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 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.

San’yaku Torikumi Forecast


Since the schedulers only give us the Torikumi one day in advance, it’s fun to speculate about the days ahead. Below is a guess for the bouts for the remaining San’yaku rikishi for days 12-15. Others who know more about scheduling than I do should chime in.

  Day 12 Day 13 Day 14 Day 15
Hakuho Tamawashi Goeido Takayasu Harumafuji
Harumafuji Mitakeumi Takayasu Goeido Hakuho
Goeido Tochiozan Hakuho Harumafuji Takayasu
Takayasu Kagayaki Harumafuji Hakuho Goeido
Tamawashi Hakuho Hokutofuji Ura Kagayaki
Mitakeumi Harumafuji Tochinoshin Ikioi Chiyoshoma
Yoshikaze Tochinoshin Ikio Kagayaki Ura
Kotoshogiku Shodai Ura Tochinoshin Hokutofuji

The Yokozuna schedule should be very straightforward. The only question is the order in which they face the Ozeki, and given the cache of the HakuhoTakayasu bout, I’m guessing they’ll hold it till day 14, even though Goeido is ranked higher than Takayasu on the Banzuke.

This also sets the Ozeki schedule except for day 12. They will already have fought the rest of the San’yaku and the upper maegashira after day 11, and Kagayaki and Tochiozan are next in line. Given his stronger record, I have Takayasu facing the higher-ranked of the two.

The two sekiwake have their remaining Yokozuna bouts on day 12, and then face the upper maegashira they haven’t fought yet. The two komusubi are done with their San’yaku schedule, and will face maegashira from here on out.

Beyond the high-rank bouts with obvious yusho implications, I’m looking forward to Ura facing Kotoshogiku, Tamawashi, and Yoshikaze, as I’m sure is everyone else. Goeido is fighting to avoid kadoban status. All four sekiwake/komusubi slots are mathematically up for grabs (although Mitakeumi needs only one more win), with multiple candidates to move up to the San’yaku should slots open up, so the remaining Tochinoshin and Hokutofuji bouts also have a lot of meaning and should be fun to watch.

It’s looking like a great final act to Nagoya!

Nagoya Day 8 Preview


Battle Circle Day 8

Our First Look At The Leaderboard

With the middle weekend of the basho upon us, it’s time to start thinking about who will take home the Emperor’s Cup from Nagoya. Right now anyone who thinks it’s Hakuho is probalby right. Although it’s quite possible that Takayasu might challenge, first someone has to beat Hakuho. What about Aoiyama you might ask? Yes, it’s most impressive that he has gone to day 7 without a single defeat, but week 2 will likely see him fight higher up the banzuke, and he may not dominate those matches. Then there is the idea of Takayasu himself beating Hakuho. I anticipate that match comes late in week 2, possibly on day 14.

With much of the Yokozuna and Ozeki corps kyujo, there are few who can give Hakuho a vigorous match. Today’s bout against Ikioi is a great example. For The Boss it was formulaic, and he cracked a big smile at the end. He is, in fact, having a great deal of fun. If he should be able to achieve another perfect yusho, it would open serious consideration that he might be able to campaign again for Futabayama’s record for consecutive wins. It’s a record we know that in the past, Hakuho has said “I was born to break that record”. A tough mountain to climb, even for the Michael Jordan of sumo.

Nagoya Leader board

Leaders – Hakuho, Aoiyama
Chasers – Takayasu
Hunt Group – Harumafuji, Mitakeumi, Ura, Tochiozan, Onosho, Chiyotairyu, Arawashi, Takarafuji, Nishikigi

8 Matches Remain

What We Are Watching Day 8

Chiyonokuni vs Gagamaru – Time to see if Chiyonokunin can continue his renewed focus on winning. Today he takes on Planet Gagamaru, who is having a terrible basho. In their three prior bouts, Gagamaru has won two of them, but that’s not really indicative. Gagamaru holds a huge mass advantage.

