After a short break, I’m back with a short review of the 2019 Hatsu Basho. In this video, I briefly discuss the biggest ups and downs of the Hatsu Basho, surprises and disappointments, the Banzuke picture for the upcoming Haru Basho, and the big stories coming out of January.
I want to thank Bruce for encouraging me to post this to the front page. I’ve been brainstorming some new videos and content and I’m very excited to try them out.
The topsy-turvey Kyushu Basho continues into Day 11, and much like before, Wednesday’s action did not disappoint. Our leaderboard stayed mostly intact, with Takakeisho at the top with ten wins and Aoiyama, Daieisho, and Takayasu right behind with nine. The only casualty in the Yusho race was Onosho, who dropped his match and joined Okinoumi and Goiedo in the hunt group. Without further ado, let’s get on to today’s action.
Yago (7-4) defeats Arawashi (1-10): We begin with another visit from Yago, up from Joryu for the day. He and his Day 11 opponent, Arawashi, could very well swap places in January. After a matta, the two clashed and try as he might, Arawshi could do nothing against the much larger man. Yago takes the match with a yoritaoshi and moves one step closer to the Makuuchi division.
Aoiyama (9-2) defeats Yutakayama (4-7): You gotta hand it to Aoiyama, the man has been on an incredible tear at Kyushu. After dropping his first two bouts, the Bulgarian bull has steamrolled every rikishi he’s faced, and today was no different. Yutakayama, injured as he is, put up a good fight and nearly got Aoiyama out, but the big man fought back with bludgeoning tsuppari until Yutakayama was unstable. A quick slap down followed, and Aoiyama extended his winning streak to nine.
Shohozan (7-4) defeats Onosho (8-3): With his loss to Shohozan today, Onosho has fallen out of the chase group. Onosho started strong, nearly driving Shohozan out, but Big Guns Sho dug in at the edge and used his immense strength to push Onosho back and over the tawara. Shohozan improves to 7-4 and is one win away from his kachi koshi, but he’ll have to go through the eaquily burley Chiyotairu first.
Endo (7-4) defeats Abi (5-6): Following a great first half of Kyushu, Fan favourite Abi continues to fall closer and closer to another make koshi record after three consecutive losses. His Day 11 opponent, Endo, kept low and used his forehead to bear the brunt of Abi’s thrusts. Once he was within his reach, Endo sprang his trap and grabbed Abi around the waist. Once that happened, there was little Abi could do but be guided out of the ring. Endo is just one win away from kachi koshi, while Abi needs to win two for his winning record.
Daieisho (9-2) defeats Kagayaki (3-8): Daieisho maintained his spot in the 9-2 hunt group with a decisively one-sided win over Kagayaki. Daieisho has a habit of letting his sumo slide during the back half of a Basho, but he seems to have bucked this bad habit and could finish with double-digit wins for the first time since last March. Kagayaki is now make koshi and will need to review the fundamentals before January.
Ryuden (4-7) defeats Asanoyama (4-7): This one was a great match between two very promising rikishi. Coming into Act 3 with wins over an Ozeki and a Sekiwake, Ryuden seemed more confident during his Day 11 match against Asanoyama. Asanoyama started strong and nearly got Ryuden over the bales, but the man in black used some excellent footwork and got himself away from the tawara and back into the middle of the ring. Now with a secure double-handed grip, Ryuden drove forward but Asanoyama was ready and used Ryu’s own momentum against him. Asanoyama overcorrected, however, and in turning Ryuden towards the edge of the ring, he lost his own balance and succumbed to the smaller man’s uwatenage. Despite an excellent match, both men are now 4-7 and are one misstep away from demotion. While this has not been their Basho, hopefully, they have been learning from their losses and come into Haru better prepared.
Nishikigi (5-6) defeats Hokutofuji (5-6): Nishikigi continues to surprise this Basho and dominated Hokutofuji right from the start of their bout. Hokutofuji tried to push Nishikigi around, but the blind one wouldn’t budge. Using Hokutofuji’s forward movement against him, Nishikigi busted out a tsukiotoshi and sent Hokutofuji sprawling on the ground. This is Hokutofuji’s third straight loss.
Takakeisho (10-1) defeats Tochiozan (6-5): Takakeisho and Tochiozan have been two of the most surprising rikishi this November. While Tochiozan has since fallen out of the Yusho race, he’s so far proved that he can beat anyone on any given day. However, today was not that day, and Tochiozan joined an ever-growing list of rikishi who have fallen prey to Takakeisho’s wave attack. Right from the tachiai, the Komusubi began slamming into Tochiozan, disrupting his balance and negating his offence. This left him vulnerable to Takakeisho’s well-placed hatakikomi slap down. Takakeisho improved his record to 10-1 and still remains the leader in the Yusho race.
