Natsu Day 10 Highlights


Takayasu

The Hard Chargers Already Achieve Kachi-Koshi.

Day 10, we saw a number of hard charging rikishi achieve their tournament winning records, known as kachi-koshi. This includes

  • Takayasu (actually secured day 9)
  • Terunofuji
  • Shodai
  • Tochinoshin
  • Ura

Kisenosato is in a tough spot – he is too injured to be competitive against the other Yokozuna and probably Terunofuji. There is a real chance he could end up with a make-koshi. Does he go kyujo? I think everyone would understand, but his pride would prevent him from sitting out the rest of the tournament. I am sure the NSK is worrying about what to do next.

The mess in Juryo continues to decay into radioactive slag. The chances of anyone being really worth to promote to Makuuchi is quite slime, as everyone in the top half of Juryo (and could be considered for promotion) has a record no better than 6-4. While there are several rikishi in Makuuchi worthy of return to Juryo, it’s going to be a real wild guess how the July banzuke is going to end up.

Takayasu’s Ozeki run has some problems, though he is likely to overcome. It’s the same issue that Kisenosato and Goeido face. With either Harumafuji or Hakuho healthy, it’s really tough towards impossible to be too dominant. With both of them healthy, you have to be thankful for every win in the upper ranks you can score. Fans will recall that this was the status quo for many years, and it’s one of the primary reasons Kisenosato stayed an Ozeki.

Selected Matches

Yutakayama defeats Ishiura – This was a bit of a strange match. It quickly went to Yutakayama holding Ishiura by the armpits, with Ishura bent over at the waist with a firm grip on Yutakayama’s mawashi. They stayed like this for quite a while until Yutakayama broke the stalemate, and tossed Ishura like a pizza crust into the Shimpan.

Tochinoshin defeats Daishomaru – Another weird one, there were two mattas, each time Daishomaru attempted a very poor henka without putting his hands on the dohyo at the tachiai. The third try? Henka again, but Tochinoshin was having none of it, and Daishomaru was done. Congratulations to Tochinoshin for a fairly early kachi-koshi

Ura defeats Kaisei – Kaisei seemed to struggle to figure out what to do with Ura, who once again was very low at the tachiai. Ura established a firm double hand flab-hold and began to lead Kaisei around like some kind of farm animal. Ura finished Kaisei off with a rather clever leg trip, and had his 8th win. Congratulations to Ura for his kachi-koshi, too.

Ichinojo defeats Takanoiwa – Very good bout right from the tachiai. Both rikishi struggled for control back and forth several times, and it seemed that Takanoiwa finally got the upper hand. Ichinojo was able to halt Takanoiwa’s charge at the tawara, and applied a rather well executed tsukiotoshi for the win.

Shodai defeats Sokokurai – Sokokurai had early control of this match, and looked to be in charge. But he could not put Shodai away. Shodai allowed Sokokurai to do all the work, and as Sokokurai tired, Shodai battled him back to the center of the dohyo. Sokokurai rallied and moved Shodai to the edge, but once again could not finish him. With his heels on the tawara, Shodai applied a somewhat clumsy tsukiotoshi to win the match. Shodaim also picks up his kachi-koshi

Terunofuji defeats Yoshikaze – Yoshikaze started out with an attack plan, and engaged with vigor. However, he was up against a kaiju, who had no interest in playing with the berserker. Terunofuji picked him up like a puppy and set him outside the tawara. Yoshikaze to his credit knew the match was lost and went along with it. Terunofuji also hits 8 wins and claims his kachi-koshi.

Goeido defeats Chiyoshoma – Looked like Goeido 2.0. Keep in mind Goeido is kadoban this tournament, and is still 2 wins from reaffirming his rank. He has some tough matches coming up during the rest of this week.

Harumafuji defeats Tochiozan – Showing that he was not as injured as we feared yesterday, Harumafuji launched off the line and pushed Tochiozan directly out. It was no contest.

Kotoshogiku defeats Kisenosato – The sad tale of Kisenosato’s injuries continues. In his loss, the Japanese Yokozuna prolonged the inevitable for Kotoshogiku by another day.

