Kyushu Day 9 Preview

Day 8 was a day of surprises and the unusual. While I am sad that Takayasu went kyujo, I am happy to see that there is still great sumo to be enjoyed. That extends to day 9, where the scheduling team is doing their best to bring us fantastic matches every day.

The late kyujo from Takayasu caused all manner of shuffling in the fight card, forcing them to re-build the match list after it had already been announced. This extended down the banzuke as suddenly talent was needed to move higher to fill the imbalance.

Kyushu Leaderboard

A number of rikishi took the exit ramp from the leaderboard on day 8, but Asanoyama stays in the hunt. Though Hakuho has beaten him already, he has the size and the sumo to challenge the Yokozuna, should it ever get to that. But first someone else has to get Hakuho dirty.

Leader: Hakuho
Chasers: Asanoyama, Kagayaki
Hunt Group: Takakeisho, Daieisho, Tsurugisho, Shohozan, Sadanoumi, Yutakayama, Shodai ,Chiyotairyu, Chiyomaru

7 Matches Remain

What We Are Watching Day 9

Daishomaru vs Tochiozan – Welcome back Tochiozan! He returns to the top division to provide an opponent for the first match in day 9, and we get a peek at how he’s faring. Given that he Tochiozan seems to be on a kachi-koshi path, it’s quite possible he may return to the top division (hopefully with Ikioi) in January.

Ishiura vs Terutsuyoshi – Looking for this to be a great match. Both are quite handy with a henka, but I would love to see them both go at it full-throttle. After Ishiura’s wonderful winning move day 8, I have to re-assess what he is capable of. Simply put, I have hope that he’s got upside potential.

Daishoho vs Shodai – First match ever between these two, and I am looking for Shodai to run up the score. With any luck he can be mid-Maegashira for January, which I think is a better rank for him than M10W. Daishoho seems to not have his body or his sumo in order, and is having a miserable tournament.

Shimanoumi vs Kagayaki – Demon Kaka’s favorite, Kagayaki, holds on to a slot 1 behind The Boss in the race for the cup. He’s going up against the compact and powerful Shimanoumi on day 9, and we will see if Kagayaki’s solid sumo fundamentals can keep him in the hunt.

Takanosho vs Yutakayama – I know there were some fans who complained about Yutakayama’s handling of his day 8 Enho match, but I loved it. Coming up against Takanosho, he’s instead facing a strong, straight ahead sumo practitioner. So I doubt we will see him trying to keep his distance at the tachiai. I am still looking for Yutakayama to get his 8, but no likely to go to 9. He’s a favorite for the lower edge of the joi-jin for January.

Chiyotairyu vs Sadanoumi – These two are evenly matched, despite their vast difference in size. Sadanoumi likes to wrap and contain his opponents, and it’s been working well this tournament. But recently, Chiyotairyu has re-discovered his chest to chest sumo, and has been using it to win. This match does indeed have potential.

Nishikigi vs Kotoeko – Nishikigi has lacked the force needed to go from fighting well to winning. This was true for Kotoeko for the first 4 days of the basho, but he has won 3 of the last 4, and I think he’s finally dialed-in to his sumo.

Tsurugisho vs Chiyomaru – A pair of 5-3 rikishi meet to knock one out of the hunt group. I strongly favor big Tsurugisho in this one over even bigger Chiyomaru. Tsurugisho seems to be in fighting shape now, and moving very well. Tsurugisho also has a 6-1 career advantage.

Kotoshogiku vs Enho – Total clash of styles, and it’s going to be a shame to see the power-pixie completely disrupt and defeat former Ozeki Kotoshogiku. This November, he’s looking more damaged and degraded than ever. It’s a bit of a heartbreak for some sumo fans.

Onosho vs Shohozan – Shohozan is in good form, and seems unworried about engaging anyone in a slapping match. This is probably going to be quite effective against Onosho, as he continues to show poor balance.

Takarafuji vs Aoiyama – Takarafuji tends to operate by closing in on his opponent and tangling them up. This is contrary to Aoiyama’s preferred approach of beating his opponents into submission from about one giant meaty arm’s length. Hence he holds an 18-3 career record over the Isegahama man.

