Chiyonokuni and Takanosho Go Kyujo

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As expected, Chiyonokuni has gone kyujo following the knee injury he sustained during his Day 10 match with Ikioi.  He has been prescribed two weeks rest and treatment for left knee ligament damage. This is a very disappointing turn of events, as Chiyonokuni was having his best tournament since his fantastic 12-3 performance last May. However, with 8 wins Chiyonokuni has secured his position for the Haru Basho and won’t have to worry about how far he’ll drop down the rankings. Chiyonokuni’s Day 11 opponent Abi will pick up a fusen win.

Down in Juryo, Takanosho has bowed out of the Hatsu Basho for a second time due to a nagging knee injury he sustained on Day 2.

We at Tachiai hope Chiyonokuni and Takanosho make full recoveries.

Hatsu Leaderboard Day 11

Photo Courtesy of Sumo Soul

At the start of act 3, there has been little material change in the leaderboard, with the exception of Chiyonokuni picking up his second loss, and sustaining a knee injury at the end of his match with Ikioi. As Chiyonokuni is already kachi-koshi, we expect him to be kyujo for the remainder of Hatsu. That would leave Tamawashi 2 wins behind, and relegate the yusho question to if Hakuho will go 15-0 again.

On the topic of Hakuho, he reached his “Yokozuna kachi-koshi” on day 10, racking up his 10th win of the tournament, and his 28th consecutive win counting all tournaments. For a rikishi of 33 years, that is bordering on the unbelievable. Fans are still waiting for what could be this tournament’s ultimate test-match: Hakuho vs Takakeisho. We expect that to happen before Saturday, and may represent the best outlier chance of putting dirt on “The Boss”

Leader: Hakuho
Hunt Group: Chiyonokuni (kyujo?), Tamawashi

5 Matches Remain

Hatsu Day 10 Highlights

Kotoyuki Injured

It was a rough day in sumo, full of heartbreaking injuries. We saw Ura, Chiyonokuni and Kotoyuki all go down hard, and wheeled away with injured knees. For fans of sumo it can be tough to watch, but sumo is a combat sport, and people do, sadly, get hurt.

Highlight Matches

Kotoeko defeats Takagenji – Takagenji is up from Juryo for day 10, and picks up his 7th loss. This was a high intensity, high entertainment thrusting battle. Both men fought well, but Takagenji picked up his 7th loss.

Kagayaki defeats Daishomaru – Kagayaki reverts to his simple, basic sumo and wastes no time moving still winless Daishomaru (0-10) out of the ring.

Chiyoshoma defeats Meisei – Chiyoshoma attempted multiple times to pull and slap down Meisei, and one of them finally took. Not amazing sumo but Chiyoshoma needed the win.

Sadanoumi defeats Daiamami – Sadanoumi took to the mawashi immediately at the tachiai, and marched Daiamami out for his make-koshi.

Ikioi defeats Chiyonokuni – A straightforward match, with Chiyonokuni flailing away as normal, and Ikioi using his strength to drive forward. But Chiyonokuni collapses at the end, and is immobilized by pain, as his left knee sustains damage. Chiyonokuni needs help off of the dohyo, and is placed in a wheelchair, and taken for examination.

Takarafuji defeats Kotoyuki – As expected, Kotoyuki attempts to keep the battle focused on oshi while Takarafuji wants to go chest to chest. The match was a fantastic battle of styles, and it ended with Kotoyuki being turned around and boosted into the crowd with a firm shove from Takarafuji. This is usually not too big of an issue, as Kotoyuki loves to crowd surf. He lands face down next to Abi, and does not move. He is likewise hauled away in the wheelchair for medical examination.

Yutakayama defeats Abi – Pure thrusting battle, but when Abi goes down on one knee as he loses, fans gasp that perhaps a 3rd rikishi has injured themselves. Luckily, Abi seems to be ok, and Yutakayama picks up a much needed win.

Endo defeats Ryuden – Lengthy mawashi battle that saw Endo’s belt get loose with Ryuden’s hand on Endo’s mawashi knot, causing little old ladies across Japan to offer millions of hopeful prayers up at the same moment. Both men showed solid technique and fought with all they had. Excellent sumo.

Daieisho defeats Yago – Another wild thrusting battle that raged across every part of the dohyo, it seemed that Yago simply got tired at the end and Daieisho and grabbed a hold and walked him out. Yago may need to work on that stamina?

