Haru Day 15 Preview

Once More…

It’s been a big crazy ride! Haru has been 14 days of the legends of sumo stomping with force through the rank and file, taking white starts wherever they go. Not a single kinboshi this tournament, let that sink in. Now that we are down to 2 Yokozuna, and they are both in fairly good health, the chances of a gold star are down. Looking at Kakuryu, there is a chance that his ankle is not quite right again, but with just one day left to go, I don’t think we will see him go kyujo.

The battle of day is, with no doubt, Takakeisho vs Tochinoshin. The landscape of the final day of the basho has been set up expertly by lksumo, as is his custom, but I wanted to examine this match. Tochinoshin is a mawashi rikishi, and he likes to use “lift and shift” sumo to remove his opponents bodily from the dohyo. When he is in good health, he can and does do it to anyone, including Ichinojo. Frequently this is accompanied by his opponent pedaling their legs furiously as the are lifted to height and carried to the janome like a crate of green bottles on Wednesday in Sumida. If Tochinoshin can get a hold of you, there is simply no way to stop it. It has even worked on Hakuho.

Takakeisho is a finely honed oshi-fighter, with the focus being primarily on thrusting / pushing attack and less on slapping his opponents around. He has perfected what we sometimes call a “wave action” attack, which features both arms working in tandem or near tandem to apply overwhelming force to his opponents body. This works best when he can get inside, and he can focus on center-mass. The day 14 match broke down when, for reasons we can’t explain, Takakeisho targeted Ichinojo’s neck, with absolutely zero effect. This double arm push is repeated in rapid succession, like a series of waves breaking against his opponent’s body. The result is that his opponents must constantly react and fight for stance and balance, all the while Takakeisho is moving them rapidly to the tawara.

The fight will hinge on if Takakeisho can move fast enough at the tachiai to land his first push before Tochinoshin can get a hand on Takakeisho’s mawashi. If Tochinoshin can grab a hold of this tadpole, it’s likely to Takakeisho’s doom. Tochinoshin’s sumo typically relies on him being able to set his feet and brace his shoulders and hips for his “sky crane” lift; this means if Takakeisho is landing wave after wave of heavy force thrusts against him, he won’t have a chance to use his lethal move.

A real clash of sumo styles and approaches, and on the line is who gets that 3rd Ozeki slot. The stakes could not be higher, and the rikishi nearly opposites.

What We Are Watching Day 15

Shohozan vs Chiyoshoma – The bottom man on the banzuke needs one more win to hold on to Makuuchi. Shohozan has lost 4 of the last 5, and seems out of gas. Should Chiyoshoma lose, he will join the platoon of rikishi that are eligible for return to Juryo.

Ryuden vs Kotoshogiku – Kotoshogiku has had a great tournament, and this is his highest score since his January 2016 yusho (14-1), but it seems to me he has run out of stamina, and he may be picked off by Ryuden on day 15. Many fans, myself included, are a bit let down that the schedulers did not put Kotoshogiku against Toyonoshima for their final match. Some of these guys need to take nostalgia into account.

Asanoyama vs Kotoeko – Asanoyama has been fighting for that 8th win for the last 4 days, and his chances are good on day 15, as he holds a 4-0 career advantage over Kotoeko.

Ishiura vs Takarafuji – Takarafuji is also in the 7-7 category, and will need to keep Ishiura in front of him to pick up #8. Ishiura may as well henka this one, in my opinion. But do make it acrobatic!

Kagayaki vs Abi – Abi, old bean, I worry you won’t diversify unless you lose more matches. Won’t you give something else a try? Your double arm attack is solid, but is that all you can do? You have so much talent. Ok, go ahead and win day 15, and while you are at it, give Kagayaki some reason to look a bit more excited. The poor fellow looks a bit like the walking dead some days. Thanks, signed: your fans.

Okinoumi vs Yoshikaze – Yoshikaze at 10 wins, Okinoumi at 7 wins… Yeah, I think Okinoumi gets this one.

