The Case Against Yokozuna Takakeisho

Let’s not be too hasty.

First of all, I don’t understand why the need to rush what would be the weakest Yokozuna promotion in decades — not only based on the record of (12-3)x2 but based on strength of schedule. Terunofuji, the lone Yokozuna has been at home recovering for the last two tournaments, so that has meant Takakeisho fighting for the yusho in the musubi-no-ichiban twice in a row. That’s supposed to be thrilling, right? His senshuraku bouts have been against M9 Abi (he went 1 for 2) and M13 Kotoshoho. He has obviously faced zero Ozeki and zero Yokozuna over that time span yet still racked up three losses in each tournament.

A year ago, I was frankly worried that Takakeisho would be the next Ozeki to earn demotion. Thank God I was wrong about that. Over the last four tournaments, he’s turned in that impressive consistency that we expect from an Ozeki, with 45 wins or an average of just over 11 wins per tournament. Double-digit wins is what we expect from an Ozeki and he has accomplished it four tournaments in a row. Not bad. His last makekoshi record was a year ago, of which he’s had just six during his 21-tournament tenure at the rank (28.6%). That’s much better than Shodai’s 7 of 14.

But the comparisons to Kisenosato are unfair. Kisenosato was a staggeringly consistent Ozeki. Before his Yokozuna promotion, he had one make-koshi tournament out of, get this, 31 tournaments at the rank (3.2%). He averaged more than 10 wins per tournament over that entire span. That one make-koshi was a 7-8. And he did this against a full slate of Yokozuna and Ozeki, from Hakuho and Harumafuji to Kotoshogiku. In fact, a loss to Kotoshogiku was the only blemish on his 14-1 Yusho run, where he beat Ozeki Terunofuji and Yokozuna Hakuho on senshuraku. Let me say that again. He beat Hakuho on senshuraku to earn his rope. His tsuna-tori was accomplished with a storybook win over the GOAT. Let’s compare that to…checks notes…Kotoshoho? Come on.

Further, it would be a mistake to skip over the 12-3 Jun-Yusho and it’s a mistake to poo-poo that feat. He defeated each of the three Yokozuna, in succession — including obviously the yusho-winner, Kakuryu. Sadly, for Kisenosato, the storybook really ended after the next tournament with that dual victory over Terunofuji. The almost two years of kyujo is unfortunately how many remember his career but he was certainly deserving of the tsuna.

In my humble opinion, Takakeisho has not got there — yet. His 12-3 playoff loss cannot be compared to Kisenosato’s — and certainly not to Kakuryu’s 14-1 playoff loss to Hakuho. But Takakeisho is now, deserving of his tsunatori (Rope Run). If he wins in Osaka, he will certainly be promoted. I’d put the odds at 50-50. Nishikifuji yusho, anyone?

BuySumoTickets Contest Update

Nakabi has come and gone and the drama builds as we enter the home stretch. Asanoyama secured his kachi-koshi last night, the only sekitori who remains undefeated into Week 2. So it’s time to take a look at the guesses from our BuySumoTickets contest entries and see how well they’re fairing.

His success in the second division is no surprise to our readers, or to our contest entrants. Of the eighteen entries, none provided guesses of a make-koshi record. In fact, all entries expected at least an “Ozeki kachi-koshi.” I have a feeling that this contest will come down to the tie-breaker, and possibly a hat-draw.

Some may be rethinking their decisions not to go with a zensho, seeing the ferocious way he’s been able to defeat those at the bottom division. But that first week was his easy week and his competition will only get more challenging. He’s had his hands full at points with several young up-and-comers but has yet to face any wrestlers with Makuuchi experience. Tomorrow, he will face yet another highly-touted youngster in Kitanowaka but at Juryo 8, it’s obvious the schedulers are planning to turn up the heat. If he keeps winning, I am sure he will have to go through Chiyonokuni and Enho, as well as Kinbozan. The crowd might still get this one right.

Hatsu 2023 Day 1 Torikumi

The Kyokai has released the list of sekitori bouts for Day 1. Any notion of Terunofuji’s appearance is gone. He is kyujo. Lone Ozeki, Takakeisho, will take on Wakamotoharu in the musubi-no-ichiban whose brother, Wakatakakage, will seek to get his Ozeki-run off on the right foot with Meisei. The Hoshoryu vs Tobizaru bout, though, will be fire (as the kids say).

Takayasu versus Daieisho will be a challenging return to Sanyaku for the grizzled veteran. Remember, one of these men has won a yusho. Mitakeumi will face Shodai in probably the least anticipated bout of the tournament. Kiribayama will have his hands full with Tamawashi… Well, okay, it may be more appropriate to say Tamawashi will have his hands full of Kiribayama’s face. I do think his tsuppari will rule the day. And for our final sanyaku bout, I guess the first one, chronologically, Kotonowaka will welcome yusho winner, Abi.

Hatsu 2023 Contest

ENTRIES ARE CLOSED!!

Hatsu basho is nearly upon us! Tachiai is teaming up again with BuySumoTickets to bring readers the chance to win two tickets to the May basho for those of you who will be there in May. This time, the theme is Asanoyama and his return to Juryo. How many wins will Asanoyama have at Hatsu? As a tie-breaker, how many wins will the Makuuchi winner have?

I set up a separate page here on Tachiai for the contest, with form and details, so click the link below to go to the contest page. I don’t want this to get lost in the “infinite scroll” as time goes by. I’ll update that page with entries and status during the tournament. It won’t be a big deal for this tournament but I plan to have a dedicated page for contest entries. I need to see how this one goes, first.

Anyway, have your entries in by the start of Hatsu’s Day 1 action, January 8 — Japan time. We can’t have people guessing through the whole tournament, can we?

Contest details and form are here.