Hatsu Day 14 – Lower Division Ones To Watch

With the Hatsu basho drawing the a close, the roster of our “Ones To Watch” grow short, as most of our favorite lower division rikishi have completed their 7 matches for the tournament. Before we get into the matches for day 14, lets look at some action from day 13.

Wakaichiro finishes Hatsu 5-2 – His day 13 win over Tainaka saw Wakaichiro return to his powerful oshi attack plan, and control most of the match. With his kachi-koshi +1, precedent suggests a promotion to the bottom of Sandanme for March.

Kenho finishes 1-6 – Completely miserable basho for Kenho, and one has to wonder if his amazingly large size has compounded other problems he might be having. Hopefully he will recover in Osaka and spring back.

Torakio secured his kachi-koshi in the final match, and will be seeded further up the Sandanme ranks in March. It will mark a new career high rank for the young man from Bulgaria, and we wish him good fortune.

Naya was able to confirm his rank in Makushita with a final match kachi-koshi, beating Sandanme rikishi Kirinoryu. Being able to hit-and-hold a Makushita rank is a significant milestone in his progress, and it will be a new high rank for him in March.

Ichiyamamoto closed out the basho with a loss to Kotokamatani, but had already secured his kachi-koshi. With the competition in Makushita being especially tough, a kachi-koshi at this rank is a notable accomplishment. This could return him to the “top 10” in Makushita for March.

Wakamotoharu finished Hatsu unbeaten, and is not only going to join his brother in Juryo in March, but now has a Makushita yusho to his name. Outstanding performance from Wakamotoharu, and we look forward to his Juryo debut.

Akua lost in his final match, finishing Hatsu with a disappointing 2-5 record. He will not be campaigning to return to Sekitori status any time soon, and will need to regroup, and re-climb the Makushita “wall”.

On to day 14’s matches –

Hattorizakura vs Toya – Who are we kidding? This is almost certainly a Toya win. We keep hoping Hattorizakura will start competing, but there is no telling when if ever that will happen.

Musashikuni vs Ohata – Winner gets kachi-koshi from this match, and should Musashikuni pull out a win, it will represent a remarkable and impressive recovery from 0-3 start. We know that Musashikuni has it in him to win, if his body will cooperate.

Midorifuji vs Kaito – Midorifuji already has his kachi-koshi, so this match will determine how high up the banzuke we will see Midorifuji in March.

Hatsu Day 11 – Lower Division Ones To Watch

Day 11 brings a full spread of our lower division “Ones to Watch” with 7 matches across Sandanme and Makushita, with many of today’s matches deciding make / kachi koshi. We are likely not going to see Ura again at Hatsu, following re-injury to his right knee. Wakamotoharu is looking likely to join his brother in Juryo for March, and Ichiyamamoto is on track to climb closer to the top of the Makushita “wall”.

Wakamotoharu vs Tochihiryu – Wakamotoharu is in the thick of the yusho race with a 5-0 record, and a likely promotion to Juryo in the balance. His opponent, Tochihiryu, is a former Juryo man himself, and is looking for a path back to the salaried ranks.

Akua vs Daiseido – The loser of this 2-3 bracket match will walk away with a make-koshi today. Akua’s hope to return to Juryo are likely on hold for now, but he still needs to overcome Daiseido to remain in the hunt for promotion after Osaka.

Ichiyamamoto vs Kairyu – A 4-1 bracket match, both rikishi already kachi-koshi, so this is all about fighting for rank in March. Kairyu is a former Makushita yusho winner, and a veteran of 52 basho at this rank. This will be a fierce match.

Hoshoryu vs Kizenryu – There are plenty of indications that Hoshoryu was rattled by the outcome of his match with Ura, that saw the fan favorite hauled away in a wheel chair after re-injuring his right knee. The winner of today’s match will lock in their kachi-koshi, so we hope that Hoshoryu can set aside his worries and gamberize.

Wakatakamoto vs Obamaumi – Another 3-2 bracket match with kachi-koshi on the line. The lowest ranked Onami brother faces off against Sakaigawa’s Obamaumi, who had to re-start his career after an injury.

Musashikuni vs Masutoo – A 2-3 bracket match, where the loser will be make-koshi for Hatsu. Musashikuni had a tough start, but has rallied and won his last 2 matches. If he can win out the rest of the tournament, he can still end Hatsu with a winning record.

Naya vs Amanoshima – Naya looked less than awesome day 10, and now he finds himself in the 2-3 bracket working to avoid make-koshi and a return to Sandanme. As the last man on the Makushita banzuke, he is most certainly on the bubble.

Shoji vs Tagonofuji – The second Musashigawa rikishi on our list today (Wakaichiro has the day off), Shoji is already kachi-koshi, and going for more promotion points today. His opponent is Tagonoura heya’s Tagonofuji, who has settled in to being a Sandanme mainstay.

Hatsu Day 10 – Lower Division Ones To Watch

Ura vs Hoshoryu Day 10… Can You Feel The Hype?

