Kyushu Day 10 Highlights

Kyushu Day 10

It’s the end of act 2, and we saw another narrowing of the yusho race. But there is still a broad set of genki rikishi that remain in the hunt, waiting for Takakeisho to lose another match. Takakeisho thus far shows no signs of easing up. As we had expected, Takakeisho is likely to be an important rikishi in the future, provided he can keep his body healthy and his mind sharp.

There may be a few new folks reading the web site, and it’s been a while since I have done this, so let me explain some of the “why” of Tachiai.

Tachiai is purely a fan weblog. It is a non-revenue site, meaning we don’t sell ads, we don’t sell your data, and we don’t ask our readers to do anything more than spend some time with us and enjoy sumo with us. The contributors to this site, myself included, receive no compensation for our efforts, and do it purely for the love of the sport, and our shared desire to bring sumo to more people in the English speaking world. That means all of us have “day jobs” that pay the bills, and allow us enough free time to follow sumo.

As far as I know, none of the contributors are journalists, or people who write for a living. On Tachiai, there should be no expectations of the following:

  • Protection from “spoilers”: Sumo happens in the middle of the night, US time. Most US fans won’t get a chance to see results until much later in the day. But we report on proceedings well before most sumo fans have watched video of the matches. It’s ok to wait to read Tachiai until after you have enjoyed your favorite video feed (we recommend the excellent NHK World, Jason’s All Sumo Channel on Youtube, and of course Kintamayama).
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Good, with that back in writing for the first time in several months, let’s enjoy today’s mayhem.

Highlight Matches

Kotoeko defeats Chiyomaru – Big Chiyomaru goes down to Kotoeko’s slapping attack, and is now make-koshi. Barring some improbable circumstance, he will return to Juryo to sort out his health and his sumo. His most recent tour of Makuuchi began in July of 2017, and he has gathered a following. We hope whatever is plaguing him, he overcomes in short order.

Onosho defeats Chiyoshoma – Onosho stays in the yusho hunt, and picks up his kachi-koshi. Chiyoshoma took an early advantage, but Onosho rallied and repulsed the Mongolian, with both visiting the west side zabuton.

Endo defeats Arawashi – Arawashi can barely stand on his injured leg, so this was a “gimme” for Endo. Arawashi will be joining the barge of sadness sailing back to Juryo.

Meisei defeats Sadanoumi – Meisei picks up his first ever win over Sadanoumi, and Sadanoumi made him work very hard for it. In fact Sadanoumi was in the driver’s seat for the balance of the match, but Meisei unleaded a well time hatakikomi at the edge to rescue the win.

Daieisho defeats Takanosho – Daieisho stays in the hunt group and scores his kochi-kochi. The match was a messy thrusting battle that could have gone either way, but Daieisho got the gumbai, and the shimpan upheld.

Aoiyama defeats Takarafuji – Aoiyama may be the only man in sumo to accomplish the nearly impossible: finding and then attacking Takarafuji’s neck. Takarafuji battled bravely, but Aoiyama had too much forward pressure interleaved with powerful blows to Takarafuji’s upper body. Aoiyama joins the rest of the crew who achieved kachi-koshi today, and remain 1 loss behind Takakeisho.

Okinoumi defeats Abi – Veteran Okinoumi completely disrupts Abi-zumo, the second straight loss via the same processes. We may have reached the expiration date on the daily use of the double arm thrusting attack from Abi. Now it gets interesting, because we will see what else this guy can do.

Shohozan defeats Chiyonokuni – Chiyonokuni was protecting his right arm the past two days, but that was gone in today’s match against “Big Guns” Shohozan. Both men are brawlers, and both men got their match today. A running brawl that traversed the dohyo repeatedly, they exchanged fierce blows, thrusts and anything they could think of. The crowd was going wild for home town boy Shohozan, and then the two went chest to chest. Go watch this match. Then go watch it again. Chiyonokuni is now make-koshi, but he fought was great vigor today.

Yutakayama defeats Kagayaki – Another high effort bout, and it was unusual to see Kagayaki having a difficult time controlling his balance. Yutakayama is still less than 100%, but he put forth a great effort today, and was rewarded with a much needed win.

