Aki Day 7 Highlights

One of the goals of act 2 is to shape the field for the yusho race. But damn, did we have to do it all in one day? The crew of 1 loss rikishi nearly all became 2 loss rikishi today, leaving just Myogiryu at 6-1, within range of Terunofuji. All the way down at Maegashira 10, there is really no chance that Myogiryu would face the Yokozuna in a normal torikumi. This leave Terunofuji with a 2 win lead over any reasonable competitor, and his yusho chances are elevated.

Given just how excellent Terunofuji’s sumo has been over the first 7 days, I am sad we won’t see him face Hakuho on day 15 to to Miyagino being COVID kyujo. Terunofuji’s yokozuna style seems to be overflowing with confidence with the skill and drive to back it up. Calm, focused and determined so far at Aki, and I really like it.

Highlight Matches

Tokushoryu defeats Mitoryu – About as straightforward a match as you might want. Tokushoryu gets his right hand under Mitoryu’s chin, and uses that hand to put him in motion. On big shove at the tawara, and Tokushoryu picks up his second win of Aki, improving to 2-5.

Ichiyamamoto defeats Tsurugisho – I am surprised that Ichiyamamoto’s bum knee had enough strength in it to allow him to push 400kg Tsurugisho back. It helps that Tsurugisho almost immediately attempted to pull, doing a good portion of the set up work for Ichiyamamoto. Ichiyamamoto improves to 2-5.

Chiyomaru defeats Kagayaki – Chiyomaru got his hands inside, past Kagayaki’s defenses, which is not easy to do. From there it was a well known Chiyomaru formula: raise them up then step to the side and slap them down. Both end the day 4-3.

Kaisei defeats Tochinoshin – Tochinoshin got his left hand outside at the tachiai, but given Kaisei’s enormity, it was not going to be easy for him to do much with it. Both of them got some lifting in against the other, with Kaisei calmly working Tochinoshin out. Kaisei improves to 3-4.

Yutakayama defeats Kotoeko – Yutakayama’s thrusting attack landed early, and both evasion attempts I saw from Kotoeko were not able to get out of the line of fire. Yutakayama improves to 4-3.

Endo defeats Chiyonokuni – I had guessed this might be the highlight match of the day, and they did not disappoint. Endo could not set up any offense, as his capture attempts kept missing. Chiyonokuni was eager to pound Endo mercilessly as Endo worked to stay in the match, with Endo absorbing quite a bit of punishment to his shoulders and his head. But his sacrifice paid off with first a left hand hold, followed by a right. Then Endo was in business, and Chiyonokuni lost his ability to hit and move. But he fought on, with the blows continuing until Endo put him over the bales, Awesome match, both end the day 5-2.

Hidenoumi defeats Chiyonoo – Yotsu-zumo match from the start, it was all Hidenoumi after the tachiai. Both are now 3-4.

Chiyotairyu defeats Terutsuyoshi – I like that Chiyotairyu was locked in on Terutsuyoshi, and when the obligatory hit and shift came at the tachiai, Chiyotairyu followed. Terutsuyoshi was off balance and too low for him to be effective, and Chiyotairyu crumpled him to the clay for a quick win. Chiyotairyu now 4-3.

Myogiryu defeats Shimanoumi – Myogiryu quickly got Shimanoumi contained and pushed out, with Shimanoumi only rallying for a brief moment after his heels touched the tawara. Myogiryu at 6-1, and could reach kachi-koshi as early as day 9.

Aoiyama defeats Onosho – Aoiyama proved big enough and stable enough to absorb everything Onosho could produce today, and deftly swung him to the clay. Another 5-1 rikishi takes a loss, as Aoiyama improves to 3-4.

Okinoumi defeats Ura – What a great move by Okinoumi to shut down Ura’s back bend throw. Few if any can escape that once he gets that far into the lift, but Okinoumi seems to have worked with the heya-mates to overcome that, crushing Ura in mid-throw and sending him down. Okinoumi improves to 5-2.

Takarafuji defeats Tobizaru – Tobizaru yet again finds Takarafuji’s defend and extend sumo to be his kryptonite. I do love watching this one, Tobizaru trying anything to get his hands inside, Takarafuji calmly standing strong and deflecting every move. When Tobizaru starts to look tired, Takarafuji executes a few probing attacks, and Tobizaru rallies. Fine, back in stalemate for a while until you are tired out, says Takarafuji. On and on and on it went! Tobizaru tired first, and could no longer match Takarafuji’s efforts. Amazing endurance match.

