Kotoshogiku Withdraws From Nagoya

kotoshogiku

Former Ozeki Kotoshokigu has withdrawn from competition on day 11. This is due to injuries sustained in his crowd surfing episode at the end of his match with Tamawashi. With his kyujo, Shodai picks up a second fusen / default win of the tournament. Oddly enough, this tournament has featured two rikishi (Chiyonokuni and Shodai) getting 2 default wins. Kotoshogiku had a 3-7 record going into day 11.

We wish him a speedy recovery.

Tochinoshin Kyujo

NHK Sports is reporting that Tochinoshin will not compete on Day 7. Shodai will get the fusen win. Obviously, we will try the best we can to get information on the severity, and whether he will return this tournament. We’ll remember Endo returned after going kyujo last tournament and did not win any bouts after a 3 day break. As Ozeki, Tochinoshin now has a serious advantage. If it turns out this is a serious injury, he could stand to go kadoban and plan to come back in September. If it is even more serious, he could stand to go back down to ozekiwake in November, win 10 and come retain his Ozeki rank to start the year. But, this being sumo, he’ll likely be back by Monday.

We now have no Yokozuna and two Ozeki. As things stand, we’re looking at Goeido/Takayasu showdown on the final day. Woo. This basho is melting…melting…

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Update: Tochinoshin’s medical certificate is for “Damage to the collateral ligament of the MTP joint of the great toe. Requires about 1 month of rest and may require further treatment”. (Source: Nikkan Sports – Herouth)

Yokozuna Kakuryu Withdraws From Nagoya

Kakuryu

Announced this morning – Yokozuna Kakuryu has withdrawn from the Nagoya basho. As we had surmised, his poor sumo form over the past two days has been the result of a (as of present) unspecified injury. This is the first time in 19 years that all Yokozuna have been absent from a honboasho. As mentioned earlier, the “Nokazuna” status is nothing to worry too much about, but it does signal the next phase in the slow decline of the long serving members of sumo’s top echelon.

Update: the doctor’s certificate is for arthritis of the right elbow, requires immediate two-week rest. The Yokozuna was checked at a local hospital, and now plans to leave Nagoya and get re-examined at a hospital in Tokyo. (Source: Nikkan Sports – Herouth)

As with Hakuho’s withdrawal, the biggest beneficiary is kadoban Ozeki Goeido.

NHK News Article

Yokozuna Hakuho Kyujo

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On day 2, the Yokozuna slipped when he was in the shitaku-beya. In his attempt to right himself, he re-injured himself “at the same place as I did in my bout with Endo two years ago”, the Yokozuna commented as he returned to his heya’s lodgings from the hospital.

The official doctor’s report is: “Damage to right-side patellar tendon, suspicion of avulsion fracture of the right tibial tuberosity. Requires two weeks of rest”.

Tachiai wishes the yokozuna good health and will continue to update if information turns up.

Source: Sponichi, Nikkan Sports

Yokozuna Kisenosato To Sit Out Nagoya Basho

Kisenosato-Dohyo-Iri

In a move that surprised exactly no-one, perpetually injured Yokozuna Kisenosato has declared that he will not participate in the upcoming Nagoya tournament. This marks a record-setting eight consecutive tournaments that Kisenosato has failed to complete, snatching the inglorious title from prior record holder Takanohana who had seven. In addition, this will be the third consecutive tournament where he will not even compete on the first day of the basho.

Although the article cited refers to him wanting to enter Aki, given the nature of his injury, his physical situation is unlikely to be substantially different in September. In recent practice/test matches against a variety of opponents, including Yokozuna Hakuho, his sumo looked chaotic and sloppy. Kisenosato has clearly picked up a significant amount of mass during his 18 month kyujo marathon, and that is likely to further hamper any attempts to return to competition.

As always, we hope Kisenosato finds some path back from the mess he is currently mired within.

My Worries About Tochinoshin

Tochinoshin-salt

Tochinoshin has secured his promotion to Ozeki, sumo’s second highest rank. He did this through hard work, grim determination, and focusing with overwhelming intensity to training his body, his mind and his reflexes. As a result he has an astounding 37 wins over the past 3 tournaments, with double digits in each of the last 3. He greatly exceeds the 33 wins / 3 basho guideline, and is one of the strongest men in sumo for 2018. Much has been said, and still more will be said about his work ethic, his rise from ruin following knee surgery, and his drive to win.