Yoshikaze (6-5) defeats Mitakeumi (5-6): Yoshikaze and Mitakeumi began their bout today with a series of headbutts. Yoshikaze, whose head is no stranger to abuse, weathered the storm and managed to get under Mitakeumi’s arms, forcing them up and out of the way. One quick uwatedashinage later and Mitakeumi found himself face down in the dirt. Prior to Kyushu, there was quite a lot of discussion about Mitakeumi salvaging his Ozeki run. Now with a 5-6 record, the conversation has changed to whether or not he can hold on to his Sekiwake slot. With three Ozeki bouts in his near future, Mitakeumi better get his sumo in gear if he wants to save his rank.
Goeido (8-3) defeats Kaisei (3-6-2): Kaisei figured it out: Goiedo can’t henka someone who doesn’t move. The big Brazilian stood right up at the Tachiai and forced the Ozeki to come to him. Goeido obliged and the Komosubi managed to turn him until Goeido had his back to the tawara. Kaisei went in for the final blow but Goiedo shifted and managed to get Kaisei off balance and hopping towards the bales. A final push sealed the deal and Goeido picked up his kachi koshi.
Tochinoshin (6-5) defeats Chiyotairyu (5-6): Tochinoshin had his hands full today when he faced Chiyotairyu. The man in the salmon Mawashi kept the Georgian off his belt with some fierce tsuppari blows, but Tochinoshin didn’t relent and eventually forced Chiyotairyu towards the edge. Chiyotairyu kept on fighting but lost his balance and landed knee first on the clay. Tochinoshin wins via tsukihiza.
Takayasu (9-2) defeats Ichinojo (3-8): Now, If this Ichinojo had showed up at the start of Kyushu, I doubt he’d be make koshi. After a thunderous Tachiai, Takayasu pushed Ichinojo to the tawara but the Mongolian didn’t go meekly out of the ring this time. The Boulder stands his ground so Takayasu changes tactics, jumping back and attempting to slap him down. This only causes Ichinojo to move forward with tremendous force, driving Takayasu back. Ichinojo tries his own slap down, but neither men are falling for that move today. The hulking Mongolian goes back to pushing and has Takayasu back-peddling until the two go tumbling to the tatami below (with Ichinojo’s colossal knee taking a large chunk of the dohyo with it). But wait! The gyoji motions towards Takayasu. A monoii is called, and video replay shows that Ichinojo’s big toe went out a fraction of a second before Takayasu’s foot touched down. Takayasu wins this very close match and stays in the hunt for the Yusho, while Ichinojo says goodbye to his Sekiwake rank and perhaps his spot in the Sanyaku as well.
With just three days left of what has been an exceptional tournament, things really ramp up on Day 13 of the 2018 Aki Basho. Our Yusho race has widdled down to one name at the top: Hakuho. The Boss’ record goes into Friday unblemished, with the trio of Kakuryu, Goeido, and Takayasu trailing him with two losses each. However, Day 13 will bring this group down to at least two men as Kakuryu and Goeido will go toe to toe in what should be the match of the day.
Yago vs. Chiyomaru
Most readers of Tachiai should at least be familiar with the name Yago, as he is the very talented young rikishi highlighted several times by Herouth in her Jungyo tour articles. With his kachi-koshi in hand, and several men at the bottom of Makuuchi with losing records, Yago is looking extremly likely to be making his Makuuchi debut come November. He’ll get his first taste of the top division on Day 13 when he faces Chiyomaru, who is right on the edge of demotion with seven losses.
Aoiyama vs. Takanosho
Top division newcomer Takanosho is just one win away from securing his spot in the Kyushu Makuuchi division, and he can punch his ticket with a win over the man mountain Aoiyama. Aoiyama, who took care Ishiura today despite falling for his henka, is already make koshi and is in need of some wins to slow his fall down the banzuke. Takanosho has demonstrated some excellent skill this Basho, and could become a top division mainstay should he continue to hone his skills. Tomorrow marks the first time these two meet.
Hokutofuji vs. Nishikigi
after an excellent first week that saw Hokutofuji collect seven straight wins, the young up-and-comer has only eeked out one victory in the last four days. Luckily, that one win earned him that all-important kachi koshi, but Hokutofuji seems to have hit a wall and may not be able to replicate the fantastic numbers he put up at Nagoya. His Day 13 opponent, Nishikigi, is also looking for his kachi koshi. While tomorrow is the first time these two rikishi have met on the dohyo, Nishikigi holds a fusen win over Hokutofuji.