Chiyotairyu vs Myogiryu – Although Chiyotairyu needs a win to get to 8, I am going say that Myogiryu has an advantage here due to his shorter stature, and his strength. Chiyotairyu can and does hit like a wrecking ball, but he loses stamina in a hurry.

Daieisho vs Ichinojo – “Hulk Smash!”

Tochinoshin vs Takakeisho – The big match, in my book. It may only last seconds, but it’s going to leave someone out in the cold.

Takayasu vs Goeido – Both Ozeki have 10 wins or better, so I see this as a “test match” of Takayasu’s tuned up sumo style. Goeido is going to blast in fast with everything he has. In the past that is sometimes enough to actually bowl the burly Takayasu over. But Takayasu has changed his “contact” stance a bit at the tachiai, and I think we may see this shift into a battle for grip in the first 4 seconds. If Takayasu can stalemate Goeido to the point his frustration leads Goeido into an attempt to pull, he will have his opening to strike.

Hakuho vs Kakuryu – The Boss goes up against Big K for the final match. Should Hakuho go down for some reason and Ichinojo prevail, we will get one more tasty sumo morsel before the long break leading up to Natsu. Wise money is on Hakuho to contain, constrain and then maintain his perfect record. But it will be fun to watch.

Haru Day 13 Highlights

What? Commentary? No! On to the good stuff….

Highlight Matches

Terutsuyoshi defeats Kotoyuki – As anticipated, Kotoyuki ends the match half way to the shitaku-beya, and with a make-koshi to boot. Terutsuyoshi’s high mobility was the deciding factor in the win.

Chiyoshoma defeats Ryuden – Ryuden looked downright lethargic in this match. Chiyoshoma’s failed pull down led to a rather nice deep right hand grip near the knot on Ryuden’s mawashi. Much as all of the little old ladies across Japan thrilled at the chance of a wardrobe malfunction, Chiyoshoma is a consummate professional, and the mawashi stayed firmly in place.

Shohozan defeats Yutakayama – This match really showed where Yutakayama’s problem lies. He could produce no forward pressure against Shohozan, and it’s going to be that knee and that foot acting up. Until he can get them in better condition, Yutakayama is going to continue to slide down the banzuke, which is a real shame as he has solid sumo skills.

Meisei defeats Kotoshogiku – Fantastic showcase for Meisei’s speed and lighting quick reactions. Kotoshogiku gets the hug-n-chug started, but Meisei kept fighting to get his right hand on Kotoshogiku’s mawashi. Meisei’s patience and staying calm once the bumpity-bumps get cranking pays off, and that right hand not only takes Kotoshogiku out of attack mode, but provides the leverage for the uwatedashinage that wins the match.

Tomokaze defeats Asanoyama – One sided match that favored Tomokaze all the way. Tomokaze picks up his 8th, and Asanoyama is still shopping. [Tomokaze has still never had a losing record since entering professional sumo! He likely needs two more wins for a special prize, and is the only top-division debutant who can feel good about his chances of staying there. -lksumo]

Takarafuji defeats Kagayaki – What makes this one interesting is that Kagayaki is so methodical, and that comes up against Takarafuji’s approach of being patient and waiting for his opening. The result is a fairly slow moving match that showed a lot of thinking and calculation from both.

Yoshikaze defeats Aoiyama – Both men are now 10-3, which is really impressive given the devastation in the lower ranks this basho. Aoiyama lands a couple of big hits, but Yoshikaze lights him up and takes him down.

Abi defeats Ikioi – Ikioi has the right idea, attack Abi’s arms from underneath, but no strength to do it. Sad times.

Shodai defeats Okinoumi – Shodai surprised Okinoumi, and frankly surprised me. The pounding he took in the opening days of the basho seems to have not caused him to just give up. Good stuff!

Nishikigi defeats Tochiozan – Nishikigi’s “sumo style” is starting to become distinctive. He locks his opponents arms, and then uses his good leg strength to take control. Today’s match is one of the better examples of it in action, and while simple and not flashy, it really does seem to work.

