Mock Natsu Day 13 Highlights

Entering the final weekend, its Mitakeumi alone atop the leader board. Amazing development as both Ishiura and Sadanoumi take a loss on day 13. Having won 2 prior yusho, this would be his 3rd cup if he can prevail against a snarling pack of hungry competitors just 1 loss behind. The final weekend promises to be a real barn burner, and Tachiai will be covering the senshuraku matches early in the day Sunday.

I would be remiss if I did not note that shin-Ozeki Asanoyama has really not broken stride for a moment since his promotion, crossing into double-digits today with his 10th win. Many fans see a potential for sumo’s highest rank in this young rikishi, and we hope he can stay healthy and continue to fight well.

Mock Natsu Leaderboard

Leader – Mitakeumi
Chasers – Hakuho, Asanoyama, Tokushoryu, Ishiura, Chiyotairyu, Sadanoumi
Hunt Group – Nishikigi

2 Matches Remain

Day 13 Matches

Tochinoshin (3-10) defeats Shohozan (6-7) Tsukiotoshi – By the slimmest of margins, it may just be possible that former Ozeki Tochinoshin may be able to remain in the top division if he can find some way to win his remaining two matches. Today he stood fast against Shohozan’s front assault, and managed to get superior hand placement and put that to work before his lower body capitulated. I think the key was reducing mobility to almost zero for Tochinoshin. He took a pounding from Shohozan, but he kept his feet set, never asking that injured right knee to do anything more than keep him upright.

Kotoshoho (8-5) defeats Shimanoumi (5-8) Oshitaoshi – Kotoshoho joins the kachi-koshi club at the same time he hands Shimanoumi his 8th loss. Shimanoumi opened strong with a three blow combo attack immedately after the tachiai. After dropping a step back, Kotoshoho surged forward and matched Shimanoumi, ultimately driving him from the ring.

Nishikigi (9-4) defeats Myogiryu (6-7) Yoritaoshi – Myogiryu jumped early for a matta, but when they finally got started, Nishikigi opened with his favorate left hand arm bar hold. Myogiryu returned the favor, barring Nishikigi’s right arm and the two were locked together. For a moment, Myogiryu had the advantage and moved Nishikigi back. Dropping his hips, Nishikigi lifted with his shoulders and drove forward. Myogiryu struggled to get his feet back to the clay, and the two collapsed side by side. Win number 9 of Nishikigi.

Chiyomaru (4-9) defeats Kaisei (3-10) Hatakikomi – There is possibly only one human being that Chiyomaru could henka, and that would be Kaisei. While the henka was far from the kind of grand spectacle you might see from Chiyoshoma or Ishiura, it was brutally effective as Kaisei went face first to the clay for loss number 10.

Ikioi (4-9) defeats Kotoyuki (5-8) Oshidashi – The eternal warrior, Ikioi, handed Kotoyuki his 8th loss with a might shove to lower chest. The two traded power pushes to the body before the tachiai was complete, with Ikioi struggling to overcome Kotoyuki’s boxy shape. But a well directed shove against Kotoyuki’s left shoulder sent Mr. 5×5 up on one foot, and Ikioi finished him.

Tamawashi (6-7) defeats Kotoeko (5-8) Yorikiri – Kotoeko was remarkably cautious starting this match, lining up well behind the shikiri-sen, and waiting for Tamawashi to make the first move. Tamawashi went high, putting both hands outside and on Kotoeko’s shoulders while Kotoeko went for Tamawashi’s arm pits. Kotoeko’s attempt to throw went to pieces when Tamawashi refused to advance into Kotoeko’s chest. Now off balance and struggling to set up defensive foot position, Tamawashi closed the gap and took a double inside grip. A few moments of grappling struggle later, Tamawashi had passivated Kotoeko, and calmly put him outside the ring. That’s the 8th loss for Kotoeko, and he is now make-koshi.

Chiyotairyu (10-3) defeats Kotoshogiku (8-5) Oshidashi – This was an interesting hybrid match, with Kotoshogiku trying to close “hug-n-chug” range and Chiyotairyu thrusting him back. After the 4th exchange, Kotoshogiku conceded the point placed his hand behind Chiyotairyu’s head, and as Chiyotairyu pushed him back, Kotoshogiku pulled. Chiyotairyu toppled to the dohyo as Kotoshogiku fell out of bounds. A monoii reversed the gyoji’s call and gave the match to Chiyotairyu, who has an impressive 10 wins in our mock-basho.

