Quick Hatsu Review – Liam Loves Sumo

After a short break, I’m back with a short review of the 2019 Hatsu Basho. In this video, I briefly discuss the biggest ups and downs of the Hatsu Basho, surprises and disappointments, the Banzuke picture for the upcoming Haru Basho, and the big stories coming out of January.

I want to thank Bruce for encouraging me to post this to the front page. I’ve been brainstorming some new videos and content and I’m very excited to try them out.

Stay tuned, more sumo content coming soon!

Hatsu Day 2: Juryo Wrap-Up

Hatsu Basho Banner

It’s Day 2, and here’s another wrap up from Juryo. This time we’ll throw in a couple bonus bouts from the Makushita promotion race, which is already shaping up to be a hot one.

Makushita Bonus Action

Akua defeats Chiyonoo – After his disastrous basho in Fukuoka, Chiyonoo doesn’t look like coming back up any time in the near future. Akua gives him the ol’ push and pull and he’s face flat on the dohyo. Woof. Akua looks the more likely to be back up in Juryo the soonest.

Takanofuji defeats Ryuko – Takanofuji nee Takayoshitoshi wins despite not having a solid grip for most of this match. Ryuko, a former Tachiai One to Watch who was surprisingly tipped by John Gunning as a future Ozeki, has got a left hand grip and gives a couple attempts at an uwatenage, but Takanofuji manoeuvres him close to the bales and crushes him down via yoritaoshi.

Juryo Action

Chiyonoumi defeats Daiseido – Daiseido, having lost already, gets a visit to Juryo on day 2 against Chiyonoumi. After a matta, the Kokonoe man uses Daiseido’s inertia against him, steps to the side and thrusts him down to win by tsukiotoshi. Daiseido now has very little room for error with 13 days to go, if he’s going to make it to the penultimate division. Chiyonoumi now 2-0.

Sokokurai defeats Gagamaru – There’s a combined age of 66 on the dohyo with these two. You know that facebook meme going around right now where you’re meant to post your first profile picture from ten years ago and your most recent? Well if you’re feeling bad about how you’ve aged then bear in mind that Gagamaru is 31. Before this match starts, I notice that cool man Tomozuna is in the shimpan crew, which in fairness is a good distraction from some gnarly shiko. There’s another matta, and then Sokokurai pulls a planetary-orbit altering henka that sends the Georgian to the clay. Both men are now 1-1, and Gagamaru is not massively pleased.

Shimanoumi defeats Kyokushuho – Kyokushuho deploys some strong nodowa attempts in front of his stable master, but can’t find the killer move and as Shimanoumi gets him going backward, he pulls and it’s all over. Shimanoumi checks his balance, stays low, and shoves his man out.

Jokoryu defeats Tsurugisho – Jokoryu beats Tsurugisho with one of those throws that feels like it lasts an entire year. Jokoryu lands his left hand inside after the Tachiai, and then the entire rest of this match is him attempting to unload the throw. It looks like it may backfire but eventually he controls Tsurugisho’s momentum and executes a very satisfying shitatenage.

Tobizaru defeats Takekaze – Takekaze had a bad loss on Day 1 and needs to sort himself out if he isn’t going to suffer a potentially career-ending drop out of the professional ranks. This match is a slap-fest in which the veteran is determined to rough up Tobizaru’s face, much to the chagrin of the younger man’s fans. Takekaze unleashes about 13 slap and pull and poke and scratch attempts before Tobizaru is able to keep the wily elder statesman at arms length in order to set up the push and pull for the slap down. Takekaze is now 0-2, and Tobizaru is now 1-1.

Arawashi defeats Kyokutaisei – It’s not Tobizaru’s fault, but I could get behind his Tokyo banana mawashi if Kyokutaisei was still sporting the Hokkaido melon tinted belt. Arawashi’s sumo has been a mess lately but he executes a pretty solid tsuppari into mawashi grip transition and chaperones Kyokutaisei out. The best lead actor of any recent sumo film puts up a decent fight at the edge but there’s nothing he can do, and that’s the kind of match Kyokutaisei should probably be winning against a sekitori in freefall. Both men are now 1-1. Bring back the melon!

