Takanoiwa Withdraws From Natsu


Takanoiwa

Delivers Harumafuji A Default Win

At the start of day 12 in Tokyo, it was announced via the sumo press that Maegashira 5 East Takanoiwa had withdrawn from Natsu due to injury. We wish him a speedy and complete recovery.

As a result, Yokozuna Harumafuji improves to 11-1 via the default win, and loses out on a fat stack of kensho that was likely coming his way.

Natsu Day 11 Highlights


Day-11-2

And Then There Was One

Overnight in Tokyo, the yusho race narrowed when Harumafuji lost to Mitakeumi. This leaves Hakuho as the sole, undefeated leader of the basho going into day 12. The bout with Mitakeumi was lost when the Yokozuna inadvertently stepped out of bounds, and the Gyoji awarded the match to Mitakeumi.

Across the board the matches were a notch above the average thus far for Natsu, with a host of close contests that were hard fought and won.

Most impressive to me was the effort that Aoiyama put up against Terunofuji. For once Terunofuji battled an opponent who was too tall and too massive to lift and eject. To his credit, Aoiyama would not surrender, and gave Terunofuji a real challenge.

Selected Matches

Takakeisho defeats Chiyotairyu – Takakeisho racks up his kachi-koshi. While he has been a fairly standard pushme-pullyou to date, he fights with a lot of energy and vigor. With any luck he will take a page from Mitakeumi’s book and increase his skills in yotsu-zumō (belt fighting and throws).

Hokutofuji defeats Daishomaru – Last basho was the first tournament where Hokutofuji did not have a winning record, and it’s great to see him come roaring back. I continue to believe that if Hokutofuji can stay healthy, he is going to be a big deal. In today’s match, he blasted Daishomaru off the dohyo in a very convincing manner.

Ikioi defeats Kotoyuki – Crowd favorite Ikioi also secures his kochi-koshi, and in the process Kotoyuki is injured. This is notable in that he exited the dohyo in a wheel chair. Kotoyuki went kyujo for day 9 for a single day, and returned. Now he seems to be more severely injured.

Ura defeats Shodai – I am sure Shodai has watch full speed and slow motion replays of this bout a few times, and would really like to know what on wizardry took place. He had Ura pinned at the edge, and suddenly a tear in space-time opened again (as Ura is known to do), and suddenly Shodai is stumbling off the dohyo and Ura is high stepping back to his side. Centuries from know, physicists are still going to be working out the math this guy uses to phase between universes. Ura now has 9 wins and is cruising towards a special prize, as well as a possible visit by the Nobel committee.

Endo defeats Yoshikaze – This match was all Yoshikaze, but he could not finish Endo. After multiple to throw, lift out and move over the tawara, Ends rallied and turned the tables on Yoshikaze. Very nice effort from both, and I am sure Endo was happy to avoid make-koshi.

Kotoshogiku defeats Chiyonokuni – Ojisan Kotoshogiku easily deploys the hug-n-chug against Chiyonokuni, and just like that the Kyushu Bulldozer lives on another day.

Takayasu defeats Tochiozan – Tochiozan put up a stiff fight, but Takayasu finally got his 9th win, and is now 1 win away from the 33 win threshold to be considered for promtion to Ozeki. This is likely to come day 12 when Takayasu faces already make-koshi Takarafuji.

Terunofuji defeats Aoiyama – A battle of two giants, this match raged as a contest of strength that was frankly, kind of epic. I have not been much of an Aoiyama fan ever, but today he impressed me. The man-mountain stood his ground against the Kaiju and stalemated him for an impressive length of time.

Hakuho defeats Goeido – Goeido 2.0 showed up today, but we have the REAL Hakuho right now, and there is likely no one who can defeat him this tournament. Goeido is now in real trouble, as he needs to find 2 more wins in the next 4 days somehow to save his Ozeki rank. There is the very real and very silly possibility that Nagoya may see 4 Sekiwake, two of them dethroned Ozeki. Nuts.

Mitakeumi defeats Harumafuji – Mitakeumi clearly had control of the match from the tachiai, but the match ended when Harumafuji seems to have inadvertently stepped out. I would say that Harumafuji does seem to be favoring one leg over the other, and we might assume that he actually did injure himself on day 9.

Yokozuna Kisenosato Withdraws From Natsu


Kisenosato
Image From Sponichi Sports Annex

Pectoral Injury Concerns.

Word has come from blog reader Asashosakari that Kisenosato has withdrawn from the Natsu basho. Followers of tachiai will note that both Andy and myself have been urging Kisenosato to own up to the seriousness of his injury, and go kyujo. No, big K – you can’t gamberize you way out of this one. At some point the human body is unable to follow even the most indomitable spirit.

Official word from the NSK

Kisenosato injured his left pectoral muscle in the final days of the Osaka basho, and somehow believed that resting it would allow the muscle to repair. As we reported prior to Natsu, this injury typically requires surgery to repair, and even then the muscle is forever degraded. The NSK tweet above cites the left bicep, but its been clear since day 3 that his left pectoral is only functioning at a minimal level, and he had no power on his left side.

