Kyushu Day 12 Preview

The scheduling committee keeps going back to their favorite – the big man / little man contest, and the matching records head to head. This portends a brutal final weekend as the rikishi are sorted into make/kachi-koshi piles for the winter.

For the best write up of what is at stake, and the story lines to date, read lksumo’s write up further down the page, or click here.

We know our “Man in foreign lands”, Josh, is somewhere in Kyushu, and we hope to hear first hand about the proceedings in the Fukuoka Kokusai Center, including the all important food truck report. Until then – on to day 12!

Kyushu Leaderboard

Leader: Hakuho
Chasers: Asanoyama
Hunt Group: Takakeisho, Shodai, Kagayaki

4 Matches Remain

What We Are Watching Day 12

Yago vs Daishoho – The broken hulk of Yago returns again to the top division for a visitor’s match. I have no idea what the roster of damage this man is burdened with while he tries to compete in Kyushu. Both rikishi are make-koshi, and both of them are in demotion danger.

Ishiura vs Kagayaki – As if to make up for the total stink-bomb for the first match, we get this gem. Kagayaki is already kachi-koshi, but I suspect he wants to run up the score (good for him). Ishiura has found a new level of genki this week, and I would love to see him give Kagayaki the business. This one is probably a highlight.

Terutsuyoshi vs Chiyotairyu – Lets keep the big / little contrast thread running, with this match between the surprisingly durable Terutsuyoshi squaring off against the massive, dreadnaught class Chiyotairyu. Speed vs power in this first ever fight between the two. It will probably come down to Chiyotairyu landing his massive cannonball tachiai or if Terutsuyoshi can duck or deflect it.

Daishomaru vs Shodai – Shodai is kachi-koshi, and I am curious to see if he eases up on the intensity. This will be a good indicator today, as he is probably capable of beating the rather un-genki Daishomaru if he puts his back into it. A Daishomaru loss today would nominate him to join his stable mate for a possible return to Juryo in January.

Kotoshogiku vs Nishikigi – Matching 3-8 records mean that this match might be a “decider” on which one will be more likely to be considered for demotion to Juryo. Sadly, Nishikigi has been make-koshi in every tournament this year. It’s a big gap between the Nishikigi who fought in the joi-jin, and actually recused himself well.

Shohozan vs Shimanoumi – Shohozan has an 0-2 record against Shimanoumi, and comes in with a 2 match losing streak. Is he fading out? I would not count on it. He is 2 wins away from kachi-koshi on his home turf, and I am looking for Shohozan to rally starting right now.

Chiyomaru vs Sadanoumi – Both Chiyomaru’s bulk and his 10-3 career record over Sadanoumi might indicate he is favored to win, Sadanoumi has been showing surprising strength and fighting spirit this November. The weakness? Most of Sadanoumi’s wins have come via a solid mawashi grip. Given Chiyomaru’s protective belly bulge, his mawashi is as unreachable as Aogashima.

Onosho vs Yutakayama – Oh good! Battle between two future power house rikishi. Yutakayama comes into this match with a superior level of genki, but Onosho holds the career advantage at 5-3. Both of these big guys are oshi-zumo practitioners, so I would expect a high degree forward power today. Yutakayama has the mobility advantage, Onosho a strength advantage.

Takanosho vs Enho – A first time match, we get to see power-pixie Enho face up to Takanosho, who is one win away from kachi-koshi. How far back from the shikiri-sen will Takanosho line up? Will Enho do one of his odd stand-up tachiais? Why am I asking so many questions? Does Tachiai know anything about sumo? What the hell is going on here?

Aoiyama vs Tsurugisho – Matching 5-6 records in this match once again clearly signal the intent of the scheduling committee to bring us a roster of 7-7 match ups on the final day. Tsurugisho is in the middle of a 3 match losing streak, Aoiyama is coming off of the “difficult” part of his schedule, and looking to get his final 3 wins. Both men have size and strength. Aoiyama will ring your bell if you are not careful, but Tsurugisho seems able to take more than a couple of sharp blows and stay in the fight.

Takarafuji vs Kotoeko – Matching 4-7 records (are you getting the theme here?). Loser is make-koshi, but will stay in the top division. Kotoeko has struggled to reach more than 8 wins for some time, though he displays flashes of good sumo.

