Day 10 Highlights

Takayasu Salt
Image courtesy of the Japan Sumo Association Twitter Feed

Act two is in the record books, and the yusho race is down to three credible contenders. Entering into the final 3 days, the Ozeki and Yokozuna will face each other daily, and the level of competition will ratchet higher. It’s still possible that Aki will be won with an unbeaten 15-0 record, which would be a great mark to achieve during a year of tournaments plagued by injuries and absent rikishi.

Highlight Matches

Ishiura defeats Ryuden – With no room for another loss, and his position in the top division at stake, Ishiura finds his sumo. Today’s match was some of his best, and one has to wonder where this has been for the past year.

Yoshikaze defeats Nishikigi – I swear, you can see Nishikigi get nervous as Yoshikaze pulls him to his chest, and Nishikigi realizes he is in contact with the Yoshikaze mystery rash. You know, if its all over your torso anyhow, why not use it to help win? Dekimono-kiri anyone? In better news, it does look like the rash is clearing up.

Takanosho defeats Sadanoumi – Sadanoumi starts strong, but Takanosho rallies after he lands a nodowa. With his neck pinned back and his body too high, Sadanoumi can offer little defense as Takanosho drives forward and wins.

Kotoyuki defeats Kyokutaisei – Much to my surprise, Kotoyuki looked strong and forceful today, and did not go sailing into the zabuton. Instead he won over Kyokutaisei, who may have compounded his right knee injury.

Takanoiwa defeats Tochiozan – Takanoiwa reaches kachi-koshi on day 10, cementing his return to the top division after almost a year recovering from injury and battling his way back up the banzuke. Kimarite is listed as sotogake, for that leg trip he applied to Tochiozan at the tawara.

Kagayaki defeats Aoiyama – Kagayaki’s first ever win over the Bulgarian meat mountain. Clearly Aoiyama desperately needs some recovery time, and is now make-koshi.

Onosho defeats Daishomaru – A quick but effective hatakikomi, notable in that it’s only Onosho’s 3rd win of the tournament.

Myogiryu defeats Kotoshogiku – Myogiryu’s speed and intensity prevents Kotoshogiku from setting up any offensive sumo.

Asanoyama defeats Hokutofuji – After a blazing 7-0 start, Hokutofuji seems to have hit a wall, and is now on a three-match losing streak. Hokutofuji invested too much time trying to get his nodowa to pay off, all the while Asanoyama was moving forward and maneuvering Hokutofuji’s body into an increasingly perilous position.

Chiyonokuni defeats Shohozan – It was a given that these two would show a lot of action, and it did not disappoint. Repeatedly charging each other, it was more a game of bumper cars at first. The match ended before there could be any bloodshed when Shohozan lost his footing and stepped outside the bales.

Takarafuji defeats Abi – Takarafuji shows us how its done. He patiently absorbs Abi’s double arm thrusts, carefully deflecting part of each thrust and circling a step to his left each time. Forced to constantly adjust his stance, Abi’s rhythm is disrupted. Takarafuji reads this with great skill, finds an opening, and drives Abi out. Great tactics from Takarafuji today.

Shodai defeats Chiyotairyu – Chiyotairyu picks up his make-koshi. The NHK team did not necessarily concur with the gyoji’s indication that Shodai had won the match, but none of the judges asked to review the gunbai.

Tamawashi defeats Ikioi – Both rikishi fought with a lot of power, with Tamawashi finishing the match with a burst of strength that lifted and threw Ikioi from the dohyo. That was big!

Takakeisho defeats Yutakayama – Solid Takakeisho style oshi-zumo today, Yutakayama was powerless to mount any kind of useful defense. Why did he come back from kyujo again?

Tochinoshin defeats Kaisei – Kadoban Ozeki Tochinoshin sores a much needed win against Kaisei, keeping the chances of him clearing kadoban plausible. The two were chest to chest from the start, and both men were trying to outmuscle the other. Both were able to lift each other, but struggled to do more than stand in the center of the dohyo, keeping their opponent at bay. Kaisei tired first, and Tochinoshin lifted him enough to carry him out. Tochinoshin’s magic number is now 2.

