Nagoya Day 12 Preview


Yoshikaze-wide

We Love Sumo Thiiis Much!

With just a few days remaining, the Nagoya yusho race came back to life with Mitakeumi’s surprise upset of Yokozuna Hakuho. Some Hakuho fans, like myself, had hoped that he could rack up at least one last back-to-back zensho run, but it’s clear that the new crop of rikishi are too competitive for that kind of dominance this year. The two rikishi who could challenge are both at least 2 tiers of skill below Hakuho on a bad day, so it’s clear that it’s still his yusho to lose.

A dominant Hakuho creates several effects on the upper ranks of sumo. For starters, it makes it practically impossible for anyone else to get close to a Yokozuna promotion. In order to even be considered, you have to beat the yokozuna with the most wins ever, who on an average day is unassailable and on a good day can find your sumo boring and uninspired. This has a knock on effect for Ozeki and San’yaku promotion slots too.

Watching Ura’s performance today, it’s evident that his injuries are limiting his performance now, and his ability to endure that damage for the remaining 4 bouts will determine a lot about the next 4 months for his sumo career. If he can win half his bouts, he will come away with a kachi-koshi, and likely be in one of the top 4 Maegashira slots in September. If we use Iksumo’s wonderful forecast, Ura is likely to face Kotoshogiku, Tamawashi, Yoshikaze, and Ichinojo. This would be a tall order if he was fully healthy, so my original prediction of make-koshi for him is looking like a reasonable outcome.

For Mitakeumi to get to 10 wins, and kick of a chance at an Ozeki bid, he needs two more wins out of a roster of Harumafuji, Tochinoshin, Ikioi, and Chiyoshoma. Not trivial but possible if he can stay focused and uninjured. Kotoshogiku is at the bottom of a deep hole now, and needs to win all 4 against a predicted schedule of Shodai, Ura, Tochinoshin, and Hokutofuji. While it is possible, his next defeat and he is out of san’yaku.

Heading to Aki, we already know that Terunofuji is kadoban, and if he is healed by September, he will easily shed that burden within the first 10 days. Goeido however is at real risk of being kadoban himself, in spite of some fairly good sumo this basho. He faces a predicted schedule of Tochiozan, Hakuho, Harumafuji, and Takayasu. He needs to win 2 of those to keep out of kadoban.

Nagoya Leader board

Leader – Hakuho
Chasers – Onosho, Aoiyama
Hunt Group – Harumafuji, Takayasu, Mitakeumi, Tochiozan, Takarafuji

4 Matches Remain

What We Are Watching Day 12

Chiyomaru vs Daishomaru – Chiyomaru trying again for his kachi-koshi, which would also make Daishomaru make-koshi at the same time. This is their first match up ever, so it’s going to be interesting too see how this goes.

Aoiyama vs Takarafuji – Both having winning records secure, so this is more of a sparring match. Aoiyama looked off form on day 11, can he bounce back?

Nishikigi vs Ishiura – Both rikishi are struggling with a middling record right now, but Nishikigi will be on the fast train back to Juryo if he cannot lock down his winning record. Ishiura has a 6-1 advantage in their career match ups.

Chiyotairyu vs Onosho – Onosho is gunning for a second consecutive special prize, and Chiyotairyu needs one more win for kachi-koshi. Right now momentum favors Onosho, and he holds a 2-1 advantage in their 3 career bouts.

Ura vs Ichinojo – Traditional big man / little man sumo contest. Sadly Ura is looking hurt, but given the schedule above, it may his best chance to pick up a badly needed win.

Hokutofuji vs Takakeisho – Hokutofuji is working hard to avoid his second ever tournament losing record. He has to defeat the explosive Takakeisho to reverse course. Takakeisho is already in a majority loss record, but he’s still fighting hard. He has also won both of their prior matches.