Hakuho defeats Takayasu – Takayasu put everything he had into this match, but he was completely out-classed by Hakuho. Hakuho secured a solid mawashi grip early, and Takayasu struggled to get any traction. As Takayasu struggled to set up a throw, Hakuho decided he was done playing, lowered his head and his hips and drove them both off the dohyo, landing in the first row of zabuton. Some really good sumo. But it’s clear that the last 2 wins Takayasu needs to secure a bit to be promoted to Ozei will not be an easy run.

Natsu Day 9 Highlights


Hakuho-dohyo-iri

Daieisho Finally Wins One

The injured Kisenosato gave up his second kinboshi today, this time to a resurgent Tochiozan. It’s been amazing to watch Kisenosato stay competitive in spite of his almost useless left upper body, but perhaps there is now a working formula to defeat him in his weakened state.

Goeido went down to Terunofuji, even though it looks like Goeido 2.0 showed up. With Terunofuji in Kaiju mode, there is not much that can slow him down. On day 8 when he picked up a bulky and squirming Mitakeumi by the shoulders and lifted him past the tawara, it was clear that everyone was in danger.

The other big news is that Kotoshogiku avoided make-koshi today by winning against Endo. Somehow Endo allowed himself to be wrapped up for a hug-n-chug, which Kotoshogiku was all to happy to apply. While it is a reprieve, the chances that Kotoshogiku won’t end up with a strong losing record are incredibly small. Will he endure a demotion back to Maegashira? Or will he take his kabu and retire to a new role helping to run and build the world of sumo?

Selected Highlights

Kyokushuho defeats Chiyotairyu – Juryo visitor Kyokushuho did in fact beat Chiyotairyu, but rather than expected slapping match, it was a straight mawashi test of strength bout.

Tokushoryu defeats Yutakayama – Yutakayama picks up his make-koshi, and will probably be headed back to Juryo, that is if there is anyone in Juryo worth of promotion. This was another really fine mawashi battle that saw both rikishi put forth a strong effort.

Ishiura defeats Daishomaru – Ishiura pulls a henka after a possibly deliberate false start. Normally I would not support henka, but Ishiura is really up against the wall in terms of a winning vs losing record.

Onosho defeats Kagayaki – Another battle of the mawashi (it seems to have been the day for it) that saw Kagayaki’s winning streak stopped. Fantastic effort by Onosho to first stop and then reverse Kagayaki relentless forward motion. Once he got Kagayaki moving backwards, it was all over.

Ura defeats Shohozan – Plasticman again stays ridiculously low, and baffles his opponent. The formula seems to be for him to get his opponent wrapped up on his shoulders then push them rapidly backwards and out. Hey, it’s working! Maybe it’s the chonmage-toshi?

Shodai defeats Hokutofuji – It was 100% Shodai from the start, as Hokutofuji never got his feet steady. In spite of Shodai’s sloppy tachiai, he was able to get Hokutofuji high and off balance due to Hokutofuji’s even sloppier tachiai today.

Ikioi defeats Takanoiwa – Very quick kotenage from Ikioi. The two grappled briefly at the tachiai, but Ikioi deftly rolled Takanoiwa into the rolling throw and the match was done.

Daieisho defeats Takarafuji – YES, that’s right, winless Daieisho finally scores his first win this basho, and did it in pretty good style. Watch this one if they show it on the highlights.

Yoshikaze defeats Mitakeumi – A strong start saw Yoshikaze and Mitakeumi locked up at the center of the dohyo, each trying to push the other backwards. Well, it seems to have been a strategy for Yoshikaze, because after a few moments of egging Mitakeumi on, he backed off and slapped him down. A veteran exploiting the rookies bravado and enthusiasm. We still love you Mitakeumi, you are going to be a big deal soon.

Takayasu defeats Chiyonokuni – Takayasu has his kachi-koshi, but his real goal of 10 wins is still 2 away. Chiyonokuni initiated a vigorous thrusting match at first, but as we have seen this basho, Takayasu stood up to it like a man made of stone. He waited for his opportunity, and grabbed Chiyonokuni’s mawashi and took control. Moments later the uwatenage was applied and Chiyonokuni was on the clay.

Tochiozan defeats Kisenosato – This was all Tochiozan from the tachiai, Kisenosato was high and off balance at once. Tochiozan walks away with his very own kensho Mt. Fuji diorama.

