Nagoya Day 5 Preview


yoshikaze

Act One Draws To A Close

At the end of day 5, the first third of the Nagoya basho will be complete, or as I like to call it the first act. Scheduling for the first third of the basho is pretty much by formula, and the goal of this period is to find out who is out of gas, who is getting by, and who is really genki.

For the closing scene of the first act, you don’t get more genki than the undefeated dia-Yokozuna Hakuho up against the undefeated berserker Yoshikaze. Hakuho is looking very good thus far, even better than he did during Natsu, if that is possible. When he is in this state, there are few rikishi who can defeat him. But then there is Yoshikaze, a man of such explosive sumo that he reasonably can beat anyone on the right day. It’s a great way to see if anyone is going to slow down Hakuho.

Speaking of “The Boss”, another zensho yusho remains possible, but not predictable at this time. There is an odd thought ratting in the back of my sleep-deprived mind. Hakuho wanted to to break the all time back to back win record held by Futabayama, but some pipsqueak named Kisenosato stopped him short. Now the Futabayama record is from an earlier time in sumo, long before the 6 x 15 day basho per year death march started. But Hakuho is a man driven, and you can be sure that should he be able to go 15-0 in Nagoya, he will steel himself for another run at the “unbreakable” record.

Going into day 5, we have still more of those fantastic first ever matches between the old guard and the young blood. Will it be as chaotic as day 4? Ask me in about 8 hours.

Matches We Like

Gagamaru vs Kaisei – Gagamaru has been doing poorly this basho, and really seems to be walking wounded. Due to Kakuryu’s kyujo, Kaisei visits from Juryo for a battle of the rotund. Kaisei was really out of gas during Natsu, so I am hoping he is now drinking the same juice that Nishikigi seems to have enjoyed last basho.

Arawashi vs Nishikigi – Nishikigi is still undefeated. so it’s time to give him over to Arawashi. Arawashi is capable, but very much hit-or-miss as of late. He has strength, speed and skill, but Nishikigi seems driven. They are perfectly tied 4-4 for career bouts.

Takekaze vs Shohozan – Takekaze has a solid start to Nagoya, and he faces “Big Guns” on day 5. This might be a very good time for Takekaze to employ his oft favored henka rather than face a battle of the belt with Shohozan.

Ishiura vs Onosho – This match has a lot of potential. Onosho has been fighting very well, and steps onto the dohyo ready to win, even if he has to eat someone to do it. In contrast, we only saw real fire from Ishiura on day 4, so maybe he can supply his offense oriented sumo again today. Onosho leads the series 9-5.

Tochinoshin vs Ura – This is either going to be a match of the day, or a complete blow out. Tochinoshin is straight ahead strong man sumo, which if he connects will make quick work of Ura. Ura is a mobile attack platform, he can make 2 moves for every 1 of Tochinoshin. So it will come down to who takes control. Might see Ura’s reverse tachiai today, which would make me very happy. Tochinoshin won their only prior meeting, so let’s see if PlasticMan has studied his loss.

Tamawashi vs Mitakeumi – Mitakeumi had a tough couple of days, and can recover some momentum against his fellow Sekiwake. Clearly Tamawashi is working to make the case for an Ozeki promotion run, and will need to box in Mitakeumi early. Interestingly enough, Mitakeumi has won all 7 of their prior matches.

Takayasu vs Takakeisho – This will be a radically different match than the one Takakeisho faced on day 4. Fans expect Takayasu to blast this youngster hard from the start, and push with nearly impossible strength. Goal for Takakeisho should be to stretch out the match and wait for Takayasu to overcommit. Takakeisho took quite a bit of punishment from Hakuho on day 4, let’s see what he can do with the big Ozeki.

Shodai vs Goeido – This is only interesting in that I want to see if Goeido 2.0 shows up for this match as well. If he does, we could have some great Goeido matches coming in the next 10 days, which would make me very happy.