Takayasu defeats Goeido – The two Ozeki surprisingly decided to go chest to chest and fight it out yotsu-style. This seems to have been a smart move for Takayasu, as Goeido’s mobility did not factor into the match, and Takayasu was able to contain and control his fellow Ozeki. For fans of unusual winning moves, we got to see Takayasu apply a kainahineri, or a two handed twist down. This leaves Takayasu as the sole rikishi one loss behind the Yokozuna.

Kisenosato defeats Endo – As expected, Kisenosato picks up his kachi-koshi and completes his return to active sumo competition. A series of matta marred the match, and when they finally launched on the fourth attempt, Kisenosato charged forward ahead and took Endo out quickly. With win number 8, the pressure on Kisenosato subsides a bit. He can remain an active, competing Yokozuna, and work to improve his performance at Kyushu. The sumo world breathes a sigh of welcome relief.

Hakuho defeats Ichinojo – Glad to see Ichinojo actually put in an effort today. He had Hakuho working to keep the giant contained, and several times Ichinojo was able to generate good forward pressure. However, Hakuho remains undefeated and tied for the lead.

Kakuryu defeats Mitakeumi – Points to Mitakeumi for a strong tachiai and backing the Yokozuna to the tawara, but Kakuryu rallies and hands Mitakeumi his 4th defeat. This likely puts his Ozeki bid on hold until Kyushu unless he can find a way to overcome both Kisenosato and Takayasu. Frankly, Mitakeumi is not looking genki enough to pull that one off, as stamina is starting to play a role in everyone’s sumo.

Aki Day 10 Preview

Hakuho Dohyo-iri

Act 2 comes to a close, and with a full roster of Yokozuna and Ozeki still competing every day, the carnage is back to pre 2017 levels. Kisenosato looks within range of his kachi-koshi today, Mitakeumi’s Ozeki run will hinge on winning every match from here to the end of the basho, and Tochinoshin is in a deep dark kadoban hole. As we did earlier, lets look at the joi-jin bloodbath. The combined record for all of the Komusubi to Maegashira 3 rikishi: 17 wins, 55 loses. That’s going to leave a mark!

Aki Leaderboard

The leaderboard continues to narrow, as the road to the yusho gets more challenging. So far the undefeated Yokozunas have control of their destiny.

Leaders: Kakuryu, Hakuho
Chasers: Goeido, Takayasu, Ryuden
Hunt Group: Kisenosato, Hokutofuji, Takanoiwa

6 Matches Remain

What We Are Watching Day 10

Ryuden vs Ishiura – Make no mistake, Ryuden has been given the task to deliver the make-koshi doom to Ishiura, and relegate him back to Juryo. Given Ryuden is fighting well and already kachi-koshi, it’s not going to take him much effort to seal Ishiura’s fate.

Yoshikaze vs Nishikigi – Nishikigi has been trending towards going chest to chest and taking a grip on his opponent’s mawashi. But the Yoshikaze mystery body rash may give him a second thought. Their only prior match went to Yoshikaze.

Kotoyuki vs Kyokutaisei – Kyokutaisei draws the somewhat overly theatrical Kotoyuki for day 10. Both of them are in dire need of wins, with Kotoyuki much closer to the Juryo express than Kyokutaisei. I anticipate Kyokutaisei will be chased around the dohyo for a few seconds, then Kotoyuki will be launched into the crowd, even if he has to do it under his own power.

Takanoiwa vs Tochiozan – A win today would give Takanoiwa his kachi-koshi in his return to Makuuchi. After nearly a year on the road to battle back to the top division, it would be an interesting bookend to Harumafuji’s retirement at the end of the month.

Kagayaki vs Aoiyama – In 6 attempts, Kagayaki has never been able to defeat Aoiyama. But for Aki 2018, Aoiyama is hurt and only fighting at a fraction of his power. So the advantage today is clearly with Kagayaki. Aoiyama will try to keep Kagayaki at a preferred swatting distance, and Kagayaki will work to set up in much closer range.

