We’ve got a great day of action here for you to close out the first Act of the Kyushu basho. Unfortunately, several fan favorites are still searching for their first win. Lots of surprises in store. Let’s not dally and just get to the action.
Selected Juryo Bouts
Daiamami defeated Enho: Oshitaoshi. Daiamami seemed to be the nervous one coming into this bout but he played Enho perfectly. He kept the spritely lad at arms length and expertly shut off access to the dohyo. It’s surprising to think that someone could be “cornered” in a circular dohyo but that’s exactly what Daiamami was able to achieve. With nowhere for Enho to go, Daiamami gave a simple shove to send Enho sprawling backwards. Both men are 3-2.
Daishoho defeated Kinbozan: Uwatenage. Kinbozan semms hurt bad enough to need to go kyujo. He was unable to press forward with his left leg and unable to use his left arm. After the tachiai, he latched on with his right and kind of hung, limply on Daishoho for support. Daishoho simply used his leverage, twisted, and threw Kinbozan…who then finally used that left hand to touch the dirt and keep himself from falling. Both men are 2-3.
Chiyonokuni defeated Tochimusashi: Tsukidashi. Chiyonokuni hit Tochimusashi so hard at the tachiai, both men were almost knocked off their feet. While Tochimusashi was still trying to figure out which city he was in, Chiyonokuni recovered his senses first and flew back across the dohyo into his opponent, blasting him over the tawara. Chiyonokuni
Akua defeated Churanoumi: Oshidashi. Akua was dominant at the tachiai. He quickly, and forcefully, shoved out Churanoumi who had no time to counter, much less mount an offense. Akua looks determined and improves to 5-0.
Atamifuji (3-2) defeated Kagayaki (2-3): Hatakikomi. Kagayaki bloodied Atamifuji, leading with that head at the tachiai. Atamifuji seemed stunned, trying to stay upright while Kagayaki methodically drove forward, cutting off escape routes, forcing Atamifuji backward to the tawara. At the tawara, though, Atamifuji brought down the hammer and Kagayaki fell to the dirt. Both men started the day at 2-2 but Atamifuji improved to 3-2 while nursing his bloody nose. Kagayaki fell to 2-3.
Tsurugisho (5-0) defeated Azumaryu (2-3): Yorikiri. I don’t understand the weak harite at the tachiai. I’ve seen Hakuho do it, sometimes, too. It’s like a reminder that, “I could have slapped you but I just wanted to check if you shaved this morning.” Tsurugisho served up one of these touchy-feely “harite” while Azumaryu focused on locking in on his opponent’s belt. Once Tsurugisho got the morozashi, it was curtains for Azumaryu.
Ichiyamamoto(4-1) defeated Hiradoumi (3-2): Hatakikomi. Well executed Abi-zumo here from Ichiyamamoto. Repeated tsuppari, those strong forceful thrusts to keep Hiradoumi upright and off the belt. As Hiradoumi tried to advance through the torrent of slaps, Ichiyamamoto shifted and Hiradoumi’s momentum carried him over the bales.
Okinoumi (2-3) defeated Terutsuyoshi (0-5): Kainahineri. “Nokotta, Nokotta!” Okinoumi and Terutsuyoshi engaged at the tachiai and locked in together with Okinoumi twisted to his left and Terutsuyoshi to his right. Okinoumi was the aggressor, driving Terutsuyoshi around the ring and eventually back to the tawara but he couldn’t quite finish him. Then, it was like a light-switch and Okinoumi snapped and shifted the other way, rolling Terutsuyoshi over. Okinoumi picked up his second win while Terutsuyoshi is winless. These Isegahama boys are hurting.
Oho (4-1) defeated Kotoeko (3-2): Tsukiotoshi. Kotoeko had one plan, launch into Oho’s face and shoulders with everything you’ve got. Oho seemingly just tried to survive. As the pair moved across the ring, Oho just tried his best to stay in, a couple of times almost stepping out. Kotoeko tired, though, and suddenly wrapped Oho up for a grapple. That was a mistake because Oho then flung the smaller man from the fighting surface by his lavender mawashi.
Onosho (4-1) defeated Chiyotairyu (1-4): Oshidashi. Chiyotairyu got his elbow up into Onosho’s face and tried to mount an attack with his right hand but Onosho simply pushed forward and easily walked Chiyotairyu out.
Aoiyama (2-3) defeated Kotoshoho (3-2): Hatakikomi. Aoiyama sumo was greater than Kotoshoho sumo. It was as simple as that. Kotoshoho tried to push Aoiyama out but Aoiyama just kind of walked around the tawara, slapping Kotoshoho back and occasionally going for a pull. The final pull worked. Simple as that. Kotoshoho needed to be either much more powerful or he needed another tactic. I got the sense Aoiyama could have weathered the shoves all day.
Abi (4-1) defeated Takanosho (2-3): Hatakikomi. Not to be outdone by Ichiyamamoto or Aoiyama, Abi pulled and forced Takanosho down. Abi-zumo. Simple as that.
Chiyoshoma (2-3) defeated Tochinoshin (2-3): Okuridashi. No henka here. I’m a little surprised. Instead, we got a solid tachiai and both men locked up for a grapple. Chiyoshoma worked Tochinoshin to the edge, then suddenly Chiyoshoma tugged Tochinoshin to the left while he jumped back and got behind, pushing him out from the back.
Myogiryu (3-2) defeated Endo (1-4): Okuridashi. The Endo ATM coughed up another stack of envelopes today. Myogiryu brought his hands down hard on the back of Endo’s head at the tachiai. This almost brought Endo down but as he struggled to maintain his balance, Myogiryu just followed, letting Endo’s momentum carry him off the dohyo.
Ryuden (3-2) defeated Takarafuji (0-5): Okuridashi. Three Okuridashi in a row. Wow. Ryuden got up a strong headwind, blowing the Takarabune back to the tawara before a sudden shift of direction allowed Ryuden to get in behind and usher Takarafuji out. The ships in Isegahama harbor are starting to look as aged and banged up as Russia’s Black Sea fleet.
Nishikifuji (3-2) defeated Hokutofuji (2-3): Hatakikomi. Nishikifuji had enough of my naval references and wanted to get back to celebrating Hatakikomi Day. So he quickly yanked Hokutofuji down at the initial charge for a quick win.
Sadanoumi (3-2) defeated Nishikigi (2-3): Oshidashi. Well, that was power. Sadanoumi pressed forward perfectly into a pulling Nishikigi, forcing the latter to lose his balance and crash off the dohyo.
