Lower division bouts – Day 8

Nicola captured the former Ozeki; even the loyal fans in the background couldn’t help

Hot on the heels of Bruce’s One’s To Watch post, here are some low-division bouts, including many of the Ones To Watch and their wreckage.

Let’s start at Jonokuchi. Although I thought Toma, Hakuho’s gigantic recruit, would do well in Jonokuchi, simply on the merit of his combined weight and experience, he came into Nakabi with a 1-2 record. Here he is facing one of Futagoyama’s newbies, Denuma:

The boy has a lot of improvement to do despite this win here, if he is going to meet the standard set by all the other uchi-deshi recruited by the dai-yokozuna, namely, to become sekitori and hold that position (barring injury – poor Yamaguchi).

By the way, remember Ito, the guy thoroughly pancaked by Toma on day 3? Well, it seems that getting a 206kg cannonball may be good for your career – he is currently 4-0 with a chance at the Jonokuchi yusho.

Next we move to Sandanme, only stopping at Jonidan long enough to inform you that Toshonishiki is on fire this tournament with 4-0, and I really wish I could find some footage because the man is almost as thin as Hattorizakura. Maybe he charms his opponent with his pretty face.

Well, at the very bottom of Sandanme we have Shiraishi, the tsuke-dashi. That is, a wrestler who entered sumo as Sandanme 100 instead of going through Maezumo and Jonokuchi. This is a privilege you attain by being top 8 in one of the applicable amateur championships. And so far, he has justified it, arriving at Nakabi with a 3-0 record. Here he faces Kaiyuma, from Asakayama beya (Kaio’s stable):

Our friend Yoshoyama is currently at Sandanme 9W, and has a straight win record. If he can keep it up and win the Yusho, he may land right very close to the Makushita “here be dragons” zone. He faces Fujita, who is rather bigger than he is:

This doesn’t stop the Mongolian from Tokitsukaze beya from keeping his straight record.

Next up in Sandanme – Amakaze, who can do the mean splits, and apparently, the mean sumo as well:

Don’t blink. Amakaze is on fire.

Finally, we arrive at the wreckage that is the Terunofuji vs. Daishosei bout. Both come into this bout lossless:

The former Ozeki makes an amateur mistake there, thinking that Daishosei’s foot went out and dropping his defenses as a result. Daishosei is not intimidated enough to miss the opportunity thus opened. Terunofuji goes down the hana-michi cussing (well, to the extent that you can cuss in Japanese – and Mongolian doesn’t even have cuss words).

We’re up to Makushita, and we have Musashikuni vs. Fukuyama. Musashikuni is not having a very good tournament and comes into this bout 1-2:

The American ends up sitting frustrated at the edge of the dohyo, needing to win all his bouts from this moment on.

Next we have Midorifuji vs. Asabenkei. They, too, are 1-2 each as they mount the dohyo. While Midorifuji is very talented, he is also very small. Asabenkei, on the other hand, has some Juryo experience, but seems rather worse for wear.

Midorifuji executes a rather nice katasukashi. You can’t see it in this footage, but Asabenkei has real trouble getting up and over to his position for the bow. Sigh.

So let’s take a look at Hoshoryu vs. Ryuko.

Hoshoryu can’t even cite his lack of weight in this bout. I guess lack of experience.

On a higher note, here is Naya vs. Kaito:

Typical Naya tsuppari, ending in a kachi-koshi and a chance at the Makushita yusho.

Finally, we are up to Juryo – where Kizakiumi is paying a visit, facing Arawashi. Kizakiumi is Churanoumi’s brother, and he is so fresh he can’t even get the oicho-mage that is usually granted to Makushita rikishi who have a Juryo bout.

I thought Arawashi was in a better state than this before the basho. But he may find himself saying goodbye to his kesho-mawashi for the first time since 2013.

My final bout for this report is Daishomaru vs. Aminishiki. Believe it or not, Aminishiki is in the picture for the Juryo yusho, trailing Takagenji by a mere 2 loss margin together with Toyonoshima.

Amazingly, he can still win a bout going forward.

Natsu Day 9 – Ones To Watch

Amakaze – Ready To Compete In the Sandanme Undefeated Bracket

For fans of the lower divisions, day 8 was obliteration, with many of our cohort in the “Ones to Watch” going down to defeat, and others finding their fortunes dashed on the dohyo. With all of our rikishi now having 4 matches complete, only Naya and Amazake are still undefeated, with everyone else taking at least one loss.