Takanoiwa defeats Ryuden – Ryuden’s false start / matta likely blew his concentration, and Takanoiwa applied an expertly timed slap down for the win.

Yoshikaze defeats Tochiozan – A brief struggle for grip or inside position at the tachiai quickly evolved to Yoshikaze bracketing Tochiozan and motoring ahead in 2nd gear. A monoii reviewed the final moments, but Yoshikaze got a much needed 5th win to keep kachi-koshi hopes alive.

Nishikigi defeats Myogiryu – I dare say that after his string of strong wins, Myogiryu’s loss to Nishikigi may come as something of a surprise. But Nishikigi was able to contain Myogiryu, and progressively work his position into a win. Nishikigi is holding up to his tour through the upper ranks much better than I could have hoped.

Takakeisho defeats Hokutofuji – An uneven tachiai that might have been a matta, or just Hokutofuji missing the launch, but the goyji did not call it and the fight was on. Hokutofuji had no chance to set up either offense or defense in any real sense, and Takakeisho completely blasted him up and back.

Tamawashi defeats Kaisei – Tamawashi had to put in a lot of effort, as there is just a tremendous amount of Kaisei to move. Tamawashi’s normal bash-bash-push approach was rendered, but yielded little forward motion, as Kaisei for a moment reminded me of Andre the Giant in “The Princess Bride”, looking at Wesley mid battle, and saying “I want you to feel like you are doing well…”

Shodai defeats Mitakeumi – I kid a lot about Shodai, but his effort at Kyushu has been noteworthy. Today against the one time Ozeki hopefully once again illustrates that if he can survive the tachiai, Shodai has solid fundamentals, and acres of strength. Mitakeumi is in dire need of 3 more wins in the next 5 days.

Tochinoshin defeats Ichinojo – and the Tochinoshin fans breath a well-earned sigh of relief. Ichinojo consents to allow the Ozeki an attempt at a lift and shift, and Tochinoshin is all to happy to oblige.

Takayasu defeats Chiyotairyu – A solid yotzu battle from two enormous, burly rikishi. This is not Chiyotairyu’s strong sumo, but he put up a good battle. Takayasu prevailed for his kachi-koshi, and remains in the yusho hunt group.

Kyushu Day 9 Highlights

Takakeisho-Tochinoshin

Day 9 action worked to narrow the yusho race somewhat, with the goal for the next 5 days being for someone to get dirt on Takakeisho. A single additional loss at this point for the leader could open up a multi-way contest for the Emperor’s Cup going into the final weekend. I would call special attention to what may be an emergent Ryuden-zumo doctrine. Twice in the last few days we have seen him grapple with his opponent, stalemating them and wearing them down. This approach requires almost superhuman stamina, but its amazing to watch. I am hoping we will see him use it a few more times before day 15.

Highlight Matches

Chiyoshoma defeats Tokushoryu – Visiting the top division to even out the holes in the torikumi, Tokushoryu gets the business from Chiyoshoma, who is working hard to steer himself to the safety of kachi-koshi. The match did have a certain “dancing with the stars” quality to it.

Onosho defeats Daiamami – It’s clear that Onosho is dialed into his sumo by this point. He starts strong and increases the pressure on Daiamami, who is completely overwhelmed. Onosho’s sumo is not fancy at this point, but highly effective. He raised Daiamami up with a quick nodowa, and then focused his pushing against center mass. Onosho stays in the yusho hunt for day 9.

Aoiyama defeats Meisei – After a rough start, Aoiyama has settled into the basho and 7 consecutive wins. For a man of considerable mass, his maneuverability is impressive. Coupled with his long reach and the power he puts behind his tsuppari, Meisei could only react and try for a desperation throw at the tawara. Aoiyama also retains his slot in the group 1 behind Takakeisho.

Takanosho defeats Chiyonokuni – Notable because we can clearly see Chiyonokuni trying to protect that right arm. How hurt is he? He’s still showing up for matches. But he is 1 loss away from a make-koshi.

Yutakayama defeats Chiyomaru – Chiyomaru puts some effort into it, but in a battle of the walking wounded, Yutakayama was just healthy enough to prevail. One more loss and Chiyomaru punches his ticket for a trip down to Juryo to sort out his health and his sumo.

