Mock Natsu Day 10 Highlights

Welcome to the final day of act 2 of our mock basho. Many readers will recall that we divide a basho into 3 sections, or “acts”, each with their own goals and processes to arrive at those goals. For act 2, we narrow the field to find out who has what it takes to compete for the yusho, and to start sorting the survivors from the damned. Sadly, as a fan, it seems that Ozeki Takakeisho has been sorted into the “Damned” pile as of day 10 after losing his match to Aoiyama. Takakeisho has been fighting hurt, and the primary source of his offensive sumo power, his thrusting, has been more or less shut down by a recurrent injury to his left pectoral muscles. This means that Takakeisho will appear as a Sekiwake / Ozeki hybrid (Ozekiwake) in the next banzuke, and will have a single chance to resume his Ozeki rank if he can score 10 or more wins. This is not a unique experience for young Takakeisho, who was injured in his first tournament as Ozeki, and went kyujo, likewise skipping the following tournament to recover. He returned in September 2019 for the Aki Basho, scoring 12 wins and taking the jun-yusho. We hope he can execute a similar feat this time.

The other event of note is yusho race leader Ishiura taking his first loss, to Sadanoumi, dropping him to 9-1, and bringing a huge pack of competent rikishi within striking range. It will be interesting to see if Ishiura can regroup going into act 3 and hold off 5 prior yusho winners, including two Yokozuna and an Ozeki, who are hot on his heels.

Mock Natsu Leaderboard

Leader – Ishiura
Chasers – Hakuho, Kakuryu, Asanoyama, Mitakeumi, Tokushoryu ,Sadanoumi, Nishikigi
Hunt GroupChiyotairyu ,Takayasu

5 Matches Remain

Day 10 Matches

Nishikigi (8-2) defeats Tobizaru (1-9) Kimedashi – One of my favorites, Tobizaru, visits from Juryo to fill the banzuke gap. Sadly he is already deeply make-koshi and will have zero chance of making his top division debut. We have been waiting 10 days to see Nishikigi use his favorite move to win a match, and he really made his “blind man’s arm bar” hold pay today against the Flying Monkey. Nishikigi picks up win #8, and is kachi-koshi. I do hope this is the start of another Nishikigi hot streak.

Takayasu (7-3) defeats Chiyomaru (3-7) Oshidashi – Takayasu looked a bit more comfortable today, his right shoulder blast bounced harmlessly off of Chiyomaru, who pressed the attack in response. Takayasu managed to get his left hand past Chiyomaru’s defenses and applied maximum force to his chest. Forced to shift his weight, Chiyomaru took another blow from Takayasu’s right, and staggered back, to be thrust out by a second left.

Wakatakakage (5-5) defeats Shohozan (5-5) Oshitaoshi – A great high mobility battle that saw them shift between a battle of slaps to grappling. With Wakatakakage having a firm hold on Shohozan, he tried to move his head below Shohozan’s shoulders, I think in an attempt to shut off the periodic slaps to his face. After the 3rd, Wakatakakage seems to have gotten quite amped up, and drove forward as Shohozan’s left leg collapsed.

Kotoeko (5-5) defeats Shimanoumi (5-5) Hatakikomi – Shimanoumi bought a fast trip to examine the dirt after Kotoeko executes a beautiful hit and shift / mini-henka, catching Shimanoumi at full attack speed and with no room to recover.

Kotoshogiku (6-4) defeats Tochinoshin (2-8) Okuridashi – It was clear after day 3 that the former Ozeki was headed for a miserable tournament, and now Tochinoshin is make-koshi on day 10. Kotoshogiku captured him at the tachiai, and as it was clear the match was going for a loss, Tochinoshin tried to escape, but only managed to get turned around and shoved out from behind. Not sure how bad it will end for Tochinoshin, but I have my fears.

Kotoshoho (6-4) defeats Kaisei (3-7) Hatakikomi – Kotoshoho threw the kitchen sink into this match, grabbing any body part that he could lay hands on, and trying anything to disrupt Kaisei’s balance and forward motion. Kaisei had him on the run until an arm tug sent him too far forward, and Kotoshoho’s right hand behind his head put him to the dirt.

Kotoyuki (4-6) defeats Myogiryu (4-6) Hatakikomi – The Hatakikomi madness continues as Kotoyuki’s taped hands traded powerful slaps with Myogiryu, with Kotoyuki delivering plenty of punishment but not able to finish him off. As Myogiryu took a chance to drive inside, a taped hand forced his neck down, and sent him to the clay.

