Aki banzuke crystal ball


image

My Nagoya banzuke predictions turned out to be reasonably accurate. This last basho created quite a mess, and a less predictable banzuke––I don’t envy the guys who have to make the real thing, which we will get to see on August 28. I’m going to take a crack at it anyway.

Upper San’yaku

Y1 Hakuho Harumafuji
Y2 Kisenosato Kakuryu
O1 Takayasu Goeido
O2 Terunofuji  

No change in the Yokozuna pecking order after Nagoya. The real question is whether we will have more than one Yokozuna start, much less finish, the next basho. Takayasu takes over the top Ozeki spot after putting up the only reasonably solid Ozeki performance at Nagoya. Goeido and Terunofuji are both kadoban, and I hope Terunofuji can recover from his persistent injuries.


Lower San’yaku

Usually, this part of the banzuke is relatively predictable. Not so this time. Kotoshogiku drops out of San’yaku for the first time since 2010. The only certainties are that Mitakeumi will hold the S1e slot, and that Yoshikaze will remain in San’yaku after going 9-6 at Komusubi. Otherwise, there’s quite a logjam for the remaining slots, and a lot of uncertainty as to who will end up where. The contenders:

Tamawashi, who went 7-8 at Sekiwake and will drop at least to Komusubi after four tournaments at the higher rank.

Tochiozan, who had a great tournament at 12-3 as maegashira 5, defeating an Ozeki and both Sekiwake along the way.

Aoiyama, the Jun-Yusho and special prize winner, who went an amazing 13-2 as maegashira 8, but didn’t beat or even fight anyone of note until his defeat of a fading Yoshikaze on the final day.

Tochinoshin, who more than held his own in the meat grinder as maegashira 2, fighting all the big guns and defeating a Yokozuna, an Ozeki, both Sekiwake and a Komusubi on his way to a 9-6 record.

By the numbers, I would rank-order the 5 contenders for the 3 slots behind Mitakeumi as  Tochiozan, Yoshikaze, Aoiyama, Tochinoshin, Tamawashi, placing Tochiozan in the S1w slot, Yoshikaze and Aoiyama in the Komusubi slots, and leaving Tochinoshin and Tamawashi out in the cold. However, being in San’yaku confers certain privileges: Yoshikaze probably gets first dibs on the Sekiwake slot, and Tamawashi is unlikely to drop lower than Komusubi despite coming in last on the list above. Judging by past history, none of the performances were sufficiently strong to “force” the creation of extra San’yaku slots. So I’m going to go with the prediction below, much as it pains me to leave out Tochinoshin.

S Mitakeumi Yoshikaze
K Tochiozan Tamawashi

The Meat Grinder

I’m going to include the M1-M4e ranks here. Along with the San’yaku, this group makes up the “joi” or upper ranks, and regularly faces San’yaku competition (as we saw in Nagoya, the exact “joi” boundary is fuzzy, and changes during the tournament after withdrawals and, to some extent, based on performances to that point).

The meat grinder ranks actually acquitted themselves relatively well in Nagoya, unlike the disasters of the previous two basho. Tochinoshin and Hokutofuji both earned their kachi-koshi, and each deserves to be one rank higher up the banzuke, but there isn’t room. Onosho should find himself at M3 after two extremely impressive 10-5 tournaments following his Makuuchi debut. He seems unintimidated by anyone, and may hold his own despite his lack of experience. Chiyotairyu and Shohozan put up the only other solid records in the mid-maegashira ranks, and find themselves vaulting up the banzuke from M10.

M1 Tochinoshin Aoiyama
M2 Hokutofuji Kotoshogiku
M3 Onosho Chiyotairyu
M4 Shohozan

Mid-maegashira

The rest of Makuuchi was a mess of of make-koshi records, ranging from bad to worse, and some weak kachi-koshi performances among the lower ranks. This makes it difficult to come up with a fair and consistent rank order. Rikishi with 7-8 records in a weak field are especially hard to place, as their computed rank may suggest a promotion, which as far as I know is never done for kachi-koshi records. One can start by dividing the rikishi into groups of similar projected rank, and then worry about the order within each group.

Group 1, M4w-M5w: Ura, Shodai, Takakeisho.