Daieisho defeats Arawashi – Daieisho maintains his spot in the group 1 behind Takakeisho, and hands the injured Arawashi his make-koshi, ensuring he will be headed down to Juryo for January. Arawashi has had a terrible time with that leg, and needs to find a way to get healed up.

Takarafuji defeats Endo – Endo had nothing, zero today. Takarafuji really needed the win, but this match lacked any vigor or drive. There is a growing number of rikishi who really need the New Years break to get their bodies back together. These two especially.

Shohozan defeats Sadanoumi – Local rikishi Shohozan has the crowd driving him on, and his sumo was fast and brutal. Inside quickly after the tachiai, Shohozan did not let Sadanoumi generate any offense, and quickly pushed him out to the cheers of the hometown crowd.

Ikioi defeats Abi – Ikioi defeats an effective counter-strategy to Abi-zumo, attacking Abi’s arms from underneath until he is forced to abandon his morotsuki attack, and is an easy target for Ikioi’s counter-attacks.

Kotoshogiku defeats Kagayaki – The Fukuoka crowd was cranked to 11 for Kotoshogiku, and Kagayaki allowed him to set up the hug-n-chug. Kotoshogiku remains on a kachi-koshi trajectory for his home-town basho.

Takanoiwa defeats Nishikigi – Good to see some “A game” sumo from Takanoiwa. Though Nishikigi is getting quite close to the make-koshi line already, he has fared better than I expected at this high of a rank. There may be some future for him to visit the joi-jin and not be a completely free win.

Tamawashi defeats Asanoyama – Classic Tamawashi-zumo today, his stance, his thrusts, all of it is what we have come to expect out of him, and he gave Asanoyama little chance to respond. After an early volley to raise Asanoyama, he focused his attacks center-mass and controlled the flow and result of the match. Good sumo.

Myogiryu defeats Hokutofuji – Myogiryu continues to impress, and derails the Hokutofuji express service with a boisterous clang. Myogiryu reacted perfectly to Hokutofuji’s now familiar opening gambit, and used his own predictability to shut down any chance at offense.

Kaisei defeats Tochiozan – The wheels have come off of Tochiozan’s parade float, as he has lost 3 of the last 4 matches after a fantastic start. We know Kaisei is injured, and came back from kyujo, but today he did put together a much needed win. Why Tochiozan decided to go chest to chest with nearly a quarter of a ton of Kaisei will forever be a mystery.

Ichinojo defeats Shodai – All the tricks in “Toon Town” can’t really do much against the Mongolian Boulder once he gets rolling. Its too early to declare that Ichinojo is going to finish strong and try to hold onto his rank, but it was nice to see him actually put some effort into his sumo.

Ryuden defeats Mitakeumi – Much like his win over Takayasu, what is fascinating to watch is how much Ryuden works to bring the match to a stalemate, then slowly grinds down his opponent. Takayasu used to do this all of the time, and I watched Takayasu lose to this approach in total fascination and disbelief. Mitakeumi simply did not have the stamina to endure the contest. Ryuden expends every erg of his strength to bind and limit Mitakeumi from moving, and just ratchets up the pressure moment by moment. It must be fairly brutal to be on the receiving end of this. I hope he continues to evolve this strategy. While it’s not flashy, for sumo nerds its like watching a car being crushed – terrible and fascinating at the same time.

Takayasu defeats Yoshikaze – Yoshikaze tried a few things, valid and valiant moves, but Takayasu had his number from the tachiai. Better luck next time, berserker.

Goeido defeats Chiyotairyu – A shameful henka. Absolutely shameful. Really Goeido, has it come to that? I know your sumo can defeat Chiyotairyu. For folks who may not know, this is perfectly legit, but quite disappointing for the top Ozeki in the sport to deploy against a rank-and-file rikishi (in my opinion).

Takakeisho defeats Tochinoshin – Tochinoshin was completely disrupted by the “wave action” and his fall at the west side tawara did not look good, as his fragile right knee moved in an unnatural way to my eye. It almost seemed to collapse has the Ozeki worked to maintain his footing. Takakeisho remains the sole leader.