NHK cuts the feed at this point over from the broadcast satellite to NHK G and shows Kisenosato entering the Kokugikan, and the footage kind of looks like there’s going to be an intai announcement. But it turns out they’re just announcing that he takes on Ichinojo later.

Hidenoumi defeats Mitoryu – disappointing from Mitoryu as Hidenoumi tries and fails to get a mawashi grip, but doesn’t really need it to get the Mongolian high and escort him out in fairly short order. Disappointing match, and Mitoryu is getting a little inconsistent at this level. Both of these guys are now 1-1 as well.

Azumaryu defeats Enho – Ura had better hurry up, because here’s more incredible sumo involving Enho, who is turning into the can’t miss rikishi. Azumaryu’s ring demeanour is so much calmer and measured than the more frantic Enho. They take a while to get ready at the tachiai, but eventually this bout gets underway, and Enho gets in low. Azumaryu tries repeatedly to simply push him down, slap him down, as the smaller man buries his head into Azumaryu’s stomach. Eventually Enho tries to get a mawashi grip, but this doesn’t work and it looks like the Mongolian has him off balance. But the little guy recovers, tries a throw and can’t pull it off. Then he tries a sotogake leg trip and can’t pull that off, and Azumaryu now has Enho off balance and throws him to the dirt. Enho gets up with a bloodied face and nothing to show for his efforts but his fans. Both men are now 1-1.

Chiyomaru defeats Akiseyama – It’s the battle of the bulbous! Chiyomaru tries to hit a slap down and then the match looks like it’s turning into a yotsu-battle. The two men lock up in the middle of the dohyo and it’s possible one of them is about to fall asleep when Chiyomaru twists the awkward Kise-beya rikishi around and tosses him down with a tsukiotoshi. Chiyomaru heads to 2-0, with Akiseyama now 0-2.

Wakatakakage defeats Hakuyozan – Dominant performance from Wakatakakage. Hakuyozan gets the better of the tachiai, but once the smaller Arashio-beya man lands his grip, Hakuyozan is totally out of control of the match and Wakatakakage deposits him over the edge. Both of these young starlets are now 1-1 as well.

Toyonoshima defeats Tokushoryu – Here’s a match featuring an awful lot of belly. Toyonoshima puts his to good use as he takes control straight from the tachiai and wins with an insanely straightforward yorikiri. Tokushoryu tries to get his arm around the senior sumo citizen’s head and execute some kind of throw or slap down in desperation, but he’s got nothing. Everybody here is now 1-1 as well.

Aminishiki defeats Tomokaze – Old meets young in a generational battle. Uncle Sumo mounts the dohyo in an attempt to get something from the current division’s yusho holder. Tomokaze has his usual nonplussed expression as the two men get down for the tachiai. You’ll never guess what happens next: pusher-thruster Tomokaze has backwards-moving slap-down specialist Aminishiki going backwards. Aminishiki dances around the ring and hits the hikiotoshi as Tomokaze goes flying. It’s a good lesson for the youngster. It’s increasingly likely in 50 years we’ll still be watching them wheel the bones and bandages of Aminishiki onto the dohyo – he can still win at this level. He, like Tomokaze and just about everyone else, is 1-1.

Ishiura defeats Terutsuyoshi – Here’s the battle of salt vs protein. Terutsuyoshi deploys a sodium explosion that’s impressive even by his lofty standards. Ishiura takes charge of this match though – and it’s interesting to watch him when the opponent is also small – it’s a reminder he can do some great sumo when he goes head on. Despite Terutusyoshi being small, Ishiura does manage to get in a bit lower, grabs the Isegahama man, spin him around and throw him out. There may have been some discussion of a matta, but Ishiura’s already on his way back to the locker room to make a shake, with both men’s records now 1-1.