Daieisho vs Kotoyuki – These two have an even 3-3 career record, and I think its going to come down to who gets the inside position at the tachiai. Both will try to overwhelm their opponent with a powerful volley of tsuppari within the first few seconds.

Myogiryu vs Okinoumi – This match is s show case of power and experience, with both of these veterans bring some fairly good form into this day 12 match. They have 22 matches over their long careers, with Okinoumi holding a thin 12-10 advantage. Both men are at 5-6 for Kyushu at the start of day 12.

Hokutofuji vs Meisei – Hokutofuji is now at the edge of make-koshi, which is a shame given some of his brilliant sumo this tournament. But he seems to go “all in” on some of his gambits, and somewhat less than 50% of them pay off. As a result, he fights like a mad man, but loses more than he wins. He’s great to watch, his attitude is excellent, and I think at some point he’s going to be a san’yaku regular. But I think his sumo needs at least 1 more step change to make it work.

Abi vs Tamawashi – Tamawashi had not shown us “his brand of sumo” much if at all this basho, until day 11 when he completely mastered Onosho. Abi faced a awkward match on day 11 as well, and I am hoping to seem them both clash in good form, with an abundance of energy.

Mitakeumi vs Asanoyama – Normally this would be a high-interest match, but Mitakeumi looks beaten right now. Can he rally? Sure he can. But Asanoyama has an edge today as he is strong, healthy and fighting well. He also is looking to keep 1 behind “The Boss” in the yusho race.

Takakeisho vs Ryuden – Ryuden has yet to take a single match from Takakeisho, and is one loss away from make-koshi. I expect him to fight with vigor, but right now Takakeisho seems to be fighting with renewed energy, in spite of his less than optimal left arm.

Endo vs Hakuho – So the assumption is that Hakuho will increase his 10-1 career advantage over Endo, and it’s a good assumption. But Endo is in rather good Endo-zumo form, and if he gets lucky, his excellent technique does present a narrow opening to surprise the Yokozuna. I assure you that should this happen, Japan would lose its mind with Endo fever. But I do think the one rikishi who has a chance against Hakuho is the sole surviving Ozeki, Takakeisho, who will likely face him in the final match of the tournament on Sunday.

Kyushu Day 11 Highlights

After a rough and difficult start, this basho seems to have its act together. The sumo is solid and strong across the matches, and the rikishi are putting impressive effort into their matches. At the start of act 3, its time to start sorting the competitors into bins labeled kachi and make koshi, and some favorites are surprisingly close to a losing record for November. The yusho race will come down to Takakeisho’s attempt to defeat Hakuho, opening the door for a playoff if Asanoyama can continue to rack up the wins.

Highlight Matches

Ikioi defeats Terutsuyoshi – In a beautiful sumo moment, Ikioi visits the top division for a single match. As a result he secures his kachi-koshi, and quite possibly ensures he will once again be a Makuuchi rikishi for the new year. In March Ikioi was a physical wreck, nursing multiple injuries, and could only score 2 wins in the entire basho. Since then he has been relegated to Juryo, where he continued to struggle until Aki, when he turned in a 12-3 record and took the Juryo yusho. It’s been a hard road for this guy, and frankly I find it inspiriting. Terutsuyoshi gave him a full measure, and really made him work for the win.

Daishomaru defeats Shimanoumi – This was an even brawl until Shimanoumi gambled on a pull down attack and released forward pressure against Daishomaru. Daishomaru, one loss away from make-koshi, was not going to let that kind of opening pass him by. He rushes forward into the pull and blasts Shimanoumi out of the ring. Both men are now 4-7.

Yutakayama defeats Chiyomaru – I am fairly impressed with Yutakayama’s sumo today. Chiyomaru can deliver a lot of force to his front quarter, and today Chiyomaru was up to his normal slappy-face standard. Yutakayama dove into the punishment like a champ and just kept giving Chiyomaru about 20% more than he received. Yutakayama improves to 7-4 and is very much in the hunt for his kachi-koshi.

