Haru Day 15 Preview


dohyo-iri-15

Final Day Of the Osaka Tournament

It’s been a strange and crazy basho, and now we face the final day of competition. The yusho race had focused almost entirely on Kisenosato for the bulk of the tournament, but it’s now clear that bar some strange occurrence, Terunofuji will lift the Emperor’s Cup tomorrow. Prior to day 14’s henka against Kotoshogiku, most sumo fans would have cheered his return to glory, after more than a year of crippling injuries and constant pain.

Fans have commented on Tachiai, Twitter and Facebook that the henka is part of the sport. This is true, and there are times when it’s employment is kind of neat. What troubles me about day 14 is that Kotoshogiku was not going to be able to best Terunofuji’s kaiju mode. To me the henka this time smelled of cruelty. I restrain myself, I hope, from layering too many American / European idioms on what is a completely Japanese cultural phenomenon. But it was clear that Kotoshogiku intended to go out, guns blazing, giving his all every match. This was the match where his bid to return was to be lost, and he was not allowed to end with dignity.

So you may see some noise from the Japanese fan community about Terunofuji, and I worry, about the Mongolian contingent as a whole. This would be a huge mistake, in my opinion, as the Mongolian rikishi have hugely enriched the sport, and have done fantastic things for Japan and the Japanese people.

Key Matches, Day 15

Terunofuji vs Kisenosato – This one decides the yusho. If Kisenosato some how manages to win the first one, the two will fight a tie breaker after Harumafuji and Kakuryu fight the last match of the basho. Given that Kisenosato can’t really do anything with his left arm (and he’s left handed) it’s going to be a long shot. My hope is that Kisenosato can survive without additional injury, and Terunofuji does not do anything to further lose face.

Harumafuji vs Kakuryu – This bout has very little impact, save to see if Kakuryu can get to double digits this time. Both are out of the yusho race, Harumafuji is banged up and struggling. I hope no one gets hurt and both can recover soon.

Tamawashi vs Takayasu – If Takayasu can win this one, it means that he will need 10 wins in May to become Ozeki. It’s still a tall order, but a 12-3 record might also give him Jun-Yusho status for the first time in his career. Tamawashi will likely stay at Sekiwake for May, but needs wins to start making the case for promotion to Ozeki himself.

Kotoshogiku vs Yoshikaze – I hope both of these well loved veterans have some fun with this match. Both have kachi-koshi, and both are looking at retirement in the not too distant future. Kotoshogiku will try to wrap up Yoshikaze, and Yoshikaze will try to stay mobile.

Kachi/Make-Koshi

A number of rikishi go into the final day at 7-7, and will exit the final day either with promotion or demotion as their next move. This includes

Ishiura vs Takarafuji – First meeting between these two, Takarafuji already make-koshi

Endo vs Tochinoshin – Both at 7-7, the loser gets a demotion. Prior meetings are evenly split, but Tochinoshin is a shadow of his former self.

Daishomaru vs Hokutofuji – Hokutofuji has his first make-koshi of his sumo career, but Daishomaru has a chance of kachi-koshi if he can win.

Myogiryu vs Aoiyama – Should be an easy win for Aoiyama, Myogiryu already make-koshi

Ichinojo vs Ura – Maegashira 7 Ichinojo vs Maegashira 12 Ura. Ichinojo already make-koshi, Ura trying to stay in the top division. A huge mismatch in size and speed. This may be a strange one indeed.

Takayasu Recovers, Defeats Takarafuji


Bout Included Mawashi Malfunction

On day 14, Takayasu racked up his 11th with, an important addition for his quest to win promotion to Ozeki. The match featured a solid display of yotsu-zumō, but was halted by the Gyoji, as Takarafuji’s mawashi threatened to come un-done mid battle. As shown in earlier posts, the Gyoji stops the match, throws his gumbai over his shoulder and re-ties the offending garment.