Everyone’s favorite Ura managed a 7-8 record at M4e despite being thrown into the meat grinder prematurely and getting injured as a result. Shodai and Takakeisho each went 5-10 at M1. It would be reasonable either to place Ura at M4w, with the other two at M5, or to flip this order. Given that Ura went make-koshi, that he was under-ranked last basho, and that Shodai tends to get over-ranked, I have a feeling NSK will do the latter, despite Ura’s slightly higher computed rank.

Group 2, M6: Ichinojo, Kagayaki.

Ichinojo put up another lackluster performance, going 7-8. He should drop in rank, but there are no other reasonable contenders for M6e. Kagayaki has the best claim of the rest to M6w.

Group 3, M7-M9: Ishiura, Ikioi, Chiyoshoma, Takanoiwa, Chiyonokuni, Takarafuji.

A mix of poor records higher up the banzuke and better records quite far down the banzuke. Ikioi, Chiyoshoma, and Takanoiwa deserve bigger drops in rank, but Chiyonokuni and Takarafuji did not earn this much of a promotion. Ishiura actually has the best computed rank, and deserves the M7e slot, but since he went make-koshi (7-8) at M8w, he can’t be ranked any higher than that. The main question in this group is whether to place him at M8w, or move him below the two kachi-koshi guys, Chiyonokuni and Takarafuji. As with Ura, I’m opting for the lower rank.

Group 4, M10: Arawashi, Takekaze.

This is straightforward: M12 guys both went 8-7 and move up to M10.

Group 5, M11-M12: Daieisho, Chiyomaru, Daishomaru, Kaisei.

This order drops Daishomaru (M11w, 7-8) below Chiyomaru (M15w, 9-6), but keeps him above Kaisei, the top Juryo escapee.

M4 Shodai
M5 Takakeisho Ura
M6 Ichinojo Kagayaki
M7 Ikioi Chiyoshoma
M8 Takanoiwa Chiyonokuni
M9 Takarafuji Ishiura
M10 Arawashi Takekaze
M11 Daieisho Chiyomaru
M12 Daishomaru Kaisei

Lower maegashira, promotions, and demotions

Sadanoumi and Nishigiki earned Makuuchi stays by going kachi-koshi. Endo and Okinoumi suffer big drops but should be safe. Gagamaru earned a quick return to Juryo and should fall far down the Juryo banzuke, while Kotoyuki also definitely earned a demotion. Yutakayama and Asanoyama should definitely join Kaisei in Makuuchi, one of them at the expense of Sokokurai. This would mark a Makuuchi debut for Asanoyama. I think that Myogiryu will claim the last promotion slot, which will be vacated by Tokushoryu, and that Aminishiki will just miss out on promotion.

M13 Sadanoumi Endo
M14 Okinoumi Nishikigi
M15 Yutakayama Asanoyama
M16 Myogiryu
J1 Aminishiki Tokushoryu
J2 Sokokurai

Nagoya Day 14 Highlights


Takayasu-Harumafuji

It has been a rough morning in Castle Bermondsey, so I do beg forgiveness in being tardy with the update. Many of you will have seen the NHK highlight reel by now. For whatever reasons there seems to be a desire to keep Hakuho from claiming the yusho outright by now. I say this because Aoiyama has had a ridiculously easy schedule. Don’t get me wrong, he still won all of those matches fair and square. But compare this to some prior basho where anyone outside of san’yaku who was close to the leader group was given increasingly difficult matches until they fell away.

For example, you have a Maegashira 8 (Aoiyama) who is on a hot streak. So who does he get for day 14? A Komusubi? An Ozeki? Nah, lets pit him against a Maegashra 12. So there remains an outside tiny chance that Hakuho will lose to Harumafuji on day 15, and we will see The Boss square off against Aoiyama. Followed by several minutes of slow motion replay of Aoiyama’s pendulous man-mammaries swinging wildly as Hakuho batters his up and down the dohyo for sport.

In other news, Ura is now make-koshi, and it is for the best. He has many fans, and they seem to love their little wizard – he is lovable. But he was always going to go make-koshi the first time he faced the san’yaku battle fleet. In the grand scheme of things that would have been Aki, but due to injuries it was at Nagoya. He will come to rest down the banzuke, and with any luck be dominant down there and have a chance to not do further damage to that banged up knee. Trust me when I say, Ura will be back.

Selected Matches Day 14

Chiyonokuni defeats Sokokurai – Chiyonokuni’s rally is a great story coming out of Nagoya. After his turn in the meat grinder as Maegashira 1 during Natsu, he seemed to have started Nagoya down and unfocused. He was able to get his sumo together and return as strong as in the past, and lock down a winning record. Chiyonokuni is another rikishi we will likely see more good things from in the future.