Sadanoumi (8-2) defeats Ishiura (9-1) Uwatenage – Ishiura hand an double inside grip at the tachiai, and superior body position. Was he drove forward he seemed to suffer a bit of traction troubles, and his left foot slid outward. Sadanoumi’s sumo sense went active immediately, and he rolled into the throw and finished the yusho race leader in a blink of an eye. Sadanoumi picks up his 8th win for kachi-koshi.

Tamawashi (4-6) defeats Terutsuyoshi (3-7) Kotenage – I really never want to see Tamawashi use a kotenage ever again, but every so often, he breaks it out again. Why this move is considered legitimate sumo is starting to puzzle me. The result today was not as crippling as it was to Takayasu, but post match it looks like Terutsuyoshi was sore.

Tokushoryu (8-2) defeats Kotonowaka (5-5) Shitatenage – Kotonowaka had a brilliant tachai, and had a fantastic hand hold on Tokushoryu at the first step. With Tokushoryu not yet in any kind of defensive stance, Kotonowaka tried to rapidly rotate and throw the Hatsu yusho winner, only to find his grip insufficient to move Tokushoryu’s massive body. As Kotonowaka poured more energy into the rotation, Tokushoryu drove forward and took him to the clay. I wanted to call this oshitaoshi, but it seems the Shimpan called it an under-arm throw. Thats 8 wins for Tokushoryu, and he’s kachi-koshi.

Enho (4-6) defeats Ikioi (2-8) Tsukiotoshi – Enho wins (yay!) but Ikioi is now make-koshi (boo!). We had a trademark Enho submarine tachiai, with him burying his face into a region somewhere north of Ikioi’s belt. Enho tried twice to start torque to get him off balance, but in the end drove forward and pushed against Ikioi’s chest to bring him down.

Hokutofuji (6-4) defeats Chiyotairyu (7-3) Yorikiri – I am happy to see Hokutofuji fighting well going into the final stretch of the basho. The tachiai was huge, and the clash reverberated through the empty Kokugikan. Hokutofuji’s right Hokutofuji got his left arm around Chiyotairyu and walked him out for win #6.

Kiribayama (4-6) defeats Ryuden (3-7) Uwatenage – Ryuden attempted to get a double inside grip against Kiribayama and found himself riding a throw. Ryuden is one loss away from make-koshi.

Takarafuji (6-4) defeats Takanosho (5-5) Uwatenage – Takanosho started this tournament red-hot, but has lost quite a bit of his fighting spirit through a series of disappointing losses. Today he found himself frustrated by Mr “Defend and Extend”, who shut down 3 offensive gambits, leaving Takanosho a bit low on stamina and searching for what to do next. Taking a step back to unweight Takanosho, Takarafuji rolled into the throw and sent his winded opponent down for his 5th loss.

Yutakayama (4-6) defeats Onosho (4-6) Oshidashi – A clash of two powerful oshi-zumo fighters, it was Onosho strong at the open, but we got to see some Yutakayama hug-n-chug action as he marched Onosho to the bales. Onosho was having none of it, and got his right hand inside and shoved powerfully, breaking contact. Yutakayama responses with a right hand thrust to the side of Onosho’s body, which sent him out. Onosho has great sumo instincts, but I wish he could take yoga or something to tune up that balance. The again if I had “Big Unit” Yutakayama knocking me about, I doubt I could keep my feet either.

Okinoumi (2-8) defeats Endo (2-8) Oshidashi – As is sometimes the case, Okinoumi’s sumo really starts to get good the match after he is safely make-koshi. Sadly that meant that Endo joined him in the 2-8 score group. I am hoping Endo can regroup before the next tournament, that Hakuho rematch really bothered him mentally, physically, or both.

Mitakeumi (8-2) defeats Shodai (5-5) Oshidashi – I am not sure how to type this, but.. ahem… Shodai got the better of this tachiai. He was fast, he was strong and he rocked Mitakeumi back. Mitakeumi died for a right hand inside position, and got it, but lost valuable ground. Shodai got his left hand on Mitakeumi’s neck, and suddenly the tadpole was struggling for offense. Mitakeumi threw everything into a double hand blast which broke contact, and Mitakeumi drove forward, forcing Shodai to retreat. The broke contact again, and Shodai found himself out of alignment with his opponent as Mitakeumi slammed into him from the side, planted his right hand under his chin and pushed forward for the win. Mitakeumi advances to 8-2 for a kachi-koshi.

Aoiyama (5-5) defeats Takakeisho (2-8) Hatakikomi – A battle of great sadness for me, and furthermore Big Dan Aoiyama cleaned him out without grabbing a hold of his belt. Aoiyama brought his arms up at the tachiai to raise the Ozeki up, and immediately slapped him down. This is possibly Aoiyama’s favorite gambit, and it was sad that Takakeisho had no counter for it. I guess this underscores that he’s hurt. That make-koshi and demotion to Ozeki-wake for him.