Myogiryu vs Kotoshogiku – If Myogiryu can stay mobile, he has a chance of beating Kotoshogiku. But we know that Kotoshogiku tends to latch onto his opponent during the tachiai. Kotoshogiku will try to be inside to try to land a grip, and Myogiryu’s inclination will be to stay mobile, and that opens a narrow avenue for Kotoshogiku to seize control at the tachiai.

Hokutofuji vs Asanoyama – Both of these bright rising stars are working to regroup after losing their shares of the leaderboard. They are evenly matched, and I expect that they will throw fairly symmetrical sumo at each other. The “handshake tachiai” into a nodowa is not quite working for Hokutofuji in week 2, so hopefully he’s got another offensive gambit. If Asanoyama can constrain Hokutofuji’s sumo, he should be able to set the tempo and terms of the match.

Chiyonokuni vs Shohozan – We know that both of these men are looking forward to this match, as they probably want someone who they can pound the daylights out of. Both of them have had a rough time this basho, and probably have a lot of frustration to work out. Shohozan holds an 8-2 career advantage.

Takarafuji vs Abi – How many days out of Aki 15 can Abi-zumo actually work. We are keeping track, and so far it’s 5, plus 1 where he went for the mawashi. Takarafuji will try to get a hold of Abi and keep him from leaping around and using his double-hand oshi attack. Good luck with that.

Shodai vs Chiyotairyu – If Shodai can withstand the tachiai, he has a pretty good shot at winning another one. Chiyotairyu’s lateral motion is poor, and Shodai can use this to his advantage.

Tamawashi vs Ikioi – Both make-koshi, both having a rotten Aki basho. Both of them are strength-oshi rikishi, so I am looking for some high power, high mobility sumo.

Yutakayama vs Takakeisho – First time match up for these two, and it should be a good one. Yutakayama picked up his first win on day 9, and he’s back looking for a few shiroboshi to soften his fall down the banzuke. Yutakayama will bring strength and stamina to the match, where Takakeisho will bring speed an fury. Should be a good battle!

Kaisei vs Tochinoshin – Tochinoshin will continue his task to find 8 wins, and he may have an opportunity on day 10. Over the 16 career matches, Tochinoshin holds a 9-7 slight advantage. He needs this win, and I am going to guess he is willing to endure a lot of pain and possible injury to defeat the mighty Brazilian.

Goeido vs Takayasu – As we continue to rotate through the Ozeki matches, it’s time for speedy Goeido to take his sumo against the strong and chaotic Takayasu. Takayasu holds a 18-10 lead in the career series, but Goeido 2.2 seems to be increasingly effective executing his rapid, forceful sumo. This match may only take a moment, and it’s anyone’s guess who will prevail.

Kisenosato vs Endo – Endo is make-koshi, and clearly injured. So I am calling that Kisenosato will pick up his kachi-koshi today, and seal his successful return to sumo. We all know that “10” is a Yokozuna kachi-koshi, but no one is going to give a care about that. The Japanese sumo fans will have Kisenosato back, he will have successfully gotten a majority of wins, and he is free to improve and recover before Kyushu.

Ichinojo vs Hakuho – Hakuho is probably going to rack win #10, as Ichinojo is not fighting well. Regardless of whatever injuries “The Boss” might have, he’s still bringing some of the best sumo each day.

Kakuryu vs Mitakeumi – Mitakeumi’s Ozeki bid hangs by a thread now, and Kakuryu holds the other end of that thread. Their career record is 4-3 in favor of Kakuryu, so it’s not a given that Big-K can score a win. But Mitakeumi cannot afford a single loss from here on out, and he is in the toughest part of the schedule. Every eye in sumo fandom will be locked to this match.