Kyushu Day 8 Preview

Aki Day 1 Toys

Welcome to nakabe, the middle day of the basho. So far, the tournament has been a festival of the unusual and the unexpected, and it has kept fans, new and old, guessing what twist will come next. With the middle day, we start to look at the yusho race. At this moment it’s nearly wide open, with most of the crowd in contention being outside the normal ranks that one expects to take the yusho. With the Yokozuna all in dry dock, it was free fire for the Ozeki… But even they are facing losses in matches they should win, and none of them look to be dominant enough at the middle weekend to be considered a favorite. Out of the eight rikishi who are in serious competition for the Emperor’s Cup as of day 8, there is only one Ozeki and one Komusubi – the other six are from the rank-and-file Maegashira.

Kyushu Leaderboard

This is a huge leaderboard for day 8, showing how things are very evenly matched with no Yokozuna on duty, and most of the Ozeki too hurt or distracted to keep the ranks on losing streaks. As of today, any of these rikishi could take home the cup. It’s a barnyard brawl to senshuraku!!!

Leaders: Takakeisho, Daieisho, Onosho
Chasers: Takayasu, Tochiozan, Chiyotairyu, Abi, Aoiyama
Hunt Group: Goeido, Mitakeumi, Myogiryu, Hokutofuji, Tamawashi, Shodai, Yoshikaze, Sadanoumi, Okinoumi, Endo, Daishomaru, Daiamami, Meisei

8 Matches Remain

What We Are Watching Day 8
(As we are live blogging, we will be watching all of it!)

Kotoyuki vs Daishomaru – The question is, win or lose, how far will Kotoyuki end up in the zabuton section?

Onosho vs Meisei – Yusho co-leader faces Meisei, who is looking to bounce back after a day 7 loss. Onoshi is severely under-ranked right now, and is probably enjoying racking up the wins.

Arawashi vs Takanosho – First time match between two struggling rikishi. Arawashi’s bum leg continues to prevent him from really showing us much sumo, and Takanosho is struggling in his second ever Makuuchi tournament after an 8-7 finish at Aki.

Chiyomaru vs Endo – Chiyomaru maintains a glimmer of hope that he can pick up six more wins over the next eight days. He must do that or he returns to Juryo to sort himself out. His offense is completely missing, and his defense lacks any stamina. Endo will be tough for him to overcome in this state, although “Endo the Golden” is also struggling so far.

Chiyoshoma vs Yutakayama – After opening Kyushu with four straight losses, is Yutakayama finally starting to turn things around? With two wins already, he’s not too far from a safety buffer that would keep him in the top division for January. He has won 4 of the 5 prior matches with Chiyoshoma.

Kotoshogiku vs Chiyonokuni – Two high intensity rikishi: Chiyonokuni will go for mobility and attacking at arms length, and Kotoshogiku will want to bring Chiyonokuni to his chest. As in the prior three basho, both are fighting well, but seem to lack the energy to finish the match with a win.

Okinoumi vs Daieisho – Daieisho shares a piece of the lead on day 8, and he will need to overcome his career 3-6 disadvantage over Okinoumi to keep it. Okinoumi is once again steering a course towards a comfortable but not over-performing kachi-koshi, and may not quite have enough genki in the tank to dispatch a surging Daieisho.

Abi vs Sadanoumi – Abi-zumo sputtered and wheezed on day 7, and a salty veteran like Sadanoumi may have a better chance of disrupting and overcoming the double-arm thrust attack that is every match for Abi. Does he win with it? Sure. Has it gotten boring? Yes.

Takanoiwa vs Shohozan – Takanoiwa went from hot (during Aki) to not (during Kyushu). Injuries, loss of an Oyakata, stable move, lawsuit with a former Yokozuna… need I go on? Takanoiwa is a shambles right now. He’s a solid rikishi, and we hope he can get himself re-centered soon. Shohozan got a rather blunt yorikiri on day 7, which frankly I thought he could have avoided. I want him to bounce back and score another white star today.

Takarafuji vs Kagayaki – Takarafuji to me seems to exemplify this basho. A solid rikishi, he seems hurt, tired, distracted and off his sumo. This is true for at least half of the rikishi right now. While it means that the competition space is quite even, it also means that there are frequent reminders that some good athletes are far below their best this November.

Ikioi vs Asanoyama – Asanoyama is looking for his first ever win against Ikioi, who closed out a hot streak of 3 wins by losing yesterday to Kagayaki. Like Takarafuji, he’s a visible reminder that a large number of these “headline rikishi” are fighting far below their rated power.

