Kyushu Day 4 Preview

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On the back of Herouth’s excellent write up, everyone is waiting to see which path Kisenosato will take as the days of the Kyushu basho tick by. As of the moment this is being written, it looks like he will gamberize and stay to course, continuing to compete each day. Of the 3 losses that mark his inauspicious start for the Kyushu basho, 2 of them are the kind of matches that a Yokozuna should clearly win. This will be difficult, but not impossible, for him to live down.

Am I calling for him to retire? Not even close. Kisenosato’s story has been an epic push to the top, and his 10-5 return at Aki was quite frankly a shocking surprise. Now stuck between poor performance, his duty as the only Yokozuna, and the high probability that the pressure on him to retire, I fully think he will choose to go out guns blazing.

Even if he struggles and stays in the tournament, his stable-mate Ozeki Takayasu is clearly the man to catch. This basho will likely be a crazy mad-cap runaway beer truck, careening down a mountain road with no breaks. As much of a brutal trench battle that Aki was, this one may be a daily dose of, “Dear lord, what next?”. [We all love your mixed metaphors. –PinkMawashi]

What We Are Watching Day 4

Onosho vs Daishomaru – Coming off of his day 3 loss, Onosho is going to be facing the capable Daishomaru who is also bringing a 2-1 record. The difference, I think, is intensity. Onosho seems to have about 80% of his old intensity back, and for this far down the banzuke, that is fairly dominant.

Takanosho vs Endo – Endo is off to a poor start, but his first ever match against Takanosho may give him a chance to even up his score. Given the 1-2 record this far down the banzuke, we can assume that Endo is continuing to nurse injuries, most likely a continuation of the knee injury he suffered at Natsu this year.

Okinoumi vs Yutakayama – Yutakayama seems to be continuing his horrific slide that started with an injury at Aki. Thus far he has yet to rack a single win, and he faces off against seasoned veteran Okinoumi, whom he has never beaten. It’s a bit early to start wondering if the bright young Yutakayama will be returning to Juryo before he starts to improve, but for his fans that has to be a worry.

Kotoshogiku vs Sadanoumi – The Kyushu Bulldozer and former Ozeki Kotoshogiku continues to hold his own at Maegashira 8, and it’s really great to see the crowd cheer him on. Sadanoumi has yet to lose, and has his best start since he won the Juryo Yusho at Osaka this year.

Abi vs Takarafuji – It’s been surprising how many opponents have tried to thrust against Takarafuji’s stump of neck this basho. Given Abi’s tendencies towards that end, we may see if he can “Find Takarafuji’s neck with both hands”. Takarafuji has looked sluggish since Nagoya, and while still competent, he is not inspiring right now.

Takanoiwa vs Ikioi – Ikioi’s sumo is in shambles right now. He can’t seem to muster effective offense, and his ability to resist pressure from an opponent is near zero. Takanoiwa seems to be off his sumo as well, so this may be the kind of match where you can nip off to the yakitori stand or the toilet.

Shohozan vs Kagayaki – Kagayaki has said in prior interviews that he is aiming for the top, and sumo fans applaud that. His focus on mastery of sumo fundaments is undeniable, but the Maegashira 6 range may be as far as that can take him. He holds a solid career advantage over Shohozan, so this may be a chance to even up at 2-2, but he does not seem to be “dialed in” yet.

Asanoyama vs Yoshikaze – Asanoyama gets a good chance to pick up his first ever win against Yoshikaze, who, in spite of being in front of his local fans, seems to be at a much lower level of genki than we saw in Aki. Asanoyama on the other hand seems to be off to a solid start.

Takakeisho vs Shodai – Takakeisho is certainly dialed in to his sumo right now, and everyone is giving him plenty of time to set up and execute the attack waves until he wins. This is going to be fun to contrast with Shodai’s use of cartoon physics, which seems to be surprisingly potent. The good thing is that Shodai’s tachiai continues to improve.

Mitakeumi vs Myogiryu – Maybe I have become far too jaded, but I have to wonder if Mitakeumi is just going through the motions. He lost his Ozeki run last time, and now he’s kind of plodding around. Yes, he is 2-1 to start, but I would also say his sumo looks a step slower than at Aki. Myogiryu should savor his win over Kisenosato, because he may take a lot of pounding until he’s done being a San’yaku chew toy.