Asanoyama defeats Onosho – Onosho drops his 4th straight, and as I have been working to remind fans, Onosho is really aiming for a kachi-koshi at this rank. I am sure that given the surgical recuperation, he’s going flat out, and he dominated Asanoyama for most of the match, but Asanoyama caught him off balance and deftly applied a hatakikomi.

Aoiyama defeats Kaisei – It was over quickly, with Aoiyama’s getting inside, applying a nodowa and never letting up. Aoiyama really needed that win.

Shodai defeats Yoshikaze – Yoshikaze really seems to be in poor condition right now, and I feel sorry for him underperforming to this extent. He picks up a make-koshi today.

Chiyotairyu defeats Shohozan – Shohozan got one face slap in, and then Chiyotairyu went to work, overwhelming his opponent and tossing him out the North side of the dohyo.

Ichinojo defeats Tochiozan – Ichinojo decided to bring his energy to the dohyo today, and made quick work of Tochiozan by grabbing Tochiozan’s mawashi, containing him and just marching forward.

Hokutofuji defeats Myogiryu – Hokutofuji was able to get in inside position with the “handshake tachiai”, and kept low throughout the match. Myogiryu attempted to rally at the tawara, but could not produce.

Tamawashi defeats Nishikigi – Tamawashi has not looked this dialed in for many months. He took command at the tachiai, and kept moving Nishikigi back with little trouble. Tamawashi scores his kachi-koshi.

Goeido defeats Kotoshogiku – Goeido skillfully protects his injured right arm, and prevents Kotoshogiku from engaging his primary gaburi yori attack. I am impressed with Goeido’s ability to fight and win while this hurt.

Takayasu defeats Takakeisho – The tadpole took the Ozeki out for a rough ride, blasting him backward at the tachiai, and keeping the pressure up with wave after wave of double arm thrusts. But Takayasu timed his move with skill, and stepped to the side just as the next wave was landing, sending Takakeisho to the clay for a loss. Takakeisho’s campaign to 11 got a bit tougher, as he needs to win 4 of the next 5.

Hakuho defeats Okinoumi – Really no contest here, but it’s great to see Hakuho execute his sumo.

Hatsu Day 10 Preview

Day 10 marks the end of Act 2 and presages the start of Act 3—where we crown a champion, while the survivors fight for kachi-koshi. The red-letter match for today is Takayasu and Takakeisho, with the Ozeki below .500 with a miserable 4-5 record, and Takakeisho pressing hard for 11 wins and a chance to make the case that he should join the Ozeki ranks.

With veteran Takekaze announcing his retirement from competition, we seem to have the start of the long awaited period of cnange. There are a number of rikishi over 30 who are headed into the final stages of their Sekitori careers. For many who have been long term members of sumo’s elite, the thought of soldiering on through the un-salaried ranks makes the choice clear. It’s likely that more veterans will hang up their silk mawashi before this year comes to a close.

As a result, we will see a healthy upward draw of fresh talent from the top of the Makushita “wall”. Many of these rikishi have been Sekitori in the past, or are just on the cusp of being ready for Juryo. In addition to the normal up / down motion that comes at the end of every basho, there are 3 additional slots that might be open in the Sekitori ranks due to the retirement of Kisenosato, Takanoiwa and now Takekaze. This means exciting times for the year ahead, and a healthy crop of fresh talent to enjoy.

What We Are Watching Day 10

Kagayaki vs Daishomaru – Normally I would say Kagayaki has make-koshi on the line, but he is fighting winless Daishomaru.

Chiyonokuni vs Ikioi – Possibly time to trim back Chiyonokuni’s commanding 8-1 record, as he faces battle damaged but formidable Ikioi. Chiyonokuni matches are frequently flailing madhouses of body parts moving with violent speed, so we are hoping that Ikioi can avoid further injury.

Takarafuji vs Kotoyuki – These two have a 13 match history, with Takarafuji having a respectable advantage. With Kotoyuki always taping his hands into “flippers”, we know he is not looking for any kind of mawashi battle. Although Kotoyuki is below .500, a kachi-koshi and a safe spot in March’s Makuuchi line up is still possbile.

Yutakayama vs Abi – Two of the “Freshmen” battle it out with an even 2-2 career record. Yutakayama has bulk and strength, Abi speed and reach. Yutakayama needs the win more, but Abi is fighting somewhat better this basho.

Ryuden vs Endo – Surprising to me this is their first ever match. Endo is on his sumo now, and Ryuden has been very rough. I would expect Endo will come out ahead.

