San’yaku Torikumi Forecast


Since the schedulers only give us the Torikumi one day in advance, it’s fun to speculate about the days ahead. Below is a guess for the bouts for the remaining San’yaku rikishi for days 12-15. Others who know more about scheduling than I do should chime in.

  Day 12 Day 13 Day 14 Day 15
Hakuho Tamawashi Goeido Takayasu Harumafuji
Harumafuji Mitakeumi Takayasu Goeido Hakuho
Goeido Tochiozan Hakuho Harumafuji Takayasu
Takayasu Kagayaki Harumafuji Hakuho Goeido
Tamawashi Hakuho Hokutofuji Ura Kagayaki
Mitakeumi Harumafuji Tochinoshin Ikioi Chiyoshoma
Yoshikaze Tochinoshin Ikio Kagayaki Ura
Kotoshogiku Shodai Ura Tochinoshin Hokutofuji

The Yokozuna schedule should be very straightforward. The only question is the order in which they face the Ozeki, and given the cache of the HakuhoTakayasu bout, I’m guessing they’ll hold it till day 14, even though Goeido is ranked higher than Takayasu on the Banzuke.

This also sets the Ozeki schedule except for day 12. They will already have fought the rest of the San’yaku and the upper maegashira after day 11, and Kagayaki and Tochiozan are next in line. Given his stronger record, I have Takayasu facing the higher-ranked of the two.

The two sekiwake have their remaining Yokozuna bouts on day 12, and then face the upper maegashira they haven’t fought yet. The two komusubi are done with their San’yaku schedule, and will face maegashira from here on out.

Beyond the high-rank bouts with obvious yusho implications, I’m looking forward to Ura facing Kotoshogiku, Tamawashi, and Yoshikaze, as I’m sure is everyone else. Goeido is fighting to avoid kadoban status. All four sekiwake/komusubi slots are mathematically up for grabs (although Mitakeumi needs only one more win), with multiple candidates to move up to the San’yaku should slots open up, so the remaining Tochinoshin and Hokutofuji bouts also have a lot of meaning and should be fun to watch.

It’s looking like a great final act to Nagoya!

Nagoya Story 5 – Shin Ozeki Takayasu


相撲

From Silver To Black.

It has been two years since sumo had a new Ozeki. The barrier to entry is huge, requiring consistent high performance over a series of tournaments to even be considered. As Kisenosato’s tireless practice partner, Takayasu has maintained super-human focus on training endlessly for years.

Once before he was on the cusp of earning enough wins to be considered for promotion, just to let his achievement slip from his fingers in Kyushu when he had a disappointing 7-8 maki-koshi. But this only seemed to renew his resolve and his drive to succeed. Even with is training partner Kisenosato seriously injured with a pectoral rupture, he found ways to stay strong and practice his sumo. This all paid off in Tokyo this past May as he racked up 11 wins, and clinched his promotion.

Now at the steamy tropical Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium in Nagoya, we will see Ozeki Takayasu take the dohyo. Takayasu fights under his real name, which is unusual in sumo, and even more rare for the upper, named ranks. While normally he wears a silver mawashi, he has changed to traditional black, which is expected of Ozeki and Yokozuna. We can assume Takayasu takes his role very seriously (the one knock against the guy is maybe he is too serious), and will perform his duties as Ozeki with great pride.

As an Ozeki, his torikumi will take some interesting twists. When he was Sekiwake, he provided fodder and tune-up fuel for the Yokozuna and Ozeki during the first week. As an Ozeki, he will face all of the other Ozeki and all of the Yokozuna during the final week of the basho. His rotation in who he fights and when will be more or less inverted – his opponents he used to face in week 1, he will now face in week 2.

Tachiai has been tight followers of Takayasu for some time, and we will be watching with great interest has he starts his first tournament as an Ozeki.

Video Of Takayasu’s Ozeki Promotion


Overnight US time, Tagonoura beya sumotori Takayasu Akira was promoted to Ozeki, sumo’s second highest rank. As with these promotions, messengers from the Nippon Sumo Kyokai arrived at a hotel conference room that had been configured for a formal ceremony in front of the press.

Westerners may find it interesting there are microphones on the floor, but once the messengers arrive, members of both the stable’s party and the NSK’s party assume a deeply respectful saikeirei bow during both the announcement and the acceptance.

But like so many things in the wonderful country of Japan, once all of that formal stuff is over, it’s time to celebrate. To the delight of many fans, Yokozuna Kisenosato was present for the celebration (among many others).  Kisenosato and Takayasu have been long term training partners and stable mates, and it is my opinion that neither would have reached their current rank without the other’s constant support.