Hakuho defeats Aoiyama – Big Aoiyama had nothing, it was another example of The Boss having his way with any rikishi he faces. May be somewhat unstoppable until he faces Harumafuji.

Harumafuji defeats Tamawashi – Tamawashi actually presented a reasonable challenge for a few seconds, and that just seemed to really fire up Harumafuji, who just poured on the forward pressure. Both rikishi ended up launching into the first row of zabuton. It did look as if maybe Harumafuji had some pain in his knee after their crash landing, we hope he is ok.

 

Natsu Day 7 Preview


Yoshikaze

Harumafuji / Yoshikaze Street Battle Round 6.

Welcome to the middle weekend of what has so far been a very solid and exciting basho. The NHK schedulers work to bring out some popular match ups for this weekend, as they know they have a chance of attracting a lot of eyeballs.

For today, we expect the Kisenosato match to once again be something fans are fixed on. Going up against Daieisho could have been considered a rest break for the one-armed Yokozuna, but today he faces Mitakeumi. Mitakeumi has suffered more than a couple of defeats he feels he could have and should have won. So he may be eager to reclaim some pride by dismantling the injured Kisenosato.

For fans of Osunaarashi, he may make it to the NHK highlights for day 7, as he is visiting Makuuchi to fill in the gap left by Kakuryu’s kyujo.

On a final note, today I fly back to California. Tokyo has been great, and I am oh so grateful that I had a chance to watch sumo in person, in the Kokugikan.

Matches We Like

Onosho vs Chiyotairyu – These two have me twice before, and Onosho won them both. Onosho has seemed to settle into a winning pattern during his first tournament in Makuuchi. Most likely being a thrusting battle.

Tochinoshin vs Ishiura – Having taken Ura’s lunch money, it’s time for Tochinoshin to try to give Ishiura the same atomic wedgie. Their prior two meetings were split 1-1. The big Georgan is fighting well for a change, after multiple basho of lackluster performance.

Ura vs Sokokurai – The crowd (and myself) love to see what crazy ass stunt Ura will produce on the spot this time. He is attracting a lot of sponsorship now, and if he can continue to at least keep a middling record, he is going to be around for the foreseeable future. This is the first match between these two, and they are fairly evenly paired.

Takakeisho vs Shodai – Their first match up ever. Shodai is making headway in spite of the mechanical problems with his sumo. But this is really a battle of the young guns, as Takakeisho has not been in sumo very long, and is himself an up an coming rikishi. Albeit with better sumo mechanics in my opinion.

Tochiozan vs Hokutofuji – Tochiozan turned a corner in Osaka, and reverted back to an earlier winning form that we had not seen much of since last year. Then there is Hokutofuji and his aggressive rise through the ranks. After his first ever losing record in Osaka, he is fighting hard to continue his upward climb. This is their first match, and I think it could potentially be one of the better matches today.

Chiyoshoma vs Takayasu – After Takayasu swallowed his first loss, it’s time to see if he can escape his old trap. In prior tournaments, he would suffer a disappointing loss, then go on to lose several more bouts, many of which should have been “gimmies’. It’s as if he goes into a funk and has trouble pulling out. He should be able to handle Chiyoshoma, but it will come down to Takayasu’s focus and drive. Still 5 wins to make Ozeki.

Kotoshogiku vs Goeido – At what point does Kotoshogiku call it quits? If we have Goeido 2.0 today it could be a spectacular loss for Kotoshogiku.

Harumafuji vs Yoshikaze – Likely the big match of the day, for all the wrong reasons. I grumble that I am on a plane rather that in the Kokugikan to watch this. These two have a long running habit of beating the daylights out of each other, and there may even be some personal hatred tossed in too. With both men fighting fit for the first time in nearly a year, do they pick up where they left off in Nagoya?

Kisenosato vs Mitakeumi – The Great Pumpkin refuses to accept his injury, so he battles on. I expect Mitakeumi will attack left hard and fast, as others have done. But he has the strength to actually make a dent in the big Yokozuna. Out of their 4 career bouts, Mitakeumi has never won a single match. There is a good chance that changes today.