This 11th win matters a great deal for Takayasu, as it means that he was able to set his disappointment over his day 11 loss aside, and overcome whatever worries he has for his friend Kisenosato and focus on his sumo, which he did well today. Sadly this victory gave Takarafuji his make-koshi, and he will face a small rank demotion for May. Takayasu will need at least 11 wins in May to secure Ozeki, and we think that if he stays focused and healthy, that goal is in reach.

Video thanks to Jason’s All Sumo Channel on YouTube, which is a Tachiai mainstay. Feel free to hit his tip jar, too!

Haru Day 14 Preview


Kise-kak-14

Kisenosato Will Compete Day 14

The results from day 13 were catastrophic for the Japanese sumo industry. Their home-grown Yokozuna was hurt in a bout, many would say needlessly. Some my wonder why I label this a catastrophe, it’s because Kisenosato’s ascension led to a huge uptick in sumo’s popularity and cultural prominence. Any long term injury could lead to some very hard feelings between the Japanese public and some of sumo’s top performers. This would be an utter disaster for the sport.

As of the moment this is being written (and one of the reasons it’s so late), Kisenosato has decided he is going to show up and face Kakuryu on day 14. I fear that he is not at 100%, and may in fact risk a grave injury. But Kisenosato is so proud to be a Yokozuna now, he wants to show Japan that he is going to be there, no matter how much it hurts.

In other news from day 13 (most of you will have watched video by now). Terunofuji defeated Kakuryu in a fairly amazing bout. I am not sure what happened to bring “classic” kaiju mode Terunofuji back, but I think everyone (including myself) figured he was gone for good. Now he is back, and he is tied for the lead in the yusho race with an injured Kisenosato.

Takayasu continued his typical out of gas / collapse on day 13, losing to Yoshikaze. Yoshikaze is now kachi-koshi, which delights me, but I was hoping to see Takayasu set his defeat aside and charge ahead. Kotoshogiku also managed a win over Shodai, a convincing one, to keep his return to Ozeki status alive by the narrowest of margins.

Yusho Race – It’s either Terunofuji or Kisenosato. God help us, but they will face off on day 15.

Key Matches Day 14

Kisenosato vs Kakuryu – How injured is the Shin-Yokozuna? Time to find out. I doubt Kakuryu is going to give him any quarter. Kisenosato tends to beat Kakuryu, their career record is Kisenosato 31, Kakuryu 17. But this is going to be a tough match with Kisenosato’s left arm hurt. It’s also a must-win for Kakuryu, who only has 8 wins so far.

Kotoshogiku vs Terunofuji – Well, it’s been nice knowing you Kotoshogiku. Terunofuji seems only to be increasing in strength and intensity, where it’s clear the past few days the Kotoshogiku is on fumes. Terunofuji has gladly granted his opponents a double-inside “death grip” the past few days, and then proceeded to make them suffer. Given that Kotoshogiku will try for that same grip to start his hug-n-chug, the results could be ugly. Kotoshogiku must win all remaining bouts to return to his Ozeki rank.

Takarafuji vs Takayasu – Takayasu may be convincing himself that things are tougher than they should be. He needs to break above 10 to help his Ozeki push, and he needs to be able to recover from a disappointing loss like day 11 if he is to excel at sumo’s higher ranks. Takarafuji is fighting well this basho, so this is not an easy match.

Expected Day 15 Matches

  • Kakuryu vs Harumafuji
  • Kisenosato vs Terunofuji
  • Kotoshogiku vs Yoshikaze
  • Takayasu vs Tamawashi

Haru Day 13 Preview


Preview-12

In Which We Skip A Day 12 Summary Post…

Hello Tachiai readers, you may have noticed no day 12 summary. I worked to cover the bouts that were pivotal to the story lines with some detail, but now find myself without enough time to really talk much about the rest of the action. A quick run down of what else happened day 12.

Kisenosato remains unbeaten at 12-0, the only rikishi in a position today is Terunofuji at 11-1. But this would require Kiesnosato to lose at least one, and Terunofuji to survive his Yokozuna bouts. Count on the NSK to try and have the ultimate battle be between Terunofuji and Kisenosato on the final weekend.