Hokutofuji defeats Ishiura – Hokutofuji picks up kachi-koshi and will be a rank or two higher in Tokyo come September.

Onosho defeats Yoshikaze – Special prize for Onosho, I will predict. That would be two in a row for his first two Makuuchi basho. Yoshikaze looked like he was not quite fully spun up, and Onosho executed well.

Tochinoshin defeats Kotoshogiku – The big Georgain consigns Ojisan Kotoshogiku’s san’yaku rank to the past. Really nice execution by Tochinoshin in this match. His return to good form is a welcome development.

Tochiozan defeats Mitakeumi – No Ozeki run starting for Mitakeumi, there is always next time, but he will get to keep his Sekiwake rank. Tochiozan once again looked calm and worked his attack plan expertly.

Hakuho defeats Goeido – Goeido must beat Takayasu on day 15 to avoid the probationary kadoban status.

Harumafuji defeats Takayasu – Harumafuji once again deploys a tottari. Takayasu ends up looking even more hurt. This basho has really knocked him around, and I hope he gets a chance to heal up.

Nagoya Day 12 Highlights


Hokotofuji
Before Anyone Gets Fussy, Yes, This Is Ozeki Kaio

Hakuho Ties Kaio’s Record

There was a lot of great sumo action today from Nagoya, but the big news is that after a one day setback, the Hakuho win streak has resumed. He picked up his 1047th win today, tying the record held by great Ozeki Kaio, who was present to see this milestone.

Kaio-1047

There are already so many superlatives attached to Hakuho’s career, and with his recent surgery and recuperation effort, we may see him continue to be a dominant force in sumo for several more years to come. Below are a few of the sumo records that have Hakuho’s name beside them:

  • 38 Yusho
  • 13 Zensho Yusho
  • 7 Consecutive Yusho
  • 950 Makuuchi Wins
  • 86 Wins In A Single Year

That being said, there is another record Hakuho is likely to break some time next year, as long as he continues to be healthy: The most tournaments as a Yokozuna, which is currently held by 80’s era great Kitanoumi, and stands at 63.

Highlight Matches

Chiyonokuni defeats Kotoyuki – This was a monster of a match, which saw Chiyonokuni somehow escape Kotoyuki’s force out via a very Ura like maneuver. Sadly it seems that the marginally injured Kotoyuki may have suffered further damage in the match, and was both slow to get up and limping badly. Kotoyuki is clearly headed back to Juryo, so hopefully he will be able to recover.

Shohozan defeats Gagamaru – Also on the fast track back to Juryo is Gagamaru, who has had a miserable basho, and just can’t seem to really bring much energy to his sumo right now. Gagamaru is a beloved public figure in Japan, and I dearly hope that whatever injury is holding him back, he can overcome it by September.

Aoiyama defeats Takarafuji – Aoiyama is not fooling around this time, he is really pushing hard for any san’yaku slot that might show up. Believe it or not, he is still a yusho contender. Much respect to the man-mountain from Bulgaria who has really applied himself this basho.

Ishiura defeats Nishikigi – I am still hoping that Nishikigi can survive in Makuuchi, but Ishiura continues to improve over his lack luster week 1 performance. Ishiura survived multiple throw attempts and was able to force Nishikigi.

Takekaze defeats Daieisho – Takekaze picks up his kachi-koshi with a fairly straightforward hatakikomi. Daieisho is now make-koshi but will be back in Makuuchi for September.

Chiyotairyu defeats Onosho – Chiyotairyu also locks down his kachi-koshi in a really straightforward win over Onosho. Onosho this was one of Onosho least impressive bouts of Nagoya, so hopefully he is back in form tomorrow. I am sure he is within range of a special prize now, if he can pick up a 10th win.

Ichinojo defeats Ura – Wow, we finally get to see Ichinojo move with vigor and purpose. It was actually rather impressive. But it’s also clear that Ura is hurt, and seems to have been hurt more in this match. But Ichinojo really put in the effort to win this one. Great match that I hope they show in the NHK highlight reel.

Yoshikaze defeats Tochinoshin – A brutal match that saw Tochinoshin pounding Yoshikaze with relentless furor. Yoshikaze kept working past the blows and focused on getting inside and taking control of the big Georgain, which after a while he did. Second later Yoshikaze pushed out his opponent, and picked up a hard earned kachi-koshi.

