Haru Day 11 Preview

Bow-Twirling

Opening The Third Act

The third act of any basho is where dreams are crushed, the heroes are crowned, and legends are made. The 2017 Haru basho has progressed in new an exceptional ways, but with the final 5 days in front of us, it’s time to truly test those who vie for the Emperor’s Cup, and bring about a winner.

First and foremost, of course, is the remarkable performance of Kisenosato and Takayasu. They complete the firs 10 days of Haru undefeated. In fact, they seem to be able to shake of normal threats such as the day 10 Takanoiwa henka, and the several times that Kisenosato allowed his opponent to gain a brief, fleeting advantage. Unless something strange happens, one of these men will take the Yusho on Sunday. That something strange would be both Kisenosato and Takayasu losing at least once. The only rikishi that can catch them is the resurgant Terunofuji, who looms like a menacing storm front, one win behind the leaders. While Tochiozan has been going strong, he would be unlikely be able to beat all / any of the other three sekitori.

That’s not to say that the schedulers are going to let either Takayasu or Kisenosato have an easy road to yusuf. In fact I expect it will be as brutal as they can make it, in spite of the fact that most of the formidable opponents have been defeated already.

The next question, which many of our readers are starting to ask – Kotoshogiku. He needs three more wins to reclaim his Ozeki rank. He has certainly put on a remarkable performance in Osaka, and some would say he has already earned his way back. But those 3 wins are in part down to scheduling. They could have him face easy wins for the last 5 days, or they can have him face spoilers. Ringers include rikishi like Ikioi (who are excellent, but having a bad basho) and spoilers would include rikishi like Yoshikaze, who can flatten anyone on the right day.

Note, unless the leaders drop matches, there is no Chasers group now. Both Kakuryu and Chiyoshoma lost their day 10 bouts, and are now 3 losses off the pace.

Haru Leader board

LeadersKisenosato, Takayasu
Hunt Group – Terunofuji, Tochiozan

5 Matches Remain

Matches We Like

Ura vs Kyokushuho – Era is still pushing to get 8 wins, where a loss by Kyokushuho would put him clearly in Make-koshi. They only gave one prior match, which Ura won.

Ishiura vs Kotoyuki – Kotoyuki, who has been a pretty solid rikishi in the past, secured his Make-koshi already, and is going to sink down the banzuke for May. Ishiura is pushing for 3 more wins to hold rank. This will be their first match.

Daishomaru vs Chiyoshoma – Chiyoshoma has been turning in a solid performance this basho, and is one win away from Kachi-koshi. For some reason they sent him down to rough up Maegashira 13 Diashomaru. They two have even split their 4 prior matches.

Chiyonokuni vs Tochiozan – Great test match to see if Tochiozan is strong enough to match higher up the banzuke. Having already secured his Kachi-koshi, the NSK is likely seeing how high they can safely rank him in May. Chiyonokuni has been fighting with strength and skill this March, and needs one more win to secure his rank.

Kaisei vs Hokutofuji – Hokutofuji is a fascinating story. He has yet to have a losing record in any of his tournaments. After a really weak start, it looked like he was going to have to swallow his first Make-koshi. But he has battled back with determination, refusing defeat at every turn. He has a tough path though, requiring 4 wins of his next 5 matches.

Kotoshogiku vs Ikioi – Ikioi is a solid rikishi, but Maegashira 1 is a crappy slot in the banzuke, and it usually leaves the rikishi defeated and demoralized. This should be an easy win for Kotoshogiku, who must win 3 of the next 5 to secure his return to Ozeki. Kotoshogiku has won 7 of their 11 prior matches

Arawashi vs Terunofuji – Roadkill. Terunofuji stays one behind.

Harumafuji vs Mitakeumi – Mitakeumi cannot be discounted, especially when “The Horse” is playing hurt. My gut tells me Harumafuji takes this one, but Mitakeumi puts up a great fight.

Takayasu vs Kakuryu – Crucible day for Takayasu’s yusho hopes. Takayasu has won 5 of the 16 prior matches with Kakuryu, or you can think of it as Kakuryu wins twice for every 1 of Takayasu. Kakuryu is fast, smart and inventive. This will be a tough match for Takayasu.

Yoshikaze vs Kisenosato – Yoshikaze overcame Kakuryu on day 10, and he is no slouch. If he defeats Kisenosato, it would be kinboshi #8, which would time him with Aminishiki for top kinboshi count among active rikishi. But then again, whatever Kami has taken up residence in Kisenosato’s tsuna seem to be indomitable, and it’s possible that 12 men armed with Louisville sluggers would be unable to defeat him.