Aki Day 8 Highlights

Hakuho 800 Wins

The mischievous spirits of the fall tournament came to visit nakabi, the middle day of the tournament. Their children – chaos, surprise and disorder – were supposed to sit in the stands, but instead went to play on the dohyo. Today was a day of the odd and the unexpected. Many rikishi tasted a surprising defeat, and some long-struggling rikishi claimed a shocking win.

Hakuho racked up his 800th win as a Yokozuna. The man is running out of records to break. There is a committee somewhere in the bowels of the Sumo Association working on inventing new ones for him to strive for. Seriously, the man is the Michael Jordan of sumo.

Highlight Matches

Aminishiki defeats Kotoyuki – Kotoyuki buys Aminishiki’s somewhat relaxed henka, and Uncle Sumo grabs Kotoyuki by the neck and leads him around like a prized calf, finishing him with a tokkurinage, a two-handed head twist down. Note this is the first time tokkurinage has been used in Makuuchi [since 1953 –PinkMawashi].

Takanoiwa defeats Takanosho – Newcomer Takanosho surprised Takanoiwa with a strong attack out of the tachiai. But he failed to block Takanoiwa’s left hand outside grip, and Takanoiwa took control, winning the match. Takanoiwa’s return to Makuuchi looks secure for now. Good to see him in proper fighting form.

Ishiura defeats Okinoumi – Ishiura wins, without using a henka!

Yoshikaze defeats Sadanoumi – After a pair of matta, Yoshikaze engages in some fine denshamichi-sumo, advancing strongly out of the tachiai and never letting up. Yoshikaze up to 6 wins, but seems to be fading a bit. Hopefully he has enough genki left for 2 more wins.

Aoiyama defeats Nishikigi – Aoiyama stays on his feet today, and begins the match with his favored oshi-zumo. Nishikigi manages to break contact, recovers and takes the fight to Aoiyama, who quickly lands a double inside grip and throws Nishikigi. A much needed win for Aoiyama, who was limping after the match. It’s clear that heavily bandaged left knee is causing him problems.

Ryuden defeats Hokutofuji – Ryuden hands Hokutofuji his first loss of the basho. Hokutofuji’s “handshake tachiai” ended up too high, and Ryuden was able to work underneath Hokutofuji’s high hand placement, forcing Hokutofuji back. From there Hokutofuji was on defense, and Ryuden moved to a double inside grip and advanced to the bales. That was what it took, and Hokutofuji never recovered.

Kotoshogiku defeats Onosho – Onosho goes chest to chest with Kotoshigiku at the tachiai, which its written on the safety card you are never supposed to do. I will say that it’s quite likely Onosho has complicated the recovery from his knee injury, and will need to take some time after the basho to get his undercarriage back to working order. Onosho was clearly frustrated following this loss.

Myogiryu defeats Tochiozan – Myogiryu got inside early and focused on center mass. Finding himself without options, Tochiozan attempted a pull-down, and released forward pressure. This was all it took for Myogiryu to prevail. The basics of oshi-zumo are simple, yet oh so challenging. Get inside your opponent’s defense. Focus your blows center-mass, and no matter how hard you are getting hit, keep them centered against your body and keep your hips and feet moving forward.

Asanoyama defeats Takarafuji – Hapless Takarafuji has nothing this basho, and Asanoyama seems to enjoy the struggle he provides much the same way an angler enjoys the battle with his supper. Asanoyama advances to 6-2 in spite of Takarafuji’s double inside grip.

Kagayaki defeats Chiyonokuni – Looks like both rikishi thought it should have been a matta, but with none called, the fight was on. Furthermore it’s pretty clear that Kagayaki landed first. Not one of the better examples of officiating this basho. [Grumpy sumo fan noises. –PinkMawashi]

Shohozan defeats Abi – Abi gets high in the tachiai, and begins his double arm thrusts to Shohozan’s upper body. Shohozan was free to attack underneath, and he responded strongly, knocking Abi off balance, and moved him backward. Never one to ease up, Shohozan continued to advance and Abi collapsed under the attack.