But looking at Tochinoshin, I worry there is a chance for heartbreak in the near future. While I think he has potential to be a great Ozeki, I also see the seeds of misfortune on the path ahead.

Please keep in mind, I am one lone armchair sumo fan in the wilds of Texas. I have as much influence on the world of sumo as any of the readers of this site – almost none. So this represents one fan’s opinion only.

1. Age – Tochinoshin has been a part of professional sumo since 2006. He is currently 30 years old. His physical condition exceeds most 30 year old men (or 20 year old men for that matter) that you could ever meet. But sumo is a physical sport, and the damage can be cumulative. While his Ozeki career may be outstanding, it may also be short. He is the 4th oldest promotee in the modern era.

2. Injury – Tochinoshin has already sustained, and boldly battled back from a significant mechanical injury. The massive bandage he wears on his knee is testament to that battle, which he has won for now. We dearly hope he stays free from further injury, but fans should note we are in a transitional period in sumo. Many of our old favorites are reaching the end of their workable careers in the top division, and will soon be demoted down the banzuke, and retire. As a result we will see young men soon pressing harder for top rank. These youngsters will be fast, strong, aggressive and possibly less injured that our favorites. This includes Tochinoshin. Sumo is a pure zero-sum sport. If the rikishi of the future overwhelm stalwarts like Tochinoshin, so be it. But someone like Onosho or Takakeisho, or perhaps a stronger version of Abi could, through no malice, re-injure him. But this is sumo, and it’s a chance everyone takes.

3. Consistency – My biggest concern about Tochinoshin is consistency. Looking at his last 3 basho he’s been an overwhelming powerhouse of sumo. But if we take a longer look, the view is a bit cloudy. Let’s look at the past 2 years.

Basho Rank Result
Natsu 2016 M4 10-5
Nagoya 2016 S1 6-9
Aki 2016 M2 5-10
Kyushu 2016 M6 10-5
Hatsu 2017 K1 0-6(9 kyujo)
Osaka 2017 M10 7-8
Natsu 2017 M10 12-3
Nagoya 2017 M2 9-6
Aki 2017 M1 4-11
Kyushu 2017 M6 9-6
Hatsu 2018 M3 14-1
Osaka 2018 S1 10-5
Natsu 2018 S1 13-2

The chart below to compares his ranking in the past 2 years to a set of san’yaku mainstays including Tamawashi, Mitakeumi and Takayasu

Tochinoshi-Rank-Chart

It’s a see-saw trip up and down the banzuke. He has shown no ability to hit and hold San’yaku rank in the past. This is in contrast to Mitakeumi, Tamawashi and Takayasu.

The guy gets hurt, and he can’t fight for beans when he’s hurt. Sumo is a combat sport, people get hurt. But I worry that we will have another frequent kadoban Ozeki, who fights with gusto when his health is good, but spends about half of the tournaments trying to scrape by.

But only time will tell. I am eager to see what Ozeki Tochinoshin can do.

Terunofuji Withdraws From Natsu

Terunofuji

Former Ozeki Terunofuji has withdrawn from the Natsu basho. He was ranked Juryo 8 East, and had yet to win a single match. With this kyujo, he is likely to drop below Juryo, and no longer be a sekitori.

For his fans, this is a very tough day, indeed.  He has been battling a string of health issues first with his knees, then diabetes.  Since the Harumafuji scandal in November of last year, his sumo has suffered greatly, and he has struggled to compete.

We know that within his sick and injured body is the spirit of a great warrior, and we hope that he can find some way to recover his health.

Ozeki Takayasu Kyujo For Natsu, Too!

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In a one-two blow for Tagonoura beya, Ozeki Takaysu is also listed as Kyujo for the upcoming Natsu basho. It has been clear for the past several days that he was nursing injuries to both arms, and now he has (wisely in my opinion) decided to recover rather than risk a career-limiting injury.

