Haru Day 6 Highlights

With the start of the second act, some rikishi who looked moribund found new life, and suggested maybe they were going to be able to must some power for the rest of the basho. Some rikishi who had not yet tasted Osaka clay, had their first loss. Act 2 is all about sorting the survivors from the doomed, and shaping the yusho race for act 3.

Highlight Matches

Chiyoshoma defeats Ishiura – The double-henka failed to materialize, as both decided to engage in a proper tachiai. Ishiura was a bit too low, and left himself open to a thrust down, which Chiyoshoma was happy to supply.

Daishoho defeats Terutsuyoshi – A large number of sumo fans were quite excited when it was announced that Terutsuyoshi would be joining the top division, but he has struggled since Haru day 1, and has only been able to count a single with thus far. Now at 1-5, he is facing a very real threat of a deep make-koshi and a return to the deeper regions of Juryo.

Daiamami defeats Toyonoshima – Toyonoshima also attracted a lot of attention with his return to the top division. Once a Makuuchi mainstay, the nostalgia factor coupled with the story of a battered veteran fighting his way back to the big leagues is compelling. But Toyonoshima continues to product wins. Today one of his former Juryo rivals puts him out with a large thud.

Kagayaki defeats Yutakayama – Yutakayama took control of the match at the tachiai, but put himself too far forward to control his body. Kagayaki read this expertly and sent him to the clay. The video match suffers from the “Osaka camera” phenomenon.

Yoshikaze defeats Kotoeko – Perhaps Yoshikaze is not quite ready for the boneyard yet. He showed a flash of power, keeping Kotoeko from generating much offense, and then marching him in reverse to the bales. Yoshikaze improves to 3-3.

Ryuden defeats Tomokaze – Shin-Ikioi did not open strong, as Tomokaze clearly had the better of the tachiai, and took control of the match, landing his tsuki center mass. Ryuden backs to the tawara, and finds Tomokaze has pre-set his body to be thrown. Ryuden complies and pulls out a win by shitatenage.

Shohozan defeats Meisei – Meisei foolishly decides he wants to trade blows with “Big Guns”, and ends up with a black star. Nobody is surprised.

Sadanoumi defeats Yago – I admit that I cracked a smile when I saw Sadanoumi actually moving with strength and skill today. He had been flagging since day 1, and it was a welcome change. After trading tsuppari, they went chest to chest, which would tend to favor Yago, but Sadanoumi surges and gives Yago a trip across the tawara.

Asanoyama defeats Ikioi – Tough match, as you can tell Ikioi just can’t get above about 70% power thanks to his injured leg. On top of that, Asanoyama was in good form. Maybe a touch of Kotoshogiku hip action there? I would not be displeased to see that tradition carry forward.

Aoiyama defeats Kotoshogiku – The much feared confluence of pendulous man-boobs swinging and muscular hip thrusting did not come to pass, as Aoiyama knew exactly what to do to win. Both arms on Kotoshogiku’s shoulders and as much forward motion as he could muster. While not the epic clash of styles it could have been, it was great to see Aoiyama execute crisply with great effect.

Okinoumi defeats Takarafuji – Great tachiai from Okinoumi, and he remained confident and focused, even when Takarafuji had a grip advantage. Two highly skilled vets performing nearly textbook sumo.

Abi defeats Chiyotairyu – Abi execute a flying henka, bringing down Chiyotairyu and sending the gyoji (none other than Konosuke the Red) flying into the front row.

Onosho defeats Tochiozan – Basic match where Tochiozan was simply overpowered. Onosho continues his march towards kachi-koshi, and I am looking forward to him joining the rest of the tadpoles in the top slots.

Ichinojo defeats Endo – Ichinojo continues to show winning sumo on day 6. Endo was little more than the ballast for the giant Mongolian’s sumo today. The NHK commentary cited that he has won primarily by pulling moves, but at the moment it looks to be effective. Given the obliteration in the top 3 Maegarshira ranks, Ichinojo may have a nice boost for Natsu.

Takakeisho defeats Kaisei – An effective variation on Takakeisho’s preferred osha-attack now features a double arm thrust that is heavy to one side, and pivoting opposite of the thrust. Many times the effect is to turn his opponent as he swings around to the side, giving him flank exposure and leaving (in the case Kaisei) wide open to a broad side from the wave action canon.

Tamawashi defeats Hokutofuji – The hoped for double nodowa was not to be seen today, but what caught my eye was watching Tamawashi rally once Hokutofuji had him in trouble. This may in fact represent the point where Tamawashi arrested his lackluster start for the Haru Basho and reverts to a winning form.