Kotonowaka (2-3) defeated Wakamotoharu (3-2): Oshitaoshi. Kotonowaka used his powerful left hand on Wakamotoharu’s right shoulder to quickly, and roughly spin the middle Onami brother to the floor.
Daieisho (3-2) defeated Kiribayama (3-2): Hatakikomi. A solid, forceful tachiai and an aggressive Kiribayama powerfully drove Daieisho back to the tawara. Just when Kiribayama thought he was going to win, Daieisho reminded him that it was Hatakikomi Day! Hurray!
Takayasu (4-1) defeated Tamawashi (1-4): Yorikiri. I was expecting a great oshi/tsuki battle here. What the hell? Both men locked each other up by the mawashi after a bruising initial clash. Takayasu was clearly more comfortable with this arrangement, quickly driving Tamawashi back and off the dohyo.
Wakatakakage (3-2) defeated Ura (0-5): Oshidashi. Ura tried power sumo as he was matched up with someone relatively close in size. He needed to do something new, having never beaten Wakatakakage. At the edge, Ura brought his hand down and went for a pull. However, Wakatakakage was prepared and maintained his balance as he drove forward into the retreating Ura. Both men flew across the dohyo, tumbling to the other side. Mono-ii. Video replay confirmed that Ura’s foot touched out first and he’s still searching for that first win against Wakatakakage.
Mitakeumi (4-1) defeated Tobizaru (3-2): Tsukiotoshi. You’ve got to see this one. My words would fail to do this bout justice. I saw today from Mitakeumi what I wanted to see from Shodai. WILL. Back against the wall, facing a tough loss, he was determined to win. At that final moment, he twisted and shoved Tobizaru down to the floor.
Frankly, I was shocked to see Tobizaru locked up, toe-to-toe with Mitakeumi. I mean, this was a bout where I was really impressed with both men. I never would have thought I’d see Tobizaru take on a guy like Mitakeumi on the belt. If he keeps this up, he’ll beat Wakatakakage to Ozeki.
Hoshoryu (4-1) defeated Midorifuji (2-3): Kawazugake. Hoshoryu locked up Midorifuji. As Midorifuji tried to get a better belt grip, Hoshoryu expertly brought his foot around and forced both men back. Well, frankly, that’s a kimarite you just have to see for yourself.
Meisei (2-3) defeated Shodai (2-3): Yorikiri. Meisei showed all of the aggression and power here. The only thing Shodai seemed concerned with was making sure he didn’t land on one of the fans as he tumbled off the dohyo. I would struggle to point out what offense Shodai attempted in this bout and yet you still get the sense that he was the more powerful of the two on the dohyo. That if he’d given an ounce of effort, Meisei would have been toast. Tobizaru will make for a more capable Ozeki one day.
Takakeisho (3-2) defeated Ichinojo (2-3): Oshidashi. Ichinojo’s a little too eager, jumps early. But it’s Takakeisho with the side-step…almost a henka there from the Ozeki? Then, as he pushed forward, he was doing almost more with his legs than with his arms. We didn’t really see wave action and I felt I was seeing more gabburi hip action there. Interesting.
The long title of this post is Some Juryo Hot Takes That Will Almost Certainly Be Proven Wrong, but that’s not good for formatting, and you get the point anyway.
Sumo Prime Time (in which Hiro Morita is rapidly achieving Cult Icon status of late) has recently done a Juryo spotlight which is worth checking out. It got me thinking about the state of the division at present, if it’s exciting and what makes it exciting.
I concluded that it is exciting and the reason for this is that we actually are seeing the realisation of what should be the next wave of makuuchi mainstays. Juryo has not been very good for the past several years. Lots of old guys have either retired or stopped clogging up the promotion lanes, and as a result we’ve seen an infusion of new, young talent.
I can’t write 6000 more words like I did for makuuchi after the last tournament [edited to add: apparently I can do 2300 though], so please don’t blame me for not writing absolutely comprehensive scouting reports about everyone’s sumo style. With some time you can find that on the web, there are lots of good sumo resources and hopefully we will be able to contribute some in-depth articles as well. But hopefully this can help some folks at least identify some names to watch.
As the name implies, he’s the first sekitori developed by former Ozeki Goeido. If this makes you feel old then you may not enjoy the next year as several of Goeido’s contemporaries will be bringing up their new stars as well. Gonoyama is a former Sandanme tsukedashi (accelerated start in sumo’s fourth tier for a formerly accomplished collegiate star), who picked up a yusho in Makushita and he’s hit the wall a bit in his first two Juryo tournaments. At 24 he needs a strong basho.
The David Benjamin sumo book starts with a detailing of how newcomers to the sport might give rikishi a silly nickname. Sushi Man is a 29 year oldjourneyman from Kyushu making his sekitori debut at his home basho, who had come close on several occasions previously before being scuppered by performance or injury. This is the achievement for the Sakaigawa-beya man. The rest from here will be the icing on the cake.
Before the pandemic, I sat down with Murray Johnson and he identified Roga as a lower division one to watch. Murray might well be right, and time is on the 23 year old’s side, but the Russian has made an awfully plodding run through Makushita (19 basho!) to get to his Juryo debut. He’s also the first sekitori produced by Futagoyama oyakata, former Ozeki Miyabiyama.
The 26 year old enters his fifth Juryo tournament and hasn’t been entirely convincing. He’s been slightly better than average over the last several years and looks like he may be stuck in Juryo for a while, if he doesn’t drop out. He’s the first sekitori produced by the new Hanaregoma beya (former Sekiwake Tamanoshima), but in reality is a product of the former Nishonoseki beya and took his shikona later in his career in deference to the old shisho, former Ozeki Wakashimazu.
Continuing the theme, here’s another first, the first sekitori produced by the new Naruto beya, led by former Ozeki Kotooshu. We’ve talked quite a bit about the heya’s comprehensive recruitment and lower division performance on this site but the Mongolian 25 year old is the first to make the breakthrough earlier this year, helped in no small detail by his Makushita tsukedashi debut placement (for the top collegiate champions). His May Makushita yusho (where he knocked off some very notable names) is looking more like an outlier at the moment, so hopefully he can properly bed into the division and find his feet. The expectation on a Makushita tsukedashi is that they will turn into a top division star, with names like Mitakeumi, Ichinojo and Endo achieving titles and notoriety, although in rare cares that doesn’t happen (Mitoryu, Daiamami).
Not going to spend a lot of time here: the storybook champ is on the downswing of an unlikely end of career run. The blue jacket beckons for the man who made Nara proud.