Natsu Day 5 Highlights


Kisenosato-5

Kisenosato Gut Checks The Universe, Universe Blinks

At end of all things and at the end of time, I belive Kisenosato will be there, continuing to refuse to give up, or let anything, including the laws of nature stop him. More on that in a moment.

It was the final Kokugikan day, and I am sad to leave my in-person sumo behind. I leave with a greatly expanded appreciation for the sport, it’s fans and most especially it’s contestants. Getting over here and doing this is hideously expensive, but it was (at least for me) transformative.

A note on Juryo, though I think it’s kind of a mess right now, for some reason Planet Gagamaru is gunning hard to return to Makuuchi for Nagoya, and he may be brining Yamaguchi with him. Nothing has really changed, and Gagamaru has not really improved, but it seems he’s the guy who is losing the least.

Match Highlights

Daishomaru defeats Yutakayama – Daishomaru supplied a huge shoulder blast at the tachiai, and followed up nicely with a relentless pushing attack. Yutakayama was dispatched shortly afterwards.

Tokushoryu defeats Kaisei – Tokushoryu really was in command of this bout from the start, with an initial nodowa that really seemed to disrupt Kaisei for a moment, but he found Tokushoryu’s mawashi, but he was still too high and Tokushoryu was able to put him down at the edge.

Ishiura defeats Arawashi – Arawashi can’t buy a break

Kotoyuki defeats Ura – As with yesterday, Ura was late off the line, almost in matta territory, and Kotoyuki took command. it’s also clear that Ura loves to put his head down at the start, and take his eyes off his opponent. This is sually where he loses control of the match. Let’s just say he is still working on his Makuuchi formula, but it is certainly coming along.

Kagayaki defeats Ichinojo – Ichinojo seems to have nothing to offer but his own ponderous bulk. Showing no maneuverability really, Kagayaki was in complete control from the start and simply waltzed him out.

Takakeisho defeats Hokutofuji – Takakeisho owned this match from the start, though Hokutofuji put up a valiant fight. Takakeisho consistantly kept Hokutofuji off balance. With Hokutofuji’s center of gravity high, it was only a matter of time before Takakeisho’s repeated pull down attempts worked.

Tamawashi defeats Yoshikaze – Tamawashi establshed control of this match quickly, and never let Yoshikaze plant his feet or get his weight forward, which is essential for his early bout strategies.

Takayasu obliterates Endo – Takayasu easily put Endo away. Endo started a pushing match but Takayasu was able to lock up a mawashi grip and control Endo. At this point Takayasu’s overwhelming strength and size took charge and Endo was done. Takayasu now needs 5 wins for Ozeki – he can lose half his remaining matches and still get the job done.

Goeido defeats Chiyonokuni – The last two days have been Goeido 2.0, I do hope he can stay, because I really like that guy’s sumo. Fast, aggressive and unstoppable.

Terunofuji defeats Kotoshogiku this was the bout the fans wanted in Osaka. Solid tachiai, Kotoshogiku set up his hug and chug, and Terunofuji stopped it DEAD., he then took over and put Kotoshogiku in the dirt with a an overarm throw. Fantastic job from Terunofuji. My condolences oojisan Kotoshogiku. I seriously wonder if I was present for his last win as an active sumotori.

Hakuho defeats Mitakeumi – The Boss is in form, and everyone else is going down to defeat. Even Mitakeumi who is fighting close to Takayasu’s level now. Mitakeumi brought some pressure early to Hakuho, but he rapidly countered and diverted Mitakeumi attack. The tachiai featured Hakuho’s favored shoulder blast. It’s good to see the Michael Jordan of sumo back in fighting form.

Okinoumi gets a fusen win over Kakuryu – Okinoumi first and only win this tournament.

Harumafuji defeats Daieisho – Harumafuji wins by his mini-henka – seriously, what is Daieisho doing matched against these guys?

Ancient Jōmon guardian spirit posseses Kisenosato, defeats Chiyoshoma – Dear god, what a champion. After a matta (Kisenosato jumped early?), they were off. Everyone is hitting his left side hard because they know Kisenosato is wounded. Chiyoshoma was on him like a wad of wet noodles, but Kisenosato would not relent. Somehow he got Chiyoshoma out and down. To everyone who wondered what kind of Yokozuna Kisenosato would make, now you know. How does it feel to be defeated by a one arm man? Ask Chiyoshoma.