Daieisho defeats Goeido – Goeido sumo is not without its flaws, if he gets stalemated, he can and will resort to dubious stratagems, such as today when Daieisho was able to withstand his opening gambit, and Goeido went for a slap down. Daieisho was ready for this and made the Ozeki pay.

Takayasu defeats Myogiryu – Again we see Takayasu not trying to resort to an overpowering collision at the tachiai, instead relying on his overwhelming strength to carry the match. It looks good, it works better and it wins. I credit endless practice hours with Araiso Oyakata. I hope he has the nerve to maintain this form against the Yokozuna, as I think it could be a strong formula for week 2.

Tochinoshin defeats Mitakeumi – Tochinoshin fans are maybe starting to feel a bit less anxious now. Mitakeumi is no easy contender, and Tochinoshin was able to shut down Mitakeumi at the tachiai. He did not need to try and use any lift-and-shift sumo, and he showed mobility that may have come as a surprise to Mitakeumi.

Hakuho defeats Nishikigi – Impressive match from Nishikigi, as he was able to get an arm-bar hold on Hakuho that left the Yokozuna waiting for his Maegashira opponent to make the next move. Nishikigi’s attempt to convert that hold into a throw was a solid effort, but Hakuho’s stability and stance made it a long odds gamble. Great sumo from Nishikigi today.

Kakuryu defeats Shodai – I teased that Shodai was fairly useless up until now, but I was pleasantly surprised to see the level of effort and skill he put into this match. That escape at the tawara was a solid escape move, but Shodai could not convert that into any meaningful offensive opportunity.

Haru Day 6 – Preview

Might We See This Once More?

Act 1 is in the history books, and we ended the first third of the basho with 4 strong rikishi in the undefeated column. This likely portends a fantastic week 2, with a vigorous battle for the Emperor’s Cup. Though he is looking a bit shaky, I would say that Hakuho is the man to beat for Osaka. We know he is not 100%, but the man has an iron will, and he is using it to keep himself in the competition.

I have to remark about how impressive it has been to see both Kotoshogiku and Ichinojo open the basho with spotless records. Ichinojo is a force of nature when his body is cooperating, and it seems his health is good right now. As a former Ozeki, Kotoshogiku knows how to dominate, but it’s been some time since we have seen him this genki. I love it. How great would it be to see him in the running for the cup?

What We Are Watching Day 6

Ishiura vs Chiyoshoma – It’s a stage 1 henka warning in Osaka. Conditions are right for a henka to be deployed. If you are easily offended, take cover at once in the part of your house farthest away from your television. Which one will use it, and will it work?

Daiamami vs Toyonoshima – Daiamami returns from Juryo for a one-day visit, and oddly enough it’s the first time he has matched against veteran Toyonoshima. Toyonoshima has been hit or miss, so its hard to tell what kind of sumo he will deliver day 6.

Yutakayama vs Kagayaki – Kagayaki showed some signs of life day 5, so maybe he’s not quite ready to shuffle back to Juryo. Yutakayama is still a fraction of his former self.

Kotoeko vs Yoshikaze – Kotoeko continues to impress, while Yoshikaze seems to be right at the point of giving up. This is their first ever match.

Ryuden vs Tomokaze – Are you surprised that Ryuden is 4-1? I am, he kind of snuck up there. He has the body, the strength and the skill to do it, so lets hope he is on a hot streak and can continue to win.

Shohozan vs Meisei – Did Shohozan get bored with hitting people? He seems to be going for the mawashi this tournament. Not that I am complaining, but if I were facing Shohozan, and I did not get a couple of big whacks to the face, I would feel short changed.

Asanoyama vs Ikioi – Ikioi’s pride won’t let him go kyujo unless he is in surgery, and maybe not even then. To me his body seems completely broken, and unable to support much in the way of sumo.

Aoiyama vs Kotoshogiku – What a match! Both of these rikishi are fighting well, have strong winning records, and are at polar opposition for sumo style. Though Aoiyama going for the mawashi on day 5 proves his technique catalog is much broader then it would seem. But who wouldn’t want to see Kotoshogiku give Aoiyama a series of powerful pelvic thrusts? Parental guidance suggested….

Chiyotairyu vs Abi – I am taking a strange pleasure from watching Abi-zumo failing over and over again. Because I assume that means that he is taking another step closer to diversifying his sumo. Once he does that, he’s on the road to higher ranks.