Chiyotairyu defeats Endo – Seriously, Endo seems to be completely wrecked right now. It’s a shame to watch him fight each day with so little power and so little forward pressure. Clearly his support team needs to Shanghai him to the nearest sports medicine clinic and keep him there for a couple of weeks. At least Chiyotairyu got to rack up another win.

Takakeisho defeats Kaisei – I do love how Takakeisho is not even slightly intimidated by the giant Kaisei. He launches full bore into the tachiai, and bounces off. Completely unworried and un-phased, the attacks. This reminds me of my cat, who no matter how badly he falls off the top of the book case, carries on as if it was all going according to plan. Takakeisho keeps up the attack, but his “wave action” is working perfectly to keep Kaisei away form his mawashi. During one wave, Takakeisho catches Kaisei too far forward, and he thrusts him down. Outstanding tactics from Takakeisho.

Ikioi defeats Mitakeumi – Ikioi, who has no wins this basho, who has never won against Mitakeumi, probably shreds Mitakeumi’s attempt to reach Ozeki. It was a pure battle of oshi-power, and Ikioi was generating more forward pressure than I have seen him use all basho. Mitakeumi was completely disrupted and couldn’t formulate or execute any response. If a winless Ikioi can spank you in under 10 seconds, your Ozeki bid needs some rework.

Goeido defeats Tochinoshin – Goeido “The Executioner” puts the iron to Tochinoshin’s struggle to clear kadoban. Any time Goeido gets to dictate the terms of a match, everything happens in fast forward. Goeido blasts out of the tachiai, gets a left hand outside grip, and never slows down. In the blink of an eye, Tochinoshin realizes he’s doomed and tries for some kind of pull at the bales, but he’s already out.

Shodai defeats Takayasu – This is the challenge with Shodai, like some kind of cartoon character, he can be this big squishy marshmallow man who loses all the time. Then, without warning, he transforms back into megazord Shodai and can dismantle anyone on the dohyo. First off, Shodai’s tachiai actually was lower and maybe a bit stronger than Takayasu’s. Takayasu had him in a nodowa, but decided to pull – Shodai was clearly ready for this, and took advantage of the Ozeki shifting his weight to his back foot. Shodai advanced, and drove his arms inside. Takayasu now gets worried, focuses on blocking Shodai’s grip, and loses focus on his balance. Shodai does not let this go, and drives Takayasu to the clay.

Kakuryu defeats Ichinojo – Kakuryu took his time, Ichinojo gave up at the bales. Ichinojo’s fighting spirit needs a refill. Kachi-koshi for Kakuryu.

Tamawashi defeats Kisenosato – adding further fuel to my “Kisenosato’s out of genki” concept, Tamawashi gets his first win of the basho against a flagging Yokozuna. From the tachiai, Tamawashi landed both hands on Kisenosato’s shoulders, and his legs never stopped driving. Kisenosato did not have the energy to stop him, to set up a defense or even really slow down the loss. Tamawashi’s nodowa out of the tachiai was instrumental in raising Kisenosato high enough that the forward pressure was maximally effective. Outstanding sumo from Tamawashi today.

Hakuho defeats Yutakayama – 800th win for the dai-Yokozuna! In true Hakuho form, it was over in the blink of an eye. The returning Yutakayama only had a split second to imagine himself giving Hakuho a vigorous fight, and he was sliding face first across the clay. Kachi-koshi for Hakuho.

Aki Day 8 Preview

Aki Day 8 Toys.jpg

Welcome to Nakabi! It’s the middle day of the Aki basho, and it’s been a welcome throwback to the sumo of two years ago, with the great and the strong stomping through the torikumi, leveling devastation on the records of the upper Maegashira, and everyone wondering where this level of excitement has been for the last year. While we all hope that this is a harbinger of a return to full tournaments full of healthy and combative Ozeki and Yokozuna, it may be more of a brief respite from the slow fade into the next generation of leading athletes.

Much to our surprise, Yutakayama has returned to the basho, and as a welcome-back gift, the scheduling crew has assigned him to face Hakuho for day 8. Depending on how severe his elbow injury was, it may get much worse in any fight against The Boss.

