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.

 

September Day 7 Preview – Okinoumi faces Goeido

oki

There Can Be Only One

These are the days that sumo fans dream of. The Aki basho (September tournament) started off strange, The Boss (Hakuho) was benched with a busted toe, most of the favorites had a cold start, and the first weekend was chaos on the leaderboard. From that emerged two great story lines. First, a pair of undefeated rikishi, one a rank and file Maegashira (Okinoumi) who had fought well, but was not overly remarkable. The second a kadoban Ozeki who looked to be ready for demotion. The second story line – the “always a bridesmaid” Ozeki who dreams of his Tsuna, but never has the mojo to pull it off.

Now at the middle weekend, we see both stories in full display. On Saturday, the 7th day of the tournament, we will see the two unlikely leaders of this basho face off. Two undefeated underdogs, each of which is poised to make sumo history. In the week following, bridesmaid Kisenosato will face his toughest opponents, with only wildly unlikely scenarios able to take him to victory, and his long desired elevation to Yokozuna.

Notable Matches, Day 7

Endo v Kyokushuho – Both men at 5-1, this is the battle for supremacy at the lower echelons of Makuuchi, both have been fighting well, this could be a moment for some great power sumo.

Amakaze v Kotoyuki – Kotoyuki looked strong on day 6, even though he lost Mitakeumi. Meanwhile Amakaze surprised everyone, most especially his opponent Shohozan. I look forward to this match, and the chance that we see more Amakaze maneuvering.

Gagamaru v Ikioi – Well, it had to happen. Planet Gagamaru faces off against the Elvis of sumo, Ikioi. Ikioi looks to possibly have hurt himself at the end of his day 6 match, and he will need to be fast and heavy to contend with The Planet. I predict Planet Gagamaru puts the doom on Ikioi, who I hope is not further injured.

Tamawashi v Shodai – Look, Shodai, they are throwing you an easy match. Please win one, just grab Tamawashi and push him out. Everyone in sumo is feeling kind of bad for you, and we want you to at least save face.

Tochinoshin v Chiyonokuni – You would think this would be an easy victory for the big Georgian. But with Tochinoshin flagging and Chiyonokuni looking very sharp, I would have to give the edge to the smaller, faster Chiyonokuni.

Kaisei v Tochiozan – In the Kokugikan’s scratch and dent bin, we find these two capable Komusubi who are having just a terrible tournament. Komusubi is the worst rank in sumo, and I swear it is a rough translation of some ancient tongue for “punching bag”. Slight advantage to Tochiozan, whose one win was against Kakuryu…

Kisenosato v Takarafuji – We start the tougher part of Kisenosato’s schedule. First up the only Sekiwake he will face (Takayasu is from the same stable). Takarafuji has been fighting better than his 3-3 record would describe, and I expect that the Great Pumpkin will finish him off, but not before a whole lot of man-hugs and pushing.

Yoshikaze v Kotoshogiku – Ouch, ouch, ouch. This could be a brutal slap fest. If Kotoshogiku can tie up the Berserker, it will be over quickly, if not there is likely to be a lot of pain and bruises before one of them hits the clay. While I am a huge Yoshikaze fan, I give an edge to Kotoshogiku, who seems to be in his groove. Yoshikaze seems to be taking additional damage to his face, which I am sure is bad.

Goeido v Okinoumi – The other matches will provide a fair chance of some good sumo. This match, even if it’s over in 5 seconds, will be historic sumo. Only one of these undefeated men will carry the day, and emerge as the clear leader. If Okinoumi prevails, he may well be unstoppable. He will have faced and defeated all Yokozuna, and all Ozeki. The remainder of his schedule are other Maegashira and San’yaku ranks. From this match forward, Okinoumi has the easier path to the end of the basho. Goeido will face the other Ozeki and both Yokozuna in week two, making the likelihood of him remaining undefeated should he win much lower.

Takayasu v Kakuryu – If it were not for the high stakes of the prior match of the undefeated, this would be the one to watch. Takayasu is looking very good thus far, and is clearly warmed up and in his element. He now has a chance to square off against Yokozuna Kakuryu, who also seems to have regained his rhythm. A great technician, he will face a much heavier and more powerful Takayasu. Advantage Kakuryu.

Harumafuji v Myogiryu – Easy bout for the Horse, try not to hurt him, champ!