The former Takanohana product is on his third Juryo stint, with only 1 winning record in his first six tournaments at the level before Aki’s 9-6. In the absence of an overpowering skill it may be a struggle to project the 26 year old as a makuuchi talent, especially with a tough crowd of prospects to fight through at the moment.
Injuries and scouting reports have zapped the talented pixie of his mobility and unpredictability, but he is still able to be a chaos agent and others have shown there is still plenty of mileage in that approach, even in the top division. I hope he makes it back. He’s been largely a .500 rikishi over the last year, and while the new Miyagino oyakata (the legendary Hakuho) has been lauded for his recruitment, his coaching of Enho – who at 28 should be in his career prime – will be an intriguing watch.
The first sekitori product of Asakayama oyakata, former Ozeki Kaio, he’s one of those guys that seems to have been around in sumo for absolutely ages. He had a laboured route to the salaried ranks, but despite mixed results (4 kachi-koshi from 10), the eye test does tell me he’s someone who could go a bit further than his Juryo 2 peak, and I feel like his belt work is projectable.
The 32 year old made his debut nearly 14 years ago and now reaches his career high rank in his third Juryo basho, having successfully fought(by slim margins) in his first two. He’s on a wonderful 7 basho kachi-koshi run but is almost certainly due for a course correction sooner or later. It would be very surprising to see him continue his run into the top division.
It’s been three years since the 28 year old last reached the top division, but he’s carved out a decent run for himself in the second tier. The Mongolian’s results have looked like a slightly less successful Azumaryu (albeit, he does have one top division winning basho), as he’s loitered mostly in the division’s bottom half since that top division spell. We shouldn’t expect too much more from the yotsu-zumo enthusiast.
The rare former Makushita tsukedashi man that just doesn’t make the grade, Daiamami’s awkward oshi-zumo style has translated largely to good results in Juryo, but only 2 kachikoshi in 11 top division basho tells us he’s what baseball scouts would call a “AAAA” player – too good for the minors top AAA level, but not quite strong enough to hang in the majors. At 29 he’ll probably return to makuuchi a couple more times for the odd basho.
The Arashio-beya vet has been a real success story for the new oyakata, finally making the breakthrough to Juryo in 2021 after years of near misses, and then making short work of the division en route to his makuuchi debut. But since getting absolutely leathered at Natsu where his pushing-thrusting style lacked power, he’s found the second division a bit tougher on the second go.
It’s awful to say, but Shimanoumi has looked absolutely wretched and listless on the dohyo since his wedding earlier in the year. Hopefully it’s a coincidence. Assuming he doesn’t free fall right out of Juryo this time, he’ll reach 30 sekitori tournaments in January and become eligible to eventually take up the name he (allegedly) picked up the rights to upon marrying the daughter of the sadly deceased former Izutsu. He’s meant to be one of sumo’s nice guys, so hopefully he can turn it around.
Sumo’s lone Kazakh debuted a year ago as Sandanme tsukedashi and has rattled off six consecutive dominant performances including a pair of yusho. Entering Juryo at Aki, he posted double digit wins cementing his place in the prolific Kimura Sehei production line. Unlike many of his stablemates however, putting technique and experience aside he’ll be hoping to make Kyushu his second and final Juryo basho en route to a 2023 that could take him up to the san’yaku ranks at his current rate of progress.
The top recruit formerly known as Kanno has blitzed his way from his Sandanme tsukedashi entrance to the middle of Juryo with just one make-koshi in ten appearances, and a very timely first yusho in his Aki debut in Juryo. He should easily chart the course to Makuuchi by early next year. And there are reasons why he draws comparisons to his stablemate Aoiyama…
Tipped for big, big things for a long, long time, his star has dimmed a bit after experiencing a fairly indifferent couple years in Makushita. At 190cm he’s a tall drink of water and, although there are other talents in the heya, he may eventually represent one of 60 year old riji-cho Hakkaku’s last products to challenge in the top division.
Derailed by injury and covid kyujo, the enormous Hokuseiho (21 years old as of basho-time) will look to continue his impressive development. Questions still remain about his ultimate ceiling: he has the physicality and apparently the determination to reach the top, but his sumo is a bit slow and lumbering. Still, with a career record of 74-21 heading into his third Juryo tournament, it’s hard not to dream on him.
Riddled by injury and with all of his former epic brawling opponents having ridden off into the sunset, it’s tough to see a path forward for the 32 year old energetic street fighter. He may well make his way back to Makuuchi for the odd appearance as he is still competitive at this level, but even being only 18 months removed from the joi-jin, it seems his best days are behind him.
I never thought he’d make it to makuuchi, so I think it’s a great credit that he’s been able to hang tough and carve out a solid career in the second tier. Now 32, I think the realistic goal is to make it to the middle of 2024 in the salaried ranks to try and qualify for elder status.
While it feels fairly shocking to see him ranked here, such have been the disappointing results from the former top prospect that it’s hard to make a case that he belongs even at the back end of the top division right now. While it’s easy to argue he might benefit from a couple confidence boosting 9-6s to keep expectations in check, that’s more or less what’s happened on his last few Juryo demotions. He may be playing yo-yo for the next couple years, but at 29 and with 26 sekitori basho under his belt, he at least looks a lock to secure the 30 basho required to qualify for a kabu.
While his brother is getting all the plaudits right now, 33 year old Hidenoumi continues to solidly motor along. Demoted due to suspension, he was making a decent go of it in makuuchi and probably belongs somewhere at the bottom division at the moment. Although, with the wave of new talent pushing upwards, his comfortability slugging it out in Juryo bodes well for the final stage of his career.
The former Makushita tsukedashi took forever and a day (27 basho) to make it out of Juryo and his debut Makuuchi performance was… not good. Overpowered and short of mobility, he was sent packing with double-digit losses. At 28, the Mongolian is looking like another for whom Azumaryu’s career (lots of Juryo time with the odd Makuuchi make-koshi thrown in) looks like a reasonable ambition.
Another Juryo lifer who benefitted massively from the reduction in top division quality, Tsurugisho has been pretty OK at doing a whole lot of things on the dohyo and not particularly incredible at any one. The jack of all trades dropped down for this latest spell after a pair of 5 win tournaments and may yet yo-yo some more, but he surely reached his ultimate ceiling 3 years ago.
Former Ozeki Musoyama’s starlet performed admirably in his first year in Juryo after spending an eternity (six whole years) in the third tier. This year though, he’s hit a bit of a wall. He’s been in promotion range several times before and not been able to get the job done, but after the basho he’ll be 27 and should be firmly arriving soon into the peak of his powers.