Action from day 8

RikishiOutcomeScore
HoshoryuLoss2-2
MidorifujiWin2-2
NayaWin4-0
MusashikuniLoss1-3
TerunofujiLoss3-1
ShojiLoss2-2
AmakazeWin4-0

Some highlights and lowlights: Amakaze tossed Shinyashiki like a sack of rice being loaded onto a truck; it’s really the only way to describe it. He picks up his kachi-koshi, remains undefeated and enters the yusho playoff bracket that holds 12 rikishi. Unless something odd happens, there WILL be a playoff for the Sandanme yusho.

Terunofuji’s match was a stumbling mess, and the former Ozeki looked completely off tempo and was ripe for a loss. This gives him his first black star, and takes him out of the yusho race. It also considerably slows his rise back toward the salaried ranks, and he may not find himself out of Sandanme for a bit longer.

Naya remains unbeaten, and he will enter the bracket for the Makushita yusho for the second consecutive tournament. Does this mean that Naya is suddenly better than his rival Hoshoryu? No, it underscores how brutal and effective the meat grinder is at the top of Makushita.

Hoshoryu found himself on a fast track to the south side zabuton when he squared off against another young fast-riser in Ryuko, who made quick work of Hoshoryu. Focus on 4 wins, Hoshoryu – you are in fine shape to get there.

Now on to day 9. You will note that most of the 4-0 lower division rikishi are in action on day 9, as they start to winnow the undefeated pool and try to get to a yusho winner within the remaining 3 matches. In Sandanme and Jonidan, it’s almost certain there will be playoff matches on day 15, but it’s going to be a great adventure to get there. Day 9 is heavy with the Makushita side of our roster, so it’s another late night for Team Tachiai!

Wakamotoharu vs Jokoryu – In this 1-3 bracket match, the loser goes away make-koshi, and facing demotion for Nagoya. Both of these men are trying to return to Juryo, one of them will face disappointment today.

Ichiyamamoto vs Hoshoryu – Two of our “Ones to Watch” up in the same match, it’s a 2-2 bracket that brings two scrappers face to face and underscores that fierce nature of the top ranks of Makushita. Ichiyamamoto won their only prior match.

Midorifuji vs Takakento – Another rematch will see Midorifuji try to even up the career record in this 2-2 bracket fight. Former Takanohana rikishi (now Chiganoura) Takakento is fighting at his highest ever rank, and needs 2 more to advance higher on the banzuke.

Naya vs Tsukahara – A 4-0 bracket match, the winner advances into the ever decreasing pool of rikishi who will compete for the Makushita yusho. Naya will face off against another fast risking young star in Kasugano’s Tsukahara, who has a Jonokuchi and Jonidan yusho to his name.

Roga vs Kototora – Young Roga finds himself in an upper Sandanme 2-2 bracket match, looking for 2 more wins to reach the safety of kachi-koshi. Kototora is fighting at his highest ever rank, but his 55 basho experience may provide a decisive edge.

Amakaze vs Tsugaruumi – Sandanme yusho bracket match sees former Juryo mainstay Amakaze go to work against Sandanme mainstay Tsugaruumi. Tsugaruumi has struggled with injury, and is one of the lighter rikishi in Sandanme. This might set up a second consecutive “grab and toss” from Amakaze.

Kitanowaka vs Oba – Former high school Yokozuna finds himself in a 3-1 bracket, but surprisingly he still has a path to a Jonokuchi yusho. With 3 matches left, there are only 3 rikishi with a 4-0 record, meaning there is a fair chance that the eventual yusho winner will not be undefeated. To remain in the hunt, he needs to get past Oba.

Hattorizakura vs Higohikari – Congrats to Higohikari who will pick up his first win today against perpetual soft-sumo expert Hattorizakura.

Natsu Day 8 – Ones To Watch

Naya Arrives At The Kokugikan

Barn-burner action in the lower divisions on day 7, as a good spread of our “Ones to Watch” engaged in their 4th match. Some results from day 7

RikishiOutcomeScore
WakamotoharuLoss1-3
IchiyamamotoLoss2-2
WakatakamotoLoss1-3
AkuaWin3-1
RogaLoss2-2
WakaichiroWin2-2
KitanowakaLoss3-1
HattorizakuraLoss0-4

Can you say bloodbath for our cohort? Yes, we still have Wakaichiro, who shoved Harimanada around with great effect, picking up his second win of the basho. Akua looked rather sharp as well. I note that Roga lost his second match on day 7, which shows that he has risen to the point where competition is a challenge for him. This is great news as now his training can begin in earnest. I expect him to be a big deal in sumo shortly. We also have news that Kitanowaka lost his match, going down to college man Ito, and taking him off of the yusho pace for Jonokuchi. That first basho is always a big shuffling process for the new rikishi, and we won’t really get a good measure of Kitanowaka until Aki, I would predict.

