Nagoya Day 12 Preview


Yoshikaze-wide

We Love Sumo Thiiis Much!

With just a few days remaining, the Nagoya yusho race came back to life with Mitakeumi’s surprise upset of Yokozuna Hakuho. Some Hakuho fans, like myself, had hoped that he could rack up at least one last back-to-back zensho run, but it’s clear that the new crop of rikishi are too competitive for that kind of dominance this year. The two rikishi who could challenge are both at least 2 tiers of skill below Hakuho on a bad day, so it’s clear that it’s still his yusho to lose.

A dominant Hakuho creates several effects on the upper ranks of sumo. For starters, it makes it practically impossible for anyone else to get close to a Yokozuna promotion. In order to even be considered, you have to beat the yokozuna with the most wins ever, who on an average day is unassailable and on a good day can find your sumo boring and uninspired. This has a knock on effect for Ozeki and San’yaku promotion slots too.

Watching Ura’s performance today, it’s evident that his injuries are limiting his performance now, and his ability to endure that damage for the remaining 4 bouts will determine a lot about the next 4 months for his sumo career. If he can win half his bouts, he will come away with a kachi-koshi, and likely be in one of the top 4 Maegashira slots in September. If we use Iksumo’s wonderful forecast, Ura is likely to face Kotoshogiku, Tamawashi, Yoshikaze, and Ichinojo. This would be a tall order if he was fully healthy, so my original prediction of make-koshi for him is looking like a reasonable outcome.

For Mitakeumi to get to 10 wins, and kick of a chance at an Ozeki bid, he needs two more wins out of a roster of Harumafuji, Tochinoshin, Ikioi, and Chiyoshoma. Not trivial but possible if he can stay focused and uninjured. Kotoshogiku is at the bottom of a deep hole now, and needs to win all 4 against a predicted schedule of Shodai, Ura, Tochinoshin, and Hokutofuji. While it is possible, his next defeat and he is out of san’yaku.

Heading to Aki, we already know that Terunofuji is kadoban, and if he is healed by September, he will easily shed that burden within the first 10 days. Goeido however is at real risk of being kadoban himself, in spite of some fairly good sumo this basho. He faces a predicted schedule of Tochiozan, Hakuho, Harumafuji, and Takayasu. He needs to win 2 of those to keep out of kadoban.

Nagoya Leader board

Leader – Hakuho
Chasers – Onosho, Aoiyama
Hunt Group – Harumafuji, Takayasu, Mitakeumi, Tochiozan, Takarafuji

4 Matches Remain

What We Are Watching Day 12

Chiyomaru vs Daishomaru – Chiyomaru trying again for his kachi-koshi, which would also make Daishomaru make-koshi at the same time. This is their first match up ever, so it’s going to be interesting too see how this goes.

Aoiyama vs Takarafuji – Both having winning records secure, so this is more of a sparring match. Aoiyama looked off form on day 11, can he bounce back?

Nishikigi vs Ishiura – Both rikishi are struggling with a middling record right now, but Nishikigi will be on the fast train back to Juryo if he cannot lock down his winning record. Ishiura has a 6-1 advantage in their career match ups.

Chiyotairyu vs Onosho – Onosho is gunning for a second consecutive special prize, and Chiyotairyu needs one more win for kachi-koshi. Right now momentum favors Onosho, and he holds a 2-1 advantage in their 3 career bouts.

Ura vs Ichinojo – Traditional big man / little man sumo contest. Sadly Ura is looking hurt, but given the schedule above, it may his best chance to pick up a badly needed win.

Hokutofuji vs Takakeisho – Hokutofuji is working hard to avoid his second ever tournament losing record. He has to defeat the explosive Takakeisho to reverse course. Takakeisho is already in a majority loss record, but he’s still fighting hard. He has also won both of their prior matches.

Yoshikaze vs Tochinoshin – Winner gets kachi-koshi, with Tochinoshin leading their career match ups 14-7. Tochinoshin has Yoshikaze out gunning in height, weight, strength and reach. But don’t count out the superior athletics of Yoshikaze.

Shodai vs Kotoshogiku – A Kotoshogiku loss would mark him make-koshi, and ensure a demotion out of san’yaku for September. The good news for Ojisan is that Shodai has been horrifically inconsistent this basho.

