Nagoya Day 11 Preview

Welcome to the start of Act 3, the final act in what has been a grueling and brutal basho. We are down to about half of an Ozeki, and 1¾ Yokozuna.It has been a parade of injuries and misery, with the dohyo getting slick, and the stadium getting hot. But the fans are loving the fantastic sumo.

Act 3 is where we crown a yusho winner, and everyone gets sorted into make and kachi koshi. As lksumo has pointed out so well, the named ranks situation will be complicated by the insertion of Ozekiwake Takakeisho, and everyone else is going to face a shuffle for September.

Starting Act 3, it’s still Kakuryu’s yusho to lose, and we have to wonder who will have the mojo to put dirt on the only fully functioning member of the Ozeki and Yokozuna corps.

Nagoya Leaderboard

Leader: Kakuryu
Chaser: Hakuho
Hunt Group: Takayasu, Myogiryu, Tomokaze, Terutsuyoshi

5 Matches Remain

What We Are Watching Day 11

Enho vs Sadanoumi – Enho needs one more to reach kachi-koshi, and he can do it today with a win over Sadanoumi. They only had one prior match (Natsu) which Enho won. I am ready for more crazy wild sumo from Enho. Lets go!

Yago vs Kagayaki – A loss today and Yago is on the barge back to Juryo with Kaisei. Although I expect him to fight with a palpable sense of urgency, I think whatever injury that has wrecked his balance is going to need time to repair. We will see Yago in the top division again soon, I would think.

Tochiozan vs Toyonoshima – Toyonoshima is not quite ready to join the Juryo barge, but he is getting dangerously close. He faces a relic of Tochiozan, who is a faction of his formerly fearsome self.

Terutsuyoshi vs Nishikigi – Terutsuyoshi tends to be more power and less mobility than Enho, and that might be very good news for a struggling Nishikigi, who is one loss away from make-koshi. I keep reminding myself it was Hatsu (January) that he won a kinboshi.

Chiyomaru vs Takagenji – Identical 4-6 records, and it will come down to who can establish the form of the match first. Takagenji will go for the mawashi, and Chiyomaru will want to stay mobile and pushing.

Onosho vs Kaisei – Its depressing watching Kaisei each day. But I think that Onosho could use the win.

Kotoyuki vs Tomokaze – Kotoyuki continues to surprise me. Today he has a chance to really outdo himself if he can manage to defeat Tomozake. Tomokaze is on a serious hot streak, and I hope he can reach double digits. I expect him to be ranked in the joi-jin for Aki.

Myogiryu vs Okinoumi – One of the over-arching themes of this basho seem to be the fading out of the over 30 crowd. Okinoumi is doing better than some, but he’s not anything close to the sumo he had on offer even 2 years ago. How high Myogiryu will run up the score before Sunday?

Kotoeko vs Shimanoumi – A pair of 6-4 rikishi face off to take a step closer to kachi-koshi. I would expect that whomever loses this match might end up in a “Darwin” match on day 15.

Chiyotairyu vs Daishoho – This first time meeting comes down to the tachiai. Even if Daishoho can get inside, it will be decided by how much yield Chiyotairyu dials into his initial charge.

Shohozan vs Takarafuji – Given the 11-3 history between these two, I am expecting that Shohozan will find his 5th win.

Shodai vs Daieisho – Both come in 5-5, and both are fighting well enough to make it to 8 wins. They have spit their 4 prior matches, so this is about as even as you might hope to see on day 11.

Asanoyama vs Hokutofuji – Yes indeed! The previous yusho winner goes up against the faster than ever Hokutofuji. They have split their 2 prior matches, and both are coming in strong and eager to win. For Hokutofuji, a win would mean kachi-koshi. A win for Asanoyama mean his chances of reaching 8 improve.

Endo vs Ryuden – Ryuden has had a tough time at Komusubi, which is typical for that rank. I jokingly say it’s origin is ancient yayoi for “human punching bag”. Many Komusubi find that even once they are done with the “hard” part of the schedule, they area too shattered to win consistently in the “Easy” part.

