Nagoya Day 15 Preview

We come to it at last, the final day of Nagoya, a basho that has been marred by injury, but filled with heroic efforts at all levels of the banzuke. Hundreds of stories of struggle played out on the dohyo. Many lost but some won, and as is always the case in sumo, almost everyone will train, recover and test their sumo again in 2 months.

A note to readers – Team Tachiai are eternally grateful that you take time to visit our site and read our posts, and that some of you take the time to comment. We truly treasure the time you share with us. This is a site run by fans, for fans. We take no ads, and expect no revenue from our effort. Most of us are professionals in other areas of endeavor, and the time we devote to Tachiai is done purely for the love of sumo, and our desire to make sumo more accessible to the world.

Because it is more or less a hobby, it can become tough to find time to contribute. Long-time readers will note that my inter-basho posting fell off a cliff shortly after the birth of my first child 2 years ago. I personally would love to put more up during the gap between tournaments, but Tachiai has to take a back seat to my job and my family. Others have noted that recent posts are not necessarily always full coverage of a day’s matches. When my professional life makes demands that shove my normal sumo-writing time out of the way, or compress the 2 hours or so I would rather spend writing up the day’s results, the blog does suffer.

But I think I speak for the entire team in saying we remain committed to our cause, and while we can’t always spend as much time on sumo as we would like, we will spend all that we can with you, dear readers.

With day 15 racing towards us now, there are some great matches on tap. In fact, the torikumi was late to be published Saturday, and it was not available until I woke Saturday AM in Texas. I chuckled to myself, noting that even with a heavily depleted roster, they managed to keep our interest to the very end. But the one match that will top all others is the final bout of the day: Both Yokozuna will face each other for the Emperor’s cup. The advantage here goes to Kakuryu, as he needs just 1 win to take home the yusho, whereas the injured Hakuho must win twice. Put an extra bottle of sake on ice—it could be a big day.

ReminderNHK World Japan will be streaming the last 90 minutes live overnight US time. Everything kicks off at 3:30 AM Eastern / 12:30 AM Pacific.

What We Are Watching Day 15

Chiyomaru vs Nishikigi – Both men come into this match with a horrible 5-9 record, with the loser walking away with 10 losses. Nishikigi tends to be able to trap Chiyomaru in his preferred arm-lock, and take away any mobility that Chiyomaru might use. 8-2 career record favors Nishikigi. Chiyomaru faces possible demotion to Juryo with a loss. -lksumo

Enho vs Daishoho – Enho has been injured this entire basho, and would have a daily allotment of tape across his upper body. But he managed to endure and get 8 wins, and will get at least some measure of safety higher up the banzuke for September. His opponent, the 6-8 Daishoho, is much higher ranked, already make-koshi, and at no risk of being sent to Juryo. So this match is just for a final score.

Shohozan vs Tochiozan – Unlike the match above, Tochiozan may be at risk of demotion back to Juryo, which he has not seen since 2007. Tochiozan has not had more than 6 wins in a basho this entire year, and it may soon be time for him to hang up the mawashi. Would a win here save him? I will leave that to lksumo’s skilled forecasting.

Kagayaki vs Okinoumi – Darwin match! Only one of them can take home a kachi-koshi from this one, the other gets a losing record. Kagayaki, specifically, has struggled this basho. His sumo has been rougher and less focused than at any time that I can remember in recent tournaments. As a master of razor-sharp execution of sumo fundamentals, I have to assume he is nursing some injury.

Terutsuyoshi vs Tomokaze – What an awesome match. Should Hakuho lose the final regulation bout, the winner will share the Jun-Yusho, and I expect both of these fresh faces to the top division to unleash hell. The big risk will be the slippery Nagoya clay, and the danger of losing traction. Though Tomokaze has a 2-1 career score against Terutsuyoshi, both rikishi are operating well outside their normal sumo envelope this tournament.

Myogiryu vs Kotoyuki – It’s remarkable to me that I will write this: I expect Kotoyuki to win this one. He has a 9-3 career record over Myogiryu, and for some reason the stars have aligned on Kotoyuki’s sumo this July, and I think he’s likely to “win out”.