Churanoumi reaches his career high-to-date at Kyushu, and it’s not been a straightforward ride for him to navigate the penultimate division. He’s has several promotions and demotions back to Makushita, and while his current span in the salaried ranks has only been disrupted for a single basho since the start of 2020, he’s spent very little time in the top reaches of the division or fighting against the occasional top division opponent. This basho, then, is a real test for a guy who somewhat notably once defeated the likes of Kiribayama and Oho in title-clinching bouts in the lower divisions.
This lovable character has made a career out of jostling at the top end of Juryo and lower end of Makuuchi and will go again as he enters his 10th year as a sekitori. He is what he is.
I often lament the lack of creativity in shikona assembly, and while the characters in play for Tohakuryu are fairly common, the order and reading is a little less so. I enjoy that. He’s yet another former Sandanme tsukedashi who made more or less quick work of the lower divisions (with one blip). But he’s not the biggest, and his run through Juryo has been plodding, steady if unspectacular. Here he arrives at his career high rank, in his prime at 26, at the position from which a kachi-koshi will certainly deliver him a promotion. However, should it be tight going into the second week, he’ll find many of these aforementioned talents breathing right down his neck…
Here’s something I wanted to do for a long time, a rundown of all 42 makuuchi rikishi and how they performed in this tournament. Then I did it and realised that unlike doing a recap where there are usually 20 things to talk about, I had to have twice as many things to talk about, and it was going to take forever. Those of you who have been following the site for a while now will you know that while you may not hear from me often, usually when you do you get quite a lot of content, and this promises to be no exception…
M17W Ichiyamamoto (8-7)
Junior Abi had an up and down tournament, and seems like he might be someone who rides the elevator for a while. In a more competitive division he’d probably be more of a Juryo mainstay, but in the current climate we can probably revise his ceiling to someone who bounces around before settling into a low Maegashira role, maybe running into the joi-jin once or twice in his career (kind of like a Chiyomaru). This tournament for me reflected that any growth from Ichiyamamoto in the future, will, at 28, likely be down more to exposure to top division action than any real talent development. Perhaps it’s a puzzle for his new shisho.
M17E Kagayaki (7-8)
He should be entering his prime, but it seems like the 27 year old is instead on a (very slow) downward spiral. His return to the top division only came courtesy of a fusen-sho, and having dropped two bouts to Juryo opponents in this tournament, it’s likely that he’s heading back to the second division. We always rave here about his fundamentals, but too often in this tournament as in recent history, he simply failed to show up. As he already qualifies for elder stock, it’s worth wondering whether he could actually be someone to take early retirement in a few years.
M16W Kotokuzan (7-8)
Even before this tournament, I had planned to write a piece about Arashio beya and I still plan to do that, and it’s a shame that the heya’s latest top division debutant was not able to score his kachi-koshi on day 15. I felt he gave a good account of himself in week 1 before the week 2 fade, but maybe the buoyant mood around the place will lead to some intense training. Still, it’s worth bearing in mind that he was languishing around the top of makushita for ages and his rise in the past year has been very fast, and I think what we’ve seen in this tournament is just a lack of high level experience catching up with him a bit. HIs oshi-zumo was fairly unspectacular, but it wouldn’t be a surprise for me to see a kachi-koshi next time especially from M17 if he sticks around. I think we need to see probably two more tournaments to understand what we can expect from him at this level.
M16E Nishikigi (9-6)
Very impressive return for Nishikigi, who hadn’t scored a kachi-koshi in the top division for what seemed like donkey’s years. After his 3-0 start I was convinced he would be the guy from the lower half of maegashira ranks to hang around the yusho race before getting absolutely pumped in week 2, but as it happened, he just settled into a consistent and competitive top division return. At 31, he’s at or around what will be his peak performance level, rank-wise.
M15W Tochinoshin (9-6)
The end of Tochinoshin has been postponed, and although he faded badly in the last 4 days to be denied a double digit winning record, these are the kinds of tournaments that can add 4-6 more months onto a veteran’s career, being that it might take him 2 more make-koshi to end up at M15W again, dependent on banzuke luck. One thing I noted from his performance this tournament was that it felt like there was an increasing desperation from the big man to land the left hand outside grip. This has always been his calling card, but it seems like these days he feels that’s the only option he has to win a match.
M15E Akua (4-11)
He’s an intriguing rikishi of a few curious techniques, but ultimately I’ve always found him a bit wanting at this level. He’ll be back down in Juryo, and after a pair of 11 loss tournaments it’ll be intriguing to see how he regroups or if he continues to free fall. Clearly he underperformed but even with a 4-11 there’s an argument to be made he didn’t underperform as much as…
M14W Yutakayama (7-8)
Yutakayama really should be hitting kachi-koshi at this level, and I know he took it to the death, but in the end you have to make it happen. Physically and talent-wise, he has all of the tools to be ranked consistently about 10 spots higher, but fitness and possibly mental reasons continue to keep him ranked quite low. He’s had a winning record in 8 of 23 top division tournaments, and it’s just not good enough for someone of his ability. He’s another who may well end up in a one-off appearance in the joi again some day, but I think it’s clear now with performances like this at this rank that his current career high rank will likely always be his career high rank and until he manages to find some consistency and power in his oshi-zumo game, he’ll struggle just to stay in the division.
M14E Kotoshoho (9-6)
This was a really good tournament for the youngster after a year (!!) out of the top division. I’d give it a solid B+, as he needed to consolidate his spot after regaining promotion after Hatsu. He’s become noticeably more comfortable on the mawashi. Despite being overtaken by his stablemate Kotonowaka, he has always been someone with the tools to make it at a high level, and at only 22 I still think that he can at least achieve Sekiwake in his career. Hopefully this basho can be the platform from which he can at least spend the next year consolidating his position in the upper half of the division.
M13W Chiyonokuni (5-6-4)
It’s an incomplete, as Chiyonokuni channeled peak hospital ward-era Ikioi with his countless bandages. I give him credit for coming back and trying to at least pick up the few wins that it might take to stay in the division – he got one which may or may not be good enough (lksumo says no). He displayed good enough sumo for the level when he was on, but he just physically wasn’t able to compete.