Kagayaki vs Goeido – The last of the “easy” bouts for Goeido, he needs to pick up this win if he wants to avoid kadoban status for September. I expect Goeido will go for the lighting charge out of the tachiai. Kagayaki, ever consider a henka?

Takayasu vs Tochiozan – You would think the Ozeki would have the advantage here, but Tochiozan leads their career match ups 18-6! In addition, Tochiozan has been fighting well this basho, and will likely give Takayasu a hard fight.

Hakuho vs Tamawashi – Tamawashi has never beaten Hakuho, and I don’t expect Hakuho’s day 11 loss to Mitakeumi to have any carry-over effect for today. This is likely the day that Hakuho ties Kaio.

Mitakeumi vs Harumafuji – I really want Harumafuji to win this one, but he is clearly suffering with problems in multiple joints. So I am going to say that Mitakeumi has a decent chance here. Their career record favors Harumafuji 3-2.

 

Nagoya Day 11 Highlights


Mitakeumi Kensho Stack

Tachiai Is Not Spoiler Free.

A word to our readers. We dearly appreciate all of you, and are grateful that you take the time to come by and visit our little sumo site. A special thanks to all of you who take the time to add your voice to the community here, and post your comments on our stories. As happens from time to time, we get people who are disappointed that we are reporting facts about the day’s sumo events prior to their chance to watch it either on Youtube or HNK. For that, we are somewhat sorry, but let me explain our policy.

Sumo fans in the west are at a huge time disadvantage. By the time the early birds rise in the US East Coast morning hours, matches have been over for hours, and the results are known to everyone who follows sumo across the world – except for the Americas. We made a decision that we would write and comment about the events that happen in Japan from a Japanese time reference. So for Tachiai, there is no such thing as a spoiler. We know that some of our readers are fairly hard core (as we are) and sometimes stay up overnight to watch the matches as they happen. If we waited until Noon or 1:00 PM Eastern, we are just a few hours away from the next day’s matches starting. Very silly. In addition, some of our contributors are fortunate enough to be at the venue and watch the action live. It would make no sense to limit their ability to contribute and report.

So for now and the foreseeable future, Tachiai is an “as it happens” venue. If you want to savor the anticipation of not knowing the outcome until you see it on video, we ask that you refrain from the temptation to check our site, or follow us on Twitter or Facebook. Because we will post major events more or less as they happen. In the instance of twitter, I follow several dozen sumo fans in Japan, and they are tweeting like mad about the matches as they happen, so the entirety of the day, and everyone’s reactions to them bouts is known as I prepare to write.

Again, thank you everyone who reads the site and visits us, we really do treasure you, but we are going to follow sumo action during a basho as closely as our sleep schedule allows.

Highlight Matches

Takekaze defeats Kotoyuki – With Kotoyuki’s make-koshi confirmed, we can assume he will be relegated back to Juryo, short of some divine intervention. Takekaze inches closer to yet another winning record and remaining in Makuuchi.

Okinoumi defeats Gagamaru – Bloody lethargic match was closer to a pair of tired grizzly bears fighting for a sleeping bag than any kind of sumo. Gagamaru has always be sort of low energy “win by being huge” sort of rikishi, but given the speed and energy of the young ones, he looks tremendously out of place. Back to Juryo with him as well.

Nishikigi defeats Aoiyama – Nishikigi will not surrender to the specter of a return to Juryo. Today he was able to best Aoiyama, who has been on a tear this basho. First the shimpan had to talk it over, but they upheld the gyoji’s gumbai. Given Aoiyama’s mass, there is a real question of mechanical injury on any fall or throw. We hope the big Bulgarian is undamaged, though it looks like his damaged knee hit hard.

Chiyonokuni defeats Takanoiwa – Takanoiwa must be hurt, as I know he can produce some powerful and effective sumo. But it’s great to see Chiyonokuni back in winning form. He looked confident and aggressive today, and kachi-koshi is still within reach.

Onosho defeats Takarafuji – Onosho continues to impress, do not be surprised if he wins yet another special prize for his excellent sumo this tournament. I suspect he will take the “Young Rikishi Punching Bag” slot from Takakeisho for Aki. Victory seemed to come in the form of Takarafuji slipping and falling, but a win is a win.

Tochiozan defeats Chiyotairyu – Tochiozan has quietly been putting up some solid sumo for a few basho now. I expect him back in the joi for Aki given his kachi-koshi, and we shall see how genki he is feeling then. Chiyotairyu is also likely to finish with a winning record, and a modest move up the banzuke for the fall.