Chiyotairyu vs Toyonoshima – Second Darwin match of the day, and this one tugs at my emotions. I love Chiyotairyu’s sumo when it clicks, but you have to sit in respect and awe of what Toyonoshima has accomplished. From his injury, to his recovery, to fighting his way back through the mosh-pit of Makushita, and finally back to the top division. Just to have a completely cold start and rally to be 7-7 on senshuraku. I want Toyonoshima to win, but even if Chiyotairyu bests him today, he has my respect.

Yago vs Takarafuji – Yago is damaged and not doing real Yago sumo. I suppose he can sort himself out in Juryo, and I hope that he does.

Kotoeko vs Ichinojo – First time match up, and I am sure Kotoeko will need to think through how he counters that much mass. Ichinojo already has his 8th win, so this is to determine rank for September. There is a traffic jam trying to push into the Komusubi slot(s), so Ichinojo will in all likelihood not be in San’yaku for Aki.

Shodai vs Takagenji – I am a bit down that Takagenji has had such a rough ride on his first trip to the top division, but I hope he can sharpen his sumo through these bouts. Day 15 he gets Shodai, who will spring unpredictable sumo on any opponent he gets into a real fight against. Takagenji won their only prior match.

Aoiyama vs Daieisho – I am calling it for Aoiyama unless something odd happens (slippiotoshi?), Why? Aoiyama is 7-7 and Daieisho has his 8. I am not saying Daieisho would throw the match, but it would be wise to not risk injury for the sake of making it 9. I expect Daieisho will put up a good fight, but the Man Mountain will prevail.

Endo vs Hokutofuji – I would guess this match may be to see who gets Ryuden’s Komusubi slot, and it’s a brilliant pairing. Endo is going to bring masterful planning and execution to this match. Hokutofuji will bring speed and power. I think this one may come down to balance, stance and defensive footwork on the slick Nagoya dohyo.

Asanoyama vs Sadanoumi – I am not sure I understand this pairing, other than that this is the leftovers from the Darwin and ranking matches. 6-8 Asanoyama holds a minor 5-3 career advantage over 9-5 Sadanoumi.

Meisei vs Ryuden – Perhaps we should call this the “Kassen no shitsubou” or battle of disappointments. Both are bringing in double digit losses, and both are eager to move on and try again in September.

Onosho vs Tamawashi – The Nagoya Precision Slip And Fall Squad takes to the dohyo to see who can be more off-balance, and get more clay on their face one more time, in this classic head-to-head showdown of feet moving one way, body moving another. Regroup guys, your fans love you and look forward to your rebound in September.

Abi vs Kotoshogiku – The final Darwin match of the day. If Abi can prevail, he can keep his Komusubi slot. He has to take out Kotoshogiku, fresh from a gold star win over Hakuho on day 14. If Abi can get his thrusting train running, it will be tough for Kotoshogiku to generate much offense.

Mitakeumi vs Shimanoumi – No restart of an Ozeki run for Mitakeumi, but then his sumo has not really been Ozeki class this basho. Both rikishi come in 8-6 to this first ever match-up. I would give an advantage to Mitakeumi to be certain.

Kakuryu vs Hakuho – The Boss has to be respected to come into the basho with two bad arms and tough it out for the whole 15 days. The man is a sumo machine. I don’t think it’s a slam dunk for Kakuryu, as “The Boss” holds a 41-7 career advantage over “Big K”. But Hakuho is hurt, and Kakuryu’s sumo has been excellent this July. If Kakuryu loses the first, they fight again for the yusho. Guys, blow us away with your sumo, but for the sake of everyone – DON’T GET HURT!

Nagoya Day 5 Preview

Welcome to the end of act 1! Yes, dear readers, we are about to be ⅓ ofd the way through this wonderful festival of sumo in Nagoya. The purpose, once again, of act 1 is to knock the ring rust off of the rikishi and get everyone into tournament mode. We also start to get an idea about who is genki, and who is suffering. I think heading into day 5. we can say with some certainty:

