That’s it folks! The rest of the team have done an excellent job of reporting the results, but there were a couple of interesting matches that took place on the final day. I will state that in many ways, that this basho was “odd”. In that we saw rikishi with multi-day hot and cold streaks, and many capable men significantly underperform their multi-tournament trends. I suspect that the influenza virus that is ravaging Japan has some part in this oddity, and that Osaka might be a better bellwether of the state of sumo. But the chaos virus (or whatever it was) certainly made for an interesting run.
As a reminder to all of you sumo fans, there is no jungyo between Hatsu and the the March tournament in Osaka, so news from the world of sumo may be a bit thin, yet again. I know things were very quiet over Christmas too, so I encourage everyone to pace themselves. Perhaps weekend binges of Kintamayama and Jason’s excellent coverage from this basho, and highlights of great tournaments of the past.
Lastly thanks to all of you readers for giving us quite the month (more on that in a few days), Tachiai’s oyakata, Andy, and everyone at Team Tachiai for making this Hatsu one to remember.
Kagayaki defeats Yutakayama – After a horrific start, Kagayaki found his sumo around day 10, and has been fighting with purpose ever sense. Today he gave Yutakayama a trip to the clay with a rather potent okurinage. Yutakayama’s meteoric rise was arrested following a disasters Aki, which saw him go kyujo for 3 days, and return to a series of daily defeats.
Meisei defeats Onosho – Very happy that Onosho was able to get his 8th win this tournament. Going in, it was stated that he was still recovering from knee surgery, and that being at Maegashira 6 was a good rank for him. With the extended break leading to Osaka, we hope he has time to further heal and strengthen his lower body. I predict with him in the joi-jin for March, he’s going to start taking a bite out of the upper ranks. Thought I really like Takakeisho’s sumo, Onosho is the stronger, more capable rikishi, and I am rooting for him to regain his health and show us what he is capable of.
Yoshikaze defeats Daiamami – As a die-hard Yoshikaze fan, this tournament has been another that is tough to watch. I don’t know what is plaguing one of the great competitors of sumo, but it seems most of Japan wishes him well, and hopes he can get better. Today’s match against Daiamami, Yoshikaze mustered enough genki to win against the damaged and depleted Daiamami. At least that’s something.
Hokutofuji defeats Aoiyama – Hokutofuji managed to finish with 9 wins, and with the joi-jin rikishi reduced to flaming hulks, I am going to assume Hokutofuji will take a sanyaku spot for March. He has huge potential, but I would love to see him make his sumo more efficient. Many of his body moves during a match are larger than they should be, and that excess movement opens avenues for him to be defeated. Aoiyama, as is sometimes the case, shows up and fights with strength every day, but some days is just 5% less than his opponents.
Shodai defeats Ichinojo – If Shodai ends up at any rank above Maegashira 4, I am going to lose my mind.
Nishikigi defeats Mitakeumi – Nishikigi continues to be sumo’s Cinderella story. His make-koshi was 7-8, so he may not be pushed too far down the banzuke. But a word to all the other rikishi: this guy went from sucking wind at the bottom of the banzuke to a credible upper Maegashira rikishi. He is a sort of sumo “everyman”, so I am sure his success motivates many to believe they can work to higher performance.
Goeido defeats Takakeisho – I have to remark again just how impressive Goeido’s rally from an 0-4 start has been. Many worried that he was headed for kadoban again, and it certainly looked that way. But in spite of his injuries and physical problems, he took in 9 wins by the end of it all. His win over Takakeisho was pure Goeido. He’s a speed monster who throws everything into an offensive opening gambit. He either blows you away or he’s in trouble. Takakeisho could not set up any kind of offense, and in desperation tried for some kind of pull down. Meanwhile the Goeido locomotive was screaming down the tracks with Takakeisho affixed to the front – next destination zabuton city.