Yoshikaze vs Tochinoshin – Winner gets kachi-koshi, with Tochinoshin leading their career match ups 14-7. Tochinoshin has Yoshikaze out gunning in height, weight, strength and reach. But don’t count out the superior athletics of Yoshikaze.

Shodai vs Kotoshogiku – A Kotoshogiku loss would mark him make-koshi, and ensure a demotion out of san’yaku for September. The good news for Ojisan is that Shodai has been horrifically inconsistent this basho.

Kagayaki vs Goeido – The last of the “easy” bouts for Goeido, he needs to pick up this win if he wants to avoid kadoban status for September. I expect Goeido will go for the lighting charge out of the tachiai. Kagayaki, ever consider a henka?

Takayasu vs Tochiozan – You would think the Ozeki would have the advantage here, but Tochiozan leads their career match ups 18-6! In addition, Tochiozan has been fighting well this basho, and will likely give Takayasu a hard fight.

Hakuho vs Tamawashi – Tamawashi has never beaten Hakuho, and I don’t expect Hakuho’s day 11 loss to Mitakeumi to have any carry-over effect for today. This is likely the day that Hakuho ties Kaio.

Mitakeumi vs Harumafuji – I really want Harumafuji to win this one, but he is clearly suffering with problems in multiple joints. So I am going to say that Mitakeumi has a decent chance here. Their career record favors Harumafuji 3-2.

 

Nagoya Day 10 Highlights


Captain-Kensho

Valor In Defeat.

Day 10 brought few surprises, but a massive amount of outstanding sumo action to Nagoya. Again the stand out match revolved around crowd favorite Ura, who was unable to be Takayasu, but threw everything he had at the big Ozeki. Fans appreciated both the unquenchable fighting spirit shown by Ura, and the stability, poise and patience from Takayasu.

Takakeisho showed no less fighting spirit in his match against Yoshikaze, who was not phased in the least by the youngster’s manic attack plan. Yoshikaze is an interesting figure in sumo. He is a fantastic all around athlete, and would have likely been successful in sports other than sumo, as he played baseball in college, too. This augments his sumo in that he can perform moves that others might not have the overall physique to attempt. We don’t frequently see him lift an opponent, but today Yoshikaze carried Takakeisho out like it was his bed time.

Ichinojo gets rightfully accused of being a big slow container ship in a mawashi, but today his exhausting marathon grapple with Tochinoshin is the stuff of epics. Both men knew going into this bout that it was going to be a contest of strength and stamina, and Ichinojo had the ability to hold his own in a contest of might.

Highlight Matches

Takarafuji defeats Gagamaru – Takarafuji secures his kachi-koshi by taking advantage of Planet Gagamaru’s spherical shape, and rolling him around the dohyo to victory. The laws of physics are a harsh mistress, and wise is the rikishi who studies Isaac Newton and Galileo.

Takekaze defeats Nishikigi – After a blistering start, Nishikigi is now in a 4 bout losing streak, and his remaining in Makuuchi is starting to look questionable. Takekaze, of course, seems timeless and is able to concoct a winning strategy for nearly any opponent this far down the banzuke.

Chiyonokuni defeats Daishomaru – Great to see the scion of Kokonoe beya back in the fray. After a miserable Natsu and a weak start in Nagoya, he seems to be in his grove and applying himself well.

Aoiyama defeats Chiyotairyu – The man moutain Aoiyama delivers the doom against Chiyotairyu, who was looking to lock down his kachi-koshi today. Aoiyama will be much further up the banzuke in Tokyo, and with any luck he will expand his catalog of sumo techniques and recuse himself well.

Kotoyuki defeats Ishiura – Facing a ride on the shame train back to Juryo, Kotoyuki decides he is going to really engage and fight. He put away Ishiura today, who drops to 5-5. Kotoyuki’s next loss locks in a make-koshi and a demotion.

Onosho defeats Tokushoryu – In what has been called by some the “Battle of the Angry Tadpoles”, Onosho has come away with his kachi-koshi. His performance since joining Makuuchi in May has been impressive, and I would be interested to see if he scores his second special prize this basho.