Daieisho defeats Kiribayama – After not seeing Daieisho produce much power on the clay for several tournaments, its almost surprising to see it back and in full effect, taking Kiribayama down with a hikiotoshi that saw hikiotoshi spinning in the air before landing on his back. Another 1 loss rikishi down as both end the day 5-2.

Takayasu defeats Takanosho – Takayasu big start groaning tachiai pays off today, blasting whatever match plan Takanosho had completely out of his head, and crumpling him to the clay 4 steps later. Happy to see some effective offense from Takayasu today, and he improves to 3-4.

Meisei defeats Chiyoshoma – Its really making me sad to see Chiyoshoma unable to win a single match in the first half of the basho. I am going to guess a combination of over-ranked and some injury. Meisei improves to 3-4 and keeps hope of a kachi-koshi alive a bit longer.

Ichinojo defeats Mitakeumi – The genki Ichinojo showed up today, and another one-loss rikishi goes down to defeat. Given his size and innate strength, once Ichinojo gets a solid hold, he can do just about whatever he wants to most opponents. Ichinojo improves to 3-4.

Takakeisho defeats Wakatakakage – Takakeisho was in danger of losing for a brief moment when he was too far forward against a Wakatakakage side step, but he just re-engaged and hit all the harder. A final mighty double hand shove sent Wakatakakage down and gyoji Tamajiro leaping for safety. Takakeisho improves to 3-4 after a much needed win.

Shodai defeats Tamawashi – Well, it was “good” Shodai today. A big hit at the tachiai from Tamawashi, into an arm lock, but by that time Shodai was rampaging ahead and Tamawashi was out of clay. Shodai improves to 5-2.

Terunofuji defeats Kotonowaka – What strikes me about these Terunofuji matches this basho is his absolute confidence. So far, no matter what his opponent does, he moves as if it’s an absolute certainty that he will overcome and win. I think it may rattle some or all of his opponents. I see other sumo fans describing it as patience and “calm”, and that’s not wrong. But to me it’s just total dominance of the match. Yokozuna style through and through. Terunofuji undefeated at 7-0.

Aki Day 7 Preview

A short preview today, as I am pressed for time. I do hope that the matches turn out well today, as sumo fans could use a nice weekend of giant asian men smashing into each other and tossing their sumo chums around.

What We Are Watching Day 7

Mitoryu vs Tokushoryu – We continue the banzuke imbalance, and today its J1E Mitoryu to visit the top division. He is the first in line for promotion if he gets 8 wins, but he comes to his Saturday in Makuuchi with a worrisom 2-4 record. If its any consolation, he faces 1-5 Tokushoryu who may find himself on the wrong side of a Juryo swap in November.

Ichiyamamoto vs Tsurugisho – Ichiyamamoto (1-5) has a hurt knee, and he’s in no condition to take on a 200kg rikishi any day soon. He won their only prior match which was in Nagoya 2 months ago. After going kyujo for a day with a fever, Tsurugisho (3-3) has won his last 2 in a row.

Kagayaki vs Chiyomaru – The first high interest match, in spite of the massive weight difference between the two, Kagayaki is even with Chiyomaru over his career at 7-7. Its anyone’s guess how this one will turn out, and the mystery just doubles my curiosity about this match.

Kaisei vs Tochinoshin – 23 match history between these two grizzled veterans, and both of them are having a poor 2-4 start to Aki. Since re-injuring his knee and losing his Ozeki rank, he has only beaten Kaisei once. So there is a good chance that we will see him dominate Tochinoshin today.

Yutakayama vs Kotoeko – I still have hopes that Yutakayama can achieve at least kachi-koshi in his return to the top division. His sumo seems sloppy and one dimensional these days, and maybe that comes from his primary training partner being Shodai. He tends to use whatever sometimes works against Shodai. Sadly because Shodai is not characteristic of the rikishi he faces, his sumo suffers a bit. He and Kotoeko are largely tied over their 9 match career, so its an even bet who is going to get what out of today.

Endo vs Chiyonokuni – Oh is this one high interest, it’s a 5-1 oshi-zumo grumpy badger against Endo, who should be dominating a bit more than he is this far down the banzuke. Given that I think both of them are under-ranked, this is a fun and interesting test match to see which one is more genki. If Chiyonokuni stays mobile, his chances of winning go up.

