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.

Natsu Day 1 – Ones To Watch

Kitanowaka’s Ready For His First Match As A Rikishi

We start the Natsu basho with a light schedule of our “Ones to Watch”, with most of the first matches for our favorites coming day 2. But the schedulers are still kicking off the Makushita doom brawl in proper style. Let’s get straight to the matches

Wakamotoharu vs Kotokamatani – After his Juryo debut make-koshi, Onami brother Wakamotoharu simply needs a winning record to stamp his return ticket to the paid ranks. But at this level of competition this will be no easy matter. His opening match is against rising star Kotokamatani, who has been on a steady upward climb through the upper strata of Makushita.

Wakatakamoto vs Chiyosakae – More Onami sumo! This time the lowest ranked of the Waka brothers faces off against Chiyosakae, a long-serving Makushita veteran who is fighting at his highest rank after 40 tournaments in sumo’s 3rd highest division.

Akua vs Ayanoumi – We have been following Akua for the past several tournaments, and he seems to still be struggling to put his sumo back together after withdrawing from the 2018 Aki basho due to injury. Today he will face off against Ayanoumi, who has foregone the typical sumo bulk in favor of strength and agility.

Amakaze vs Taranami – The former Juryo mainstay will face a 17 year old Taranami, who is fighting at his highest ever rank. Only in his 13th basho, Amakaze may find Taranami a fairly straightforward opponent, as long as Amakaze’s body is still in good condition.

Kitanowaka vs Garyu – Kitanowaka’s first every ranked sumo match finds him against another newcomer from the generous flock that participated in Maezumo in Osaka. At this level of competition, it’s typically difficult to tell what is going to happen…

Haru Day 13 – Ones To Watch

Naya is ready to rumble

As we enter the final 3 days of the basho, the lower division rikishi are facing their final match. For a large number of our “Ones to Watch”, their final match will decide if they exit Osaka with a winning or losing record. In Day 12 action, Hoshoryu battled back to even his score at 3-3 with a win over Sakigake (video below). After a rough period with 3 straight losses in a row, Hoshoryu has battled back to even.

Day 13 Matches

Akua vs Chiyosakae – A 3-3 bracket match, the winner will be kachi-koshi, and the loser make-koshi. Chiyosakae is a 39 basho Makushita veteran who will not be an easy match for Akua.

Ichiyamamoto vs Irodori – Ichiyamamoto takes on Makushita 1 East Irodori in a 5-1 bracket match. Irodori is already likely headed to Juryo, but this match might determine if Ichiyamamoto joins him.

Naya vs Churanoumi – The Makushita yusho playoff match, both rikishi are 6-0 heading into their final match. The winner takes the tournament, the loser gets a nice promotion.

Torakio vs Sekizuka – Neither of these rikishi have a single win. For Torakio this has been a total collapse, and I have to wonder what kind of injury has prevented him from executing really any good sumo for the past 2 weeks.

Shoji vs Komakiryu – Both rikishi are already make-koshi (2-4 bracket), so this match determines how stiff of a demotion is coming to them.

Roga vs Kotomiyakura – Split Jonidan / Sandanme playoff, due to the odd number of undefeated rikishi in both divisions. If Roga wins, there will be a follow-on playoff match later in the tournament to decide the Jonidan yusho.

Terunofuji vs Sadatsuyoshi – Jonidan yusho playoff match, this one may or may not determine the yusho given how the Roga match turns out. Sadatsuyoshi is another young rikishi, who has never before had 6 wins in a tournament, so this is a big moment for him. If Terunofuji repeats his day 11 performance, Sadatsuyoshi will get a rough ride.

Hattorizakura vs Hakuyo – The found someone in Jonikuchi for Hattorizakura to lose to! Hakuyo has been kyujo up until now, but returns for his final match against sumo’s most losing Jonidan.

Hatsu Day 3 – Lower Division Ones To Watch

Wakaichiro-2018

Day 2 was a non-stop feast of some bright young stars of sumo. We got to see Ura blast someone off the dohyo, we saw Hoshoryu struggle, and we saw Akua stuff Chiyonoo into dumpster. Onward to day 3, it’s another great night of lower division action, with may of the rikishi we are tracking back on the dohyo for more battles.

Wakamotoharu vs Takanofuji – All three Waka* brothers will fight on day 3, with Wakamotoharu just withing reach of joining his brother as a Sekitori. Takanofuji’s only trip to Juryo was interrupted with an injury that pushed him back down the pile. He’s hungry.

Akua vs Seiro – It’s steak, and lobster with both Akua and Wakamotoharu in action. It will be worth staying up just to see this match. Seiro is a former lower Maegashira, a Mongolian from Shikoroyama heya. He dropped out of Juryo in September following an injury, and like most of the “Wall” crew, he is ready to tear his opponent’s head off to return to Sekitori status.

Ura vs Chiyosakae – Ura submarined and ejected Takakento like a JMSDF torpedo, and on day 3 he draws Chiyosakae, a Makushita veteran from Kokonoe heya. He has been ranked as high as MS7 last year, but has been struggling to produce much above a 4 win kachi-koshi.

Wakatakamoto vs Hokutokawa – Another Waka* brother on the dohyo! this time he faces off against Hakkaku heya’s Hokutokawa. Hokutokawa as been unable to rank above mid-Makushita, and will provide a fairly solid opponent.

Naya vs Dairaido – Former Juryo Sekitori Dairaido will be quite a test for young Naya. This opponent will be no easy push over, in spite of the fact that he sufferd a significant injury in 2016 that saw him drop back down to Jonidan.

Shoji vs Okinoiwa – Okinoiwa is a mid-Sandanme mainstay, and I will be interested to see of Shoji can bounce back from his first match loss.

Torakio vs Kotonoumi – Torakio takes on a young rikishi from Sadogatake heya, who has never ranked above Sandandme.

Wakaichiro vs Miyakogawa – Wakaichiro looked strong and confident in his day 1 win, and we are all hoping that he has overcome the mechanical injuries he had been nursing at Kyushu. Day 3 he’s against Miyakogawa, from Isenoumi heya. Another newcommer, Miyakogawa has yet to break out of Jonidan, and had a fairly rough time of it in Kyushu.