Natsu Day 3 Highlights


Yoshikaze-goeido

Stare Downs & Wild Battles

Day 2 was largely predictable, but day 3 threw that all away and went for wild and furious. Though it will not likely be in the highlights shown globally, there was a great stare down in Juryo between Chiyootori and Amakaze, which seemed to set the tone for the remainder of the day.

Some things are now clearer, first and foremost that Kisenosato is in trouble (still injured), Hakuho is healthy enough to be overwhelming, and Harumafuji is ready to go the distance.

it also looks like Ura is more comfortable with his increased mass, and is pulling in a lot of sponsors and a good amount of Kensho. Kotoshogiku is at real risk of bombing out with a hard make-koshi, and Takayasu is the crowd favorite to supplant the Ozeki ranks.

Goeido is a fierce and as durable as a shoji, but Terunofuji can still be provoked to great feats of strength.

Notable Highlights

Ura defeats Ishiura – Multiple stare downs, and then a wild, rolling battle that was absolutely thrilling. Ishiura kept trying to switch to offense, but would have to improvise because Ura would do the next unexpected move. If Ura can get consistant, he is a real spoiler for anyone. I am keen to see him fight someone like Yoshikaze.

Tochiozan defeats Takekaze – Tochiozan is continuing his hot streak from Osaka, and seems to be fighting well. Today he took care of Takekaze rapidly and with flair.

Mitakeumi defeats Tamawashi – Once the dead wood clears out at Sekiwake, Mitakeumi will take his rightful place at the next step up. Tamawashi put up a good fight, Mitakeumi committed everything to winning, and got his result.

Takayasu defeats Kotoshogiku – I do love Kotoshogiku, but this basho it seems he is worn out and not up to even competing at the Sekiwake level. Takayasu now needs 7 more for Ozeki.

Yoshikaze defeats Goeido – Big stare down here, and Yoshikaze does it very well indeed. Goeido brought massive attitude and zero power. Bonus points for Yoshikaze spanking Goeido’s behind like a Maezumo upstart as he slapped him down.

Kisenosato defeats Chiyonokuni – But just barely! Kisenosato is only half there due to his pectoral injury, but he will not sit out, no matter what. I swear he wins by force of will and guile alone. Even though they talk over it, the roar in the Kokugikan was raucous and heartfelt. Both rikishi gave it everything, and the fans loved it.

Hakuho defeats Chiyoshoma – It was fast and ugly, Hakuho just kept moving forward with speed and strength. It’s so good to see Hakuho’s sumo back at full strength.

Harumafuji defeats Okinoumi – Sadly Okinoumi was not really too tough an opponent for a healthy Harumafuji, and it look a bit like a practice match. But like Hakuho, it’s very welcome to see Harumafuji strong and moving well.

Natsu Day 3 Preview


Kisenosato-tachiai

Keep Your Eye On Yoshikaze

Good morning Tachiai readers, almost time to stumble the 2 blocks to the Kokugikan, but first some thoughts on today’s matches. Firstly, looking forward to Wakaichiro’s second match. This will be against a rikishi with about the same experience level as his, and should be a more even fight. While I am sure I can capture video from the bout, it may need to be uploaded much later in the day, due to my wifi hotspot being dead.

On the Makuuchi side, it’s becoming clear that this may be the basho that flushes some of the injured and chronically wounded aside. From watching them fight, I would say

Kisenosato – in huge pain, impacted and should go kyujo. But The Great Pumpkin does not go kyujo, so look for him to hobble on.

Hakuho – all lights are green, he is healthy, fired up and looking to take back the spotlight.

Harumafuji – also seems to be at least 80% of himself or higher. Genki enough to trash all of his opponents thus far. Yes, fans, it’s even more awesome to watch first person when he blasts someone into the zabuton.

Kakuryu – He is all over the place, possibly not in the best of health, so this may be a tough basho for him.

Goeido – ankle rebuild is probably not enough to bring him back to fighting shape. It may be his only choice to retire.

Terunofuji – the Kaijū is having knee problems again, and it shows. This is a very sad state as I was looking forward to having him stomping around again.

Highlight Matches

Ishiura vs Ura – Ura is looking very good this tournament. Ishiura still seems to be looking for his groove. I hope we get a good match out of these two today.