M13E Chiyomaru (5-10)
He started ok but lost 6 of the last 7, with the only win being against hapless Meisei, and there’s just no defence for that kind of performance at this rank. Sumo doesn’t work like this, but the argument could be made he deserves to be sent down in Chiyonokuni’s place (they both could, but of course if anyone will be spared it will be Maru on account of the half rank advantage). He’s put together a fine career riding the Juryo/Makuuchi elevator and using the limited tools at his disposal to put together a long career (over 50 basho now across the top two divisions). But I do think that his continued presence in Makuuchi despite not adding much is probably a symptom of the perceived slide in quality of the top tier.
M12W Chiyotairyu (7-8)
In May he’ll reach his 60th basho as a sekitori, a full 10 years at the salaried levels. It’s a remarkable achievement, and he continues to flummox fans and foes with his unbelievable inconsistency, sometimes perfectly executing his blast em out or pull em down strategy and sometimes being caught so wildly out of control that he “ole”s into the crowd or pushed down on his backside. He’s 33 now and we’ve seen for the last few years that the lower maegashira ranks are his level in this late phase of his career, so you can probably say this performance was about a C. Whether he’s 7-8 or 8-7 now it doesn’t really matter, he entertains and the performances are just about fine.
M12E Kotoeko (9-6)
Kotoeko always has such tenacity and I wouldn’t call this a breakout basho, but he did at least show a renewed ability to put opponents away. In previous tournaments he has often taken the upper hand against his opponent from the tachiai, but failed to actually find the technique to despatch them. This time he largely beat up on those ranked beneath him, dropping only 3 of his matches to lower ranked opponents. You don’t expect him to compete with Endo or Kiribayama on ability but for him to put away guys ranked M13-17 is what he needed to do, and by and large, he did.
M11W Terutsuyoshi (8-7)
While we all love to dream on the little guys, the harsh reality is that this score is a complete victory for a rikishi who’d been without kachi-koshi since last summer. What we can say about Terutsuyoshi’s performance is that he showed an awful lot of fighting spirit. While the sansho “fighting spirit prize” is almost awarded to a rikishi with a much more robust score, Terutsuyoshi reminds me more of the meaning of the term, and this part of the banzuke looks set to be his home.
M11E Myogiryu (7-8)
Look, there’s not much between his score and the man on the west side, and this also would have been a decent result for Terutsuyoshi all things considered, but the truth is that by and large, Myogiryu has been a mess since his improbable yusho challenge four tournaments ago. Partly it’s injury, but father time may also have zapped his energy, as the veteran looked lethargic in many Haru bouts.
M10W Aoiyama (7-8)
Contextually, this is a disappointing result for Big Dan. When you open with two wins against the guys ranked just in front of you, you have a bit of a stacked deck with a majority of your matches to come against lower rankers. But the newly Japanese-Bulgarian went on a 1-6 run that reversed his odds, and he looks set to cede the heyagashira role at Kasugano beya back to Tochinoshin. He still has his days, but more often than not he looks like he’s playing out the string and benefitting from a weak division. Some may say I’m being a little harsh and that he was unfortunate to be paired up with a Maegashira 1 for his “Darwin” match, but the reality is that if he had put away M16 Nishikigi, it would never have come to that. I think we’ve probably seen the last of him in the joi.
M10E Shimanoumi (8-7)
He’s a weird case and continues to confound me. He’s inconsistent, and may just be an average middle of the pack guy, which is a reasonable ceiling having arrived late to the top division and already approaching 33 years of age. The eye test tells me that he’s someone who really needs to be dialled into his technique on a given day, which is odd because he doesn’t have the appearance of a technical rikishi to me in the slightest. Still, decent result.
M9W Wakamotoharu (9-6)
His brother will take all the plaudits, of course he will, but this was another really solid tournament and you can see how the Onami brothers’ fundamentals just continue to improve. I think there will be an inevitable setback and adjustment when he reaches the joi but for the meantime he’s performed very admirably, and the real question is why the third brother, Wakatakamoto, continues to fail to challenge to reach Juryo in a stable that is really surging under the guidance of the former Sokokurai. I think Wakamotoharu won’t have nearly the ceiling of Wakatakakage, but it wouldn’t surprise me for him to eventually reach san’yaku once he adjusts to the top end of the division, even if just for a brief stint.
M9E Tobizaru (9-6)
I bracket this achievement alongside Terutsuyoshi’s kachi-koshi. Tobizaru just continues to give us thrilling sumo. It’s worth remembering he languished in Juryo for 2 1/2 years while we were marvelling at the rise of Enho, but the consistency of Tobizaru to entertain and keep himself in the mix and continue to find himself pitted against higher pedigree opponents – and win – is a real credit. His final flourish here to win 5 of 6 and make it look ultimately comfortable was positively Hokotofujian.
M8W Sadanoumi (5-10)
Here’s a guy who never seems to be anywhere near a good score and yet this was actually his first make-koshi since last May. No disrespect at all to the soon to be 35 year old, but the quality that has been lacking in Sadanoumi’s sumo to me is reflective of the division’s downturn. We’re seeing at best Juryo level sumo from a Maegashira 8 in the middle of the rank and file. I have nothing against him and he may well go on to be a good coach. The fact that two of his wins came against up-and-comers like Kotoshoho and Wakamotoharu, and not losing to anyone whose star could be considered to be on the rise (apart from, charitably, Takayasu again), means that sumo is just not ready to dispense with mediocrity and move to a new era.
M8E Chiyoshoma (5-10)
The Mongolian’s finish in this basho was horrendous. As with Aoiyama, he picked up a couple really nice wins against fumbling veterans to start the basho, but then was just completely overwhelmed for much of the tournament. We also didn’t see much in the flying henka department this time out, and maybe that explains a 1-2 win deficit from where we’d expect him to be. His future home is probably in the bottom half of the division though, and that’s where we’ll see him in Tokyo.
M7W Okinoumi (5-10)
He’s 36 and the interesting thing is, he’s really the example of someone who can keep themselves going for a year off the back of just one or two kachi-koshi. After another double digit loss basho he’ll be right back around where he started the May basho a year ago (M12). In some ways you’d say it was a shocking tournament in that he started the first week looking like anyone could beat him (except Sad Sadanoumi apparently), and the Day 9 make-koshi released some kind of inner gambarism that took him up to an almost respectable final scoreline after a handful of matches preying on losers.