Chiyonoo vs Hidenoumi – From high interest to beer break time (at least for me). This is more or less a Juryo match, as thats where these two have spent most of the past 6 years. Recalling back to the quality of competition in the top division, I am not sure either of these two elevated their sumo so much as the field is quite flat now, in terms of competitive ability. Who knows, ready to be surprised.

Chiyotairyu vs Terutsuyoshi – Both have a 3-3 record going into day 7, they have split their career matches at 2-2, and both are rightly known for staking their match on whatever they can put into their tachiai. For Chiyotairyu that is a lot of forward power, for Terutsuyoshi, it’s some sort of lateral move.

Shimanoumi vs Myogiryu – Myogiryu has only lost to Tobizaru thus far, and I am going to say that I don’t think Shimanoumi has a large chance of success today. More likely it’s going to be win #6 to add to Myogiryu’s 5-1 career advantage.

Aoiyama vs Onosho – Onosho may look forward to fighting Aoiyama, as once he gets Big Dan centered, he can push with everything he’s got against that ponderous bulk. While it only seems to work half the time, its easy to see the junior tadpole enjoying himself in this one.

Ura vs Okinoumi – I find this difficult to believe, but its the first ever match between these two. I have to guess that Okinoumi will try to prevent Ura from putting the match on pause, and setting up one of his acrobatic moves. I give a slight edge to Okinoumi, even though I am an Ura fan.

Tobizaru vs Takarafuji – Takarafuji, Mr Defend and Extend, does quite well against Tobizaru. His style of shutting down his energetic offensive moves, and pinning him to a fraction of the dohyo confounds Tobizaru, and he has yet to find a way to overcome it. In spite of his slightly better record in Aki, I expect him to struggle today.

Daieisho vs Kiribayama – I am looking for Kiribayama to dominate today. He seems to be having a break-out tournament, and frankly at this point I want to see him kachi-koshi on day 9. Certainly Daieisho has the chops, speed and power to take Kiribayama down, but right now the trend favors the Mongol.

Takayasu vs Takanosho – Takayasu’s pitiful 2-4 record is likely to take more damage today. Out of their 5 prior matches, Takayasu has only bested him once, their very first match. Since then it’s been a solid run of 4 white stars. If Takayasu were showing good sumo, I could at least have hope for a solid fight, but I am not holding my breath.

Chiyoshoma vs Meisei – Meisei win. Chiyoshoma make-koshi on nakabi

Mitakeumi vs Ichinojo – I have to say that Andy’s bi-monthly favorite yusho pick, Mitakeumi, is doing what he needs to to be a contender into week 2. His sumo has been sharp, and he’s shown quite a bit of power in most of his matches. Ichinojo could win this match, if he fights with gusto, but given his 2-4 record this September, I think it’s not likely.

Wakatakakage vs Takakeisho – This is starting to get ugly. Takakeisho needs to win 6 of the remaining 9 matches to keep his rank. It’s possible, but unlikely. Should he just go kyujo now and focus on November and 10 wins? Or will he just slog through and hope for the best.

Shodai vs Tamawashi – Which Shodai mounts the dohyo today? How do we get the good one to show up every day from here on out? With Takakeisho clearly on the bubble, we need Shodai to be strong and get his eight before the last weekend. Tamawashi has a 9-6 career over the human daikon, so this is going to be a real battle.

Kotonowaka vs Terunofuji – I think Kotonowaka is going to be a solid mainstay of the top division for years to come. So he needs to get used to being tossed about by the resident kaiju. Good luck, kiddo, try to stay on your feet, and be careful of a lift rather than a throw.

Aki Day 6 Highlights

Welcome to the first day of Aki act 2, the middle five days of the basho. Act 2 is where we narrow the field to find out who has what it takes to compete for the yusho, and to start sorting the survivors from the damned. We also start tracking the leaderboad, and the yusho race starts to take shape. We get the middle weekend, and all of the big matches that they load into Sunday. It’s prime sumo for fans around the world

Day six saw another Ozeki flame out, with both of them taking losses. Kiribayama’s skill has improved enough that he knows exactly what to do now with a Shodai soft tachiai. After 4 consecutive losses to Shodai, he decisively took a win from him today.

The worry is much deeper with kadoban Ozeki Takakeisho. He did manage to put two wins together, but at 2-4 he’s got a long road to get to 8, and save his ozeki rank. Its clear he is not quite at 100%, and this is going to be a rough time for him.