Hokutofuji vs Ichinojo – If Ichinojo does not snap-to, I can’t help but hope this is the basho he gives up that Sekiwake slot. He was phoning it in during Aki, and he’s been phoning it in again now. With any luck, Hokutofuji is well motivated after his kinboshi and gives the Boulder a roll down the side of the dohyo.

Nishikigi vs Takayasu – Nishikigi’s tachiais have looked so tentative and almost apologetic. He goes up against the man who blasts off the line each and every time. I feel a bit of remorse for the guy, and hope that he exits Kyushu with enough working parts to remain married.

Goeido vs Tamawashi – Speaking of phoning it in, Goeido had a good first day, then he has been a sloppy mess since. Tamawashi’s time in the kitchen gives him a lot of practice with a sloppy mess, and I am going to guess Goeido will be caught trying to improvise once more.

Kisenosato vs Tochiozan – Do we have to? I have to think at some point even Kisenosato will try to save face. Tochiozan is a well known foe. They have had 41 matches, of which Kisenosato has taken 26. That would be the healthy Kisenosato. The broken one who is struggling to generate forward pressure might be untested against Tochiozan, and frankly I hate to watch.

Kyushu Day 3 Preview

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The top story in our minds is the evident weakness in Kisenosato. His day 1 loss was regrettable, but to some extent plausible as Takakeisho is a hard-charging young man who is primed for higher ranks. His day 2 loss and resulting kinboshi is rightfully cause for concerns among fans. Kisenosato has frequently suffered from performance problems in high stakes / high stress situations, and has jokingly been called a “Chokozuna” more than once. Given his age, his injury, and his record setting string if kyujo, the “Great Pumpkin” might be getting into a spot where he is left with few options save a trip to the barber.

Kaisei has returned from kyujo, and with all rikishi injuries, the reporting around what was wrong with him, and what state he is in, is awfully thin. We know the pressure is on for him to produce at least a few wins to help stave off a deep make-koshi and a heavy demotion. Balancing between injury recovery and rank is one of the brutal truths surrounding sumo: it is a zero-sum game where only the winners can retain rank.

What We Are Watching Day 3

Arawashi vs Chiyomaru – Both rikishi are eager for their first wins, and both are clearly struggling this basho. Both of them are staring at a return to Juryo approaching like a Shinkansen. For all of the glories of being a sumo fan, it’s always tough to see two capable rikishi get in this much trouble so early in a basho.

Onosho vs Takanosho – Onosho has opened Kyushu strong, and I do think that he may have put on some additional mass as well. A healthy and genki Onosho is under-ranked at Maegashira 13, and I think if he finishes week 1 in good shape he will be in the rotation to face off against higher ranks.

Aoiyama vs Endo – Everyone hopes that this basho, Endo will get his body, his sumo and his mind together. Endo is always hoped to be a great rikishi “real soon now”, but always comes up short for a parade of reasons. Aoiyama is winless thus far, and seems to be continuing the struggles he faced at Aki. Both are capable when they are on their sumo, which may not be day 3.

Chiyonokuni vs Okinoumi – An evenly balanced match between Chiyonokuni’s raw, frantic battle style and Okinoumi’s more measured and balanced approach. As fans of Chiyonokuni are aware, his frantic sumo tends to include a lot of mistakes and missteps, and any skilled opponent need only wait for him to execute something in a sloppy or careless manner to find their opening for a winning move.

Sadanoumi vs Yutakayama – Yutakayama is suffering a cold start to Kyushu, which seems to be an extension of his struggles at Aki. It is not uncommon for a rikishi to suffer for several basho following a brutal ride through the top end of the Maegashira ranks, and this may be the case with Yutakayama. Sadanoumi, one the other hand, has started strong and seems to be on his sumo.

Kotoshogiku vs Daieisho – Hometown boy Kotoshogiku really does much better at Kyushu. He seems to become energized by the atmosphere and the enthusiasm of the crowd. He has never lost to Daieisho, and I don’t expect he will start today.