Ichinojo defeats Ikioi – Another marathon battle from the JNS Ichinojo, and the crowd was eating it up. Much respect to Ikioi for going the distance on this one.

Tochinoshin defeats Hokutofuji – Brillant session of mawashi combat today, and both rikishi looked very good. It’s always a tough road when someone decides to challenge Tochinoshin in a strength contest. Possibly san’yaku slot for the mighty Georgian if he can pick up a couple additional wins.

Takakeisho defeats Kotoshogiku – Takakeisho very effectively countered the Kyushu Bulldozer’s front attack. Takakeisho took a pounding this basho, but there is and remains a reason he achieved Maegashira 1 ranking. Talk in sumo circles is questioning if Kotoshogiku will retire on his 8th loss and imminent demotion from san’yaku.

Yoshikaze defeats Shodai – Shodai earns his make-koshi, and will have a chance to improve his tachiai for Aki. Shodai’s fundamental mechanics are sound, but some of his execution requires upgrades before he can compete at the next stage of his evolution. Yoshikaze was in control of this match from the start.

Tamawashi defeats Takayasu – After a good opening gambit by Takayasu, Tamawashi rallied and took the match. The deciding fact was Tamawashi’s ability to block Takayasu landing an effective mawashi grip. Well played Takayasu!

Goeido defeats Ura – Solid Ozeki performance from Goeido, damn I am happy to see him booted up in 2.0 mode for multiple days in a row. Ura is a bit banged up from his prior days with the Ozeki / Yokozuna corps, and was looking vague and stiff. Goeido needs to push hard for his kachi-koshi, it would be ugly to have kadoban twins for Aki again.

Harumafuji defeats Chiyoshoma – A solid and decisive win for Harumafuji, he is now safely in kachi-koshi territory. Each basho he seems a bit more injured, and I really want him to be an active Yokozuna for a while longer. But it’s clear the cumulative damage to his joints are taking their toll.

Mitakeumi defeats Hakuho – Zensho is no longer an option, the shin Sekiwake stops The Boss’s winning streak at 25. This is still Hakuho’s yusho in all likelihood, but Mitakeumi scored an important victory that puts his possible Ozeki campaign into an active mode. He needs two more wins to kick it off. If Iksumo’s forecast is correct, Ikioi and Chiyoshoma seem to be the likely donors.

San’yaku Torikumi Forecast


Since the schedulers only give us the Torikumi one day in advance, it’s fun to speculate about the days ahead. Below is a guess for the bouts for the remaining San’yaku rikishi for days 12-15. Others who know more about scheduling than I do should chime in.

  Day 12 Day 13 Day 14 Day 15
Hakuho Tamawashi Goeido Takayasu Harumafuji
Harumafuji Mitakeumi Takayasu Goeido Hakuho
Goeido Tochiozan Hakuho Harumafuji Takayasu
Takayasu Kagayaki Harumafuji Hakuho Goeido
Tamawashi Hakuho Hokutofuji Ura Kagayaki
Mitakeumi Harumafuji Tochinoshin Ikioi Chiyoshoma
Yoshikaze Tochinoshin Ikio Kagayaki Ura
Kotoshogiku Shodai Ura Tochinoshin Hokutofuji

The Yokozuna schedule should be very straightforward. The only question is the order in which they face the Ozeki, and given the cache of the HakuhoTakayasu bout, I’m guessing they’ll hold it till day 14, even though Goeido is ranked higher than Takayasu on the Banzuke.

This also sets the Ozeki schedule except for day 12. They will already have fought the rest of the San’yaku and the upper maegashira after day 11, and Kagayaki and Tochiozan are next in line. Given his stronger record, I have Takayasu facing the higher-ranked of the two.

The two sekiwake have their remaining Yokozuna bouts on day 12, and then face the upper maegashira they haven’t fought yet. The two komusubi are done with their San’yaku schedule, and will face maegashira from here on out.

Beyond the high-rank bouts with obvious yusho implications, I’m looking forward to Ura facing Kotoshogiku, Tamawashi, and Yoshikaze, as I’m sure is everyone else. Goeido is fighting to avoid kadoban status. All four sekiwake/komusubi slots are mathematically up for grabs (although Mitakeumi needs only one more win), with multiple candidates to move up to the San’yaku should slots open up, so the remaining Tochinoshin and Hokutofuji bouts also have a lot of meaning and should be fun to watch.