Ikioi, now that he has a clear make-koshi, has found his sumo, defeating Shodai today who now has his make-koshi too. Mitakeumi refuses to give up, and today defeated Takekaze to remain 6-6. Mitakeumi wants back in the San’yaku ranks and he is pushing for a kachi-koshi with everything he can bring. Hokutofuji lost today, but still has a glimmer of hope to escape his first ever make-koshi. Ura and Ishiura both lost on day 12, with their records now 6-6. I predict both of them will be take it right to the final day.

Haru Leader board

LeaderKisenosato
Hunt Group – Terunofuji
Chasers – Takayasu, Tochiozan

4 Matches Remain

Matches We Like

Harumafuji vs Kisenosato – Kisenosato’s first real test will come as the final match on day 13, where he will face Harumafiji. The Horse has not been 100% this basho, but he still seems to have plenty of mojo, including enough to make Takayasu look like a forgotten sack of groceries. This bout is absolutely crucial for Kisenosato, as Terunofuji is likely to be his day 15 opponent, and he needs be the leader heading into that match. Harumafuji leads their career record 37-24. Be on the lookout for the mini-henke.

Terunofuji vs Kakuryu – Yokozuna Kakuryu seems to be running low on gas the past few matches. At the same time Terunofuji is in full kaiju mode, and may not be stoppable without summoning Mothra. If Kisenosato can win and Terunofuji lose, it more or less hands the yusho to Kisenosato. Kakuryu has a clear advantage overall with 7-3, but there is this kaiju mode that makes a lot of that irrelevant.

Yoshikaze vs Takayasu – I am a huge fan of both. In fact I have tegata of both on my wall. To me they represent all that I love about sumo. Both of these rikishi have the energy, power and skill to win this bout. In fact Yoshikaze, if he wins, picks up Kachi-koshi – he is doing pretty well this basho. This is a mental test of Takayasu. I fear he may now doubt his sumo, and will be hesitant. Given that Yoshikaze operates at a speed most rikishi can not even follow, any hesitation could equal a Yoshikaze victory.

Kotoshogiku vs Shodai – I fear it has come to Shodai, to some the symbol of the future of sumo, to drive a stake into the heart of Kotoshogiku’s revival. I still maintain hope that Kotoshogiku can bring it home, and exit sumo having restored his rank, but I fear the Great Sumo Cat of the Kokugikan has a different course laid in. They have only fought 3 times before, with Kotoshogiku taking 2.

Shohozan vs Hokutofuji – Hokutofuji never gives up. He is one loss away from his first maki-kochi in professional sumo, but I expect he is going to find some way, any way to pull in a winning record if it takes him until day 15. This is the first match between these two.

Endo vs Tochiozan – Endo looked very good against Terunofuji on day 12, and it’s time for him to match against a surprisingly strong Tochiozan. This could be a very interesting match if no one goes stupid and tries a henka.

Ura vs Chiyoshoma – Chiyoshoma has his kachi-koshi secured, and Ura still needs 2 more wins. If I had to guess, Chiyoshoma won’t be giving away a freebee to Plasticman today, and we will need to see him figure out something other than “low and bendy” as a way to carry the day.

Ishiura vs Okinoumi – Okinoumi will be looking to pick up his kachi-koshi on the back of Ishiura, who is still pushing to get 2 more wins. Given that Okinoumi is a skilled veteran, this may be fairly one sided.

Takarafuji Defeats Kotoshogiku


Kotoshogiku-12

Ozeki Revival Campaign At The Breaking Point

On day 12, de-frocked Ozeki (now Sekiwake) Kotoshogiku lost his match with Maegashira 3 Takarafuji. With his fifth loss this basho, Kotoshogiku must win all 3 remaining bouts to earn back his Ozeki rank. At this point, it’s clear that he does not have the strength and stamina to serve as a Ozeki. While I adore Kotoshogkiku, and respect everything he has brought to sumo, there should be no concession given to try and accommodate his return to rank. Sadly, as of day 12, Kotoshogiku has not even yet secured his kachi-koshi.

