Courtesy of Grand Sumo Breakdown and Tachiai – Day 11 matches for our mock Natsu basho
Shin-Ozeki Asanoyama overpowered Mitakeumi today, dropping him to 7-2 while Ishiura surprised Hokutofuji to remain unbeaten, and 2 wins ahead of anyone else in the Kokugikan today. How long can Ishiura’s amazing storybook run continue? Not sure, but for the last 2 years it seems almost anyone in the top division stands a reasonable chance of taking home the cup on day 15. Should Ishiura pull off the miracle, who do you think would be his flag bearer? Awkward….
In the match immediately following, it was clear that Takakeisho is in a lot of pain both before and after the match, with him trying to massage that right pectoral muscle. As his only real weapon is thrusting, and he is right hand dominant, this is very bad news for him.
Mock Natsu Leaderboard
Leader – Ishiura
Hunt Group – Kakuryu, Asanoyama, Mitakeumi, Tokushoryu, Chiyotairyu, Sadanoumi, Nishikigi
6 Matches Remain
Day 9 Matches
Kotoeko (4-5) defeats Chiyoshoma (5-4) Tsukiotoshi – Chiyoshoma comes back to visit the top division to face Kotoeko. Chiyoshoma was early off the line, getting his left arm around Kotoeko’s body and spinning him. Surprisingly, Chiyoshoma did not quite keep his feet placed, and Kotoeko was able to stop the dance and attack. With all of Chiyoshoma’s weight on his left foot, Kotoeko tried for a leg sweep, that nearly worked. As Chiyoshoma stumbled to regain balance, Kotoeko grabbed Chiyoshoma and threw him down. I did like that attempt at the leg sweep – nice move.
Nishikigi (7-2) defeats Takayasu (6-3) Tsukiotoshi – Trying not to grumble here that Takayasu would get beaten by the likes of Nishikigi, but I need to keep in mind just how injured Takayasu was. While he opened strong, maybe 9 days of fighting has those injuries trending toward bad once more. Takayasu certainly seemed a bit less aggressive, and this is the first time – ever – that Nishikigi has beaten him. Ok, trying to to be worried. Some decent endurance from Nishikigi today as he was able to contain everything that Takayasu threw into this match.
Shohozan (5-4) defeats Chiyomaru (3-6) Oshidashi – This was more like the form we expect from Shohozan. He was strong at the tachiai, and made no attempt to do anything more than land a huge uppercut. In exchange, Chiyomaru got in a potent double arm thrust, but that uppercut sent him back, and Shohozan lunged in to finish him. Chiyomaru did seem a bit dazed after the match – hope he’s ok.
Sadanoumi (7-2) defeats Wakatakakage (4-5) Yoritaoshi – It had been a few days since we had seen Sadanoumi’s lightning tachiai, but to his credit it looks like Wakatakakage was prepared for it. Sadanoumi landed a right hand on Wakatakakage’s mawashi, but yielded the inside position to Wakatakakage, who reciprocated with a shallow left hand grip. Sadanoumi was impressively low, and was able to partially lift Wakatakakage off the dohyo and carry him forward for the win. One more win for kachi-koshi for Sadanoumi.
Tochinoshin (2-7) defeats Kotoyuki (3-6) Yorikiri – Tochinoshin managed his second win, and just maybe he can save himself from a trip to Juryo now. Kotoyuki was faster off the line, and attempted to set the match to oshi-zumo, but Tochinoshin was able to get his left hand outside grip. There’s not enough strength left in those knees to try a lift, and I think Tochinoshin accepts that now, but there is more than enough sumo skill to dominate a yotsu-zumo match. With Kotoyuki struggling to return to attack range, Tochinoshin progressively tightened his stance, and shut down Kotoyuki’s squirming as he walked him out.
Myogiryu (4-5) defeats Kotoshoho (5-4) Oshidashi – Myogiryu came out of the tachiai lower and faster, and was able to completely disrupt Kotoshoho’s efforts to set up defensive foot placement. Forced to step back, Kotoshoho knew he had trouble, and Myogiryu timed his next thrust perfectly to maximize the disruption. Kotoshoho was forced to step back again, and Myogiryu rushed forward to force him from the ring, but Kotoshoho managed to get his right hand on Myogiryu;s body at the last moment, and both men went out in a heap. The goyoji gave the match to Kotoshoho, but the Shimpan decided to review the video. From the replay it was clear that Kotoshoho touched down first, and the match went to Myogiryu.
Kotonowaka (5-4) defeats Kaisei (3-6) Uwatenage – Kaisei always has a bit of a slow tachiai, mostly due to how much effort it takes to get that much mass in motion. But he found the doughy, pliable Kotonowaka on the attack before he got too far out of his starting crouch. With both hands on Kaisei’s chest, Kotonowaka was able to get a few good blows in before Kaisei started grinding forward. Finding a right hand inside position, Kaisei drove Kotonowaka to the bales, but was unable to finish him. Kotonowaka moved to change his grip and was rewarded with morozashi, but the sheer size of Kaisei meant there was little he could do with the double inside grip. With Kaisei continuing to advanced, and Kotonowaka’s heels on the tawara, he loaded a last minute throw which did the trick and rescued the match for him.
