had to wait for the Kaiho bout to know whether he won outright or would need to fight in a playoff. Kaiho won, meaning there would be a Jonidan playoff.
In Sandanme, the Kaiho victory meant Taiyo was out of the race and the winner would be one of two men. You’ll remember Arauma as the Jonokuchi yusho contender from January, who beat Atamifuji on their first meeting but then lost in their playoff rematch. This tournament, he faced the Kinbozan, who debuts in sandanme because of his success at the university level. Kinbozan was 10cm taller, and 30kg heavier and used all of that mass to overpower Arauma. Atamifuji awaits both, as they will be promoted to Makushita but Atamifuji is already nearing the precipice to Juryo.
Ryuden won the Makushita yusho with straight-forward oshi-zumo against former Juryo wrestler, Chiyonoumi. This victory marks his return to action after serving a suspension. Along the way he did face several former sekitori, including Chiyonoumi, so his path to yusho was not easy.
He will need to do it again in January for promotion to Juryo, but that will be even more difficult with many wrestlers, including Atamifuji, fighting for the few slots which open up.
Lastly, Ichiyamamoto claimed the Juryo yusho with an impressive 13-2 record. He’s virtually assured a slot in Makuuchi with Hakuho’s retirement, Asanoyama’s suspension, Shohozan’s demotion, and possible demotions for Kaisei and Kagayaki.
I couldn’t get all of the bouts into the video, so I supplemented with some of these clips from YouTube. I did manage to get the yusho ceremony so that’s tacked onto the end of the video at the top.
In the matchup of Jonokuchi’s unbeaten, Inoue’s experience dominated the young Chiyoshishi. After several solid slaps at the tachiai, both men latched onto each others’ belts in a bit of a surprising change of pace for Inoue. Inoue powered through Chiyoshishi as the young lion backed and circled around the ring. However, Inoue pursued swiftly and forced Chiyoshishi down, yoritaoshi. As the lion went down, he let out a roar…which sounded suspiciously like an F-bomb to me. Hear for yourself in the clip below. I hope you enjoy a little chuckle.
This is a surprising shift for Inoue as it’s only the third yoritaoshi win of his career as he favors an oshi-tsuki style in an effort to set up a slapdown. The most common kimarite among his wins hatakikomi. While he has won more than 20 bouts using oshidashi, he’s won 28 bouts via slapdown. It’s still too early in Chiyoshishi’s career to pin down his style but I will need to keep an eye on Inoue and his rise back up the banzuke. It will be helpful if he has another effective tool in the toolbox.
Though Inoue won his bout and is in sole possession of the lead, he must win his next bout to win the yusho outright. If he loses, the yusho will come down to a playoff. His next bout will likely be against the winner of the Kawamura/Raiho bout. Chiyoshishi has already defeated both, so he will likely face the winner of the Goseiryu/Wakaonehara fight.
Raiho took no chances against Kawamura, pulling a henka, and then spinning poor Kawamura clear off the dohyo with the final shove delivered from behind, okuridashi. The athleticism of Raiho against the experience and power of Inoue will be a fitting highlight bout on Day 13 (probably).
Goseiryu forced Wakaonehara to the side with a powerful right-hand at the initial charge. He quickly grabbed Wakaonehara and yanked him down for the hikiotoshi win. Goseiryu will thus probably be paired with Chiyoshishi with the winner having a shot at a three-way playoff with Raiho and Inoue, if Raiho wins. That playoff would be fought on senshuraku.