Asanoyama (8-2) defeats Kagayaki (6-4) Uwatenage – Admit it, we sumo fans love to see Asanoyama hit “that pose”. It means his opponent is more or less doomed. I recall having the same reaction to when Kisenosato would go into his crab pose and start to scuttle about like some combative mass of angry seafood. Kagayaki got a solid left hand outside grip, but like that was ever going to matter. It only set the leverage point for Asanoyama’s throw, and throw he did! Asanoyama now at 8 wins and kachi-koshi.

Hakuho (8-2) defeats Daieisho (5-5) Oshidashi – Daieisho gets his 1 per customer right hand face slap, followed by a left hand thrust to his chest. Daieisho lunged forward to attack, but Hakuho deftly caught him and thrust him out. 8 wins for the dai-Yokozuna as well.

Kakuryu (8-2) defeats Abi (5-5) Yorikiri – Kakuryu survived the a single double arm volley from Abi, and was able to move inside and capture Abi’s mawashi. Suddenly robbed of his primary, and perhaps only offense, he was an easy mark for the Yokozuna to quickly scoot out of the ring before some stroke of luck kept Abi in the match. Kakuryu also improves to 8-2 for kachi-koshi on day 10.

Mock Natsu – Day 11 Torikumi

Courtesy of Grand Sumo Breakdown and Tachiai – Day 11 matches for our mock Natsu basho

Mock Natsu Day 9 Highlights

Shin-Ozeki Asanoyama overpowered Mitakeumi today, dropping him to 7-2 while Ishiura surprised Hokutofuji to remain unbeaten, and 2 wins ahead of anyone else in the Kokugikan today. How long can Ishiura’s amazing storybook run continue? Not sure, but for the last 2 years it seems almost anyone in the top division stands a reasonable chance of taking home the cup on day 15. Should Ishiura pull off the miracle, who do you think would be his flag bearer? Awkward….

In the match immediately following, it was clear that Takakeisho is in a lot of pain both before and after the match, with him trying to massage that right pectoral muscle. As his only real weapon is thrusting, and he is right hand dominant, this is very bad news for him.

Mock Natsu Leaderboard

Leader – Ishiura
Hunt GroupKakuryu, Asanoyama, Mitakeumi, Tokushoryu, Chiyotairyu, Sadanoumi, Nishikigi

6 Matches Remain

Day 9 Matches

Kotoeko (4-5) defeats Chiyoshoma (5-4) Tsukiotoshi – Chiyoshoma comes back to visit the top division to face Kotoeko. Chiyoshoma was early off the line, getting his left arm around Kotoeko’s body and spinning him. Surprisingly, Chiyoshoma did not quite keep his feet placed, and Kotoeko was able to stop the dance and attack. With all of Chiyoshoma’s weight on his left foot, Kotoeko tried for a leg sweep, that nearly worked. As Chiyoshoma stumbled to regain balance, Kotoeko grabbed Chiyoshoma and threw him down. I did like that attempt at the leg sweep – nice move.

Nishikigi (7-2) defeats Takayasu (6-3) Tsukiotoshi – Trying not to grumble here that Takayasu would get beaten by the likes of Nishikigi, but I need to keep in mind just how injured Takayasu was. While he opened strong, maybe 9 days of fighting has those injuries trending toward bad once more. Takayasu certainly seemed a bit less aggressive, and this is the first time – ever – that Nishikigi has beaten him. Ok, trying to to be worried. Some decent endurance from Nishikigi today as he was able to contain everything that Takayasu threw into this match.

Shohozan (5-4) defeats Chiyomaru (3-6) Oshidashi – This was more like the form we expect from Shohozan. He was strong at the tachiai, and made no attempt to do anything more than land a huge uppercut. In exchange, Chiyomaru got in a potent double arm thrust, but that uppercut sent him back, and Shohozan lunged in to finish him. Chiyomaru did seem a bit dazed after the match – hope he’s ok.

Sadanoumi (7-2) defeats Wakatakakage (4-5) Yoritaoshi – It had been a few days since we had seen Sadanoumi’s lightning tachiai, but to his credit it looks like Wakatakakage was prepared for it. Sadanoumi landed a right hand on Wakatakakage’s mawashi, but yielded the inside position to Wakatakakage, who reciprocated with a shallow left hand grip. Sadanoumi was impressively low, and was able to partially lift Wakatakakage off the dohyo and carry him forward for the win. One more win for kachi-koshi for Sadanoumi.