Myogiryu vs Meisei – With these two, it will come down to inside position at the tachiai. Whomever can claim it and get in the first volley, should win the match. Possibly even on the first volley. Both of these rikishi are compact and strong, and one of them usually goes flying in the first couple of seconds.

Daieisho vs Asanoyama – Daieisho is Asanoyama’s foil. Holding a 7-1 career advantage over the Natsu yusho winner, he seems to be able to deliver a beat down on Asanoyama any time they meet. This is a big deal because a loss today would likely punt him out of the group 1 behind Hakuho.

Okinoumi vs Endo – Two high skill, technique-rich rikishi facing off. I suspect that Okinoumi is once again plagued by a recurring injury that knocks about 20% off of his sumo. But we may see some great moves and counter moves in this match. As always, watch for Endo’s shallow grip straight out of the tachiai. His technique for this is fantastic.

Abi vs Ryuden – I am going to look for Ryuden to generate 1-2 matta today, in order to try and disrupt Abi’s launch sequence. This is really his best hope, as once Abi connects with those long arms, you have just a few seconds to disrupt him. Ryuden has shown in the past that he can do this, but he has to get there before the second volley or its too late.

Mitakeumi vs Tamawashi – In his discombobulated state, I don’t give Mitakeumi too much bias over his long time Sekiwake rival, Tamawashi. Although he holds a 19-2 career record, Mitakeumi has been fighting poorly since he took a blow to the head on day 3. Stay safe guys!

Takakeisho vs Hokutofuji – For me, this is the big match of the day. We know that Hokutofuji will try to set up a nodowa or an armpit grip against the Tadpole Ozeki, but he’s got to hold on once the waves hit. Hokutofuji has almost uncanny balance at times, so he can in fact whether a few of these blasts. Should be fun to watch.

Kotoyuki vs Hakuho – Hakuho will be sending the Penguin air express back to the east side in short order, I expect. Although Kotoyuki is fighting better than he has in years, I think he’s not quite up to beating The Boss.

Kyushu Day 8 Highlights

The big story of the day is Takayasu’s kyujo. It’s quite rare for a rikishi to go kyujo once they enter the arena. In fact, Takayasu participated in the Makuuchi dohyo-iri, which makes his withdrawl rarer still. According to press reports, Takayasu hurt his back warming up prior to his match, and could barely walk as he left the venue. The fans, and his day 8 opponent Takarafuji were surprised and a bit disoriented at the kyujo announcement. Takayasu drops to 3-5, and if he can’t come back and rack up 5 wins, will be demoted to Sekiwake (Ozekiwake) for January, and possibly face the same fate as Tochinoshin. Tachiai hopes that Takayasu can bounce back soon.

For those that did compete, there was some great sumo on display, and it was nice to see some rikishi win matches against opponents they had not yet found a way to defeat. On to the highlights!

Highlight Matches

Daishoho defeats Chiyomaru – Daishoho’s strong tachiai stands Chiyomaru up, and seems to briefly distract him. Daishoho advances and moves Chiyomaru out. With the loss, Chiyomaru drops out of the group just behind Hakuho. Chiyomaru is seen flexing his left arm after the match, hopefully not another injury there.

Takanosho defeats Daishomaru – Takanosho scores his first ever win over Daishomaru. He was low and fast at the tachiai, and was able to get inside of Daishomaru, and simply move forward for the win.

Ishiura defeats Nishikigi – Pleased to say no henka today. Ishiura used strong, straightforward sumo, and took the fight to Nishikigi. The two battled for hand placement and grip, and it was really good to see Ishiura fighting it out against a larger and strong opponent in terms of sheer strength. But the best was saved for the finish, as Ishiura used the seldom seend mitokorozeme / triple attack to bring Nishikigi to the clay. Nicely done!

Chiyotairyu defeats Shimanoumi – Well, that’s one way to get it done. Famous for his blistering high energy tachiai, Chiyotairyu hops up at the tachiai and henkas an onrushing Shimanoumi with a surprising amount of grace and agility for a man of such size. His first ever win over Shimanoumi.

