Nagoya Storyline #3 – The Makushita Joi-Jin

Some readers are wondering – what is a “Joi-Jin”? In general, it’s the top 10 or so ranks of any lower division, and in the case of Makushita for Nagoya, it’s jam-packed with some rather potent rikishi. Some of them are veterans pushing hard to return to sekitori status, others are up and coming youngsters fighting their way up the banzuke. As we have said before on Tachiai, the top end of Makushita, especially during week 2, is where some of the most flat out, 110% sumo takes place. We expect Nagoya, given who is in the joi for Makushita, to be especially frantic.

It’s important to note that unlike the top 2 divisions, matches go by pairing rikishi who have the same record for all 7 of their matches. So after the first match, all of the 1-0 will fight other 1-0, and all of the 0-1 rikishi will pair off with other 0-1 fighters. This narrows down the 100-200 strong divisions into a workable yusho elimination bracket by match 6 or so in most cases. Because of the vigorous competition in the Makushita joi, many of its members count themselves blessed if they can simply exit the basho with kachi-koshi (4 wins). Lets take a look at who is in the joi this time.

EastRankWest
SeiroMs1Irodori
DaiseidoMs2Hoshoryu
TamakiMs3Churanoumi
ChiyootoriMs4Kaisho
FujiazumaMs5Wakamotoharu
ChiyonokuniMs6Naya
AkuaMs7Tsukahara
KototebakariMs8Nishikifuji
BushozanMs9Chiyosakae
HakuyozanMs10Nogami

There are quite a few notables here

Seiro – Long time Juryo mainstay Seiro finds himself the top man in Makushita after a 7-8 make-koshi at Juryo 14. A simply 4 wins will put him back in a kesho-mawashi for September.
Irodori – A 6-9 in his Juryo debut in May put him back in Makushita, like Seiro, he needs both a kachi-koshi and some poor performance at the bottom of the Juryo banzuke to return.
Daiseido – After finishing 3-12 at Osaka, he dripped out of Juryo far enough down into Makushita that 5-2 finish at Natsu could take him no higher than Makushita 2.
Hoshoryu – Some readers get frustrated when we mention this, but this fellow is in fact former Yokozuna Asashoryu’s nephew. He has been plugging away with excellent speed / agility sumo, and he’s on the cusp now of a promotable rank. This guy, if he can stay healthy, is likely a future star.
Churanoumi – Former Nihon University athlete, he’s won 3 yusho (including a 7-0 Makushita yusho in Osaka) and already been in Juryo twice.
Chiyootori – Long-serving Maegashira, he has been plagued by injuries and is now fighting to try to return to the salaried ranks. At one point in 2018, he was ranked in Sandanme, but has been fighting back.
Wakamotoharu – After a Makushita yusho in January, and a 5-10 debut as a sekitori in Osaka, this Onami brother is outside the range to likely be promoted with a simple kachi-koshi, he’s going to have to run up the score.
Chiyonokuni – Did you wonder where Makuuchi mainstay Chiyonokuni ended up after he brutally injured his knee? Right here, in the briar patch. A healthy Chiyonokuni can take these guys to the cleaners, but I am going to guess he is lucky to be at 75%. It could get ugly.
Naya – Another young, up and coming rikishi from a sumo family, he has been on a slower upward trajectory than his rival Hoshoryu, but his sumo is coming to gether very well. He’s not at a promotable rank unless something crazy happens, but his last 2 tournaments featured 6-1 records.
Akua – I have to admit, I really like Akua’s sumo. I want to see him march ahead on the banzuke, but his accumulated injuries seem to have capped his performance.
Kototebakari – Another young man on a rocket ride up the banzuke, this 19 year old rikishi from Chiba has only had one make-koshi in his professional sumo career.

As you can see, even looking into a handful of these rikishi, there is a lot of talent, and a lot of drive to win. It’s going to be tough staying up to watch the top Makushita matchs, but I suspect for Nagoya, there may be a lot of great sumo action to follow from this group.

Lower divisions – Days 13 and 14

Hey, Hoshoryu, Asashoryu called and asked for his game face to be returned

Hey, I owe you readers two days of randomly picked lower division bouts!