Kisenosato vs Ikioi – Ikioi is winless! He needs to pick up a white circle or two, but he may have a challenge from the injured Kisenosato. I am still predicted Kisenosato goes Kyujo within the next 5 days.

Hokutofuji vs Harumafuji – Another huge potential match of the day. Hokutofuji has really impressed fans so far, he is fighting at a much tougher level this basho, and he has risen to the challenge. It’s clear that Harumafuji is holding it together under sheer force of will and stubborn Yokozuna pride. So this could be a chance for another kinboshi, sadly.

Hakuho vs Yoshikaze – Hakuho felt at ease to toy with Takakeisho on day 4, but he has no such luxury on day 5. In addition to having a very strong start in Nagoya, Yoshikaze has changed up his sumo somewhat. Hakuho is great at being able to think and move in an instant, so could be a great match up, even if Yoshikaze has only beaten Hakuho once in their 15 prior matches.

Nagoya Day 3 Preview


Big-K

Young Blood Creating An Exciting Dynamic

Video from this Nagoya basho always features one thing in every shot – the crowd desperately fanning themselves. I had heard that this event was a hot, sweaty and sticky affair. On top of that, Japan has turned it’s heat and formidable humidity to 11. The greatest and most troubling manifestation of Japan’s tropical tendencies are the catastrophic rain in western Japan, including parts of Kyushu and extreme western Honshu.

While the discomfort for the fans in the Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium is quite real, the heat endured by the athletes is even more extreme. Within the dohyo awning suspended from the ceiling, There is a battery of high intensity flood lamps, cameras and microphones. These lamps are meant to light the action, and easily raise the temperature on the dohyo by 10°. So if you wonder why the rikishi are drenched in sweat when you see them either exit the arena, or in the interview room after a bout, this plays a significant part.

As anticipated, the placement of so many strong, healthy and new rikishi this high in the banzuke is creating some unpredictable results in the first third of Nagoya. Readers of this site know that it is my theory that any basho follows a fairly predictable evolution, that can be thought of as 5 day “thirds”. The first third is the warm up, the second is the heart of the competition, where you see who is hot and who is not, and the final third determines the yusho. The roster of who is in Makuuchi has been surprisingly stable for at least a year, and so the pace and contests within each day’s torikumi can feel almost familiar.

With this much new talent in the top Maegashira, it’s a surprise each day. First time match up coupled with raw talent, uninjured rikishi scrapping to make their mark on the sport they will likely dominate for the next decade or so. Let the chaos cauldron continue to boil! Nagoya is just getting started!

Matches We Like

Nishikigi vs Chiyomaru – Both have started the basho with two wins, and both are Maegashira 15. Looks like it’s time to sort these two on the clay.

Arawashi vs Takarafuji – Takarafuji as never lost to Arawashi, but Arawashi has won his first two bouts of the basho. I would expect that Arawashi will need to do something to escape Takarafuji superior reach and complete lack of neck.

Aoiyama vs Ishiura – Classic sumo big man / little man match. We have yet to see any real sumo from Ishiura this tournament, and it would warm the hearts of many fans to see these two provide a good battle. This is, in fact, their first match.

Ichinojo vs Onosho – Another big man / little man match, Onosho has really been high energy and dangerous since May. As always Ichinojo is hit or miss. Another of the great first ever meetings between these two.

Ura vs Kagayaki – Kagayaki has been struggling to get his sumo running in Nagoya. Now he is up against Ura, who has dialed back the acrobatics and is winning with solid sumo fundamentals. Perhaps today Ura will unleash some of his non newtonian physics for the fans.

Tamawashi vs Yoshikaze – Both rikishi are coming into the match with two win starts, and this one could be one of the better matches of the day. Yoshikaze has been surprisingly deliberate in his two prior wins. Tamawashi has been unleashing explosive sumo from the start, and making it work. Their career match ups are essentially even, so this could be a real battle.

