Courtesy of Grand Sumo Breakdown and Tachiai – Day 8 matches for our mock Natsu basho
The first day of the second act of the mock Natsu Basho is in the record books. Hakuho loses for the second consecutive day, and we have to start wondering about kyujo for the dai-Yokozuna. He’s not visibly injured, but we know that there has been quite a bit of work on one of his big toes over the years, and that may be acting up once more. Folks may thing “Big toe? Big deal!”, but in fact the big toe is quite important to sumo. The rikishi actually grip the clay with their toes and the arches of their feet during a battle, and that ability to use their feet for grip directly relates to their defensive ability. If Hakuho is struggling to maintain traction, it could explain why he’s suddenly not able to present the same level of defense we expect from him.
While there is a storm cloud on Hakuho’s brow tonight in Japan, you can be assured it’s sunshine, bunny rabbits and happy days for Ishiura, as he improves to 6-0 and retains sole leadership of this tournament. The only tournament that Ishiura has ever scored double digit wins was his Makuuchi debut in Kyushu 2016, where he went 10-5. He seems to be on track for at least this level of performance.
As a note, our partners in this mock basho, Grand Sumo Breakdown, have their first interim podcast up covering the basho. Feel free to go have a listen.
Day 6 Matches
Nishikigi (5-1) defeats Terunofuji (0-6) Oshidashi – Terunofuji was a shambles again, and he could only offer token pressure against Nishikigi’s attacks. The man is not well, and I hope he can either bounce back or seek treatment.
Wakatakakage (4-2) defeats Chiyomaru (1-5) Okuridashi – Wakatakakage drove forward at the tachiai to establish a left hand outside grip, and ran straight into an oshi-volley from Chiyomaru. Focusing on Wakatakakage’s neck, the smaller rikishi struggled to push from below to disrupt the attacks, but this only coaxed Chiyomaru into a stronger exchange. Realizing the opportunity, Wakatakakage gave ground, and Chiyomaru obliged by blundering forward. Wakatakakage slipped to his rear and applied a solid shove to the knot of Chiyomaru’s green mawashi.
Takayasu (5-1) defeats Kotoeko (2-4) Hikiotoshi – Takayasu opened with a forearm strike against Kotoeko’s chest and right arm, forcing him to take a step back. Charging back in, Kotoeko reached to thrust against Takayasu’s exposed chest, but Kotoeko found two huge bear paws on his right arm, and a solid tug sent Kotoeko sprawling for the clay. I guess its easier for Takayasu to avoid re-injury if he dispatches his opponents in about 3 seconds. The former Ozeki has now opened 5-1.
Sadanoumi (4-2) defeats Kotoshogiku (4-2) Uwatedashinage – I was surprised by how quickly Kotoshogiku came off the shikiri-sen today, and actually beat Sadanoumi to the initial clash. This worked to his advantage early, as Kotoshogiku pulled in his left elbow and jammed his hand into Sadanoumi’s armpit. Unable to achieve any grip, or any offense, Sadanoumi was forced to give ground, but he found Kotoshogiku was eager to press the attack. With one mighty hip pump, Kotoshogiku bounced Sadanoumi to the tawara, and lunged in for the kill. But Sadanoumi seems to have been ready, as he reached around and grabbed the back of Kotoshogiku, and unleashed the throw. Following the match, Kotoshogiku looked a bit surprised, as was I, really solid move by Sadanoumi to rescue the match.
Shohozan (3-3) defeats Kotoyuki (3-3) Yorikiri – Shohozan got the better of the tachiai, and we saw the harite face slap connect with Kotoyuki’s nose. Kotoyuki stayed focus and was rewarded with the inside position, and went to work pushing Shohozan around. The flow of the match shifted suddenly as Shohozan landed a huge blow against Kotoyuki’s right shoulder, forcing him to take as step back. Shohozan lunged into grab the mawashi, and never let Kotoyuki set his feet to defend against the sudden shift from oshi to yotsu. In the blink of an eye, Shohozan had him out, and both men ended the day 3-3.
Kotonowaka (3-3) defeats Shimanoumi (4-2) Oshitaoshi – Another soft tachiai from Kotonowaka, as he seemed to wait for Shimanoumi to slam into him. But Kotonowaka used his attacker’s motion to get his hands inside Shimanoumi’s defenses, and focused a powerful double arm thrust at Shimanoumi’s neck. Shimanoumi attempted to follow suit, but his feet were too close together, and the lunge for Kotonowaka’s neck left him leaning forward. Kotonowaka dove inside, with a left hand outside grip and his right hand behind Shimanoumi’s neck. His attempt to pull him forward failed, as Shimanoumi’s feet were set and his stance was wide. Instead Kotonowaka drove forward at an angle, overpowering Shimanoumi’s defensive stance and crushing him to the dohyo.