Daishoho defeats Takanosho – Daishoho and Takanosho are so close to makuuchi they can smell it. After some good old fashioned slapping, the Mongolian locks up Takanosho’s arm and the Chiganoura man simply can’t escape. Daishoho unloads a kotenage and it might not be surprisingly that Takanosho is in bad shape after the rough throw. Takanosho needs the help of multiple yobidashi to dismount the dohyo and this will put his attempt to gain promotion back to the top level in deep trouble. Both of these guys are also now 1-1. Despite a kotenage arm lock throw being notoriously harsh on the receiver’s arm and elbow, it seemed the injury was to his leg/thigh area.

Kyushu Day 15 Preview

Macacon Of Victory

Break the sacred macaron of victory out of its fortress transportation case, and tell the yobidashi to apply a fresh coat of paint, for senshuraku is upon us, and the final disposition of many trophies, awards and honors shall be decided as the sumo world looks on.

Once again, lksumo has done a masterful job of teeing up what’s at stake for the tournament’s next and final day. In addition to all of the permutations for yusho, promotion and demotion, there are a fair number of koshis left to be decided. That makes for a number of high-stakes win-or-else matches on the final day, which will likely culminate in the highest stake san’yaku bouts and possibly a playoff for the cup.

A reminder that NHK World will have Grand Sumo Live starting at 2:30 AM US Eastern time, 11:30 PM Pacific to bring you the final 90 minutes of the tournament, including at least a half hour of speeches, trophies and celebrations.

What We Are Watching Day 15

Kotoshogiku (M9e) vs Meisei (M15w) – As lksumo pointed out, the Kyushu Bulldozer has been the crusher of Makuuchi dreams this tournament. I would guess the winner gets a special prize, and the loser gets a bowl of chanko. As a bonus, this is their first ever match, so there is a fair chance that Meisei will get to enjoy the hug-n-chug for the first time.

Ikioi vs (M8e) vs Chiyomaru (M16w) – Walking contusion Ikioi goes up against the bulbous Chiyomaru, whom he has never beaten in five tries. Someone has a bit of a mean streak, it seems, and I predict Ikioi will retire to the nearest onsen shortly afterwards to ease his aches.

Daiamami (M15e) vs Asanoyama (M5w) – Daiamami needs to take a white star from the already make-koshi Asanoyama to keep from riding the ferry back to Juryo. Sadly, Asanoyama has a 5-3 advantage over Daiamami.

Aoiyama (M12e) vs Yoshikaze (M4w) – Yoshikaze comes to this match 7-7, with this result deciding his winning or losing record for November. Aoiyama is looking quite genki in the second week, and is probably looking forward to having the compact Yoshikaze to bat around. They are evenly matched 9-11 for their career, but this November, Aoiyama looks stronger. Good luck berserker!

Tochiozan (M2e) vs Shodai (M4e) – The other Maegashira 4 also decides his his koshi today. He holds a 3-1 career advantage over Tochiozan, who has lost his drive in week 2. We are hoping for some solid cartoon sumo from Shodai, and a chance to remain in the top of Maegashira ranks.

Myogiryu (M1e) vs Chiyotairyu (M5e) – Darwin match, both are 7-7. Only one will emerge kachi, the other make-koshi. Myogiryu has looked focused and strong in his past two matches, and will need to stay mobile against the overwhelming up-front strength of Chiyotairyu. Their career record is 5-5. Chiyotairyu will try to blast him into pieces at the tachiai, so if Myogiryu can survive that, it’s game on.

Takakeisho (K1e) vs Nishikigi (M3e) – Already examined well in the earlier mentioned post, but Nishikigi has been full of surprises. With Takakeisho this genki, it may seem like a foregone conclusion, but I choose to keep an open mind and let events unfold as they will. [Not betting to eat anything unwise? –PinkMawashi]

Mitakeumi (S1e) vs Takayasu (O1w) – Does Mitakeumi have anything left in the tank? He has shown he can beat Takayasu, but it’s not a common event (4-10). A win for Takayasu could seal his first ever yusho, and there would be talk about his future as an eventual Yokozuna.

