Kyushu 2022 Day 5 Highlights

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.

Makuuchi

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.

Sanyaku

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.

Some Juryo Hot Takes

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.

J14W Gonoyama

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.

J14E Tsushimanada

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 old journeyman 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.

J13W Roga

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.

J13E Shimazuumi

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.

J12W Oshoma

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).

J12E Tokushōryū

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.

J11W Takakento

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.

J11E Enho

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.

J10W Kaisho

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.

J10E Chiyosakae

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.

J9W Daishoho

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.

J9E Daiamami

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.

J8W Kotokuzan

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.

J8E Shimanoumi

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.

J7W Kinbozan

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.

J7E Tochimushashi

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…

J6W Kitanowaka

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.

J6E Hokuseiho

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.

J5W Chiyonokuni

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.

J5E Akua

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.

J4W Yutakayama

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.

J4E Hidenoumi

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.

J3W Mitoryu

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.

J3E Tsurugisho

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.

J2W Bushozan

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.

J2E Churanoumi

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.

J1W Chiyomaru

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.

J1E Tōhakuryū

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…

Nagoya Day 12 Preview

It’s time for one last discussion of the funnel from me this basho. At the end of today, the funnel narrows quite a bit, and so the goal is to steer as many as possible to a 6-6 score today. True you can get someone to 7-5 and then try to hand them 2 losses, but that seems to be less likely than to keep them on a win-one, lose-one tempo that the schedulers have been trying to maintain. Right now there are twenty (20!) rikishi in the sweet spot of 5-6 or 6-5. Absolutely brutal.

Of course any rikishi can escape the funnel just by winning more matches, or losing them. The funnel consume those that can’t quite give any more on the clay, and are stuck looking like they are just “going through the motions”. The real make or break day will be Saturday, when the schedulers need to make sure the 7-6 and 6-7 scores all end up in the right place. I would guess we could have as many as six Darwin matches on day 15.

With all of the COVID kyujo, we are down to 18 matches in the top division from 21 on day 1.

Nagoya Leaderboard

Day eleven did a fantastic job of narrowing down the leader board, giving us 2 men at 9-2 in the lead, and a group of 4 at 8-3 waiting in the wings. For the schedulers, its time to see if they can get dirt on the two leaders and notch up the hype around the race to the cup. Looking at the matches today, it looks like they are not wasting any time getting that project underway.

Leaders: Terunofuji, Ichinojo
Chasers: Takakeisho, Tobizaru, Nishikigi, Nishikifuji

4 matches remain

What We Are Watching Day 12

Yutakayama vs Kagayaki – Look who it is! Kagayaki gets a second visit to the top division. At 6-5 and ranked Juryo 3e, he may be harboring dreams of a rapid return to the top division. But right now his score is just as middling as all of the other salaried ranks, so he should think again. He does have a 9-6 career advantage over 5-6 Yutakayama, so maybe he can knock Shodai’s stablemate out of what’s left of the funnel.

Onosho vs Chiyoshoma – With Onosho at 6-5 and Chiyoshoma at 5-6, the goal is to have them both finish the day at 6-6. Chiyoshoma has not been consistent in his sumo this July, and it’s anyone’s guess how this one will end up. I do note that he and Onosho at a 5-4 career record that has a 1 win advantage for Chiyoshoma, but Chiyoshoma has won the last 3 matches in a row. The most recent one was January of this year.

Daiamami vs Takarafuji – With Daiamami deeply make-koshi and headed lower, they are using him to donate wins to rikishi they want to keep their score up. In the case of his opponent today, 5-6 Takarafuji, he needs a win here to stay in the funnel, so its Daiamami and his gimpy ankle to the rescue.

Chiyomaru vs Midorifuji – This should be kachi-koshi day for Midorifuji, as he is up against a 3-8 Chiyomaru who has already booked passage on the Juryo barge of the damned. He just needs to increase his 1-0 career score over Chiyomaru to take him his 8th win today.

Chiyotairyu vs Myogiryu – 21 career matches between these two, with Myogiryu at 7-4 to start the day against Chiyotairyu’s 6-5. A Myogiryu win is kachi-koshi for him, but pushes Chiyotairyu back into the middle of the funnel. A Chiyotairyu win puts him one whit star to go with 3 days left in the basho.