Tochinoshin (2-7) defeats Kotoyuki (3-6) Yorikiri – Tochinoshin managed his second win, and just maybe he can save himself from a trip to Juryo now. Kotoyuki was faster off the line, and attempted to set the match to oshi-zumo, but Tochinoshin was able to get his left hand outside grip. There’s not enough strength left in those knees to try a lift, and I think Tochinoshin accepts that now, but there is more than enough sumo skill to dominate a yotsu-zumo match. With Kotoyuki struggling to return to attack range, Tochinoshin progressively tightened his stance, and shut down Kotoyuki’s squirming as he walked him out.

Myogiryu (4-5) defeats Kotoshoho (5-4) Oshidashi – Myogiryu came out of the tachiai lower and faster, and was able to completely disrupt Kotoshoho’s efforts to set up defensive foot placement. Forced to step back, Kotoshoho knew he had trouble, and Myogiryu timed his next thrust perfectly to maximize the disruption. Kotoshoho was forced to step back again, and Myogiryu rushed forward to force him from the ring, but Kotoshoho managed to get his right hand on Myogiryu;s body at the last moment, and both men went out in a heap. The goyoji gave the match to Kotoshoho, but the Shimpan decided to review the video. From the replay it was clear that Kotoshoho touched down first, and the match went to Myogiryu.

Kotonowaka (5-4) defeats Kaisei (3-6) Uwatenage – Kaisei always has a bit of a slow tachiai, mostly due to how much effort it takes to get that much mass in motion. But he found the doughy, pliable Kotonowaka on the attack before he got too far out of his starting crouch. With both hands on Kaisei’s chest, Kotonowaka was able to get a few good blows in before Kaisei started grinding forward. Finding a right hand inside position, Kaisei drove Kotonowaka to the bales, but was unable to finish him. Kotonowaka moved to change his grip and was rewarded with morozashi, but the sheer size of Kaisei meant there was little he could do with the double inside grip. With Kaisei continuing to advanced, and Kotonowaka’s heels on the tawara, he loaded a last minute throw which did the trick and rescued the match for him.

Tokushoryu (7-2) defeats Kotoshogiku (5-4) Hatakikomi – Kotoshogiku was wearing a noticeably larger amount of tape today than any prior day of the basho, and I worry that his body is trying hard to override his fighting spirit now 9 days into the competition. But like the stalwart he is, Kotoshogiku came to fight, and give it his all. He took Tokushoryu to his chest and put himself in control of the match. Tokushoryu gave ground and tried to stay inbounds, but that trademark slap down from Tokushoryu was garnished with a pirouette at the edge. I think this is a good rank for Tokushoryu, and for now most his opponents are susceptible to his drop back, step the to side and slap down combo that took him to the yusho in January.

Chiyotairyu (7-2) defeats Shimanoumi (5-4) Hatakikomi – Shimanoumi took that massive tachiai, and not only stayed upright but managed to get a hold of Chiyotairyu’s mawashi. The big Kokonoe man danced around a bit, working to lower Shimanoumi’s body a bit at a time, until he was bent so far forward, struggling to maintain that grip, that he was an easy mark for the slap down. Either that is a practiced “plan b” or that was some world class improvisation.

Terutsuyoshi (3-6) defeats Ikioi (2-7) Oshidashi – Ikioi now one loss from make-koshi, and he seems to be struggling once more. Terutsuyoshi had an excellent tachiai, arriving at Ikioi’s neck as the bigger man was still moving forward and up. Unable to get any hand hold on Terutsuyoshi, Ikioi gave ground and tried to pull Terutsuyoshi down. Terutsuyoshi responded with a volley of thrusts to Ikioi’s chest, sending him to his 7th loss.

Ryuden (3-6) defeats Tamawashi (3-6) Yorikiri – It was Tamawashi’s match at the start, he was able to drive Ryuden back from the shikiri-sen, and Ryuden broke contact and circled away. Tamawashi responded with a combination of thrusts to Ryuden’s neck which connected well, but did not move Ryuden back more than a bit. Before Tamawashi could attack again, Ryuden closed the gap and put his left hand on Tamwashi’s belt, latching his fingers on the outer layers. Tamawashi responded with his right hand, but Ryuden already had control of the match, and moved Tamawashi back and out for a win. Both men finish the day at 3-6, and are in tough shape this tournament.

Ishiura (9-0) defeats Hokutofuji (5-4) Tsukiotoshi – Ishiura is still undefeated, and today he took Hokutofuji apart and left him by the side of the road. Hokutofuji opened strongly from the tachiai, but Ishiura gave ground carefully, retreating just enough to reduce the force for Hokutofuji’s attacks, and turning him at each step. With an overly eager right hand thrust from Hokutofuji, his body was open to attack for just a moment. Ishiura drove forward and thrust Hokutofuji down. A beautiful combination of speed and power.