Kyushu Day 14 Highlights

Kyushu Day 14

Brief update for the day 14 action: This was some solid sumo for a Saturday, and a fine set up for Sunday’s final. Also, remember that NHK World will be streaming the last 50 minutes of Makuuchi live with their “Grand Sumo Live” program. Do note, day 15 features less sumo, and a lot of coverage surrounding the yusho ceremony. Having now gotten to see the yusho ceremony in person, I have to admit I kind of like it. The wacky trophies, the tossing of the gyoji – good times.

Highlight Matches

Daishoho defeats Takanosho – Daishoho visits from Juryo, and gets his 8th win by testing the structural integrity of Takanosho’s right arm and shoulder.

Meisei defeats Chiyonokuni – Chiyonokuni remains consistently just 5% short of what he needs to win. I am a fan of the guy, and I like his sumo, but I keep hoping that he will find that extra energy to win.

Kotoshogiku defeats Okinoumi – Kotoshogiku gets his preferred set up, and immediately engages hug-n-chug mode, with its usual effect. Kotoshogiku is now at 9 wins, and it would be great to see him get double-digits in front of his home town fans.

Aoiyama defeats Daieisho – Aoiyama finally gets to deliver the pounding he had envisioned for Takakeisho. Daieisho stands there and takes it for a time, but then wisely decides it’s time to run. This only encourages Aoiyama who chases him down to finish the job. Good mobility from Aoiyama today.

Ikioi defeats Chiyoshoma – The Tylenol maximum pain match, both men look like hell as they crouch next to the dohyo, mustering the energy to stand and return to the ring. Chiyoshoma is now make-koshi.

Onosho defeats Abi – The first bout ended with both rikishi in flight and no clear winner. The torinaoshi (rematch) was all Onosho, who now has double digit wins. Abi is make-koshi with this eighth loss.

Chiyomaru defeats Kagayaki – Kagayaki continues to fade as Chiyomaru finally finds his sumo and his energy. Chiyomaru worked to stalemate Kagayaki for the opening moments of the bout, with great effect. When Kagayaki faltered, Chiyomaru drove forward with energy and force, setting up a flurry of thrusts that took Kagayaki out.

Nishikigi defeats Takarafuji – Count me as celebratory that Nishikigi picked up his 8th win. Granted it was in a No-kozuna tournament, but this is a real achievement for a man who had struggled at any rank above Maegashira 9 in the past, and had a constant berth at the bottom of the banzuke for the longest time. In the interview following his match, the reporter asks him how he feels facing Takakeisho for day 15. The look is priceless.

Shohozan defeats Tochiozan – Shohozan rallies after stumbling and having Tochiozan back him up to the bales. Another home town rikishi who has performed well in front of his fans. Tochiozan’s multiple attempts at pulling left him in a defenseless position, and likely cost him the match.

Myogiryu defeats Yoshikaze – Yoshikaze’s dohyo exit fall was broken by the yobidashi’s pedestal, more or less to the lower back. Yoshikaze, being the consummate warrior, gets up and exits the arena without any sign of pain or injury. But you know that had to hurt.

Hokutofuji defeats Ryuden – Hokutofuji’s handshake tachiai finds its mark today, connecting immediately with Ryuden’s neck. Hokutofuji raises Ryuden, and charges for the inside position. Now in control of the tempo and format of the match, Hokutofuji bats Ryuden around for a while before forcing him over the bales.

Ichinojo defeats Asanoyama – The Mongolian Behemoth shows surprising mobility today, delivering an angled tachiai against Asanoyama and rapidly landing a deep left hand grip. From this position, there is zero Asanoyama can do to resist Ichinojo’s forward motion, and the match is over in a flash. Solid, excellent sumo from the soon-to-be-former Sekiwake.