Abi vs Shohozan – Oh fun – the street brawler “Big Guns” Shohozan will have to puzzle through Abi’s crazy long reach to remain unbeaten. Fans around the world are waiting for Abi to decide that the double arm shoulder thrusting approach needs a rest, and to try something more.

Takanoiwa vs Kagayaki – Takanoiwa is probably eager to pick up his first win, but fans should keep in mind he sat out jungyo with injuries, and is unlikely to be 100%. Add to that the stress of the Harmafuji lawsuit debacle, the retirement of his Oyakata, changing stables and all of the stress that came with that, and you have a recipe for a solid rikishi underperforming. He holds a 7-5 career advantage over Kagayaki, but Mr Fundamentals may hold the edge on day 3.

Chiyotairyu vs Asanoyama – Asanoyama took white stars from both Takanoiwa and Kagayaki, but now faces a bigger, rounder challenge. Chiyotairyu’s sumo is fairly one dimensional, and Asanoyama won their only prior match.

Shodai vs Yoshikaze – Yoshikaze will work hard from the tachiai to keep Shodai reacting. If he gives the man in blue a chance to set up any offense, it could get tough for the Berserker in a hurry. So for Shodai, he needs to use his excellent balance and stability to endure Yoshikaze’s opening gambit, and rally to have a chance to win.

Takakeisho vs Ryuden – I am going to guess with a win over the Yokozuna and the top ranked Ozeki, the schedulers are going to save Takakeisho’s remaining Ozeki bouts for later in the basho. The young man could be on a hot streak, and he may be useful in creating drama for act 3 if he keeps winning. Today his opponent is Ryuden, who continues to be inconsistent, but could plausibly win against Takakeisho.

Tamawashi vs Ichinojo – Ichinojo, what is it going to take? So much potential, but something in your mind seems to impede your sumo. You have a lot of fans who are behind you, but worry when we see you struggle with the easy stuff. Today is a fairly even match against his countryman Tamawashi. Fast and brutal, Tamawashi may struggle with Ichinojo’s scale busting mass, but I anticipate that Tamawashi will attack with force, and likely prevail.

Mitakeumi vs Nishikigi – Ever have a business trip to some place you always wanted to see, like maybe Thailand. But the flight breaks down, your luggage gets lost and sold on the black market, and the food gives you horrific digestive problems. But you get to see amazing sights and meet truly wonderful and unique people in a whirlwind adventure you will never forget, and probably never attempt again. This is Nishikigi’s magical holiday in the joi-jin.

Kaisei vs Takayasu – Welcome back Kaisei! Leg still hurt? Good, we would like you to work out with Mr Takayasu-zeki today. Both of you are big, hairy beasts so we decided it would be good for you to share hobby time together.

Goeido vs Tochiozan – Now Tochiozan has taken both Sekiwake scalps, the schedulers try him against the top-ranked Ozeki. Goeido’s day 2 match saw him fall prey to the same offensive strategy that Takakeisho used against Kisenosato, so one has to wonder if Goeido has lost the plot.

Myogiryu vs Tochinoshin – A surprisingly interesting and balanced match. Tochinoshin does not yet look to be on his sumo, and that day 1 loss seems to be occupying his mind. Myogiryu is coming off of a Kisenosato supplied kinboshi, and probably feels like he can overcome the “lift and shift” of Tochinoshin. Tochinoshin holds a 11-7 lead in a surprisingly even career record.

Kisenosato vs Hokutofuji – Kisenosato seems to be on a path to turn each of his matches into a high-drama nail biter. Day 3 is no better as he faces Hokutofuji, who has no wins (same as the Yokozuna), but has been fighting well. Does Kisenosato take one step closer to the barber in the final match of the day?

Kyushu Day 2 Preview

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Day 1 got everyone off to a rather rusty and clunky start, albeit with some good sumo mixed in. It’s clear from the opening day that fans should keep their minds open for at least the first week, and it may take a few days for the top performers to get tuned up and ready to compete.