Terutsuyoshi defeats Shodai – Another trick tachiai, as Terutsuyoshi pops up, ducks down and pivots to his right, grabbing Shodai’s leg at the initial charge. What’s fun to watch is Shodai’s somewhat questionable tachiai happen in comparative slow motion to Terutsuyoshi’s rapid combination of moves. The opening gambit places Terutsuyoshi behind Shodai, and with two hands on Shodai’s left knee.

Kagayaki defeats Kotoshogiku – Another first ever win, as Kotoshogiku tries to set up the hug-n-chug, but can only get one thrust in, and then it all falls apart. Kind of sad to see Kotoshogiku in this state, but happy that Kagayaki racked up another win to stay 1 behind Hakuho.

Tsurugisho defeats Sadanoumi – As expected, Sadanoumi latches on to Tsurugisho’s mawashi at the tachiai and gets to work. Tsurugisho is ready and replies with his own grip, and the two brute it out. This is a battle that Tsurugisho is built to win, but I was impressed with Sadanoumi’s first escape. Great ring sense and fantastic agility.

Kotoeko defeats Onosho – Onosho looked to be trying his day 6/7 battle plan (which worked quite well), but Kotoeko was ready. Taking Onosho to his chest he gave ground and stepped to the side at the bales. As is customary for Onosho, his weight was too far forward to stop, and into the clay he falls.

Yutakayama defeats Enho – I loved watching the pre-bout on this one, as you can read Yutakayama just saying “Ok, what is this guy going to try today?”. He lines up at the shikiri-sen, then nudges himself back. Enho goes for the crouch, Yutakayama thinks for a moment, then hops back some more. By the time they launch, Yutakayama is half way to Nagasaki, and both men just stand up at the tachiai. AWESOME. Gyoji says, “guys! knock it off”. Second try – matta! Oh this is awesome. Now Yutakayama hops back more! Another stand up tachiai! Gyoji Konosuke is clearly frustrated and waves his hands and shouts hakki-yoi! Bizzaro match ahoy! The two do end up in a heck of a battle, with Enho surprisingly effective against Yutakayama’s superior mass, but Yutakayama’s balance is set and Enho can’t disrupt him enough to bring him down. As a bonus, we nearly have a second kintamadashi in two days to close the match. In slow motion replays, the look on Konosuke’s face is priceless. Brilliant.

Shohozan defeats Ryuden – Yet another first ever win as Shohozan gets a blindingly fast tsukiotoshi at the tachiai and rolls Ryuden to the clay.

Kotoyuki defeats Myogiryu – A straightforward thrusting match, which is Kotoyuki’s preferred brand of sumo. Myogiryu only manages to rally briefly, but its not enough to stop “The Penguin” from picking up win #5.

Daieisho defeats Okinoumi – Okinoumi generates little forward pressure in response to Daieisho’s strong charge. Daieisho can really move forward with strength, as Hakuho found out on day 2. Okinoumi sometimes struggles with a chronic injury in his lower pelvis area, and this may be the cause of his less than powerful sumo this basho.

Endo defeats Hokutofuji – Great sumo from Endo today, and I was quite impressed by Hokutofuji’s ability to absorb everything that Endo threw at him over the course of just a few second. The match was lost because Hokutofuji kept insisting on trying to pull Endo down, and his balance was good enough to survive each attempt. Hokutofuji threw away commanding position each time, and the 4th try resulted in Endo’s winning attack.

Asanoyama defeats Abi – Second battle in the Komusubi wars, Asanoyama was able to withstand the hailstorm of thrusts from Abi-zumo and get close enough to attack. Abi reacted to escape Asanoyama’s impending grip, but lost his footing and went out.

Mitakeumi defeats Aoiyama – Another example the Mitakeumi is quite a bit less than genki. Aoiyama bats him around with great effect for what seems like forever, until Big Dan seems to run out of energy. Mitakeumi decides, surprisingly, to give Aoiyama a hug and march him out. I hope Mitakeumi had someone examine that skull damage already.

Takakeisho defeats Meisei – Takakeisho is back to looking rough and disorganized, but he gets the job done for win #5.