We applaud Kisenosato for doing what is best for his career and longevity, and hope that sumo fans will understand the chances of much more serious injury or complications were quite real with the upcoming torikumi. His withdrawal hands Tamawashi a default win for day 11, earning him his kachi-koshi.

Natsu Day 10 Highlights


Takayasu

The Hard Chargers Already Achieve Kachi-Koshi.

Day 10, we saw a number of hard charging rikishi achieve their tournament winning records, known as kachi-koshi. This includes

  • Takayasu (actually secured day 9)
  • Terunofuji
  • Shodai
  • Tochinoshin
  • Ura

Kisenosato is in a tough spot – he is too injured to be competitive against the other Yokozuna and probably Terunofuji. There is a real chance he could end up with a make-koshi. Does he go kyujo? I think everyone would understand, but his pride would prevent him from sitting out the rest of the tournament. I am sure the NSK is worrying about what to do next.

The mess in Juryo continues to decay into radioactive slag. The chances of anyone being really worth to promote to Makuuchi is quite slime, as everyone in the top half of Juryo (and could be considered for promotion) has a record no better than 6-4. While there are several rikishi in Makuuchi worthy of return to Juryo, it’s going to be a real wild guess how the July banzuke is going to end up.

Takayasu’s Ozeki run has some problems, though he is likely to overcome. It’s the same issue that Kisenosato and Goeido face. With either Harumafuji or Hakuho healthy, it’s really tough towards impossible to be too dominant. With both of them healthy, you have to be thankful for every win in the upper ranks you can score. Fans will recall that this was the status quo for many years, and it’s one of the primary reasons Kisenosato stayed an Ozeki.

Selected Matches

Yutakayama defeats Ishiura – This was a bit of a strange match. It quickly went to Yutakayama holding Ishiura by the armpits, with Ishura bent over at the waist with a firm grip on Yutakayama’s mawashi. They stayed like this for quite a while until Yutakayama broke the stalemate, and tossed Ishura like a pizza crust into the Shimpan.

Tochinoshin defeats Daishomaru – Another weird one, there were two mattas, each time Daishomaru attempted a very poor henka without putting his hands on the dohyo at the tachiai. The third try? Henka again, but Tochinoshin was having none of it, and Daishomaru was done. Congratulations to Tochinoshin for a fairly early kachi-koshi

Ura defeats Kaisei – Kaisei seemed to struggle to figure out what to do with Ura, who once again was very low at the tachiai. Ura established a firm double hand flab-hold and began to lead Kaisei around like some kind of farm animal. Ura finished Kaisei off with a rather clever leg trip, and had his 8th win. Congratulations to Ura for his kachi-koshi, too.

Ichinojo defeats Takanoiwa – Very good bout right from the tachiai. Both rikishi struggled for control back and forth several times, and it seemed that Takanoiwa finally got the upper hand. Ichinojo was able to halt Takanoiwa’s charge at the tawara, and applied a rather well executed tsukiotoshi for the win.

Shodai defeats Sokokurai – Sokokurai had early control of this match, and looked to be in charge. But he could not put Shodai away. Shodai allowed Sokokurai to do all the work, and as Sokokurai tired, Shodai battled him back to the center of the dohyo. Sokokurai rallied and moved Shodai to the edge, but once again could not finish him. With his heels on the tawara, Shodai applied a somewhat clumsy tsukiotoshi to win the match. Shodaim also picks up his kachi-koshi

Terunofuji defeats Yoshikaze – Yoshikaze started out with an attack plan, and engaged with vigor. However, he was up against a kaiju, who had no interest in playing with the berserker. Terunofuji picked him up like a puppy and set him outside the tawara. Yoshikaze to his credit knew the match was lost and went along with it. Terunofuji also hits 8 wins and claims his kachi-koshi.

Goeido defeats Chiyoshoma – Looked like Goeido 2.0. Keep in mind Goeido is kadoban this tournament, and is still 2 wins from reaffirming his rank. He has some tough matches coming up during the rest of this week.

Harumafuji defeats Tochiozan – Showing that he was not as injured as we feared yesterday, Harumafuji launched off the line and pushed Tochiozan directly out. It was no contest.

Kotoshogiku defeats Kisenosato – The sad tale of Kisenosato’s injuries continues. In his loss, the Japanese Yokozuna prolonged the inevitable for Kotoshogiku by another day.

Hakuho defeats Takayasu – Takayasu put everything he had into this match, but he was completely out-classed by Hakuho. Hakuho secured a solid mawashi grip early, and Takayasu struggled to get any traction. As Takayasu struggled to set up a throw, Hakuho decided he was done playing, lowered his head and his hips and drove them both off the dohyo, landing in the first row of zabuton. Some really good sumo. But it’s clear that the last 2 wins Takayasu needs to secure a bit to be promoted to Ozei will not be an easy run.

Natsu Day 10 Preview


bow-twirling

Closing Out The Second Act.