Kotoshogiku defeats Chiyotairyu – Rather than his normal grapple, hug and chug approach, Kotoshogiku pivoted into a throw at the tachiai, and appeared to catch Chiyotairyu off balance. Only Kotoshogiku’s 3rd win, but I am happy to see it.

Shodai defeats Sadanoumi – Sadanoumi yielded morozashi within the first few seconds, but even with a double-inside grip, Shodai found himself retreating. Carrying him like a full can of rubbish to the curb, Sadanoumi was in the midst of winning when a wonderfully executed “rescue” move by Shodai at the bales (utchari) turned the tables and sent Sadanoumi out first. How did Shodai get morozashi and not dominate Sadanoumi? Look at Shodai’s lower body.

Takanosho defeats Shohozan – Shohozan had a strong start, but took the chance of pulling Takanosho via his outstretched right arm. Shohozan did not have the foot placement to do it safely, propelling himself backward. Takanosho read this expertly and helped Shohozan complete the process.

Ishiura defeats Kotoeko – Another excellent match by Ishiura today. That tachiai was low and hard, and sent Kotoeko reeling. Kotoeko manages to break contact, but as he drove back to re-engaged, Ishiura improved his grip and rolled into a shitatenage. I am starting to have hope for Ishiura…

Kagayaki defeats Tsurugisho – Tsurugisho almost had this won at the tachiai, as Kagayaki came up too low, and too far forward. But Tsurugisho decided to try and finish Kagayaki with a pull. As its their first ever match, he may not have had a feel for just how stable Kagayaki is, and that was all the opening that “Mr Fundamentals” needed to rally and drive Tsurugisho out.

Enho defeats Daishoho – Enho did in fact use an alternate attack plan, and it worked. Should it have been a matta? Eh, maybe? But if the Gyoji says the fight is on, it’s on. Daishoho wisely lined up well back of the shikiri-sen, but Enho rockets off the line and blasts into Daishoho’s body. From there it was attack-circle-attack for Enho. Brutally effective and tough to counter for any big man. Your feet are never set for offense or defense, and whatever you want to do in terms of trying to win is disrupted as you try to make sure you keep Enho in front of you.

Kotoyuki defeats Nishikigi – This is a prime example of Kotoyuki’s “brand of sumo”, and it’s quite effective. Nishikigi wants to close the distance and take Kotoyuki to his chest, but Kotoyuki’s thrusting attacks are too well orchestrated to present an opening. Sadly Nishikigi is make-koshi, and may be a candidate for that Juryo barge.

Tamawashi defeats Onosho – Onosho got the better of the tachiai, but Tamawashi managed to get the inside path, with a brilliant running thrust combo to Onosho’s chest. Once a skilled rikishi like Tamawashi can set this up, you are going out or you are going down.

Daieisho defeats Meisei – Crashing together like two seals fighting for a strip of dock space, Meisei gave out first as Daieisho ejected him on the south side of the dohyo. Meisei attempted to set for a throw, but when his hand missed its hold on Daieisho’s mawashi, the pivot was already in motion. Daieisho finished him with a strong push for the win.

Okinoumi defeats Abi – Woa! Okinoumi demonstrates yet another way to upend Abi-zumo. Abi misses the tachiai by a split second, rocking back on his heels as Okinoumi launches. Okinoumi gets his hands up first, and grab’s Abi’s enormous head, and gives it a firm twist. His balance now completely disrupted Abi tumbles to the clay in the blink of an eye.

Asanoyama defeats Takarafuji – Another straight ahead yotsu-zumo win for Asanoyama, and he stays one behind Hakuho. Takarafuji had no chance to set up any kind of stalemate and wait gambit, as Asanoyama took charge of the match at the tachiai and marched Takarafuji out. Asanoyama now 9-2.

Myogiryu defeats Hokutofuji – Hokutofuji was all over the place today, even more than his normal form. Watch this match and notice Myogiryu’s efficiency. While Hokutofuji is wildly flailing away, Myogiryu is focused, calm and careful with his moves. Hokutofuji falls to 4-7, and is in real danger of a make-koshi for the final basho of the year.

Endo defeats Mitakeumi – Exhibit 9 for Mitakeumi is not quite right. He was unable to put Endo into a defensive mode at the tachiai, and let the man in gold set up a mawashi grip, then gave him room to shift and improve that grip. Its good to see Endo on top of his high-skill sumo. I am starting to wonder how far he can take it.

