Nagoya Day 10 Preview


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

Closing The Second Act

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

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

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

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

Nagoya Leader board

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

6 Matches Remain

What We Are Watching Day 10

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nagoya Day 6 Highlights


Takayasu

There’s a First Time For Many Things

We enter the middle weekend of the Nagoya basho missing 3 rikishi from the Yokozuna and Ozeki ranks. It is actually somewhat unremarkable in that we have seen similar problems for most of the last year. As we have written about frequently on Tachiai, the current crop of Ozeki and Yokozuna have all faced significant physical challenges in the past 18 months, and none of them, except maybe Hakuho and Takayasu, would be considered fit for action. For sumo this can quickly turn into a brand and marketing problem, as these top names are what bring in the bulk of the fans. Even in Japan, there are only a limited number of hard-core sumo followers (like the people who read this site), and that hard core group is not enough to really carry the sport.

On the up side, we had some fantastic matches today, including a couple of first time wins. Rikishi finally defeating a foe they had not been able to best in all of their prior matches. It is clear that both Mitakeumi and Ura are still ascendant, and along with Hokutofuji, and probably Takakeisho in a year or two, there is a core group of sumotori for the future.

Highlight Matches

Nishikigi defeats Sadanoumi – Nishikigi improves to 5-1, but he looks very stiff today for some reason. With 9 bouts remaining, he has a very strong chance of kochi-koshi, and solidifying his escape from Juryo.

Shohozan defeats Daishomaru – Really a great bout! Both rikishi were on pushing / slapping attack mode, and twice Daishomaru had him in trouble. Shohozan battled back strongly and and prevailed. For whatever reason, Shohozan has been looking really sharp this basho.

Chiyotairyu defeats Tokushoryu – Interesting because Tokushoryu attempted a henna, but Chiyotairyu saw it coming and made Tokushoryu pay. Note how Chiyotairyu keeps his eyes on the center of Tokushoryu’s chest during the tachiai. That’s how it’s done, lads!

Okinoumi defeats Ishiura – So good to see signs of life from Okinoumi! For those of you who may not know, Okinoumi has a significant lower pelvic injury, the repair of which would end his career. When it is acting up, he competes weakly. When it does not, the man can really deliver some great sumo. This bout ended with a Monoii, and the shipman determined Ishiura stepped out first.

Aoiyama defeats Takanoiwa – For reasons that defy my mind right now, Aoiyama remains undefeated, and tied with Hakuho for the lead of this basho. Takanoiwa really seems to have nothing to offer this tournament, so this was hardly a tough contest. I would expect the schedulers to give Aoiyama some more challenging opponents soon.

Onosho defeats Daieisho – Onosho continues to excel, and he dispatched Daieisho without much work or fanfare. Unless he suddenly chokes, I would expect Onosho to be ranked much higher in the fall.

Chiyoshoma defeats Ichinojo – Another excellent match, Chiyoshoma threw everything he had at Ichinojo in a bout that raged across the dohyo for a decent amount of time. Lots of good “distraction slaps” from Chiyoshoma helped keep the Mongolian giant reacting instead of winning.

Tochiozan defeats Kagayaki – Tochiozan is another veteran rikishi who has been doing very well this tournament. Today he dominated Kagayaki, riding him around the dohyo like a rented mule. Tochiozan improves to 5-1.

Ura defeats Takakeisho – The first time in his career, Ura wins a match against Takakeisho. He did it by employing a henna, which Takakeisho swallowed whole. Guidance to Takakeisho, study what Chiyotairyu did today. Ura executed that really well – being small and incredibly fast, I do hope he does not become a henka artist.

Mitakeumi defeats Yoshikaze – Mitakeumi continues to impress. Yoshikaze gave him the full measure, including a mini-henka at the tachiai, but Mitakeumi stuck with it and prevailed. This was the first time in 4 matches that Mitakeumi was able to win one from Yoshikaze.

Tamawashi defeats Goeido – Tamawashi really dialed it up to 11 in his match against Goeido, starting with a tachiai so strong it rocked the Ozeki onto his heels. Impressively, Goeido escaped from Tamawashi’s attempt to finish him and battled back strongly. This was a solid match, and a really nice win by Tamawashi.

Takayasu defeats Tochinoshin – Takayasu is at his best (in my opinion) when he engages in a battle of strength and endurance. He is better at this than anyone in sumo today. The man has the endurance to power a small city for a week. To be honest, an epic match like this would not have happened if Tochinoshin were not nearly his equal. But Takayasu, when faced with a bout like this, wears his opponent down – as long as it takes, and once they tire, still has plenty left to take them out.

Hakuho defeats Hokutofuji – Not really anyone left who can credibly stop the boss. Match was notable by yet another display of Hokutofuji’s outstanding etiquette. More of this please. sumotori!

Harumafuji defeats Ikioi – Ikioi is really looking like he is at ⅔ normal energy. I hope whatever is ailing him, it can be resolved by Aki. Harumafuji appears to have found the means to keep his obvious pain under control long enough to win a match.

Yokozuna Kisenosato Withdraws From Nagoya Basho


Angry-Kisse

Too Much Damage To Continue.

Sadly, Yokozuna Kisenosato has announced that he is withdrawing from the Nagoya basho, effective on day 6. This means that his opponent Kotoshogiku picks up his second win of the tournament. Kisenosato is still nursing his left pectoral tear (and subsequent complications), and an now add to that damage to his left ankle, courtesy of a flying toss from the dohyo supplied by his day 5 opponent, Ikioi.

Tachiai thinks that it would be best for Kisenosato to concede that he is in rough and declining physical condition, and just sign up for a multi month surgical and recuperation cycle. We wish him a speedy recovery.