Nishikigi vs Chiyotairyu – Coming off his loss to Ichinojo, Chiyotairyu will be looking to add more white stars to his score. I know I have poked fun at Nishikigi for his Maegashira 3 tenure, but I am quite delighted that he has two wins at the end of week 1, and that he seems to fight better than I expected. I think he might actually make a spot for himself in the upper Maegashira soon if he continues to improve.

Tochiozan vs Tamawashi – After opening strong, Tochiozan went to defeat two days in a row. He’s now looking to stem the losing streak against Tamawashi, over whom he holds a 12-2 career advantage. This is probably the point where the NHK live stream will begin.

Takakeisho vs Myogiryu – Myogiryu has never won against Takakeisho, but with the landscape of Aki a strange world of shadows and mirrors, any day could be the day everything changes. Myogiryu’s wins this tournament have come by yorikiri and yoritaoshi, so I am going to be interested to see how he defends against Takakeisho’s refined “wave action” attack.

Hokutofuji vs Kaisei – Hokutofuji will need every ounce of strength to take on Kaisei. Kaisei is not even at 90% genki, but he’s still a massive opponent, and can use his bulk with great effect. Hokutofuji’s approach will likely be similar to Takakeisho: raise him up at the tachiai and immediately bring him to the clay.

Mitakeumi vs Ichinojo – About time we had a nice Sekiwake battle. Will we get passive Ichinojo, or the one that mounted the dohyo on day 7? Will Mitakeumi dial up the power, or phone it in? This will either be fierce, or like watching two bureaucrats argue at the end of a four-hour conference call.

Goeido vs Yoshikaze – Yoshikaze shocked Tochinoshin on day 7. Though he is getting older and fading a bit, he is capable of beating any rikishi any day he mounts the dohyo if the fight is on his terms. Their long history has Yoshikaze with a slight 13-11 lead, and I assume it will come down to Goeido getting Yoshikaze off balance at the tachiai. Given that Yoshikaze will likely lead with his face, there could be blood on the dohyo.

Ryuden vs Tochinoshin – After his surprising win over Takayasu, Ryuden may be over-stuffed with confidence, perhaps enough to give him a fighting chance against the flagging Tochinoshin, who is in real danger of ending Kyushu kadoban once again. We have not seen Tochinoshin’s “lift and shift” power sumo very much this basho, so maybe he can get the opening against Ryuden and deploy his super-human strength.

Shodai vs Takayasu – Takayasu has struggled for at lest a year with chronic strains and pains in his lower back. Following his loss in a marathon battle with Ryuden on day 7, the “Wooly One” stood gingerly, seemingly in pain. Shodai does not stand much of a chance against Takayasu’s tachiai, but if somehow he can keep his footing, Takayasu will have his hands full with the chaotic, flailing style of Shodai.

Kyushu Day 5 Highlights

Nishikigi

What The Hell Was That?

Kyushu has mutated into a strange and quirky basho, which is quite entertaining for those who love to see the mighty take one in the pants. Day 5 dawned with news that the lone surviving Yokozuna, Kisenosato, was pulling out of the tournament. Fine, no wins, 4 losses, and we go to a Nokozuna format. Don’t get me started on how the NSK needs to sort out their aging kanban rikishi situation.

Then all of the Ozekis lost. No, really. Nishkiki dismantled Goeido, when his updated GoeiDOS crashed on tachiai, and Tochinoshin took special care to piss off Hokutofuji before the match. Enjoy your clay sandwiches, boys!

Both Sekiwake phoned it in yet again today, and are ripe for demotion and replacement. Both have held the rank too long, and seem to have looked at the steep wall to climb to try for Ozeki, and just shrugged.

For some long term fans, the weakness at the top of the banzuke became a foul stench on day 5, as the rot started to putrefy. Hopefully that can be cleaned up going into the middle weekend.

Highlight Matches

Daishomaru defeats Chiyomaru – Notable because Chiyomaru drops to 1-4, and is clearly in trouble. The round one has many followers and fans, and it will be sad for them should he drop to Juryo. He has been without any real offensive power so far in Kyushu.