Takayasu represents Japan’s best hope for a native-born Yokozuna should ailing Kisenosato end up retiring later this year. It is a wise move to have him recover his strength and mobility before returning to competition.  With this absence, Takayasu will be kadoban ozeki for the Nagoya tournament in July.

The ranks for Natsu are already down to 2 Yokozuna and 1 Ozeki.  Should Hakuho withdraw, as Kintamayama has speculated, it would leave the roster with the bare minimum of 2 Ozeki/Yokozuna needed to conduct Honbasho.

As of late, Takayasu has added a habitual shoulder blast to his tachiai, and it has significantly changed his sumo (in my opinion for the worse). It comes as no surprise to me that he has injured it, and with any luck, he will go back to his low and aggressive sumo. The run-and-gun approach (in some ways copying Goeido) was working for him, but it seems to have torn up his body.

The team at Tachiai wish Takayasu a solid recovery, and hope to see him back in fierce fighting form in July.

Yokozuna Kisenosato Kyujo For Natsu

Kisenosato-down

As Tachiai had speculated, perpetually injured Yokozuna Kisenosato has declared he will not start the May tournament in Tokyo.  This will be the 7th consecutive tournament that he has missed all or part of the 15 day competition. His Oyakata again is sighting continued difficulty recovering from injuries sustained in March 2017 at the Osaka tournament, where he won the yusho in his first outing as Yokozuna.

Full details (in Japanese) at the link

https://www.asahi.com/articles/ASL595JHRL59UTQP01N.html

Sokokurai Withdraws from 2018 Haru Basho

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Following a very painful looking fall in his Day 11 victory over Okinoumi, veteran rikishi Sokokurai has announced his withdrawal from the 2018 Haru Basho. Ranked at maegashira 15 and with only five wins to his name, Sokokurai will once again find himself in Juryo for the 2018 Natsu Basho. This may be a blessing in disguise for the man from Inner Mongolia, who took home the Yusho last time he was in the second division.

With this development, Sokokurai’s Day 12 opponent Ryuden picks up a much needed 5th win.

Takakeisho Withdraws from 2018 Haru Basho

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Tachiai has learned that Maegashira 3 Takakeisho has withdrawn from the 2018 Haru Basho citing a contusion on his right foot. He has been prescribed three weeks recovery time for his injury. His Day 11 opponent, Kaisei, will pick up a fusen win bringing his overall record to 10-1. Coming out of Day 10 with a 3-7 record, the former Komosubi Takakeisho will undoubtedly drop further down the Banzuke. We at Tachiai hope that Takakeisho heals up and returns with the same vigor that brought him so much success in 2017.

Takayoshitoshi Goes Kyujo Over Violent Incident

Yesterday, on day 8, Takayoshitoshi arrived late, trotting up the hanamichi, as the bout between Yago and Takanoiwa was about to start. He was told off by the head shimpan.

takayoshitoshi

The newly-minted sekitori arrived late because his newly-appointed tsukebito failed to cue him in time.

Sekitori are appointed a tsukebito upon promotion to Juryo. A tsukebito is the sekitori’s manservant. He carries his things and does all menial jobs for him. The duties include prompting the sekitori that it’s time to get to the arena – the sekitori should be there two bouts before his own in case the wrestler on his side loses, requiring him to offer the chikara-mizu to the next one on that side.

Following his late arrival, Takayoshitoshi lost his own bout. In a precarious position already, being at the bottom of the Juryo banzuke with only three wins to his name, he went back down to the shitakubeya (the preparation room), and there proceeded to cuss and beat up his tsukebito. This ended in a swollen face and a cut inside the mouth that caused the tsukebito to spit blood.

This was done in front of many witnesses, and the head of the crisis management department, Kagamiyama oyakata, as well as the head of the board, Hakkaku, were informed immediately. Takayoshitoshi and the tsukebito were called in for questioning, and Takayoshitoshi admitted to 2-3 punches.

It is morning time on Monday in Japan, and Takanohana oyakata has called in a press conference, apologized, and announced that Takayoshitoshi will be kyujo as of today. A special meeting of the board will be convened today to further question the parties involved, and deliberate an appropriate punishment.