Kotoshogiku defeats Shodai – Kotoshogiku prevails and keeps hopes that he can cling to Komusubi alive. Shodai’s high tachiai is an open invitation to Kotoshogiku to take control and push Shodai around the dohyo.

Tochiozan defeats Takayasu – Tochiozan owned this match from start to finish. Takayasu looked vague and uncoordinated, and Tochiozan flopped him around the dohyo for a time, then pushed him out from behind. One of Takayasu’s worst bouts in recent memory.

Hakuho defeats Tamawashi – Claiming his 1047th career win, Hakuho engaged in a brutal slug fest with Tamawashi. I am sure some of those face blows echoed in the arena, as it looked like The Boss was making up for whatever was lacking in his day 11 loss.

Harumafuji defeats Mitakeumi – Very straightforward Harumafuji win today, Mitakeumi did not repeat his magic of day 11, and the match ended by yorikiri.

Nagoya Day 11 Highlights


Mitakeumi Kensho Stack

Tachiai Is Not Spoiler Free.

A word to our readers. We dearly appreciate all of you, and are grateful that you take the time to come by and visit our little sumo site. A special thanks to all of you who take the time to add your voice to the community here, and post your comments on our stories. As happens from time to time, we get people who are disappointed that we are reporting facts about the day’s sumo events prior to their chance to watch it either on Youtube or HNK. For that, we are somewhat sorry, but let me explain our policy.

Sumo fans in the west are at a huge time disadvantage. By the time the early birds rise in the US East Coast morning hours, matches have been over for hours, and the results are known to everyone who follows sumo across the world – except for the Americas. We made a decision that we would write and comment about the events that happen in Japan from a Japanese time reference. So for Tachiai, there is no such thing as a spoiler. We know that some of our readers are fairly hard core (as we are) and sometimes stay up overnight to watch the matches as they happen. If we waited until Noon or 1:00 PM Eastern, we are just a few hours away from the next day’s matches starting. Very silly. In addition, some of our contributors are fortunate enough to be at the venue and watch the action live. It would make no sense to limit their ability to contribute and report.

So for now and the foreseeable future, Tachiai is an “as it happens” venue. If you want to savor the anticipation of not knowing the outcome until you see it on video, we ask that you refrain from the temptation to check our site, or follow us on Twitter or Facebook. Because we will post major events more or less as they happen. In the instance of twitter, I follow several dozen sumo fans in Japan, and they are tweeting like mad about the matches as they happen, so the entirety of the day, and everyone’s reactions to them bouts is known as I prepare to write.

Again, thank you everyone who reads the site and visits us, we really do treasure you, but we are going to follow sumo action during a basho as closely as our sleep schedule allows.

Highlight Matches

Takekaze defeats Kotoyuki – With Kotoyuki’s make-koshi confirmed, we can assume he will be relegated back to Juryo, short of some divine intervention. Takekaze inches closer to yet another winning record and remaining in Makuuchi.

Okinoumi defeats Gagamaru – Bloody lethargic match was closer to a pair of tired grizzly bears fighting for a sleeping bag than any kind of sumo. Gagamaru has always be sort of low energy “win by being huge” sort of rikishi, but given the speed and energy of the young ones, he looks tremendously out of place. Back to Juryo with him as well.

Nishikigi defeats Aoiyama – Nishikigi will not surrender to the specter of a return to Juryo. Today he was able to best Aoiyama, who has been on a tear this basho. First the shimpan had to talk it over, but they upheld the gyoji’s gumbai. Given Aoiyama’s mass, there is a real question of mechanical injury on any fall or throw. We hope the big Bulgarian is undamaged, though it looks like his damaged knee hit hard.

Chiyonokuni defeats Takanoiwa – Takanoiwa must be hurt, as I know he can produce some powerful and effective sumo. But it’s great to see Chiyonokuni back in winning form. He looked confident and aggressive today, and kachi-koshi is still within reach.

Onosho defeats Takarafuji – Onosho continues to impress, do not be surprised if he wins yet another special prize for his excellent sumo this tournament. I suspect he will take the “Young Rikishi Punching Bag” slot from Takakeisho for Aki. Victory seemed to come in the form of Takarafuji slipping and falling, but a win is a win.