Genki

  • Kakuryu – Looking surprisingly good. I think I can say that because so many times Kakuryu is clearly hurt and can not really execute his rather unique style of sumo. So far he’s using it to great effect.
  • Hakuho – As we suspected prior to the bashso, The Boss is back, he’s reset and he’s fighting well enough to dominate every match he enters.
  • Tomokaze – A pleasant surprise, the risking star from Oguruma heya has shown some really notable versatility
  • Terutsuyoshi – After a pair of 6-9 results that resulted in some amazing banzuke luck, and him remaining in the top division, Terutsuyoshi seems to have his sumo back, and he’s on his way to a solid basho in Nagoya

Suffering

  • Tochinoshin – Very worrisome in that he just cleared his Ozekiwake exile status. He’s hurt, he’s fighting as best he can, but he’s really not up to Ozeki level sumo.
  • Tamawashi – I have to assume injury here too. Tamawashi is too consistently powerful to start 0-4.
  • Meisei – Meisei is better than this, so don’t be surprised if he ends up pulling out a 7-8 or 8-7 final.

What We Are Watching Day 5

Yago vs Terutsuyoshi – This match does not seem like it would be close, you have the hulking Yago going up against pixie Terutsuyoshi. But their career record is 5-4, surprisingly even. I would expect that now that Terutsuyoshi seems to have gotten his sumo back, we are going to see some high-agility speed action from Terutsuyoshi, and we are going to see a struggling 2-2 Yago trying to keep him still.

Toyonoshima vs Kotoyuki – Toyonoshima finally picked up a win, and there was much rejoicing. Kotoyuki still seems a bit unfocused, but he looks like his sumo is working better than his last trip to the top division, which was January, and ended with a 4-11 result.

Chiyomaru vs Kaisei – A pair of super-heavies who have only 2 wins between them, and 6 losses. Both need to turn things around, but sadly for Kaisei, it may be down to injuries.

Tochiozan vs Enho – We all want Enho to win doing some acrobatic crazy man sumo. So let’s just see if Tochiozan’s experience will leave him distracted or give him to tools to efficiently shut down Enho’s antics.

Sadanoumi vs Nishikigi – To Nishikigi, Sadanoumi is just another blurry mess. But he has a good record of grabbing a hold of the green mawashi blur and pushing it off the dohyo (9-5). Let’s hope the gyoji does not wear green today.

Kagayaki vs Takagenji – Takagenji got his first taste of Nagoya clay on day 4, and I am willing to say that I think Kagayaki is getting into his sumo now, and we are likely to see some good, fundamental but possibly unexciting sumo from him. Given how Takagenji has been focusing on strong, efficient yotzu-sumo, it may shut down Kagayaki’s movement oriented offense.

Shohozan vs Daishoho – At 35 years old, Shohozan has to be on watch to “age out” of the top division at some point. He’s lacked some of the brutal sumo we have come to expect from him of late. Like Okinoumi, they seem to be hanging around, and we don’t mind at all, as long as they can still execute quality sumo.

Kotoeko vs Okinoumi – Kotoeko has never beaten Okinoumi, and comes into day 5 on a 2 bout losing streak. While Okinoumi stays in a “not too genki, not too weak” lane very well to keep his rank in the middle ⅓ of the top division, I don’t expect he will pick up his 4th loss today.

Myogiryu vs Tomokaze – Yes Myogiryu is fighting well, and his sumo looks really sharp. But something about Tomokaze is really clicking right now. So I would expect him to have the advantage in this day 5 match between two rikishi who are doing well.

Onosho vs Shimanoumi – Both of these men need to regroup. Onosho is encrusted with poor balance or some kind of metastasized ring-rust. Shimanoumi is looking dangerously out of his competence zone. We all want him to rise to the challenges of mid-Maegashira, but maybe its too soon.

Kotoshogiku vs Takarafuji – Kotoshogiku seem to have paid a heavy price for discarding caution in his day 4 match, but that won’t be a problem day 5. A match against Takarafuji is typically a study in careful planning and execution. Unless Takarafuji is fighting Ichinojo, then it’s a couple of minutes of “No, Bad Pony!”

Chiyotairyu vs Ichinojo – Lets just admit that we all want to see Ichinojo slap Chiyotairyu around like he did Takarafuji on day 4. Maybe to the point where Chiyotairyu thinks he has enough and goes to fall down, but Ichinojo holds him up and smacks him a couple more times. Not that I don’t really like Chiyotairyu, because I do. But something about super bad, “Pulp Fiction” style Ichinojo is rather compelling.