I think the stand-outs for day 1 were clearly Kagayaki, Shodai and Takakeisho. Kagayaki for quickly and effectively dismantling Abi’s favorite attack style, Shodai for containing then controlling Ryuden as effectively as he did, and Takakeisho for unleashing his “Wave Action Tsuppari” against a Yokozuna and making it stick.

The microphone setup in Kyushu seem to be an interesting departure from other venues, they seem to catch quite a good amount of crowd noise, and the venue itself is probably a lot more “live”, providing a lot of complex acoustics. The result seemed to be that there was a lot more detail to the crowd noise, and the crowd was more reactive to the action in the ring. Overall, I thought it worked.

What We Are Watching Day 2

Chiyomaru vs Meisei – Chiyomaru continued looking quite iffy, which was a trend that started at Aki. The man has a large and enthralled following, so I am sure everyone hopes that he can get his body in better health and remain in the top division. Today’s opponent, Meisei, won their only prior match.

Aoiyama vs Onosho – There is little chance that Aoiyama’s day 2 opponent will lure him into a losing mawashi battle, as Onosho prefers the oshi style. Aoiyama needs to over-perform this basho if he wants to break out of the bottom of the banzuke rut he finds himself in this year.

Endo vs Okinoumi – Endo will be looking to bounce back from his day 1 loss, and he may have trouble with Okinoumi, who looks genki for a change. Like many of these long-serving vets, Okinoumi can put together quite a powerful string of matches if his body cooperates. Endo is still trying anything he can to get his body, his sumo and his mind to work together during a basho.

Sadanoumi vs Chiyonokuni – Chiyonokuni looked strong and on plan day 1, and fans should note that he’s (if you average it out) a Maegashira 6 or 7 rikishi right now. So he will have a decent advantage at this slot in the banzuke. I am sure his fans are hoping he can even out his sumo and consistently produce wins. I am looking for an early attempt to pull or slap down from either man.

Ikioi vs Kotoshogiku – Two old veterans in less than awesome physical conditions will try their sumo, and the fans will be pulling for home-town favorite, Kotoshogiku, who we affectionately label the “Kyushu Bulldozer”. The two are quite evenly matched, and it will come down to if Kotoshogiku can land a grip and begin his “Hug and Chug” attack.

Takanoiwa vs Abi – Takanoiwa’s compact and nearly rectangular body may present an interesting puzzle to Abi’s preferred double-arm thrusting technique. We can hope that Takanoiwa studied Kagayaki’s day one match, and learned that coming at Abi’s elbows will break off the attack, and leave sumo’s favorite stick-insect momentarily perplexed. Then again maybe Abi will grab the mawashi from the tachiai and disrupt everyone’s expectations. To add more interest, this is their first ever match.

Kagayaki vs Asanoyama – A couple of ‘fundamentals’ rikishi in a great head to head match. Kagayaki has won all 4 of their prior contests, but Asanoyama is not the kind of person who lets that weigh too much on his mind. The advantage will go to whichever rikishi gets inside at the tachiai, and can focus center-mass. The fun part is that both men tend to do this when they are on their sumo. Could be a highlight match of the first half.

Shodai vs Chiyotairyu – Shodai’s weak tachiai against the Chiyotairyu cannon-ball. It may seem one-sided, but Shodai has this ability to get his opponents to make mistakes that he is quite expert at exploiting for a rapid change of fortunes. If he can absorb the initial charge, I expect him to work to get Chiyotairyu’s substantial body off balance and under his control.

Yoshikaze vs Ryuden – I find it amazing that Yoshikaze trails Ryuden 2-1 in their career series. This is possibly due to Yoshikaze having a pair of really tough basho, but he may have some specific weakness to Ryuden’s sumo. Ryuden will need to do whatever he is going to do in the first few moments, before Yoshikaze can set up his relentless, frantic offense.

Mitakeumi vs Tamawashi – To quote the immortal Sheldon Cooper, Tamawashi can look at Mitakeumi across the shikiri-sen and say, “you’re in my spot”. Both of these rikishi tend to put a lot of force into their thrusting attack, so this battle may not take long to decide. Mitakeumi has a 13-2 career advantage, but right now Mitakeumi looks rattled and off his sumo.

