Bouts From the Lower Divisions – Day 13

Naruto oyakata, on duty today, with his 7-0 deshi Sakurai

We’re back on track! Today, although there were few “big names” on the torikumi list, there were many important matches. All the yusho deciders in Makushita or below were played today, resulting either in yusho winners, or in playoffs to take place on Senshuraku. We’ll go through these bouts, as well as some of our usual ones of interest.

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Hatsu Day 2 – Lower Division Ones To Watch

Ura Aki Day 2

Day 2 seems to be when all of the big names get their first match in the divisions below Juryo, and it’s going to be a great night / day of sumo for the fans. Where day 1 only had a handful, day 2 features many eagerly anticipated matches, including fan favorite Ura. Let’s see who is up!

Akua vs Chiyonoo – Oh yeah! Akua wants back in Juryo to light up our screens with that day-glow mawashi, and he’s got to get through Chiyonoo to have any chance. When I talk about the Makushita “wall”, you can think of Chiyonoo as a big, sturdy brick. Himself a de-throned Juryo man, he wants back in the paid ranks. Battles like this are why the top 10 ranks of Makushita may be the most brutal in all of sumo.

Hoshoryu vs Kizakiumi – Taking to the dohyo just after Ura’s match the crowd won’t quiet down in the least. Hoshoryu is climbing steadily up to the Makushita “wall” to test his mettle. His opponent, Kizakiumi, has had a meteoric rise after entering professional sumo from the college ranks, and has already bounced off the wall during Aki.

Ura vs Takakento – Are you ready to hear the Kokugikan go nuts for a Makushita match? Ura is just a bit short of “the wall” group, but the competition is going to be brutal. A former Takanohan deshi, Takakento made the move with Takakeisho and Takagengi to Chiganoura. He has been in Makushita for the past 10 tournaments.

Musashikuni vs Kototsubasa – The Musashigawa scion takes his first match of the new year against Sadogatake’s Kototsubasa. Both men are near their top ever rank, both are on an upward trend. Both need wins to advance into the elite group just a bit father up the banzuke.

Wakatakamoto vs Ryuseio – Another of the Waka* brothers, his posting at Makushita 40 keeps him in thick competition of rikishi battling to challenge for the top 10 ranks. He faces 32 year old veteran and Sandanme veteran Ryuseio for his first bout.

Shoji vs Hikarugenji – Only in his 9th tournament, Musashigawa’s Shoji is battling his way through Sandanme in a bid to return to Makushita, and faces division mainstay Hikarugenji. Shoji is looking to reverse a series of make-koshi tournaments, including a disastrous 1-6 in Kyushu.

Kenho vs Sumanoumi – Big, friendly Kenho went 6-1 at Kyushu, one of his best tournaments in a while. Now he finds himself in lower Sandanme, and frankly we hope this gentle giant knocks a few competitors into next Sunday. His opponent, Sumanoumi, is a long serving Sandanme veteran.

With this many rising stars out on the same day in Makushita, it’s going to be one of the better days of lower division sumo in a while!

Bouts from the lower divisions – Day 14

Hoshoryu means business

Although the yusho question has already been resolved below Juryo (save the Jonidan playoff), many wrestlers still fight for bigger promotions, smaller demotions, or for their kachi-koshi. The first example is from Sandanme. Prince Naya faces Takemasa. Both 4-2, so they are kachi-koshi, but they want to improve their banzuke position for Hatsu.

Naya gets a formidable-looking arm lock on Takemasa, but the smaller guy converts it to a shitatenage at the edge. Prince Debu keeps his minimal kachi-koshi. This should land him at the very bottom of Makushita in Hatsu.

Makushita

The other half of the princely duo, Hoshoryu, faces Takakento (Chiganoura, former Takanohana) who had an excellent basho, only losing to the jun-yusho wrestler. So both are 5-1 as they enter this day. And both mean business.