Tokushoryu (7-2) defeats Kotoshogiku (5-4) Hatakikomi – Kotoshogiku was wearing a noticeably larger amount of tape today than any prior day of the basho, and I worry that his body is trying hard to override his fighting spirit now 9 days into the competition. But like the stalwart he is, Kotoshogiku came to fight, and give it his all. He took Tokushoryu to his chest and put himself in control of the match. Tokushoryu gave ground and tried to stay inbounds, but that trademark slap down from Tokushoryu was garnished with a pirouette at the edge. I think this is a good rank for Tokushoryu, and for now most his opponents are susceptible to his drop back, step the to side and slap down combo that took him to the yusho in January.
Chiyotairyu (7-2) defeats Shimanoumi (5-4) Hatakikomi – Shimanoumi took that massive tachiai, and not only stayed upright but managed to get a hold of Chiyotairyu’s mawashi. The big Kokonoe man danced around a bit, working to lower Shimanoumi’s body a bit at a time, until he was bent so far forward, struggling to maintain that grip, that he was an easy mark for the slap down. Either that is a practiced “plan b” or that was some world class improvisation.
Terutsuyoshi (3-6) defeats Ikioi (2-7) Oshidashi – Ikioi now one loss from make-koshi, and he seems to be struggling once more. Terutsuyoshi had an excellent tachiai, arriving at Ikioi’s neck as the bigger man was still moving forward and up. Unable to get any hand hold on Terutsuyoshi, Ikioi gave ground and tried to pull Terutsuyoshi down. Terutsuyoshi responded with a volley of thrusts to Ikioi’s chest, sending him to his 7th loss.
Ryuden (3-6) defeats Tamawashi (3-6) Yorikiri – It was Tamawashi’s match at the start, he was able to drive Ryuden back from the shikiri-sen, and Ryuden broke contact and circled away. Tamawashi responded with a combination of thrusts to Ryuden’s neck which connected well, but did not move Ryuden back more than a bit. Before Tamawashi could attack again, Ryuden closed the gap and put his left hand on Tamwashi’s belt, latching his fingers on the outer layers. Tamawashi responded with his right hand, but Ryuden already had control of the match, and moved Tamawashi back and out for a win. Both men finish the day at 3-6, and are in tough shape this tournament.
Ishiura (9-0) defeats Hokutofuji (5-4) Tsukiotoshi – Ishiura is still undefeated, and today he took Hokutofuji apart and left him by the side of the road. Hokutofuji opened strongly from the tachiai, but Ishiura gave ground carefully, retreating just enough to reduce the force for Hokutofuji’s attacks, and turning him at each step. With an overly eager right hand thrust from Hokutofuji, his body was open to attack for just a moment. Ishiura drove forward and thrust Hokutofuji down. A beautiful combination of speed and power.
Kiribayama (3-6) defeats Enho (3-6) Uwatenage – Both rikishi were firmly committed to a mawashi battle at the tachiai, and Kiribayama’s commitment to go toe to toe with Enho in this manner gave him an early advantage. He kept his stance wide and shut down two solid attempts by Enho to use his compact body and inside position to move Kiribayama. Content to stalemate Enho, Kiribayama looked ready to hit him out. But Enho had no intention of going passive, and reached for Kiribayama’s left leg. Suddenly reacting to the move, Kiribayama stepped his left foot back, but that only powered the throw which seems to have been Enho’s actual plan. The biggest shame is there was not a huge crowd in the Kokugikan to scream their heads off when Kiribayama when flying.
Yutakayama (3-6) defeats Takanosho (5-4) Yorikiri – Yutakayama got the inside position at the tachiai, and had much better foot placement. A bit of a struggle as the two went chest to chest, but Yutakayama got to a right hand inside position. As Takanosho fumbled to achieve a reciprocal grip, Yutakayama lowered his hips and advanced strongly, driving Takanosho from the ring.
Takarafuji (5-4) defeats Endo (2-7) Yorikiri – Endo seems to have lost all manner of his mojo, and today he went down to a surprisingly genki Takarafuji, who is having a great tournament at Maegashira 3. Endo’s attempt to set up a belt grip at the start of the match failed twice, and by the time he decided to go to plan “c”, Takarafuji was already moving him back.
Onosho (4-5) defeats Daieisho (5-4) Oshitaoshi – When these two clash, you know its going to be massive blasts, each trying to shove the other out with overwhelming force, and they did not disappoint. While I normally worry about Onosho being too far forward, there is no concern against Daieisho, as like Onosho he’s full throttle ahead at all times. So as with their prior matches, it was all about who could muster more force. Today it was Onosho, but up until the last moment it could have gone either way.