Takayasu defeats Takakeisho – Takakeisho was clearly on offense from the tachiai, and the first wave to break against the Ozeki blasted him backward and put him dangerously off balance. As Takakeisho set up the second blast, he lost footing at the same moment Takayasu pivoted, and Takakeisho could not remain on his feet. Nice defensive gambit by Takayasu that paid off due to fortunate timing. This could set up a day 15 playoff that would be for all the prizes, including a giant pile of mushrooms.

Tochinoshin defeats Mitakeumi – Tochinoshin lands his left hand grip early, and Mitakeumi has no leverage to counter in any way. Mitakeumi gets his 8th loss, and will vacate his long held Sekiwake slot (8 of the last 9 basho), just 2 tournaments after winning the yusho. Tochinoshin scores win #8, and does not have to fear kadoban for January.

Kyushu Day 10 Highlights

Kyushu Day 10

It’s the end of act 2, and we saw another narrowing of the yusho race. But there is still a broad set of genki rikishi that remain in the hunt, waiting for Takakeisho to lose another match. Takakeisho thus far shows no signs of easing up. As we had expected, Takakeisho is likely to be an important rikishi in the future, provided he can keep his body healthy and his mind sharp.

There may be a few new folks reading the web site, and it’s been a while since I have done this, so let me explain some of the “why” of Tachiai.

Tachiai is purely a fan weblog. It is a non-revenue site, meaning we don’t sell ads, we don’t sell your data, and we don’t ask our readers to do anything more than spend some time with us and enjoy sumo with us. The contributors to this site, myself included, receive no compensation for our efforts, and do it purely for the love of the sport, and our shared desire to bring sumo to more people in the English speaking world. That means all of us have “day jobs” that pay the bills, and allow us enough free time to follow sumo.

As far as I know, none of the contributors are journalists, or people who write for a living. On Tachiai, there should be no expectations of the following:

  • Protection from “spoilers”: Sumo happens in the middle of the night, US time. Most US fans won’t get a chance to see results until much later in the day. But we report on proceedings well before most sumo fans have watched video of the matches. It’s ok to wait to read Tachiai until after you have enjoyed your favorite video feed (we recommend the excellent NHK World, Jason’s All Sumo Channel on Youtube, and of course Kintamayama).
  • Objective reporting: As fans, all of the contributors have favorites. We have things we like in sumo, and things we don’t like. All of the contributors (along with the readers and commenters) can and should feel free to chime in with their views too, but we insist you keep it polite.
  • Comprehension of Japan, Japanese custom XYZ, mastery of Japanese culture: To “get” sumo, it helps to have some knowledge of how it came about, and how it relates to the broader cultural landscape of Japan. That being said, I am pretty sure none of the contributors to this site are Japanese, or wish to replace their own cultural aesthetic with that of Japan. We do our best, but we are not, and never will be Japanese.

Good, with that back in writing for the first time in several months, let’s enjoy today’s mayhem.

Highlight Matches

Kotoeko defeats Chiyomaru – Big Chiyomaru goes down to Kotoeko’s slapping attack, and is now make-koshi. Barring some improbable circumstance, he will return to Juryo to sort out his health and his sumo. His most recent tour of Makuuchi began in July of 2017, and he has gathered a following. We hope whatever is plaguing him, he overcomes in short order.

Onosho defeats Chiyoshoma – Onosho stays in the yusho hunt, and picks up his kachi-koshi. Chiyoshoma took an early advantage, but Onosho rallied and repulsed the Mongolian, with both visiting the west side zabuton.

Endo defeats Arawashi – Arawashi can barely stand on his injured leg, so this was a “gimme” for Endo. Arawashi will be joining the barge of sadness sailing back to Juryo.

Meisei defeats Sadanoumi – Meisei picks up his first ever win over Sadanoumi, and Sadanoumi made him work very hard for it. In fact Sadanoumi was in the driver’s seat for the balance of the match, but Meisei unleaded a well time hatakikomi at the edge to rescue the win.