Tokushoryu (10-3) defeats Takayasu (8-5) Oshitaoshi – Tokushoryu also picked up his 10th win today, but in the process Takayasu aggravated the knee injury from March. Unable to walk or stand, it took several painful minutes for the giant wheelchair to appear to take a wincing Takayasu back to the dressing room. Reports are he was taken directly to the hospital for treatment. I have a bad feeling about this.

Kotonowaka (7-6) defeats Ryuden (5-8) Yoritaoshi – Kotonowaka delivers loss #8 to Ryuden. At the tachiai, Kotonowaka shifted a half step to his right, capturing Ryuden’s left shoulder with both hands, turning him before Ryuden could begin his attack. Ryuden responded with an attack to Kotonowaka’s face, which left his chest unguarded. Moving his hands in and up, Kotonowaka was rewarded with a double inside grip, which transformed to a double hand thrust to Ryuden’s chest which dropped him to the dohyo for the win.

Wakatakakage (8-5) defeats Enho (5-8) Yorikiri – The first match should have been a matta to begin with, and Enho knew it, giving only token pressure in return to Wakatakakage opening attack. The Shimpan interceded and declared torinaoshi, and both men went back to the lines. In matches where Enho can’t get low and inside, he is at risk of being captured and turning into nothing more than fly-weight butsukari ballast. Add that Enho looks like he’s got some lower body problem, and his 8th loss was little more than a formality. Wakatakakage kachi-koshi, and staying in the top division a while longer.

Onosho (7-6) defeats Abi (6-7) Oshidashi – A single double arm thrust to Onosho’s neck was all that Abi could muster before Onosho leaned dangerously far forward, putting massive pressure on Abi’s chest and shoulders. Abi was forced to step back, but Onosho was setting the pace, and Abi was not able to respond with anything more than token pressure. Onosho has won 5 of his last 6 matches, after a crummy 2-5 start.

Aoiyama (8-5) defeats Takanosho (6-7) Hatakikomi – When Aoiyama gets his tachiai opening move down, it looks to be tough to beat. Again Big Dan stood his opponent up with an upward thrust at the tachiai, and immediately thrust them to the clay. That’s kachi-koshi for Aoiyama – he’s had a solid tournament and I would not be surprised to see him finish with double digit wins.

Yutakayama (6-7) defeats Kiribayama (5-8) Oshidashi – Yutakayama took an early advantage, keeping his elbows tucked together in front of his chest, and putting his hands against Kiribayama’s shoulders at the tachiai. Kiribayama responded by attempting to pull down Yutakayama, but the release for forward pressure played directly into Yutakayama’s attack. Lifting and striding forward, the “Big Unit” took Kiribayama to the tawara a shoved with his right hand for the win. The loss is Kiribayama’s 8th, and he is now make-koshi for the tournament.

Terutsuyoshi (4-9) defeats Endo (2-11) Yoritaoshi – Both of these rikishi have suffered a miserable basho, complete with injuries and humiliating losses. While its a bit heart wrenching for the fans, it’s the nature of sumo, and Endo specifically has hot and cold tournaments. This one has been stone cold. Terutsuyoshi was able to break his early left hand shallow grip, and converted that to morozashi. As Endo fought to escape, he lost his footing and went down. If the sumo association had made Kintamayama’s slippiotoshi official, this might have been listed as the kimarite instead.

Okinoumi (5-8) defeats Takarafuji (7-6) Katasukashi – Since locking in his make-koshi, Okinoumi has won 4 straight. I genuinely think that he was having injury problems in week 1, but his bounce back in week 2 almost defies explanation. The seasoned veteran has an encyclopedic skill list, and today we were treated to a seldom seen katasukashi after Okinoumi was able to capture Takarafuji as he circled away, and Okinoumi’s attempt at a pull down morphed into this when his left hand stayed latched to Takarafuji’s right arm pit.

Daieisho (6-7) defeats Kagayaki (6-7) Tsukiotoshi – Both men are facing a real danger of a day 15 Darwin match, and both of them were eager to avoid that fate. Daieisho had the early advantage, and was able to stay lower and drive inside. Kagayaki’s defensive foot placement was, as always, impeccable – thus Daieisho struggled to move him back. After Daieisho’s third thrusting volley, Kagayaki recognized Daieisho could not move him back, and Kagayaki went on offense. As Daieisho neared the edge of the ring, Daieisho tried a last gasp pull, which brought both men down. During the mono-ii that followed, replay showed the remarkable effort Daieisho put into keeping his foot in place while Kagayaki fell beside him. The gyoji’s gumbai was upheld, and both men leave the dohyo 6-7.