Highlight Matches

Sadanoumi defeats Chiyonokuni – Chiyonokuni picks up his first loss of the badsho, as Sadanoumi times a shift to the side perfectly. Once outside of Chiyonokuni’s forward quarter, he attacks from the side, and immediately shuts down Chiyonokuni’s thrusting offense. It’s three steps to the bales, and Chiyonokuni has his first loss. Both end the day at 5-1, and Sadanoumi may finally be on the path to return to the top division.

Kagayaki defeats Ichiyamamoto – Ichiyamamoto has now lost 5 straight, thanks to an injury earlier in the basho. He seems to be on course of a make-koshi, maybe even as soon as this weekend. A losing record will almost certainly ensure him a seat on the Juryo barge of the damned. Kagayaki improves to 4-2, and just maybe has his sumo back in working order.

Tsurugisho defeats Tokushoryu – Tsurugisho continues after his one-day kyujo thanks to a fever brought on by what is being reported as cellulitis, which is a bacterial infection of the skin. If you are looking for a match that rages back and forth with big sumo attack / defend swaps, this is not it. Tsurugisho improves to 3-3.

Tochinoshin defeats Yutakayama – Tochinoshin finally picks up his second win, which has to be a relief. Yutakayama allows himself to be captured, and once chest to chest with Tochinoshin, Yutakayama’s yotsu-defense is almost non existent. A moment later, Tochinoshin gets his left hand grip and brutes Yutakayama out to improve to 2-4.

Endo defeats Chiyomaru – Endo gets his favored right hand frontal hold at the tachiai, but can’t maintain it as Chiyomaru opens up a thrusting volley against Endo’s face. Endo breaks contact, and the second merge gives him another right hand grip, with better body placement. At this point Chiyomaru knows he is in trouble, but he can’t break free, and moments later an uwatedashinage lands him on the clay. Endo improves to 4-2.

Chiyonoo defeats Kotoeko – Chest to chest for these two, this one was indeed a see-saw battle between two evenly matched rikishi throwing what they could into the fight. They both lost footing more or less at the same time, and threw each other as they went tumbling over the far side of the dohyo. The gumbai went to Chiyonoo, advancing him to 3-3.

Myogiryu defeats Kaisei – Myogiryu deflected at the tachiai, and took advantage of Kaisei’s turning radius to re-attack from the side. This made fast work of Kaisei, improving Myogiryu to 5-1.

Chiyotairyu defeats Shimanoumi – On days when Chiyotairyu can connect at the tachiai, he can rob his opponent of any hope of offense. That seemed to be what the formula was today, as Shimanoumi found himself completely disrupted, and unable to generate any sumo after catching a Chiyotairyu cannon ball tachiai full in the chest. Both end the day 3-3.

Terutsuyoshi defeats Hidenoumi – Terutsuyoshi henkas, grabs a Hidenoumi drumstick and brings the ashitori (leg pick). If Terutsuyoshi gets that hold, there is really no workable defense, and Terutsuyoshi improves to 3-3.

Ura defeats Aoiyama – Ura now seems to be dialed into his sumo after a bit of a cold start. Aoiyama clearly did not know quite what to do with Ura, who once again lined up well back of the shikiri-sen. Aoiyama tries out a couple of attack plans, but can do no better than park Ura’s heels on the tawara. There was a moment where it looked like Ura was once again to twist the fabric of space and time, but Aoiyama is just too huge for that stuff, so Ura settled for an off the rack oshidashi.

Onosho defeats Tobizaru – Onosho opted for an asymmetrical tachiai that was heavy of the left side. It worked a treat, getting Tobizaru turned to the side. Onosho completed the rotation, getting behind Tobizaru for a quick okuridashi win. Onosho improves 5-1.

Okinoumi defeats Takarafuji – Takarafuji could only maintain his defense for a short time, as Okinoumi is expert at shifting attack angles each time he takes a step. This prevented Takarafuji from stabilizing his stance, and stalemating Okinoumi. Okinoumi improves to 4-2.

Takanosho defeats Chiyoshoma – Another day, another Chiyoshoma loss. Takanosho could not keep his feet, but won the match by getting Chiyoshoma out before he fell. Takanosho’s 100th top division win improves him to 3-3.

Takayasu defeats Ichinojo – Sloppy match where neither man had command of their balance. Watching Takayasu fight, he is, at times, almost an opposite of the current form of Yokozuna Terunofuji. Both end the day 2-4, and need to find a way to elevate their sumo into week 2.

Mitakeumi defeats Kotonowaka – It was Kotonowaka’s first time facing the original tadpole, Mitakeumi, who seems to be having a good basho this September. He caught Kotonowaka’s tachiai put his hands in Kotowaka’s armpits, and then ran him directly out. Mitakeumi now 5-1.

