Match of the Tournament (May 2015): Hakuho/Aminishiki, Day 5

In my mind, the match of the tournament came down to two choices: Harumafuji vs Hakuho on Day 15 or Hakuho vs Aminishiki on Day 5. I chose Hakuho vs Aminishiki.

Obviously, this prize, Match of the Tournament from the Tachiai Blog is the most prestigious consolation prize in the sport of sumo. The tournament may not have gone their way but for about 30 seconds Hakuho and Aminishiki thrilled us with their wile and guile. I don’t remember seeing Hakuho get spun around and I’m sure it’s never happened twice like this. Anyway, I hope you all enjoy my choice. If you disagree and want to offer your own nominee, please post it in the comments. A big thank you to Jason for the Youtube link. Enjoy.

This post is the day after, “crap, I have to wait till July” post of despair…

Terunofuji Yusho!!! New Ozeki!!! Fighting Spirit (Kanto-Sho)!!!

No playoff! Harumafuji got his first win over Hakuho since last year, and it was brilliant! Hakuho was SO CLOSE to forcing a playoff with a quick yorikiri win but Harumafuji used all his strength and guile on the edge to regain position and eventually get the thrilling yoritaoshi victory to the delight of the crowd. Admittedly, there will be a bit of an asterisk on this yusho as Terunofuji did not have to face Harumafuji, Kakuryu, or Goeido. Terunofuji was dominant against Aoiyama…but he’d have his hands full with a healthy Goeido, his stablemate Harumafuji, or the injured Kakuryu. Hakuho is still the superzuna, his 35th title merely delayed.

Imagine this, an ozeki (champion) who has actually won a yusho! Kisenosato and Goeido get their credit on this one, taking down Hakuho in turn. Hakuho, Harumafuji, and Kisenosato tie for second. Kotoshogiku rightfully kadoban. Kisenosato, despite wrestling for only pride as Terunofuji’s previous win already nullified hopes of a massive playoff, finished off the ineffective Kotoshogiku.

Filling out the sanyaku banzuke will be interesting. With Terunofuji’s promotion, I’m guessing Ichinojo and Tochiozan move to sekiwake with their winning records. Takarafuji and Tochinoshin deserve komusubi slots with their 9-6 records. The question will be whether Myogiryu drops out of the sanyaku with his 7-8 record, or if he’s given a third komusubi slot. His 7 wins included victories over Harumafuji, Kisenosato, and Ichinojo.

Kisenosato Takes Down Hakuho! Big Day Tomorrow!

Thank you Kisenosato! He keeps himself alive with his last second shove. As the superzuna was forcing him off the dohyo, Kisenosato pushed Hakuho down. Hakuho’s shoulder clearly touched the ground before Kisenosato. I should have rolled this graphic out yesterday but I thought Hak had it in the bag.

Kisenosato vs Hakuho
Kisenosato vs Hakuho

With Kaisei’s loss to Tochinoshin, Hakuho is tied with Terunofuji. Terunofuji faces Aoiyama tomorrow. Hakuho faces Harumafuji. If both leaders win, they will have a playoff. If both lose, there will be a bigger playoff between Hakuho, Terunofuji, Harumafuji, and potentially Kisenosato, Takayasu, Kaisei, Ikioi & Yoshikaze. While possible, it’s certainly a pipe-dream.

Hakuho is the odds-on favorite against Harumafuji. While always an exciting match, Hakuho has one their last five head-to-head. Terunofuji is undefeated against Aoiyama and against most opponents this tournament he’s been plainly overpowering them. So, most likely we’ll have an exciting playoff between Hakuho and Terunofuji for the yusho. Slightly less likely, one will lose so the other will win the title outright. Ozeki promotion still seems in the cards if Terunofuji wins tomorrow – even with only 12 wins.

As for other matches, Goeido is out with the aggravated shoulder injury he suffered against Hakuho. Kotoshogiku got his eighth loss and is kadoban. This could be very interesting to have an outgoing ozeki and an incoming ozeki at the same tournament. If Terunofuji wins and is promoted, and with Myogiryu also going makekoshi, there may be room in the sanyaku for Tochinoshin and Takarafuji. I think they might have to have at least three komusubi next time around if both Maegashira have 9 wins and Ichinojo and Tochiozan get their kachi-koshi tomorrow.

Right now, I’m calling the yusho for Ikioi!

Hakuho Alone in Lead; Terunofuji, Kaisei, Ikioi Chase

The leadership field was cut in half today with Kaisei losing to Goeido in his first big test. My last post was about how Goeido came to the rescue to keep the tournament interesting…today he takes out the only other competitor tied for the lead. Hakuho stepped up and beat Kotoshogiku. He’ll have Kisenosato and Harumafuji to close out the tournament. He “controls his own destiny,” so if he wins out – he wins the tournament. If anyone else is going to win, not only will Terunofuji, Kaisai, or Ikioi need to win all of their matches, they’ll need help as Kisenosato or Harumafuji will have to hand the yokozuna his 3rd loss.

The last time he had three losses was last spring when Kakuryu won. In the Hakuho era, it does seem like 3 losses is only ever good for second place, as it should be. This would have been a golden opportunity for Kisenosato to step up and claim a yusho but his hopes were dashed in a hatakikomi loss to Harumafuji. Harumafuji was probably super motivated today because he’ll face desperate Kotoshogiku tomorrow and a motivated Hakuho on Sunday.

As for the three other title-chasers, they’ve got their work cut out. Terunofuji will face Myogiryu tomorrow while Ikioi will go head-to-head against Ichinojo and Kaisei will face Tochinoshin. Ikioi handed Ichinojo his first defeat in the Mongolian’s impressive debut tournament. Kaisei and Tochinoshin surprisingly have a fairly even record. If Kaisei wins, they’ll be tied 6-6 in their rivalry. Kaisei’s no stranger to the sanyaku and he may find himself back up there if Myogiryu, Ichinojo, and Tochiozan can’t pick up wins! More likely he’ll be M1 or M2 next tournament but a jun-yusho may get him into a komusubi slot.

Amuru finally picked up his kachi-koshi, along with Goeido. Let’s see if Goeido can pick up 10 wins!