Hard to believe, but we are about to complete the middle ⅓ of Natsu. Hakuho and Harumafuji are the leaders, with no one really able to even give either of them a decent fight so far. There is a lot of interest in Takayasu vs Hakuho, which is the final match of the day. Frankly I don’t think it will be much of a contest, and I say this as a hard core Takayasu fan. Right now Hakuho is back to his old amazing ways, and the only people who could possibly challenge him are Harumafuji, or a healthy Kisenosato. Sadly no chance for a healthy Kisenosato.

Harumafuji appears to have at least mildly injured his right knee in his dive off the dohyo defeating Tamawashi. If this is something the trainers can work, or another performance limiting injury, we should be able to tell tomorrow when Harumafuji faces a surprisingly resurgent Tochiozan. Tochiozan made very easy work of Kisenosato on day 9, and it brings up a really tricky question.

If Kisenosato, is having a sub-par (for him) basho, everyone knows it’s because he is more or less a one armed Yokozuna. Everyone gets it, and frankly we are all amazed that he is still competitive in this condition. But given that the press and the YDC are very critical of Yokozuna with sub-par performance, are they going to make a point of admonishing him? Are they just going to keep quiet because he is the Japanese golden boy? This is very ugly territory. Don’t be surprised if at some point this week, Kisenosato goes Kyujo. No one in their right mind would blame him. In my opinion he should be recovering from surgery right now, but he is too dedicated to sumo, and the dignity of his Yokozuna rank.

Natsu Leader board

LeadersHarumafuji, Hakuho
Hunt Group – Takayasu
Chasers – Terunofuji, Shodai, Tochinoshin, Ura

6 Matches Remain

Apologies, but the match previews will be brief, jet-lag is crushing me today.

Matches We Like

Tochinoshin vs Daishomaru – Both of these rikishi are exceeding their baseline for the last 3 basho. Daishomaru is coming in with 6-3, and Tochinoshin has an outstanding 7-2, and if he wins would clinch his kachi-koshi. In their 3 prior bouts, Tochinoshin won them all.

Kaisei vs Ura – The fans love a big vs little bout. It will be really interesting to see if Ura’s gymnastics work against the meat mountain that is Kaisei. This is their first match ever.

Okinoumi vs Daieisho – both of these men are 1-8. This is the saddest match in sumo. Both are already make-koshi. Both are facing significant demotion.

Terunofuji vs Yoshikaze – While I love me some Yoshikaze, Terunofuji is clearly Kaiju positive right now, and if he gets frustrated using his technique to defeat you, he just picks you up and carries you to the curb like this week’s non-burnable trash. I am going to be curious to see what if anything Yoshikaze does to try and counter this. Career record of 6-5 in favor of Terunofuji, so they are, at times, evenly matched.

Harumafuji vs Tochiozan – Previewed above, the prior 32 matches have been mostly won by Harumafuji (24-8), but Harumafuji may have hurt himself day 9, and Tochiozan is looking surprisingly good, especially coming off of his kinboshi against Kisenosato day 9.

Kisenosato vs Kotoshogiku – This should be a Kisenosato win. I expect that Kisenosato will go kyujo as soon as he secures his kachi-koshi, which could come day 11. But interestingly enough, Kotoshogiku holds a slight 33-31 career edge over Kisenosato. Both of them are operating at a fraction of their typical capabilities, so who knows where this one is going.

Takayasu vs Hakuho – This one has everyone excited, but I am calling my bet for Hakuho. Their career record is 14-2 in favor of the Michael Jordan of sumo. Takayasu is a man on a mission, and is looking good, but Hakuho is more or less his old self right now, and that means beating him requires speed, strength and a large amount of luck.

Yokozuna Kisenosato Injured In First Loss


Kise-13

Shoulder Wounded Falling From Dohyo

There were a lot of developments in the basho over night, but the most significant is Harumafuji’s defeat of Kisenosato in the final match of the day. The match was a rapid brawl with Harumafuji taking control from the tachiai, driving him backwards on launching him off the dohyo.

While a loss for the undefeated Yokozuna was a major development, the crowd was stunned when Kisenosato did not mount the dohyo to complete the match, but instead collapsed in pain, clutching his left shoulder. Later it was reported:

Kisenosato was transported to an Osaka hospital after his bout in an ambulance. His right arm was in a sling; he apparently also has some sort of chest injury to go along with his shoulder injury. The dislocated shoulder was reportedly affixed [Sankei] but Kisenosato told the reporter (referring to his arm): ” 動かない。痛みがあって動かすのが怖い ” (Close enough translation: “I’m not moving it. It hurts and I’m too scared to move it.”)

Kisenosato’s sumo depends on his strong left hand grip, and the chances are very good that he as at least dislocated his left shoulder, and possibly suffered a more significant injury. Fans should expect that he will by kyujo for the remainder of the Haru basho, forfeiting a solid chance at yusho in his first tournament as Yokozuna.

Fans should note, if Kisenosato withdraws from Haru (as I expect), the yusho winner would be Terunofuji. With 2 matches left there is likely no way anyone can catch him. Terunofuji’s day 14 opponent is scheduled to be Kotoshogiku.