Daieisho defeats Onosho – Onosho opened strong, but lost contact when Daieisho side-stepped his advance. Daieisho rallied, stuck Onosho with a potent nodowa and tossed him out. Onosho is still regrouping following his surgery, but is now make-koshi and will work from lower on the banzuke.

Endo defeats Kaisei – After the first match resulted in both rikishi stepping out together, the second was all Endo, who showed much better sumo the second time around.

Hokutofuji defeats Myogiryu – Hokutofuji, when he is healthy, can generate so much forward pressure that any loss of traction is more or less an instant loss for his opponent. Myogiryu could not maintain his footing and hit the clay.

Ichinojo defeats Mitakeumi – For most of this basho, Ichinojo has just been swatting down everyone. In hindsight it makes total sense, he is already higher than all of his opponents, with plenty of strength and leverage. So he may as well drop them in place. He made Mitakeumi look like a bag of potatoes. He faces Takakeisho on day 14, and I am going to be very curious to see what happens then.

Chiyotairyu defeats Tamawashi – Chiyotairyu exceeds expectations, and stays in the fight past the tachiai, and survives Tamawashi’s pull down attempt. Chiyotairyu rallies and drives Tamawashi from the dohyo, giving him his 8th loss.

Takakeisho defeats Takayasu – Like so many great moments in sports, this all came down to a split second. If you watch the match in slow motion, you can see Takayasu roll that left shoulder forward, while he reaches for the mawashi with his right. Takakeisho is lower and faster, and is inside and underneath that shoulder with his first push before that right hand can find its mark. That was, in fact, the match. Once Takakeisho launched the wave action attack, Takayasu could not recover his footing, and could not generate any offense. As mentioned in the preview, the outcome of this match was likely the decider on Takakeisho’s Ozeki bid.

Kakuryu defeats Tochinoshin – Masterful sumo from the Yokozuna today, as Kakuryu successfully prevents Tochinoshin from ever getting his working grip set up. The fact that Tochinoshin is always going for the “one thing” makes it easy for a reactive sumo master like Kakuryu to confound, frustrate and distract Tochinoshin, all the while moving him steadily towards defeat. Tochinoshin must win the remainder of his matches to preserve his rank.

Hakuho defeats Goeido – Team Goeido was out in force, and the EDION arena was rocking as Goeido mounted the dohyo to face off against the undefeated Hakuho. Excellent tachiai, and Goeido’s opening gambit was to go for mae-mitsu, and his hand could not maintain contact. Goeido stays with Hakuho, and they trade blows, and settle down chest to chest. Goeido held the center of the dohyo, but Hakuho’s superior body position drove Goeido back and won the match. Great sumo from both. As with Takayasu, the whole match hinged on that opening move that failed.

Haru Day 13 Preview

With lksumo doing a fantastic job of spelling out exactly what is at stake for the remainder of the tournament, let’s talk a bit about the continuing transition period. As we saw at Aki 2018, the transition from the old warriors to a newer generation will not be a straight line. Many of these rikishi are some of the highest skill the sport has seen in some time. In fact the current dominant cohort has had an impressively long and stable tenure. Many of these rikishi have been fixtures of the top division for several years, some of them more than a decade.

Like Aki, we have a point in the transition where the old guard can muster a strong basho, and compete like the “old days”. Frankly I love it, and I am sure the fans love it too. It’s great to see the named ranks laying waste to the upper Maegashira, and fierce action at the bottom of Makuuchi as the staple for each day of the tournament. As much as folks like to gripe about Hakuho, his reign as the king of the ring has been very stable, but it is fading. We don’t need to look back too many years to find Hakuho taking 4-6 yusho a year. Now we see him taking 2, or maybe 1. He has taken to (wisely) sitting out any tournament where he is not strong and healthy. As a result, if Hakuho shows up, he is the man to beat for the cup.