Mitakeumi vs Goeido – Mitakeumi has only beaten Goeido once before, but Mitakeumi could care less. Mitakeumi is starting to remind me of a Honey Badger now. Goeido is getting into a really troublesome mode right now, I had jokingly nominated him for kadoban, but he seems to be on a fast track this time.

Terunofuji vs Ikioi – One could imagine a healthy Terunofuji would stop by the Ryogoku McDonalds for some dipping sauce to enjoy with what was left of Ikioi. But it’s clear that the big Ozeki is injured. Ikioi could really use the win, so it will be somewhat unpleasant to see what happens here. Surprisingly, Ikioi leads their career bout record 7-2.

Takayasu vs Kotoshogiku – Another cringe inducing match. As we stated before we hate watching Kotoshogiku suffer, but he insists on turning up to compete. But for Takayasu, he needs to settle down and produce Ozeki class result. Hopefully Ojisan Kotoshogiku will provide him with a good match.

Takakeisho vs Harumafuji – We can assume after the first two days that Harumafuji has some medical / mechanical issues in Nagoya. The question is does he soldier on? Takakeisho is a big mystery here, this is their first ever match, and he is both nervous and fired up.

Hakuho vs Shodai – The boss is looking for win #1039 on his march to the record. Shodai will likely provide some contest for a few seconds, but I expect Hakuho to dispatch him. Short of injury, Hakuho is making the case that he will be the man to beat.

Hokutofuji vs Kakuryu – Another potential for a great match. These two are meeting for the first time, and we will have two rikishi who have mass, strength and a great defensive approach to sumo. Sure Hokutofuji can implement a masterful attack, but I am expecting to recognize that a match with Big K is going to be a game of cat and mouse.

Kisenosato vs Tochinoshin – Someone is going to really hurt Kisenosato, I fear. And with the overwhelming strength of Tochinoshin, I fear this could be the match that unleashes agony for the Yokozuna and the Japanese sumo loving public. If The Great Pumpkin can make it through this match and even win, it would do a lot to shut people like me up, who think his current left arm is some cutting edge robotic attachment from the labs at Tohoku University.

Nagoya Day 2 Highlights


Day 2 Iri

Concern For Harumafuji

Day 2 saw things improve slightly for the top two ranks, but in the Ozeki there is a lack of dominance. For Terunofuji, it would seem quite clearly that his knee problems are quite significant, and keeping him from really producing much power. The amount of bracing and bandaging Terunofuji wore on day 2 was substantial, and his inability to counter anything Tamawashi was using identifies the problem squarely. In the past I have jokingly referred to Terunofuji as Kaiju – a tangential reference to Godzilla and other giant creatures of the cinema. When he is healthy and fit, Terunofuji is somewhat unstoppable by any normal means (much like Godzilla).

Goeido on the other hand seems to be healthy, but is making tactical mistakes in his split-second decisions on the dohyo. Today he seemed to want to get into a speed battle with Yoshikaze. That’s a bit like Wile E Coyote racing the Road Runner – it won’t end well. As of day 2, both established Ozeki have two losses and zero wins.

I would add to that score an unexpected name – Yokozuna Harumafuji. Normally Nagoya is the place where he shines, but for two days in a row he has suffered defeat. Today Shodai was somehow able to package him up and move him off the dohyo. For Harumafuji (“The Horse”) this is clearly a further manifestation of his many injuries that continue to degrade his performance.

Selected Matches

Nishikigi defeats Gagamaru – After one basho in Juryo, Nishikigi seems well motivated, and overcame the greater mass of Planet Gagamaru, who seems to be injured or in pain.

Arawashi defeats Chiyonokuni – Chiyonokuni is looking very sloppy now. He drove hard into Arawashi, who countered brilliantly and used Chiyonokuni strength to speed his exit. Sometimes an up and coming rikishi makes it to the top of Maegashira for a basho, and get pounded flat. It then takes several tournaments for them to re-assert their sumo with any confidence or poise. I wonder if that is what has happened to Chiyonokuni.