Takakeisho defeats Aoiyama – The Grand Tadpole hits his 8th win, and confirms his Ozeki rank in spite of the injuries he brought into the basho. I have huge respect for this young man for sticking it out and fighting to win every single day. Aoiyama controlled the early moments of this fight, but Takakeisho held his ground until he found his opening, and counter-attacked with power and focus.

Hakuho defeats Ryuden – Ryuden did in fact give Hakuho a solid match, fighting well and keeping the Yokozuna working until the last moment. Hakuho advances to 10 wins, or as he calls it a “Yokozuna kachi-koshi”. At this point, short of an injury, it will come down to Takakeisho to see if anyone has a chance of beating “The Boss”.

Kyushu Day 11 Preview

Welcome to act 3, the final five days of the Kyushu Basho. Act 3 is where we sort the winners from the losers, and crown a tournament champion. Give how we start act 3 with the bulk of rikishi in the 4-6 to 6-4 range, I predict a torrent of Darwin matches for the final weekend. These hideous contests see two 7-7 rikishi face off on the final day of the tournament. The loser is make-koshi, and the winner kachi-koshi. It punctuates the fact that Sumo, unlike life, is a zero-sum game.

We can tell that unless something odd happens, Hakuho is going to head home with the hardware for the 43rd time in his career, a mark I doubt I will live to see equaled. In the unlikely event that anyone can hand the ida-yokozuna another loss, Natsu yusho winner Asanoyama is the only chance anyone has of holding a score that might end up requiring a playoff. Hakuho has already beaten Asanoyama, so short of Hakuho going kyujo, its time for Miyagino Oyakata to buy another big ass fish.

Kyushu Leaderboard

Leader: Hakuho
Chasers: Asanoyama
Hunt Group: Takakeisho, Shodai, Chiyomaru, Kagayaki

5 Matches Remain

What We Are Watching Day 11

Terutsuyoshi vs Ikioi – Good golly, Ikioi is back in the top division, even if it’s for a day. I am sure the crowd is going to go wild when the Iron Daimyo mounts the Kyushu dohyo at the start of Makuuchi. He is still 1 win away from kachi-koshi, but a return to the top division is very much a possibility for January. But first he has to overcome a fairly genki Terutsuyoshi

Shimanoumi vs Daishomaru – Daishomaru’s make-koshi is on the line, and he seems almost ready to join the barge headed back to Juryo. These two have only fought once before, and it was Shimanoumi who was the winner.

Chiyomaru vs Yutakayama – Very excited for this match. Yutakayama seems to be running low on stamina right now, and he will need all he can muster against the massive Chiyomaru on day 11. Chiyomaru needs one more white start for his kachi-koshi, and confirming his return to the top division from his brief return to Juryo.

Kotoshogiku vs Chiyotairyu – Already make-koshi, I really want to see Kotoshogiku hold to a 7-8 line, for fear that he will wind up on that barge to Juryo. Chiyotairyu has looked better in the past 2 days that I have seen him fight in months, so I am worried about this one.

Shodai vs Sadanoumi – Shodai needs one more win for kachi-koshi, which should be easy for him at this rank. Frankly if he is not in double digits at the end of day 15, he needs to examine his sumo. Sadanoumi has been fighting very well, and out performing much stronger and larger rikishi. So I don’t think this is automatic for Shodai today.

Shohozan vs Takanosho – Both men come in at 6-4, and we have not seen a good Shohozan beat-down for a few days. No, don’t tell me those big arms are tired, I think he’s just pining for the fjords.

Ishiura vs Kotoeko – Dare I say that Ishiura has shown flashes of brilliance in act 2? Please do continue, sir! We find our interest in your sumo renewed, and our hopes that you can be more than an obligatory henka dispenser assuaged.

Tsurugisho vs Kagayaki – First time match has Mr Fundaments Kagayaki up against Cruiser Class Tsurugisho. He looked most ineffective in his day 10 loss against Ishiura, so lets see if he can break his 2 day losing streak. A Kagayaki win would secure kachi-koshi. Frankly I think Kagayaki needs to finish 9-6 or 10-5 this time.