As the old guard comes out the dominate again, we see the tadpoles taking it in the shorts, we see the Freshmen faltering, and we see at least 2 more waves of fresh faces forming up to attack the top division. But make no mistake, we are in the twilight of this era, and setbacks for rikishi like Mitakeumi, Takakeisho and Hokutofuji are part of the evolution of sumo. This will be a big year for the tadpoles, the freshmen, and we are going to see the pixies start to elbow their way into Makuuchi too. I think this year we lose at least one Ozeki, and maybe two. I think we may also gain a Yokozuna if you-know-who can take advantage of the next time Hakuho rests up in his sumo-life-extension project.

Haru Leaderboard

Leader: Hakuho
Chaser: Ichinojo
Hunt Group: Goeido, Aoiyama, Kotoshogiku, Takayasu

3 Matches Remain

What We Are Watching Day 13

Ishiura vs Daishoho – A whole lot ‘o make-koshi out for offer in the lower matches. Daishoho is one loss away, and if Ishiura can deliver the goods, it adds another rikishi to the hopper of demote-able guys with lots of pomade in their hair. What are they going to do with this mess – especially if (as lksumo points out) there are not a whole lot of Juryo guys who are making the case for promotion.

Terutsuyoshi vs Kotoyuki – Once again Mr 5×5 comes to town, ready to crowd surf his way through another match. Terutsuyoshi won their only prior match, and winning again today would push Kotoyuki to make-koshi, further hashing the group of the top Juryo men into an even smaller promotable pile.

Ryuden vs Chiyoshoma – It’s shin-Ikioi’s time to beat on the ever elusive Chiyoshoma. He’s in a tight spot with wins, so I am going to look for every move, trick or gambit he can think of. And he can think of a lot. Fortunately Ryuden is already kachi-koshi.

Kotoeko vs Yago – Will Kotoeko be able to save his muscular hinder from joining the demote-able, pomade covered dog-pile? Somehow I think the lure of that much hair-grease, and that many mawashi clad fellows might be more than a small town boy from Miyazaki can resist. Aim for the rafters, Yago!

Shohozan vs Yutakayama – Shohozan’s happiness is proportional to the number of times he hits somebody. And lately he’s been losing matches, and he just seems… Well, a little blue. As Yutakayama is close to the squishy center of that pile of demote-able folks right now, he may as well do something benevolent, and help cheer Shohozan up.

Sadanoumi vs Toyonoshima – Toyonoshima did not muster quite the victory lap in the top division that Uncle Sumo managed. It was less of a “here comes awesome” and more “oh, you again? I had no idea you were still doing sumo”. As a bonafied old person, I can relate. Sadanoumi is no spring chicken, but maybe the two of them can yell at Onosho and Takakeisho to get he hell off their dohyo, then go to the Izakaya and pound a few cold ones while singing 90s tunes.

Meisei vs Kotoshogiku – We can think of Kotoshogiku as some kind of “old guard” barometer. When he’s a mess, it seems many of the other vets are just limping by. Right now Kotoshogiku is really racking up the score, and I think that he may not stop at 10. Meisei has the speed and the high-adhesion feet to make some wild maneuvers in a match. But Kotoshogiku is a master of bracketing these kind of rikishi.

Asanoyama vs Tomokaze – The schedulers love these matches. The winner gets their kachi-koshi. The other one gets a face full of dirt. Asanoyama has kept his spirits up and his outlook positive, so I think he can make it happen. This is their first ever match.

Kagayaki vs Takarafuji – Takarafuji’s sumo is defined by patience. But sometimes we wish he would just throw down like someone had dented his wife’s Toyota Harrier in the Aeon parking lot. We can be sure that Kagayaki will do his utmost to make this match as colorless and basic as possible, but will execute with absolute form.

Aoiyama vs Yoshikaze – I love me some giant Aoiyama slap-happy sumo. Which will carry the day – a couple of big hits from the heavy guns, or a stream of burning hell from the berserker? They have an 11-11 career record, so give thanks you are not in the front row of the arena, as I suspect that we will see blood.

Ikioi vs AbiEt Tu Abi?

Okinoumi vs Shodai – At this point I think Shodai is so demoralized, he would be happy to have this end. I am guessing this may be his worst spanking since his disastrous 5-10 at Nagoya in 2017 (which included a fusensho), and he may even exceed that basho’s terrible performance.