Shohozan defeats Okinoumi – Okinoumi suffers from a chronic and somewhat untreatable (while he is active) injury, but he put up a solid effort against Shohozan. I am going to guess that Okinoumi will retire before long as he has few options now.

Daieisho defeats Ishiura – No Ishiura henka means that Daieisho got to really toss Ishiura around. Daieisho was very impressive in this bout.

Onosho defeats Tochiozan – Not a powerful win from Onosho, he probably sensed that Tochiozan had a yorikiri almost ready to deliver. But Onosho showed amazing presence by timing a side step at the apex of Tochiozan’s forward thrust. A win by Hikiotoshi in this case was more impressive than a strong oshidashi.

Ura defeats Chiyoshoma – I think most were expecting Ura to dial the Jackie Chan module up to 11 in his debut in the upper Makuuchi. Instead what we are getting are quite excellent execution of solid sumo fundamentals. Ura remains low, powerful and moving forward. Sadly it looks like Ura took a finger to the eye in his win over Chiyoshoma.

Mitakeumi defeats Hokutofuji – Highlighted as a possible match of the day, this one did not disappoint. Both are amazingly strong young men, focused on advancing. This bout was all Mitakeumi, who got his hands under Hokutofuji’s armpits and marched him backwards. Impressive victory.

Tamawashi defeats Terunofuji – Tamawashi again is making the case that he has a lot of sumo left to apply, and today he was out to demonstrate that against a seemingly injured Terunofuji. Terunofuji was stiff and reactive, he was not able to bring his trademark hideous strength to play in this match, and Tamawashi tossed him around like a beach ball on a string.

Takayasu defeats Ikioi – The shin-Ozeki came roaring back in a really sloppy match that still counts as a win. Out of 6 Ozeki matches thus far, this is the only win. My pre-basho projection of Ikioi having a strong tournament is clearly wrong, as he looks unfocused and ill prepared for battle.

Yoshikaze defeats Goeido – I saw something really special again today from Yoshikaze. He deployed it on day one against Harumafuji as well, and he does not frequently use it: patience. It did not take long for Goeido to make a mistake, but Yoshikaze waited for it, and then exploited it for a win. Goeido really looks ragged right now.

Hakuho defeats Tochinoshin – It’s clear the Boss is having fun on the dohyo. He gave Tochinoshin a few moments to trade “strong man” moves back and forth. And at least once he was almost able to lift to Yokozuna off the clay. If Tochinoshin’s right leg were healthy, it would have been a different story, but Hakuho backed Tochinoshin to the bales and hip-rammed him out.

Kakuryu defeats Kotoshogiku – I thought this bout was magic. We knew that Ojisan Kotoshogiku is pretty much just making a farewell tour now, but Kakuryu did in fact let him set up for a hip-pump attack, and then dropped him hard on the first thrust. This is one of the things that makes Kakuryu a worthy Yokozuna when he’s healthy. He can use almost any rikishi’s attack to his advantage.

Kisenosato defeats Takakeisho – Glad that the Great Pumpkin was able to get a win against the hard-charging Takakeisho, but Kisenosato struggled to pull it off. The Yokozuna is still clearly protecting his left side, and it’s only a matter of time before the problems grow to the point he will consider going kyujo again.

Shodai defeats Harumafuji – This one was over the a blink of an eye. Harumafuji won the tachiai, but was off balance quickly. Shodai showed why he remains the upper ranks by immediately exploiting that opening for a solid kinboshi win.

Nagoya Day 2 Preview


Yoshikaze

Will The Ozeki Corps Recover?