Daieisho defeats Meisei – We have not seen Daieisho fight this well since January. He seems to once again be able to combine speed, power and agility into his oshi-zumo. The bounces shin-sekiwake Meisei, before slapping him down. Daieisho improves 4-2.

Kiribayama defeats Shodai – Kiribayama seems to have taken the next step in his sumo. He gets a solid grip at the tachiai, and leave Shodai struggling for defense. That defense is nowhere to be found, as Shodai’s tachiai leaves him high and stiff – an easy target for Kiribayama’s yotsu-zumo. Kiribayama improves to 5-1.

Tamawashi defeats Takakeisho – Takakeisho opened strong, but dropped his arms for just a moment, giving Tamawashi a clear route to his chest. Tamawashi is not one to let that kind of opporutnity pass, and blasted Takakeisho back, and a second volley took him out. Tamawashi improves to 3-3.

Terunofuji defeats Wakatakakage – I give a lot of credit to Wakatakakage, who put a lot of effort into this fight, but once Terunofuji had that double arm hold across Wakatakakage’s shoulders, we all knew where it was headed. This is the basic attack pattern that has carried him back to the top division, and onward to Yokozuna. He remains the lone undefeated rikishi at 6-0.

Aki 2021: Jonokuchi Match Day 3

Today, I’ve got a quickie write-up looking at the Yusho Race in Jonokuchi and some Jonokuchi alumni.

The Jonokuchi Yusho Race

The field of undefeated wrestlers in sumo’s lowest division is rapidly coalescing around a few serious contenders. Setonoumi benefited from rather easy schedule as he faced Takatairiku. The Tokiwayama teen paid the price for his double matta as Setonoumi blasted him backward. Ariake advanced past Watanabe and Chiyofuku beat Agazumazakura. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find video of those bouts online and I’d not gotten home yet to tape it myself.

However, I did get to watch tonight’s bouts. Unfortunately, the Kototaiko bout was nothing to write home about. I wish I’d started the recording a little early and got Nangu’s bout. Other than his excellent shiko, he had a great come-from-behind win over Wakafujioka. I do have footage of Mifuneyama taking on Kokuryunami but I’ve prefaced it here with Ito against Asahabataki. I don’t think Ito’s out of this race and he disposed of Asahabataki quickly. Likewise, Mifuneyama outclassed Kokuryunami.

They’re going to need to schedule Setonoumi against an undefeated wrestler at some point. I was a bit surprised that he didn’t get more of a challenge today and that they had Kototaiko move up to Jonidan for his bout. That ended in disappointment. We should see Setonoumi against Mifuneyama, Ariake, or Chiyofuku. In either case, that should be an entertaining bout but a Setonoumi/Mifuneyama bout would be very interesting. I’d pip Setonoumi because he’s seemed pretty aggressive and mobile in these early bouts.

Another undefeated rikishi in Jonokuchi is Byakuen! Well, he did miss his first bout so he’s got one absentee loss but he’s definitely in the hunt. His win against Daitenshin is pure sumo entertinment. He sure is a Houdini and I am very impressed by the way he turned the tables there at the edge of the dohyo. I wonder if they’ll pick him to fight Setonoumi next. You know, I think I may actually prefer to see that bout over Setonoumi vs Mifuneyama. Both look pretty quick and Byakuen seems quite elusive so Setnoumi would be quite the test. But Setonoumi is undefeated so the schedulers should really preoccupy themselves with testing him. Nonetheless, I think we’ll get a few more entertaining bouts out of Jonokuchi for Day 4!

Jonokuchi Alumni

I do have a couple of bouts of Jonokuchi alumni in the early hunt for the Jonidan yusho. In this first bout here, I’ve got two guys who finished 5-2 last tournament, Hitoshi and Nobehara. Both are strong guys who could develop into solid wrestlers pretty quickly. Hitoshi had the technical edge today as he took advantage of Nobehara’s lack of balance for a quick slapdown victory.

At the start of the video you can see our next featured wrestler, Mogamizakura, practicing his tachiai in the tunnel in the background. He could use some more practice but does well to keep his balance against the veteran, Daishohama. He offers quite the contrast from his former stablemate, Shonanzakura. In fact, he’s probably got a good chance at being heyagashira before the end of the year or early 2022 in 2022 or 2023. This win for Mogamizakura and Hitoshi move them to 3-0, one win from early kachi-koshi.