Tamawashi vs Mitakeumi – Mitakeumi is really continuing his winning streak from the past two basho, and I would say that we are likely to avoid the “no-zeki” situation if Mitakeumi and Takayasu can keep their sumo going. Tamawashi is right behind them, but just a step down from what he needs.

Kotoshogiku vs Takayasu – Nothing will stop Takayasu. As was clear from his day 2 bout, Kotoshogiku is too banged up to even consistently make his one trick work anymore.

Yoshikaze vs Goeido – Yoshikaze is doing very well, even in his loss day 2 to Hakuho, he brought a full berserker style pounding to The Boss. Now a greatly reduced Goeido faces the same attack.

Endo vs Kakuryu – Can Endo hand Kakuryu his third straight loss? Endo is not looking that good this tournament, but the crowd loves him.

Kisenosato vs Chiyonokuni – Interesting because Chiyonokuni pulled a good win out on day 2, and Kisenosato is looking iffy.

Chiyoshoma vs Hakuho – Hakuho all the way, just question is what kind of kimarite.

Harumafuji vs Okinoumi – Probably Jason’s least favorite match up. Sadly Okinoumi is looking out of gas again, and Harumafuji seems to once again be enjoying himself.

Natsu Banzuke Prediction Post-mortem


Two key criteria for developing good predictions are: (1) quantitative evaluation of the prediction and (2) accountability. With that in mind, I take a look at how my banzuke prediction performed.

Upper San’yaku was “chalk” as expected. In the lower San’yaku, I (and other predictions on this site) correctly had Yoshikaze filling the komusubi slot vacated by Shodai. I don’t understand the order of the three sekiwake ranks, as it appears unchanged despite the very different performances at Haru that had all of us predicting the order as Takayasu 1E, Kotoshogiku 1W and Tamawashi 2E.

In the maegashira ranks, of the 31 predictions, I had 11 “bulls-eyes” (correct rank and side” and 3 more correct rank predictions. This is way fewer than I expected or would have liked. The 17 misses were mostly not too bad: 13 missed by one rank, 3 missed by two ranks, and I had Osunaarashi (J1) moving up to M16 and Myogiryu (M15) dropping to J1.

There are three parts to the prediction: the computed ranks, tie-breaking among rikishi with identical ranks, and the departures I make from the computed ranks based on past banzuke patterns. Let’s look at these in turn.

The computed ranks were quite accurate: the official banzuke departs from these in only a couple of places. The computed rank would have Takarafuji at M3, but because of his make-koshi at that rank at Haru, the prediction and the banzuke moved him down to M4. Shodai (one of my two-rank misses) should be down at M7, and I still feel like the NSK cut him way too much slack after his 4-11 performance. And Arawashi and Ishiura would switch sides (but not ranks).

My tie-breaker was higher rank at Haru. This largely resulted in both of my other two-rank misses, as Takanoiwa should have been ranked above Tochiozan (and Aoiyama) by this rule. Presumably his 6-9 record at Haru led to his being dropped further down, although this is not necessarily consistent with past banzuke patterns. In a number of other cases, the tie-breaker got the relative order right, and I will need to look closely to see if the tie-break part of the prediction can be improved.

So, on to the departures from the computed rank order. One rule that resulted in many of my misses was to drop rikishi with 7-8 make-koshi records one spot from their rank at Haru, even if the computed rank would have them retaining their rank. This has often (but not always) been done in past banzuke. Although this rule correctly placed Takarafuji at M4, it placed Kagayaki, Tochinoshin, Ishiura and Daishomaru one slot too low, which also led to one-rank misses in the other direction for Ura, Arawashi, Kotoyuki and Onosho. It seems that the NSK is inconsistent in this scenario, and I’ll have to see if any pattern can be identified.

So overall, I am happy with my computed ranks, need to think more about the tie-break procedure, and need to be more careful with subjective departures from the computed ranks (this also includes demoting Myogiryu in favor of promoting Osunaarashi, even though Myogiryu had a better computed rank).

Others can chime in with how they fared. There will be another opportunity to predict the Nagoya banzuke after Natsu is the in books, and in the meantime we’ll have some actual sumo to watch!