Tochiozan vs Ichinojo – Tochiozan impressed day 1 with a solid win over Mitakeumi, and today he faces the Mongolian giant, Ichinojo, whom he has a habit of defeating (8-4 career). Ichinojo’s day 1 sumo was lethargic against Nishkigi, but he decided not to go soft once his heels touched the tawara for a change, so perhaps there is some fight in the boulder for this tournament.

Goeido vs Takakeisho – Fresh from his win over Kisenosato, Takakeisho brings his sumo to Goeido. Takakeisho takes time to set up his offense, and always plays for time. Goeido, when he is in good form, is lightning fast and will defeat you before you can establish an attack. Whatever Takakeisho’s plan might be, it involves him buying enough time to get started.

Nishikigi vs Tochinoshin – Nishikigi is outclassed in this one. Tochinoshin will go for the mawashi straight away, and there will be little that Nishikigi can do about it. I am looking for a Tochinoshin “sky crane” moment with Nishikigi’s feet off the clay, kicking in the air.

Hokutofuji vs Takayasu – I am a fan of both rikishi, but Hokutofuji is likely outside of his range in this match. Both use similar sumo styles, and Takayasu is larger, faster and stronger. But Hokutofuji has a 3-1 career advantage over the Ozeki.

Kisenosato vs Myogiryu – I am looking for Kisenosato to get his sumo back together and stop dropping matches that should be easy for him. He holds a 16-4 career advantage over Myogiryu, with the last time Myogiryu took a match from him being 2015, so I am expecting the Yokozuna to put him away quickly and easily, or there could be trouble in the pumpkin patch.

Kyushu Day 1 Preview

Kisenosato - Takakeisho

Hello dear readers, and welcome to the final basho of 2018 (also the final Kyushu basho of the Heisei era)! Where the Aki basho was a brutal pounding applied by the Yokozuna and Ozeki, this basho features two Yokozuna sidelined prior to day 1. Where the upper Maegashira bore the brunt of that pounding during Aki, Kyushu may be a bit more survivable for rikishi who have been ranked in the upper slots.

I must also apologize for the absence of news and commentary in the run up to the opening day. My personal and professional life kept me from writing, and as a result there were many interesting topics left undiscussed. With luck they will get raised on their own during the basho, and will make fine fodder for our excellent readership.

At the head of that list is the re-assignment of several top division rikishi from the now closed Takonohana-beya to Chiganoura. The chaos and distraction of this move may impact Takakeisho, Takanoiwa and other former Takanohana rikishi down the banzuke. Takakeisho turned in a solid 9-6 performance at Aki, and is back at his highest ever Komusubi 1e rank. Takanoiwa was kyujo for the fall jungyo tour, and may be in difficult shape.

What We Are Watching Day 1

Yago vs Chiyomaru – Due to Kaisei’s kyujo, the banzuke is unbalanced from day 1. As a result, Yago gets his chance to visit Makuuchi. With any luck NHK will show this match, as Yago is an impressive young man with a likely debut in Makuuchi in 2019. Chiyomaru managed to stay in Makuuchi through some excellent banzuke luck and ranking chaos as a result of the bloodbath that was Aki. This is only Yago’s tenth basho, seven of which he has been ranked in Juryo. He’s no small fellow, but with the enormous Chiyomaru, I am looking for a great deal of huffing and puffing before it’s all done.

Meisei vs Daishomaru – The first ever match between these two. With Meisei freshly back from his one basho return to Juryo, he’s probably the favourite, as he was looking quite genki during Aki while Daishomaru is looking to recover from an ugly 5-10 Aki basho record.

Chiyoshoma vs Takanosho – Both rikishi came away from Aki with 8-7 kachi-koshi, but it was clear that Chiyoshoma was still nursing injuries on the final day. He has beaten Takanosho twice in their three-match history, but I would give Takanosho the edge on day 1.

Onosho vs Endo – What are these two doing down here? Never mind, both are solid rikishi who have had problems this year. Onosho with a knee injury followed by surgery, and Endo undergoing more extensive repair on his undercarriage. Onosho has yet to beat Endo, and I would guess most of that is mental. Both are looking to bounce back from make-koshi in September.