Kiribayama (3-6) defeats Enho (3-6) Uwatenage – Both rikishi were firmly committed to a mawashi battle at the tachiai, and Kiribayama’s commitment to go toe to toe with Enho in this manner gave him an early advantage. He kept his stance wide and shut down two solid attempts by Enho to use his compact body and inside position to move Kiribayama. Content to stalemate Enho, Kiribayama looked ready to hit him out. But Enho had no intention of going passive, and reached for Kiribayama’s left leg. Suddenly reacting to the move, Kiribayama stepped his left foot back, but that only powered the throw which seems to have been Enho’s actual plan. The biggest shame is there was not a huge crowd in the Kokugikan to scream their heads off when Kiribayama when flying.

Yutakayama (3-6) defeats Takanosho (5-4) Yorikiri – Yutakayama got the inside position at the tachiai, and had much better foot placement. A bit of a struggle as the two went chest to chest, but Yutakayama got to a right hand inside position. As Takanosho fumbled to achieve a reciprocal grip, Yutakayama lowered his hips and advanced strongly, driving Takanosho from the ring.

Takarafuji (5-4) defeats Endo (2-7) Yorikiri – Endo seems to have lost all manner of his mojo, and today he went down to a surprisingly genki Takarafuji, who is having a great tournament at Maegashira 3. Endo’s attempt to set up a belt grip at the start of the match failed twice, and by the time he decided to go to plan “c”, Takarafuji was already moving him back.

Onosho (4-5) defeats Daieisho (5-4) Oshitaoshi – When these two clash, you know its going to be massive blasts, each trying to shove the other out with overwhelming force, and they did not disappoint. While I normally worry about Onosho being too far forward, there is no concern against Daieisho, as like Onosho he’s full throttle ahead at all times. So as with their prior matches, it was all about who could muster more force. Today it was Onosho, but up until the last moment it could have gone either way.

Abi (5-4) defeats Shodai (5-4) Hatakikomi – Abi seems to be back in the groove, and Abi-zumo is once again producing wins. A fast right hand thrust to Shodai’s neck kept him focused on trying to disrupt Abi’s attacks. To Shodai’s credit, he held his ground for a time while Abi attacked over and over again. After getting the rhythm of Abi’s attacks, Shodai pushed forward during a lull in the tsuppari, but found Abi’s right hand on his neck, and himself tumbling to the dohyo.

Asanoyama (7-2) defeats Mitakeumi (7-2) Yorikiri – This was always going to be a power house match, shin-Ozeki Asanoyama had a chance to knock the lone man chasing Ishiura down to the two loss group, and he put everything he had into this match. He took a brutal blast at the tachiai, with Mitakeumi getting the inside position and thrusting upward at his chin with his right hand. But Asanoyama’s left hand found Mitakeumi’s belt. Mitakeumi countered with a flurry of thrusts to Asanoyama’s face, but Asanoyama’s grip was unbroken. Realizing he could not brush Asanoyama away, Mitakeumi attempted to slap him down, but that release of forward pressure was everything Asanoyama needed to drive Mitakeumi over the bales. Fast and brutal, this match was a tremendous clash of styles.

Kagayaki (6-3) defeats Takakeisho (2-7) Oshidashi – Really quite concerned about Takakeisho, thought Kagayaki has a nasty habit of being able to take him down (4-1 advantage). Takakeisho had poor footwork today, and a distinct lack of power to his attacks. There were once again clear signs that his pectoral injury was bothering him. One more loss and he is make-koshi, and his second trip to Ozekiwake purgatory.

Kakuryu (7-2) defeats Okinoumi (2-7) Tsukiotoshi – Also in the “fighting hurt” category, Okinoumi managed a good start, but could not go the distance against Kakuryu. Of course this is Kakuryu’s preferred approach to wining a match – keep your opponent working until you wear him out or he makes a mistake.

Hakuho (7-2) defeats Aoiyama (4-5) Uwatedashinage – Aoiyama, surprisingly, got a series of good hits on Hakuho at the tachiai. Hakuho skipped the face slap today, and it really seemed to throw off his rhythm. But Hakuho took the punishment and worked Aoiyama into a chest to chest position, and immediately pivoted into the throw. Sometimes Hakuho can get his opponent airborne with these, but there is just too much Aoiyama.

Mock Natsu – Day 10 Torikumi

Courtesy of Grand Sumo Breakdown and Tachiai – Day 10 matches for our mock Natsu basho