Day One was the kind of open that sumo fans dream about. The unexpected was out in full force, and everyone had their expectations re-set (myself included). As Tachiai had been implying, the up-and-coming crop of young rikishi are working hard to de-throne much of the established brand name sumotori we have loved for years. This is the natural order of things, and I welcome it. Be aware, things will revert to normal soon, possibly on day 2. Ozeki and Yokozuna have lost face massively, and they will fight with redoubled strength and determination today.

But it was a beating unlike any that has been seen in at least a decade. Out of the 7 men in the Yokozuna and Ozeki corps, only 2 of them won. There were a couple of telling indications.

Kakuryu – Big K, who is frequently the one everyone worries will fall first, looked convincing and solid. Shodai is easy enough if you know his repeating weakness (crummy tachiai), but Kakuryu looked strong, planted, solid and (dare I say it?) healthy. If we have a genki Kakuryu, the fun factor goes up quite a lot.

Hakuho – Clearly the Boss is back in fighting form. Ojisan Kotoshogiku is a shadow of the Ozeki who won the 2016 Hatsu basho, so Hakuho’s win is no surprise. But the Boss is clearly running well and looking to be is normal dominant self.

Goeido – Did anyone else notice he reconstructed ankle was not taped? And that in his battle of strength with Tochinoshin he was pushing hard with both feet? I am happy to assume now that the repairs were effective, and we may get to see Goeido 2.0 again some day.

Kisenosato – Clearly he is still far short of his normal health. Mitakeumi picked a vulnerable route and worked it hard, with great success. That’s the real problem. As a Yokozuna, you are not supposed to have easily exploitable vulnerabilities.

Yoshikaze – Holy smokes! That was excellent sumo no matter how you slice it. I am greatly impressed that Harumafuji was able to mount such an effective defense at the drop of a hat. Yoshikaze is clearly still having a lot of fun being an active sekitori, and with bouts like day 1, I can see why. The NSK must be happy they made him San’yaku or they would be paying out still more kinboshi.

Once again, like day 1, the interest level in day 2 matches is broad and intense. There is the potential in Nagoya for one of the most pivotal, and exciting tournaments in several years.

Matches We Like

Nishikigi vs Gagamaru – Nishikigi was clearly unhappy with his visit to Juryo last basho, and it was a wake up call to tune up or give up. Today he faces Planet Gagamaru, who is a walking complexity of sumo malfunction. Popular in the broader Japanese media, Gagamaru seems to have lost any edge he may have had in the past.

Sokokurai vs Takekaze – Sokokurai looked very strong day one, and he needs some momentum going into week two. Tachiai expects any number of kyujo rikishi to throw chaos into scheduling, and any wrestler with a decent record will be pulled higher in the torikumi to fill in. Takekaze is no slouch, and he needs to get out of the lower Maegashira ranks to keep himself in business.

Chiyonokuni vs Arawashi – Chiyonokuni was lost and off balance day 1. He has in the past been strong and poised, and we worry the thumping he took during Natsu wrecked his confidnece and drive to win. He will get no quarter from Arawashi, who needs to renew his record, too.

Ishiura vs Daieisho – Ishiura pulled out a rather unsavory henka on day 1, and we can be certain that Daieisho is going to bring some caution to his tachiai. Watch for an early attempt at a slap down, or even a Daieisho henka.

Onosho vs Tochiozan – Onosho is picking up where he left off from Natsu. Today he is against Tochiozan, who seems to again be showing some rather good sumo. This is their first match up ever, so very interesting to fans.

Ura vs Chiyoshoma – Ura day 1 was impressive. He was a whirling mass of chaos with an overall theme that he used to his advantage. In their prior two matches, Ura has won them both, but I am looking for Chiyoshoma to deploy something new day 2.

Kagayaki vs Endo – It’s tough watching Endo with the new mawashi. My poor sleep starved mind just associated Endo with his old color. Kagayaki’s big problem is inconsistency. When he is “on” he has what it takes to be an upper Maegashira, but he struggles to maintain that form. Interestingly enough, Endo has yet to defeat Kagayaki!