M7E Takayasu (12-3)
I’ve been dreading writing this, so it’s a good job I’ve already catalogued his previous history of misses. While some of those were tragic, this felt different. While the veteran conspired to throw away 3 of his final 5 regulation matches to bring others back into the title race, and 3 in a row counting the playoff after his spectacular final weekend collapse, this wasn’t like those previous blowups. Takayasu in week one was the picture of calm, perfect through ten days and cruising. Like last year’s invitation for Terunofuji to jumpstart his sensational promotion run, he threw this away by losing composure at key moments in the final week. But this time, going into the final day, it remained in his own hands even into a playoff after his rivals also lost. And the look of how desperate he was for his yusho was all over his face and visible into the first throes of the playoff match itself – rarely have I seen Takayasu hit an opponent harder or with more intensity. But it ended the way that one felt it was destined to end. Still, he’ll get another bite at the big time as he will end his exile from the joi-jin, and get another chance to do it all over again. But how many chances will he ever have again like this?
M6W Kotonowaka (11-4)
Also dropping 3 of the last 5, this was still an inspired tournament from the youngster, who stayed around the yusho race until the death. A final day win that would have banished Hoshoryu to the rank and file might have just opened a san’yaku spot for himself and added spice to the playoff, but instead he’ll make do from surely a new career high rank. He’s long been tipped as a future ozeki, and I think it’s the next tournament that will tell us more about his ability to challenge the top rankers after his previous stint in the joi was blighted by injury. He has a real physical presence and, from the lower ranks, has started to show that he’s learning how to use it. He’s been one win off the pace heading into senshuraku now of consecutive basho. I don’t think we can expect a yusho next time out on his first real run through the gauntlet, but he’s starting to show that he may have what it takes to revise what currently looks like a ceiling of Sekiwake up at least one notch.
M6E Hokutofuji (9-6)
9-6 isn’t a bad score, and Hokutofuji always seems to finish strong, as he did again, winning 5 of the last 6, but this tournament feels extremely underwhelming by his standards. For several years now he’s been a fixture at the top end of the division and this rank felt way below his level, and so seeing him drop early matches without much punch (although admittedly two of those first four losses were to yusho candidates) was a real surprise. I expected a double digit score here. Many years ago, I thought he had ozeki written all over him, as if he could be this generation’s Chiyotaikai, but he’s just never really had consistency since Ryuden cleaned his clock a few years back. He seems like a real confidence rikishi who’s destined to be streaky, as his performance in Haru again showed.
M5W Ishiura (2-7-6)
I know the prevailing thought (certainly said by no less an authority than our friend Kintamayama himself!) is that Ishiura should have just stayed put at 1 win and kyujo, but I think we have to put these things in some perspective. If he’s 22, then sure, he has his whole career in front of him. Ishiura is 32, and the one extra win he picked up may likely be the difference between staying in makuuchi (almost certainly will with two wins) and not (demotable with 1). Some people may say, you still collect a salary in Juryo, and it’s true, but he’s someone with a family, at the back end of his career and who will presumably want to stay salaried as long as possible, and that means trying to do whatever you can to get back on the dohyo and find an extra couple of wins. So I don’t begrudge him that, but I was sad not to get more from him at a career high rank, because – even taking the injury into account – he looked pretty awful in the 8 matches we did get.
M5E Takarafuji (6-9)
Takarafuji turned 35 before the basho, and he’s another who ends up with a creditable enough score despite the eye test telling us he was just missing his mojo. Nothing different about his sumo, he just didn’t have enough power to defend and then extend. Natsu may tell us whether this was a one-off, or the sign of a decline.
M4W Endo (8-7)
Par for the course: all kinds of wacky technical hijinks, maddening inconsistency, a smattering of kimarite and a whole lot of fun. Endo, now that we’ve given up the hope of him becoming some great star, has really turned into a bit of a treat these days, win or lose.
M4E Kiribayama (10-5)
I’ve been high on him for a while, and make no mistake, this is a good result having had to fight everyone of note apart from Takayasu and the absent Terunofuji. Most impressively, he beat an awful lot of folks ranked higher than him, in what was his first double digit winning record since his debut in the top division over two years ago. Unlike others, given that he’s only 25 I do still think he has the ability to go on and reach Ozeki, but I don’t think it’s necessarily in the next 2 years. It would be good to see him get a kachi-koshi in the joi next time out and join the youth movement starting to apply upward pressure on the san’yaku veterans.
M3W Meisei (1-14)
A penny for Takanosho’s thoughts, having been the only one to suffer a loss to Meisei in what was a tournament to forget for the Tatsunami beya star. He will absolutely be back, but having finished the previous basho softly, the signs are worrying and can only be reversed by a return to fitness or opponents of lower quality. This score was so bad he’s guaranteed himself the latter next time out. Sometimes you’ll see a rikishi who throws everything at his matches and can’t buy a win, but there was nothing truly unlucky about this result. He just wasn’t there.
M3E Onosho (6-9)
Another disappointing basho for Onosho, who started okay enough and will continue to ride the elevator in and out of the joi. Not much to say that we don’t already know: powerful thrusting when he’s on, too much forward lean and he’s down. He’s been in the top division nearly 5 years, but at only 25 he can still improve. On current form however he doesn’t look likely to best his career high Komusubi rank.
M2W Tamawashi (7-8)
I would give Tamawashi a B+ for this basho. He was in with a shot at his kachi-koshi until the last day, added to his kinboshi collection for the second straight basho, and continues to be sumo’s Ironman, despite carrying some worrying knocks to his midsection. He continues to be the definition of gambarising, showing up every day, built well and will keep hanging around the top dogs next time out at 37. He can’t be killed.
M2E Ichinojo (9-6)
This is a really good result for an Ichinojo who seems to have realised there’s really nothing but himself keeping him away from san’yaku these days. Entering the final weekend 9-4, he could have punched that ticket but coughed it up in two admittedly tricky matches firstly against his direct opposition Daieisho, and then against the wily Tobizaru in an entertaining final day bout. Sumo is better for him being on form, and injuries aside, it doesn’t look like the boulder is meaningfully moving soon.
M1W Ura (4-11)
One more win and we’d be saying this was actually a decent basho from Ura, punching well above his weight at his career high rank. If that seems like a surprise it’s because through the second weekend he was an unstoppable loss machine, starting 1-10. If you go through his matches, there just weren’t too many of the usual surprises and he was easily squared off, his mobility not really much of a factor. Still, he racked up 3 from 4 in the final days from mid-table underachievers and that should still keep him middle of the pack himself when we see him in Tokyo.
M1E Daieisho (8-7)
The margins are so fine and the standards have been set so high by the man himself, that losing any one of the final three days would have felt like a disaster. Daieisho started by knocking off the top Ozeki and taking another kinboshi from the Yokozuna, but it was a big downhill from there as he needed a huge effort over the final weekend to claim his winning record. He’s having trouble sticking in san’yaku these days, but at 28 and conceivably in his prime, it’s possible he still has room to cement his place.