Congratulations to Takayasu, you earned it!

Some additional video from NHK here

Takayasu’s Ozeki Promotion Official


Takayasu-Wins

Second Promotion Campaign Succeeds.

Tagonoura riskishi Takayasu has ben grinding towards an Ozeki bid for the past year, which is generally recognized to be 33 wins across 3 basho for consideration. The actual promotion determination is made by the Nihon Sumo Kyokai, who consider a number of factors such as suitability and long term prospects of continued high performance.

His first bid to achieve 33 wins ended in make-koshi, and demotion, during the Kyushu basho in November. Interestingly enough, internet sumo guru Kintamayama in fact predicted Takayasu’s make-koshi.  The set back did nothing more than challenge Takayasu, and it seems that he and Kisenosato sequestered themselves for nearly endless practice.  Both of them benefited greatly from this period of intense training, as both have been promoted within the following 6 months.

The committee met immediately following the Natsu basho, and agreed that Takayasu’s bid had met or exceeded qualifications, and he has been promoted to Ozeki. The messengers will arrive Wednesday morning Japan time (Tuesday PM US time) to officially notify Takayasu and the Tagonoura stable. Anticipation in the Japanese press now is swirling around what acceptance phrase he will use, which many see as indicative of what kind of spirit he will bring to his Ozeki career.

With this promotion, Tagonoura beta will have a level of parity with Isegahama, who have both Yokozuna Harumafuji and Ozeki Terunofuji. Having two rikishi at such high levels of skill helps both of them stay sharp and competitive, and as we have seen with Kisenosato, having Takayasu as a sparring partner was essential to brining his sumo along to Yokozuna levels.

During Takayasu’s career up to this point, he has been a special-prize winning machine. His tally includeds:

  • 2 Gino-Sho
  • 4 Shukun-Sho
  • 4 Kanto-Sho
  • 4 Kinboshi

His performance has been truly a cut above, and he should make a strong Ozeki if he can keep himself uninjured.

Tachiai congratulates the shin-Ozeki, and we look forward to many years of Ozeki Takayasu bringing his strength sumo to all challengers.

More details from Kyodo News: Takayasu all set for promotion to ozeki
Still more from The Mainichi: Ozeki-in-waiting Takayasu aiming for sumo’s greatest heights

Looking toward Nagoya


What a great tournament we just had! To me, what stood out is the large number of outstanding performances throughout the banzuke, from Hakuho‘s zensho yusho all the way down to Onosho‘s 10-5 record in his Makuuchi debut. Terunofuji got his Jun-yusho, and would have been in contention on the final day if not for his early hiccups on days 1 and 2. Takayasu handled the pressure and will be ozeki in Nagoya. Tamawashi may have started his own ozeki run, and has been fighting at that level. Mitakeumi and Yoshikaze held their own in San’yaku, and Shodai, Takakeisho, Tochinoshin, Hokutofuji, Ikioi, and Ura all put up great numbers in the maegashira ranks.

We don’t get the official Nagoya banzuke until June 26, but here are some early thoughts on the top and bottom of the banzuke.

The yokozuna ranks should get reshuffled as follows:

Y1 Hakuho Harumafuji
Y2 Kisenosato Kakuryu

We will have 3 ozeki: Terunofuji, Goeido, and Takayasu.

Tamawashi will keep his sekiwake rank, and Mitakeumi should join him.

Yoshikaze will keep his komusubi rank, and I think Kotoshogiku did just enough to only drop down to the other komusubi slot.

We should have a strong new crop of upper maegashira, who may even fare better than their predecessors at these ranks:

M1 Shodai Takakeisho
M2 Tochinoshin Hokutofuji
M3 Ikioi Ura

At the other end of the banzuke, Yutakayama, Myogiryu, and Toyohibiki will find themselves in Juryo, replaced in Makuuchi by Sadanoumi, Chiyomaru, and Nishigiki. I think Kaisei will just barely hang on to the top division at M16. They could swap him with Gagamaru, but what would be the point?

Full banzuke prediction to come once I’ve had some time to digest Natsu.

Natsu Day 15 Preview


Onosho

One More Time.

The end is nigh! Well, for this basho anyhow. It’s been great fun to write like a madman once more, and it’s hard to fathom that just last week I was in Tokyo. The whole thing turned into giant, sumo encrusted jet-lag blur. A very nice blur, but a blur none the less. But now all the clothes I took smell like those tatami mats, and I find I kind of like it. I am also having withdrawal symptoms due to a lack of Katsu Curry, or any real source of soup soba.