Kotoshoho (3-3) defeats Tochinoshin (1-5) Yorikiri – Injured former Ozeki Tochinoshin continues to struggle daily. At this point he needs to find some magic that lets him win at least a few matches. The fact that Kotoshoho was able to force him to right hand outside with a left hand block really just meant he had almost nothing to contribute to this match. Just sad to see.
Tamawashi (3-3) defeats Kaisei (2-4) Yorikiri – A lot of strength from Tamawashi today, after Kaisei decided he was going to be as heavy as possible, and really for Tamawashi to lift and push him around for a while before the yorikiri. Tamawashi is no dainty fellow, but he crashed into Kaisei with only a meaty slap to show for it. Tamawashi put two hands under Kaisei’s head and shoved with all he was worth, but the big man was moving forward, and Tamawashi had to do something to slow him down. The opening came when Kaisei tried to pull Tamawashi, and Tamawashi got a left hand inside, and got Kaisei turned to about 45°.
Myogiryu (3-3) defeats Ikioi (1-5) Yorikiri – I got my hopes up on day 5 when Ikioi was able to win over hapless Tochinoshin, but now its back to the slide for him, and even injured Myogiryu was able to shut him down shortly after the tachiai, and march him out.
Chiyotairyu (4-2) defeats Tokushoryu (4-2) Yorikiri – Kokenoe thunder god Chiyotairyu gave us a fine example of denshamichi-sumo, as he rolled forward into Tokushoryu with a full head of steam. Tokushoryu is a large fellow, graciously front loaded, but Chiyotairyu was riding the express today.
Ishiura (6-0) defeats Abi (3-3) Shitatenage – For some reason, Ishiura is still winning. Abi got the better of the tachiai, but as always focused on his opponent’s neck and face. Ishiura’s short stature gave him an easier route (down and under) to get inside of Abi’s attack radius, and from there he latched onto Abi’s belt. I was hoping we would see Abi respond with some yotsu action, but instead it seems Ishiura had plenty of time to set up the throw. Abi tried to shut down the shitatenage, getting in two good hops before Ishiura cranked up the torque and sent him to the clay.
Hokutofuji (3-3) defeats Ryuden (2-4) Oshidashi – Hokutofuji’s handshake tachiai connected to Ruyden’s right shoulder, and gave him early control of the match. Hokutofuji took the inside position, but Ryuden successfully stalemated every attempt Hokutofuji made to win the match. Instead Hokutofuji settled for pushing him around the dohyo, butsukari style, with his right elbow clamped to his side. Losing stamina, and with Ryuden’s heels on the tawara, Hokutofuji gave a massive dismissive shove to send Ryuden just over the bales.
Kagayaki (5-1) defeats Terutsuyoshi (2-4) Oshidashi – Very low tachiai from Terutsuyoshi, he made contact with his head and hands just above Kagayaki’s mawashi, and lifted Mr. Fundamentals up. Kagayaki’s excellent defensive footwork kept him in the match, but Terutsuyoshi was unrelenting. Kagayaki attempted to set up a throw, but the shift in his weight left him open for attack for just a moment, and Terutsuyoshi delivered an overpowering two-hand thrust to send Kagayaki out of the ring.
Aoiyama (4-2) defeats Enho (1-5) Oshidashi – Enho immediately fell back at the tachiai, and to my surprise, this disrupted Aoiyama’s balance for just a moment. With Big Dan adjusting his foot placement, Enho attempted to dive inside, but was met with meaty blows from the V-Twin attack. Normally this would not matter too much to Enho, but I am becoming more convinced he’s injured. Two combos later, and Aoiyama sent Enho reeling over the edge of the dohyo. I am hoping he can rally soon.
Okinoumi (1-5) defeats Yutakayama (1-5) Tsukiotoshi – A battle of two sad rikishi with a lot of skill, but with horrible scores for this tournament. It was Okinoumi gaining his first win today, standing Tsukiotoshi up at the tachiai, and immediately slapping him down. Quick and effective.
Takanosho (5-1) defeats Shodai (3-3) Oshidashi – Takanosho continues on his winning streak, today he was slow into Shodai’s non-existent tachiai. Shodai gave one thrust with his left hand, and Takanosho latched on at the elbow and just below Shodai’s armpit. He worked to turn Shodai, and then with the Sekiwake struggling to square his hips, Takanosho applied a quick combo of shoves to send Shodai out. 5-1, and very much in the hunt to be part of this weekend’s first leader board.