Hoshoryu faces some fierce thrusts there as he tries to get inside for his favorite grip. He defends well, and decides that instead of a throw he’ll go for a sotogake. Yes, the press actually interviewed him and asked him about that. How many non-yusho Makushita wrestlers get interviewed after a bout?

Hoshoryu is 6-1. This should land him around Makushita 20-23 for Hatsu (I’m not a banzuke genius – I just look for precedents at SumoDB), which means he’s probably not going to make it to Juryo even with a yusho next time, and will be wearing a kesho-mawashi no earlier than Natsu. Another man who is going to land around the same rank is Ura, so there is some likelihood of those two meeting each other in Hatsu. Yum.

The next bout involves Shiba and Akua. Akua is a popular rikishi from Tatsunami beya (the same as Asashoryu and Meisei) who has been in Juryo for five seconds. Shiba has yet to break through the purgatory. They are 3-3 into this bout, so this is for kachi-koshi for one, make-koshi for the other.

Akua reveals his henka card in the second matta. Has to think of a different tactic. Goes for a straight on, gets a grip, loses it, runs forward and kind of folds Shiba out. Not the prettiest sumo, but he is kachi-koshi. No chance of Juryo promotion, though.

Churanoumi and Seiro have years of sekitori experience between them. OK, averages are a lie, of course. Churanoumi only has one basho as a sekitori, while Seiro has spent a long time in his kesho-mawashi, even doing three rounds in Makuuchi in his day. But his day seems to be behind him.

And so, he uses that vast experience to henka. OK, so he is injured. Maybe that’s why he kind of botches that henka and has to resort to plan B, which is land a yotsu ond Churanoumi and gaburi him out. Chug-chug, and the Mongolian wins. Churanoumi make-koshi, Seiro kachi-koshi, but again, this will not be enough for him to unpack his white practice mawashi. In this case, it’s better for him to stay at 7 bouts per tournament with that injury, though.

Juryo

  • The schedulers bring in Tamaki from Makushita. Tamaki is 1-6 at this point, but he still manages to fiercely defeat the demoralized Gokushindo. I’m pretty sure Gokushindo just wants the nightmare to be over already. He just has tomorrow’s bout with Hidenoumi, and then it remains to be seen if he can rebound like Enho or remain in his black mawashi for a long while, like Akua.
  • Takekaze is trying to keep his make-koshi at a minimum, but all the tawara-dancingi is not working. It was a close call, though. Jokoryu staves off make-koshi for another day and may even be kachi-koshi, as he faces Ishiura – also 7-7 – tomorrow.
  • Tobizaru should never have allowed Kyokushuho to land that easy grip on him right off the tachiai. What was he thinking? The flying monkey flies again, and Kyokushuho keeps his losing score at a single digit for the time being.
  • Enho still not back to himself. Tsurugisho dispatches of him pretty quickly. Enho can be thankful that that devastating kimetaoshi he was given by Mitoryu only happened after he was kachi-koshi already. He’ll need to use the Jungyo to regroup and improve his tactics.
  • Chiyonoumi is still frustrated about his deepening make-koshi. He wanted to keep it at single-digits today, and went very aggressively after Akiseyama. Aggressively enough for some clear dame-oshi. That’s unlike you, Chiyonoumi. You are usually a gentleman. :-( Akiseyama is now make-koshi as well.
  • Ishiura gets a repeat of yesterday’s dive. He is 7-7 now and really needs that last bout tomorrow vs. Jokoryu. Tomokaze looks almost as if he didn’t notice there was another wrestler with him on the dohyo. That guy just got into Juryo?
  • Terutsuyoshi, as opposed to the other pixies in the division, bounces back from his losses and manages to secure his 10th win with an entertaining pull at Mitoryu’s arm followed by a press on his shoulder for a katasukashi. Terutsuyoshi is still in the yusho race, though it’s all up to Tomokaze at this point.
  • Shimanoumi gets Takagenji to the edge and applies a fearsome nodowa that seems about to break his neck, but the twin rallies and turns the tables on him. Amazingly, Takagenji succeeded in staying away from that 8th loss for three days in a row. We’ll see how he does against Mitoryu tomorrow.
  • Hidenoumi, who is in deep doo-doo, faces Chiyonoo, who is in even deeper doo-doo. Chiyonoo can’t seem to be able to produce any power this basho. Try as he may to stick at the tawara, Hidenoumi simply has a bit more muscle than he does. Chiyonoo is now 2-12, while Hidenoumi stays at a single-digit losing score.
  • Toyonoshima nearly falls prey to Kotoyuki’s powerful thrusts, when Kotoyuki finds himself slightly offside following a failed nodowa. As Toyonoshima spots this, he pounces and helps him along. Kotoyuki and Toyonoshima are both 10-4 and in the yusho race.
  • Tokushoryu tries tsuki-oshi, Azumaryu tries to land a grip. Neither is very successful, and the bout ends up with Azumaryu pulling back and Tokushoryu flat on his face. Azumaryu kachi-koshi, Tokushoryu make-koshi.
  • Aminishiki seems to be losing his dohyo sense. This bout was between Wakatakakage trying to push or get inside, and Aminishiki circling and trying to push him down. And he made it – but he was already out himself. Wakatakakage is kachi-koshi, Aminishiki make-koshi, and will be getting further away from Makuuchi.
  • This time it’s Yago who is using the Yu-Yu Hakusho attack. He seems to be thrusting with the tips of his fingers, and Kyokutaisei circles but can’t really keep himself inside. Kyokutaisei may still secure his kachi-koshi tomorrow, though he is up against the formidable Toyonoshima. Yago will be meeting Hakuyozan in the final bout of the day and trying to get double digits for a Makuuchi position further from the bottom.
  • The Hakuyozan-Kotoeko bout seems to follow in the footsteps of the previous bout between Yago and Kyokutaisei. Kotoeko finds himself outside, and Hakuyozan is kachi-koshi.