Much has been decided, and there are a few interesting things left to resolve. With Kotoshogiku and Takayasu out of Sekiwake, the promotion lanes are finally open again, and it’s a mad dog-pile to see which up-and-comer is going to stand out for a slot as a punching bag in Nagoya.

Then there are the rikishi who are on a knife edge to try and get a kachi-koshi bolted down.

  • Ishiura (fights Takekaze)
  • Kaisei (fights Kagayaki)

What’s going to happen in Juryo? Good lord, who knows! Well, actually the Juryo yusho will either be Nishikigi or Aminishiki, by some magic they both ended day 14 with 9 wins, and had not fought each other. I am sure the schedulers were doing high fives. Does Aminishiki get promoted to Makuuchi from Juryo 8 if he takes the Juryo yusho? Does Nishikigi get promoted if he takes the Jun-Yusho? I don’t envy the banzuke team for this one. I suggest the get well drunk, eat a giant box of Takoyaki, and make up something that rhymes.

Matches We Like

Daishomaru vs Ura – Special prize time for Ura? Can he crack 11 wins with some kind of win over Daishomaru? The only other time they fought, Daishomaru took him apart. I am hoping Ura still has a few magic beans left to eat before his match tomorrow.

Tochinoshin vs Toyohibiki – I call shenanigans! Paul Bunyon with 11 wins going against Shin-Juryo Toyohibiki? Ah well, double bonus points for a henka this time. Triple bonus if they do simultaneous henkae (sp?). Ceremonial Tonkatsu helmet for Toyohibiki if he can actually beat him.

Onosho vs Takakeisho – Both contenders for a special prize, winner should be given said prize, loser gets to drive around the streets of Tokyo in a go-kart dressed as a mini-Bowser.

Hokutofuji vs Yoshikaze – As noted there is some kind of weird San’yaku triangle / drinking game going on, and I am pretty sure it’s a good thing. Who gets to be crowned Sekiwake? Well, I am guessing it comes down to who wins matches today. This one should be good, as Hokutofuji is “strong like bull!”, while Yoshikaze is the kind of guy who can win against nearly anyone.

Mitakeumi vs Shodai – Another part of this triangle, will Mitakeumi take Shodai down? I will admit, Shodai has been looking rather solid the last 3 days, is he genki enough to contain Mitakeumi? Mitakeumi wants that Sekiwake slot, he has really been at Tamawashi levels for the last two basho.

Tamawashi vs Goeido – Winner gets double digits, I would love to see Goeido finish with 10 wins, but I am guessing that Tamawashi wants to go out on a win too. Get Goeido 2.0 on the phone, he needs to make an appearance at the Kokugikan today.

Terunofuji vs Takayasu – Time to try on the Ozeki rank one stop early. Hey, Takayasu! Today, move forward, no pulling, no moving backwards. You are one of the best yotsu-zumō around. How about you uncork a bucket of that and let the Kaiju have a whiff of the aroma of Ozeki Takayasu?

Harumafuji vs Hakuho – Well, this one is zensho-yusho. Harumafuji is hurt, but I am sure the rivalry between him and Hakuho will drive him to peak performance. I just hope that he comes out of it in an recoverable condition. Harumafuji is, in my opinion, unique in sumo for the present day. I hope he can stick with us in good condition for a few years more. Oh yes, in his interview today Hakuho looked really very happy. Like I have not seen Hakuho in a long time. It was quite pleasant.

Ozeki Takayasu! 大関 高安!


Takayasu-Wins

Clinches Promotion With Harumafuji Upset.

Day 14 action in Tokyo saw a belter of match between Yokozuna Harumafuji and Takayasu. Having achieved his 33rd win in the last three basho, Takayasu was eligible for promotion to Ozeki, but it had been widely said that it was more or less contingent on his performance over the last 3 bouts. With his stunning victory over Harumafuji, that condition is for all practical purposes, lifted.

Given that his day 14 opponent is Shodai, Takayasu could even finish the basho with 12 wins, which would be his tie his Jun-Yusho in 2013 (and his thunderous performance at Osaka).

We have been stating for over a year that Takayasu represented the best hope to become the next Ozeki, and we are so very happy that he has reached sumo’s second highest rank. The Ozeki corps has been very shaky for some time, and Tachiai hopes the infusion of new blood will bring order and stability to upper San’yaku.