Mitakeumi (11-2) defeats Sadanoumi (10-3) Oshitaoshi – A head to head match between two of the leader group? Yes please! It was Sadanoumi’s speed vs Mitakeumi’s strong forward attack, and it did not disappoint. At the tachiai, Mitakeumi went high and Sadanoumi went fast and low. Sadanoumi had his right hand inside before Mitakeumi could launch his first attack, and conceded the form of the match to a grappling mawashi battle. Sadanoumi had his feet wide and his hips square, and Mitakeumi struggled to move him back, as the two men strained against each other at the center of the dohyo. The stalemate lasted several long and sweaty seconds, and broke when Sadanoumi attempted to shift his grip. In a blink of an eye, Mitakeumi dropped his hips and charged headlong toward the edge of the ring. The win leaves Mitakeumi at the top of the leader board.

Asanoyama (10-3) defeats Ishiura (10-3) Sukuinage – The shin-Ozeki once again shows how he got here, in a high stakes match he stays focused, patient and effective. I really liked Ishiura’s opening gambit to force Asanoyama into a yotsu grip he tends to avoid (left hand inside), and then used that left hand of the Ozeki’s as a pivot for a half spin that nearly cost Asanoyama the match. In spite of this early set back, Asanoyama kept himself upright, in the ring, and in control of his body. Unable to complete the swing and throw of Asanoyama, Ishiura was forced to release his right hand grip, and a moment later Asanoyama settled into his right hand inside grip and immediately loaded the throw which won the match. Both rikishi finish the day with double digits wins at 10-3.

Hokutofuji (7-5) defeats Kakuryu (8-4) Fusen – I am hoping that the Sumo Kyokai reads their roster and puts no pressure on Kakuryu to retire just yet. He’s older, he hurt, but they could quickly find themselves in a no-kozuna situation for a time before Asanoyama or anyone else can string two consecutive yusho together. Purists will remark, “big deal, there are plenty of eras in sumo where Ozeki was the highest rank on the banzuke”. This is technically correct, but sumo needs headline stars in these tournaments to attract fans and attention to their broadcasts. Hopefully they go easy on Big-K and let him continue on for a while longer before there are candidates to take the rope.

Hakuho (10-3) defeats Shodai (7-6) Hatakikomi – Shodai took a right elbow from Hakuho directly to the face, but this really seemed to just fire him up, and he charged at the Yokozuna, planting his hands on either side of Hakuho’s face and applying a sharp twist to the left. This seemed to really agitate Hakuho who responded with a powerful thrust to Shodai’s chin with his right hand, and a brutal slap down from his left. Points to Shodai for giving it right back to The Boss. I think that as he fades out, opponents like Shodai are less willing to take punishment from him without returning in kind.

Mock Natsu – Day 14 Torikumi

Courtesy of Grand Sumo Breakdown and Tachiai – Day 14 matches for our mock Natsu basho

Mock Natsu Day 12 Highlights

Two of the leaders took losses today, narrowing the yusho front runner pack to 3. Both rikishi (Asanoyama and Tokushoryu) had prior yusho experience, so we are once again thinking through the possibility of yet another first time yusho winner hoisting the Emperor’s Cup this weekend. One time sole leader Ishiura would seem to have a fair shot at taking it into day 15, but I wonder if the pressure will erode his concentration and focus. There is a strong crowd, including Yokozuna Hakuho 1 win behind, but getting all 3 leaders to drop 1 match in the last 3 days may be a tall order.

Then there is Mitakeumi, who has not one but two prior yusho, and should he manage to prevail would carve a nice little niche in sumo history, especially if he is never able to put together an Ozeki run. At the end of day 12, he is already 10-2, with a possible 13-2 yusho not out of the question. His March score was 10-5, giving him a very achievable 10-5 goal for the next tournament. With Takakeisho already at least temporarily out of the Ozeki ranks, could sumo soon have another shin-Ozeki? I am looking forward to his final 3 matches. Just maybe Mitakeumi has finally make the step change we have been waiting to see.