Yokozuna Kisenosato Kyujo

Kisenosato-down

The injured Yokozuna declared today that he would not be competing in the Haru basho, due to ongoing complications related to his un-treated left pectoral injury sustained at the end of last year’s Haru basho. Kisenosato previously had declared an ultimatum for himself that he would either compete at a Yokozuna level in the next basho he entered, or he would retire. Given this condition, he was not ever a real candidate for entry.

Fans want to see Kisenosato healthy again, and worry that he is not on a path to recovery given his current level of activity. We wish him the best and urge him to seek out the best sports medicine doctors and trainers to assist his recovery.

Everything You Need to Know After Act Two

Act Two has come to a close, and while Tokyo is freezing over, action at the Ryogoku Kokugikan continues to heat up! The third and final act of the 2018 Hatsu Basho begins tomorrow, and what an act it is shaking up to be. Over the next five days, dreams will come true, aspirations will be crushed, and a new champion will be crowned. The rikishi are ready, the Emperors Cup has been polished and the giant macaroon baked. Without further adieu, here is everything you need to know going into Act Three!

Yusho Race

After ten days of sumo, the Yusho race has boiled down to just one name: Kakuryu. With a spotless 10-0 record coming into Act Two, the Yokozuna is firmly in the driver’s seat this Basho and the Emperors Cup is now his to lose. However, he’s not home free yet, as Maegashira 3 Tochinoshin is just one win behind, and a slip up by Kakuryu will put him back into contention. Kakuryu will begin to face his stiffest competition yet over the next coming days and will have to weather the storm if he wants to hoist the cup come Sunday.

Kachi Koshi and Make Koshi

Despite several rikishi sitting halfway to their kachi koshi after Act One, only three men were able to achieve a winning record during Act Two. Tochinoshin secured his kachi koshi on Day 9 in a herculean effort against Mitakeumi. Daieisho picked his up with a win over Tochiozan on Day 10. While Kakuryu had eight wins by Day 8, he obtained his Yokozuna kachi koshi of ten wins on Day 10. Grandpa Bullfrog Takekaze, Terunofuji, Ikioi and Hokutofuji are the only rikishi entering Act Two with make koshi records, as each only pick up two wins after ten days. Hokutofuji’s make koshi is especially unfortunate as the young rikishi was looking stellar coming into Hatsu and high hopes were surrounding him. Looks like the curse of the NHK special strikes again. As for Terunojuji, he recieved his losing record from the sidelines after missing a week of the Basho due to illness. Everyone else will have their fate decided in Act Three. For an excellent break down of the promotion and demotion implications for March, please see lksumo’s post here.

Kinboshi

With Kakuryu firing on all cylinders, there weren’t any kinboshi gold stars handed during the Act Two. Now that Onosho has pulled out, Kakuryu’s projected final opponents will change, giving one more Maegashira a chance to put dirt on the Yokozuna. Endo will likely be the one chosen to square off against the Yokozuna on Day 12.

Kyujo

Act One saw us lose Kisenosato, Hakuho, Terunofuji, and Aminishiki. That list has since shortened, as Aminishiki made his return on Day 10 and Terunofuji will be coming back from kyujo tomorrow. In their place is Onosho, who pulled out on Day 10 due to a ligament injury in his right knee, and will lose his Komusubi spot for the Haru Basho in March.

While the conclusion of this Basho may seem clear, if there is one thing I’ve learned about sumo is that it is very unpredictable. So much can happen over the next five days, and Act Three of the 2018 Hatsu Basho is shaping up to be the best act yet! Raise the curtain, let’s begin!

Onosho Withdraws from Hatsu Basho

The Japanese news has reported that Komusubi Onosho has withdrawn from the 2018 Hatsu basho due to a right knee posterior cruciate ligament injury. While the severity of the injury is undisclosed as of yet, treatments range from simply resting and icing the joint to physiotherapy. Going kyujo with a 4-5 record coming into Day 9, Onosho will receive a demotion back into the Maegashira rank for March. As a result, we will have a new Komusubi for Haru, and with Takakeisho sitting dangerously close to a make koshi, we could potentially have two new faces holding the rank come Hatsu. We at Tachiai hope that the power of the red mawashi will heal Onosho and that he returns even stronger!