As is customary, on day 8 we begin to watch the yusho race. There are an impressive four rikishi who remain undefeated, and another four with only one loss. For the next several days, we will see the team that creates the torikumi (the match schedule) work to pare down this list to just a handful of competitors during the final act of the basho. At the moment, all three Yokozuna, two of the Ozeki and three lower ranked rikishi are all in the running. This can only mean one thing – some powerful sumo in the days ahead.

Aki Leaderboard

Leaders: Kakuryu, Hakuho, Takayasu, Hokutofuji
Chasers: Kisenosato, Goeido, Mitakeumi, Ryuden
Hunt Group: Tochinoshin, Abi, Asanoyama, Takanoiwa, Yoshikaze

8 Matches Remain

What We Are Watching Day 8

Kotoyuki vs Aminishiki – Uncle Sumo returns to Makuuchi to fill the imbalance in the banzuke, and he faces the struggling Kotoyuki. I note with some disappointment that Kotoyuki seems to have returned to his habit of taking a dive into the crowd and staying there for prolonged periods of time. They are evenly matched at 4-4. If Aminishiki keeps up his pace, he is a good bet for a record setting return to Makuuchi.

Sadanoumi vs Yoshikaze – After a blistering 5-0 start to Aki, Yoshikaze has dropped two bouts in a row, neither of which were against overwhelming opponents. His fans (myself included) hope this is not a reversion to whatever injury or malady caused him to lose day after day in Nagoya.

Aoiyama vs Nishikigi – I would expect Aoiyama to club the smaller Nishikigi into oblivion with his massive arms. But each match during Aki has been an exercise in seeing what way Aoiyama would stumble, fall or tumble for a loss. It’s a good bet he has trouble with one or both legs, and is trying to make it through the tournament any way he can.

Hokutofuji vs Ryuden – An interesting match as it pairs a 1-loss rikishi in Ryuden with an undefeated rikishi in Hokutofuji. Given that Hokutofuji is 4 ranks higher in the banzuke, this is Ryuden’s invitation to drop off the leaderboard, but Ryuden holds a 2-1 career advantage. If Hokutofuji wins, he gets an early kachi-koshi.

Kotoshogiku vs Onosho – Also in the “likely hurt” category is Onosho. His oshi style of sumo will be a bit of extra work for Kotoshogiku, but I suspect that Onosho may be too banged up to keep the Kyushu Bulldozer from belly bumping him out of the ring.

Takarafuji vs Asanoyama – First ever match between the two, Asanoyama has been executing some top-rate sumo for Aki, while Takarafuji has been struggling. I will guess that Asanoyama holds a slight edge, and will likely take a lot of punishment during the first moments of the match, then surge with an attempt to disrupt and defeat Takarafuji. Hopefully we will see some good strategic sumo.

Shohozan vs Abi – As strategic as the prior match might be, this will be pure, raw, high-energy chaos. Both rikishi love a wild fight with arms, legs and anything else flailing about in a vortex of sumo combat. Abi holds a 3-1 advantage over “Big Guns”, and for reasons I can’t explain, Abi-zumo still seems to be working.

Endo vs Chiyotairyu – Also in the “too hurt to fight credibly” bin, we find dear old Endo. You’re not fooling anyone, especially Chiyotairyu who has the kinetic energy to launch you back into the shitaku-beya from the tachiai.

Kaisei vs Takakeisho – Another fine puzzle for Takakeisho, the man who seems to approach each challenge with an undaunted mental state where he is convinced today is the day he can do anything. He has never beaten Kaisei. It remains to be seen if he can beat Kaisei. Kaisei usually comes to the match having had some food that day, because otherwise he might be tempted to squash and eat Takakeisho. But we know Takakeisho is going to step on the dohyo and blaze away. Maybe today IS his day.

Mitakeumi vs Ikioi – A gimme for Mitakeumi? Ikioi has never beaten him, and has ZERO wins at Aki. A loss today for Ikioi, and he is make-koshi. Who else thinks Ikioi and Endo should go home now and see the doctor Monday morning? Ah well, that’s not the sumo way. Thus far Mitakeumi continues to chart a steady course towards his Ozeki goal, but he has to make it through the remaining Yokozuna and Ozeki ranks first.