It’s looking like a great final act to Nagoya!

Nagoya Day 11 Preview


Hulk-Smash!

Take Your Turn – Help Me Out

Dear readers, your humble associate editor is stranded at one of America’s scenic airports, praying that he will make hit home tonight. As a result, your preview for day 11 will be fairly short. If you are feeling genki, please feel free to put in your predictions in the comments section below.

Given some of the past forecasts, we have a pretty smart group of readers that are able to handicap a bout. So please feel free to have at it. Just to be clear: serious, accurate, silly or outrageous predictions are all welcome. Except the prediction that upon tying Kaio’s record, Hakuho’s false human skin melts away to reveal he is a terminator, who replaced the real Hakuho during surgery last September. (Yes, I did call that)

Matches I Hope I Get To Watch

Gagamaru vs Okinoumi – Loser takes maki-koshi. My bet is it’s Planet Gagamaru.

Aoiyama vs Nishikigi – Odds are not good that Nishikigi will break his 4 bout losing streak against the Man-mountain.

Takarafuji vs Onosho – First time meet up, both have kachi-koshi already, so sure, why not?

Ikioi vs Ichinojo – Both have maki-koshi, already, so lets hold a contest of rikishi we wish would get their sumo back in order. Ichinojo leads career total 6-3!

Tochinoshin vs Hokutofuji – First time match could be a real point of interest for day 11. Both have a good amount of strength. Will Hokutofuji grapple the big Georgain, or stay mobile?

Takakeisho vs Kotoshogiku – Kind of the WTF match of the day. Angry Tadpole Takakeisho has play time with Ojisan Kotoshogiku. Kotoshogiku seems to be tired of not being taken seriously, so maybe he’s going to really throw down some serious belly bumping goodness. First (and possibly only) meet up between these two.

Yoshikaze vs Shodai – One request for this match. Future oyakata Yoshikaze, could you please help Shodai fix his tachiai? Consider it a gift to the future of sumo.

Takayasu vs Tamawashi – Well, this could get brutal. Both of these guys are big, strong and like to rain blows down upon their opponents. So let’s keep the blood off the already shattered dohyo, guys.

Ura vs Goeido – Ura is like a delightful new toy for the upper ranks. Everyone wants to dance with him. He looked a bit hurt following his day 10 bout, so I hope he is back together and well. I anticipate a Goeido 2.0 stampede charge straight off the line. Worryingly, Goeido is edging closer to going Kadoban yet again!

Chiyoshoma vs Harumafuji – Harumafuji kachi-koshi coming up.

Hakuho vs Mitakeumi – Looking for The Boss to tie Kaio’s all time win record today.

Nagoya Day 10 Preview


Giant-Sumo-Macaroon
Behold! The Giant Macaroon of Victory!

Closing The Second Act

My template for any basho is a series of 3 acts, with the second one being focused on trimming the field to a handful of rikishi who will compete for the cup. For Nagoya, we have slim chance of anyone other than Hakuho winning this one. The only credible rikishi is Aoiyama at 8-1, and there is little hope that he could best Hakuho in any kind of head-to-head match should it come to that. Right now it’s Hakuho’s basho to lose.

The strong story of this basho, as we outlined in the weeks leading up to Nagoya, is the strength of the new blood that had entered Makuuchi since the Kyushu basho in November. Up to that point, the upper ranks were largely populated by men who had been Sekitori for more than 4 years, many of whom were getting a bit long in the tooth. It was clear that we would have a cull as soon as a strong class of men were able to fight their way past Juryo, and into position to dethrone the old guard.

Today we see that outcome beginning to manifest itself, with the startling surprise that in spite of injury, surgery, hospitalization and a brutal road to recovery, Hakuho one again sits atop the sumo world. For fans who are new to sumo, or those who cannot recall, with Hakuho Genki, the chances of anyone being able to reach Yokozuna are very close to zero. It’s one thing to win two yusho in a row when you have fierce men holding down the Yokozuna and Ozeki ranks (such as a healthy Terunofuji or Kisenosato), and another matter entirely when you have to overcome Hakuho.

What’s in store for act 3? I suspect the Nagoya basho has a few more tricks up its sleeves, and we are likely to see at least one more crazy day before the winner can claim the coveted giant macaroon of victory.