Oho vs Meisei – Possibly kachi-koshi day for Oho, a win here against Meisei and he will have his 8. At 6-5, Meisei can pull himself out of the funnel with a win today, or drop back to 6-6 with a loss to remain in the neck of the this July’s funnel.

Tochinoshin vs Nishikifuji – First ever meet up, and I am curious to see if Nishikifuji’s “oversized sumo” works against Tochinoshin, who is (lets face it) larger than life in most cases. Nishikifuji is already kachi-koshi at 8-3, but I am expecting him to get at least 2 more wins before the end of day 15 and finish double digits. Tochinoshin is at 6-5 and very much one of the Darwin candidates.

Endo vs Shimanoumi – Another battle of the make-koshi, with 2-9 Endo looking for a few more wins to keep away from a double digit losing record. He’s likely to find one today from 1-10 Shimanoumi, who seems too banged up to overpower anyone right now.

Terutsuyoshi vs Sadanoumi – This one interests me, as it seems that they could have found a better opponent for Terutsuyoshi today. I would think they want him to pick up a win and end the day 6-6, but there is a strong case that 3-8 Sadanoumi has a solid formula for winning against him, as he has the last 2 of their 3 fights.

Tamawashi vs Tsurugisho – It delighted me that Tamawashi halted his losing streak at 7 yesterday, but I have a lot of confidence that he is going to be deeply make-koshi this July because of some injury we sumo fans know nothing about. That may explain how he drew Tsurugisho today, in hopes that Tsurugisho can pick a win and finish the day 6-6.

Tobizaru vs Ichinojo – The first big match of the day. 8-3 Tobizaru’s job is to get 9-2 Ichinojo down. I don’t think he will be able to force him out, so he will need to try and win by guile, agility and sheer crazy ass sumo. Should he succeed, it will knock Ichinojo out of the leader position he shares with Terunofuji. He holds a 4-2 lead over Ichinojo on the clay.

Kiribayama vs Ura – Does Ura get to deliver a make-koshi to Kiribayama today? I don’t worry about Kiribayama at all right now. He’s going to be a big deal as long as he can avoid serious injury, and these crummy basho scores are part of the learning process. An Ura win would take him to 6-6 and put him square into the lane for a Darwin match on Sunday.

Hoshoryu vs Hokutofuji – Oh goodie – both men are 6-5 to start the day. Hokutofuji can push Hoshoryu back to 6-6 and queue him up for the Darwin run by just bashing the daylights out of him with some brutal nodowa sumo today. Sadly he has never done that, failing to win a single match from Hoshoryu in 4 attempts. Winner likely exits the funnel.

Wakamotoharu vs Abi – Well, we had a pair of 6-5’s, now it’s time for a pair of 5-6 rikishi. Winner centers to 6-6 and walks the Darwin path, loser likely headed for make-koshi by Sunday. Abi has won their 2 prior matches, but I am not sure that will matter for much today.

Wakatakakage vs Okinoumi – Time to save Wakatakakage, it seems. He has a 3-0 record against Okinoumi, and at 6-5 he needs 2 wins out of the last 4 days to keep his Sekiwake slot. At one point a couple of weeks ago there was serious Ozeki hype around him. Hopefully he did not believe that noise. Most rikishi stumble their first attempt to get to Ozeki, it’s part of the process.

Takakeisho vs Nishikigi – This match is for fun and rank, as both are kachi-koshi at 8-3. Takakeisho has a 4-1 advantage over Nishikigi, and this might be thought of as a “gimmie” match for Takakeisho, except that Nishikigi insists on going chest to chest early, grappling his opponent and using that sumo body of his to control his opponent. This is absolute kryptonite to Takakeisho. So I think the schedulers matched these two to see if Nishikigi could pull it off.

Aoiyama vs Shodai – What’s Aoiyama doing all the way up here? Who cares, two guys with out-sized bodies trying to get the other one to leap into the front row. Sign me up. If Shodai wins, it’s kachi-koshi for him, and he clears kadoban. An Aoiyama win and he ends the day 6-6 and centered in the funnel.