Goeido vs Tochinoshin – It’s a bit early for the Ozeki wars to start, but we are excited for this match. Tochinoshin is in dire need of 3 wins, but right now the upgraded Goeido 2.2 seems to be fighting about as well as you could ever want. Tochinoshin will want to slow the match down and use his amazing strength. Goeido will want to create a blaze of chaos at the tachiai to keep Tochinoshin guessing what to do next while Goeido disrupts his sumo and blows him out of the ring. Match history of 15-10 favoring Goeido means only one thing – each of them as a battle plan.

Shodai vs Takayasu – Is today the day that Shodai rallies and takes down a much higher ranked opponent? No, sadly I am pretty sure it won’t be. Whatever Takayasu’s injuries were at the start of Aki, he has put them aside and is dominating every match. A day 8 kachi-koshi would be a wonderful mark, and this match is a good opportunity to do just that.

Kakuryu vs Ichinojo – I am fairly sure Ichinojo will be vacating his Sekiwake slot for Kyushu unless he rallies and uses that enormous body of his for something. Right now I am sure he is trying to get his old job as a piling in the Yokohama sea wall back, just in case. What will Kakuryu do to him day 8? I am pretty sure the Yokozuna will win, but won’t risk injury to Ichinojo.

Kisenosato vs Tamawashi – I think we are going to see Kisenosato struggle and possibly lose this match. I say this because he seems to be running short of the overwhelming strength in the early match that is a hallmark of his wins. Tamawashi is no easy challenger, and if he can get Kisenosato moving in response to his oshi-attacks, the Yokozuna will be in deep trouble. A genki Kisenosato has a very heavy stance, and moves like a mountain on parade. He showed some of that earlier in the basho, but he has gotten lighter each day. We are all pulling for him to hit at least 8.

Yutakayama vs Hakuho – Welcome back from kyujo, Yutakayama! We would like you to be shot from a cannon into the Sumida river, but the cannon is out for maintenance. So you get to fight Hakuho instead. A win today would be his 800th as a Yokozuna. I have heard a rumor that they are going to invent new records just so he can put his name on them, such as most harite during a tachiai.

Aki Day 7 Highlights

Kakuryu Dohyo-iri

Its becoming clear that we may be seeing the limit of what Kisenosato can endure for now. After more than 18 months without a full tournament schedule, he may be finding himself running low on stamina. In his bout today, he was completely disrupted by Chiyonokuni, who dominated the match. In fact it was clear that both the Yokozuna and the crowd in the Kokugikan thought that Chiyonokuni had likely won the match. This marks the third time this basho that Chiyonokuni has blown a win by stepping out early, and it’s something he needs to correct.

Overnight Saturday US time, NHK World will once again be broadcasting live the final hour of Makuuchi. Team Tachiai is trying to decide if there will be a live blog or not. If we are going to live-blog the event, we will post a notice before evening.

Highlight Matches

Takanosho defeats Yoshikaze – Yoshikaze again gets too far forward, and is easily sent out. It was great to see Yoshikaze start 5-0, and it’s a good bet he will pick up the remaining 3 for a kachi-koshi. This win lifts Takanosho above .500, and he has to be pleased with his debut tournament thus far.

Takanoiwa defeats Ishiura – Takanoiwa anticipates Ishiura’s henka (everyone does it seems) and Ishiura has no way to escape the counter-attack. Its looking increasingly likely Ishiura will be back in Juryo.

Ryuden defeats Chiyoshoma – Two rikishi who have reputations for using matta and henka in their matches actually throw down and decide to battle. They both gave it a lot of effort, and it looked like real sumo.

Chiyomaru defeats Aoiyama – Once again, Aoiyama goes tumbling from the kind of shove that he normally laughs off. Clearly he is injured, and is struggling to stay on his feet and in balance. The win is good news for Chiyomaru, who needs to stay as close to the kachi-koshi line as he can.