The “Ones to Watch” have a light roster for day 10, but what we lack in bulk we make up in intensity. That’s right, the much hoped for Ura vs Hoshoryu is on the torikumi for day 10.

Shoji vs Kototaiki – Both rikishi have 3-1 records, so this match is for kachi-koshi. Kototaiki had to re-set his sumo career in 2015 when he took an extended leave to treat an injury, and re-entered via maezumo. Now a Sandanme mainstay, he’s fighting at close to his highest career rank.

Naya vs Mitotsukasa – A 2-2 bracket match, Naya (Makushita) is taking on a Sandanme rikishi for his day 10 match. Irumagawa heya’s Mitotsukasa is a former university rikishi, who is working to return to Makushita. Should be a solid match.

Wakatakamoto vs Okinofuji – Another 2-2 bracket match, the lowest rank of the Waka* brothers takes on Makushita mainstay Okinofuji. Okinofuji has spent most of the last 2 years in mid Makushita, and will be a tough competitor.

Ura vs Hoshoryu – Maybe the biggest hype around a Makushita match this basho. We have Ura, who has hit the point of his recovery where he actually is having to work for a win, and we have young dynamo Hoshoryu who has reached a rank where his overwhelming natural ability is no longer enough. I am going to guess this match will only last a blink of an eye, but everyone will be watching.

Ichiyamamoto vs Mugendai – A 3-1 bracket match, with kachi-koshi on the line. Mugendai is a solid fighter who was formerly in Musashigawa heya, whose highest ever rank was Makushita 5.

Akua vs Kaisho – The top Makushita match of day 10, Akua’s bid to return to Juryo for Osaka needs him to win out, and to get there he needs to take down Tomozuna heya’s Kaisho, who is fighting well at his highest ever rank.

Hatsu Day 7 – Lower Division Ones To Watch

A smaller lineup of our “Ones to Watch” for Saturday, but there are some find Makushita matches to track, as we get towards the half way point for many of these rikishi. The competition for what may be just a handful of Juryo slots will be increasingly brutal as we near the conclusion of Hatsu, and we will be watching with interest.

Kenho vs Kirizakura – Kenho is winless, and another loss today would mean a make-koshi, and a demotion back down to Jonidan. Compared to Kenho’s amazing bulk, 100kg Kirizakura is a light-weight, but I am sure we will see some high-agility small-man sumo tonight.

Naya vs Terao – Naya is looking fairly solid thus far, and comes into this 2-1 bracket looking for his next win. Terao has been knocking around Makushita for the bulk of the last several years, and bring a serious challenge to Kaio’s grandson.

Wakatakamoto vs Ohata – Another 2-1 bracket match we see the lower ranked Waka brother up against a fairly young opponent in Ohata. Ohata, from Tokitsukaze heya, is near his highest ever rank, and seems to be competing well. Should be a good match.

Wakamotoharu vs Fujiazuma – Near the half way point, only a handful of Makushita rikishi are still unbeaten, and these two are the highest ranked. This is a Darwin match, and may have a direct impact on if Wakamotoharu has a shot at breaking in Juryo. With this much on the line, it’s going to be a flat out battle!

Akua vs Kiribayama – Both rikishi enter this match with 2-1 records, but Akua has beaten Kiribayama in both of their prior matches. Both are ranked high enough that its possible they could be considered for elevation to Sekitori, so there is a lot on the line for them both.

Hatsu Day 5 – Lower Division Ones To Watch

We close out act 1 with a tight group of our “ones to watch”. The Makushita Waka* brothers are in action today, and that includes a throw down between Akua and Wakamotoharu! Act 1 is where we found out who is hot, and who is not, and try to figure out who might have a chance at the yusho. The first 5 days of action has been full of fun matches in the lower divisions, and we can expect an exciting ride for the next 10 days.

Naya vs Kirinofuji – A 2-0 bracket match, Naya has been very dominant so far, and shown some great sumo. His match against Kirinofuji has him against a rikishi who seems more comfortable in Sandanme rather than Makushita, so I give Naya a moderate edge.

Wakatakamoto vs Masutoo – In the 1-1 bracket, Wakatakamoto takes on 32 year old veteran Masutoo from Chiganoura heya. Masutoo has struggled with injuries, but is a dependable mid to upper Makushita rikishi. This is a good even match.

Midorifuji vs Tenkaiho – Midorifuji finds himself 0-2 to start Hatsu, and is up against winless Tenkaiho. Tenkaiho may sound familiar, because he is a former Maegashira and Juryo rikishi who has been fighting much lower down the banzuke since mid 2016. Could be a rough match.

Hoshoryu vs Higonojo – After a rough first match, Hoshoryu came back with energy and fighting spirit on day 4, and elevated himself to the 1-1 bracket. Today he faces 34 year old Kise heya veteran Higonojo. It’s going to be a wild match.

Akua vs Wakamotoharu – The “Ones to Watch” match of the night, Near the top of the 2-0 bracket, and likely slugging it out for a possibility to move to Juryo for March are these two. Who is more likely to win? No clue, but can’t wait to see them battle it out.