So, Tomokaze, the newcomer, leads the race with 11-3, and is chased by Kotoyuki, Terutsuyoshi and Toyonoshima with 10-4 apiece. The key bouts for senshuraku are:

  • Kotoyuki-Tomokaze
  • Terutsuyoshi-Chiyonoumi
  • Toyonoshima-Kyokutaisei

Kotoyuki is, of course, highly motivated to beat Tomokaze. If Tomokaze wins this bout (which is the latest of the three), the results in the others don’t mean anything. If he loses, however, he is tied with Kotoyuki, and possibly with Terutsuyoshi and/or Toyonoshima should they win theirs. So we may have a chance for a four-way playoff. I’m sure the NSK time keepers will be cheering for Tomokaze – but we will not, right?

Bouts from the lower divisions – Day 13

Look who is back in the interview room!

Today has been a day of decisions in the divisions below Juryo, and yet another fun day in Juryo. Let’s look at some sumo!

Jonokuchi

Before taking a look at the yusho race, we bid goodbye to the record holder in the anti-yusho ranking, our friend Hattorizakura. Today he said his farewells to Kyushu 2018 by way of Azumayama:

It seems we are safe for a while yet from having to memorize a new shikona for this icon of sumo (which his stablemaster promised him he will be given if he gets a kachi-koshi).

On to the Yusho race. As I explained yesterday, if Hatooka lost his bout today, we would have a complex playoff situation on our hands.

Hatooka vs. Kojikara

Fortunately, Hatooka resolved that issue decisively. A harizashi followed by pushing forward like a locomotive. Hatooka is the Jonokuchi yusho winner. In his interview today on NHK he talked about his injury and recovery. You can see his knee is in a massive brace. It’s the aftermath of an injury to the knee that saw him go kyujo and drop all the way to Jonokuchi from Makushita. In Aki, he did the same trick as Ryuden to avoid dropping off the banzuke completely, and participated in one bout, which he won. Now he came back with a vengeance. He said in his interview that he was inspired by the sekitori in his heya, such as Ura, Akiseyama and Shimanoumi (who was also kyujo for several consecutive basho).