Mock Natsu Leaderboard

Leaders – Mitakeumi, Ishiura, Sadanoumi
Chasers – Hakuho, Asanoyama, Tokushoryu, Chiyotairyu
Hunt GroupKakuryu, Takayasu, Kotoshogiku, Nishikigi

3 Matches Remain

Day 12 Matches

Shohozan (6-6) defeats Nishikigi (8-4) Oshidashi – Happy to see “Big Guns” Shohozan back in form, on the move and delivering blow after blow to his opponent. Sadly this is 2 losses in a row for Nishikigi, I did enjoy him being in the chaser group, and I had hoped he could maintain that position into the final weekend, but Shohozan slapped him around like wad of pizza dough in Chicago.

Takayasu (8-4) defeats Shimanoumi (5-7) Oshidashi – A solid day for Takayasu, as he marks his kachi-koshi with his 8th win. He’s not moving well, and after that shoulder blast at the tachiai, he got a very well placed left hand thrust against Shimanoumi’s chest to do most of the work for the match. I think the knee is in bad shape again, and with 8 wins he may go kyujo before day 15.

Wakatakakage (7-5) defeats Tochinoshin (2-10) Oshidashi – A heartbreaking win against former Ozeki Tochinoshin. Tochinoshin had a solid start, and rather than spend any time trying to get a belt grip, he just used his impressive upper body strength to try to strike Wakatakakage down with a massive left – right lateral thrust combo. But when Tochinoshin went to repeat the move, Wakatakakage was able to grab Tochinoshin’s right arm, and advance. Unable to apply forward pressure with that bandaged right knee, he was forced to retreat, and a moment later suffer his 10th loss.

Kotoshogiku (8-4) defeats Kaisei (3-9) Oshitaoshi – Why not make it 2 former Ozeki kachi-koshi, as Kotoshogiku racks up win #8 in a battle of giants. Kaisei locked in chest-to-chest immediately at the tachiai, and Kotoshogiku was unable to get any gaburi-yori attack ready, and was quickly wishing he still had functioning knees as Kaisei advanced. Three steps later, Kotoshogiku pivoted his right shoulder back, put his hand to Kaisei’s chest and shoved while pumping his hips forward, the power from his legs transmitted through his arm, and drove Kaisei to the clay.

Myogiryu (6-6) defeats Kotonowaka (6-6) Sukuinage – Kotonowaka hit first at the tachiai, and was rewarded with a deep left hand outside grip. Myogiryu countered by gripping Kotonowaka’s chest, pivoting to his left, raising Kotonowaka’s body and changing his balance to only Kotonowaka’s right foot. Kotonowaka knew what was coming, and put everything into disrupting the throw and returning his left foot to the clay. Myogiryu patiently stepped back, and unbalanced Kotonowaka again, but this time dropped his hips and rotated for a brilliant sukuinage. One for the highlight reels.

Tamawashi (5-7) defeats Kotoyuki (5-7) Tsukidashi – In any slapping or thrusting battle, Kotoyuki can usually give as much as he receives. Kotoyuki’s tachiai was a bit soft and late today, a mistake that Tamawashi exploited with skill, delivering a combo to Kotoyuki’s neck and chest to start the match. Kotoyuki worked to swat him away from an outside position, but Tamawashi had the inside track, and was operating at full power. There is still a chance that he can Tamawashi can make his 8, but he would need to win his remaining matches to do so.

Ikioi (3-9) defeats Kotoeko (5-7) Oshitaoshi – Kotoeko came in low at the tachiai, and was able to claim the inside position, landing 2 combos before Ikioi could really respond. Ikioi focused on getting his right hand inside, and past Kotoeko’s ottsuke, which broke through after a brief struggle. With his right hand firmly inside, Ikioi found Kotoeko’s armpit with his right, and applied a powerful thrust with his left, sending Kotoeko to loss number 7.

Kotoshoho (7-5) defeats Terutsuyoshi (3-9) Kotenage – I cringe when these guys lock that elbow and throw. I do wish it were not as common as it is, but here we see it again, today against Terutsuyoshi. That’s two days in a row (Tamawashi did it day 11) where a Kotenage was used to torque Terutsuyoshi’s left arm. Terutsuyoshi’s already deeply make-koshi, and headed worse. I just hope whatever damage is being done to that ligament can heal before the next tournament.

Sadanoumi (10-2) defeats Tokushoryu (9-3) Oshidashi – Both men had 9 wins at the start of the day, and a share of the leader in the yusho race. I had warned that 2020 would be in the time out corner if fan favorite Tokushoryu won a second yusho, and it seems to have worked. Tokushoryu tried his famous tsukiotoshi move at the bales, but could not get the rotation in before Sadanoumi’s superior velocity settled the matter. Taken down while he was pivoting, Tokushoryu fell with his knee rotating. He was wobbly getting up, and we hope he is ok.