Nishikigi vs Tochiozan – Both of these guys join Shodai and Kaisei in the “broken toy” box. All of them have had a terrible tournament and are probably going to be happy for Sunday night parties and the start of the spring jungyo. All 4 of them are worthy members of the top division, but this tournament they were little more than target practice for the more genki elements higher up the banzuke.

Daieisho vs Onosho – Onosho has his back on the make-koshi line again today, and he has to take a win from the speedy Daieisho to stay out of the losing column for Haru. Daieisho has a 2-6 record against Onosho, but as we have seen from this tournament, Onosho is having balance and foot placement issues.

Kaisei vs Endo – Both in the make-koshi bracket with the rest, both of them capable rikishi who were strip mined for shiroboshi for the past 12 days, and are in no mood to continue. But the show must go on, and we will see size vs agility on display.

Myogiryu vs Hokutofuji – Actually, this match has a lot of potential. Myogiryu has been a tough competitor in a really brutal joi-jin, and he still holds on to a chance to win out and be promoted. Hokutofuji has bounced off his first trip to San’yaku, and will have to regroup for a couple of tournaments before we see him test his mettle again. It’s going to come down to that handshake tachiai and nodowa, I think. Land it – and you have control Hokutofuji. Miss and Myogiryu is going to make you dance, and then eat dirt.

Mitakeumi vs Ichinojo – Should we start by saying that Mitakeumi has a 6-3 career advantage over Ichinojo? Maybe we should point out that Mitakeumi is hurt, and Ichinojo seems to have adopted Terunofuji’s kaiju form – at once both dazzling and terrifying to behold. I think this one is Ichinojo’s to lose, but I am also going to assume that Mitakeumi is going to work to make sure he does not drop out of the san’yaku.

Chiyotairyu vs Tamawashi – The time for Tamawashi to rally is now. He has trouble with Chiyotairyu’s big hit tachiai, but I am certain that the Hatsu yusho winner can take the cannonball and push for a win.

Takayasu vs Takakeisho – Sumo fans, we can see this one coming from over the horizon. Takakeisho is going to attack with the wave-action, and Takayasu is going to use the smooth tachiai he has shown for most of the basho. If he can land even one hand on Takakeisho’s mawashi, it’s likely the end of an Ozeki bid. I am looking for Takayasu to finish with at least 11 wins, and to me it looks like his next will likely come day 13 if he boxes up Takakeisho.

Tochinoshin vs Kakuryu – This is not a good match for Tochinoshin. He is 3-22 against Kakuryu, who is one of the few rikishi (along with Hakuho) who can escape the “Skycrane”. But we are to the point now where he must win to defend his rank. As I said at the beginning, Tochinoshin is not beyond sacrificing his body to protect his rank. He might do something that leads to worsening his condition, knowing that he might have a few months to try to overcome it, if he can just clear kadoban. A desperate man might unleash some wild sumo power. I am going to watch for it, as he is nearly out of options.

Hakuho vs Goeido – The rikishi with the best chance of putting dirt on the sole leader of the yusho race will face Hakuho today. Goeido in his genki GoeiDOS 2.2 form has been a damn fine rikishi, and he has delivered wins with speed and brutality that match some of his best sumo from Aki 2016. I predict no matter what way this goes, it may only last single-digit seconds.

Haru Day 12 Highlights

Its looking increasingly difficult for anyone to catch Yokozuna Hakuho, and the chances are growing that he will capture not only another yusho (his 42nd) but another zehsho yusho as well. Whatever his injuries or problems, Hakuho has fought with overwhelming skill and determination, and he has demonstrated an almost inhuman ability to escape even the most dire situations.

The only rikishi who might have a reasonable challenge to Hakuho is the amazingly genki Ichinojo. The chances that they would face each other in anything other than a playoff are slim to none, and to get to a playoff, someone would have to win over the dai-Yokozuna this tournament. Frankly, I don’t see it happening. Much like other great athletes, any time he chooses to compete, he completely dominates the event, and at times makes even the ridiculously impossible look easy and natural.