KW Hoshoryu (8-7)
Here’s another situation where whether a guy is perceived to have a successful tournament or not comes down to one win, and I often think that’s a little unfair. Hoshoryu is improving slowly but surely, but truth be told this is more of a mental victory than anything else, as a 7-8 result that dropped him to M1 wouldn’t have been a bad tournament either. The impressive thing for me is seeing the mental resolve to come from behind with a losing score deep into the second week, and turning it around against some good quality opponents where other san’yaku debutants have faltered.
KE Takanosho (4-11)
Dreadful basho for Takanosho, who’s spent the last 18 months in and around the san’yaku ranks, holding his own at points. The big guns beat him up early but for him to fall to 11 losses without even facing the Yokozuna, and having the advantage of not having to face one of the Ozeki, is very poor. Like Meisei (to whom he granted the fellow ex-Sekiwake’s only victory), he just looked absolutely listless at points in the tournament, although hopefully he will take heart from beating up some easy prey in week 2.
SW Abi (8-7)
Another case of just one win, the final day victory, deciding the difference between a successful and unsuccessful tournament. Abi’s debut at the rank was yet more evidence of his ability to hold his own in the division’s upper echelons. He had a pretty brutal fade in the second week which was reminiscent of the old Mitakeumi, but put dirt on Takayasu on senshuraku in impressive fashion. The stakes will be raised next time, but having beaten everyone he was expected to and having held serve, you’d give his tournament a solid B+ or even A-.
SE Wakatakakage (12-3 Yusho) 🎉
Hard to imagine one’s debut at a new rank going better. The new star’s last three tournaments had hinted at a breakout, as he struggled against the top rankers from his position in the upper maegashira ranks in the first week, only to put it together comprehensively against rank and file opposition in week two (winning the last five matches, all against maegashira in each of the previous three basho). At the Sekiwake rank, he faced the rank and filers early and that momentum gave him the confidence to push on late in the basho, despite dropping a pair of the last three to Ozeki opponents. His two sensational victories over Takayasu ultimately opened the race and provided the silverware, but the entire body of work was remarkable, and reminiscent of the control and poise of a certain one of Takayasu’s former stablemates at their peak. Unlike that legend of the dohyo however, Wakatakakage’s maiden yusho came in his first title challenge, and just his 30th overall tournament – not a bad way to cap off a sensational rise over just 5 years in professional sumo.
O2W Mitakeumi (11-4)
Talking of debuts at a new rank, the man who’s been performing like an Ozeki for years finally is one, and having hung around the yusho race to the end, did exactly what was expected of him. I’d give his tournament an A-, because I felt like he got the results without really needing to get out of second gear, and coughed up a couple key bouts when it mattered. But all in all, he’ll be sumo’s second highest ranked rikishi in the next tournament, and that feels about right, because he’s probably sumo’s second best rikishi.
O1W Takakeisho (8-7)
After the opening week, I’m not sure anyone would have picked him as the Ozeki to finish with the worst overall score, but he cleared kadoban which was the most important thing. Still, 4 straight losses to finish against key opponents (in which I include Shodai, also fighting to clear kadoban) was a brutally disappointing way for the two-time champion to round out the basho. Much has been made of his endurance or lack of it, and he did lose some fiery bouts, so you can’t say he didn’t at least show up and give it his all. While questions will inevitably be asked about his fitness given that he’s been plagued by some frankly frightening looking injuries in the past, there’s also an open question about his ineffectiveness in bouts where opponents have looked to lengthen the match and deflect his attack. Has he simply just been figured out a bit? As Tochinoshin will attest, it’s easy to be a one trick Ozeki when your one trick is so good. And as Tochinoshin will attest, it’s very hard to be a one trick Ozeki when everyone knows the trick AND it’s not working at 100%.
O1E Shodai (9-6)
He just doesn’t make it easy, does he? After giving himself an 0-4 and then a 1-5 hole against not the toughest opposition he might face, one has to say it was a remarkable achievement by a rikishi not known for his mental toughness to pull himself out of an almighty jam with a thrilling winning streak into the second week. While he had a couple memorable wins, the icing on the cake for me will be the thrilling Day 14 win over Takayasu in which he literally threw the latter’s almighty collapse into full motion, removing the Ozeki himself from the danger zone.
Y Terunofuji (3-3-9)
It was pretty obvious that something wasn’t right with Terunofuji from the off, and someone with his health history who has to already very carefully manage his fitness will have potentially have been thrown a wrench by any covid-related complications. No one should be surprised that the Yokozuna is going to struggle from time to time to maintain his fitness, we knew this would come with the territory when we signed up for Yokozuna Terunofuji. But hopefully he can give us at least 4 fit basho a year while we scan the ranks for someone who might be able to be his rival and maintain the position for a bit longer. Fun fact: the five kinboshi he has conceded have come at the hands of only 3 rikishi, as Daieisho and Tamawashi each racked up their second gold star from the Yokozuna in this tournament.
It came down to a playoff. The playoff was tremendous sumo, possibly the best match of the year so far. The right man won. The loser was clearly heart broken, and I feel for him, but his sumo was fantastic this month, and he has another try in May.
Ichiyamamoto defeats Hidenoumi – Ichiyamamoto abandoned pushing and thrusting fairly early on, and went chest to chest with Hidenoumi. They then proceeded to try and pull on each other’s heads back and forth a few times before they decided that it was not going to work at all. Hidenoumi was unhappy with grip, went to change it up, and reduced his forward pressure, letting Ichiyamamoto run him out to the West. Both finish the day 8-7, with Ichiyamamoto reaching kachi-koshi on the final day.
Kagayaki defeats Terutsuyoshi – Kagayaki finished well, he shut down Terutsuyoshi’s opening moves, kept his pushing focused center mass, and quickly moved Terutsuyoshi out. He finishes 7-8, and I will leave it to lksumo to guess if he’s going to be on the Juryo barge back to Tokyo.
Myogiryu defeats Tochinoshin – A bit of a leap tp the left at the tachiai by Myogiryu had what was probably the desired effect – keep Tochinoshin away from Myogiryu’s mawashi. Tochinoshin eventually closes the gap, but insists on repeated pulling atttempts. Myogiryu tosses him back, then tosses him out to finish Haru 7-8.