Hokutofuji defeats Sadanoumi – The match moved from oshi to yotzu in a blink of an eye, and Hokutofuji was clearly dominating every key element. With a 7-0 start, he is looking increasingly likely to be a real contender for 2019. After recovering from his concussion, his hand injuries and god knows what else, his sumo is fast, tight and aggressive.

Kotoshogiku defeats Daieisho – Strong win by Kotoshogiku, he never did get chest to chest with Daiesho, but he was able to grab a firm hold of him and march forward with strength. It’s a shame this man’s body is fading, he can execute some solid sumo.

Tochiozan defeats Asanoyama – Best element of the match – the crowd gasps at the loud “crack” at the tachiai. Tochiozan, as is his custom, takes his time and dismantles Asanoyama with efficiency and power. Like Kotoshogiku, the level of skill he possesses far outstrips his aging body’s ability to execute. But on days when he can line them up, he can win.

Shohozan defeats Myogiryu – Setting sumo aside, these two decided to recreate the battle of Tsushima, with Myogiryu relegated to the role of the Russian fleet. Both men were bashing each other to bits, but in such a match, the advantage is always to “Big Guns” Shohozan.

Abi defeats Onosho – Onosho brought strength, Abi brought agility, and agility carried the day. I am a Onosho supporter, but he’s still trying to piece together his post-injury sumo, its clear.

Kaisei defeats Ikioi – Ikioi’s strength was not enough to overcome Kaisei’s significant mass and determination to drive forward. Clearly Ikioi is going to have a big reset down the banzuke for Kyushu.

Mitakeumi defeats Takakeisho – Takakeisho spent the first part of the match using Mitakumi’s face as a punching bag, and the blows rang loudly through the Kokugikan, eliciting gasps from the crowd. Mitakeumi absorbed them all and remained focused. In spite of having his heels of the tawara, Mitakeumi expected Takakeisho to overcommit and lunge to finish him off. He was not wrong. With the timing that underscores Mitakeumi’s sumo skill and ring sense, he moved aside just enough to give Takakeisho an express trip to the clay. Two take-aways from this match: Mitakeumi has rather impressive focus, Takakeisho is maybe a year away from walking the same path Mitakeumi is on now.

Tochinoshin defeats Ichinojo – Sadly, Ichinojo once again gave up, in spite of having the upper hand at the start of the match. It was good news for Tochinoshin, as he is still working to clear kadoban.

Takayasu defeats Tamawashi – These two have a long rivalry, and it showed in today’s match. Many opponents are disrupted by Takayasu’s tachiai, Tamawashi seemed completely unmoved and immediately launched to attack. But in he overcommitted, and Takayasu slapped him forward and down. Tamawashi is also likely to see a big drop down the banzuke for Kyushu.

Goeido defeats Chiyotairyu – Chiyotairyu could not repeat his magic for day 7, though he clearly got the best of the tachiai. But Goeido seems to be working on some kind of new GoeiDOS 2.2, and I have to say it seems to be a stable build.

Kisenosato defeats Chiyonokuni – Kisenosato won, but once again we have a marathon struggle against a Maegashira that might have gone either way. I would say that Kisenosato is suffering from not having to do 15 days of tournament sumo for the past 18 months, and his stamina may be spent at this point. If he can rack 2 more wins, he can at least claim his kachi-koshi. There is also the specter that he may have had an ankle injury when Chiyotairyu fell on him after Goeido ejected his opponent to win the match.

Hakuho defeats Endo – Endo is a mess right now, and the winning move is listed as koshikudake, meaning Endo fell down on his own. Hakuho was in full battle mode, and his momentum carried him into the first row of zabuton. Looking at the replays, it looks like Endo’s knee gave out. Hopefully it’s not another case for surgery.

Kakuryu defeats Shodai – Straightforward Kakuryu sumo, he continues to look strong and fight in forward gears. I suspect he will be the man to beat for the yusho.