Nishikigi vs Daishomaru – Nishikigin dropped his second match of the basho on day 7, and I am looking for him to return to being dominant on day 8. He has a nice winning run going, and he is 3 wins away from kachi-koshi. Daishomaru is holding a steady course with nearly equal wins and losses. He also holds a 5-1 career advantage over Nishikigi.

Chiyotairyu vs Arawashi – Arawashi racked up 2 kinboshi in the New Years basho, and since then has been on a steady downward slide. But thus far he has a strong winning record. Chiyotairyu looked excellent on day 7 against Sadanoumi, and he will try hard to continue his winning run. 3 prior matches with Arawashi taking 2.

Ichinojo vs Ishiura – Another classic sumo big man / little man bout. This time the big man is about as big as they come, and the little man can bench press a small block V8. Ishiura took their only prior meeting, so lets see if he can continue to turn his record around.

Aoiyama vs Onosho – The Man Mountain goes up against one of the hard charging up and comers in the person of Onosho. This is their first meeting, and we can count on Aoiyama to try to pummel Onosho into defeat. His best hope is to get inside, grab a double handful of moob meat and start pushing.

Yoshikaze vs Kotoshogiku – Ojisan Kotoshogiku takes on the Berserker, who has looked muted since his loss to Hakuho via a Henkaho. Kotoshogiku is mostly out of gas, but he showed great fire against Harumafuji day 7. Kotoshogiku leads the series 20-5, so this may be loss #4 for Yoshikaze.

Takakeisho vs Mitakeumi – Could be the highlight match of the day, a first meeting, it pits future Ozeki Mitakeumi against Nagoya 2017 punching bag Takakeisho. Seriously, Takakeisho – it’s nothing personal. Everyone’s first ride at Maegashira 1 is a blood bath. It means you are going to be somebody one day, and the sumo world loves you.

Hokutofuji vs Goeido – Oh yeah! Another first time match up. This time we get to see which version of Goeido boots up, as I think Goeido 1.0 is going to taste clay and 2.0 is going to have a fun match. Hokutofuji is taking his share of lumps in the joi now, but he is giving almost as good as he gets. And he does not lose either his cool or his manners. Ladies and Gentlemen, the future of sumo is here.

Hakuho vs Ura – Yet another first time match! This one is going to be a crazy one, and I am just hoping that Ura does not get hurt. Sumo fans have been wondering what this meeting will look like, and now we all get to find out. Will Hokuho use the same approach he used against Takakeisho? I think he will engage Ura.

Kagayaki vs Harumafuji – Last of the wonderful first time meet ups for Sunday, I think that Kagayaki will probably be quickly and ultimately overwhelmed. But will Harumafuji give him a trip on the death-spin?

Nagoya banzuke crystal ball part 1


Following mixed success in predicting the Natsu banzuke, I’m going to take a shot at Nagoya.

Upper San’yaku

Y1 Hakuho Harumafuji
Y2 Kisenosato Kakuryu
O1 Terunofuji Goeido
O2 Takayasu  

The ranks here are determined by performance at Natsu, with the exception of Shin-Ozeki Takayasu, who will need to work his way up from O2e. Although we no longer have three sekiwake, Andy’s OCD will have to cope with three Ozeki instead.


Lower San’yaku

S Tamawashi Mitakeumi
K Yoshikaze Kotoshogiku

I would not be shocked to see Shodai at K1w in place of Kotoshogiku–will the NSK favor the popular up-and-comer or the grizzled vet?


The Meat Grinder

I’m going to include the M1-M4 ranks here. Along with the San’yaku, this group makes up the “joi” or upper ranks, and regularly faces San’yaku competition. When none of the rikishi in the San’yaku ranks are kyujo, there are currently 11 of them, so they need  to face 5 wrestlers outside the San’yaku to make up their 15 bouts. This takes us down to M3e. But as commenter Asashosakari noted, M3w has to face at least Harumafuji, Terunofuji, Kisenosato and Takayasu, who can’t face a wrester from the same heya. At Natsu, the numbers of San’yaku opponents for the M1-M4 ranks was 11, 11, 8, 9, 9, 5, 6, 2. So there was the expected drop-off at M3w (Aoiyama), but he and Tochiozan (M4e) still faced quite a few San’yaku opponents as a result of the combination of same-heya wrestlers and withdrawals of Kakuryu and Kisenosato. Shodai faced 3 San’yaku opponents (and defeated two of them!), and no one else ranked at M4w or lower faced more than 2.