Kagayaki vs. Takanoiwa
Takanoiwa has been on one hell of a run since taking the Nagoya Juryo Yusho and returning to Makuuchi, and could improve his record to 10-3 tomorrow with a vicotry over the man in the golden mawashi, Kagayaki. Sitting with a 6-6 record, Kagayaki is at a crossroad and is just two wins away from a promotion in November. But on the flip side of that coin, he’s also two losses away from make koshi and will need to rely on his sound fundamental skills to avoid a drop down the banzuke. Neither men are strangers to one another, and their career rivalry sits at 7-4 in Takanoiwa’s favor.
Daieisho vs. Asanoyama
Daieisho has always been something of an enigma to me. He’s very talented, as shown by his long tenure in the top division, but with the exception of his 10-5 Makuuchi debut back in 2016, Daieisho has yet to do anything to really distinguish himself. Aki doesn’t seem to be bucking this trend, and while his solid sumo is enough to earn him a regular paycheck, I feel like he’s not living up to his full potential. Hopefully, he’ll show some of that potential tomorrow when he takes on Asanoyama, who is having another good tournament and is looking for his eighth win. These two young stars of the sport have a very interesting rivalry going, and Daieisho has dominated Asanoyama 3-1.
Onosho vs. Endo
This one may truly be the battle of the disappointments. Prior to Aki, I pegged Onosho as someone who could really shake things up this Basho, and I have to admit that I was wrong. Rather than making a big splash, Onosho has barely made a ripple and enters Friday with an abysmal 3-9 record. Luckily for him, he’s taking on a fellow rikishi whose underperformed this Basho in Endo, who only has one win to his name. While it appears that Onosho is still not fully rehabilitated from his knee injury, what’s afflicting Endo is something of a mystery. Regardless of how tomorrow goes, both men have a hefty demotion waiting for them come November.
Tamawashi vs. Takakeisho
Day 13 brings us the Komusubi clash, yet only one of these rikishi has a chance of retaining their rank for Nagoya. After twelve days, Tamawashi is 3-9 and will be a Maegashira once more in November, while Takakeisho could be one step closer to getting his kachi koshi if he wins tomorrow. Expect Tamawashi to go in swinging, and for Takakeisho charge in face first.
Chiyotairyu vs. Ichinojo
Seems that extra shove from Hakuho has awoken the sleeping giant Ichinojo, who recorded his first back to back win yesterday. It may be too little too late for the boulder, who is one loss away from losing his Sekiwake rank. Chiyotairyu, while already make koshi, has a chance to play spoiler FRiday, and hand Ichinojo his losing record unless the man from Mongolia gets into a pony spanking mood. Their rivalry is tied 3-3.
Mitakeumi vs. Myogiryu
Mitakeumi, what happened? A week ago it looked like you were well on your way to that Ozeki rank. Oh, gods of sumo, you giveth and you taketh away. After losing five straight matches, Mitakeumi comes into Day 13 with a record of 6-6 and his promotion hopes going up in smoke. He desperately needs to win his last three games to keep his Ozeki hopes alive, and gets a bit of a reprieve from the rest of the San’yaku on Day 13 when he takes on Myogiryu.
Shodai vs. Tochinoshin
Tochinoshin can remove his kadoban status with a win over Shodai on Day 13. However, he shouldn’t take the man in blue too lightly. Shodai is afflicted with very unpredictable bouts of excellent sumo, and already has one Ozeki scalp this basho. If he goes super saiyan Shodai on Friday, he could give the Georgian a run for his money. Their career rivalry is tied at five wins apiece.
Abi vs. Takayasu
Following his climatic Day 12 victory over Kakuryu, Takayasu gets rubber band man himself, Abi. With Endo proving to be about as harmless as a kitten this September, Abi has been getting his fair share of play time with the top members of the San’yaku. While this hasn’t done wonders for his record, the experience he’s receiving from taking on the best of the best will no doubt help his skill set grow. Plus you never know, it wasn’t that long ago the rubber band man beat Kakuryu, he may just surprise us all again tomorrow.
Kisenosato vs. Hakuho
This is it, the long-awaited, first ever Kisenosato-Hakuho Yokozuna showdown!!! Though how I wish the circumstances surrounding it were better. For someone who missed the dramatic events that led to his Yokozuna promotion, I never really got the whole Kisenosato craze. That being said, watching his redemption story unfold has been exhilarating and he’s made a true fan out of me. While there’s still three more days of sumo to go, I believe that Aki has been a tremendous success for Kise and I’m happy to see him back. Tomorrow, he faces his toughest competition: the Dai-Yokozuna and Yusho race leader, Hakuho. The Boss comes into Day 13 with Twelve wins and looks nearly unstoppable. While the deck is definitely stacked against Kise, I expect that with his Yokozuna pride on the line, he will bring his A-game when he meets Hakuho on the dohyo. Hakuho leads their rivalry 44-16.