Abi vs Aoiyama – I want to see Abi-zumo 2.0 again. Please show us another demo on Aoiyama.

Ichinojo vs Tamawashi – Tamawashi is having a terrible basho. He has only one 1 match (against Asanoyama no less), and today he faces the Boulder. Now Ichinojo has not been consistent this July, so there is no telling which version of the Boulder you will get on day 11.

Mitakeumi vs Meisei – Another rikishi with an abysmal record, Meisei will have to suffer the a fairly frustrated Mitakeumi, who probably wants to get those last 2 wins and safely hold his rank. Mitakeumi won their only prior meeting.

Takayasu vs Hakuho – Today’s WTF match, we have damaged arms galore on display. Both of these men have their 8, yet they decide they are going to fight on. This is the part of sumo I think is a bit odd. Hopefully no one compounds their injury today.

Kakuryu vs Kotoshogiku – I look past their 29-22 career record, as Kotoshogiku has no power to generate forward pressure. The dohyo is also increasingly slick, and that robs Kotoshogiku of the ability to push forward effectively. Should Kotoshogiku manage to score an upset, it would put the Emperor’s Cup back in play.

Nagoya Day 10 Highlights

We had a number of rikishi pick up their 8th win today, including injured Ozeki Takayasu. Will he now finally go kyujo and get that arm worked on?

Highlight Matches

Terutsuyoshi defeats Chiyomaru – Terutsuyoshi picks up his first ever Makuuchi kachi-koshi, and will not need banzuke luck to be ranked as a Maegashira in September. This match was won by Terutsuyoshi’s ability to outmaneuver Chiyomaru.

Tochiozan defeats Kaisei – As an indicator on how poorly Tochiozan is doing, he struggled a bit too defeat 1 armed Kaisei. Kaisei at 9 losses and increasing.

Toyonoshima defeats Kagayaki – Kagayaki found himself dancing to Toyonoshima’s tune. Try as he could, Kagayaki could not get into an offensive posture, and flailed around quite a bit as Toyonoshima marched him out.

Enho defeats Nishikigi – Nishikigi gets his arm lock on Enho as Enho goes to submarine and get to work. Enho looks a bit worried, and starts to improvise. This is, of course, where the magic happens. He breaks the arm-lock, gets a morozashi double inside grip, and starts moving Nishikigi back. Nishikigi is almost on the bales when he tries to throw Enho, but collapses before Enho can touch down.

Kotoyuki defeats Daishoho – Is this actually Kotoyuki? His sumo is focused, strong, and bold. He gets the inside position at the tachiai, and never gives Daishoho a chance, just relentlessly drives forward.

Onosho defeats Sadanoumi – Onosho’s over-extended forward posture works to his advantage today, as Sadanoumi is unable to move to the side and let him fall before he himself is forced from the dohyo.

Myogiryu defeats Shohozan – Myogiryu picks up his kachi-koshi over an ever less genki Shohozan. I am not sure what is plaguing Shohozan, but he’s looking less vigorous each day.

Tomokaze defeats Takagenji – Takagenji opened with an attack to Tomokaze’s face, which left him wide open for Tomokaze to get whatever grip he wanted, which he was happy to do. Takagenji realizes that no only does Tomokaze have him in a hold, but his hips are far too high just about the time Tomokaze rolls to his right and send Takagenji to the clay. Takagenji has lost a few matches due to lack of experience, but that will come. This is Tomokaze’s 13th straight kachi-koshi since he started his sumo career. Wow.

Kotoeko defeats Chiyotairyu – Kotoeko runs a hit-and-shift as the Chiyotairyu cannon ball tachiai goes rumbling through. Chiyotairyu falls for this at least once per basho, its a risk of his style of sumo.

Shimanoumi defeats Yago – Yago continues to struggle, and today Shimanoumi was able to beat him for the first time ever. Once again Yago looked off-balance, and he allowed Shimanoumi to own the center of the ring.

