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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  • Comprehension of Japan, Japanese custom XYZ, mastery of Japanese culture: To “get” sumo, it helps to have some knowledge of how it came about, and how it relates to the broader cultural landscape of Japan. That being said, I am pretty sure none of the contributors to this site are Japanese, or wish to replace their own cultural aesthetic with that of Japan. We do our best, but we are not, and never will be Japanese.

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 10 Preview

Kyushu Banzuke 1

Welcome to the end of act 2! As described earlier, 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. Much to my delight, the field for the yusho is still fairly broad, with 9 rikishi occupying the leader board with 6 matches left, though there were 14 yesterday. We can expect a different mix of matches in act 3, and we will see much larger rank gaps between competitors as the schedule works to whittle down everything to an entertaining conclusion.

Kyushu Leaderboard

Leader: Takakeisho
Chasers: Takayasu, Daieisho, Aoiyama, Onosho
Hunt Group: Goeido, Tochiozan, Abi, Okinoumi

6 Matches Remain

What We Are Watching Day 10

Kotoeko vs Chiyomaru – These two rikishi could well trade places for January, as Chiyomaru is one loss away from nearly certain demotion to Juryo, and Kotoeko is on a kachi-koshi trajectory that would make him a good candidate to return to the top division.

Onosho vs Chiyoshoma – Onosho looks to stay in the yusho hunt, and seem to be dialed into his sumo. I am still hoping we might see a playoff between Onosho and Takakeisho, but the odds of that are long indeed.

Kotoshogiku vs Daishomaru – The crowd in the venue love Kotoshogiku, and he seems to be eating it up. He won the only prior match with Daishomaru, and as long as he can lock up the Oitekaze man, he should be able to score the white star for day 10.

Takanosho vs Daieisho – Daieisho also seeks to stay in the yusho race, and I predict he will make short work of Takanosho, who is not looking very competitive this tournament.

Aoiyama vs Takarafuji – Also a member of the yusho race team, the giant Bulgarian has an impressive combination of size, speed and strength. Takarafuji’s performance has been middling at best, and I don’t see him overcoming the 16-3 career advantage of Aoiyama today.

Abi vs Okinoumi – Both of these rikishi are in the hunt group. The winner gets a clear advantage in remaining in the hunt for the yusho. Now that his opponents are starting to disable Abi’s preferred attack, will he move to change things up?

Chiyonokuni vs Shohozan – How badly is Chiyonokuni’s arm hurt? A loss on day 10 against local favorite, and unapologetic street brawler Shohozan will relegate Chiyonokuni to a make-koshi. If he can’t find a few more wins, he could face a brutal drop down the banzuke for New Years.

Takanoiwa vs Ryuden – Ryuden is in much better physical condition than Takanoiwa as of day 10. Frankly it’s guts and iron will that keeps Takanoiwa in the basho at this point. I am sure he is looking to prove to his new oyakata that he’s tough and willing to do whatever it takes to compete. Given Takanoiwa’s preferred sumo style, I would not expect to see Ryuden draw him into another endurance contest, but we can always hope!

Tochiozan vs Yoshikaze – Tochiozan’s impressive start has sputtered to a stop. Likewise, Yoshikaze (who is from Kyushu) has been struggling for wins. These two are evenly matched over their career, but Yoshikaze needs the win badly to stay away from a make-koshi trajectory.

Myogiryu vs Nishikigi – I am inclinde to favor Myogiryu in this match, if for no other reason that his intensity has been off the scale thus far. It’s tough to keep that kind of drive going for 2 solid weeks of brutal grinding sumo, but I think he still has some stamina left.

Takakeisho vs Hokutofuji – Both are pugilistic powerhouses, but right now Takakeisho is on an unrestricted afterburner run at the yusho. Hokutofuji has the size and strength to stop him, but can he overcome the “wave action” attack? I am looking for Hokutofuji’s “handshake tachiai” today, and an early gambit to get inside no matter what the cost. If he can break through the first wave, Takakeisho may have his hands full.

Tamawashi vs Kaisei – I think of this match as good clean sumo fun. Tamawashi will try to push and muscle Kaisei around. Its like putting a huge set of plates on the bar, and then showing off for your buddies. Kaisei knows he’s huge, and he knows how to use that amazing bulk to confound and conquer the strong and the mighty. Can’t wait to see how this one goes.

