Haru Day 10 Preview


Takayasu-10

Act Two Closing Day

Today we saw Ozeki Terunofuji dismiss his kadoban status in a thunderous fashion. He has been totally dominating his matches and has, beyond a shadow of a doubt, earned his way back to good standing. Sadly today also marks the day that Ozeki Goeido goes kadoban. Due to his withdrawal from the Haru Basho, today was marked as his 8th loss. With his make-koshi now secure, Goeido is facing a challenging time in the May tournament in Tokyo.

Day 10 could also be kinboshi day, as there are 2 Maegashira facing off against the Yokozuna corps today. Hopes are always high that Yoshikaze can blast his way though any opponent, and it would be magical to see him score yet another gold star win against Kakuryu a day after his birthday. Not to be discounted is Endo facing off against Harumafuji, who gives up kinboshi more than any other active Yokozuna today. They come to their day 10 bout with matching 6-3 records.

The Haru leader board is little changed, except that several rikishi feel out of the Chase group, and the pack of men who have the records to put them within Yusho connection has shrunk to 6. Both Takayasu and Kisenosato would need to lose at least once for Terunofuji or Tochiozan to have a shot.

Haru Leader board

LeadersKisenosato, Takayasu
Hunt Group – Terunofuji, Tochiozan
Chasers – Kakuryu, Chiyoshoma

6 Matches Remain

Matches We Like

Chiyoo vs Ura – Ura has been a lot of fun to watch, but make no mistake he is focused on one thing – getting to 8 wins. Going into day 10, he is at 4-5, and needs 4 more wins out of the next 6 days to guarante his remaining in Makuuchi. He has been Chiyoo in 2 of their prior 3 meetings, and Chiyoo is likewise struggling to clinch a winning record.

Takakeisho vs Ishiura – Takakeisho has been having a solid basho, and comes into day 10 with 6-3, more or less assured that he will find a way to pick up the last two wins. His opponent is the compact battle-mouse Ishiura, who can likely survive a losing record this one time. I expect there to be some furious action, as Ishiura never fights at half speed.

Daishomaru vs Tochiozan – With only one loss, Tochiozan already has his kachi-koshi, and he is set for May. But I suspect he is looking for a solid move up the banzuke. Daishomaru brings his 6-3 record into day 10, looking to give himself some buffer for the last 5 days. Daishomaru won their only prior meeting.

Tokushoryu vs Chiyoshoma – Chiyoshoma needs one more win for his kachi-koshi, and may get it on day 10. While Tokushoryu comes to the dohyo with a strong winning record, Chiyoshoma is ranked higher, and is much more capable this basho. He has also won all 4 of their prior matches.

Kotoshogiku vs Takekaze – 4 more wins in 6 days. It means 2 wins for every loss over the rest of the basho. Kotoshogiku can do this, but it’s going to be tough, even starting day 10 with a 6-3 record. Kashi-koshi is not good enough, it’s 10 wins or bust. Day 10 he faces off against the henka master, Takekaze. Their prior matches are split evenly 14-13

Takanoiwa vs Takayasu – Takanoiwa is having a tough basho at 2-7, but as always he is capable of surprising even the mightiest Yokozuna with his explosive, attack-oriented sumo. But he’s facing Takayasu, who is on a mission from the Great Sumo Cat of the Kokugikan itself. A win today would put Takayasu in double digits, and would be a big boost for any special prizes and his ongoing Ozeki campaign. Their prior bouts split 3-2 with advantage to Takayasu.

Shodai vs Terunofuji – Shodai is plagued by being too high in his tachiai – it seems he has a driving need to protect his face. Terunofuji does not care about his face. I am not sure Terunofuji cares about Shodai except as a meat popsicle that he can defeat on the dohyo. Terunofuji is a man possessed, and I am curious to see how far he will go with his current streak of powerful, winning sumo.

Yoshikaze vs Kakuryu – If there is one rikishi that can upset anyone on any day, even on the street right after lunch it’s the amazing Yoshikaze. It’s safe to assume that the Berserker will retire some time in the next few years to become a coach or stable runner himself, but on the way towards that next career, a few more kinboshi mean more money for him and his family. Kakuryu is a slippery, reactive warrior of the first order, and he will not be easy to beat. But Yoshikaze has beat him 5 times during their 15 career matches.