Tochiozan vs Onosho – As an Onosho fan, I have to resist the urge to see him dominate every match. What he really needs is a kachi-koshi at this rank, and a slight move higher. He is getting his sumo back, but his strength is still recovering from that surgery kyujo last year.

Ichnojo vs Endo – That black eye on Endo seems to only underscore the fact that everyone is beating him up and stealing his lunch money every day. Endo possesses excellent sumo skills, but right now Ichinojo is on fire. Can the Boulder take it to 6?

Takakeisho vs Kaisei – Takakeisho has lost a couple of matches that might impact assessment of any Ozeki bid, and he needs to regroup and put himself back on track. Kaisei has really underwhelmed thus far, but I expect him to come roaring back pretty much now.

Hokutofuji vs Tamawashi – I am probably as excited about this match as I am for the Aoiyama – Kotoshogiku mating dance. Just in time, it seems Hokutofuji found his sumo again. This is going to be an oshi-battle of possibly epic proportions, as long as nobody tries for any early pulls.

Goeido vs Daieisho – I have taken to watching these Goeido matches in slow motion about 3-4 times, they are just that good. I expect that this new, resurgent Daieisho will give him a good match, but it may not last long.

Takayasu vs Myogiryu – Myogiryu has made a habit out of beating the Ozeki, and this could be the match that shoves Takayasu out of any reasonable consideration for a yusho bid.

Tochinoshin vs Mitakeumi – Tochinoshin showed day 5 that he is willing to endure the pain to get a win. Of course Kaisei let him plant his feet and square his shoulders to get the lift underway, which I expect will not happen with Mitakeumi.

Hakuho vs Nishikigi – Enjoy your visit with the Yokozuna, Nishikigi. Your fans love you, even when you have no wins.

Shodai vs Kakuryu – The YDC is meeting right now in special session to determine if Shodai’s winless start to Haru is grounds for Yokozuna consideration. “Shodai the Flaccid” has never beaten Kakuryu, and I am guessing day 6 is not going to be the day he changes that.

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 15 Highlights

That’s it folks! The rest of the team have done an excellent job of reporting the results, but there were a couple of interesting matches that took place on the final day. I will state that in many ways, that this basho was “odd”. In that we saw rikishi with multi-day hot and cold streaks, and many capable men significantly underperform their multi-tournament trends. I suspect that the influenza virus that is ravaging Japan has some part in this oddity, and that Osaka might be a better bellwether of the state of sumo. But the chaos virus (or whatever it was) certainly made for an interesting run.

As a reminder to all of you sumo fans, there is no jungyo between Hatsu and the the March tournament in Osaka, so news from the world of sumo may be a bit thin, yet again. I know things were very quiet over Christmas too, so I encourage everyone to pace themselves. Perhaps weekend binges of Kintamayama and Jason’s excellent coverage from this basho, and highlights of great tournaments of the past.

Lastly thanks to all of you readers for giving us quite the month (more on that in a few days), Tachiai’s oyakata, Andy, and everyone at Team Tachiai for making this Hatsu one to remember.

Highlight Matches

Kagayaki defeats Yutakayama – After a horrific start, Kagayaki found his sumo around day 10, and has been fighting with purpose ever sense. Today he gave Yutakayama a trip to the clay with a rather potent okurinage. Yutakayama’s meteoric rise was arrested following a disasters Aki, which saw him go kyujo for 3 days, and return to a series of daily defeats.

Meisei defeats Onosho – Very happy that Onosho was able to get his 8th win this tournament. Going in, it was stated that he was still recovering from knee surgery, and that being at Maegashira 6 was a good rank for him. With the extended break leading to Osaka, we hope he has time to further heal and strengthen his lower body. I predict with him in the joi-jin for March, he’s going to start taking a bite out of the upper ranks. Thought I really like Takakeisho’s sumo, Onosho is the stronger, more capable rikishi, and I am rooting for him to regain his health and show us what he is capable of.

Yoshikaze defeats Daiamami – As a die-hard Yoshikaze fan, this tournament has been another that is tough to watch. I don’t know what is plaguing one of the great competitors of sumo, but it seems most of Japan wishes him well, and hopes he can get better. Today’s match against Daiamami, Yoshikaze mustered enough genki to win against the damaged and depleted Daiamami. At least that’s something.