Kyushu Day 1 Preview

fukuoka-gymnasium

The Boss Is Back

It’s with great joy I welcome all the Tachiai readers back to our tournament coverage. The final basho of 2016 kicks off on Sunday in Fukuoka, and it is back to the seat cushions with potential. As Andy and I have been writing for the past week, there are any number of compelling threads woven into this epic sporting event.

Notable Matches, Day 1

Gagamaru va Toyohibiki – Gagamaru performed terribly during the Aki basho. He was not demoted back to Juryo mostly because Aki Juryo was an absolute train wreck. Hopefully he can perform better down at the bottom of Makuuchi.

Ichinojo vs Sokokurai – I am eager to see how a higher Ichinojo performs. Sokokurai is no slouch either, so this one has a lot of potential even thought its towards the bottom of the line up

Shohozan vs Chiyonokuni – Chiyonokuni is another rikishi who may have gained more weight than his technique can handle, where as Shohozan seems to be comfortable at a massive scale.

Takayasu vs Endo – Endo was on a hot tear during Aki, helped in part by his being lower down the banzuke at Maegashira 13. Now he is promoted 10 whole ranks to Maegashira 3. Takayasu needs 12 wins for Ozeki. Advantage Takayasu

Yoshikaze vs Terunofuji – Terunofuji may still be playing injured, and Yoshikaze tends to take a lot of damage, but looked solid on Jungyo. I give a slight advantage to Yoshikaze for this one.

Aoiyama vs Kisenosato – Clash of the bulky, with Kisenosato bringing more technique, and Aoiyama brining more strength. Both of these rikishi have a limited book of kimarite, so it could be a lot of slapping and a bunch of hugging. I give advantage to Kisenosato.

Goeido vs Tochiozan – We will see early if Goeido will be a contender at Kyushu. Tochiozan dropped from Komusubi at Aki to Maegashira 1, and has not been very dominant lately. I expect Goeido to attack strong and try to put Tochiozan quickly.

Hakuho vs Okinoumi – Hakuho is freshly back from surgery and recovery, but probably strong and rested. Okinoumi is nursing a horrific personal injury, and my be better off going kyujo. But these sumo guys are tough, so Okinoumi faces the boss straight out of the blocks. Hopefully the EMTs are ready.

Harumafuji vs Tamawashi – As stated in the prior torikumi thread, what says “congrats on making sanyaku” more than a face full of clay delivered by Harumafuji?

Day 12 Preview: Home Stretch

mitakeumi

“You can only fight the way you practice” – Book of Five Rings

With 4 days of sumo left, we are down to a handful or rikishi who are viable to win the tournament. Most of the wrestlers are now focusing on surviving with a winning record (kachi-koshi), and even that is quite a struggle for some. As noted earlier, some of them already know they will be demoted, and that list will grow on day 11.

Andy and I went sumo-nerd in the comments on the day 11 results post, so if you want to see some detailed discussion of who did what in key matches, go have a look.

  • Leader (11-0): Goeido
  • Hunt Group (9-2): Harumafuji, Takayasu, Endo
  • 4 Days Remain

Matches of Note

Goeido v Kakuryu – The match to watch where the undefeated, and likely yusho bound Goeido takes on injured and struggling Yokozuna Kakuryu. Given what he did to Kisenosato, do not assume that Goeido will lose to the higher ranked Sekitori. Very few chances are left to put a loss on Goeido’s record. If it’s going to happen, it may be a Yokozuna who does it.

Advantage Goeido

Harumafuji v Kotoshogiku – Kotoshogiku, after a hugely strong start, is now struggling to get his kachi-koshi and remove the lingering funk of kadoban. Even though Takayasu was able to out fox the Horse, the same is not likely true for Kotoshogiku, whose sumo is frequently face to face tests of muscle and force. Harumafuji excels in these conditions.

Advantage Harumafuji

Takayasu v Yoshikaze – This is a sad match, and the condition and record that Yoshikaze brings to day 12 are a story of painful struggle. Takayasu, in contrast, is on an upward arc that started in Nagoya, and shows no sign of slowing down. As with all of the matches this week, my biggest hope is that Yoshikaze does not compound his injuries before he can step back and heal after Sunday.

Advantage Takayasu

Okinoumi v Tochiozan – Like Kotoshogiku, Okinoumi came on strong early and is now hovering 1 win away from promotion. Okinoumi’s sumo is good enough, and Tochiozan is struggling. One more loss, and Tochiozan secures a losing record, and a demotion from the Sanyaku ranks.

Advantage Okinoumi

Endo v Mitakeumi – Someone decided it would be fun to take the Maegashira 14 with a join spot in the leading group, and face him off with a strong, up and coming Maegashira 5 who is looking very good this tournament. This one is a toss up, because on some days this basho, Mitakeumi has looked a bit shaky. Likewise Endo has been higher ranked in the past, so he certainly has the speed, skill and patience to win this.