Why “the meat grinder”? Well, as a group, these rikishi went a horrific 8-51 against their San’yaku opponents, a 0.136 winning percentage. The only one with more than one win was Endo, who sort of held his own at 4-7. Excluding his performance, the rest of this group went an abysmal 4-44 (0.083 winning percentage). Not surprisingly, the M1-M3 ranks will turn over completely, as they did after Haru, and most of this group will fall far down the banzuke, although Endo should hang on at M4.

M1 Shodai Takakeisho
M2 Tochinoshin Hokutofuji
M3 Ikioi Ura
M4 Endo Kagayaki

Shodai will probably just miss out on a komusubi slot; one more victory would have sealed the deal. He and Ikioi and Endo are no strangers to this level of competition. Neither is Tochinoshin, who is dangerous if healthy. It’ll be interesting to see how Takakeisho and Hokutofuji acquit themselves at this level. I’m afraid Nagoya will be a “learning experience” for Ura, just like Natsu was for Daieisho. Kagayaki is just here to balance the columns and not needlessly trigger Andy’s OCD.

Part 2 will cover the lower maegashira ranks.

Looking toward Nagoya


What a great tournament we just had! To me, what stood out is the large number of outstanding performances throughout the banzuke, from Hakuho‘s zensho yusho all the way down to Onosho‘s 10-5 record in his Makuuchi debut. Terunofuji got his Jun-yusho, and would have been in contention on the final day if not for his early hiccups on days 1 and 2. Takayasu handled the pressure and will be ozeki in Nagoya. Tamawashi may have started his own ozeki run, and has been fighting at that level. Mitakeumi and Yoshikaze held their own in San’yaku, and Shodai, Takakeisho, Tochinoshin, Hokutofuji, Ikioi, and Ura all put up great numbers in the maegashira ranks.

We don’t get the official Nagoya banzuke until June 26, but here are some early thoughts on the top and bottom of the banzuke.

The yokozuna ranks should get reshuffled as follows:

Y1 Hakuho Harumafuji
Y2 Kisenosato Kakuryu

We will have 3 ozeki: Terunofuji, Goeido, and Takayasu.

Tamawashi will keep his sekiwake rank, and Mitakeumi should join him.

Yoshikaze will keep his komusubi rank, and I think Kotoshogiku did just enough to only drop down to the other komusubi slot.

We should have a strong new crop of upper maegashira, who may even fare better than their predecessors at these ranks:

M1 Shodai Takakeisho
M2 Tochinoshin Hokutofuji
M3 Ikioi Ura

At the other end of the banzuke, Yutakayama, Myogiryu, and Toyohibiki will find themselves in Juryo, replaced in Makuuchi by Sadanoumi, Chiyomaru, and Nishigiki. I think Kaisei will just barely hang on to the top division at M16. They could swap him with Gagamaru, but what would be the point?

Full banzuke prediction to come once I’ve had some time to digest Natsu.

Natsu Day 14 Highlights


Goeido

This Basho Keeps Giving

I have recalled many tournaments where things fade a bit on the last few days, the yusho is kind of a foregone conclusion, or there are no really competitive things going on except maybe a few top matches. Given the number of sekitori that have withdrawn, this seemed quite possible this basho, but it has kept fans engaged right up until the end. This is a fine example of the schedulers spinning gold out of straw, and I complement them without reservation.