Harumafuji vs Endo – I am predicting nodowa attack festival, mini-henka, death spin or a combination here. Endo can surprise Harumafuji, who seems to be a bit more hurt every day of this basho. But it should be noted that thus far Endo has never beat “The Horse”, so a victory day 10 is a tall order.

Goeido Withdraws From Haru


Goeido

As reported on the NSK official web site, Ozeki Goeido has withdrawn from the March tournament in Osaka. This development should surprise no one, as Goeido was recovering form orthopedic surgery, and had only practiced for four days prior to the start of the basho. Frankly, he was putting his health and future at risk by trying to compete.

As reported in the Japanese sumo press: “about five weeks of treatment with right leg joint lateral ligament injury”

It has been obvious over the past few days that Goeido could not put power to ground through his damaged and re-constructed ankle. Tachiai is grateful that Goeido decided to withdraw before anything horrific took place on the dohyo, and we hope to see him back in action once he is fully recovered.

Haru Day 6 Preview


banzuke-day

Cage Match of Undefeateds As Act 2 Begins

With the first third of Haru behind us, it’s time to crack the lid on the second act. The second act of a basho is where the rikishi on “hot streaks” get increasingly significant challenges, with the idea being to see who has been hiding behind an easy schedule. Starting day 6, it’s clear the schedulers are turning the intensity up another notch.

Matches We Like

Takakeisho vs Tokushoryu – These two slap-happy rikishi have been part of the crew at the lower end of Makuuchi who have been pounding each other silly. All of the younger guys are pushme-pullyous, and it makes things a bit generic. But sometimes its cool to watch these guys smack each other around.

Ura vs IshiuraThank you oh Great Sumo Cat of the Kokugikan! The tiny wonders face in a brawl of strength vs agility. This may be a whole nothing burger, but it might just create a tear in the fabric of the universe that results in cotton candy for all. Be ready for amazement!

Ichinojo vs Okinoumi – Well, Ichinojo’s been plowing along like a giant St. Bernard in a snow bank. It’s not pretty but you know he’s going to get there. But let’s pretend to Okinoumi does not suffer from a painful pelvic wound… Wouldn’t you like to see him contort Ichinojo for a bit? We all do. Let’s see if he can make it happen.

Kaisei vs Aoiyama – Battle of meat mountains! Kaisei is back, yes indeed. After injuring himself on a play date with Hakuho, he took a week or so to recover. Let’s see if he can impress Aoiyama. No matter who wins, it’s going to be HUGE!

Endo vs Chiyonokuni – Both of these guys don’t get much press, but both of them are doing pretty well this basho. Chiyonokuni struggled after going through a round of bulking up, but seems to have it under control now. Endo is a few steps behind the “up and coming” team, but he will, I presume, eventually shed his larval form and emerge as MechaEndou.

Kotoshogiku vs Mitakeumi – Kotoshogiku’s one good leg may have blown out on day 5. So the Cinderella run to reclaim Ozeki may have perished. Even so, as we have shown yesterday, the ones everyone has to look out for this tournament are Komusubi and Sekiwake. Everybody loves Kotoshogiku, but Mitakeumi needs more wins.

Goeido vs Tamawashi – Goeido, mucho respect for coming out for your home town basho after some orthopedic guy rebuilt your ankle. But it’s not working. Go kyujo now, and avoid a career ending bout. Nobody is going to try to hurt you, but you are dangerous to yourself right now.

Takayasu vs Terunofuji – Oh hell yes! Undefeated kadoban Ozeki vs undefeated Sekiwake gunning for an Ozeki slot. Takayasu has been fighting calm and in control, Terunofuji like an demon possessed. Only one will remain undefeated. I intend to drink an entire bottle of Sake before watching this, and the following match. This is my match of the day

Takarafuji vs Kisenosato – Not sure if this one will be anti-climatic, but Takarafuji has been fighting well. But I would expect that Kisenosato will take care of this guy.