Advantage Mitakeumi

 

September Day 10 Preview

takayasu

So I said to Terunofuji, No really, pull my finger….

Time To Gamberize!

  • Leader (9-0): Goeido
  • Chasers (8-1): Harumafuji, Endo
  • Hunt Group (7-2): Kisenosato, Kotoshogiku, Takayasu, Okinoumi, Kotoyuki
  • 6 Bouts Remain

The scheduling elves in the Sumo Kyokai are now working to bring about a climatic conclusion to the fall tournament (also know as the Aki Basho). What this translates to is – time to sort the winners from the losers. Time to put people like Goeido into the mill and see if he can continue to win. For some rikishi who have been doing a lot of tough bouts in the early days, they may find their schedule eases up. For those who have been performing very well, they will be tested.

While I have no crystal ball, I would assume the idea is to get at least one loss on Goeido, which bring him to a tie with Harumafuji and possibly Endo. If there can be a means where there is a tie that includes Kisenosato and some others, they have a ratings bonanza. A battle on the final day to see if Kisenosato can claim the title of Yokozuna would be one of the most watched events in recent years.

But if they can get there, who can tell. Always in motion is the future (with apologies to Yoda)

Featured Day 10 Matches

Osunaarashi v Azumaryu – At the top end of Juryo, the big question is if Osunaarashi’s pelvis will explode before he can limp his way to kachi-koshi. My biggest wish is the man not further damage himself in some desperate bid to regain Makuuchi.

Ura v Toyohibiki – Ura is really struggling this tournament, he is 3-6, and unless he stages a mighty comeback, he will face demotion for November. But with several Maegashira benched with injuries, they need at least one Juryo to even out the ranks. Advantage Toyohibiki.

Gagamaru v Kyokushuho – Gagamaru is 1 under even, but it is not a given he will make kachi-koshi, and I am sure he does not want to return to Juryo. The problem for Gagamaru, Kyokushuho has been fighting well If he can figure out how to take down one of the largest men in Sumo, we shall see. Slight advantage to Planet Gagamaru.

Endo v Sadanoumi – Endo is going to be promoted for November, he has made his winning record (kachi-koshi), but it will be interesting to see if he keeps up the intensity. My guess is he will. Though Sadanoumi is higher ranked by a few pips, he is facing an Endo who is in good form.

Kagayaki v Kotoyuki – Advantage here for Kotoyuki, who has been pressing hard to win every match, even if he has to pull a henka.

Amakaze v Tamawashi – Amakaze does not have anything close to a winning record, and will likely return to Juryo for at least one tournament. Meanwhile, Tamawashi is doing quite well, so I would give the advantage to Tamawashi.

Ikioi v Mitakeumi – Ikioi not much above .500, so it’s a coin toss on wether he makes the cut, he is fighting ok for a pusher-shover, but he does not have the depth and range that Mitakeumi has been showing. Advantage Mitakeumi

Kaisei v Yoshikaze – Another from the Kokugikan scratch and dent bin, Yoshikaze’s face looks like a prize-fighter’s, and Kaisei has been on a huge losing streak, with the exception of day 9’s win. Slight advantage to Yoshikaze.

Shodai v Tochiozan – Two good rikishi with losing records. Slight advantage to Tochiozan.

Takayasu v Okinoumi – This could be a really good one. On day 9 Okinoumi looked a bit lost in his bout, but I expect him to return to form day 10. Takayasu is looking like a likely Ozeki candidate, so this one will be a match that has impact. I give an advantage to Takayasu, which is 2x if his girlfriend is in the audience again (she was in day 9).

Kisenosato v Kotoshogiku – Wow: The Dozer vs The Great Pumpkin! This will be a fun fun match. Can Kotoshogiku retire Kisenosato’s dreams? I think probably not, as long as Kisenosato is on his game and plays out his plan.

Goeido v Terunofuji – Terunofuji is looking like he is headed to Kadoban, so I think Goeido is going 10-0.

Harumafuji v Aoiyama – The Horse must not be distracted by the flopping man-boobs. Just show him the door.

bt-taka-0919-akimoto-ogp_0

Takayasu – you lucky devil…..

Aki Day 8 Preview – Can Yoshikaze 嘉風 Equalize?

yoshikaze

Goeido Remains Undefeated – For How Long?

Undefeated: Goeido
Chasers (6-1): Harumafuji, Okinoumi, Endo
Hunt Group (5-2): Kisenosato, Kotoshogiku, Takayasu, Mitakeumi, Ikioi, Kotoyuki, Kyokushuho

Greetings dear sumo fans, followers of the glorious Tachiai web site, and to all the ships at sea. After spending the day returning to the glorious US West Coast, I am ready once more to bring you a peek at what is about to happen in Tokyo. Sadly I missed most of the thrills of today’s amazing day 7, but thanks to Andy who gave us the specifics.