Takarafuji defeats Okinoumi – Takarafuji scores a much needed win in this battle of the veterans. Okinoumi struggled for traction the entire time, and that protective bootie on his left foot made matters much worse.

Aoiyama defeats Shodai – Shodai decides he wants to get into a shoving match with Aoiyama, which shows incredibly poor judgement. Or maybe he saw what happened to Endo and wanted no part of motor boating Aoiyama. While Shodai kept trying not to lose, Aoiyama just relentlessly pounded away, and kept Shodai in retreat.

Endo defeats Kotoshogiku – The poor traction once again played a huge role in match with Kotoshogiku. Endo got that preferred shallow left hand grip at the tachiai again, but could not convert it into a throw as Kotoshogiku turned on the hug-n-chug. Endo showed fantastic sumo by staying in the fight, and working to set up a throw that went off brilliantly.

Abi defeats Asanoyama – Back to Abi-zumo 1.0, and Asanoyama swallows it hook, line and sinker. Asanoyama rushed forward to land a grip, and Abi was ready to help him keep moving, and falling to the clay.

Hokutofuji defeats Ryuden – I will declare that I have not seen Hokutofuji look this genki sense he took a concussion on day 10 of Natsu 2018. His fans all hope that he can carry on this level of sumo from here on out.

Daieisho defeats Mitakeumi – Mitakeumi continues his traditional week 2 fade. Daieisho owned this match, moving ahead strongly and thrusting with great power and accuracy. Mitakeumi could only react and try to get an opening.

Takayasu defeats Meisei – Takayasu reaches the safety of his 8th win, and damn well better go kyujo. He could barely move the left arm, and I am going to assume it desperately needs medical attention. I feel a bit bad for Meisei in that he lost a match with a one arm man.

Kakuryu defeats Ichinojo – Ichinojo gave him a really good fight, but he once again went soft the moment Kakuryu began backing him to the tawara. While many of us want to see sumotori fight to the last moment, I see Ichinojo’s “Give Up” strategy as one of self-preservation. Kakuryu remains undefeated, and in sole possession of the lead.

Hakuho defeats Tamawashi – For the second time in as many days, Tamawashi gets ejected from the dohyo at high speed. The Boss still looks hurt.

Nagoya Day 10 Preview

Team Tachiai are watching news sources for what we think might be more than one kyujo announcement. But then again, both kyujo candidates are stubborn enough that they will show up for the final day of Act 2 and try to get another win. Well, it is a combat sport.

Act 2 was all about knocking the yusho race into shape, and in fact that is the case now. We have Kakuryu as the sole leader with a several injured people hobbling behind. It’s frankly Kakuryu’s to lose now, and thus far he looks healthy enough to keep everyone else at bay. But there are a number of really fun potential outcomes at this point – Hakuho goes kyujo and Kakuryu loses at least once and the madness will be on. Of course with so many high-ranking rikishi watching the matches on TV, there are few people left for Kakuryu to face that offer a credible challenge. With the exception of his day 10 opponent, Ichinojo.

Nagoya Leaderboard

Leader: Kakuryu
Chaser: Hakuho
Hunt Group: Mitakeumi, Myogiryu, Tomokaze, Terutsuyoshi

6 Matches Remain

What We Are Watching Day 10

Chiyomaru vs Terutsuyoshi – His roundness, Chiyomaru, will present all manner of complications for Terutsuyoshi today, who is seeking his 8th win and an all-important 1st kachi-koshi in the top division.

Tochiozan vs Kaisei – In a battle of the wounded vs the exhausted, I am betting on Tochiozan. This is the match of eternal sadness.

Toyonoshima vs Kagayaki – Toyonoshima also fills me with bother, as I was so excited to see the veteran make another run at the top division. But it has been a very rough and difficult run for him. It’s still mathematically possible for him to end with 8 wins, but he would need to suddenly have some kind of sumo revival.