There are 3 days left in the basho, and for the most part, everything has been decided short of the yusho. But true to form for this tournament, each day continues to deliver great sumo.

Highlight Matches

Enho defeats Toyonoshima – Enho edges closer to his kachi-koshi, and possibly a bid to enter the top division in May. Hapless Toyonoshima really has sputtered and failed this tournament, after working very hard to return to Makuuchi. As is typical for Enho, he uses combo attacks to keep his opponent from settling to a single defensive strategy.

Tomokaze defeats Ishiura – Ishiura can be frustrating to follow, as he seem to be very easily disrupted from the tachiai, and when that happens his sumo quickly falls apart. Tomokaze did apply quite a vigorous series of jostles to Ishiura’s skull, treating it like a poorly mixed bottle of kombucha.

Kagayaki defeats Kotoeko – Kagayaki scores his 8th win, and finally can claim a kachi-koshi for the first time since May of last year. Kagayaki kept his hands low into the tachiai, and went immediately for a highly effective right hand hazu / armpit pin that kept Kotoeko from generating any offense at all.

Yoshikaze defeats Yutakayama – With his 9th loss, we can pretty much wave goodbye to Yutakayama, the one time leading rikishi of the Freshman group. Since he was injured at Aki 2018, he has not been even 80% genki at any point. Like most sumotori, there is little or no word on what is still wrong with him, but hopefully he can get himself and his sumo together in Juryo and come roaring back. Great to see Yoshikaze with 9 wins after a very weak start.

Meisei defeats Chiyoshoma – Meisei took the initiative at the tachiai, and Chiyoshoma knew he had to do something straight away. Chiyoshoma’s gambit was to attempt a throw, which failed when he could not plant his feet, and Meisei plowed through the pivot point. Meisei gets his 8th win for kachi-koshi.

Daishoho defeats Ikioi – If I had a cat in Ikioi’s kind of condition, I would take it to the vet.

Aoiyama defeats Ryuden – The Aoiyama recipe is still paying off every time, so he keeps using it. Lift them up, slap them down. Ryuden is already kachi-koshi, so this match was all good fun.

Takarafuji defeats Yago – Takarafuji prevented any offense from Yago, except on Takarafuji’s terms. Yago gets his 8th loss, but is safe in the top division unless something terrible happens. Yago is a solid rikishi, but his second Makuuchi tournament has been a real struggle.

Okinoumi defeats Shohozan – Okinoumi’s deep sumo library brings us more fascinating technical action today. He took Shohozan’s primary offensive style off the table and kept himself firmly in control of the match. When this guy is a coach, he is going to produce some excellent future rikishi.

Abi defeats Terutsuyoshi – Added to the slow barge back to Juryo is one Terutsuyoshi, who many hoped would bring his high-energy, small-man sumo to a top division that is increasingly dominated by behemoths. Abi continues to rack wins with his back to the make-koshi wall.

Kotoshogiku defeats Chiyotairyu – Kotoshogiku now has double digit wins. How high can he run up the score? Chiyotairyu has only beaten Kotoshogiku once, and his typical cannonball tachiai has little effect on the Kyushu Bulldozer.

Onosho defeats Sadanoumi – After 5 straight losses, Onosho claims another white star. Onosho got the better of the tachiai, and his overly forward posture was supported by Sadanoumi’s efforts to find his footing.

Ichinojo defeats Asanoyama – When Ichinojo is operating in this form, I am not sure anyone below Sekiwake can do much to slow him down. So the boulder will keep rolling down the hill, crushing anyone who tries to hug him. I am still confident that Asanoyama will get his 8th win this basho.

Daieisho defeats Tochiozan – As Tochiozan ages up, he increasingly has hot and cold streaks. I would chalk this up to his hit or miss health problems, whatever they might be. But for Haru he is clearly quite cold. Daieisho is operating at speed, and today he employed a well executed arcing turn to apply torque to Tochiozan that set up his defeat.

Kaisei defeats Shodai – Kaisei did not take my advice to change format to a dance-off, but he managed to score his second win, even without employing his moon walk skills.