Hokutofuji vs Mitakeumi – Could be the match of the day. Two lead riskishi in the class of “up and coming” square off for supremacy. Both are formidable, both are capable of winning. Both are going to bring a strong attack. Their only prior match was won by Mitakeumi, so pay attention to this bout!

Terunofuji vs Tamawashi – Terunofuji on day 1 looked quite disorganized. There were some reports that his knees were bothering him in the lead up to Nagoya, and this bout against the hard charging Tamawashi will tell us much about the Ozeki’s health. As a big Terunofuji fan, I do hope he is healthy.

Takayasu vs Ikioi – Ikioi looked like hell on day 1, and completely blew what could and should have been a competitive bout. Takayasu! Get it together! I will be highly agitated if the shin-Ozeki launches his career with a kadoban mark.

Yoshikaze vs Goeido – As with day 1, Goeido will need to decide if he wants to go strength or speed. If he lets Yoshikaze control the match, it will likely be speed and he will have to start on defense. Goeido 2.0 would go left hand inside at the tachiai and heave-ho the berserker off the clay before he can even blink.

Hakuho vs Tochinoshin – I know Tochinoshin is going to put up a strong and vigorous struggle, so I am eager to see how Hakuho wins this one.

Kotoshogiku vs Kakuryu – Bonus points to Big K if he lets Kotoshogiku set up the hip-pump attack and then defeats him. I am convinced a healthy Kakuryu has a way to counter almost any attack, so the more we can see him deploy, the better.

Kisenosato vs Takakeisho – This could be a really important match for several bad reasons. If we see Kisenosato once again defeated directly, it indicates that Japan’s favorite Yokozuna has little choice left except to put himself into the queue for surgery. I know the NSK and Kisenosato do not want that. But it may be that or retirement.

Shodai vs Harumafuji – I am looking for The Horse to get back to form, and to bend Shodai up onto a crane shape prior to sending him back to the dressing room. I think Shodai has a lot of potential, but he needs to work on some fundamentals to get to the next level.

Nagoya banzuke crystal ball part 2


This post is the follow-up to Nagoya banzuke crystal ball part 1.

Lower maegashira

M5 Chiyoshoma Tochiozan
M6 Ichinojo Onosho
M7 Daieisho Aoiyama
M8 Takanoiwa Ishiura
M9 Tokushoryu Chiyotairyu
M10 Okinoumi Shohozan
M11 Daishomaru Chiyonokuni
M12 Arawashi Takarafuji
M13 Takekaze Sokokurai
M14 Sadanoumi (J) Chiyomaru (J)
M15 Nishikigi (J) Kotoyuki
M16 Kaisei/Gagamaru (J)?

Make-koshi at Natsu in red; kachi-koshi in green; (J) = promotion from Juryo.

That looks like a lot of red. So I counted, and 14 of the rikishi in this part of the banzuke had losing records at Natsu. I guess that’s why they’re here. Only 6 of the wrestlers here who were in Makuuchi at Natsu had winning records, most notably Onosho, who jumps all the way from M14 to M6. It’s probably to Onosho’s benefit that he takes a big jump up the banzuke but gets more experience before having to face the highest ranks. Conversely, Chiyonokuni tumbles all the way from M1 to M11 (see “meat grinder, the” in the previous post; everyone but Endo finds themselves here: Chiyoshoma, Tochiozan, Daieisho, Aoiyama, Okinoumi).

I learned my lesson from Natsu banzuke prediction and stuck entirely to the order dictated by my computed ranks. So the only decision was how to break ties. In general, I gave the nod to the rikishi ranked higher at Natsu. But in a few cases, I bumped up wrestlers with kachi-koshi above those with make-koshi: Tokushoryu and Chiyotairyu above Okinoumi and Shohozan, Daishomaru above Chiyonokuni and Arawashi, and Chiyomaru and Nishikigi above Kotoyuki.