Enho vs Nishikigi – This first-time match poses some interesting questions. Enho tends to fight by getting rather close to his opponents and then harassing them to defeat. Nishikigi’s eyesight limits him to grappling techniques for most matches. Will Nishikigi be able to grab Enho and turn off his perpetual-motion sumo?

Kotoyuki vs Daishoho – Their prior history shows a 3-1 advantage for Daishoho, but right now Kotoyuki is fighting better than I have seen him in maybe a year or two. So what happens here is anyone’s guess.

Onosho vs Sadanoumi – Slippery dohyo? Check! Tadpole with balance issues? Check! Onosho likely to end up with a face full of clay? Check!

Myogiryu vs Shohozan – Shohozan seems to be just a shade of his typical self, so I am not expecting much from him on day 10, especially not against Myogiryu, who is doing quite well indeed.

Takagenji vs Tomokaze – Tomokaze could pick up #8 today if he can keep Takagenji from getting his favored grip. Right now Tomokaze is 2 behind Kakuryu, and I could imagine a Tomokaze vs Mitakeumi fight in the next few days.

Chiyotairyu vs Kotoeko – Will we see more surprising agility from Chiyotairyu on day 10, or will Kotoeko’s relentless drive carry the day? I think it comes down to (as it usually does with Chiyotairyu) the first 10 seconds.

Yago vs Shimanoumi – Shimanoumi has never taken a match from Yago, but in truth Yago looks terrible this tournament. I am sure lksumo will tell us how many wins Yago needs to avoid a return to Juryo, but I don’t think he will find one today in Shimanoumi’s mawashi. Yago needs to win 4 out of 6 to ensure a stay in Makuuchi, though there’s a chance he could scrape by with 3 if there are not enough promotion candidates in Juryo. -lksumo

Okinoumi vs Takarafuji – Takarafuji is on the cusp of yet another make-koshi. He has been solidly producing 8-7 or 7-8 scores for the last 18 months, and just does not seem to have much mojo left.

Aoiyama vs Shodai – I would think Shodai has this. He seems to have found his sumo and is as dangerous as ever. Sadly, if we let Aoiyama take this to an oshi-battle, we are going to suffer slow motion replays of those round-house hits. Much respect to Big Dan, but after what happened to Endo, I am going to require counseling.

Kotoshogiku vs Endo – Speaking of the motor-boating man in the gold mawashi, he goes from a face full of chest meat to the purveyor of hip pumps, Kotoshogiku. Kotoshogiku seems to have adapted to the slick dohyo, so it may come down to whether Endo can get that mae-mitzu grip in the opening moments of the match.

Abi vs Asanoyama – Oh heavenly joy! This should be sight to behold. Will we see another field-test of Abi-zumo 2.0? Or will Asanoyama’s really smooth sumo so overwhelm Abi that he just goes along for the ride? I think this might be a really fun match to watch.

Hokutofuji vs Ryuden – Wham-bam! This match would make a great template for a 1960’s batman comic, as the combatants are going to execute sumo with speed and vigor. Although Hokutofuji has not used the handshake-tachiai in a while, it may come back today to pin Ryuden down and keep him from getting into an offensive groove.

Mitakeumi vs Daieisho – I can only imagine how bothered Mitakeumi was after Abi used him as a test subject for the new weapon. He had a look of sheer disappointment and surprise. Perhaps downright annoyance that he had been taken for a ride. Any frustration will likely spill into his day 10 match against Daieisho, who needs 4 wins out of the remaining 6 to post a winning score.

Meisei vs Takayasu – He still needs just 1 win to be safe for 4 months, and some fans are starting to speculate that his left elbow / arm injury might be serious enough that it would require lengthy recuperation. Meisei has been struggling this entire tournament, but is a one-armed Ozeki strong enough to finish him off?