Hokutofuji defeats Aoiyama – Hokutofuji managed to finish with 9 wins, and with the joi-jin rikishi reduced to flaming hulks, I am going to assume Hokutofuji will take a sanyaku spot for March. He has huge potential, but I would love to see him make his sumo more efficient. Many of his body moves during a match are larger than they should be, and that excess movement opens avenues for him to be defeated. Aoiyama, as is sometimes the case, shows up and fights with strength every day, but some days is just 5% less than his opponents.

Shodai defeats Ichinojo – If Shodai ends up at any rank above Maegashira 4, I am going to lose my mind.

Nishikigi defeats Mitakeumi – Nishikigi continues to be sumo’s Cinderella story. His make-koshi was 7-8, so he may not be pushed too far down the banzuke. But a word to all the other rikishi: this guy went from sucking wind at the bottom of the banzuke to a credible upper Maegashira rikishi. He is a sort of sumo “everyman”, so I am sure his success motivates many to believe they can work to higher performance.

Goeido defeats Takakeisho – I have to remark again just how impressive Goeido’s rally from an 0-4 start has been. Many worried that he was headed for kadoban again, and it certainly looked that way. But in spite of his injuries and physical problems, he took in 9 wins by the end of it all. His win over Takakeisho was pure Goeido. He’s a speed monster who throws everything into an offensive opening gambit. He either blows you away or he’s in trouble. Takakeisho could not set up any kind of offense, and in desperation tried for some kind of pull down. Meanwhile the Goeido locomotive was screaming down the tracks with Takakeisho affixed to the front – next destination zabuton city.

Hatsu Day 14 Highlights

Photo from the Sumo Association twitter feed

The big story of day 14 is the Hakuho kyujo. The reason cited was a hematoma in the right knee and problems with the left foot. Hakuho also mentioned that problems began following his day 4 match with Hokutofuji, that featured some gymnastics on the tawara, and that the trouble has been steadily increasing. It is reported that the pain and discomfort had increased to where he could no longer sleep at night, and it was decided that he would withdraw from competition. All of that and he still had 10 wins.

Both yusho contenders won their day 14 matches, so it’s Tamawashi’s cup to take if he can win his final day match. Of course the sumo world wants to see an oshi-mega-match between Takakeisho and Tamawashi (Takakeisho beat him day 3) for the Emperor’s Cup, but the chances of that happening are not high.

Speaking of the Tadpole, with his 11th win day 14, he has a valid application to become Ozeki. We will find out next week if it will be accepted, or if the NSK will suggest that he do well in one more basho.

Highlight Matches (abbreviated)

Takarafuji defeats Daiamami – First kachi-koshi in a year, and the struggling Daiamami made him work for it. But after some truly pitiful performances in 2018, it’s good to see him back on the winning side.

Kaisei defeats Yago – Kaisei hits double digits, and will face Ozeki Takaysu on day 15.

Daieisho defeats Yutakayama – Daieisho picks up his 3rd consecutive kachi-koshi while dealing Yutakayama his 3rd consecutive make-koshi. The symmetry is lovely, unless you are Yutakayama.

Abi defeats Shohozan – Abi hits double digits, and he’s still working the same formula. Maybe that’s all we get from Abi.

Hokutofuji defeats Nishikigi – Hokutofuji locks in his kachi-koshi in this match that featured a good start, but Nishikigi lost traction, and fell for his 8th loss.

Endo defeats Tochiozan – Endo hits double digits, and will be the rikishi who has the task of trying to throw the yusho into an elimination match when he takes on Tamawashi on day 15.

Onosho defeats Ichinojo – Onosho still looks kind of shaky, and I am hoping he will continue to heal and strengthen heading into March. Onosho kachi koshi / Ichinojo make koshi.

Chiyotairyu defeats Myogiryu – The human cannonball racks up his 8th win for his first kachi koshi in 3 tournaments. Komusubi Myogiryu headed back to the rank and file for Osaka.

Takakeisho defeats Okinoumi – The magic 11th win, and our tadpole qualifies to be considered for Ozeki. But the right conditions on day 15 could also see him contest for the Hatsu yusho. A win day 15 would underscore his Ozeki bid, and he needs to win against Goeido to do it. Goeido has physical issues right now, but he had day 14 to rest with the fusen win over Hakuho, and he’s been looking strong and fast in week 2.

Takayasu defeats Mitakeumi – Takayasu knew exactly what to do, and I can’t compliment him enough for quickly, efficiently and with minimal pressure getting Mitakeumi moving backward and over the bales. With any luck this will convinces Mitakeumi to not risk further damage to his knee.

Onward to senshuraku! Let’s see the Sekiwake fight for the cup!