Terunofuji vs Daieisho – Daieisho has a tall order today, he needs to find a way to get Terunofuji out or down. With his mega-thrust sumo technique, he can in fact move the Yokozuna around, and has managed to do so three in the last year. I expect Terunofuji will focus on defense for the opening moments of this fight, and wait for Daieisho to expend his first couple of combos before he tries to move to offense. A Daieisho loss and he is back in the middle of the funnel.

Nagoya Day 11 Highlights

The big news for day 11 is that two more stables have detected cases of COVID, and are now kyujo. This includes Sadogatake, home to all of the “Koto” rikishi. Joining Sadogatake is Tamanoi heya, where Azumaryu trains. At this point about 1/5th of all rikishi in sumo are out due to COVID policies. This includes some rikishi that were in the middle of important, career elevating tournaments (Kotonowaka) that won’t get that momentum or experience back. As mentioned on prior days, given how virulent Omicron BA4/5 is, quite a few people in the sumo kyokai are likely infected now, and one has to wonder if they are even going to finish this tournament if they keep benching all of the talent.

List of fusensho (and opponents) today

  • Yutakayama – (Kotoshoho)
  • Oho – (Kotoeko)
  • Daieisho – (Kotonowaka)

The elimination of so many competitors from the top division has a dramatic impact on the television format, as the current producers for both NHK and Abema are struggling to fill the time that would normally be taken by the matches themselves. Lets hope we don’t get an Isegahama or Kokenoe covid-kyujo, or they will need to start showing Shin-Chan cartoons between bouts.

In action on the dohyo, the leader group is now down to two, with just 4 chasers. We will likely have a yusho race after all. Two more rikishi hit their 8th win today, and are kachi-koshi: Takakeisho and Nishikifuji, with another 4 on deck for a try tomorrow. The funnel crop is a bountiful as ever, and this could be one of the largest group of 7-7 rikishi I have seen in my lifetime on this earth, unless they all go covid-kyujo first.

Highlight Matches

Onosho defeats Daiamami – Daiamami’s injured ankle really can’t support much in the way of sumo right now, and Onosho makes fast work of him. It’s stand him up, slap him down. The tsukiotoshi takes Onosho to 6-5.

Chiyoshoma defeats Takarafuji – I marveled at Chiyoshoma’s work to keep Takarafuji from getting a proper mawashi grip, or setting up his defensive foot placement. That was high-skill sumo tuned for a very specific engagement, and I loved it. From the center-mass tsuppari chest strike at the tachiai, to the point where he chose to go chest to chest with Takarafuji, Chiyoshoma had this one dialed in. Both end the day at 5-6.

Terutsuyoshi defeats Chiyomaru – Terutsuyoshi grabs a drumstick and proceeds to walk Chiyomaru about for a while before dumping him off the dohyo. 8 losses for Chiyomaru now, and he is make-koshi and headed back to Juryo, 5-6 for Terutsuyoshi after that fine ashitori.

Midorifuji defeats Tsurugisho – Midorifuji had trouble deciding what to do with his left hand. He was inside and low, but changed up the spot he was gripping Tsurugisho’s mawashi, and it simply was not working out for him. But fortunately for him, his right hand was in excellent position to load the throw, and it was shitatenage time! Midorifuji improves to 7-4 and can earn his kachi-koshi tomorrow.

Nishikifuji defeats Chiyotairyu – Nishikifuji gets a deep double inside grip early and simply brutes Chiyotairyu around. It is surprising that as big and bulky as Chiyotairyu is, that he can’t overpower Nishikifuji, or if whatever injuries he’s dealing with rob him of any power to shut down the yori in any meaningful way. Nishikifuji scores his 8th win, and is kachi-koshi for July by yorikiri.

Myogiryu defeats Nishikigi – I think the false start wrecked Nishikigi’s timing, and he was not quite in normal form when the tachiai did take place. He struggled for hand positioned, and was well forward of his toes. Myogiryu was aware of this, took a step back and hit the hatakikomi. Nishikigi hit the clay, and Myogiryu advanced to 7-4.