Jonidan

Here is a video with several Jonidan bouts, the first of which is the yusho decider between Kotourasaki and Kenho. Other bouts in this video:

  • Kamada-Watatani
  • Umizaru-Osumifuji
  • Zendaisho-Satonofuji
  • Yukiumi-Abezakura
  • Sakurafuji-Imai

The size differences between Kenho and Kotourasaki are striking. Nevertheless, Kotourasaki knows how to defeat the big guy. He is 7-0 – sorry, Kenho fans. At this stage he waits for the result of the Mitsuuchi-Fukunofuji bout in the beginning of the Sandanme bouts.

Satonofuji’s bout (around 9:30 min.) is quite interesting, with the yomi-turi performer emeritus going for a half-henka, an attempt at tottari, then sticks his head into Zendaisho’s chest. It takes the shimpan quite a while to declare the kimarite (watashikomi).

The final torikumi (about 13:30) introduces you to Sakurafuji, one of the tallest in the low ranks at Isegahama beya at 183cm. He currently serves as Takarafuji’s tsukebito and is considered a nice guy all around, but for a man with his build, his career has been less than satisfactory, stalling way too long at Jonidan.

Sandanme

The first bout of the day at Sandanme is between Mitsuuchi, who has 6-0 at Jonidan, and Fukunofuji, with 6-0 at Sandanme. If Mitsuuchi wins, there will be a playoff in Jonidan. If Fukunofuji wins, a playoff in Sandanme.

Well, that was decided very quickly. Mitsuuchi railroads Fukunofuji off the dohyo, and the Jonidan playoff between him and Kotourasaki will take place on Senshuraku.

Before moving on to the other yusho decider, let’s take a look at Torakio vs. Rao. Both are 4-2, thus kachi-koshi.

Again, Torakio displays rather good sumo, but loses at the edge, and again expresses his frustration by shoving his opponent slightly. Doesn’t his oyakata watch his bouts?

Now on to the yusho decider, and now the participants know that whoever wins this is the Sandanme yusho winner then and there. The participants, by the way, are Ura (Sd33E) and Hikarifuji (Sd81W). It’s a no-brainer, really.

This reminds me of an old anime, Yu-Yu Hakusho, where the protagonist’s most formidable weapon was the tip of his finger, which was loaded with a huge amount of energy. The bout here starts with a mutual attempt at getting inside, until Ura decides he has had enough and seems to blow Hikarifuji away by the power of the tips of his fingers. He looks at him and nods apologetically, before he returns to his place on the dohyo with an expression of “Oops, did I do that?” on his face.

Ura is Sandanme yusho, and it will be rather entertaining to see him go through Makushita (and possibly meet Hoshoryu there. Yummy).

Makushita

Here is a match between the two Ms9 wrestlers, Kotokamatani and Satoyama. Both 3-3, so winner kachi-koshi, loser make-koshi.

No monoii there. The kimarite is shitatenage, and Satoyama is kachi-koshi.

About an hour after this bout is over, the NSK informs the public that this was, in fact, Satoyama’s last bout as an active wrestler. Satoyama was formerly a long-time sekitori, and seems to have given up the hope of returning to the top. He is retiring and joining the NSK as Sanoyama oyakata, apparently borrowing the Sanoyama kabu from Chiyootori. (I wonder if he purposely picked a kabu which sounds so similar to his own name!)

On to the yusho decider. In Makushita, it’s the simplest situation: Sokokurai and Takaryu are the only ones with 6-0. Winner takes the yusho.

And after a matta, Sokokurai works hard to prevent Takaryu from getting a grip with his left arm, then goes for the pull down. Sokokurai is the Makushita yusho winner, and ensures himself of promotion to Juryo in Hatsu. There has never been a case where a yusho winner at Ms5 was not promoted.