Daiamami defeats Takanosho – These two went chest to chest early, and battled hard for a superior grip and balance. Every time Daiamami would gain advantage, Takanosho found a way to counter. They were evenly matched, and brought some solid sumo to the dohyo.

Endo defeats Meisei – I am delighted to report that Endo actually looked on form today, and showed strength, balance and endurance. Although he could not muster speed as well, it was just enough to best Meisei, who gave him a good fight. Japanese fans still love Endo, and they are going to need to pin hopes on someone for the rest of Kyushu.

Onosho defeats Okinoumi – Onosho kept the match short enough that he could maintain offensive power, though he finished Okinoumi just as he was running out of steam and the big man from Shimane was starting to apply pressure. Onosho improves to 4-1, and I anticipate that he will be looking for a mid-Maegashira posting at New Years.

Yutakayama defeats Takarafuji – Yutakayama finally gets his first win over hapless Takarafuji. I am not sure what problems Takarafuji is facing with his body, but Isegahama needs him back in winning form.

Ikioi defeats Sadanoumi – I did not expect Ikioi to rally and overcome Sadanoumi, but I am happy to see that he is not completely out of genki. Ikioi takes a lot of pride in his sumo, and even hurt and tired, we have seen him put a little more into each match.

Abi defeats Kotoshogiku – How can we convince Abi to try something else when the double arm thrust keeps producing results? Kotoshogiku looks rather disappointed at the final bow, maybe because he leaned into Abi’s attack and was too far forward to recover when Abi stepped to the side.

Chiyotairyu defeats Kagayaki – Kagayaki could not maintain balance or stance in the face of Chiyotairyu’s overwhelming and powerful cannon-ball tachiai. A quick “Stand him up, knock him down”, and the match was done.

Takanoiwa defeats Yoshikaze – Fans can now take satisfaction that it’s officially a honbasho because Yoshikaze splattered blood on the dohyo. He and Takanoiwa exchanged blistering attacks from the tachiai, but Takanoiwa was able to get inside. On replay there was quite a bit of hand-hair interaction from the Mongolian, but hey – I guess it was not flagrant.

Shodai defeats Asanoyama – Watch this match on slow-motion video. Shodai’s tachiai is still too high, but I dig that he is hitting a near perfect angle at the initial merge. From that moment, Asanoyama is off balance and struggling to find his footing. Asanoyama never recovers and its Shodai for the win with an authoritative body slam to punctuate the end.

Takakeisho defeats Ichinojo – Let me reiterate the theme that both Sekiwake are on the way out this basho. Lackluster, lethargic and uninspired, they must vacate their spots to more worthy rikishi. Takakeisho once again demonstrates his “wave action” sumo, and it seems that for most opponents, they are unable to counter with much effect. Takakeisho 5-0 at the end of act 1.

Kaisei defeats Mitakeumi – Mitakeumi, sir, it’s a shame that you need a pride-obliterating demotion to get your act together, but it seems you are hell bent to do just that. Why would you go chest to chest with Kaisei? It’s like hugging a pachyderm. You can feel like the king of the world for a few seconds, but you are still going exactly where that elephant wants to take you.

Nishikigi defeats Goeido – It was at this point I realized that I should have stayed up all night drinking sake and watching sumo. I might have possibly been drunk enough for this to make sense. Clearly Nishikigi is some master level hacker who put Goeido into the much feared and completely useless bouncy-castle mode. I wept tears of joy for Nishikigi, and could not stop laughing for a time. You know what would make this even funnier? If this ends up being the ONLY win that Nishikigi has at Kyushu.

Hokutofuji defeats Tochinoshin – Though NHK may not show this, Tochinoshin launched a brutal tachiai that was a matta, and did not seem the least bit apologetic. But I think that really cranked up Hokutofuji. Then Tochinoshin decided he was going to repeatedly try to pull Hokutofuji down, and wasted a lot of time pawing at his head. By the time that he realized that Hokutofuji was about to put him away, he desperately tried for a mawashi grab… But no dice. The look of satisfaction on Hokutofuji’s face is worthy of a large format, tastefully framed portrait.