Tochiozan defeats Chiyotairyu – Tochiozan has quietly been putting up some solid sumo for a few basho now. I expect him back in the joi for Aki given his kachi-koshi, and we shall see how genki he is feeling then. Chiyotairyu is also likely to finish with a winning record, and a modest move up the banzuke for the fall.

Ichinojo defeats Ikioi – Another marathon battle from the JNS Ichinojo, and the crowd was eating it up. Much respect to Ikioi for going the distance on this one.

Tochinoshin defeats Hokutofuji – Brillant session of mawashi combat today, and both rikishi looked very good. It’s always a tough road when someone decides to challenge Tochinoshin in a strength contest. Possibly san’yaku slot for the mighty Georgian if he can pick up a couple additional wins.

Takakeisho defeats Kotoshogiku – Takakeisho very effectively countered the Kyushu Bulldozer’s front attack. Takakeisho took a pounding this basho, but there is and remains a reason he achieved Maegashira 1 ranking. Talk in sumo circles is questioning if Kotoshogiku will retire on his 8th loss and imminent demotion from san’yaku.

Yoshikaze defeats Shodai – Shodai earns his make-koshi, and will have a chance to improve his tachiai for Aki. Shodai’s fundamental mechanics are sound, but some of his execution requires upgrades before he can compete at the next stage of his evolution. Yoshikaze was in control of this match from the start.

Tamawashi defeats Takayasu – After a good opening gambit by Takayasu, Tamawashi rallied and took the match. The deciding fact was Tamawashi’s ability to block Takayasu landing an effective mawashi grip. Well played Takayasu!

Goeido defeats Ura – Solid Ozeki performance from Goeido, damn I am happy to see him booted up in 2.0 mode for multiple days in a row. Ura is a bit banged up from his prior days with the Ozeki / Yokozuna corps, and was looking vague and stiff. Goeido needs to push hard for his kachi-koshi, it would be ugly to have kadoban twins for Aki again.

Harumafuji defeats Chiyoshoma – A solid and decisive win for Harumafuji, he is now safely in kachi-koshi territory. Each basho he seems a bit more injured, and I really want him to be an active Yokozuna for a while longer. But it’s clear the cumulative damage to his joints are taking their toll.

Mitakeumi defeats Hakuho – Zensho is no longer an option, the shin Sekiwake stops The Boss’s winning streak at 25. This is still Hakuho’s yusho in all likelihood, but Mitakeumi scored an important victory that puts his possible Ozeki campaign into an active mode. He needs two more wins to kick it off. If Iksumo’s forecast is correct, Ikioi and Chiyoshoma seem to be the likely donors.

Nagoya Day 10 Highlights


Captain-Kensho

Valor In Defeat.

Day 10 brought few surprises, but a massive amount of outstanding sumo action to Nagoya. Again the stand out match revolved around crowd favorite Ura, who was unable to be Takayasu, but threw everything he had at the big Ozeki. Fans appreciated both the unquenchable fighting spirit shown by Ura, and the stability, poise and patience from Takayasu.

Takakeisho showed no less fighting spirit in his match against Yoshikaze, who was not phased in the least by the youngster’s manic attack plan. Yoshikaze is an interesting figure in sumo. He is a fantastic all around athlete, and would have likely been successful in sports other than sumo, as he played baseball in college, too. This augments his sumo in that he can perform moves that others might not have the overall physique to attempt. We don’t frequently see him lift an opponent, but today Yoshikaze carried Takakeisho out like it was his bed time.

Ichinojo gets rightfully accused of being a big slow container ship in a mawashi, but today his exhausting marathon grapple with Tochinoshin is the stuff of epics. Both men knew going into this bout that it was going to be a contest of strength and stamina, and Ichinojo had the ability to hold his own in a contest of might.

Highlight Matches

Takarafuji defeats Gagamaru – Takarafuji secures his kachi-koshi by taking advantage of Planet Gagamaru’s spherical shape, and rolling him around the dohyo to victory. The laws of physics are a harsh mistress, and wise is the rikishi who studies Isaac Newton and Galileo.

Takekaze defeats Nishikigi – After a blistering start, Nishikigi is now in a 4 bout losing streak, and his remaining in Makuuchi is starting to look questionable. Takekaze, of course, seems timeless and is able to concoct a winning strategy for nearly any opponent this far down the banzuke.

Chiyonokuni defeats Daishomaru – Great to see the scion of Kokonoe beya back in the fray. After a miserable Natsu and a weak start in Nagoya, he seems to be in his grove and applying himself well.