Finally, Kaisei/Gagamaru seems like a complete toss-up. Kaisei went 7-8 in Makuuchi. His 7 wins include 2 over Juryo opponents and a fusen “win” over Kotoyuki. Gagamaru went 9-6 in Juryo, including 1-1 against Makuuchi opponents. Their recent performances don’t give any reason to expect anything more than a mediocre performance by either at the bottom of Makuuchi, with a good chance of demotion to Juryo after Nagoya. But someone has to fill M16e…

Natsu Day 5 Highlights


Kisenosato-5

Kisenosato Gut Checks The Universe, Universe Blinks

At end of all things and at the end of time, I belive Kisenosato will be there, continuing to refuse to give up, or let anything, including the laws of nature stop him. More on that in a moment.

It was the final Kokugikan day, and I am sad to leave my in-person sumo behind. I leave with a greatly expanded appreciation for the sport, it’s fans and most especially it’s contestants. Getting over here and doing this is hideously expensive, but it was (at least for me) transformative.

A note on Juryo, though I think it’s kind of a mess right now, for some reason Planet Gagamaru is gunning hard to return to Makuuchi for Nagoya, and he may be brining Yamaguchi with him. Nothing has really changed, and Gagamaru has not really improved, but it seems he’s the guy who is losing the least.

Match Highlights

Daishomaru defeats Yutakayama – Daishomaru supplied a huge shoulder blast at the tachiai, and followed up nicely with a relentless pushing attack. Yutakayama was dispatched shortly afterwards.

Tokushoryu defeats Kaisei – Tokushoryu really was in command of this bout from the start, with an initial nodowa that really seemed to disrupt Kaisei for a moment, but he found Tokushoryu’s mawashi, but he was still too high and Tokushoryu was able to put him down at the edge.

Ishiura defeats Arawashi – Arawashi can’t buy a break

Kotoyuki defeats Ura – As with yesterday, Ura was late off the line, almost in matta territory, and Kotoyuki took command. it’s also clear that Ura loves to put his head down at the start, and take his eyes off his opponent. This is sually where he loses control of the match. Let’s just say he is still working on his Makuuchi formula, but it is certainly coming along.

Kagayaki defeats Ichinojo – Ichinojo seems to have nothing to offer but his own ponderous bulk. Showing no maneuverability really, Kagayaki was in complete control from the start and simply waltzed him out.

Takakeisho defeats Hokutofuji – Takakeisho owned this match from the start, though Hokutofuji put up a valiant fight. Takakeisho consistantly kept Hokutofuji off balance. With Hokutofuji’s center of gravity high, it was only a matter of time before Takakeisho’s repeated pull down attempts worked.

Tamawashi defeats Yoshikaze – Tamawashi establshed control of this match quickly, and never let Yoshikaze plant his feet or get his weight forward, which is essential for his early bout strategies.

Takayasu obliterates Endo – Takayasu easily put Endo away. Endo started a pushing match but Takayasu was able to lock up a mawashi grip and control Endo. At this point Takayasu’s overwhelming strength and size took charge and Endo was done. Takayasu now needs 5 wins for Ozeki – he can lose half his remaining matches and still get the job done.

Goeido defeats Chiyonokuni – The last two days have been Goeido 2.0, I do hope he can stay, because I really like that guy’s sumo. Fast, aggressive and unstoppable.

Terunofuji defeats Kotoshogiku this was the bout the fans wanted in Osaka. Solid tachiai, Kotoshogiku set up his hug and chug, and Terunofuji stopped it DEAD., he then took over and put Kotoshogiku in the dirt with a an overarm throw. Fantastic job from Terunofuji. My condolences oojisan Kotoshogiku. I seriously wonder if I was present for his last win as an active sumotori.