Tochiozan defeats Takayasu – …But the madness that was day 5 was not yet complete! That Tochiozan guy who has been a mid-Maegashira guy for a long time? He cranked up some big sumo against the last undefeated member of the named ranks. Takayasu decided he was going to start with his ridiculous, superfluous and ultimately pointless shoulder-blast, but Tochiozan was ready for it. He used the poor arm position that move requires to pretzel up the Ozeki and punish him. A lot. I can’t say for sure, but I think at that point Takayasu started to lose his composure and retreat. Tochiozan ran him down and made him suffer again. The two went chest to chest, but Tochiozan has found a way to deny Takayasu’s grip. Takayasu’s sumo became increasingly frantic until Tochiozan could package him up and ship him face first into the east side tawara.

Kyushu Day 5 Commentary

Kisenosato-down

This post supersedes our normal preview, as lksumo has already knocked the upper matches out of the park. Instead, a few words on the state of sumo at the end of Kyushu’s first act. Act 1 is all about scrubbing the ring-rust from the contestants, and finding out who is hot, and who is not.

First and foremost the cloud hanging over Kyushu now is the depth of trouble that perpetually injured Yokozuna Kisenosato has placed himself. He lost his first 4 matches, all of which were supposed to be more or less warm ups for the main action in week 2. Instead Kisenosato found himself unable to maintain balance, or generate forward offensive pressure. Frankly he was embarrassing himself, and the same foolish pride that kept him from seeking surgery on his pectoral muscle may have drove him to mount the dohyo each day believing “this time it will be different”.

Kisenosato has devoted his entire life to sumo, it’s his entire world. The shame of 8 straight kyujo’s must have hardened his resolve to “gamberize” and tough it out. But now he has had to withdraw in 9 of the past 10 tournaments.

For the NSK, they have a large and unfortunate problem, as Kisenosato had been given firm guidance not to enter a basho just to withdraw before the end. In doing so again he has to some extent embarrassed the sumo association leadership. What do they do with the only Japanese Yokozuna? His retirement would diminish the stature of the sport for a short time in the eyes of the Japanese public, some of whom bristle at the dominance of foreign athletes at what they see as Japanese cultural property.

Tachiai has been covering the Kisenosato problem for the last two years, and there is a good chance the entire situation is now drawing towards its inevitable conclusion – which is a dignified transition for Kisenosato into life as a member in good standing of the sumo association, and his withdrawal from any further competition.

Matches Worth A Look on Day 5

Meisei vs Endo – Meisei is hell on wheels right now, and he seems to be fighting above his banzuke rank. Endo, on the other hand, continues to be day-by-day, though his day 4 match was solid sumo. They split their two prior matches, so I think it comes down to who gets inside at the tachiai, and today I think that’s going to be Meisei.

Onosho vs Okinoumi – Both come in with a 3-1 record, both seem to be dialed into their sumo early. If the match lasts longer than 12 seconds, it favors Okinoumi, who seems to take a more strategic approach to his matches. Onosho tends to open strong and try to blaze his opponents into defeat. Plus, I think Onosho is still only 80%.

Ikioi vs Sadanoumi – Ikioi has been fighting hurt since Osaka, and going against a rikishi who is on a hot streak, as Sadanoumi is, can only spell an uphill fight. Ikioi does not give up, and I know he will give battle with everything he can muster.

Abi vs Kotoshogiku – Great contrast of styles in this match. Abi will want to keep distance and attack with his superior reach, and Kotoshogiku will do anything he can to close the gap and go chest to chest. Double amazing points if Abi decides to unleash some mawashi techniques and beats the Kyushu Bulldozer at his own sumo.

Chiyotairyu vs Kagayaki – If Chiyotairyu can dictate the match mechanics straight from the tachiai, he has more than enough sumo to dispatch Kagayaki, mastery of fundamentals or not. Kagayaki will need to stay mobile, keep his balance under control, and wait for the burly Chiyotairyu to expend his initial burst of energy.

Takanoiwa vs Yoshikaze – Takanoiwa is still injured, and won’t be doing his normal offense heavy sumo. Yoshikaze will try to get inside and apply maximum pressure up and forward within the first step. Both men can fight with frantic energy, so this may devolve into a slapping battle like two tabbies jacked up on weapons grade catnip.

Shodai vs Asanoyama – This could be a great great match, as both are fairly evenly matched in size, speed and technique. In addition this is their first ever match, so each may surprise the other.