Tochinoshin defeats Meisei – Fighting Tochinoshin involves a lot of guess work, it seems. There are days when he’s rather tender, and unable to really employ is overwhelming strength. Today was not one of those days. Meisei goes for the inside grip, Tochinoshin obliged. Tochinoshin worked to get his left hand outside, and then it was time for Meisei to endure some power sumo. A quick waltz across the clay, and it was a yorikiri win for Tochinoshin, with both men finishing the day at 6-5.

Sadanoumi defeats Shimanoumi – Sadanoumi finds his third win of the basho by overpowering the hapless Shimanoumi, lifting him and driving forward to win by yorikiri. Sadanoumi improves to 3-8.

Hokutofuji defeats Wakamotoharu – Hokutofuji did an excellent job of keeping Wakamotoharu from settling into any manner of offense or defense. Hokutofuji attacked multiple points via clever combos, and left Wakamotoharu wondering what would happen next. With Wakamotoharu trying to respond to the last attack, Hokutofui grabbed a leg and powered forward. The resulting watashikomi gave Hokutofuji the win, and he finishes the day 6-5.

Ura defeats Okinoumi – This was about as vanilla a match as you might ever find from Ura. He was straight into the grapple against Okinoumi, and battled him face to face. But Okinoumi could not resist the temptation to reach that left hand for Ura’s belt. Ah ha! A stray appendage to grab and tug! Well, that was the end of Okinoumi as Ura unleashed a tottari, giving his opponent a face full of clay. Ura improves to 5-6.

Tamawashi defeats Kiribayama – I am all smiles that a seemingly injured Tamawashi achieved his first ever win against Kiribayama today. Tamawashi was all forward power and attacking Kiribayama’s face and neck, until the moment when he moved a hand behind Kiribayama head and pulled forward. The power transfer was large enough that it flipped Kiribayama end over end to win by hatakikomi. Both end the day at 4-7.

Ichinojo defeats Abi – Abi learns the hard way that his double arm thrusts are utterly worthless against the Boulder when Ichinojo is on his game. A stray arm was a perfect hand hold for Ichinojo, and Abi found himself on the receiving end of a kotenage attempt. Abi did not go out, but did not recover. Horribly off balance his 200kg beast of a rikishi chased him down and pushed him out from the rear (okuridashi). Ichinojo improves to 9-2.

Aoiyama defeats Wakatakakage – Its 3-0 now for Aoiyama against Wakatakakage. Somehow this giant man-mountain has Wakatakakage’s number, and can put him on the deck any time, any place. At the rapid conclusion of today’s match, you can see the frustration on Wakatakakage’s face. Aoiyama improves to 5-6 and pulls Wakatakakage back to the middle of the funnel.

Shodai defeats Endo – I am sure Endo did not know what to expect, having no idea which version of Shodai would show up. Looks like Ozeki Shodai was on the clay today. Endo showed some great offensive combos, but Shodai was ready for all of it. Note that Shodai’s form was terrible, but his sumo was good enough to overwhelm Endo and propel him out by yorikiri. Shodai improves to 7-4, and somehow has managed to get himself one win away from kachi-koshi, and clearing kadoban.

Takakeisho defeats Tobizaru – I am absolutely impressed that Takakeisho was able to keep Tobizaru off his belt, and keep his own balance under control in the face of the antics of the flying monkey. Tobizaru put a lot of energy into this match, and I complement him for all of the work to prepare. An off-balance combo left Tobizaru struggling to stay upright, and Takakeisho slapped him down for the win. That’s kachi-koshi for Takakeisho, he picks up his 8th win of Nagoya.

Terunofuji defeats Hoshoryu – Where to start with this. Well, Hoshoryu, that was a jerk match. Yes, it’s a combat sport, and he was focused on the win, but that whole match was executed to put maximum torque into Terunofuji’s damaged knees. That first time when Terunofuji tossed you away, then waved you back in, that should have been your first indication that you had the Yokozuna’s interest. My compliments to Terunofuji for focus, concentration and patience. You let Hoshoryu expend his energy, then locked him up, took him apart and tossed way the husk. You have a long way to go, Hoshoryu, before you might fight like that, hope you enjoyed the comparison. The look on Hoshoryu’s face following his ejection from the dohyo told to story. Terunofuji improves to 9-2.