Abi (5-4) defeats Shodai (5-4) Hatakikomi – Abi seems to be back in the groove, and Abi-zumo is once again producing wins. A fast right hand thrust to Shodai’s neck kept him focused on trying to disrupt Abi’s attacks. To Shodai’s credit, he held his ground for a time while Abi attacked over and over again. After getting the rhythm of Abi’s attacks, Shodai pushed forward during a lull in the tsuppari, but found Abi’s right hand on his neck, and himself tumbling to the dohyo.
Asanoyama (7-2) defeats Mitakeumi (7-2) Yorikiri – This was always going to be a power house match, shin-Ozeki Asanoyama had a chance to knock the lone man chasing Ishiura down to the two loss group, and he put everything he had into this match. He took a brutal blast at the tachiai, with Mitakeumi getting the inside position and thrusting upward at his chin with his right hand. But Asanoyama’s left hand found Mitakeumi’s belt. Mitakeumi countered with a flurry of thrusts to Asanoyama’s face, but Asanoyama’s grip was unbroken. Realizing he could not brush Asanoyama away, Mitakeumi attempted to slap him down, but that release of forward pressure was everything Asanoyama needed to drive Mitakeumi over the bales. Fast and brutal, this match was a tremendous clash of styles.
Kagayaki (6-3) defeats Takakeisho (2-7) Oshidashi – Really quite concerned about Takakeisho, thought Kagayaki has a nasty habit of being able to take him down (4-1 advantage). Takakeisho had poor footwork today, and a distinct lack of power to his attacks. There were once again clear signs that his pectoral injury was bothering him. One more loss and he is make-koshi, and his second trip to Ozekiwake purgatory.
Kakuryu (7-2) defeats Okinoumi (2-7) Tsukiotoshi – Also in the “fighting hurt” category, Okinoumi managed a good start, but could not go the distance against Kakuryu. Of course this is Kakuryu’s preferred approach to wining a match – keep your opponent working until you wear him out or he makes a mistake.
Hakuho (7-2) defeats Aoiyama (4-5) Uwatedashinage – Aoiyama, surprisingly, got a series of good hits on Hakuho at the tachiai. Hakuho skipped the face slap today, and it really seemed to throw off his rhythm. But Hakuho took the punishment and worked Aoiyama into a chest to chest position, and immediately pivoted into the throw. Sometimes Hakuho can get his opponent airborne with these, but there is just too much Aoiyama.
Courtesy of Grand Sumo Breakdown and Tachiai – Day 10 matches for our mock Natsu basho
Hey everyone, we’ve made it to nakabi, the middle Sunday of our “unique” basho! Time to take a look at how the tournament is shaping up, and what’s at stake between now and senshuraku.
The yusho race
After 8 days, your surprise leader is M8 Ishiura (8-0)! In the past, I’ve tended to dismiss the chances of rikishi from the bottom half of the banzuke, but with 2 of the last 6 tournaments having been won from M8 and M17 ranks, an Ishiura yusho wouldn’t even be the strangest one of 2020.
One win behind the leader is 7-1 Mitakeumi, who is looking very comfortable back at his customary Sekiwake rank. And with no fewer than 8 pursuers whose records stand at 6-2, including such heavyweights as the two Yokozuna and Ozeki Asanoyama, we could be in for a wide-open race.
The Ozeki ranks
Shin-Ozeki Asanoyama is displaying few signs of a hangover at his new rank; perhaps he has the state of emergency—and the resulting decrease in promotion celebrations—to thank. On the other hand, Ozeki Takakeisho has a mirror 2-6 record, which is a serious concern given his injury history and kadoban status. Will we be down to a single Ozeki again?
At 7-1, Mitakeumi is one win away from securing another tournament at Sekiwake; with his 10-5 record at M3 in Osaka, could we be looking at the start of another Ozeki run? Fellow Sekiwake Shodai, as well as Komusubi Daieisho, have also made it through week one with winning records (5-3), placing them in good position to remain in the named ranks. The other Komusubi, Okinoumi, looks set for an immediate return to the rank and file after a dismal first week left his record at 1-7.
Endo, who is no stranger to the M1 rank, and Yutakayama, for whom this represents a career high, have both gotten crushed by the upper ranks, and sport identical 2-6 records that leave them with little hope of promotion. That leaves M2 Takanosho (5-3) as the best-placed among the joi-jin for a san’yaku push.
Sadly, M17 Terunofuji is heading back to the second division after pulling out of the tournament without a single win (though it’s hard to reconcile the recently surfaced video of his lower-body workout with the reported ACL injury).
Another former Ozeki, Tochinoshin, is also struggling, with a 1-7 record at M11. His rank does offer more of a cushion, but he still likely needs 4 wins to avoid a trip to Juryo for the first time since 2014. The likes of M15 Chiyomaru, M16 Kotoeko, and M17 Kotoyuki will also need to improve on their 3-5 showings during the first week if they want to remain in Makuuchi.