Mitakeumi vs Shodai – I will say it for certain now, Mitakeumi is off his sumo. He’s struggled this basho more than he should in a No-kozuna situation, which was tailor made for him to run up the score and push for Ozeki. But instead he has faded, and is struggling against the likes of Ryuden. Baring any physical problems we don’t know about, the problem is in that brain of his. Perhaps he was rattled by missing the Ozeki bid at Aki, who can tell. But don’t go into a match against Shodai, as his cartoon sumo will eat you alive and leave you wondering how.

Ichinojo vs Tochinoshin – Tochinoshin can in fact lift Ichinojo, if it comes to that. We have seen it before, but I still worry about that odd knee motion at the end of his day 9 match against Takakeisho. Above all, I would like to see the newest Ozeki continue to stay healthy and in the fight. This may be a good test match: if Tochinoshin is healthy, he should hand Ichinojo his 7th loss.

Chiyotairyu vs Takayasu – Hopefully Takayasu will give Chiyotairyu a better fight on day 10 than he got from Goeido on day 9. I am still mumbling to myself about that henka. Both men love to do giant blast-off tachiais, so it may be loud and brutal as they launch off the shikiri-sen.

Goeido vs Asanoyama – Goeido, please don’t henka again today. This is your first time fighting Asanoyama, but he’s still not quite up to his full potential. Respect what he will become and give him the benefit of a good battle with the top Ozeki in the sport.

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.

Everything You Need to Know After Act One of the 2018 Kyushu Basho

 

Takakeisho 4

The 2018 Kyushu Basho is turning into one of the most intriguing, unpredictable tournaments we’ve had this year. We’ve seen some stellar performances from unexpected places, and some abysmal sumo from some of the top stars. As a result, Kyushu has been something of a Bizarro World Basho and it feels like the sumo world has gone topsy-turvy. With Act Two on the horizon, here’s everything you need to know to get up to speed after Act One of Kyushu.

Yusho Race

Without a resident Yokozuna, and the Ozeki corps beginning to crack, the Yusho race is very much up in the air. At the head of the pack are two very surprising characters: Komusubi Takakeisho and Meagashira 2 Tochiozan, who both enter Act Two with perfect 5-0 records. Right behind them is a mob of rikishi including Daiamami, Onosho, Daiesho, Chiyotairyu, Abi, and Takayasu. All of these men have four wins and will be waiting eagerly for Takakeisho and Tochiozan to make a mistake.

Kachi Koshi and Make Koshi

With Act One in the books, we now have a large group of rikishi who are at least halfway to their coveted kachi koshi. This list includes every member of the Yusho race listed above, and each one of them could have a winning record by the end of Act Two should they keep their losses to a minimum. On the flip side, we have a huge crowd who have four or more losses and are heading towards a losing record. At the very bottom of this list is the hapless Arawashi, who is 0-5 and looks too injured to put up a fight. Above him are Chiyomaru, Chiyonokuni, Takanosho. Yutakayama, Takarafuji, Nishikigi (though his only win did come from Ozeki Goeido) Ryuden, Kaisei (technically 1-2-2 after sitting out the first two days, but like the rest he still needs seven more wins to save his rank), and Ichinojo, who all have 1-4 records. These men will need to get their sumo in gear, or else face demotion for the New Year.

Kinboshi

Prior to his departure, Kisenosato gave out three kinboshi to Maegashira wrestlers. These lucky recipients were Hokutofuji, Myogiryu, and Tochiozan. Now that Kise is kyujo, the kinboshi number has been capped at three.

Kyujo

Speaking of Kisenosato, let’s address the elephant in the room. As I’m sure many of you know, Yokozuna Kisenosato went kyujo prior to the beginning of Day 5. It has since been revealed that Kise sprained his right knee during his first-day match with Takakeisho and as a result, pulled out of Kyushu following his fourth straight loss. This decision came after consulting his Oyakata, who told Kisenosato that he could not continue in his condition. According to Kisenosato, he wanted to compete for the fans as the sole Yokozuna but had to put his recovery first, and has been prescribed a month of treatment. The Yokozuna has also stated that he has no intention to retire and wishes to return in time for the winter jungyo. It is yet to be determined what action the NSK will take, and we could very well have witnessed the end of Kisenosato’s career on the dohyo. But for the time being, Kyushu is officially a Nokozuna Basho.

Act One of the 2018 Kyushu Basho has been a very dramatic one. For some, the “play” has been a thriller, for others, it’s been a tragedy. What can be said for sure though, is that this unpredictable Basho is just heating up!