Shodai vs Meisei – Meisei is winless, and has never beaten Shodai. So… Shodai… When is Shodai vs “Royale with Cheese” Ichinojo?.

Daieisho vs Tamawashi – Oh please Tamawashi, come back to us! Like so many of the beloved main-stays, you seem to be aging out with the rest of your cohort at the same time. Just a win. Just one to start with.

Mitakeumi vs Hokutofuji – Ok screw the old guys. The young bucks are going to bash the daylights out of each other. You may look at the stats and say (in your best sumo snob voice), “Well, of course – Mitakeumi is favored”. Not today. Hokutofuji has been fighting like a man possessed against the best in the business for the last 4 days, and today he’s against someone closer to his ability. I think there is a lot of pent up frustration that will express itself. In the form of hitting.

Goeido vs Ryuden – Ryuden stands a fair chance of giving Goeido the now famous “Paper Jam In Tray 2” treatment, if he can survive Goeido’s opening gambit.

Asanoyama vs Tochinoshin – I think Asanoyama’s so far limited experience is going to have him willingly go chest to chest with Tochinoshin, and we may see Tochinoshin finally get his first win.

Abi vs Takayasu – Takayasu will need to be steady, stable and patient with Abi. It should only take a few second for the Ozeki to overpower Abi’s right hand side, and the Takayasu owns the match.

Endo vs Hakuho – Is there any chance that The Boss could beat Endo twice? Enjoy the ride, Golden Boy.

Kakuryu vs Aoiyama – Aoiyama has displayed absolutely outstanding mobility and agility thus far, which is baffling when you consider his size. But I think Kakuryu is healthy, and The Man-Mountain is not going to score a kinboshi today.

Nagoya Day 3 Preview

Bruce is working a tough programming gig, far away from home. So some of the reporting this week will be foreshortened, full of typos, and generally as genki as Yoshikaze’s sumo. You have been warned.

What We Are Watching Day 3

Terutsuyoshi vs Kaisei – Kaisei has suddenly been beset by a swarm of tiny, fast moving rikishi. After experiencing first hand Enho’s unique take on the “Death Spin”, he has to be wondering what manner of fresh hell Terutsuyoshi brings to day 3.

Kotoyuki vs Enho – I this “Penguin meets Fire Pixie” story, we will see how far Kotoyuki makes it into the crowd today, after he only made it to the area just beside the dohyo on day 2. Enho is fighting hurt, but he is fighting well. They met twice in Juryo, splitting the pair.

Toyonoshsima vs Yago – Both are solid rikishi who have started 0-2, and now one of them will have started 0-3. Talk about pulling an Ikioi…

Chiyomaru vs Kagayaki – The key to defeating Chiyomaru is lateral motion. Kagayaki likes to move forward at almost all times, so it’s straight into the fire for Mr Fundamentals.

Tochiozan vs Sadanoumi – Two technical rikishi, with 1-1 records, coming in with a 5-5 career record. Could we be any more symmetrical?

Kotoeko vs Takagenji – This is probably the highlight match of the first half, Takagenji has opened strong, and Kotoeko has shown excellent mobility and stability in his first 2 matches. I expect Takagenji to open strong, and Kotoeko to react today.

Nishikigi vs Daishoho – Nishikigi appears as lethargic and uncertain as his bad days of yore, clinging tenaciously to the bottom scrap of the banzuke. This guy kachi-koshied in upper Maegashira. Please the genki version of Nishikigi back!

Onosho vs Okinoumi – I am going to dare to say that maybe Onosho is getting some of his sumo back. We will know more following day 3 when he faces Okinoumi, who has yet to score his first white star.

Shohozan vs Tomokaze – Tomokaze has actually won both of their prior matches, and I have to wonder just how well Oguruma’s new top rikishi is going to do in July. Shohozan should be almost done removing his ring rust.

Chiyotairyu vs Shimanoumi – I don’t know what Shimanoumi is going to do about the cannon ball charge. Shimanoumi is not large, though he is fairly stable. If ever there was a time for a Henka or near-Henka, this might be it.