With Okinoumi dealt his first defeat, he will likely continue the chase, now tied with the great Harumafuji (The Horse) for the second tier. Kisenosato is 2 wins behind Goeido, but unless someone stops Goeido, it might as well be 0-7 in terms of The Great Pumpkin’s dream of yusho and ascendancy to Yokozuna, sumo’s highest and most exalted rank.

As many (including myself) have commented, if Okinoumi had won, it was likely he would win the basho, and was quite possible he could do it undefeated, including earning the coveted and exotic zenyusho. But when Goeido twirled him out by the mawashi today, the sumo deities chose a more complex and interesting path.

From here on out, Okinoumi faces primarily lower ranked wrestlers. Goeido faces the bulk of the raging san’yaku battle fleet. But first, Goeido faces the Mad Max of sumo, Yoshikaze. As readers of Tachiai would know, I have my concerns about just how healed up he was able to be (and trained up) given the last basho sent him to the hospital. Clearly he has been capable but less impactful than the Nagoya basho. But tomorrow Yoshikaze can play the role of equalizer. If he can manage to defeat Goeido, it will even his win / loss ratio, but it will toss the entire basho back up in the air.

With a Berserker win, suddenly now your leaders are: Goeido, Harumafuji, Okinoumi, Endo. With Kisenosato, Kotoshogiku, and Takayasu one behind and suddenly in contention. Kisenosato’s yokozuna campaign becomes possibly once more, Harumafuji is in position to capture back-to-back yushos and everyone has to sweat Okinoumi’s easy second half.

Suffice to say, it would be one of the more compelling moves that could take place in this tournament.

Notable Matches, Day 8

Amakaze v Daieisho – I want to see the big “Kaze” at least make kachi-koshi, so I am hoping he wins a few more soon. I will not be surprised if he floats back down to Juryo for another basho or two, but as he has shown with some of his surprising athletics, he will be a full time Makuuchi rikishi soon.

Gagamaru v Chiyoshoma – Gagamaru looking highly upset following his day 7 match with Ikioi, and we hope the Georgia satellite was not injured in the match. I give a slight advantage to Chiyoshoma, who in spite of losing to Shohozan on day 7, is looking very strong.

Kyokushuho v Sadanoumi – 5-2 is a great record at this point of any basho. 5-2 in a basho where you are Maegashira 15 astounding. Day 8 he faces Sadanoumi, who is going to present some challenge, still I think advantage Kyokushuho.

Nishikigi v Tokushoryu – Nishikigi gets a fairly easy bout, I think the Isenoumi beya wrestler will win and even up his record.

Endo v Ikioi – It’s Elvis and Buddy Holly going at it, sumo style. Seriously, I love both these guys, but they had to match at some point. Slight advantage to Endo in my book. But my biggest hope is neither get hurt.

Chiyonokuni v Kotoyuki – Wow, going to be a mad cap war for about 15 seconds. I give a slight advantage to Kotoyuki, if no other reason I have seen him “Hulk smash” twice already this basho. He seems to be getting bigger and greener each day.

Tochinoshin v Daishomaru – I hate to say this, but Tochinoshin – would you consider going kuyjo? Clearly you are at about 80%, and your competitiveness is driving you into the ring. Your fans (like me) want to see you healthy. Think about it, sir.

Shohozan v Shodai – While I am dispensing advice, Shodai – you need a vacation sir. You have been folded, spindled and mutilated. Shohozan won’t provide a face saving win to Shodai, I expect

Takayasu v Takarafuji – YES! Sekiwake throw down coming on Day 8! Pulling for the mighty Takayasu on this one. But what makes this so great is that Takarafuji, who every time I look at him I think of the “muscle” teamster that they use to make sure everyone behaves, is not going to give it up easy.

Goeido v Yoshikaze – Not the final match of the day, but one that everyone will be riveted on. Right now I am just pulling for Yoshikaze to make his kachi-koshi and take a couple of months to train up and heal. But this one has the possibility of being the great equalizer for the entire basho. As every time Yoshikaze steps to the dohyo this tournament, I pray he is not injured. He seems to be taking a lot of blows to the face and eyes.

Kisenosato v Myogiryu – Not a lock, Myogiryu had a great tachiai against The Horse, and for a moment really brought the fight to the champ. If Kisenosato can get his right hand mawashi grip, he wins.

Takanoiwa v Kakuryu – Takanoiwa (Maegashira 3) will likely lose to the Yokozuna, but I hope he gives Kakuryu a good fight. I want to see a stronger, more aggressive Kakuryu soon.