Daishoho vs Enho – Has the Makuuchi regulars decoded Enho’s attack plan? Could that explain the odd tachiai coming from sumo’s power pixie? I am fairly sure he’s creative enough that he’s going to bring out some cunning variation today and give the make-koshi Daishoho another black star.

Nishikigi vs Kotoyuki – with his visit to the upper ranks complete, Kotoyuki “The Penguin” needs to work on getting to his 8, and first up is a chance to deliver the make-koshi loss to Nishikigi. Kotoyuki has been fighting very well compared to the last 2 years, and I would not be surprised to see him finish the tournament 4-1.

Tamawashi vs Onosho – Two big thrust jockeys coming in head to head at 5-5, and there is a slight career edge to Onosho. Like Ishiura and Chiyotairyu, Onosho has seems to recover his “good” sumo from the cleaners, and is using it with great effect. If Onosho can finish Kyushu 3-2, we may get to see him face off against a slate of high-rankers for January.

Daieisho vs Meisei – Another 5-5 score match up,. This time I think we are going to see Daieisho burn Meisei down shortly after the tachiai. Meisei has the sumo chops, but seems to have a tough time overcoming “all or nothing” Oshi attacks.

Abi vs Okinoumi – Abi has 2 wins to go for his 8, and I think that he’s looking to give Asanoyama a run for the Sekiwake slot that Tochinoshin will be vacating in January. Not that Okinoumi is helpless, in fact I think he was an early tinkerer in dismantling Abi’s trademark thrusting attack.

Takarafuji vs Asanoyama – Its safe to say that Asanoyama’s slot as the second man in yusho arasoi is at risk each day for the rest of the basho. Already kachi-koshi, he could coast the rest of the way if he wanted to. But given he’s the kind of guy who will press ahead no matter what, I am hoping he can reach double digits. Takarafuji will, as always, stalemate and wait.

Hokutofuji vs Myogiryu – Hokutofuji comes into day 11 with a 4 match losing streak. It’s not that he isn’t fighting well, it’s just that he can’t quite seem to finish his opponents. Myogiryu is capable of beating just about anyone on the right day, so I am hoping we don’t see Hokutofuji go down. Both men come into the match with 4-6 records, and each are 2 losses away from make-koshi.

Mitakeumi vs Endo – Normally I would look for this to be a clash of technique vs brawn, but Mitakeumi is struggling right now, and he has to hope that he can pick up 3 more wins any way he can to survive vacating the Sekiwake rank he has maintained for of the 10 last 15 basho.

Takakeisho vs Aoiyama – A win today for Takakeisho and he’s got his 8, and secures his Ozeki rank for at least 2 more tournaments. He holds a 4-1 lead in the career series, and I think he’s going to get the better of “Big Dan” today.

Ryuden vs Hakuho – The chances of Ryuden putting dirt on Hakuho are quite small, but I hope that he can give “The Boss” a few seconds of challenging sumo anyhow.

Kyushu Day 10 Highlights

A quick update today, a few crazy things happening in the real world. Some solid performances today, with Ishiura, Terutsuyoshi, Abi and Asanoyama fighting well.

Highlight Matches

Nishikigi defeats Yago – Nishikigi gets the better of the tachiai, and although Yago is able to stalemate him for a moment, Nishikigi has the superior position. Advancing, Nishikigi works to lift Yago over the tawara in the Southwest corner, and Yago puts up a brilliant fight. After many long seconds of each trying to out-power the other, Nishikigi prevails for the win. Yago picks up his 9th loss, and I worry that Ogoruma will have a lack of Sekitori in January.

Terutsuyoshi defeats Kagayaki – Kagayaki can’t keep up, and drops to 2 behind Hakuho. Impressive power from Terutsuyoshi today, as he drills in hard at the tachiai. Kagayaki seems to have focused on head / neck attacks, and Terutsuyoshi focused center-mass. We all know which one tends to carry the day. Odd loss on fundamentals for Kagayaki.

Shimanoumi defeats Daishoho – Shimanoumi focuses on relentless armpit attacks, keeping Daishoho high and moving away. With the loss, Daishoho is now make-koshi and earns a spot on that barge headed to Juryo.