Aoiyama defeats Chiyotairyu – The man moutain Aoiyama delivers the doom against Chiyotairyu, who was looking to lock down his kachi-koshi today. Aoiyama will be much further up the banzuke in Tokyo, and with any luck he will expand his catalog of sumo techniques and recuse himself well.

Kotoyuki defeats Ishiura – Facing a ride on the shame train back to Juryo, Kotoyuki decides he is going to really engage and fight. He put away Ishiura today, who drops to 5-5. Kotoyuki’s next loss locks in a make-koshi and a demotion.

Onosho defeats Tokushoryu – In what has been called by some the “Battle of the Angry Tadpoles”, Onosho has come away with his kachi-koshi. His performance since joining Makuuchi in May has been impressive, and I would be interested to see if he scores his second special prize this basho.

Yoshikaze defeats Takakeisho – Takakeisho was destined for a make-koshi this tournament, and today the Berserker delivered. Takakeisho will be back stronger and greatly improved. I sincerely hope that many of his matches this basho helped him explore the need to expand his sumo, and the staggering variety of tactics a solid Makuuchi rikishi can and will deploy in just a few seconds.

Mitakeumi defeats Shodai – It was not even close. Shodai has a raging problem with being consistent in his delivery, and as we oft repeat here, his tachiai is sloppy and high. Mitakeumi, being a squat, burly fellow, knows he can keep Shodai high and quickly run him out.

Kotoshogiku defeats Goeido – Wow! The Kyushu Bulldozer side steps the Goeido war-charge and succeeds.

Takayasu defeats Ura – Both rikishi really impressed today. I encourage readers who have time to re-watch the match a few times, and one viewing focus on just Takayasu, and another viewing focus on just Ura. When Ura deploys the knee grab, there is a moment where Takayasu is doomed, and he thinks through it in a blink of an eye and counters to win. That, dear readers, was a masterful move.

Hakuho defeats Chiyoshoma – Of course he did. But he played with Chiyoshoma for a bit first. I swear he and the Mole Boss discuss match strategies. The Boss is now at 1046, one away from tying Kaio’s all time win record. Hakuho zensho looking increasingly likely. At this point, I am keen to see him do it again.

Harumafuji defeats Tamawashi – Prior to Nagoya, there was a good amount of discussion that Tamawashi would be the next sumotori to reach for Ozeki promotion. Tamawashi is very good, but he is perhaps one notch below the level needed to vie for Ozeki. It will be interesting to see who the schedulers throw at him for the final 5 days, as he needs to find a way to 3 more wins to stay at Sekiwake.

Personal Note – Bruce is on a business trip today, so posting will happen at odd times and may be lacking depth and detail.

Nagoya Day 10 Preview


Giant-Sumo-Macaroon
Behold! The Giant Macaroon of Victory!

Closing The Second Act

My template for any basho is a series of 3 acts, with the second one being focused on trimming the field to a handful of rikishi who will compete for the cup. For Nagoya, we have slim chance of anyone other than Hakuho winning this one. The only credible rikishi is Aoiyama at 8-1, and there is little hope that he could best Hakuho in any kind of head-to-head match should it come to that. Right now it’s Hakuho’s basho to lose.

The strong story of this basho, as we outlined in the weeks leading up to Nagoya, is the strength of the new blood that had entered Makuuchi since the Kyushu basho in November. Up to that point, the upper ranks were largely populated by men who had been Sekitori for more than 4 years, many of whom were getting a bit long in the tooth. It was clear that we would have a cull as soon as a strong class of men were able to fight their way past Juryo, and into position to dethrone the old guard.

Today we see that outcome beginning to manifest itself, with the startling surprise that in spite of injury, surgery, hospitalization and a brutal road to recovery, Hakuho one again sits atop the sumo world. For fans who are new to sumo, or those who cannot recall, with Hakuho Genki, the chances of anyone being able to reach Yokozuna are very close to zero. It’s one thing to win two yusho in a row when you have fierce men holding down the Yokozuna and Ozeki ranks (such as a healthy Terunofuji or Kisenosato), and another matter entirely when you have to overcome Hakuho.

What’s in store for act 3? I suspect the Nagoya basho has a few more tricks up its sleeves, and we are likely to see at least one more crazy day before the winner can claim the coveted giant macaroon of victory.