Kakuryu vs. Goeido
As stated above, the Musubi no Ichiban for Day 13 has tremendous yusho implications. Both Kakuryu and Goeido find themselves tied for second place in the Yusho race, but one of them will leave the Kokukigan with their championship hopes potentially dashed, while the other will be hoping Hakuho slips up enough to force a Day 15 playoff. There is so much on the line for both men in this match. Kakuryu has dominated the series with Goeido 28-16.
Aki continues to be an all-time great basho, and now that we are reaching its end the dial is getting turned up to 11. The next three days of sumo are looking to be some of the best yet, and I’m so jealous that Bruce gets to be there to see it all live. Cheer extra loud for all of us!!!
Don’t want to wait for the official banzuke announcement on June 25th? The Crystal Ball is here to give you a good idea of how it’s likely to play out.
Natsu saw Kakuryu take the yusho, Hakuho put up a creditable performance, and Kisenosato sit out. As a result, there is no change in the Yokozuna rankings. Goeido at least showed up, unlike Takayasu, and as a result, he takes over the O1e slot, with the shin-Ozeki Tochinoshin entering the upper ranks at O2e.
Ichinojo did just enough at 8-7 to stay at Sekiwake, and Tochinoshin’s promotion allows him to move over to the East side. Mitakeumi moves up to West Sekiwake. Both Komusubi slots are open, one by promotion and the other by demotion, and should go to M1e Tamawashi and M2e Shohozan, the two highest-ranked maegashira to earn winning records.
Due to the depletion of the San’yaku ranks by injury, everyone ranked in this part of the banzuke at Natsu took a turn in the meat grinder. Most actually held up pretty well, with Tamawashi and Shohozan earning San’yaku promotions, and 5 others (in bold) holding on to the upper maegashira ranks. M3e Daieisho and M4e Chiyotairyu only managed 5 and 6 wins, respectively, and will fall out of this group. Falling the hardest will be M3w Yutakayama, who could only eke out 2 wins in his first tournament in the joi.
The opposite outcome in this games of chutes and ladders belongs to Chiyonokuni, who earned 12 victories from M11w and whom I have moving all the way up to M1w. His career-high rank, M1e, was at Natsu 2017, and ended in a 2-13 beating, from which it took him a year to work his way back. Taking lesser jumps up the banzuke are those from the mid-maegashira ranks with positive records (in italic): Kagayaki, Takakeisho, Daishomaru, and Yoshikaze.
Being in this relatively safe part of the banzuke represents a promotion for Kyokutaisei, Myogiryu, Aoiyama, Nishikigi, and Sadanoumi and a demotion for Chiyotairyu, Daieisho, Endo, and Chiyomaru. Chiyoshoma and Takarafuji are treading water. Takarafuji, in particular, is forecast to benefit from good banzuke luck and hold on to his ranking at M6w despite a losing 7-8 record. He should be demoted, but the three guys I have ranked right below him all had worse make-koshi records and receive fairly lenient demotions as it is. Also making his Makuuchi return here is recent mainstay Onosho, who we hope continues his rapid re-ascent of the rankings.
Here we have the second-strongest promotion candidate from Juryo, Kotoeko, making his Makuuchi debut after narrowly missing out in the previous tournament. Kotoeko, 26, started in sumo in 2007, under a name which I kinda wish he’d kept just so we could listen to announcers trying to get it right—Kotokashiwadani. He’s been in Juryo for the past 12 tournaments.
The only Makuuchi holdover in this group with a kachi-koshi is Tochiozan, who moves up from M15e to M14e after going 8-7. Arawashi and Asanoyama each went 7-8 and get minimal demotions due to good banzuke luck, Yutakayama lands here after plummeting down the banzuke, while Okinoumi and, especially, the trio of Ryuden, Hokutofuji, and Ishiura are lucky to remain in the top division.
I have the last spot going to another rikishi making his Makuuchi debut—Meisei—who takes the place of Takekaze, the last man I have going down to Juryo. Meisei is only 22, having started in sumo in 2011. He’s had 7 fairly strong consecutive tournaments in Juryo, going 9-6, 9-6, 9-6, 7-8, 8-7, 7-8, and 10-5, so hopefully he’ll be ready for his first taste of the big leagues.