Hakuho defeats Tamawashi – There are times when Hakuho does things that annoy the sumo fans. They can seem gratuitous and unnecessary, and they tend to fuel an undercurrent in some corners of dislike for the greatest rikishi to mount the dohyo in our time. Today, we got a little shove against Tamawashi following a false start, which seems to have really fired up some fans. The match itself was fairly straightforward, but there is clearly a bit of tension between these two rikishi that goes beyond the dohyo. The Boss remains in sole possession of the lead.

Kyushu Day 8 Preview

Welcome to the middle day of the Kyuhsu basho! At the midpoint, we take our first look at the yusho race, and it’s about half of the Makuuchi banzuke. This goes to underscore just how mediocre and non-differentiated the sumo has been this basho. The 1 loss rikishi is Hakuho, but only a single san’yaku rikishi follows at 2 losses. In my opinion, unless something unexpected happens to Hakuho in week 2, there are not many rikishi that are genki enough to present much if any challenge to his path toward yusho 43.

I also expect that with the strong sumo from the 2 surviving Ozeki on day 7, that we may see the start of their rally into week 2, and push for securing their 8. While you might expect an Ozeki with this level of competition to go 10+, I am going to expect 8 given their physical condition.

Kyushu Leaderboard

Day 8 leaderboards are typically crazy, but this one is doubly so. While Hakuho shows no sign of slowing down, the number of rikishi who are mathematically in contention right now is staggering.

Leader: Hakuho
Chasers
: Asanoyama, Sadanoumi, Shodai, Chiyomaru, Kagay
Hunt Group: Takakeisho, Abi, Hokutofuji, Daieisho, Meisei, Tamawashi, Aoiyama, Onosho, Enho, Tsurugisho, Shohozan, Yutakayama, Chiyotairyu

8 Matches Remain

What We Are Watching Day 8

Chiyomaru vs Daishoho – I don’t expect Daishoho will be able to knock Chiyomaru from his position 1 behind Hakuho. Right now Chiyomaru seems to be genki.

Daishomaru vs Takanosho – This may be an easy pickup for Daishomaru, who holds a 3-0 career record over challenger Takanosho. Daishomaru may go for an early slap down following the tachiai.

Ishiura vs Nishikigi – Nishikigi’s poor eyesight leave him unusually vulnerable to a henka, but I honestly hope Ishiura does not resort to that gambit for a 3rd consecutive day.

Shimanoumi vs Chiyotairyu – I hope we can see another Chiyotairyu gaburi-yori match today. While his cannon ball tachiai is the stuff of legends, a solid chest to chest mode would do him a great deal of good.

Terutsuyoshi vs Shodai – Shodai is ranked low enough, he is likely to dominate most of his matches. I think that this first time meeting with Terutsuyoshi is his to lose unless we see another successful submarine attack from Terutsuyoshi.

Kotoshogiku vs Kagayaki – Kotoshogiku needs to start putting together wins if he wants to make his 8. I am happy to see him fight Kagayaki, as I think Kagayaki may need to learn how to beat the former Ozeki (2-0 career favoring Kotoshogiku).

Tsurugisho vs Sadanoumi – Tsurugisho has his work cut out for him, in spite of his larger size on day 8. Sadanoumi is in his best form in years, and he seems to have put all of his elements together for effective sumo. Should be a good match, with Sadanoumi focusing on containing and constraining Tsurugisho.

Onosho vs Kotoeko – Career record these two are evenly matched. Onosho is on a 3 match winning streak, and I would like to see him make it 4. Kotoeko has had a rough time putting together anything resembling effective sumo on two consecutive days this November.

Yutakayama vs Enho – This is probably the highlight match of the first half. You have rising power Freshman Yutakayama against power pixie Enho. Both of them were handed disappointments day 7, and both of them are 4-3. Yutakayama won their only prior match, but that won’t really matter on day 8 when these two face off.

Shohozan vs Ryuden – Shohozan tends to struggle with Ryuden, and I think that will continue today. After several consecutive days of bashing every opponents face around, Shohozan seems to have settled down a bit. Ryuden heeds to bounce back after that loss to Endo.

Myogiryu vs Kotoyuki – Kotoyuki has had 3 straight losses, and I am hoping he can return to winning form today. He holds a 3-19 career advantage over Myogiryu.