Harumafuji vs Yoshikaze – Harumafuji is struggling. He is still injured and not fighitng well. His footing has been off for the past few days, and I worry that thigh muscle tear is still causing problems. Harumafuji and Yoshikaze have history, a lot of history. Most of it involves pain, blood and hospital stays.

 

Haru Day 5 Results


Hakuho-5

Hakuho Kyujo, Kisenosato Undefeated

The first act of Haru is complete. At this point all rikishi should be warmed up, on their sumo and in the optimum form. During the middle third of the basho is when we find out who will have a chance at yusho, and who is been competing hurt.

This big news from day 5 is that Hakuho withdrew from competition on day 5, citing an injury to the big toe of his right foot. This is the same foot that was the subject of surgery in September of 2016, and it’s re-injury is an ominous sign for the Boss’s long-term viability. It was clear that something was wrong form day 2, but like most rikishi, Hakuho was trying to continue in spite of the pain and discomfort. This gave Mitakeumi a fusen win.

The rest of the Yokozuna corps won their matches, with Ikioi putting in a nice effort against Kisenosato, who is looking amazingly untouchable. The same cannot be said for Goeido who is on the Kadoban express after Takekaze dropped him.

Shodai offered little against Takayasu, who has clearly benefited from the non-stop “fight club” with Kisenosato since January. Both Tagonoura rikishi are unbeaten, and every match is smooth, confident, strong and in-control. Then there is Terunofuji, who is fighting like he really means it this time. We have not seen this aspect of him in a while. His matches are like some vengeful hero turned loose to reclaim his stolen valor.

The Kotoshogiku revival train missed a stop today, when Tamawashi was able to resist the one good leg power attack. It’s possible that now we have entered the middle act of Haru, everyone is warmed up, they have been watching the tapes, and they know how to circumvent Kotoshogiku’s modified attack forms.

Takarafuji will not be stopped, at least not any time soon. This is the best performance from Harumafuji’s stable mate that I can recall watching, and he is certainly cleaning up against any and all opponents. The same can be said about Tochiozan, who has had a string of lack-luster tournaments. Today Tochiozan dealt Chiyoshoma his first loss, and looked very much in control for the brief time the match lasted.

Endo handily defeated Ichinojo, who has been on a hot streak since the first of the year. Endo had Ichinojo’s excess height and weight to overcome, but his skill and technique carried the day. Endo has a lot of promise still, but his consistency has suffered greatly.

If you want to watch two rikishi really go after each other today, catch the Daieisho win over Takakeisho.

Late word from the NSK seems to indicate that we will see Kaisei return in the next few days, hopefully in working order and ready for battle. Readers will recall that his injury came in a practice bout with Hakuho, who is now himself out with injury.

Haru Basho Day 4 Summary (*Updated)


Ikioi

Yokozuna Bloodbath Continues

Firstly, apologies for not posting any previews on Tuesday. Hopefully no more cross country marathon road trips for a while.

Overnight in Osaka, the Haru basho continued pulverizing the Yokozuna and Ozeki ranks. The concerns we raised prior to the basho seem to be panning out, as today Hakuho, Kakuryu and Goeido all lost their bouts. At the end of day four, only Kisenosato remains undefeated in the upper two ranks. Kisenosato easily won over Sokokurai today. I would once again call attention to how wide Kisenosato’s stance is throughout almost the entire match. In finishing he once again presents his mie pose.

Ikioi was winless going into today’s match with Hakuho, but he came off the line hard and just pushed with everything he had. A monoii ensued, but Ikioi’s victory was upheld. A fantastic kinboshi win for a popular rikishi. Hakuho looked stunned (as was I).

Likewise, the Kotoshogiku revival train gained a bit more steam today when the demoted Ozeki was able to overpower Kakuryu. Kotoshogiku attempted his preferred hug-n-chug, but did not have the leg strength to take the Yokozuna out, but executed a rather clumsy throw (sukuinage) to finish him. It was ugly and all over the map, but Kotoshogiku got it done.

In other news of top rikishi back from the grave, Terunofuji easily dispatched Yoshikaze. Going into day 5, Terunofuji is undefeated! However in the walking dead camp, Goeido was defeated by Takanoiwa. It almost seemed that Goeido was unaware he was already over the tawara, and kept trying to thrust Takanoiwa down after the match was over.