Daieisho defeats Takanosho – Daieisho stays in the hunt group and scores his kochi-kochi. The match was a messy thrusting battle that could have gone either way, but Daieisho got the gumbai, and the shimpan upheld.

Aoiyama defeats Takarafuji – Aoiyama may be the only man in sumo to accomplish the nearly impossible: finding and then attacking Takarafuji’s neck. Takarafuji battled bravely, but Aoiyama had too much forward pressure interleaved with powerful blows to Takarafuji’s upper body. Aoiyama joins the rest of the crew who achieved kachi-koshi today, and remain 1 loss behind Takakeisho.

Okinoumi defeats Abi – Veteran Okinoumi completely disrupts Abi-zumo, the second straight loss via the same processes. We may have reached the expiration date on the daily use of the double arm thrusting attack from Abi. Now it gets interesting, because we will see what else this guy can do.

Shohozan defeats Chiyonokuni – Chiyonokuni was protecting his right arm the past two days, but that was gone in today’s match against “Big Guns” Shohozan. Both men are brawlers, and both men got their match today. A running brawl that traversed the dohyo repeatedly, they exchanged fierce blows, thrusts and anything they could think of. The crowd was going wild for home town boy Shohozan, and then the two went chest to chest. Go watch this match. Then go watch it again. Chiyonokuni is now make-koshi, but he fought was great vigor today.

Yutakayama defeats Kagayaki – Another high effort bout, and it was unusual to see Kagayaki having a difficult time controlling his balance. Yutakayama is still less than 100%, but he put forth a great effort today, and was rewarded with a much needed win.

Takanoiwa defeats Ryuden – Ryuden’s false start / matta likely blew his concentration, and Takanoiwa applied an expertly timed slap down for the win.

Yoshikaze defeats Tochiozan – A brief struggle for grip or inside position at the tachiai quickly evolved to Yoshikaze bracketing Tochiozan and motoring ahead in 2nd gear. A monoii reviewed the final moments, but Yoshikaze got a much needed 5th win to keep kachi-koshi hopes alive.

Nishikigi defeats Myogiryu – I dare say that after his string of strong wins, Myogiryu’s loss to Nishikigi may come as something of a surprise. But Nishikigi was able to contain Myogiryu, and progressively work his position into a win. Nishikigi is holding up to his tour through the upper ranks much better than I could have hoped.

Takakeisho defeats Hokutofuji – An uneven tachiai that might have been a matta, or just Hokutofuji missing the launch, but the goyji did not call it and the fight was on. Hokutofuji had no chance to set up either offense or defense in any real sense, and Takakeisho completely blasted him up and back.

Tamawashi defeats Kaisei – Tamawashi had to put in a lot of effort, as there is just a tremendous amount of Kaisei to move. Tamawashi’s normal bash-bash-push approach was rendered, but yielded little forward motion, as Kaisei for a moment reminded me of Andre the Giant in “The Princess Bride”, looking at Wesley mid battle, and saying “I want you to feel like you are doing well…”

Shodai defeats Mitakeumi – I kid a lot about Shodai, but his effort at Kyushu has been noteworthy. Today against the one time Ozeki hopefully once again illustrates that if he can survive the tachiai, Shodai has solid fundamentals, and acres of strength. Mitakeumi is in dire need of 3 more wins in the next 5 days.

Tochinoshin defeats Ichinojo – and the Tochinoshin fans breath a well-earned sigh of relief. Ichinojo consents to allow the Ozeki an attempt at a lift and shift, and Tochinoshin is all to happy to oblige.

Takayasu defeats Chiyotairyu – A solid yotzu battle from two enormous, burly rikishi. This is not Chiyotairyu’s strong sumo, but he put up a good battle. Takayasu prevailed for his kachi-koshi, and remains in the yusho hunt group.