Off to day 8, the middle day of the tournament, and we will see who can come home with a win. You may see more Tachiai folks at the Kokugikan on Sunday, please stop by and say hello, and feel free to beg for snacks!

Day 8 Matches

Hoshoryu vs Ryuko – The final match of Makushita for day 8 features a 2-1 bracket match up with Hoshoryu, who continues to be attracting an increasing amount of attention. This match is very symmetrical in several ways, my favorite being that Ryuko is another fast rising youngster who missed kachi-koshi in Osaka that would have seen him land in Juryo. That outcome is still on the table for Natsu, for both men, which means this match will be quite a brawl.

Midorifuji vs Asabenkei – Down in the 1-2 bracket, we find a Midorifuji, who has had a less than awesome basho thus far. But like Wakaichiro, if the focus in kachi-koshi, the goal is still well within reach. Asabenkei is a long serving sumo veteran and former Juryo man, who is going to have a distinct advantage in this match.

Naya vs Kaito – In the Makushita 3-0 bracket match is Naya, who has a chance to secure his majority winning record if he can overcome the much higher ranked Kaito. Kaito had a period between Hatsu and Kyushu in 2015 where he was not active in competition, and dropped from lower Makushita to Jonokuchi before fighting his way back up the banzuke. This will be a great test for Naya’s progress as a rikishi.

Musashikuni vs Fukuyama – Also in the 1-2 bracket, the scion of the Musashigawa clan needs to pick up this win against Senshu University rikishi Fukuyama. Fukuyama has been plateaued at lower to mid Makushita, and is looking for the next step in his sumo to progress. Musashikuni has a huge height and weight advantage in this match.

Terunofuji vs Daishosei – A Sandanme 3-0 match, we could see former Ozeki Terunofuji secure kachi-koshi on day 8 if he can get past Daishosei. Daishosei (from Oitekaze heya, naturally) has only been in sumo for 8 basho, and I am sure drawing a match against the former Ozeki is going to be quite an event in his career.

Shoji vs Ebisumaru = 2-1 bracket match from another of the Musashigawa clan we follow, he faces Ebisumaru who has never ranked higher than Sandanme.

Amakaze vs Shinyashiki – Also in the 3-0 bracket is former Juryo mainstay Amakaze, who could secure kachi-koshi and a slot in the yusho playoff bracket with a win on day 8. His opponent, Shinyashiki has 34 tournaments in his sumo career, most of them in Jonidan. We wish Shinyashiki good luck with the large and apparently genki Amakaze.

Hatsu Day 6 – Ones To Watch

Amakaze – Keep Winning Please!

First, the day 5 action did not disappoint. For starters, Wakaichiro reverted to form and blasted Amamidake off the dohyo with little resistance from Amamidake. He advances to 1-2, and he still has a fair shot at kachi-koshi. Terunofuji made similar swift work of Komakiryu, and former high school Yokozuna Kitanowaka dispatched the helpless Yabugasaki along the same lines. For those who made it to Makushita, Midorifuji lost, Hoshoryu lost, Wakamotoharu won, as did Ichiyamamoto in his visit to Juryo – forcing out Tobizaru to improve to 2-1.

Now on to day 6, and we find the remainder of our rikishi stepping on the clay to have their 3rd match of the basho. For the undefeated, this weekend could bring the first kachi-koshi scores, and we are eagerly waiting to see if any of our favorites will make it into yusho playoff brackets.

Day 6 Matches

Wakatakamoto vs Ayanoumi – A misery match as both rikishi come to the dohyo with 0-2 records. Thankfully at least one of these guys will leave with their first win. Wakatakamoto can still get to 4 wins, but he needs to turn his sumo around and start dominating his matches.

Akua vs Kaito – On the other side of the score, we have the so far undefeated Akua, who if he can continue his momentum can put himself within range to return to the top of Makushita for Nagoya. Day 6 he faces Asakayama’s Kaito who is on a bit of a surge since Hatsu, going 5-2 for the first 2 basho of 2019.