Chiyonokuni vs Yutakayama – In today’s demolition derby, two powerful rikishi who could not buy a win at Aki. Yutakayama was kyujo for a few days, and Chiyonokuni seemed unable to finish most of his opponents. They are more or less equal (1-2) in their career matches, but I would give the edge to Yutakayama. I am assuming he has healed up, and needs to get back on his sumo. For Chiyonokuni, the inability to finish his opponents is all about how is mind is working.

Kotoshogiku vs Takarafuji – Veteran battle ahoy! As part of the Aki Takarafuji cheer squad over on the West side, I say the guy needs to turn his sumo around. Ex-Ozeki Kotoshogiku continues his slow fade into the sunset, but it’s still nice to see him come out on the dohyo and play bulldozer for a few seconds of high-intensity hug-n-chug. Kotoshogiku leads the career series 13-8.

Ikioi vs Shohozan – Another pair of fierce competitors who took a beating in September. Ikioi rocketed up the banzuke for Aki based on a well-executed over-performance in Nagoya, and is returning to the middle reaches with equal velocity. Shohozan found his street-brawler technique underperforming against the San’yaku, and is back to battling with the rest of the scrappers. Both men are fast, strong and at times brutal. This is likely a match that will feature some fierce pushing and slapping.

Abi vs Kagayaki – Probably the highlight match of the first half, sadly it will likely happen before the NHK live stream picks up. Rumor has it that Abi-zumo has picked up a few new moves, and we are eager to see them on display. Kagayaki never fights with flair, but rather uses fundamentals to win in fairly unsurprising matches. Can you say stylistic clash?

Takanoiwa vs Asanoyama – Time to see if Takanoiwa actually is hurt, as he faces off against perpetual optimist and steadily improving Maegashira Asanoyama. A healthy Takanoiwa should prevail, but there is that injury question again. This is their first ever match.

Chiyotairyu vs Yoshikaze – Chiyotairyu’s cannon-ball tachiai against Yoshikaze’s face and subsequent frantic sumo attacks. Chiyotairyu has about two seconds to get Yoshikaze contained or off balance before The Berserker unleashes doom.

Shodai vs Ryuden – I want to see Shodai employ that improved tachiai he showed us a couple of times in September. Ryuden has continued to improve, but many fans will be looking for some manner of “ugly matta” from this guy who seems prone to them. Shodai has an uncanny knack to survive these kinds of matches, at times looking out of control but always losing last.

Nishikigi vs Ichinojo – Welcome to the joi-jin, Nishikigi! Here, we have a nice boulder for you to play with. For Nishikigi’s sake, I hope Ichinojo is in some kind of Mongolian hibernation mode. [Seems likely. –PinkMawashi]

Mitakeumi vs Tochiozan – Tochiozan has gotten some hype this year that the 31 year old veteran might make one last push for higher rank. He clearly has solid technique, but has a difficult time consistantly putting together a string of winning tournaments. Mitakeumi needs to rebuild his Ozeki bid, and will be looking to expand his 6-1 career lead over Tochiozan day 1.

Tamawashi vs Tochinoshin – I am hoping Tochinoshin is healthy and ready to go. If he is back on top of his sumo, we should see him make short work of Tamawashi. Tamawashi, meanwhile, will try to stay mobile and keep the Ozeki away from a mawashi grip.

Myogiryu vs Takayasu – Some fans are in favor of a Takayasu yusho bid for Kyushu. He starts against veteran Myogiryu, who has an 11-4 career advantage over the Ozeki. It’s been some time since the two have squared off, and it’s going to be interesting to see if Myogiryu can pick up an early win against the Ozeki. They last fought in September of 2016 when Takayasu was Sekiwake 1e.

Goeido vs Hokutofuji – With two of the Yokozuna in dry-dock, Goeido has an excellent shot at his second yusho. Upstart Hokutofuji seems to have gotten his body healed, his sumo together and is pushing for higher rank. Hokutofuji is quite a bit slower than Goeido, who tends to have you defeated before you even know the match has started. This will likely be a good test for Hokutofuji, but I predict Goeido will expand his 3-1 career lead.