September Day 6 Preview – Osunaarashi Injured?

day-5

The Undefeated Shall Be Tested

We enter day 6 with two rikishi still undefeated (5-0): Goeido & Okinoumi Following on their heels are 7 rikishi with only one loss (4-1): Harumafuji, Kotoshogiku, Takayasu, Ikioi, Kotoyuki, Endo and Kyokushuho

When the scheduling masters of the Sumo Kyokai looked upon this, they must have thought that heading into the middle weekend of a fairly exciting tournament, it was time to see if the undefeated could be challenged, this brings us to the schedule for day 6. I suspect this may be quite a bit more exciting than either of the weekend days, but time shall tell.

Late news – it seems that Osunaarashi was injured in today’s bout. It’s not sure if he’s going to be able to make day 6: He apparently cannot crouch at all, “I heard a ‘crack’ in my hip joint after beating Sadanofuji. I’m not going to hospital. I don’t have a choice but to be unreasonable..”

Now confirmed in the Japanese press: Osunaarashi Out

Notable Matches, Day 6

Osunaarashi v Kyokushuho – With Kyokushuho on a winning streak, this may be a tough trip to Makuuchi for Osunaarashi. But it will be welcome for the US folks to get to see him on the “highlights only” reel.

Endo v Takekaze – The veteran will possibly school Endo, who is on a bit of a hot streak for the past few days. Endo is in great form, but I would put the advantage on Takekaze for this bout.

Shohozan v Amakaze – After being Okinoumi chew-toy on day 5, Shohozan takes on the lower ranked Amakaze. Experience advantages to Shohozan, size to Amakaze. If Shohozan is not completely demoralized by the Torinaoshi, he should defeats Amakaze with little ceremony.

Chiyoshoma v Ikioi – Ikioi is in much better form this tournament, I really like how he is moving for most of his bouts. He should be able to handle Chiyoshoma.

Chiyonokuni v Yoshikaze – Two speed sumo practitioners will enter the dohyo, while I would expect Yoshikaze to win this one, Chiyonokuni thinks on his feet and improvises well. Advantage Yoshikaze – but this may be one to watch. The Berserker is eager to get back above .500, after a demoralizing start to this basho.

Kisenosato v Shodai – Nothing says softball like putting Shodai up against the Great Pumpkin. Shodai has really struggled this tournament, and this is going to be an easy win for Kisenosato, who still seems off his normal sumo.

Okinoumi v Kotoshogiku – While not the musubi no ichiban (結びの一番) – the final match of the day, it will for many fans hold far more excitement than day 6’s Yokozuna match. Undefeated Okinoumi vs the master of the Hug & Chug. Kadoban Twin Kotoshogiku is storming the gates of redemption, and shall not be denied. Against him is Okinoumi possessed with an undefeatable spirit. I can’t wait to see this one.

Goeido v Takayasu – If you wanted to possibly top the Okinoumi v Kotoshogiku match, this could do it. Takayasu has his rhythm running, and is thinking fast and moving strong in the last 3 bouts. Against him is a tough, strong Ozeki who has defeated all opponents to this day. Can Takayasu once again play giant killer? Is this his first audition for a future Ozeki slot?

Tochinoshin v Terunofuji – Tochinoshin is looking really off stride, this may not be much of a match against a fairly sharp Terunofuji. Tochinoshin seemed to have found new vigor on day 5, maybe he can translate that into a win on day 6.

Harumafuji v Takanoiwa – Easy call, Takanoiwa lands in the gift shop to the surprise of the spectators.

Kakuryu v Kaisei – The Brazilian is not really connecting, in spite of some great action on day 5. With any luck he will add some maneuver warfare to his tactic of being large and difficult to move. Kakuryu is back in focus now, and is dispatching everyone after a very rocky start to this basho.

September Day 5 Preview

kensho

Goeido, Kotoyuki and Okinoumi Enter Day 5 Undefeated

Deeper into the tournament schedule, the higher ranking rikishi are facing lower level opponents, and sekitori on winning streaks are now facing lower ranked opponents. This means it’s getting tougher to derail the undefeated, at least until they return to tougher bouts.

On day 4, Homarefuji withdrew due to torn muscles in his right calf, likely from that fight with Planet Gagamaru, when he received a rather forceful pushdown. In his following matches he was clearly hurt, and I am glad he is not going to risk further damage. As a result, Ura is coming to compete in Makuuchi! Yes, we will see him face Daieisho (Maegashira 16e). Hopefully it will make the NHK highlight reel!

Notable Matches, Day 5

Daieisho v Ura – As Andy pointed out, Ura’s kryptonite has been discovered. He is a wily and cunning sumotori, so I am eager to see if he changes up going up against Daieisho, who has only 1 win. Prediction – Ura via a nice yorikiri that is executed while falling backwards and winning the Nobel prize in chemistry.