Shimanoumi defeats Kotokuzan – The first Darwin match goes to Shimanoumi, but the offense was nearly all from Kotokuzan. But all it takes it the right moment, and Shimanoumi finds his opening, gets a body hold and moves Kotokuzan out. Shimanoumi kachi-koshi at 8-7, Kotokuzan 7-8 and make-koshi.
Wakamotoharu defeats Nishikigi – I love that Nishikigi decided to give Wakamotoharu an endurance check. They set up left hand inside at the tachiai, and there they stood, waiting the other out. Wakamotoharu whats the right hand outside grip, and eventually finds it, then gets to down to business. He moves Nishikigi to the edge of the ring and throws him down with an uwatenage. Both men finish with 9-6.
Kotoshoho defeats Chiyoshoma – Chiyoshoma hits first, but Kotoshoho gets his hands inside. Chiyoshoma could have made a fight of it, but was pulling Kotoshoho instead. Without an resistance to his forward motion, Kotoshoho made fast work of getting Chiyoshoma out. He finishes Haru 9-6.
Hokutofuji defeats Yutakayama – I liked this match because it’s been a while since we saw Hokutofuji’s lower body decide it was winning a match, no matter what. Outstanding offensive footwork form Hokutofuji, and I just have to wonder where is this sumo the other days of this basho. Yes, he smoked Mitakeumi on day 10 to knock him out of the yusho, but this should be his every-day sumo. Yutakayama takes his 8th loss, his third consecutive make-koshi.
Akua defeats Ishiura – Well, that was dumb. Not sure Ishiura wanted to even compete today. Go home and heal up. Akua improves to 4-11.
Takarafuji defeats Chiyonokuni – Also in the “no condition to fight” category, Chiyonokuni has little offensive power, and finds himself unable to move Takarafuji. Takarafuji takes control and drives Chiyonokuni from the ring to finish Haru 6-9.
Kiribayama defeats Kotoeko – Kotoeko still can’t find a formula to beat Kiribayama, it seems. He starts strong, but Kiribayama wraps him up, then gets him to all fours with what they labeled a kotenage. Kiribayama finishes Haru strong at 10-5.
Chiyotairyu defeats Meisei – At this point, Meisei is little more than a loss sponge. Meisei did manage one win, but maybe he should have gone for a spotless 0-15 instead. Chiyotairyu hit large at the tachiai, hit again to stand Meisei up, then pulled him down. Chiyotairyu’s final score: 7-8.
Onosho defeats Chiyomaru – Onosho locked on target center-mass at the tachiai, and all Chiyomaru could do was try to pull into his powerful advance. This sped up the process of sending Chiyomaru into the front row, giving Onosho has 6th win to finish Haru 6-9.
Endo defeats Tamawashi – Ah, time for the next Darwin match. Tamawashi opened strong, lost his footing, and that was all Endo needed. He kept Tamawashi off balance, and drove him around the ring before sending him past the waiting Okinoumi and into a conclave of brown-coats. Endo kachi-koshi at 8-7, Tamawashi make-koshi at 7-8.
Tobizaru defeats Ichinojo – Ichinojo stayed strong, patient and nearly immobile against Tobizaru’s high mobility antics. He had total dominance over Tobizaru, until he tried an arm lock throw, and Tobizaru used the weight shift to get him moving, then moved him out. Both end the day with worthy 9-6 records for March.
Ura defeats Okinoumi – Ura finds the inside lane ofter Okinoumi bats Ura’s head around a few times. Ura rushes forward, sending Okinoumi out, Ura finishes 4-11, and needs to regroup from a lower spot on the banzuke.
Daieisho defeats Aoiyama – Next Darwin match! Aoiyama got one partially effective thrust in, his chest was open and the inside route was Daieisho’s for the taking. Three steps later, Daieisho had Big Dan out, handing him a losing record for Haru, and taking home a 8-7 kachi-koshi.
Hoshoryu defeats Kotonowaka – Hoshoryu had a tall order to finish with a winning record, but he made it work. Kotonowaka opened well, but he gave Hoshoryu an opening, which Hoshoryu filled with a hearty shitatedashinage. This knocks Kotonowaka out of yusho contention, as Hoshoryu finishes 8-7.
Sadanoumi defeats Takanosho – Both men took a turn at dominating this match, with both having a left hand outside mawashi grip. Neither could find a way to finish the other. The match ended when Takanosho tried an off balance throw as Sadanoumi was backing away, and both men went out. A monoii took place to try to sort the mess out. Review showed that Takanosho hit first, and Sadanoumi picks up his 5th win of March to finish 5-10.
The final three, it’s time for Big Sumo
Abi defeats Takayasu – Abi opened strong, had full impact on Takayasu’s face and neck, and Takayasu could not hold his ground. Abi got him turned, and then pushed him out quickly from behind. Sad news for Takayasu fans as he picks up his 3rd loss, but Abi manages to put the finishing win into his kachi-koshi to end Haru 8-7. The yusho is Wakatakakage’s if he can beat Shodai.
Mitakeumi defeats Takakeisho – The Ozeki battle was quite anti-climatic. Takakeisho hits hard, Mitakeumi steps to the side, and Takakeisho hits the deck. Mitakeumi finishes Haru 11-4. Kind of a dud match.
Shodai defeats Wakatakakage – Wakatakakage opens strong, and has Shodai defensive. But Shodai summons the Wall of Daikon, and Wakatakakage’s offense crumbles as Shodai uses his big body to plow the dohyo clear of any trace of Wakatakakage. Shodai found his sumo at least, finishing 9-6 for Haru, and sending the yusho to a playoff.
Wakatakakage defeats Takayasu – Dear lord what a battle! Takayasu saved his sumo for this brawl to end it all, and he was attacking very well against Wakatakakage. I give Wakatakakage high marks for staying on his feet and staying in the match under Takayasu’s withering barrage. Too many times Wakatakakage tried to pull Takayasu, and points to Takayasu, he remained patient, worked to keep his balance centered, and did not advance too rapidly into the pull. His footwork was poor and his balance all over the place. Takayasu found Wakatakakage’s feet on the tawara, and gave him a mighty one arm shove to send him out. But a lingering Wakatakakage hold on Takayasu’s left wrist pulled him forward and down, hitting the clay a moment before Wakatakakage stepped out. Wakatakakage wins the Haru yusho in glorious style. Well done to both competitors.
This ends Tachiai’s daily coverage of the Haru basho. What a great tournament this has been. Thank you all for sharing your time with Team Tachiai, and stopping by to read our write ups. It’s been a lot of fun, and I look forward to sharing my love of sumo with all of you again soon.