Mitakeumi (5-1) defeats Endo (1-5) Yorikiri – Endo put all of his money on landing that left hand grip at the tachiai, but Mitakeumi was inside in the blink of an eye, and he was moving fast and low. Endo, in his current state, was in no position to even try to slow him down. Sadly this is 5 losses now for the man in gold.
Daieisho (4-2) defeats Takakeisho (2-4) Uwatenage – This is getting depressing, another rikishi gets a hold of Takakeisho’s mawashi and finds there is little the Ozeki can do to defend himself. It seems the sekitori have all gotten the message now, and I fear Takakeisho is an easy mark. Where is the wave-action tsuppari? I am going to guess maybe that pectoral muscle is only a fraction of its former strength.
Asanoyama (4-2) defeats Kiribayama (2-4) Uwatenage – Kiribayama made the mistake of willingly going into a yotsu battle with Asanoyama. Of course Asanoyama got in a few iconic mie poses before he Asanoyama pivoted and threw. Kiribayama rolled at least 3 times as he tumbled past the timekeeper and into the empty zabuton.
Takarafuji (3-3) defeats Hakuho (4-2) Yorikiri – It’s got to be an injury. There is no other explanation for Takarafuji being able to keep Hakuho stalemated through plan A,B,C and D. His right arm not really generating much power, it looked like today. Congratulations to Takarafuji for kinboshi #4.
Kakuryu (4-2) defeats Onosho (2-4) Yorikiri – Onosho could not find an attack avenue that would stick against Kakuryu, who was back on form today. Onosho found himself in an oshi fight, then an yotsu fight, and then escorted out of the ring. This was his first time facing Kakuryu, and he probably found the reactive sumo difficult to overcome. The harder he tried, the more trouble he got into, until he ran out of ring, and Kakuryu put him over the tawara.
Courtesy of Grand Sumo Breakdown and Tachiai – Day 7 matches for our mock Natsu basho
Welcome to the start of act 2 of the mock basho. As with any basho, act 2 is where we narrow the field to find out who has what it takes to compete for the yusho, and to start sorting the survivors from the damned. To everyone’s surprise, the man to beat right now is Miyagino rikishi, and Hakuho’s dew sweeper, Maegashira 8E Ishiura. Let that sink in – he’s the sole leader at the start of act 2. I have no illusion that this is likely to be the case into the middle weekend, so I hope he is enjoying it now.
At the other end of the spectrum, we have Terunofuji and Okinoumi. Both of them are injured, and probably incapable of Makuuchi grade sumo right now. They stay in in the hopes of picking up any wins that might lessen their upcoming demotions. For Terunofuji, anything less than a kachi-koshi likely means an immediate return to Juryo.
Day 6 Matches
Nishikigi (4-1) vs Terunofuji (0-5) – Terunofuji is still winless, and I have to wonder if he’s going to continue in the basho for much longer. Clearly he is not in fighting condition, and the sooner he accepts that he needs to get his health under control the better. Nishikigi won their only prior match.
Wakatakakage (3-2) vs Chiyomaru (1-4) – Chiyomaru needs to start scoring wins, and he has a great chance on day 6 as he is 3-0 against Wakatakakage.
Takayasu (4-1) vs Kotoeko (2-3) – I checked and checked, and believe it or not, this is the first time that Takayasu has fought Kotoeko. The former Ozeki has been a pleasant surprise this basho, and I hope he continues to put together winning days.
Sadanoumi (3-2) vs Kotoshogiku (4-1) – Another former Ozeki with a 4-1 record, who is surprising me with his strength. Maybe the long period without training matches helped these injured rikishi get their bodies into better condition. He and Sadanoumi are evenly matched at 5-4 over their career. I am expecting Sadanoumi to get the better at the tachiai, but for Kotoshogiku to have the advantage if the match goes longer than 20 seconds.
Kotoyuki (3-2) vs Shohozan (2-3) – I expect a lot of hitting in this match, in fact I think Shohozan is far below his per-basho quota of blows to his opponents upper body. Speaking of quota, only one jog into the zabuton so far for Kotoyuki….
Shimanoumi (4-1) vs Kotonowaka (2-3) – Kotonowaka is struggling a bit at his highest ever rank, and he’s going against hot-streak Shimanoumi, who has only lost to Tamawashi on day 5. Kotonowaka won their only prior match, which was a fairly low energy affair – a far cry from the kind of sumo Shimanoumi has been executing this tournament.
Kotoshoho (2-3) vs Tochinoshin (1-4) – I really get uncomfortable watching Tochinoshin struggle, but at least he has a win. They have no prior matches, but I am going to guess that once again that the former Ozeki’s lower body is going to prevent him from being much more than training ballast for the shin-maku rikishi.