Oddly enough, early in the basho he defeated both Yokozuna in fairly straight-up matches, but is now losing to much lower ranked rikishi. It’s clear that whatever chronic injuries ore problems have robbed Kotoshogiku of his Ozeki vigor and might have re-attacked him.

Haru Day 12 Preview


12

Pressure Is Still On Takayasu

Now that Takayasu has his first defeat, he has been dropped back to the group chasing Kisenosato. His bout with Kakuryu was excellent in many ways, but as long as Kakuryu kept moving, Takayasu was marking time until he lost. But Takayasu’s troubles are not over, as he still will face Harumafuji. As stated earlier, in past basho, Takayasu has a problem fading out at the end, either by losing concentration, giving up on a goal or just because he doubts his own ability. Everyone who wants him to earn his Ozeki rank knows he must over come this. So Harumafuji represents a test of this flaw. Will he rise to the challenge?

Elsewhere on the Torikumi, Terunofuji has yet to face real resistance, but we can assume that he will have Kisenosato on one of the last three days. With 3 Yokozuna and 1 Ozeki active, the final days will be a round robin between the 4 of them. So the chances of Terunofuji playing a day 14/15 spoiler are questionable as well.

That leaves us with Tochiozan. On day 12 he is bottom feeding on Maegashira 14 Myogiryu, which really seems to be tough to understand. He has yet to face anyone above Maegashira 6, which would seem reasonable given that he went into this tournament at Maegashira 10. But as he is now tied with second place, it would seem reasonable that he get someone like Yoshikaze to size himself against.

Haru Leader board

Leader – Kisenosato
Hunt Group – Takayasu, Terunofuji, Tochiozan

4 Matches Remain

Matches We Like

Gagamaru vs Kyokushuho – Planet Gagamaru comes to visit from Juryo. He faces off against Kyokushuho who is already make-koshi, so this match is mostly for entertainment purposes only. Gagamaru has really been underperforming in the last several basho, so I am not sure there will be much here.

Daieisho vs Sadanoumi – Daieisho shows a lot of promise, and could pick up his kachi-koshi today against Sadanoumi, who I have to assume is hurt in some way, as he is not quite as potent as he was in January.

Ichinojo vs Takakeisho – Takakeisho is also a young rakish with a lot of promise, today he will try for his kachi-koshi against the lumbering giant Ichinojo, who may once again be suffering from an injured back. This is the first time these two have ever faced off.

Chiyonokuni vs Ishiura – Two powerhouse rikishi, with Chiyonokuni gunning for his kachi-koshi, and Ishiura working to refine his Makuuchi moves. In their past 3 matches, Chiyonokuni has won them all.

Kotoshogiku vs Takarafuji – Kotoshogiku must win 3 of his last 4. His first step on finishing that journey is defeating Takarafuji. Takarafuji is not showing overwhelming sumo this tournament, so Kotoshogikum has a decent shot at a win here. But I would guess the rikishi have figured out that if you keep moving, he can’t employ his sumo. Watch for Takarafuji to stay mobile.

Endo vs Terunofuji – A few moments of struggle, then Terunofuji tosses him away like a used baby-wipe. I love me some Endo, but he is not dialed up high enough to put a dent in this Mongolian Monster when he is operating in Kaiju mode.

Arawashi vs Kisenosato – Arawashi is not in a winning mode, so that indicates that Kisenosato will be able to defeat him while looking like he’s ready for his ukiyo-e close up. But then again, Arawashi took out Harumafuji a few days ago. Best not to underestimate him, because he has a history of surprises.

Harumafuji vs Takayasu – Takayasu has beaten The Horse 4 times in the past. So it’s possible if Takayasu thinks he can do it. This is a mental and emotional test for him. Harumafuji is pushing hard through a lot of pain right now, but he is still an amazing fighter. Advantage here to Harmuafuji, unless Takayasu can tap his best sumo and make it happen.