Naya vs Ryusei – Also in the 2-0 bracket is Naya, who seems to have come to a level of comfort with his larger body, and his sumo. He faces 32 year old veteran Ryusei, who has been struggling for the past 6 months with 2 consecutive kachi-koshi scores.

Musashikuni vs Goryu – Sadly we find that Musashikuni has yet to win a single match, and day 6 is his best chance to stave off a path to make-koshi by overcoming 29 year old veteran Goryu, who is moving back up the banzuke after an extended period in Sandanme.

Roga vs Hokuyozan – Roga finds himself in the 1-1 bracket at the top third of Sandanme, and can cleanly move to Makushita should he pick up the remaining matches. Hokuyozan has struggled with 3 kyujo periods in his career, and is currently fighting at his highest ever rank.

Shoji vs Saionji – Shoji has faced Saionji before on Hatsu 2019 day 6, which he lost to Saionji. This rematch in the 1-1 bracket will put the winner in positive score going into the middle weekend of the basho. Mushashigawa heya could use some wins today, as many of their kanban rikishi are under-performing at the start of Natsu.

Amakaze vs Hikarifuji – Amakaze continues to quietly go about the business of winning matches, he comes into day 6 2-0, and frankly looking fairly sharp. Hikarifuji is a 20 year old rikishi who peaked at Sandanme 24 in January before falling down the banzuke to his current rank of Sd81.

Natsu Day 4 – Ones To Watch

After a fairly light schedule on day 3, we are back in the thick of things for day 4. Sadly Wakaichiro lost his second match after a shaky tachiai led to problems with balance and foot placement. He starts Natsu with 0-2, which I am sure is frustrating the daylights out of him. In Jonokuchi, Kitanowaka improved to 2-0 over Tokisakae. Watching Kitanowaka fight, you can see there is a great deal of potential in need of refinement. The good news is that the Hakkaku heya has a strong program, and he will have every chance to make the most out of his sumo years.

Ichiyamamoto dispatched Fujiazuma to improve to 1-1, Hoshoryu took Jokoryu apart with a yoritaoshi, and improved to 2-0 as well. In the battle of the “Ones to Watch”, Akua forced out Midorifuji to take the white start and join the 2-0 cohort, joined by Naya, who slapped down Koba. There is a lot of potential for the “Ones to Watch” to face each other even before they cross the kachi-koshi line, and the next few days may see so very exciting action in Makushita. Many of these young men may be the stars of the near future, and we could be witnessing the beginning of rivalries.

Day 4 Matches

Wakatakamoto vs Nogami – Midorifuji defeated Nogami on day 2, and now he faces another of our cohort. Nogami is close to his highest ever rank, and I am sure he is going to be a chew-toy for all of the budding sumo monsters that are stomping around the top echelon of Makushita this basho.

Musashikuni vs Higonojo – Musashikuni still looks really rough, which is a huge disappointment of his fans. Higonojo is a 34 year old former Juryo man, who is fairly far down the banzuke after taking a 7-0 Makushita yusho at Osaka 2018. Good luck Mama!

Roga vs Yamaguchi – I know a number of fans have Roga fever, and there are good reasons why. But his first ever professional sumo loss came on day 2, and hopefully it has helped re-focus the young man on the match at hand. Today he faces on of my favorites in former Maegashira and Nihon University man, Yamaguchi. Yamaguchi’s rank has been falling since he went kyujo at Hatsu 2018, and it’s likely he is fighting hurt. Good luck Roga, you may be in for a rough ride.

Terunofuji vs Kasugaryu – Terunofuji looks less pasty, flabby and worried than he did in Osaka. He seems to have some of his ring sense back, and a good measure of his aggressive fighting spirit. Kasugaryu’s highest ever rank was near the bottom of Makushita, so this may be one-sided.

Shoji vs Tokimaru – A bright spot for Mushashigawa heya is that Shoji seems to be in good health and fighting well. He faces another young, hard charging rikishi in Tokimaru, who hails from Miyagino heya, where Hakuho practices.

Amakaze vs Daishoki – I should also mention that Amakaze continues to look solid. The Oitekaze heya returnee seems to be over his physical issues, and is fighting well. He’s on a shallower climb back up the banzuke than Terunofuji, but I am liking what I see thus far.

Hattorizakura vs Yamamoto – Hattorizakura did in fact state he was going to try to achieve kachi-koshi during the Reiwa era. These eras can last a few decades, so don’t try to set your calendar by Hattorizakura’s prediction.