Myogiryu vs Takarafuji – Both of these guys are in the middle of the banzuke, and need to really crank it up. Both are capable of great sumo, but seem to have fallen into a middling rut.

Meisei vs Ichinojo – Fans are still wondering which version of Ichinojo is active right now. We want the powerful giant who tosses 150kg people around like straw. This is the first time Meisei has faced, “The Boulder”.

Kotoshogiku vs Daieisho – I expect that Kotoshogiku’s stamina is going to give out some time in week 2, but until then I am enjoying the genki, bouncing, throwing version of the Kyusho Bulldozer.

Abi vs Shodai – Someone probably said, “Let’s give Abi a bit of a break. I know… Shodai!”. But as we all know, once Shodai gets besieged by an oshi practitioner, random things tend to happen, and usually to Shodai’s advantage.

Mitakeumi vs Tamawashi – Maybe a bit early for the traditional Sekiwake brawl, but we will take it. This should be a big running battle if Tamawashi does not blow Mitakeumi up at the tachiai.

Endo vs Takayasu – Takayasu dropped a match in week 1, and everyone who hopes he will one day actually win a yusho has to just shake their head and hope for “next time”. As a life long Cubs / Bears fan, I know how this works. Now he has Endo, and Endo is full on heck’n an bam-boozl’n these days.

Goeido vs Aoiyama – When I see the 21-3 career advantage Goeido has over the Man-Mountain, I have hope that we will see some real sumo from the Ozeki today. I know Aoiyama would love to start Nagoya 3-0, but he will have to survive Goeido’s all out offensive.

Ryuden vs Tochinoshin – Tochinoshin is doing so poorly right now, that I am sort of worried to even watch this match. Ryuden already has one Ozeki scalp, and if he can shut down Tochinoshin’s battle for that left hand outside grip, he may get another.

Hokutofuji vs Hakuho – We know what is going to happen here. We love you Hokutofuji, please don’t get discouraged.

Kakuryu vs Asanoyama – Last chance for an Asanoyama kinboshi, so lets see what Kakuryu will do against the Natsu yusho winner. This is their first ever match.

Nagoya Day 2 Highlights

Some truly fantastic sumo today in Nagoya. We got to see Ryuden take on Takayasu in an endurance contests (always a questionable move), and we had the highlight bout between Hakuho and Natsu yusho winner Asanoyama.

I would not that Aminishiki, whom we fondly refer to as Uncle Sumo, may have finally damaged his fragile knee in a bout with Ryuko. He was clearly in pain following his match, and was wheeled away in that enormous wheelchair, which is sometimes a sign of big trouble. While this is terrible news for everyone, Aminishiki does own a Kabu, or sumo elder status, and when he finally decides to hang up the knee brace, he will continue to be a part of sumo for many years to come.

Highlight Matches

Kotoyuki defeats Yago – True to form, Kotoyuki leaps from the dohyo, but can’t quite find the momentum to get into the crowd. Yago allowed Kotoyuki to get inside at the tachiai, and really failed to generate any real offense.

Terutsuyoshi defeats Toyonoshima – Toyonoshima got the better of the tachiai, but after Terutsuyoshi stopped Toyonoshima’s advance, Toyonoshima tried to pull, and Terutsuyoshi made him pay. After shin-maku jitters last basho, is Terutsuyoshi back in form now? That would be wonderful.

Enho defeats Kaisei – As Kaisei discovered, the sumo mechanics are difference when you have someone small, fast and compact as Enho. Kaisei found himself a right hand reaching all the way over Enho’s back and grabbing his mawashi knot. In many cases this would have been a commandingly dominant position, but all it did was ensure that Enho had ample room to swing around and get behind Kaisei. Even banged up, Enho is quite an amazing rikishi.

Tochiozan defeats Chiyomaru – This one was all attributable to Tochiozan’s depth of experience, his ability to remain in control of his body, and wait for Chiyomaru to lose his balance. With that enormous pot-belly in front of him, it is in fact only a matter of time before Chiyomaru naturally leans forward.

Sadanoumi defeats Kagayaki – Solid sumo from both, and Kagayaki had control of the match. But as Kagayaki backed Sadanoumi to the tawara, his shoulders and hips were not square to Sadanoumi. Sadanoumi deftly used this to deliver a seldom seen kimarite, an amiuchi (fishermans throw), with Kagayaki as the catch of the day.