Nagoya Leader board

Leader – Hakuho
Chaser – Aoiyama
Hunt Group – Takayasu, Onosho, Chiyotairyu, Takarafuji

6 Matches Remain

What We Are Watching Day 10

Takarafuji vs Gagamaru – Takarafuji going for kachi-koshi, while Gagamaru is praying he can stay out of Juryo for another basho. Sad news for Planet G, Takarafuji has won all 6 of the prior bouts.

Nishikigi vs Takekaze – After a strong start, Nishikigi is on a 3 bout losing streak. He has never won against Takekaze, so this could be an inch closer to the edge of make-koshi and an unfortunate return to Juryo. Time to gamberize!

Aoiyama vs Chiyotairyu – Chiyotairyu pushing for kachi-koshi against the man mountain today. I will be curious to see if Aoiyama will back off the throttle now that he has secured a winning record. He has to know that a trip to the upper Maegashira is now likely, and it brings plenty of pain. Aoiyama leads the series 6-2.

Tokushoryu vs Onosho – Onosho has a shot at kachi-koshi today too, but he needs to overcome the man with biggest overhang in sumo, none other than Tokushoryu. only 3 prior matches, and Tokushoryu has taken 2 of them.

Tochinoshin vs Ichinojo – Big and strong takes on strong and huge. Tochinoshin is back in fighting form, and could be headed for San’yaku if he can get his last 3 wins. Tochinoshin leads their series 8-4.

Kagayaki vs Hokutofuji – Nice match between the fresh rikishi. Both of them have losing records at the moment, but a lot of that is due to their tours through the upper ranks. Kagayaki has never won against Hokutofuji, but today could be his day.

Yoshikaze vs Takakeisho – Yoshikaze completely dismantled Takayasu on day 9, and being a fan of both, it was glorious to watch. As some of our readers have mentioned, Takayasu has gotten a bit one dimensional in the past 3 bouts. Compare his sumo for Aki 2016 to today, and you can see the change. Now, he did what he needed to do in order to reach Ozeki, but he is clearly getting easier to read and counter.

Shodai vs Mitakeumi – I am guessing no henka today. Shodai’s tachiai may be high and sloppy, but he keeps his eyes center-mass of his opponent. I expect he is going to try to get inside on Mitakeumi fast before Mitakeumi can get the tsuppari torrent running. Shodai leads their series 5-3

Kotoshogiku vs Goeido – Kotoshogiku wants to set up for his hip-pump attack, it’s his one thing. Goeido needs to keep this a run-and-gun match, which the Goeido 2.0 software is actually tuned for. These two have met 43 times in the past, but Goeido is the clear winner of their matches.

Takayasu vs Ura – Over to you Takayasu, can you handle this guy? He seems to command the fabric of the universe at times, if you let him. I am hoping that rather than his ordinary shoulder blast, he goes for a strong left hand inside at the tachiai and brings Ura in close. Ura will not last long trying to support the burly bulk that is Takayasu. This is their first bout.

Hakuho vs Chiyoshoma – Chiyoshoma is actually fighting pretty well this basho, and if he did not have to fill in for some kyuju talent at the top end, would likely be in for a nice kachi-koshi. But instead he gets to be cannon fodder for the Yokozuna and Ozeki corps in the final days. Only their second meeting, with Hakuho taking the last match.

Tamawashi vs Harumafuji – Let’s watch them trade choke holds! Bring it on, who can hold their breath longest while man-handling 300+ pounds of rikishi on a slippery clay surface? Yeah, Harumafuji for sure because he has been known to hold his breath for a hour while engaging in Butsukari with Terunofuji.

Nagoya Day 8 Highlights


Hakuho-Salt

Simply, Some Fantastic Sumo!

This is one of the days that I wish the NHK show was more than just highlights. There was a wide variety of great sumo, from the first Makuuchi matches all the way up to the Yokozuna finals.

The young crop of rikishi who are competing at the very top of sumo for the first time are really recusing themselves well. We are not seeing waves of upset wins, that was never in the cards. But we are seeing young men with skill and a lot of determination going into matches they will not win with a plan to compete hard, and delivering a challenge to some of the best sumo has ever seen.