Myogiryu defeats Mitakeumi – This match surprised me a bit, in that Mitakeumi let Myogiryu bracket him. (Bracketing – when used in naval gunfire, means the enemy has your range and can land shells on you at will. In sumo it means that your opponents feet straddle your stance, and you are going down). Myogiryu’s nodowa was especially effective, and Mitakeumi could not really decide on offense or defense, and paid the price.

Hokutofuji defeats Nishikigi – Hokutofuji’s lightning fast “handshake tachiai” left Nishikigi unable to do much other than try to push back against Hokutofuji’s forward pressure. Its great to see that the pounding Hokutofuji took has not dampened his fighting spirit.

Tamawashi defeats Endo – Endo had this one, but failed to maintain close cover on Tamawashi during an osha-match. As a result, Tamawashi’s perilous toes-out pose at the tawara was not his moment of defeat, and he was allowed to resume the fight. Endo now make-koshi.

Goeido defeats Takakeisho – A battle of local favorites, Goeido boxes and ships Takakeisho back to Hyogo in short order with a face full of Osaka clay for a souvenir of his fun on the dohyo today. I am eager for the day 13 match where Goeido brings his genki self up against Hakuho. Just a hunch that this might be the one match that could take Hakuho off the pace.

Hakuho defeats Tochinoshin – Quite the battle, as Tochinoshin lands his deadly left hand outside grip at the tachiai, with Hakuho lower and inside with a mae-mitsu. With his right hand now deep, Hakuho masterfully breaks Tochinoshin’s “Skycrane” setup, and it’s all down hill from there. The Yokozuna patiently sets up, with his feet in excellent position while Tochinoshin continues to work back towards his offensive stance. The end comes when The Boss goes morozashi and advances. Tochinoshin gets Yokozuna Kakuryu on day 13.

Takayasu defeats Kakuryu – Takayasu made it clear he was coming out fast, but Kakuryu took the inside at the tachiai. But again, watch Takayasu’s position on the dohyo and his feet. He’s lower, he owns the center and he has enough of Kakuryu to advance. Kakuryu’s excellent mobility and balance keep him in this fight, but the improved Takayasu sumo is really paying off in this match.

Haru Day 10 Preview

Time To Make Your Case…

Welcome to the end of act 2! Act 2 was where we sorted the survivors from the damned, and we started to see who was going to contest for the cup. As Josh pointed out in our weekend podcast, the old guard has decided they were going to make a stand, and re-assert their dominance over sumo. The result has been a return to form that we saw at Aki 2018, where the named ranks devastate the upper 3 Maegashira, and the final week is dominated by the greats of sumo blasting each other around the dohyo. From all appearances, everyone remains genki and in increasingly good fighting condition each day right now. It portends a tumultuous and entertaining finish to the tournament.

Haru Leaderboard

Leader: Hakuho
Chasers: Kakuryu, Takayasu, Ichinojo, Aoiyama
Hunt Group: Goeido, Takakeisho, Kotoshogiku

6 Matches Remain

What We Are Watching Day 10

Daishoho vs Chiyomaru – Beloved Chiyomaru returns to the top division in his new “safety” mawashi, which may or may not have been picked up from Akua when he had to return to Makushita. With a 6-3 record, Chiyomaru is just 2 wins away from securing a bid to return to the top division.

Tomokaze vs Chiyoshoma – First time meeting between these two, with Chiyoshoma having a distinct advantage in speed over Tomokaze. It’s been a few matches since we have seen a Chiyoshoma henka, so be ready…

Terutsuyoshi vs Kagayaki – A loss today would give Terutsuyoshi a make-koshi and put him at risk to return to Juryo. Kagayaki has shown that he is effective against a fast rikishi (he beat Ishiura), so Terutsuyoshi has his work cut out for him. We know his sumo is up to the task if he can get a good position at the tachiai.

Ryuden vs Kotoeko – Shin-Ikioi will take on micro-hulk today. Kotoeko had nothing but problems with Meisei’s “speed sumo” on day 9, and we can expect that Ryuden learned from that match. Ryuden is not always known for rapid offense, so it’s likely he will leave an opening for Kotoeko to employ his superior strength to weight ratio with great effect.