Kisenosato vs Takakeisho – The final match of the day is a replay of Aki day 2, when Takakeisho threw the kitchen sink at Kisenosato, and kept the Yokozuna quite busy. In the end Kisenosato was able to restrain, contain and eliminate the bowling ball with legs, after Takakeisho make the mistake of focusing his attacks primarily against Kisenosato’s injured left chest. Hopefully today he will focus his powerful thrusts center-mass, and unleash his “wave action tsuppari” with maximum effect.

Aki Basho day 11 – Lower Makuuchi results

All eyes might be on Mitakeumi, Tochinoshin, Hakuho and Kakuryu, but I’m going to keep my spotlight aimed at mid and lower Makuuchi for a bit longer, because some of these bouts were very good sumo, and because I’m eagerly watching to see who can and can’t avoid demotion.

Ryuden – Kotoyuki. As I said before, Kotoyuki really needed this win, and I didn’t expect it to be easy for him. However, he pulled it off, a fine display of oshi-zumo keeping Ryuden at arms’ length and stopping him getting anything resembling a mawashi grip. It was really more Ryuden’s loss than Kotoyuki’s win, since the Takadagawa-beya man misjudged his place in the ring and stepped outside while retreating, but Kotoyuki definitely deserves credit for clearly winning the tachiai and preventing Ryuden from ever getting a touch of the belt.

Ishiura – Nishikigi. Another “must-win”, and although Ishiura’s sumo looked solid yesterday, he can’t pull it off again. Nishikigi’s rising arms prevent the low tachiai, and Ishiura finds himself entangled, controlled, and forced out. He can’t disengage, he can’t get low enough to lever Nishikigi upright, and with only a right outside grip he can’t manage a throw. Ishiura is now make-koshi and his return to Juryo is all but assured.

Okinoumi – Takanosho. Both come in to their first ever meeting with 5-5 scores. Takanosho puts on an excellent display of no-tricks, chest-to-chest sumo without a mawashi grip, and is able to drive Okinoumi (ten years his senior) out with pure force.

Kyokutaisei has apparently decided that if he tries to wrestle on that leg again, it will just come off at the knee. Chiyomaru gets the fusensho and avoids make-koshi for one more day.

Sadanoumi – Chiyoshoma. The Villain of Kokonoe-Beya has no interest in moving forwards, and after his hatakikomi attempt fails, his arm-pull fails, and Sadanoumi goes chest-to-chest with arms high, he’s able to perform a Sukuinage (beltless overarm throw) right at the bales and secure a win. I’m still not sure how he manages to find the leverage for that throw and end up on top, although he faceplants down the side of the dohyo for his trouble.

Yoshikaze – Daieisho. Daiesho looked almost like a shorter, rounder Abi in this, with an absolutely unceasing windmill of tsuppari and thrusts that slowly drove Yoshikaze back to the tawara and out.

Takanoiwa – Kotoshogiku. Takanoiwa has a plan here. In the first few seconds of the bout, he’s able to get a good firm belt grip first on the right outside and then the left inside, which does wonders to neutralize the gaburi-yori attack. After Takanoiwa makes two failed attempts to lift him, Kotoshogiki struggles mightily to get the bulldozer into first gear, but Takanoiwa is able to rotate and throw him down with that underarm grip (shitatenage).

Shohozan – Hokutofuji. This bout seems to be all Hokutofuji. With a firm nodawa, an excellent ability to deflect Shohozan’s thrusting attacks, and enough stability to withstand slap-down attempts, Hokutofuji drives Shohozan on two complete laps of the dohyo before finally shoving him out. With this win, Hokutofuji is kachi-koshi.

No-one is going to call Aoiyama – Onosho a highlight with a straight face. Onosho is now disappointingly make-koshi. It was at least better sumo than Daishomaru‘s henka win over Asanoyama.

Myogiryu – Takarafuji. Myogiryu gets both hands inside from the tachiai, and when Takarafuji tries to retreat to avoid being caught in a full moro-zashi, he’s able to follow, withstand the kotenage attempt, and drive him out.

Since the rest of the torikumi involves rikishi from the joi-jin (the upper 16), I’m going to leave that to Herouth to cover.