Daieisho vs Okinoumi – I love the fact that Okinoumi shows up every tournament, and puts in his 15 days in a solid, workman like fashion. I am sure some tournaments he’s in pain or suffering some unreported injury, but he’s always there, plugging away. He’s most comfortable in the mid-Maegashira ranks, so at Maegashira 1, we may see him continue to head towards make-koshi land.

Hokutofuji vs Endo – And now the good stuff starts. In a pair of Komusubi fights, we get the Endo / Hokutofuji clash of speed and power vs tactics and precision. Its probably going to come down to Endo getting his desired shallow grip at the tachiai, or Hokutofuji getting his armpit or neck attack in first.

Abi vs Asanoyama – Brilliant clash of styles for Komusubi fight 2. Abi’s frantic thrusting attack vs the grappling power of Asanoyama. If Asanoyama can land a grip, will we see the seldom used Abi-zumo 2.0? Fans can only hope. I would give a slight edge to Abi this time, as these two are evenly matched, and right now Asanoyama leads the career series 5-3.

Mitakeumi vs Aoiyama – I fear that whatever damage that blow to the head did to Mitakeumi might keep him on a make-koshi path for November. He steps up against Big Dan Aoiyama and the V-Twin power attack on day 8. Mitakeumi did manage to rally on day 7 against Kotoyuki, but Aoiyama is a different class of opponent.

Takakeisho vs Meisei – Career record of 2-0, with a less than genki Takakeisho needing 4 more wins for kachi-koshi and safety. Meisei lost his last 2, but if he can keep mobile and just out of reach of Takakeisho’s short arms, he could surprise the Ozeki.

Takarafuji vs Takayasu – Takayasu is in a bigger score hole than Takakeisho, and he is nursing that injured left arm as well. Takarafuji has the strength and stamina to wear down the injured Ozeki, so Takayasu is going to need to do something fast and brutal at the tachiai. Such gambits are risking with a master tactician like Takarafuji, but at this point the Ozeki needs to be willing to gamble.

Tamawashi vs Hakuho – Well, career record of 15-1 favors the boss. I know Hakuho wants someone to give him a good challenge, and maybe Tamawashi will oblige.

Kyushu Day 7 Highlights

I would almost dare to say that day 7 represented a return to normal for a moment, as the Ozeki corps rallied with great effect. Across the top division, the quality of sumo on day 7 was a noticeable improvement from the worrisome action of day 6. The match between Takayasu and Tamawashi was of great interest to Team Tachiai, and it did not disappoint.

Come back later today for our first look at the leaderboard, as we start to discuss the yusho race in the top division, and who if anyone can actually challenge Hakuho for the cup. Lower down the banzuke, Ikioi took his first loss of the tournament, but looks to be on track to storm his way back into the top division for January, to the cheers of his many fans. The man clearly has an iron will, and in spite of painful injuries he never stopped pushing to improve and return. Simply put, the man is an inspiration.

Highlight Matches

Kagayaki defeats Nishikigi – Again we see Kagayaki willing to grapple with his opponent, and again it works. The two trade advantage back and forth twice, but Kagayaki proves out the stronger. Maybe a positive change for “Mr Fundamentals”? At 5-2, Kagayaki is now officially having a good tournament.

Terutsuyoshi defeats Takanosho – Terutsuyoshi engages submarine mode with great effect, preventing Takanosho from generating any actual offense.

Chiyotairyu defeats Daishoho – Ok, Chiyotairyu battle hugs Daishoho and engages in gaburi-yori? Ok! I like it! It served Kotoshogiku well for a long time.

Ishiura defeats Daishomaru – Energetic henka! Frankly, I liked it, but I think Ishiura has used up his henka good will for Kyushu unless it’s really funny next time.

Chiyomaru defeats Kotoshogiku – As predicted, the mechanical and logistics problems of this match manifested themselves early, as Kotoshogiku attempted to go chest to chest with Chiyomaru, just to find his immense girth stopping his primary form of attack. Chiyomaru, who is always belly-forward, runs Kotoshogiku back to the bales, reverses and pulls for the win.

Shodai defeats Shohozan – Shohozan enthusiastically goes for Shodai’s face, leaving his chest wide open. After absorbing a good measure of Shohozan’s pugilistic offerings to his face, Shodai responds with force to Shohozan’s exposed chest. I know I struggle to find positives around Shodai, but he can take a lot of damage and keep fighting. A trait he shares with Hokutofuji.