Endo v Kotoyuki – Even though Endo is ranked Maegashira 14, he has more than enough skill and strength to defeat the undefeated Kotoyuki. Can we get the good Endo two days in a row?

Amakaze v Daishomaru – How is it that Daishomaru is winless on day 4? I want Amakaze to stay above 500, but I sure hope that Daishomaru is not skunked the first week out.

Chiyonokuni v Sokokurai – Chiyonokuni looked really good on day 4, where he kept fighting even past the point where most would have given up, and he did in fact carry the day. Prediction – win for Chiyonokuni.

Aoiyama v Ikioi – The brutal Bulgaria delivered the “Slap heard round the world” on day 1 against Chiyootori. Both he and Ikioi head into this match at 3-1. Prediction: a great deal of slapping and ugly wobbling of man-boobs, followed by a Bulgarian over the edge of the tarawa.

Mitakeumi v Yoshikaze – I am really starting to worry that Yoshikaze was not healed enough to participate in this tournament. The guy puts it all out there each time in the ring. Mitakeumi is doing much better than Nagoya, but I am going to go with the Berserker again.

Takayasu v Kaisei – Takayasu had a great bout against Tochiozan on day 4, and just kept wearing the Komusubi down until he had nothing left. I predict he will have a similar outcome with Kaisei, who seems to be struggling.

Tochiozan v Kotoshogiku – The Kadoban Twins are really just having a glorious first week, with nothing able to stand in their way. I think Tochiozan is bringing some great sumo this week, but nothing seems to stop these two Ozeki, hell bent to secure their rank.

Goeido v Takarafuji – Takarafuji won against Kaisei day 4, but for whatever reason, Goeido is unstoppable. I will have to go with the Kadoban Twin on this one.

Kisenosato v Takanoiwa – What universe do we live in where this is even a question. The Great Pumpkin has dispatched so many Maegashira 3’s with a push and a snort in the past, you could build a bridge to Miyajima out of them. This tournament, it’s anyone’s guess. I hope Kisenosato can get his grove back. He is better than this.

Tochinoshin v Kakuryu – The big Georgian is clearly hurt. I just hope he comes to a decision where he knows if he is better of taking kyujo rather than making a show and risking greater injury.

Harumafuji v Shodai – I am starting to feel sorry for Shodai. This guy actually is a decent sumotori, with actual skills. None of that will matter with The Horse. Taking wagers on which row Shodai ends up in, and wether Harumafuji gets a spiral on him or not.

Goeido and Okinoumi Still Undefeated

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Some Hot Streaks Quenched

The Sumo in Tokyo overnight supplied great equalizing force in the September basho, with quite a few rikishi going to 2 wins 2 losses. For most men in sumo, the great drive each tournament is to end with a winning record, even by 1 bout, in order to not be demoted.

Goeido, Kotoyuki and Okinoumi remain undefeated.

Some notable results:

Kakuryu defeats Shodai – Glad that Kakuryu has a recovered from his rocky start, but really Shodai is not worthy of an 0-4 record.

Kotoshogiku defeats Myogiryu – Mr Back-stretch is now 5 wins away from clearing his kadoban status. In spite of some tough falls he is still looking good.

Kisenosato defeats Yoshikaze – I am now worried that the Berserker is going to struggle to make kachi-koshi. It was a close one against Kisenosato, but Yoshikaze is facing a harder set of opponents this tournament. Everyone in Japan (and many parts of the world) wonder if Kisenosato can still make a strong run after a 2-2 start. Something is not right in the pumpkin patch.

Okinoumi defeats Terunofuji – Called this last night in the predictions post. What sort of magic force is driving Okinoumi? He is strong, confident and is dominating every opponent. It would be really neat to see a rank and file Maegashira finish near the top. Maybe he can keep this rolling.

Goeido defeats Takanoiwa – Goeido is somehow on fire. He is now 4 wins away from clearing kadoban, and is really doing well.

Takayasu defeats Tochiozan – Good to see Takayasu winning. I still think he is a strong contender for the next Ozeki. Tochiozan reminds us once again how Komusubi is the toughest rank in sumo.

Sadanofuji defeats Ura – Can’t wait to see the video for this one. Ura now drops to 2-2

Osunaarashi defeats Chiyomaru – Sandstorm back on track, he is now also 2-2.