Yago vs Daieisho – Another first time match, but as this is Yago’s first upper division basho, it’s not much of a surprise. With the the shin-Maegashira fighting this far up the banzuke, it’s a good test for where he might rank for Osaka.

Asanoyama vs Onosho – Onosho is looking to bounce back from his three-bout losing streak, and another hapless member of the Freshmen group (Asanoyama) is not fighting well this tournament. If he should pick up at least 2 more wins, we can expect Onosho to join the joi-jin for Osaka, and begin his battle for rank in the upper levels of sumo.

Aoiyama vs Kaisei – This battle of the super-heavies favors Aoiyama historically, but Kaisei has been fighting better this basho, his day 9 loss to Ryuden not withstanding. Will their battle break pieces from the dohyo?

Shodai vs Yoshikaze – Both of them are doing terribly. But maybe Yoshikaze, staring at a possible make-koshi, can muster some of his flagging fighting spirit.

Chiyotairyu vs Shohozan – Chiyotairyu holds a clear advantage, and I would guess he will launch his “cannonball” tachiai at Shohozan, who if he considers all things, might be well served to move out of the way at the right moment.

Tochiozan vs Ichinojo – Ichinojo has gone back to being soft and timid, which is a shame. Tochiozan tends to dominate their matches, and unless “angry” Ichinojo shows up, this will be played to the tune of Tochiozan’s sumo.

Myogiryu vs Hokutofuji – Much as I would love to see Hokutofuji win, I think that Myogiryu has a better handle on this sumo this basho. Hokutofuji seems to have stamina problems, and frankly has never been back to his best form since that Ryuden delivered concussion.

Nishikigi vs Tamawashi – I expect Tamawashi to swat Nishikigi around and leave him for Tuesday pickup with the rest of the landfill material in Ryogoku. But Nishikigi must never be counted out. Coming in with a 4-5 record, one has to wonder if he will be able to squeeze out yet another kachi-koshi.

Kotoshogiku vs Goeido – Pretty clear that Goeido is banged up enough that his sumo is quite limited, and he struggles to generate forward pressure. Most folks assume its his arm, but his reconstructed ankle has never been quite right. Against Kotoshogiku, there is a decent chance that the Kyushu Bulldozer will trap Goeido and belly bump him out for a win.

Takayasu vs Takakeisho – The match of the day. This one, in all likelyhood, will decide of Takakeisho can make his 11 and vie for a promotion to Ozeki. He faces a battle damaged and flu ravaged Takayasu. Takayasu has him on strength, reach, stamina, mass and sheer aggression. Takakeisho has maneuverability and a total confidence he can win on any given day, no matter who his opponent is.

Okinoumi vs Hakuho – Barring some unfortunate injury, it will be win 10 for Hakuho (1105 career), and ratchet him one win closer to the yusho. His magic number is currently 14.

Hatsu Day 9 Highlights

The kadoban watch continues on day 9, where we find both Ozeki continuing to struggle with injuries, and finding the mathematics of the remaining 6 days crushing their hopes against reality. Meanwhile there are fewer routes where the undfeated Hakuho might drop enough matches (short of injury) to allow anyone to even challenge him for the yusho.

Many other rikishi who had surprised early in the basho have reverted to form, and in some cases it’s disappointing for fans. At the end of the day, for most rikishi, the goal is 8 wins and a kachi-koshi. Some have lost the blazing momentum of their act 1 starts (Aoiyama, Nishikigi, Hokutofuji) while others seem to have finally awoken their sumo (Asanoyama, Chiyotairyu) and somehow Ikioi keeps fighting in spite of all of the battle damage.

Highlight Matches

Takanosho defeats Daiamami – Takanosho visits from Juryo and delivers top-vision sumo against a flagging Daiamami. Daiamami is one loss away from make-koshi and a return to Juryo. Takanosho was kyujo for a couple of days, and is on the bubble himself.

Kotoeko defeats Yutakayama – Yutakayama’s bulk and stability saw him dominating the opening moments of the match, Kotoeko’s superior agility and maneuverability let him set up a partial throw / tsukiotoshi that won the match. Yutakayama, once the start of the “Freshmen” bounced hard off of the joi-jin and has been struggling to recover ever since.

Chiyonokuni defeats Meisei – Significantly under-ranked, Chiyonokuni picks up another win, and is 1 behind Hakuho. Be aware, Chiyonokuni is no real threat to Hakuho at this time in terms of speed and power, and his position in 2nd place is a function of match and his position too low on the banzuke.