It should be noted that Aoiyama lost his match today against upstart Onosho, breaking his really fantastic unbeaten streak. I don’t really cover Aoiyama much, because he is a very one dimensional rikishi. He will execute his bouts in a given manner, and will rarely stray from that plan. This used to be Mitakeumi’s problem too, but he managed to expand his sumo, and as a result he is consistently fighting at San’yaku level now. Is it possibly for Aoiyama to be viable at higher ranks? I hold dear the notion that any person can adapt, survive and overcome. So for Aoiyama, I think it’s going to be about setting a goal and working hard to attain it.

Hakuho is now one win away from tying Chiyonofuji’s all time win mark of 1045. Short of an asterioid strike or a tragic injury, we will see Hakuho take out Kiao’s (yeah, that guy in the picture) all time high of 1047. It’s difficult to review the entirety of Hakuho’s career without devolving into a rolling mess of superlatives, and this additional record heaps those superlatives ever higher.

Highlight Matches

Takekaze defeats Chiyomaru – Huge effort from Chiyomaru here, really stood up to a pounding delivered by Takekaze at first, then Chiyomaru locked up the veteran to wear him down. They stood chest to chest for an extended period and it was Takekaze who broke the stalemate with a last ditch hip pumping attack. Great great sumo here.

Chiyonokuni defeats Gagamaru – So happy that Chiyonokuni has overcome whatever had him lethargic and losing during the first week. The battle with Planet Gagamaru was excellent effort from both rikishi, and it could have gone either way. Watch this one if you can find it! It’s not common to see Gagamaru this active and committed to battle.

Tokushoryu defeats Sokokurai – Although Sokokurai put up a great fight, Tokushoryu just kept moving forward. This is a fundamental principle of sumo that every Takakeisho learns, but many don’t always put into practice. As my readers may have guessed, I am a big fan of the fundamentals, and when I see them executed well, I call it out.

Takanoiwa defeats Okinoumi – At the bleeding edge of make-koshi, Takanoiwa pulls out a win. It did look like Okinoumi lost his footing and fell, but it was still a win.

Ishiura defeats Ichinojo – Yes yes yes! Sumo has these great big man / little man bouts, and this was about as large a difference as you might ever muster. Ichinojo really had Ishiura on the defense from the start, and it’s fun to see Ishiura deploy his take on Hakuho in a bout like this. Ishiura has now pulled even to 4-4.

Onosho defeats Aoiyama – I am starting to think that Onosho will get to have the “Takakeisho experience” next basho, as this young rikishi keeps turning up the power. The bout was mostly Onosho driving forward after finding a way to get Aoiyama off balance. Very nicely done.

Tochinoshin defeats Ikioi – Crowd favorite Ikioi has been sucking wind this basho, I hope that whatever has him underperforming can be resolved. Tochinoshin took a side step at the tachiai and got behind Ikioi to take control, but Ikioi recovered well enough to put up a bit of a struggle.

Shodai defeats Tamawashi – Shodai was high again in the tachiai, but was able to take charge of Tamawashi and defeat his offensive strategy. Very good effort from Shodai, and I hope we see more from him like this.

Takakeisho defeats Mitakeumi – This match was a joy to watch. We already know that Mitakeumi will be a San’yaku fixture for the next several basho, but it’s great to see just how much effort Takakeisho can bring to a match like this. Turns out, quite a bit! Watching these two with the same build, the same height and the same mawashi color is a bit unsettling. Well done lads!

Goeido 2.0 defeats Hokutofuji – I love me some Hokutofuji (Kaio Edition), but this was Goeido 2.0 time. He exploded off the line and blasted Hokutofuji out. When I talk about Goeido 2.0, it’s this total commitment to his attack plan, with no chance or hope of a defensive move anywhere along the way. Just overwhelm your opponent and accelerate to victory.

Takayasu defeats Chiyoshoma – Chiyoshoma decides to grab Takayasu’s mawashi, and sumo nerds crack a smile. Yeah, let the big man hug you to victory. Thank you Chiyoshoma for doing that.

Hakuho defeats Ura – As foretold by our readers and the Tachiai team, it was all Hakuho. But damn Ura, that was a strong game plan, and I think you actually made the boss work for his win. I am not sure about Hakuho, but I was impressed that Ura was able to operate effectively. Hakuho is, essentially, unstoppable at this point. Yes, the crowd went bannannas.

Harumafuji defeats Kagayaki – The young Kagayaki really did not have much of a chance, but he put up a fantastic fight. As with the Hakuho-Ura match, he made him work for it. Kagayaki is still too inconsistent to be much of a fight, but sumo fans can see that he’s got the spark of potential to be great.