Ozeki Terunofuji Withdraws From Nagoya Basho


kaiju mode

Left Knee Was Never Ready

Ozeki and favorite kaiju Terunofuji has withdrawn from the Nagoya sumo tournament. For reasons I cannot fathom, he decided to compete in Nagoya just a short time after undergoing knee surgery to repair cumulative damage. Given his results and his visible pain at Nagoya, there was really no point in his continuing to compete.

Tachiai is still waiting for word on Kisenosato, who is also expected to withdraw today.

Endo Withdraws From Nagoya Basho


Endo

Injury to Left Knee and Left Ankle

Late word that Endo has withdrawn from the Nagoya basho, and will sit out the rest of the tournament. Fans have wondered for the past two days if he was nursing an injury, and now it is revealed that he has a damaged ACL, but has also damaged his left ankle.

In the image above from his match with Ura, Endo’s ankle is not taped, which it was in subsequent days. This could give rise to the assumption that the injury happend during this match.

This means that the next rikishi into the meat grinder is none other than crowd favorite Ura. Some fans were keen to see Ura face some of the San’yaku, and most likely that will now be the case.

Report comes from Nikkan Sports: https://www.nikkansports.com/battle/sumo/news/1854656.html

Nagoya Day 4 Preview


Endo-Doomed

With Kakuryu Out, Endo Joins The Meat Grinder.

Blog contributor and reader Iksumo has correctly pointed out that with Yokozuna Kakuryu’s withdrawal from the Nagoya Basho, Maegashira 3w joins the joi. Readers may have seen us use the term “joi” in the past. It is a fairly loose reference to the top echelon of Makuuchi; those that will have to face Yokozuna and Ozeka as fodder for their sport. Luckily Endo has been in the joi several times before, and is more than ready to take his turn in the meat grinder.

Day 3 gave some comfort to long time sumo fans. At long last all 3 Ozeki won, and Yokozuna Harumafuji scored his first win. But Harumafuji looked far from his poised, aggressive self both before the match and after. He is clearly in a good amount of pain in his lower body, and I worry that he too may find it necessary to sit out some part of this basho.

Sadly, Kisenosato is also looking damaged, and we face a real possibility that we could only have one Yokozuna active (Hakuho) during week two.

Matches We Like

Gagamaru vs Kotoyuki – Both of these rikishi have had a terrible start to this tournament. Gagamaru especially has not been doing well, and is clearly in pain. Kotoyuki as well suffers from a host of injuries, and spent a day kyujo during Natsu.

Nishikigi vs Sokokurai – Nishikigi really has found his stride, and is working to show that he belongs in Makuuchi. He has only faced Sokokurai once before, and lost. Given his 3-0 start, he may be ready to even the score.

Aoiyama vs Shohozan – “Big Guns” Shohozan goes up against the man-mountain Aoiyama. Aoiyama wins in terms of bulk, power and reach. But Shohozan can take a shot and give as good as he gets. If they get started well, this could be a slap fest for the ages. Aoiyama leads the career series 12-6, so advantage to the Bulgarian.

Ura vs Onosho – Ura was off his sumo on day 3, and I wager he will be back in form for Onosho, whom he has faced several times in the past, and defeated 3 times to 1 loss. Onosho is unbeaten so far this basho, and is looking quite strong and confident. This match has a lot of potential.

Tochiozan vs Endo – Both of these rikishi come into today with 2-1 records, and both of them have been looking fairly well thus far. Endo needs to tune up for his rotation through the upper ranks, but Tochiozan tends to beat Endo with a high degree of predictability.

Takayasu vs Mitakeumi – The shin-Ozeki vs the future-Ozeki. Day 3 Mitakeumi seemed to have stopped prematurely, so he will get a chance today to apply his sumo with gusto. Takayasu leads their series 5-3, but Mitakeumi has a lot to prove.

Terunofuji vs Hokutofuji – Injured Terunofuji vs the up-and-coming Maegashira who has shown a lot of poise, ingenuity and strength. This is their first meeting, so once again we get to see how both men handle the first encounter.

Kisenosato vs Shodai – Should Kisenosato drop this bout to Shodai, it will be very dark days for the newest Yokozuna indeed. It is clear that he has not recovered, and that thus far he has not been fighting at even Ozeki level. Shodai will (hopefully) get his tachiai together for day 4.

Tochinoshin vs Harumafuji – With Harumafuji sore, Tochinoshin has a real chance for another kinboshi. More recent followers of sumo may not know this, but at one time Tochinoshin (before his injuries) as a serious contender for upper ranks. It is really nice to see him competing at this level once more. Harumafuji leads the career bouts 21-6.

Hakuho vs Takakeisho – Yet another first meeting, this time the hard charging up and comer goes face to face with the dai Yokozuna. I am sure that Takakeisho will be a bundle of nerves, but I just hope he puts up a good struggle.

Yokozuna Kakuryu Withdraws From Nagoya Basho


Big-K

Right Leg Injured In Bout With Hokutofuji

*** UPDATED

It was evident that as Hokutofuji mounted a brilliant counter-attack, Kakuryu twisted his right knee during their match, and was clearly limping as he left the dohyo. It seems that his trainers have decided that it was not a problem that was going to be manageable for day 4, and he has withdrawn from the basho.

Word from the official NSK twitter feed, Kakuryu is suffering “right foot lateral ligament injury” (ankle)

This gives Komusubi Yoshikaze a default win, taking him to a 4-0 start to this tournament.

The withdraw is a huge shame, as Yokozuna Kakuryu seemed to have a good start to this tournament. It once again raises questions on his long term viability, as his legs and back seem to be too fragile to sustain a full tournament schedule.

Tachiai wishes him a speedy recovery.