Kagayaki defeats Chiyoshoma – After spending most of the first half of the basho all over the map, administering head woulds to everyone, Kagayaki goes back to fundamentals and wins. But as Kagayaki has 7 losses already, a make-koshi is likely for him.

Ikioi defeats Yago – Ikioi continues to remind us of Monty Python’s Black Knight, who continues to fight no matter what injury he suffers. Yago showed excellent form, but Ikioi produced a surge of strength that overpowered Yago for the win.

Sadanoumi defeats Daishomaru – Daishomaru continues winless after Sadanoumi’s superior experience and ring sense carries the day.

Abi defeats Kotoyuki – The shine is off of Abi-zumo, but it worked against Kotoyuki today. Can Abi end his string of make-koshi tournaments since last March? Kotoyuki attempted a slap-down that almost worked, but Kotoyuki ran out of ring before Abi landed face first on the clay.

Takarafuji defeats Daieisho – Takarafuji is the embodiment of “slow and steady wins the race”. Maegashira 10 is an easy rank for him, and he has little trouble with Daieisho, working him over a piece at a time until he pushes him out from the side / behind.

Ryuden defeats Kaisei – Some surprising sumo from Ryuden, he manages to block Kaisei from putting his right hand to work, and uses his body to keep Kaisei high. Without a solid grip, Kaisei was unable to generate much forward pressure, and Ryuden kept moving forward.

Endo defeats Onosho – Have no fear, Onosho fans. As much as you want to think that Onosho is fully genki and ready to battle the top men of sumo, he’s still recovering a bit from surgery. Going into Hatsu, we said that Maegashira 6 was a great rank for him, and would allow him to tune up a bit more before his predicted run at the San’yaku later this year. His goal is kachi-koshi plus an extra white star or two, and he seems to be on track for that. Meanwhile, Endo is clearly in his “good” phase, and is fighting well.

Chiyotairyu defeats Asanoyama – Chiyotairyu henkas a win, much to the dismay of many, but most specifically Asanoyama. All of the Freshmen have been struggling since Nagoya, when the heat seems to have baked the fighting spirit right out of them.

Yoshikaze defeats Shohozan – Yoshikaze found some energy somewhere in the back of a closet at home, and showed a brief flash of the drive and vigor that has made him a legend. Yoshikaze staves off a likely make-koshi for another day.

Shodai defeats Aoiyama – Aoiyama’s loss to Chiyotairyu has put him on a losing streak, which now extends into a 3rd day. After a strong start, his sumo has lost its edge, and his mobility is down from the first week. Shodai exploits this well and pulls a win out of what should have been Aoiyama’s match after Shodai’s traditionally poor tachiai.

Tochiozan defeats Hokutofuji – A number of rikishi have figured out that Hokutofuji’s “handshake tachiai” leave him quite far forward, and that can be exploited to slap or thrust him down in the first moments of the bout. I think Hokutofuji’s opening gambit is useful, but needs some variations and refinement.

Myogiryu defeats Ichinojo – Gone is the fierce Ichinojo of the Act 1, and we have reverted to the hesitant, contemplative Ichinojo from Kyushu. To be fair, Myogiryu tends to be trouble for Ichinojo, but for fans of the big Mongolian, this kind of sumo from his is frustrating.

Takakeisho defeats Nishikigi – Takakeisho’s sights are fixed on double digits, and Nishikigi’s act 1 magic is nowhere to be found today. Solid “Wave Action” work from the Ozeki aspirant. Nishikigi still has a solid chance at kachi-koshi at Maegashira 2.

Tamawashi defeats Takayasu – Regardless of rank, these former Sekiwake rivals are an even match. Add to that Takayasu’s health questions, and it was advantage Tamawashi. Of concerns were signs of pain from the Ozeki following the match, when it seems his right knee may have been bothering him. Takayasu is dangerously close to make-koshi and joining the kadoban corps.

Okinoumi defeats Goeido – If you want an honest indication of how banged up Goeido is, watch Okinoumi man-handle him like a Sandanme debutant. I am predicting that Goeido will join Ozeki Tochinoshin in the kadoban corps in Osaka, where his home town fans will likely carry him to victory.

Hakuho defeats Kotoshogiku – Kotoshogiku gave it his best shot, but there was no chance that the former Ozeki was going to best Hakuho today. In spite of his shaky start, Hakuho is on his sumo, and there are very few upper ranked rikishi (see the Ozeki corps) who are genki enough to give him much of a challenge. But everyone waits to for his much anticipated match with Takakeisho coming up in Act 3.