In a battle of the giants, there was some excellent strength sumo between Takayasu and Mitakeumi (this was my favorite match of the day). Takayasu prevailed but Mitakeumi is clearly demonstrating skill and strength to maintain a high rank. Takarafuji has been showing us some fantastic sumo this basho, and in his match against Hokutofuji, he was able to get Hokutofuji turned around and pushed out. Given that Hokutofuji has yet to finish a tournament with a losing record, his current 1-3 record should worry him.

Lower down the torikumi, the hapless Tochinoshin fell to the undefeated Chiyoshoma in a battle that ranged back and forth for a good amount of time. Chiyoshoma was in control the whole time, but Tochinoshin repulsed attempts at throws, slap downs and trips to remain upright and in the fight. In the end Chiyoshoma was able to force him out.

Ichinojo as also been excelling this basho, looking greatly renewed and invigorated. Today he faced Kagayaki, and marched him directly off the dohyo with little fuss or resistance.

Ishiura executed a really nice throw in his win over Sadanoumi, and I am beginning to hope that he is getting his poise and confidence back after his drubbing during Hatsubasho. Ishiura has a lot of promise and potential, so it’s great to see him back into his sumo.

Lastly, Ura is at it again, and was able to keep upright during yet another super-low tachiai. His opponent, Daieisho, seemed perplexed and was unsure what to do. This is typical of Ura matches and he usually will win in the moments his adversary is trying to reorganize their thoughts, and come to grip with what just happened.

All in all a great day of sumo, and I will gamberize and be back on my regular posting schedule.

UpdatedVideo from Jason’s all sumo channel (from the full NHK feed) of the Hakuho vs Ikioi match, showing the cause of the monii, and the controversy about the call. From the angle shown, it would seem to indicate that Hakuho probably deserved a rematch. By the way, this same ruling in similar conditions was used to remove a victory from Goeido in Kyushu.

Haru Basho Day 3 Summary


Sokokurai

Harumafuji Gifts a Kinboshi to Sokokurai

A few brief notes before I return to nursing what is a terrible cold. Day 3 action offered some really nice action, do make a point of checking them out on Kintamayama’s  youtube channel or Jason’s All Sumo Channel. Both are friends of the Tachiai team, and without them, overseas (from Japan) sumo fans would have to get by on the NHK summaries alone.

Ishiura looked strong and in control today in his win over Daieisho, you can definitely see some of the moves he has learned from Hakuho in today’s bout.

Ura lost his match against Tochiozan. Ura came in low, and Tochiozan kept him low and off balance. Isaac Newton took care of the rest. Tochinoshin (his first of the year) finally won one against the new winless Sadanoumi.

Okinoumi put in a great effort to overcome Kagayaki, who is yet to score a victory this basho. Chiyoshoma defeated Kotoyuki to remain at 3-0. So maybe Chiyoshoma is on a bit of a hot streak. Likewise Takarafuji is at 3-0 after he found no challenge from Endo.

Ichinojo? He’s doing real sumo these days. He looks like he could turn into a serious guy too. With his size and strength he could do a lot. He dominated Hokotofuji today.

Among the San’yaku battle fleet, Mitakeumi won convincingly over Tamawashi. Mitakeumi established a strong mawashi grip about 10 seconds in, and then had total control over Tamawashi. This is much to be learned here – Mitakeumi use to be a straight pusher/thruster. This worked great for him until he found there were limits to that technique, so he added mawashi sumo into the mix, and deploys it with skill. The result is that he is now a much better rikishi.

As expected, Takayasu contained Kotoshogiku and put him on the clay. The former Ozeki cold not get any power going against the Sekiwake, and appeared out of options when Takayasu took him down.

Terunofuji had no trouble with Shohozan, and is fighting much better than expected. I do hope that he has his body healed up, and we can see a lot of his sumo this tournament.

Goeido fell far too easily to Shodai today. It was clear that Goeido 1.0 was on the clay, and Shodai rolled him down and out. I have real concerns about that right ankle, as he was keeping pressure off of it today.