Kakuryu vs Ichinojo – Yokozuna Kakuryu needs to be careful today. We have just seen Ichinojo dispatch “The Boss” with a smooth combination of size, strength and efficient sumo. Kakuryu takes a more reactive approach, and I would expect him to intentionally keep some distance to The Boulder, waiting for him to be even slightly off balance.

Tamawashi vs Hakuho – Yokozuna with damaged elbows meets the rikishi who tends to injure his opponents’ elbows. This is a match made in hell. Can Hakuho even summon enough mojo to fight this with any kind of vigor? Tamawashi has looked like wet newsprint this whole basho, so it’s fair to ask – what might he do differently today?

Nagoya Day 9 Highlights

If you only occasionally catch video of sumo matches, today is the day to make a point of watching them. NHK video on demand, Kintamayama, Jason, Natto – hell, watch them all. It was a day of surprises and “did you see that” events. Well worth the time it will take to see it all.

One of the least enjoyable elements on day 9 is yet another Tagonoura top-ranking rikishi, with an injury to his left upper body, sent back to the dohyo to compete. To be clear I am not in Japan, or Japanese in any way—but I really have to wonder—is this a sumo cultural thing, or is sports medicine more or less nonexistent in Japan? Is Tagonoura Oyakata completely hands-off in managing the health of his men? I know that Chiganoura Oyakata gets it.

I hope Tagonoura realizes that Takayasu is an important “bridge” element between the current generation that is aging out of their top division roles they have held for so long, and the next generation who are forming up nicely. Someone has to rule the roost for a short while as the new crop get experienced enough to hold down the top ranks. Wreck Takayasu, and you lose that to his detriment and that of the sport’s future. Does he want to get 8 wins so he’s not part of an entry in sumo’s record books? Sure, but shut up Takayasu, and go see a doctor. Put his ass on the Shinkansen and get him to Tokyo to lower the temptation to get back on the dohyo.

With that rant of frustration complete, there are some bloody wonderful matches to talk about. Let’s get started!

Highlight Matches

Sadanoumi defeats Kaisei – This is not a highlight; Kaisei is also too hurt to compete. It’s over good sir, you are make-koshi. Get medical attention now.

Terutsuyoshi defeats Tochiozan – Tochiozan is really starting to fade out now; I think we are in a 2-4 basho period where a lot of these old mainstays are going to fade down to Juryo and quietly make their exits. Prepare for a rolling parade of intai ceremonies for some long-famous names of the sumo world. Terutsuyoshi’ sumo was dead solid today. He kept his attack on Tochiozan’s center-mass and just relentlessly drove forward.

Kotoyuki defeats Nishikigi – Kotoyuki’s tsuppari attack was especially effective today against Nishikigi, who has a tough time with a pushing fight due to his poor eyesight. Unable to grab a hold of Kotoyuki, Nishikigi was little more than practice ballast for the day.

Enho defeats Takagenji – Enho delivers the high intensity sumo again today. He was able to get enough exposed body on Takagenji to get to work, and finished it with a leg pick. The look of frustration on Takagenji’s face tells the story of his maddening inability to stand up to the Fire Pixie.

Kotoeko defeats Yago – I am going to assume Yago is headed back to Juryo after 4 tournaments in the top division. He’s clearly working through some manner of injury(s), and may need a period of recuperation to return to good form. Kotoeko’s relentless focus on center-mass left Yago unable to escape or respond.

Daishoho defeats Chiyomaru – Daishoho goes bowling, using Chiyomaru as the ball and the front row of the zabuton ranks as the pins. It’s a strike! Chiyomaru sometimes thinks his enormous belly is proof against a mawashi grip, but Daishoho fought for and obtained a grip that he employed with great effect.

Tomokaze defeats Kagayaki – Tomokaze met Kagayaki’s tachiai and raised Kagayaki up before immediately swinging his arms to bring him down with a lightning hatakikomi.

Myogiryu defeats Toyonoshima – I honestly thought Toyonoshima would bring more to this match, but Myogiryu rode him like a rented bicycle. This seems to be a good rank for Myogiryu, but it’s certain we will see him tested in the joi-jin in September.