Ryuden (5-7) defeats Chiyomaru (3-9) Yorikiri – Ryuden staves off make-koshi another day by outlasting Chiyomaru’s limited stamina, and somehow getting enough of a grip around that belly to make it work. Ryuden did seem winded at the end, understandable given how much mass he had to move.

Chiyotairyu (9-3) defeats Kagayaki (6-6) Okuridashi – Chiyotairyu knew there was little chance that Kagayaki would ever henka, or shift at the tachiai. In response we were given a full power cannonball launch from sumo’s thunder god, and Kagayaki took it square in the chest. Kagayaki barely kept his feet, and as he struggled to set up any meaningful defense Chiyotairyu turned him around and gave him a head start to the Ryogoku station of at least 20 feet.

Onosho (6-6) defeats Takarafuji (7-5) Yorikiri – Takarafuji’s initial deflection went to pieces as Onosho somehow found Takarafuji’s neck, which even the best mechanical engineers postulate may not exist. With a right hand at Takarafuji’s throat, and Onosho’s left hand across Takarafuji’s arm, it was a quick turn and a march forward for Onosho’s 6th win. He can still get to kachi-koshi if he wins 3 of his last 2 matches.

Kiribayama (5-7) defeats Endo (2-10) Oshidashi – Endo’s hurt, Endo’s sumo is in tatters. Grannies across Japan are breaking out the heavy duty soju to try and drown their sorrows. I may join them. 10 losses, ouch!

Yutakayama (5-7) defeats Enho (5-7) Oshidashi – Yutakayama dodges make-koshi for another day. I am a big booster of Yutakayama, but he’s not been nearly as sharp this basho as he was in January and March. I suspect he packed on a few more kilograms, and it’s really impacted his balance. This is another example of when Enho can’t find something to hold onto, the big men can toss him around like a hacky-sac.

Okinoumi (4-8) defeats Takanosho (6-6) Kotenage – Another day, another win for make-koshi Okinoumi. He started racking up the wins as soon as he had his 8th loss secure. Is it the pressure? Again another kotenage, but this one seems to have gone off without any getting hurt. Takanosho is on course for a day 15 Darwin match.. ooooh.

Ishiura (10-2) defeats Daieisho (5-7) Yorikiri – Ishiura successfully defends his position in the yusho race, but he was (at one point) 2 wins ahead of everyone. Daieisho came off the line with a volley of thrusts and slaps to Ishiura’s face and neck, but being Hakuho’s deshi and sparring partner, I am sure his face gets slapped 200 times a day, leaving him largely immune. Ishiura worked go get a right hand on Daieisho’s belt, and took control of the match. Not used to this kind of powerful, dominant sumo from Ishiura. I hope he can keep it up!

Shodai (7-5) defeats Hokutofuji (7-5) Yorikiri – It had been many days since the fans were treated to some solid Shodai sumo, but today was our lucky day. Hokutofuji managed to get his right hand up and at Shodai’s throat, but it really had only minimal effect. Shodai went for Hokutofuji’s armpits with both hands, and connected with a good amount of force. Hokutofuji had no choice but to release his neck-hold, and give ground. Shodai immediately went left hand inside and charged with everything, making fast work of Hokutofuji. Both men end the day 7-5 and one precious win away from the safety of 8.

Aoiyama (8-2) defeats Asanoyama (9-3) Oshidashi – Ozeki down! Aoiyama tried the stand up / slap down combo at the tachiai, but Asanoyama was able to keep his feet, but it took 3 steps to stabilize. Asanoyama attacked, looking to get any kind of hand hold, while Big Dan fired up the V-Twin, shoving Asanoyama around like a pile of okonomiyaki looking for a warm place on a griddle. Aoiyama never relented, and Asanoyama was out 4 steps later.

Hakuho (9-3) defeats Abi (6-6) Uwatedashinage – Abi got one solid blast in with both hands at the tachiai, before Hakuho put his arm inside and hurled Abi to the clay. Fast, brutal and effective.

Mitakeumi (10-2) defeats Kakuryu (8-4) Yorikiri – Kakuryu is clearly hurt, and did not even try more than token forward motion at the tachiai. Given that he has 8 wins, I wonder if he will stay in looking to get a “Yokozuna kachi-kosh” at 10, or focus on recovery.

Mock Natsu – Day 13 Torikumi

Courtesy of Grand Sumo Breakdown and Tachiai – Day 13 matches for our mock Natsu basho