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Lower divisions – Days 11 and 12

Hoshoryu avoided a make-koshi on his birthday

Today I’m trying to catch up on two days of lower division action. Let’s start with day 11, May 22.

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Natsu Day 13 – Ones To Watch

Naya Gives An Opponent A Flying Lesson..

With just a couple of days left, its time for our “Ones to Watch” to head to their final matches of Natsu. Many of the rikishi we are following managed to already score their 4th win, taking the pressure off for the final day. While none of them are in competition for divisional yusho, most of them have fought well this May, and will find themselves with new, more difficult challenges in Nagoya.

This will be a great day of lower division sumo, as most of the yusho will be decided today as the remaining 6-0 rikishi face off to find the best of each division. The action in Makushita the past 2 days has been extraordinary, in many cases exceeding what we have seen in Juryo and Makuuchi for nearly every match. The playoffs are a bit akward this time, as some of the divisions have 3 undefeated rikishi. In that case two of them meet head to head, and the third takes on a 5-1 rikishi, with a playoff on Sunday if needed to decide the yusho.

Makushita:
Takanofuji (Ms2w) vs Chiyoarashi (Ms35e)

Sandanme:
Shiraishi (Sd100TD) vs Hokutotsubasa (Sd22w)
and
Hokutokawa (Sd12w) vs Kirinoryu (Ms56e)

with a playoff on senshuraku if needed.

Jonidan:
Tochikamiyama (Jd42w) vs Terasawa (Jd14w)
and
Ito (Jk20e) vs Okinohama (Jd78w)

Yes, a Jonokuchi undefeated against a Jonidan

Jonokuchi:
Watanabe (Jk11e) vs Kawabuchi (Jk24e)

Indeed, this time the lower division yusho races are a complete and utter mess. Let the best man win!

Day 13 Matches

Wakamotoharu vs Shiba – Both rikishi already have a losing record tally for Natsu, this match is to see how far down the banzuke they will fall. This is especially bitter for Wakamotoharu, who needed a simple kachi-koshi to join his brother in Juryo.

Ichiyamamoto vs Akiseyama – In the mean time, Juryo promotion candidate Ichiyamamoto visits sumo’s 2nd highest division to try his skill against Akiseyama, who is in need of a couple more wins to secure his Juryo spot in July. So this could in effect be an “exchange bout” -lksumo.

Wakatakamoto vs Shonannoumi – It’s Onami brother madness, with all 3 of them on the dohyo today. Sadly, Wakatakamoto shares his brother’s make-koshi result for Natsu, and will find himself pushed down the banzuke in July. The only prior match with Shonannoumi was last year during Natsu, and Wakatakamoto prevailed.

Naya vs Bushozan – Naya is possibly going to join the Makushita joi for Nagoya, and this 5-1 bracket match will decide the magnitude of his promotion. No matter who wins this one, there will be a good chance of a Naya vs Bushozan rematch in 2 months time.

Terunofuji vs Daishozen – A Sandanme 5-1 match. The disappointment was evident on Terunofuji’s face when he stumbled to his only defeat on day 8 against Sd51w Daishosei. Today’s opponent, Daishozen, is tiny compared to Terunofuji. I am going to look for another stand-up tachiai, grab-and-toss kimarite today.

Shoji vs Koshinoryu – This 3-3 “Darwin Match” will see the winner get their kachi-koshi and the loser relegated to demotion with a make-koshi. This is their first ever match, and we will be hoping for some solid sumo from Shoji, who may soon have Wakaichiro chasing him.

Kitanowaka vs Chiyooume – While I am sure he is disappinted to not be fighting for the Jonokuchi yusho, Kitanowaka is blasting his way out of sumo’s lowest division no matter what. A win today would likely seal his rank into the lower quartile of Jonidan for the sweat-box that is Nagoya.

Hattorizakura vs Nangu – They found someone with an 0-6 recored for Hattorizakura to face! Poor Nangu has been kyujo since the start of the basho, but comes back for his final match: against sumo’s wagoto mainstay. Congrats Nangu on your impending win!