Haru Day 8 Preview


Homemade White Chocolate Japanese Birthday Cake in Shape of Happy Bear Face

I Visited Tachiai, And All I Got Was This Preview…

Sunday is Yoshikaze’s birthday. I would love to bake him a cake and buy him a bottle of fine whisky for a gift, but alas there is no way to send it to him. The last person I tried to email a cake to said it never showed up, so I can’t help to think what would happen trying to email or fax a cake to Japan. You would think that with a long and glorious career they would have a party on the dohyo for him. Instead he gets to battle a giant Bulgarian guy with significant man-boobs.

Some rikishi won today, an equal number lost. But interestingly enough, everyone seemed to have a good time. But tomorrow, I am told, is the half way point. We have an interesting Yusho picture, but the final battle is still one week away

Haru Leader board

LeadersKisenosato, Takayasu
Hunt Group – Terunofuji, Tochiozan
Chasers – Kakuryu, Harumafuji, Tamawashi, Kotoshogiku, Takarafuji, Chiyonokuni, Chiyoshoma, Okinoumi, Tokushoryu

8 Matches Remain

Matches We Like

Tokushoryu vs Kyokushuho – even 5-5 history between these two. Tokushoryu looked solid day 7, and I am picking him to have an edge here. Dare we hope for another long running battle of pushing and thrusting? Remember it’s all fun and games until someone’s head falls off.

Myogiryu vs Ishiura – These two have only met once, and Ishiura won. I am going to the small bundle of muscles again, or as my wife calls him “Scary Guy”. Her assessment was not improved by his day 7 bout where he crumpled Nisikigi like an empty beer can.

Chiyoo vs Tochiozan – This is their first meeting, and I have concerns that Tochiozan’s winning streak was snapped on day 7. I do hope he does not fall into a losing streak funk, as Maegashira 10 should be an easy ride for him.

Ura vs Kotoyuki – Kotoyuki has been doing a lot of crowd surfing this basho, and I am sure that the shimpan corps are on the lookout for his next attempt. I doubt Ura will supply that much velocity off the dohyo, so RoboCop should be safe. Ura is desperate to get comfortable fighting the Makuuchi guys, and so this Kotoyuki match will be a good indicator of where his mind is.

Daieisho vs Okinoumi – Okinoumi is holding up quite well this basho, I am happy to report. He needs 3 more wins for Kachi-koshi, and he may get another one of those on Sunday. Okinoumi won their only prior match.

Endo vs Hokutofuji – A troublesome bout, as Endo will likely go for technique focusing on the mawashi. Hokutofuji showed on day 7 he can make that work. Endo is flaky enough that he might lose this one. One word – Gamberize!

Yoshikaze vs Aoiyama – Birthday match for Yoshikaze. I just hope that his face survives more or less intact given Aoiyama’s habit of trying to test how well people’s dental work is holding up.

Chiyoshoma vs Takarafuji – Lots of potential in this bout, I see Takarafuji as wanting to regain momentum after his day 7 loss. Likewise it’s time for Chiyoshoma to step on the gas and get his sumo into higher gear for the second half of the basho.

Kotoshogiku vs Sokokurai – 5 wins to go for the human bulldozer to reclaim his Ozeki rank. Will Sokokurai make the same mistake as the last two rikishi and go chest to chest with this guy?

Ikioi vs Takayasu – will Ikioi deploy the henka, or will Takayasu blast him into the cheap seats?

Mitakeumi vs Terunofuji – After what Terunofuji did to Takekaze, this should be an interesting match. Will Mitakeumi go for the belt and face the dishonor of the curb-side recycling can maneuver, or will he go run and gun and try to get Terunofuji off balance?

Harumafuji vs Takanoiwa – It’s not a proper basho without a Harumafuji death-spin. I am counting on the Horse to produce the wondrous move as soon as he is feeling up to it. Hopefully today.

Shodai vs Kakuryu – Shodai comes in too high at the tachiai, Kakuryu slaps him once and backs up, Shodai chases, Kakuryu pulls him to the clay. *SCENE*

Shohozan vs Kisenosato – Captain Bicep vs the Great Pumpkin. The question everyone is asking, will Kisenosato even really get excited about this match?