Interestingly, he may actually go over the heads of the two kachi-koshi wrestlers at Ms1. If the shimpan department decides not to relegate more than two wrestlers from Juryo, Daiseido, who currently has 4 wins at Ms1W, and may earn his fifth today, might find himself promoted merely from Ms1W to Ms1E.

Sokokurai was also interviewed on NHK and assured the interviewer that his leg is “fine” now. By the way, I haven’t been around long enough to hear Sokokurai before, so I was rather impressed with his Japanese. It sounds as good as Kakuryu’s.

Juryo

  • Enho seems to have rallied back a bit. Yesterday he looked totally lost and unsure what to do. Today he is back to seeking that grip of his. But Tomokaze denies him, despite the little one’s quick attacks. Enho finally lands his grip, but only at the edge of the dohyo where Tomokaze shows him out. Enho must be feeling grateful that he managed to secure his kachi-koshi before this slump. Tomokaze has a double-digit winning score, which is very impressive for a newcomer to Juryo.
  • Gokushindo tries to be careful and watches his own feet, but he is not protecting his mawashi and gets easily trapped by Azumaryu.
  • Chiyonoo once again tries everything he can and hangs on to his opponent’s mawashi, but Jokoryu gets him out nonetheless. Chiyonoo’s fall down to Makushita is going to be a long hard one.
  • Kyokushuho is quickly dispatched by Shimanoumi, who is now kachi-koshi.
  • Toyonoshima complained yesterday that he doesn’t know what to do with small opponents. Today Terutsuyoshi seems not to have posed any problems. The Isegahama homunculus seems to have run out of steam. He looks very disappointed at the end of this bout, as he is relegated to the chaser group. I hope he still has it in him to get that extra win and go double-digits.
  • Tobizaru pushes Ishiura down. Ishiura manages to survive two additional seconds by hanging on to the monkey’s legs, but that’s not a tenable position. Tobizaru kachi-koshi. Ishiura may get there yet. I think we haven’t seen him henka for two or three bouts, so there will probably be one tomorrow.
  • Chiyonoumi fights bravely, with several nodowa, lots of thrusts, and even a mawashi attempt. However, he repeats a mistake we have seen from his heya-mate, Chiyonokuni, several times in the previous basho – foot out on the Janome, and the bout is over. Chiyonoumi’s make-koshi deepens and the fires of purgatory are already reaching his feet.
  • Takagenji can’t afford another loss, and attacks aggressively to stave it off. Hakuyozan is overwhelmed by the young angry twin. Still no kachi-koshi.
  • The loser in the next battle is make-koshi. Two veterans face off. Tokushoryu has Takekaze trapped almost immediately, and the make-koshi goes to Takekaze. Again, he will assess his situation and let us know by Banzuke meeting day, as he has in the past two basho.
  • For some reason, the Kotoyuki-Mitoryu duel is completely one-sided. Has Mitoryu’s leg issue reasserted itself? Luckily, he is kachi-koshi already. Kotoyuki – double digits! Not much rolling this basho!
  • Aminishiki also can’t afford a loss. He slaps, he pushes, and Tsurugisho finds himself doing the Kotoyuki roll. Tsurugisho is make-koshi.
  • Akiseyama turns the bout with Daishoho into a leaning match. Daishoho is Mongolian, and resolves the long stalemate Mongolian-style, with a kick that gives him enough room to maneuver Akiseyama to the edge. Yori-kiri. Daishoho closer to a kachi-koshi, Akiseyama can’t afford another loss.
  • Kotoeko tries a henka. Kyokutaisei recovers, but can’t quite overcome Kotoeko’s barrage of tsuppari. Kotoeko kachi-koshi. Kyokutaisei has two more chances at his.
  • Wakatakakage very impressive today. I saw his brother’s bout earlier today (Wakamotoharu-Gagamaru) and despite having a very similar body, their skill level is completely different. Yago must be happy his kachi-koshi is secure already. Wakatakakage has two days to get the win he needs for his own.