Kotoeko defeats Nishikigi – Simple nodowa to stand Nishikigi up at the tachiai, and a pivot to the rear for a push out. Where has the mega-genki Nishikigi of earlier this year gone?

Takagenji defeats Daishoho – The two go chest to chest at the tachiai, and this seems to play well for Takagenji. Daishoho puts up a good fight, but Takagenji has better position, better foot placement and all around better sumo.

Onosho defeats Shohozan – Greatly improved balance from Onosho today, but it was also true that Shohozan gave him a stable platform to push against. We did not see Onosho favoring his damaged right knee today, which is a hopeful sign.

Tomokaze defeats Okinoumi – To me it looks like whatever plan Okinoumi had going into the match got blown at the tachiai, and he was more or less along for the ride. Okinoumi’s attempt to throw down Tomokaze at the bales was too late, as Okinoumi’s heel was out. Tomokaze continues to execute well, and if he has the stamina to stay strong into week 2, this could be a break out basho for him.

Chiyotairyu defeats Myogiryu – Chiyotairyu’s canon ball tachiai finds its mark today, and Myogiryu gets an express trip out of the west side of the dohyo. Chiyotairyu looks genki right now, and his sumo works well at this rank, but seems to falter much higher up the banzuke.

Takarafuji defeats Shimanoumi – Takarafuji’s sumo is skilled, patient and effective. Today Shimanoumi found his attacks blunted, stalemated and ultimately defeated. True to form, he waited Shimanoumi out, and when Shimanoumi charged forward, Takarafuji converted his energy into the power for a match winning uwatenage.

Kotoshogiku defeats Meisei – Meisei did masterful work to keep Kotoshogiku from squaring his hips and applying his lethal hug-n-chug attack. In fact Kotoshogiku fought most of the match one one foot, but still managed to keep a solid grip on Meisei’s mawasshi. This payed off as Meisei over-extended, which Kotoshogiku read instinctively and triggered the match winning throw.

Ichinojo defeats Daieisho – Today, rather than shutting down and giving up, Ichinojo rallied when Daieisho put him under pressure. Dare we hope that day 1 was just a slow start?

Mitakeumi defeats Endo – Day 1 Mitakeumi looked terrible. His normal high energy, high impact sumo was not even attempted. It seems he resolved to put that behind him, and he come out strong against Endo. Mitakeumi got inside early, and never gave up the advantage.

Aoiyama defeats Tamawashi – Look out, it seems Aoiyama is genki this July. Knowing that Tamawashi is going for maximum forward pressure, Aoiyama resists, and resists until he expertly times a step to the side, sending the Sekiwake to the clay.

Goeido defeats Abi – Abi always rushes powerfully into the tachiai, and if his opponent does not meet him with full pressure to catch his opening attack, this is the result. Compliments to Goeido for this useful demonstration.

Shodai defeats Tochinoshin – Tochinoshin is an absolute mess right now. We all hope that he gets his sumo together and starts dominating some of these “warm up” week 1 matches.

Ryuden defeats Takayasu – I am starting to appreciate Ryuden now. He took on a man with nearly unlimited stamina and made it work. The first match ended with both rikishi touching out at the same time, and a torinaoshi was called. Ryuden took the rematch, and picked up a fantastic win. Go get ’em Shin-Ikioi!

Kakuryu defeats Hokutofuji – Textbook reactive sumo from Kakuryu. Hokutofuji attacks strongly from the tachiai, with a predictable focus on landing a nodowa. Kakuryu is a master at giving ground on the dohyo to his advantage, and collapses Hokutofuji’s opening gambit with skill.

Hakuho defeats Asanoyama – This match did live up to the hype, as the Natsu yushso winner gave The Boss a solid fight. But the Yokozuna’s immense experience allowed him to wear down Asanoyama, and wait for his opening. It came when Asanoyama repeatedly tried to lift Hakuho, and as a result raised himself up, giving Hakuho the correct position to unleash his much favored uwatenage. Solid effort from Asanoyama, and I think he did as well as anyone might do with their first match against the most dominant rikishi in recorded history.