September Day 4 Preview

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Of Course You Know This Means War…

More chaos in the matches as we go skidding into day 4. It’s still early, and it’s really up for grabs. Even the research staff here at Tachiai are confused (and possibly drunk) given all of the twists and turns thus far. Day four now approaches, with calamitous intent!

Endo v Chiyoshoma – Really now, Chiyoshoma is still undefeated? Can we have the good Endo please, to bring maximum parity to the dohyo? Prediction / wish-casting: Endo

Sokokurai v Kotoyuki – The next undefeated Rikishi will go against Sokokurai. I predict that Sokokurai will not be kachi-nokori

Takekaze v Mitakeumi – That guy Mitakeumi is actually good enough to win this thing. I wonder if the veteran Takekaze can furnish a speed bump on his road to victory.

Ikioi v Chiyootori – Much as I love watching Ikioi win, he was hurt on day 3. I really don’t want to see Chiyootori go 0-4. Ikioi was limping bad enough on that bad ankle I worry about him going kuyjo. So far no word in the sumo press on that.

Takayasu v Tochiozan – I think the Takayasu sumo machine finally has his boiler up to temp, so this will be a good match. I hope to see Tochiozan make kachi-koshi when all is done in 11 days.

Goeido v Takanoiwa – Great sumo cat of the Kokugikan! If either of the Kadoban Twins win this basho, i am honor bound to eat both my own buttocks. Not an easy task. Takanoiwa has been on a hot streak, my backside prays he can slow down Goeido, it’s not like we can count on Kakuryu to do it

Okinoumi v Terunofuji – Wow, you know Terunofuji is worried, right? What happened to regular Okinoumi? I expect that he will one day peel his lifelike skin away to reveal Hakuho inside there operating him like a robot.

Kisenosato v Yoshikaze – The Great Pumpkin is off his game. He is at his best when he is straight ahead hug-and-chug mawashi sumo. I don’t even see him getting a grip on these bouts. Good luck trying to touch Yoshikaze’s belt. I predict (as i always do) the Berserker. He’s kind of the Mike Ditka of sumo. Yeah, that slipi-toshi loss to Kakuryu? We still love you Berserker!

Juryo

Ura v Sadanofuji – Sorry Sadanofuji, it’s time for more Ura goodness

Chiyomaru v Osunaarashi – I worry the Sandstorm is not healed up yet. Anyone’s guess on this one as Osunaarashi is hit or miss

 

Okinoumi Kinboshi, Kisenosato Loses Again

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Purple cushions rain down in Tokyo

A quick recap of day 3 action at the Kokugikan, there was some amazing sumo taking place in Tokyo while the US was asleep.  Some of the favorites faced defeat, and underdogs took some wins.

Undefeated after day 3: Goeido, Okinoumi, Mitakeumi, Kotoyuki, Chiyoshoma

Okinoumi defeats Harumafuji – his second kinboshi this tournament! Okinoumi remains undefeated. The Maegashira 1e wrestler is having a great basho 3 days in.

Tochinoshin defeats Kisenosato – The big Georgian takes down the Great Pumpkin, whose dreams of Yokozuna in Tokyo are well and truly in tatters

Kakuryu defeats Yoshikaze – The winless Yokozuna picks up one against the Berserker.  Yoshikaze fights like a man possessed, but keep in mind he was hospitalized for injuries in August.

Kaisei defeats Takanoiwa – Takanoiwa had been on a strong winning streak, and the burly Brazilian has been struggling, but today it was Takanoiwa’s turn to go down.

Mitakeumi defeats Tamawashi – Mitakeumi remains with Okinoumi at 3 wins / 0 losses at the end of day 3.  This basho is wide open with the Boss recovering from foot surgery.

Chiyotairyu defeats Ura – It was bound to happen some time, but Ura had his first loss today. I am not going to say “Henka”, but others may.

Hidenoumi defeats Osunaarashi – The Egyptian is struggling after taking the July tournament off to recover from injuries

 

Aki Basho Day 3 Preview

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Cloudy With A Chance of Kinboshi

Day 3 of the September tournament looks to be even more interesting / exciting than day 2 has been. Through the line up and ranking in the Banzuke, it was assured that some of the best men in Sumo would be head to head on any given day. Here are some of the things we can look forward to for Tuesday

Kyokushuho v Amakaze – Amakaze looks to have gotten back into his sumo on day two, but Kyokushuho at Maegashira 15 is unbeaten. Can size overcome a rikishi on a winning streak?

Gagamaru v Arawashi – Planet Gagamaru will try to improve his 1-1 record against the higher ranking Arawashi, who looked very strong in Nagoya.