Kotoeko defeats Shimanoumi – I am delighted that we are finally seeing strong sumo from Kotoeko. The tachiai ended in stalemate, but with Kotoeki a bit lower and with better body position. He found workable armpit grips on Shimanoumi, then lifted and pushed.

Tsurugisho defeats Yutakayama – Yutakayama looked uncharacteristically off balance and disorganized today, and Tsurugisho masterfully exploited every mistake that Yutakayama made. The match ended with Yutakayama losing traction and falling face down into the clay. Hopefully he was not hurt, though he was slow to get up following the match.

Sadanoumi defeats Enho – Sadanoumi defeats power-pixie Enho by keeping him boxed in, and keeping his weight centered over his feet. If you want to see some really great sumo defense, watch Sadanoumi’s feet and hips during this match. He has an offensive plan, but his lower body is constantly on defense against whatever rapid, high torque / impulse move Enho might delivery. Enho tries to finish with a throw, but Sadanoumi masterfully contains it, and moves with Enho while containing him. Great work.

Onosho defeats Meisei – Second day in a row, Onosho goes chest to chest and employs his massive core strength to overpower his opponent. Oh my, welcome back. This was his first ever win over Meisei in 6 attempts, and frankly it looked quite solid. I am hopeful Onosho can get his 8 and we might see him compete in the joi-jin again for the first time in 2 years.

Endo defeats Ryuden – Blink and you will miss it! Ryuden is too far forward, and Endo rotates to his right and guides the charging Ryuden to the clay. Maybe not the plan Endo came to the match intending to use, but he took the opportunity and won.

Abi defeats Aoiyama – Battle of the mad-mashers, Abi forced Aoiyama to give ground almost immediately. As he was dropping back, it looks like Aoiyama decided he was in trouble, and tried a pull against Abi’s left arm, releasing forward pressure against Abi’s attack. That was all that it took to force Aoiyama from the dohyo, and for Abi to score his 4th win.

Asanoyama defeats Okinoumi – Asanoyama’s sumo keeps looking better almost daily. It really does give me hope for the future, but provides a stark contrast to the struggling veterans and long-time favorites. In a yotsu-zumo match, Okinoumi is no easy mark, but Asanoyama out-brawns him at every turn, while executing sumo in near text-book form.

Daieisho defeats Hokutofuji – This one was lost at the tachiai, as Hokutofuji was unable to get either a grip on Daieisho’s upper body, or an inside position to attack his chest. Daieisho was fast, strong and inside from the start, and Hokutofuji did not have room to plant his feet and defend. Great sumo today from Daieisho.

Mitakeumi defeats Kotoyuki – It makes me happy to see Mitakeumi rally today. He’s still not even close to 100%, but he attacked with force, but looked disorganized and off balance. With Mitakeumi’s sumo in shambles following that day 3 blow to the head, its a genuine concern that he might not make his 8.

Takayasu defeats Tamawashi – Speaking of rally, I have watched this match several times now, and you can see the moment that Takayasu catches fire, and suddenly that overwhelming power that has been absent for months roars into his body, and he attacks with fighting spirit. Yes, Tamawashi is the guy who damaged his elbow and left him struggling. Maybe he just got angry over that fact, and the anger powered him to “beast mode”, but the match closed with a hearty Takayasu tea-bagging that I must admit made me laugh. Happy birthday Tamawashi, here’s something for your celebration.

Takakeisho defeats Myogiryu – Speaking of reverting to form, check out the wave-action today from the Grand Tadpole! I had hoped it was still possible, and Myogiryu gets a full blast of it straight out of the tachiai. One, Two, you are through!

Hakuho defeats Takarafuji – Was it just me, or did Hakuho struggle in this match? He yielded a nearly perfect position to Takarafuji, who lives to stalemate his opponents until they do something clumsy, and then he makes them pay. Hakuho seems to realize this, and he clearly changes plans mid-fight. You can see the frustration on Hakuho’s face following the match, and it’s a bit troubling. Like so many athletes at the top of their game, he sees the signs most clearly that he is losing his edge.