We were following the Komusubi, and both of them locked up kachi-koshi today, which is a fantastic and interesting development. There is one Sekiwake slot open for July, and it’s going to come down to the final day and total win count to see who gets it. Either of them would be a great choice, but in spite of being a huge Yoshikaze fan, I think Mitakeumi is the better fit.

Although no one in the Japanese sumo press discussing this much, it’s clear that Harumafuji’s performance took a step down after his bouts earlier this week. He had very little power to ground with Goeido today, who (thankfully) had the mojo to exploit the weakness and drive to a win. There had been some cat calls over Goiedo’s easy path to lift kadoban, but with a win over a Yokozuna, he’s got nothing to hide from now.

Juryo keeps refusing to behave. We now have two rikishi at 9-5, and 12 (!) at 8-6. Furthermore, the two leaders right now are none other than long suffering sekitori Nishikigi, who would be welcome back in Makuuchi, and the relic Aminishiki, who is now 38 years old! Never give up, never surrender!

Highlight Matches

Chiyotairyu defeats Gagamaru – Chiyotairyu picks up his kachi-koshi, and holds onto Makuuchi in a match against Planet Gagamaru. Gagamaru is a real mixed bag, like Ichinojo, he probably relies too much on a lot of mass as a defensive system. There is a lot to be said for bulk in sumo, but there are a host of sumotori who lose mobility and attack power as their weight climbs. I would count Gagamaru among them. I bet he would improve greatly if he shed 10-15 kg before July.

Onosho defeats Arawashi – Arawashi is now make-koshi, and Onosho keeps rolling on. It’s really kind of impressive the sumo he has been able to put together on his Makuuchi debut, and I hope it’s a sign of good battles to come. Arawashi was late in setting up his throw, and was out before he could swing Onosho down.

Shohozan defeats Kaisei – Kaisei’s demotion to Juryo or persistence in Makuuchi comes down to the final day, he is now at 7=7 after his loss to Shohozan.

Takakeisho defeats Ura – Ura has still never beaten Takakeisho in a match. Today Ura looked out of control, vague and confused. Takakeisho had Ura under control and off the dohyo in a hurry, and it was really impressive.

Hokutofuji defeats Endo – Ok… Endo beats two Ozeki and a Yokozuna this basho. He even put Yoshikaze away on day 11. Yet he is deeply make-koshi, and lost to a Maegashira 7 today. Granted, Hokutofuji is a powerful up-and-comer, but Endo either has some mechanical injury, or needs to get his mind in his sumo. We hope the stretch between now and July can help him get things together.

Yoshikaze defeats Tochiozan – Solid match from both, but it was all Yoshikaze today. He gets his kachi-koshi and will stay in San’yaku for July. I also get the impression that Yoshikaze is really have fun with his sumo this basho. He has not looked this dialed in since last summer.

Tochinoshin defeats Tamawashi – HENKA! The NHK commentator, Hiro Morita, was really upset by this. But let’s get real here, Tochinoshin was squirrels before the tachiai, he practically telegraphed this to Tamawashi. Tamawashi, keep your head up and eyes on your opponents center of mass during the tachiai. Everyone who plays a football lineman in the US understands this. It’s not that tough.

Kotoshogiku defeats Daieisho – Ojisan seems really sullen and resigned now, and it’s a bit depressing. I am sure he is trying to figure out if he stays in as he floats down the banzuke, or if he takes his kabu and transitions into a behind the scenes role. He is now and can always be a big deal in sumo, but he continues to diminish.

Shodai defeats Takayasu – This one was a bit of a surprise, and in my book, it was Takayasu who made a few mistakes and Shodai who had the sumo sense to make him pay. It’s possible he was out celebrating with his mother and father (and friends) last night, and may have been a bit ragged during the match. Shodai kept moving forward, no matter what, thus he won.

Goeido defeats Harumafuji – Harumafuji is back to suffering from his lower body problems. It robs him of mobility and a strong stable platform to bend opponents into odd shapes and hurl them into the sun. He will close out the basho with a respectable double digit record, and what could be a really fun match with Hakuho. Much respect to Harumafuji indeed!