Nagoya Leader board

Leader – Hakuho
Chaser – Aoiyama
Hunt Group – Takayasu, Onosho, Chiyotairyu, Takarafuji

6 Matches Remain

What We Are Watching Day 10

Takarafuji vs Gagamaru – Takarafuji going for kachi-koshi, while Gagamaru is praying he can stay out of Juryo for another basho. Sad news for Planet G, Takarafuji has won all 6 of the prior bouts.

Nishikigi vs Takekaze – After a strong start, Nishikigi is on a 3 bout losing streak. He has never won against Takekaze, so this could be an inch closer to the edge of make-koshi and an unfortunate return to Juryo. Time to gamberize!

Aoiyama vs Chiyotairyu – Chiyotairyu pushing for kachi-koshi against the man mountain today. I will be curious to see if Aoiyama will back off the throttle now that he has secured a winning record. He has to know that a trip to the upper Maegashira is now likely, and it brings plenty of pain. Aoiyama leads the series 6-2.

Tokushoryu vs Onosho – Onosho has a shot at kachi-koshi today too, but he needs to overcome the man with biggest overhang in sumo, none other than Tokushoryu. only 3 prior matches, and Tokushoryu has taken 2 of them.

Tochinoshin vs Ichinojo – Big and strong takes on strong and huge. Tochinoshin is back in fighting form, and could be headed for San’yaku if he can get his last 3 wins. Tochinoshin leads their series 8-4.

Kagayaki vs Hokutofuji – Nice match between the fresh rikishi. Both of them have losing records at the moment, but a lot of that is due to their tours through the upper ranks. Kagayaki has never won against Hokutofuji, but today could be his day.

Yoshikaze vs Takakeisho – Yoshikaze completely dismantled Takayasu on day 9, and being a fan of both, it was glorious to watch. As some of our readers have mentioned, Takayasu has gotten a bit one dimensional in the past 3 bouts. Compare his sumo for Aki 2016 to today, and you can see the change. Now, he did what he needed to do in order to reach Ozeki, but he is clearly getting easier to read and counter.

Shodai vs Mitakeumi – I am guessing no henka today. Shodai’s tachiai may be high and sloppy, but he keeps his eyes center-mass of his opponent. I expect he is going to try to get inside on Mitakeumi fast before Mitakeumi can get the tsuppari torrent running. Shodai leads their series 5-3

Kotoshogiku vs Goeido – Kotoshogiku wants to set up for his hip-pump attack, it’s his one thing. Goeido needs to keep this a run-and-gun match, which the Goeido 2.0 software is actually tuned for. These two have met 43 times in the past, but Goeido is the clear winner of their matches.

Takayasu vs Ura – Over to you Takayasu, can you handle this guy? He seems to command the fabric of the universe at times, if you let him. I am hoping that rather than his ordinary shoulder blast, he goes for a strong left hand inside at the tachiai and brings Ura in close. Ura will not last long trying to support the burly bulk that is Takayasu. This is their first bout.

Hakuho vs Chiyoshoma – Chiyoshoma is actually fighting pretty well this basho, and if he did not have to fill in for some kyuju talent at the top end, would likely be in for a nice kachi-koshi. But instead he gets to be cannon fodder for the Yokozuna and Ozeki corps in the final days. Only their second meeting, with Hakuho taking the last match.

Tamawashi vs Harumafuji – Let’s watch them trade choke holds! Bring it on, who can hold their breath longest while man-handling 300+ pounds of rikishi on a slippery clay surface? Yeah, Harumafuji for sure because he has been known to hold his breath for a hour while engaging in Butsukari with Terunofuji.

Nagoya Day 9 Highlights


Ura Lines Up

Let The Crazy Train Roll

Where to start with day 9? Possibly one of the most engaging and topsy-turvy days of sumo in a while. If you are the type that does not want “spoilers” before you watch it on TV, best to turn back now.

Ok, we will start with last night’s preview! I do a paragraph on Juryo 5 Asanoyama – seems like he is really chugging along, and he dropped his bout with Kaisei. My apologies to Asanoyama if the sudden, unexpected write up somehow doomed him. At least he secured his kachi-koshi before then. This puts him even with Yutakayama, who won his match today, in the Juryo yusho race.

Day 9 – if you can find it on Youtube, it’s worth seeing in addition to whatever NHK will try to shoe horn into 20 minutes. The Makuuchi was wall to wall amazement, and it’s a shame that those of us in the West are limited on days like today. Start with Kintamayama’s day 9, I advise.