Shohozan v Kotoyuki – Both unbeaten, it’s time for one of them to taste the dohyo

Kaisei v Takanoiwa – The winless Komusubi takes on the unbeaten Takanoiwa who has already beaten both Sekiwake

Kisenosato v Tochinoshin – The Great Pumpkin is not out of the hunt for Yokozuna yet, he faces a struggling Tochinoshin next.

Yoshikaze v Kakuryu – It’s a shame when a Yokozuna starts 0-2, can Yoshikaze make it 3 with a Kinboshi?

Harumafuji v Okinoumi – Harumafuji looked strong today against the berserker (Yoshikaze), but at the moment it seems Okinoumi is collecting san’yaku scalps. Magic in the air (and purple cushions) if Okinoumi gets his second Kinboshi.

Aki Basho – Day 2 Returns To Form

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Harumafuji survives Yoshikaze, Kadoban Twins Rediscover Sumo Skills

After a wild ride on day 1, the September tournament returned to a more expected form on the second day. There were fewer losses in the san’yaku ranks, but there was plenty of great sumo action. Some stats on who is emerging as early leaders. Keep in mind, this is still a wide open tournament, and we won’t have a clear idea of who is winning and who is struggling to hang on until the weekend.

Notable Rikishi With No Losses By Day 2

Harumafuji – The Nagoya champ is looking strong. He had another street fight with Yoshikaze today, but won this time.
Goeido – This is the Goeido that should show up, he is fighting hard and winning
Kotoshogiku – The other kadoban twin (with Goeido) is pushing hard to remain Ozeki. I like this one better
Okinoumi – What on earth happened to this guy? I fear on day 12 they are going to peel back some rubber suit to real some robo-Hakuho underneath. Seriously, this guy is looking very strong
Takanoiwa – The Sumo ranking mathematicians put him at Maegashira 3 to see if he would survive. Interestingly enough he seems to be thriving. Starting to think he is one to watch.
Mitakeumi – Former college sumo champ, he has recovered a bit from his poor performance at Nagoya.

Notable Rikishi With No Wins By Day 2

Kakuryu – At the moment he is not showing us Yokozuna level performance. I have to wonder if he is going to consider retirement
Takarafuji – Maybe he has had some unlucky match ups, maybe he is hurt. He is once again proving that Sekiwake is a tough rank
Kaisei – The burly Brazilian had to endure Harumafuji’s choke hold day one, and was possibly distracted by Terunofuji’s owl head trick. I continue to think his performance is going down as his weight is going up.
Tochinoshin – I really like him, but he needs to work on his grip. Please get back in your grove, I want to see you win.
Shodai – He has had a tough early schedule for a Maegashira 2, hopefully he can settle down and get back to his normal form.

More Results From Aki Day 1

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San’yaku Ranks Take A Beating Out of the Gate

While Kisenosato’s loss on day one is the big news, there were other great matches today.  In general it was a rough day for the top 4 ranks (Komusubi to Yokozuna), the strongest wrestlers in sumo.

Outcome for Sumo’s toughest rikishi: 4 wins, 6 losses.

Featured Results

Harumafuji defeats Kaisei

As predicted, this was more of “get off my lawn” exchange between the Horse and the Brazilian strong man. Not sure where Kaisei’s mojo went, but I am going to assume that if he drops some weight he would return to being a contender. He looked worn out and lacked the overwhelming intensity required to defeat Harumafuji.

Tochiozan defeats Kakuryu

Kakuryu also did not seem to have much in the way of energy and drive. He put forth a weak effort against Tochiozan, who pushed him out with little ceremony.

Yoshikaze defeats Terunofuji

The Berserker was looking ready and strong. He was actually hospitalized after the Nagoya tournament, but he came back and won against an Ozeki. He even did it via Yorikiri, where Yoshikaze would typically push opponents out of the ring with a flurry of strong blows.

Kotoshogiku defeats Shodai

As a Kadoban Twins member in good standing, Kotoshogiku really needs to win with authority this basho. He looked good against Shodai today. Hopefully this means he is ready to win. Shodai – this guy has a bright future if he does not fall into the trap of gaining so much weight his speed and skill no longer counts.

 

Takanoiwa defeats Takayasu

Takanoiwa – He tied for second place in Nagoya down at Maegashira 11 (easy schedule), and the ranking board put him on a very tough track for this tournament. Takayasu is a serious candidate for Ozeki sometime in 2017, so I was surprised when Takanoiwa took him apart. I am beginning to thing Takanoiwa may be one to watch.