Takekaze gave Hakuho a honest, vigorous fight today. It was a beautiful thing to watch. But as is Hakuho’s style he took his time andwaited for his opportunity. That extra shove at the end is classic “old school” Hakuho. Surprised it showed up today. Maybe the Boss is getting frustrated.

Takanoiwa has yet to win a match this basho, but he is fighting well. Today against Kisenosato, he gave the shin-Yokozuna a decent challenge. At least twice Kiseonsato was off balanced, but recovered with remarkable speed for a man of his size, once again striking his Mae pose right at the end.

The Harumafuji match – The horse really looks out of his element now. His balance seems to be off, and he seems sluggish. I don’t know if he is taking pain meds to overcome his injuries or what, but I think that Sokokurai winning by a hatakikomi comes as a surprise to many fans.

Haru Day 3 Preview


kisenosato Haru 2

This Hits Keep Rolling

Apologies on the late posting this week. Your humble author is humbling nursing a terrible cold, and executing a mandatory cross-country drive. This should improve on Saturday, possibly with the introduction of the Tachiai daily morning update podcast. 5 minutes of all the action of the day from Japan. Provided my voice comes back….

We are only two days into the basho, so it’s far too early to talk about who is hot and who is not. But there are some interesting trends already.

Daishomaru, Chiyoshoma, Tochiozan and Takarafuji are all 2-0. That’s right, there are only 5 Maegashira who are still undefeated. Clearly, this basho things are a bit more balanced, meaning that the banzuke was a better fit for the rikishi available. Of course once we hit day 6 on Friday, we should be able to know who has a chance to lead the pack.

Five of the eleven San’yaku are still undefeated. Which further underscores our worry that the upper ranks have quite a bit of “walking wounded”. The only two San’yaku who thus far look healthy and fit are Kisenosato and Takayasu.

Matches We Like

Daishomaru vs Kyokushuho – These two have only met twice before, with one win each. I expect a lot of pushing and shoving from these two, with a throw to finish.

Ura vs Tochiozan – Ura has been working hard to apply his technique to Makuuchi, which is turning out to be a challenge. Tochiozan is a storied veteran who has seen better days, but can still reach for greatness. This is the first time these two have matched, and I am eager to see what happens.

Chiyoshoma vs Kotoyuki – Chiyoshoma has a small hot streak going at 2-0, but he faces Kotoyuki, who is a fierce pusher / thruster. Kotoyuki is still young, and we hope that he develops a better mawashi technique. This transition form pure pusher-thruster to hybrid seems to have been the key element that really ignited Mitkaeumi, and I belive that Kotoyuki has great potential if he can expand his sumo.

Endo vs Takarafuji – Takarafuji is closer to the end of his career than the beginning. Endo can learn much from Takarafuji’s sumu. Takarafuji leads their career matches 4-2. I epxect that Takarafuji will prevail.

Kotoshogiku vs Takayasu – It’s time to see what happens when Kotoshogiku matches with a man looking to beat everyone between him and his Ozeki title. Kotoshogiku has been holding up well the first two days, and is looking much better than I thought he would. But Takayasu is hungry. He is also one of the few rikishi who has the strength, stance and ring awareness to survive a “hug-n-chug” attack from the master. This may be the big match of the day.

Goeido vs Shodai – Goeido is always hit-or-miss, except for Goeido 2.0. Shodai is looking nicely upgraded since Hatsu. This will be a great test to see if Goeido is going to be able to put power-to-ground through that damaged ankle. Slight edge to Goeido.

Ikioi vs Kakuryu – Readers, try to carefully examine what Kakuryu does the moment of the tachiai. His normal approach will be to absorb Ikioi’s initial thrusts and fall back and circle. Ikioi will chase him, and Kakuryu will wait for the correct moment when Ikioi is off balance, and he will close the deal. This is the essence of Kakuryu, look to see if he does it today.

Takanoiwa vs Kisenosato – Takanoiwa can surprise anyone on any given day. That being said, I think that we are going to see Kisenosato hit that Mae pose of sumo doom, and Takanoiwa will be done.