Highlight Matches

Takarafuji defeats Nishikigi – Nishikigi owned this one from the tachiai, but it seems he made a small mistake just as he was taking Takarafuji to the edge, and Takarafuji exploited that mistake and tossed Nishikigi out. Nice okuridashi.

Chiyomaru defeats Shohozan – A real slug fest, they broke contact a couple of times to glare at each other, and launched back into the fray. Chiyomaru managed to pull down Shohozan as he was chasing him.

Aoiyama defeats Chiyonokuni – Originally the gumbai was pointed at Chiyonokuni, but a monoii was called, and the shimpan noticed that Chiyonokuni’s right foot was out as he cocked the throw that won. Chiyonokuni gets a bloody nose for his prize. Aoiyama secures his kachi-koshi, and first class ticket to punching bag status in upper Maegashira for Aki.

Ishiura defeats Takanoiwa – Sadly, Takanoiwa has now secured his make-koshi, but boy did Ishiura look good handing it to him. There is no way of knowing what kept Ishiura in “neutral” for the first few days in Nagoya, but he certainly seems to be on his sumo now.

Ikioi defeats Hokutofuji – Ikioi has been as lack luster as his 2-7 record would indicate, until today. He was crisp, focused and took Hokutofuji to the clay like he knows sumo. I hope this Ikioi sticks around for the rest of the basho, the other one was boring.

Tochinoshin defeats Shodai – Why Shodai? Did you really want a contest of strength against this lumberjack guy? Shodai conceded to a mawashi battle and was doomed from the start. Tochinoshin looks to have overcome his knee problems to once again be somewhat formidable.

Mitakeumi defeats Kotoshogiku – One.. Two.. Henka! Mitakeumi deftly side steps the Kyushu Bulldozer for an easy win. I dig the new NHK “Henka Cam” mode.

Tamawashi defeats Takakeisho – To me this looked like the sequel to Takakeisho’s match with Hakuho. Lots of tsuppari, some taunting, breaking contact and in the end a miserable defeat. Takakeisho will be back in a tournament or two, better and stronger than before. This is just his welcome to the joi-jin parade.

Yoshikaze defeats Takayasu – Takayasu seemed completely unprepared for Yoshikaze’s attack. True to form the Berserker led with his face, but got inside Takayasu immediately, and took control before the big Ozeki could plant his feet and battle back. Very nice win, but drops Takayasu to 7-2.

Chiyoshoma defeats Goeido – A mighty Goeido 2.0 tachiai directly into Chiyoshoma’s too slow attempt to side step the charge. Chiyoshoma somehow managed to convert this mess of a start into a twisting throw at the bales. The shimpan called a monoii, but footage showed Goeido landing a split second before Chiyoshoma.

URA DEFEATS HARUMAFUJI – The Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium explodes with fanfare as crowd favorite Ura finds a way to wrangle the master of winning by speed into the clay. It happens so fast, multiple replays in slow motion are required to take it in. This is Ura’s first kinboshi, and he is clearly overwhelmed. In the post bout interview, he does lose his grip and starts crying. I think even Harumafuji wondered how he did that.

Hakuho defeats Kagayaki – Not quite as good an effort from Kagayaki today, but it looks to me like he lost his footing on the the clay. I will update the Hakuho meter later today, but he is now tied with Chiyonofuji’s 1045 all time win mark. Three more to go and another lofty mark belongs to the Boss.

Nagoya Day 8 Highlights


Hakuho-Salt

Simply, Some Fantastic Sumo!

This is one of the days that I wish the NHK show was more than just highlights. There was a wide variety of great sumo, from the first Makuuchi matches all the way up to the Yokozuna finals.

The young crop of rikishi who are competing at the very top of sumo for the first time are really recusing themselves well. We are not seeing waves of upset wins, that was never in the cards. But we are seeing young men with skill and a lot of determination going into matches they will not win with a plan to compete hard, and delivering a challenge to some of the best sumo has ever seen.

It should be noted that Aoiyama lost his match today against upstart Onosho, breaking his really fantastic unbeaten streak. I don’t really cover Aoiyama much, because he is a very one dimensional rikishi. He will execute his bouts in a given manner, and will rarely stray from that plan. This used to be Mitakeumi’s problem too, but he managed to expand his sumo, and as a result he is consistently fighting at San’yaku level now. Is it possibly for Aoiyama to be viable at higher ranks? I hold dear the notion that any person can adapt, survive and overcome. So for Aoiyama, I think it’s going to be about setting a goal and working hard to attain it.