Yutakayama defeats Daishomaru – Very soft tachiai again today from Yutakayama. He managed to get inside position anyhow, and went to work. Daishomaru managed to break contact once, but could not convert that into any change in the match’s momentum. Daishomaru picks up his 7th loss.

Chiyotairyu defeats Shohozan – Wow, nice sumo today from Chiyotairyu! An opening flurry of blows rocked Shohozan back, and Chiyotairyu dove in and got a left hand mawashi grip. From there it was like Chiyotairyu was carrying his luggage to the Shinkansen station. One bag for Tokyo, please!

Takanosho defeats Sadanoumi – This match was decided in the second clash following the tachiai. Takanosho got his hands inside and took a hold of Sadanoumi’s mawashi, and gave him no time to react.

Ishiura defeats Tsurugisho – Another day of really great sumo from Ishiura. I am glad he has taken this turn into skill and power, as he does it pretty well. From the tachiai, Tsurugisho was struggling to react, and Ishiura never let up the pressure. A nice little spin reminded me of dear Harumafuji. Good show!

Shodai defeats Kotoeko – Kotoeko put all of his hopes on a face slap at the tachiai, and gave Shodai a clear road to take him to his chest. Kotoeko realizes he is doomed, and attempts an escape move at the bales, hoping to push Shodai out in the same twisting motion. Shodai is too stable for that trash, and gives Kotoeko a hearty shove to the clay.

Onosho defeats Kotoshogiku – I am starting to see elements of Onosho’s pre injury form showing up more frequently, and I think its a very good sign. It breaks my heart to see Kotoshogiku make-koshi, and 2-8 on day 10. This may be farewell to the Kyushu Bulldozer unless he can somehow find the means to rally.

Chiyomaru defeats Enho – Enho with another odd, soft tachiai that might have been better called a matta, but it was fight on. Enho unwisely tries to get some kind of frontal hold on Chiyomaru, but the belly to waist to arm ratio was not ever going to work, and Enho finds himself getting an unpleasant neck adjustment from a fat man. Enho decides to try an escape, but trips on the tawara for the loss.

Tamawashi defeats Daieisho – Traditional Tamawashi sumo, hard, low and brutal. The tachiai goes straight to his face, and both men open up with heavy tsuppari. Daieisho breaks contact, and dives for Tamawashi’s chest, but is deflected out of the loss.

Okinoumi defeats Takarafuji – I think Okinoumi is still riding the sumo buzz from day 9, and uncorks more fantastic form for his day 10 win over Takarafuji. Okinoumi got a solid hold on his opponent, and just kept pressing forward. Straight ahead, but well-earned win.

Asanoyama defeats Meisei – Asanoyama once again displays classic Edo-period form to out-brute Meisei for win #7. Asanoyama stays one behind Hakuho.

Abi defeats Hokutofuji – Abi gets the better of the tachiai, and that is all it takes against his long arm thrust attack. Hokutofuji immediately had to switch to defend or escape mode, and Abi gave him no quarter.

Myogiryu defeats Endo – Endo seems to try a different opening gambit today, going right hand high. Sadly this is straight into Myogiryu’s attack, and leaves Endo with no leverage or grip. Myogiryu advances with power and Endo is out.

Ryuden defeats Mitakeumi – Ryuden reaches for and lands a left hand inside grip, but Mitakeumi has forward pressure. Ryuden manages to stop his advance with a foot on the tawara, and sets up the counter attack. Mitakeumi is usually less than stellar in a yotsu-zumo battle, and a concussed Mitakeumi doubly so. Its a straightforward advance and lift to hand Mitakeumi his 5th loss. At this point, even keeping the Ozeki bid alive seems a bit far-fetched, and we have to hope he can heal up for January.

Takakeisho defeats Kotoyuki – Battle of the thrust-master, Kotoyuki cannot match the Ozeki’s power, intensity or blistering frequency for even a moment.

Hakuho defeats Aoiyama – Aoiyama gets a couple of tsuppari in, but Hakuho lands a left hand outside grip, and there is little that Big Dan can do too slow down the Boss. The boss remains at 1 loss, on a clear path to the yusho.