Bouts From the Lower Divisions – Day 9

Yokozuna-level mind games, Hoshoryu

We start our coverage at the most predictable point of the torikumi – our friend Hattorizakura. Today he faced one of the lesser Narutos, Yamane with his back to us, who was 1-3. Hattorizakura himself was 0-4.

The result was about as unpredictable as a fusensho. Yamane improves to 2-3.

Jonidan

Our friend Homarefuji had a meeting with Sumo’s main Elvis figure – Mutsukaze, the man with the great mutton chops, but also a great singing voice. The footage starts mid-bout, with Homarefuji on the left holding on to Mutsukaze on the right.

Homarefuji again engages in a yotsu battle, and it seems also a stamina battle, as we can hear the huffing and puffing. The Isegahama man improves to 5-0, and remains in contention for the Jonidan yusho.

Sandanme

Wakaichiro mounted the dohyo to face Azumasho from Tamanoi beya. Both 2-2. Wakaichiro attacks from the left, Azumasho from the right.

It didn’t go well for the young Texan, who got caught in a hold he doesn’t know how to solve. Note how he picks up and re-arranges the shimpan’s sandals, which he probably disarranged in his fall, on his way back up on the dohyo. Ever a polite boy.

The shimpan, by the way, have two pairs of sandals with them. One pair is used for getting in and out of the arena, and one is used for mounting the dohyo in case of a monoii discussion.

Another match of interest today took place between Dairaido from Takadagawa beya, and Amakaze, yet another one of the recoverers we follow. Dairaido is an interesting fella, he is 39 years old, and has an experience of six basho in Juryo, back in 2006. 13 years after tasting the taste of heaven, he is still toiling in the lower divisions.

Here Amakaze is on the left, and Dairaido on the right:

For a 39 years old who is lighter and smaller than Amakaze, Dairaido is full of genki. Amakaze makes a grave mistake in the middle, and is late to get his bearings before Dairaido leads him out. Amakaze now 3-2. He will probably get his kachi-koshi, but his way back up to glory is going to be slow.

Makushita

Makushita is where it’s at this basho. We start at the bottom with the former Ozeki, Terunofuji, who wants to get his kachi-koshi today. He is on the right, while Keitenkai – that’s the guy who beat Roga on day 1 – attacks from the left.

The former Ozeki has a problem getting any mawashi grip with his left hand, due to the dislocated finger. In addition, Keitenkai gets inside low – trying something of a submarine attack, I’d assume. But that’s about it from him. He is out of his league, and Terunofuji executes a kotenage. Keitenkai ends up with a bonus: a face full of gift-wrapped Ozeki junk.

Terunofuji is kachi-koshi, 4-1, and will hope to end 6-1.

Next, all Onami brothers were in action today, and the first we run into is Wakatakamoto, the eldest brother. He is on the left, facing Sagatsukasa from the little-known Irumagawa beya, on the right. Both are 3-1.

Sagatsukasa is 37 years old. Yet another odd case of someone who had a sekitori career – a real one, 22 basho in Juryo including yusho, 6 in Makuuchi. And yet he chooses not to retire but to continue in the lower division for years.

But all that experience tells. Sagatsukasa tries all sorts of wiles, and the first bout ends in a monoii and a torinaoushi.

In the Torinaoshi, it seems Wakatakamoto is trying a henka. This gets Sagatsukasa a bit pissed off, I believe, and he sets a beautiful trip, for the “chongake” kimarite.

Next, our buddies Akua and Midorifuji set out to try and maintain their perfect records. Aqua is on the left, and Midorifuji on the right, in this footage from SumoSoul’s Twitter:

The Deputy Pixie doesn’t manage to get anything going, really, and gets a hatakikomi, and a send off away from the Makushita yusho. Akua improves to 5-0.

Naya, who hurt his foot yesterday, mounts the dohyo today with some serious taping on his ankle. on the left, facing Churanoumi on the right, both are 1-3 and have “no tomorrow” – the loser is make-koshi.

Naya executes what seems like his best sumo this basho, but ends it limping heavily. He evades the make-koshi for now, but Churanoumi is not going back to Juryo this time around.

Our next Onami brother, Wakamotoharu, faces Seiro, the Shikoroyama wolf. Both are 3-1, looking for their kachi-koshi. Seiro on the left, Wakamotoharu on the right.

Haru nearly finds himself outside, when he realizes Seiro is out of balance, and quickly reverses his fortunes. Kachi koshi for the middle Onami. Wakatakakage also lost today, by the way, so Wakamotoharu was the only happy Onami on the way home.

Finally, the highlight of the day, the bout between Chiyootori, yet another hugely experienced former sekitori, and 20 year old Hoshoryu. Though I’m sure it’s easy to tell apart Chiyomaru’s brother from the slim Hoshoryu, I’ll still mention that Chiyootori is on the left and Hoshoryu on the right.