Hakuho is now one win away from tying Chiyonofuji’s all time win mark of 1045. Short of an asterioid strike or a tragic injury, we will see Hakuho take out Kiao’s (yeah, that guy in the picture) all time high of 1047. It’s difficult to review the entirety of Hakuho’s career without devolving into a rolling mess of superlatives, and this additional record heaps those superlatives ever higher.

Highlight Matches

Takekaze defeats Chiyomaru – Huge effort from Chiyomaru here, really stood up to a pounding delivered by Takekaze at first, then Chiyomaru locked up the veteran to wear him down. They stood chest to chest for an extended period and it was Takekaze who broke the stalemate with a last ditch hip pumping attack. Great great sumo here.

Chiyonokuni defeats Gagamaru – So happy that Chiyonokuni has overcome whatever had him lethargic and losing during the first week. The battle with Planet Gagamaru was excellent effort from both rikishi, and it could have gone either way. Watch this one if you can find it! It’s not common to see Gagamaru this active and committed to battle.

Tokushoryu defeats Sokokurai – Although Sokokurai put up a great fight, Tokushoryu just kept moving forward. This is a fundamental principle of sumo that every Takakeisho learns, but many don’t always put into practice. As my readers may have guessed, I am a big fan of the fundamentals, and when I see them executed well, I call it out.

Takanoiwa defeats Okinoumi – At the bleeding edge of make-koshi, Takanoiwa pulls out a win. It did look like Okinoumi lost his footing and fell, but it was still a win.

Ishiura defeats Ichinojo – Yes yes yes! Sumo has these great big man / little man bouts, and this was about as large a difference as you might ever muster. Ichinojo really had Ishiura on the defense from the start, and it’s fun to see Ishiura deploy his take on Hakuho in a bout like this. Ishiura has now pulled even to 4-4.

Onosho defeats Aoiyama – I am starting to think that Onosho will get to have the “Takakeisho experience” next basho, as this young rikishi keeps turning up the power. The bout was mostly Onosho driving forward after finding a way to get Aoiyama off balance. Very nicely done.

Tochinoshin defeats Ikioi – Crowd favorite Ikioi has been sucking wind this basho, I hope that whatever has him underperforming can be resolved. Tochinoshin took a side step at the tachiai and got behind Ikioi to take control, but Ikioi recovered well enough to put up a bit of a struggle.

Shodai defeats Tamawashi – Shodai was high again in the tachiai, but was able to take charge of Tamawashi and defeat his offensive strategy. Very good effort from Shodai, and I hope we see more from him like this.

Takakeisho defeats Mitakeumi – This match was a joy to watch. We already know that Mitakeumi will be a San’yaku fixture for the next several basho, but it’s great to see just how much effort Takakeisho can bring to a match like this. Turns out, quite a bit! Watching these two with the same build, the same height and the same mawashi color is a bit unsettling. Well done lads!

Goeido 2.0 defeats Hokutofuji – I love me some Hokutofuji (Kaio Edition), but this was Goeido 2.0 time. He exploded off the line and blasted Hokutofuji out. When I talk about Goeido 2.0, it’s this total commitment to his attack plan, with no chance or hope of a defensive move anywhere along the way. Just overwhelm your opponent and accelerate to victory.

Takayasu defeats Chiyoshoma – Chiyoshoma decides to grab Takayasu’s mawashi, and sumo nerds crack a smile. Yeah, let the big man hug you to victory. Thank you Chiyoshoma for doing that.

Hakuho defeats Ura – As foretold by our readers and the Tachiai team, it was all Hakuho. But damn Ura, that was a strong game plan, and I think you actually made the boss work for his win. I am not sure about Hakuho, but I was impressed that Ura was able to operate effectively. Hakuho is, essentially, unstoppable at this point. Yes, the crowd went bannannas.

Harumafuji defeats Kagayaki – The young Kagayaki really did not have much of a chance, but he put up a fantastic fight. As with the Hakuho-Ura match, he made him work for it. Kagayaki is still too inconsistent to be much of a fight, but sumo fans can see that he’s got the spark of potential to be great.