Tamawashi (2-3) vs Kaisei (2-3) – The two have 19 career matches, with Tamawashi holding a thin 10-9 lead. Kaisei has been even less mobile than usual, and this plays to Tamawashi’s strengths. But then again Tamawashi has only been operating at about 70% of the power he could muster even a year ago.
Myogiryu (2-3) vs Ikioi (1-4) – Sure Ikioi is in the hole 1-4 going into day 6, but this guy simply never quits. I fully expect he is going to finish the basho fairly close to kachi-koshi. But today may not be his day, as Myogiryu seems to be less banged up, and holds a 7-5 career advantage.
Chiyotairyu (3-2) vs Tokushoryu (4-1) – Tokushoryu seems to have found a comfortable rank for himself, and it’s about 4 rungs higher on the banzuke than I thought it would be. I expect him to give Chiyotairyu a tough match, in spite of the 7-4 career advantage for Chiyotairyu.
Abi (3-2) vs Ishiura (5-0) – When someone asks, “what is the part of this basho that makes you scratch your head” – who would not reply “Ishiura as the sole leader going into day 6!”. Undefeated Ishiura. With only one henka. Doing genki sumo. And winning. A lot. Pass the sake, please! Ok, today he’s got Abi, and I have to figure that now that Abi sumo is dialed in, he is going to use that incredible reach to push him around the dohyo. But hey, maybe Ishiura has cracked the Abi-zumo puzzle too, he has a 5-3 career advantage over Abi.
Ryuden (2-3) vs Hokutofuji (2-3) – Both men are vying for my award of the “Most Powerful Make-Koshi” prize and day 15. Rather than prize money it comes with a mop bucket full of dirty water from cleaning up the kitchen. Battle on guys – one of you could take the whole thing home.
Kagayaki (4-1) vs Terutsuyoshi (2-3) – Dare I hope that Maegashira 4 Kagayaki finally has a good balance in his sumo, and can become a joi-jin mainstay? He may pick up win #5 today, as Terutsuyoshi has only beaten him once.
Enho (1-4) vs Aoiyama (3-2) – An injured Enho makes the world sad. An injured Enho being slapped around by a giant man the size of a mountain makes the world very sad. All of nature weeps that Enho is going to take one of Aoiyama’s meaty hands to the face. I would say that he stands a good chance of delivering one his patented crotch based attacks, but I get the feeling he is in no condition for such gymnastics.
Yutakayama (1-4) vs Okinoumi (0-5) – Also on the injury list is Okinoumi, as that’s the only way I can explain his 0-5 score at the end of act 1. He has the moves, but he just does not have the power. If Yutakayama beats him today, it will be the first time ever.
Shodai (3-2) vs Takanosho (4-1) – Can Shodai’s sumo put another speed bump in Takanosho’s outstanding run? If we hope to see Shodai evolve into a San’yaku regular, he needs to become expert at playing the spoiler. He has won 2 of their 3 former matches, but this version of Takanosho is not bound by such history. Keep mobile today, Shodai!
Endo (1-4) vs Mitakeumi (4-1) – Endo’s sumo mechanics still seem sound, but I am guessing his fighting spirt is not in the battle right now. Was it the Hakuho match? Some minor injury we don’t know about? Its tough to see him at 1-4, and struggling. I fear Mitakeumi is going to turn him into mush today.
Takakeisho (2-3) vs Daieisho (3-2) – I am really starting to worry that Takakeisho won’t clear kadoban this tournament, and we will be back 1 Ozeki again. I think the crux of his problems are injuries that are not healed before he returns to action, and he is not wearing his increased mass well. He has put on a lot of bulk since he became Ozeki, and I suspect it’s limiting his sumo quite a bit.
Kiribayama (2-3) vs Asanoyama (3-2) – First time meeting for the shin-Ozeki, who is not looking dominant at all this tournament. It’s sad when a freshly minted Ozeki struggles, but it is surprisingly common. If Asanoyama can land his grip early, he can pick up his 4th win.
Hakuho (4-1) vs Takarafuji (2-3) – With a 14-2 career record, there is zero reason for Hakuho to do anything more than quickly deliver his traditional Uwatenage against Mr “Defend and Extend”. I worry that if he plays around, he may find himself surprised.
Onosho (2-3) vs Kakuryu (3-2) – With two losses already in the first week (where the Yokozuna have the “easy” schedule), Kakuryu needs to be careful here. He can probably count on Onosho to have his traditional balance issues, but a 3rd loss and we may hear the noises from the Japanese sumo press start once more that it’s time for him to step down.