I recommend that you do not skip directly to the tachiai in this footage, but take a look at the pre-game. Chiyootori is slapping his belly emitting a “whoosh” from his lips as he does. Hoshoryu, on the other hand, concentrate on staring so hard you think either his eyes or his lips might fall off. He is giving Chiyootori the full “Asashoryu Face” treatment. This continues well after the gyoji reverses his gunbai – something which Hakuho got reprimanded for only a few days ago.

But then, Hoshoryu is not (yet) a Yokozuna.

Hustle, hustle, uwatedashinage. Hoshoryu improves to 3-2. I’m not sure whether a 4-3 will be enough for him to advance – it depends on the number of men dropping from Juryo. He will need that number to be at least three, or either of the Ms1 rikishi to have a make-koshi – and currently only Aminishiki is certain to drop, and Seiro and Irodori are 3-2.

Of course, first he needs that fourth win.

Bouts From the Lower Divisions – Day 8

Naya – a loss and an injury

We start our coverage with the indefatigable Hattorizakura, who is covered in 4k, on the left, facing Shiryu on the right.

The big pink lettering informs us that Hattorizakura was subjected to a dame-oshi. Shiryu, what’s up with that? That’s like beating up a freaking baby.

In other Jonokuchi news (which I cannot backup with footage), Mishima, the last of Naruto beya at 3-0, won his bout, got his kachi-koshi, and is joining his three heya-mates in the race for the yusho. In a few hours, some of them may or may not be eliminated, as three of them have matches today. How long are we going to stay with four yusho contenders from the same heya?

Jonidan

Those of you who find Terunofuji to be too high-maintenance may consider, instead, following the off-brand Fujinoteru, who is guaranteed to be cheaper on the upkeep. Fujinoteru, from Onoe beya, is starting this bout with a 0-3 standing, facing Sekizukayama. The footage starts with the smaller Fujinoteru on the right.

That looked a bit like the actual brand model. It’s a bargain!

In a more serious bout today, we have the titanic Toma on the left, facing Sorakaze from Oguruma beya on the right. Both 3-0 coming into this match. The footage includes the following bout as well.

Toma wins by yorikiri, achieves kachi-koshi, and keeps himself in the Jonidan yusho race.

Next, the recovering Homarefuji, on the left, vs. Daiyusho of Oitekaze beya. They, too, are 3-0 and want to try for the yusho.

Homarefuji looks genkier than whe have seen him in a long time. Got his kachi-koshi, and may have to face that Toma at some point. On Day 9 he is matched with Mutsukaze, the real sumo Elvis.

Sandanme

It’s been a while since we have seen Daitenma, the Mongolian kid who is the spitting image of Star Trek’s Data. He and his opponent, Hodaka from Onoe beya, are 3-0 at the start of the day. Daitenma is on the right:

Lack of experience, I guess. Hodoka pulls an easy hikiotoshi to get a kachi-koshi, and Daitenma has a very disappointed face as he waves the yusho prospects good bye.

We have another recovering sekitori here – Amakaze – who suffered a loss in our previous coverage, for a standing of 2-1. He is on the left, facing Kotokino from Sadogatake beya on the right. (Footage is timed to the Amakaze bout, but if you like, you can watch Terasawa’s bout before it)

Amakaze bounces back well from his loss. Forward, forward, and yorikiri.

Makushita

Fans of Terunofuji – the original brand – will go nostalgic at today’s footage. The former Ozeki attacks from the left, and Ichiki from Tamanoi beya is on the right.

Ichiki dangles like so much bait, but really, I would like one of the Isegahama elders to have a talk with Terunofuji about allowing morozashi so easily. These guys are not Yokozuna, who have their way with you willy-nilly. You should be able to stop a small fish like Ichiki from invading both your armpits.

So Terunofuji is now 3-1, and will face Keitenkai on Day 9. The guy who beat him, Onojo, had his Day 8 action facing the Futagoyama wolf, Roga. Both 2-1 into this match. Onojo on the left, Roga on the right.

Roga does not repeat the mistake of the former Ozeki. Now he, too is 3-1.

A bit further up the chart, Masutoo, Chiganoura’s Hungarian, faces Tsurubayashi from Kise beya. Both lossless before the bout. Masutoo on the left:

Alas, Masutoo suffers his first loss, going weirdly soft at the edge. Tsurubayashi is kachi-koshi and in the Makushita yusho race.

Further up, and we meet the middle brother of House Onami, Wakamotoharu. He and his rival, Tsukahara, are both 2-1. The footage starts in mid-bout, with Tsukahara having his back to us.

So Wakamotoharu is now 3-1 and having a rather good basho.

Finally, we come to the match at the top of the Makushita chart, Chiyootori, former sekitori and Chiyomaru’s “little” brother, faces Prince Naya, the grandson of Yokozuna Taiho. Neither of them is having a great basho, with 1-2 to show for it. Chiyootori is on the left, Naya on the right:

Um. Not only does Naya lose – again – he also seems to hurt his knee. He was still limping as he was going down the shitaku-beya. Let’s hope it clears quickly, as Naya has a bout against Churanoumi on Day 9.

The winner, Chiyootori, will be on the dohyo with Hoshoryu on Day 9. So you may expect him to appear on the next installment of this coverage.

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 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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