Yutakayama vs Meisei – Yutakayama is already close to the Maku-Juryo line, and he is clearly struggling for wins. Normally he would have no problems overcoming Meisei, but in his injured state, there is no telling how this will go.

Toyonoshima vs Yago – Experience vs youth, and both are in dire need of wins. Toyonoshima especially must be worried about his lack of wins headed into the heard of week 2. Toyonoshima looks just a touch too slow right now. Something happened between Hatsu and Haru. Chances are we will never find out what.

Yoshikaze vs Ikioi – Oh come on! Ikioi will put on a brave, limping fight. Yoshikaze will get his his 7th win, and may exit the dohyo with blood on his face (a Yoshikaze specialty).

Asanoyama vs Ishiura – Both have matching 6-3 records, but their 4 prior matches all went to Asanoyama. Frankly, Asanoyama seems to have consolidated his sumo in the last couple of months, and everything seems to be connecting more smoothly. Ishiura is fighting well, and even winning matches without having to resort to cheap moves. This could be a solid match.

Aoiyama vs Shohozan – Oh goodie, I have been waiting for this one. Two sluggers ready to trade heavy fire at medium range. If Shohozan can get close, it’s going to be tough for Aoiyama, who seems to receive less well than he gives.

Sadanoumi vs Abi – I am sure that Sadanoumi knows by now how to shut down Abi-zumo. Will this be the day that Abi decides to try something else?

Chiyotairyu vs Takarafuji – Chiyotairyu put a lot into his day 9 match against Takakeisho, and I think that he might be a bit depleted when he faces off against the highly technical Takarafuji. If Takarafuji can dodge the initial Chiyotairyu gambits, he likely has a win.

Kotoshogiku vs Onosho – Onosho’s balance is still off due to his lengthy recovery from knee surgery, so I am going to suggest that Kotoshogiku has the upper hand. A win today would secure a kachi-koshi for the Kyushu bulldozer.

Tochiozan vs Okinoumi – Another great match for day 10. Both are high stamina, high skill sumo technicians who will put a lot of thought into their day 10 match. We may see some rare sumo today.

Nishikigi vs Shodai – Shodai holds a 3-1 career advantage over sumo’s Cinderella Man. Already into make-koshi land, a win today would hand Nishikigi his maki-koshi, too. Shodai holds a 3-1 career advantage – is day 10 the magic day for Shodai?

Kaisei vs Myogiryu – Speed vs size today, and I am going with speed. Myogiryu has a terrible record for the basho, but his tour through the named ranks is done now, and he has a real chance to exit with a winning record.

Mitakeumi vs Endo – This could also be a fun match. Mitakeumi’s injured knee is keeping him from showing us his “good” sumo, but he is still quite formidable. Their career record is a balanced 3-3.

Daieisho vs Hokutofuji – Hokutofuji seems to be improving into week 2, and I expect he will disrupt and overcome Daieisho’s offense. Hokutofuji will go for an early nodowa courtesy of his “handshake tachiai”.

Tochinoshin vs Goeido – Ozeki fight! If it goes longer than 8 seconds, I would expect Tochinoshin to win. Goeido is going to go for an immediate kill – blasting off the big Georgian from the Osaka dohyo.

Takayasu vs Ichinojo – I am positively giddy about this one. Ichinojo is looking his toughest in a long time, and Takayasu has been tuning up his sumo. Both men are in the chaser group, and the winner will remain 1 behind Hakuho.

Hakuho vs Tamawashi – Tamawashi gets a Hakuho flying lesson. We love you cookie-man, but The Boss is genki and you are today’s practice ballast.

Takakeisho vs Kakuryu – Takakeisho has never beaten Kakuryu, whose sumo is tailor made to disrupt and defeat someone like Takakeisho. A win today by the Sekiwake would put a very bold stroke on his potential Ozeki bid, and give him his kachi-koshi. Great final match for the final day of act 2!