Hakuho defeats Mitakeumi – The Boss is in form, and everyone else is going down to defeat. Even Mitakeumi who is fighting close to Takayasu’s level now. Mitakeumi brought some pressure early to Hakuho, but he rapidly countered and diverted Mitakeumi attack. The tachiai featured Hakuho’s favored shoulder blast. It’s good to see the Michael Jordan of sumo back in fighting form.

Okinoumi gets a fusen win over Kakuryu – Okinoumi first and only win this tournament.

Harumafuji defeats Daieisho – Harumafuji wins by his mini-henka – seriously, what is Daieisho doing matched against these guys?

Ancient Jōmon guardian spirit posseses Kisenosato, defeats Chiyoshoma – Dear god, what a champion. After a matta (Kisenosato jumped early?), they were off. Everyone is hitting his left side hard because they know Kisenosato is wounded. Chiyoshoma was on him like a wad of wet noodles, but Kisenosato would not relent. Somehow he got Chiyoshoma out and down. To everyone who wondered what kind of Yokozuna Kisenosato would make, now you know. How does it feel to be defeated by a one arm man? Ask Chiyoshoma.

Natsu Banzuke Prediction Post-mortem


Two key criteria for developing good predictions are: (1) quantitative evaluation of the prediction and (2) accountability. With that in mind, I take a look at how my banzuke prediction performed.

Upper San’yaku was “chalk” as expected. In the lower San’yaku, I (and other predictions on this site) correctly had Yoshikaze filling the komusubi slot vacated by Shodai. I don’t understand the order of the three sekiwake ranks, as it appears unchanged despite the very different performances at Haru that had all of us predicting the order as Takayasu 1E, Kotoshogiku 1W and Tamawashi 2E.

In the maegashira ranks, of the 31 predictions, I had 11 “bulls-eyes” (correct rank and side” and 3 more correct rank predictions. This is way fewer than I expected or would have liked. The 17 misses were mostly not too bad: 13 missed by one rank, 3 missed by two ranks, and I had Osunaarashi (J1) moving up to M16 and Myogiryu (M15) dropping to J1.

There are three parts to the prediction: the computed ranks, tie-breaking among rikishi with identical ranks, and the departures I make from the computed ranks based on past banzuke patterns. Let’s look at these in turn.

The computed ranks were quite accurate: the official banzuke departs from these in only a couple of places. The computed rank would have Takarafuji at M3, but because of his make-koshi at that rank at Haru, the prediction and the banzuke moved him down to M4. Shodai (one of my two-rank misses) should be down at M7, and I still feel like the NSK cut him way too much slack after his 4-11 performance. And Arawashi and Ishiura would switch sides (but not ranks).

My tie-breaker was higher rank at Haru. This largely resulted in both of my other two-rank misses, as Takanoiwa should have been ranked above Tochiozan (and Aoiyama) by this rule. Presumably his 6-9 record at Haru led to his being dropped further down, although this is not necessarily consistent with past banzuke patterns. In a number of other cases, the tie-breaker got the relative order right, and I will need to look closely to see if the tie-break part of the prediction can be improved.

So, on to the departures from the computed rank order. One rule that resulted in many of my misses was to drop rikishi with 7-8 make-koshi records one spot from their rank at Haru, even if the computed rank would have them retaining their rank. This has often (but not always) been done in past banzuke. Although this rule correctly placed Takarafuji at M4, it placed Kagayaki, Tochinoshin, Ishiura and Daishomaru one slot too low, which also led to one-rank misses in the other direction for Ura, Arawashi, Kotoyuki and Onosho. It seems that the NSK is inconsistent in this scenario, and I’ll have to see if any pattern can be identified.

So overall, I am happy with my computed ranks, need to think more about the tie-break procedure, and need to be more careful with subjective departures from the computed ranks (this also includes demoting Myogiryu in favor of promoting Osunaarashi, even though Myogiryu had a better computed rank).

Others can chime in with how they fared. There will be another opportunity to predict the Nagoya banzuke after Natsu is the in books, and in the meantime we’ll have some actual sumo to watch!