Shimanoumi defeats Shohozan – Shohozan’s mobility-focused sumo takes a hit with the slick Nagoya dohyo robbing him of traction at the worst moment. It took a moment for Shimanoumi to realize that his opponent was starting to fall forward and shift his balance to assist Shohozan’s slide into defeat. Faster reactions Shimanoumi!

Chiyotairyu defeats Okinoumi – Hit and shift, followed by a push from behind. Simple, elegant and effective.

Kotoshogiku defeats Onosho – Once again, check out how poor the traction is on that dohyo. I think we are going to see more injuries as people slip and fall. Kotoshogiku takes full advantage of Onosho’s balance problems and drops him face first to the clay after a pushing match.

Daieisho defeats Takarafuji – Daieisho spent half the match circling away from Takarafuji, working to ensure that Takarafuji never put a hand on his mawashi. The tactic worked, leaving Takarafuji only really able to work defense, but with poor ring position.

Endo defeats Aoiyama – The part where Endo plants his face in Aoiyama’s pendulous man-boob for the win demands some kind of special prize for Endo. The only thing worse than watching it in real time was the slow-motion replays. At least they did not try to interview him about it following the win.

Asanoyama defeats Ryuden – Asanoyama continues to shine, and prevails after almost losing traction on that dohyo and falling for a loss. He keeps Ryuden moving in reverse and keeps his hips surprisingly low. If he can stay healthy, I think he is going to be a big deal. His sumo looks better every tournament, and his confidence keeps going up. Perhaps a little statement from Asanoyama to the banzuke committee about which of the two should have been ranked Komusubi. -lksumo

Hokutofuji defeats Tamawashi – You may not have realized how satisfying it might be to see Tamawashi go flying off the dohyo, but I am thankful that Hokutofuji was thoughtful enough to take the time to create this masterpiece and present it to the fans.

Abi defeats Mitakeumi – I jumped up and shouted. We knew that Abi-zumo 2.0 has been under construction for at least a year, and when he finally pulled it out and fired it, it was as glorious as we all hoped. It started with the traditional double arm thrust to the upper body, but he immediately released pressure and landed a deep right-hand outside grip while his left took a hold of Mitakeumi’s neck. In a blink of an eye Abi executes a flowing uwatenage that had a bit of Harumafuji spiciness to it. I kept rewinding, and watching it again. Watch out sumo world, now that there are two attack modes, you may not quite know what’s coming.

Shodai defeats Takayasu – There has been no word on Takayasu’s condition since the bout on day 8. Many of us expected him to go kyujo, but for some daft reason, here he is on the dohyo, barely able to move that left arm. Shodai is no fool, and attack hard against the Ozeki’s damaged left side, and Takayasu could only respond. Shodai’s sumo is highly chaotic at times, and when you think you have him beat, you get the surprise that he was in fact setting you up. This happened to Takayasu. With Shodai at the bales, I am sure the Ozeki was ready to win, but instead he took a roll off the dohyo. I am equal parts outraged and sad. Takayasu is in no condition to compete, and he’s out of the yusho race as certain as I am writing this from Texas.

Ichinojo defeats Hakuho – But the Great Sumo Cat was not done with us today, dear readers. Member in good standing of the damaged elbow club, Hakuho, found out just how powerful Ichinojo can be. After Hakuho tossing a few humiliation elements into their past matches, the Boulder reduced the dai-Yokozuna to an ineffective, struggling mess. The zabuton fly as a well-earned kinboshi is minted in the Nagoya heat. Will this loss be enough for Hakuho to recognize the limitations his injury has imposed? Perhaps. He faces “arm breaker” Tamawashi day 10.

Kakuryu defeats Meisei – I give a lot of points to Meisei: he put in an enormous effort against Kakuryu. But Big-K is dialed in and contained his wildly shifting and twisting opponent. Kakuryu takes sole possession of the lead, and I would think he is genki enough right now to keep the lead.