The torikumi for the openings days is up! Day 1 is exactly as I had forecast. For Day 2, the only difference is that it’s Shodai vs. Takanosho and Mitakeumi vs. Ura instead of the other way around; astute reader Sakura had pointed out that this should be the case in a comment on my post. Lots of exciting matchups to look forward to on both days; let the Tachiai coverage of the 2022 Haru basho begin!
Hatsu Basho 2022
Hatsu 2022: Kensho Update
Thanks again to Herouth for the tracking the kensho data, but I love this data. Nintendo’s sponsorship helped make this tournament the biggest as far as kensho payouts go since we started tracking it, with 22% higher payouts than Wacky-Aki and 44% more kensho than Kyushu. The increased sponsorship of hiramaku bouts made for a dramatic increase as the non-musubi total haul surged past 1,000 envelopes to 1,260. The musubi-no-ichiban bouts added another 414 envelopes to the tally. Each envelope contains 30,000 yen, with an equal portion going to the rikishi’s retirement. Adding in the Association’s fee, the sponsorship is 70,000 yen per kensho banner/envelope. This means the envelopes handed out contained 50 Million yen in cash.
*And thank you, Joe S, for pointing out that my numbers about the amount of yen were off by a factor of 10. I have fixed it. [facepalm]
Despite losing the yusho, Terunofuji was yet again the Kensho King, walking away with 282 envelopes. If you do the math with me, that’s $73,600. Mitakeumi walked away with just under $50,000. I expect his bouts with Takakeisho and Terunofuji to be good paydays for whomever wins. (As Ozeki, he won’t have to fight Shodai again. Just kidding, I think.) Third place in the kensho race actually went to Abi, who pipped Shodai and Endo with a little help from his gold-star win against Terunofuji. The great news is that every Makuuchi wrestler walked away with some sponsorship money, and even a few Juryo visitors did, too. My biggest pain point with this is that Takayasu couldn’t share in the bounty.
The coolest thing is that I am starting to see some trends in the aggregate where wrestlers appear to win more bouts when there’s more money on the line. It shouldn’t be a surprise. I think if there’s a few thousand dollars on the line, I’d be more motivated to win. There’s also quite a bit of variability among wrestlers so far but I’m still early in doing that analysis because I need to properly control for rank and strength of opponent.
But on a more basic level, there was an increase in funds across the board which is a great sign. I just think that extra edge helped make the fights more competitive (even on senshuraku) and helped to make for a thrilling tournament. Each day of the tournament had more pledged bouts, and more total envelopes pledged, than any previous tournament we had tracked. This represents the high-water mark of the Covid era and hopefully signals a return to normal is just around the corner.
Speaking of Covid, the news out of Tokyo this weekend was that Mitakeumi tested positive for Covid. Unfortunately, it appears he does have symptoms (headache) so we hope his case stays mild and he recovers quickly. We also hope the case does not turn into an outbreak as he was a participant in the weekend’s retirement activities.
Mitakeumi Promoted To Ozeki
In a ceremony Wednesday morning, representatives from the NSK officially announced that Mitakeumi had been promoted to Ozeki, sumo’s second highest rank. The ceremony featured Mitakeumi, along with Dewanoumi oyakata and okamisan in a deep bow, as Mitakeumi accepted the promotion.
Mitakeumi becomes the third active Ozeki in the current rotation, and punctuated his bid with a 13-2 yusho (his third) on top of a run of 7 straight kachi-koshi basho in san-yaku. He had been trying to reach Ozeki since (I think) 2017, and each time fell just short of the goal. But he never gave up, and never lost his drive
Team Tachiai congratulations Mitakeumi on his promotion, and hopes he serves long and well. Some media below of the proceedings.
Full video here
初場所2022: Mitakeumi Yusho!
Congratulations to Mitakeumi on his victory over Yokozuna Terunofuji. In a thrilling final day, Mitakeumi clinched the yusho outright during the final bout. His strong ottsuke prevented Terunofuji from getting an inside grip. He then drove forward, forcing his opponent out. Terunofuji, for his part, tried to reach over Mitakeumi but it was too late.
During the broadcast of the yusho ceremony, the NHK announced that a decision on Mitakeumi’s Ozeki promotion was imminent. The interviewer shared the news with Mitakeumi during the yusho interview and he understandably became choked up with emotion. His mother was in attendance at Kokugikan and obviously overjoyed at her son’s win. He’s been on the short list for promotion for quite some time.
Though he’s been able to maintain a high-level of sumo, winning twice before and remaining consistently in sanyaku for much of the past four years, he’d not been able to string together the consecutive double-digit wins needed at this level. With both Takakeisho and Shodai kadoban in March, the shin-Ozeki will find a challenge as they will have extra motivation to perform well.