Yoshikaze defeats Takakeisho – Takakeisho was destined for a make-koshi this tournament, and today the Berserker delivered. Takakeisho will be back stronger and greatly improved. I sincerely hope that many of his matches this basho helped him explore the need to expand his sumo, and the staggering variety of tactics a solid Makuuchi rikishi can and will deploy in just a few seconds.

Mitakeumi defeats Shodai – It was not even close. Shodai has a raging problem with being consistent in his delivery, and as we oft repeat here, his tachiai is sloppy and high. Mitakeumi, being a squat, burly fellow, knows he can keep Shodai high and quickly run him out.

Kotoshogiku defeats Goeido – Wow! The Kyushu Bulldozer side steps the Goeido war-charge and succeeds.

Takayasu defeats Ura – Both rikishi really impressed today. I encourage readers who have time to re-watch the match a few times, and one viewing focus on just Takayasu, and another viewing focus on just Ura. When Ura deploys the knee grab, there is a moment where Takayasu is doomed, and he thinks through it in a blink of an eye and counters to win. That, dear readers, was a masterful move.

Hakuho defeats Chiyoshoma – Of course he did. But he played with Chiyoshoma for a bit first. I swear he and the Mole Boss discuss match strategies. The Boss is now at 1046, one away from tying Kaio’s all time win record. Hakuho zensho looking increasingly likely. At this point, I am keen to see him do it again.

Harumafuji defeats Tamawashi – Prior to Nagoya, there was a good amount of discussion that Tamawashi would be the next sumotori to reach for Ozeki promotion. Tamawashi is very good, but he is perhaps one notch below the level needed to vie for Ozeki. It will be interesting to see who the schedulers throw at him for the final 5 days, as he needs to find a way to 3 more wins to stay at Sekiwake.

Personal Note – Bruce is on a business trip today, so posting will happen at odd times and may be lacking depth and detail.

Nagoya Day 8 Preview


Battle Circle Day 8

Our First Look At The Leaderboard

With the middle weekend of the basho upon us, it’s time to start thinking about who will take home the Emperor’s Cup from Nagoya. Right now anyone who thinks it’s Hakuho is probalby right. Although it’s quite possible that Takayasu might challenge, first someone has to beat Hakuho. What about Aoiyama you might ask? Yes, it’s most impressive that he has gone to day 7 without a single defeat, but week 2 will likely see him fight higher up the banzuke, and he may not dominate those matches. Then there is the idea of Takayasu himself beating Hakuho. I anticipate that match comes late in week 2, possibly on day 14.

With much of the Yokozuna and Ozeki corps kyujo, there are few who can give Hakuho a vigorous match. Today’s bout against Ikioi is a great example. For The Boss it was formulaic, and he cracked a big smile at the end. He is, in fact, having a great deal of fun. If he should be able to achieve another perfect yusho, it would open serious consideration that he might be able to campaign again for Futabayama’s record for consecutive wins. It’s a record we know that in the past, Hakuho has said “I was born to break that record”. A tough mountain to climb, even for the Michael Jordan of sumo.

Nagoya Leader board

Leaders – Hakuho, Aoiyama
Chasers – Takayasu
Hunt Group – Harumafuji, Mitakeumi, Ura, Tochiozan, Onosho, Chiyotairyu, Arawashi, Takarafuji, Nishikigi

8 Matches Remain

What We Are Watching Day 8

Chiyonokuni vs Gagamaru – Time to see if Chiyonokunin can continue his renewed focus on winning. Today he takes on Planet Gagamaru, who is having a terrible basho. In their three prior bouts, Gagamaru has won two of them, but that’s not really indicative. Gagamaru holds a huge mass advantage.

Nishikigi vs Daishomaru – Nishikigin dropped his second match of the basho on day 7, and I am looking for him to return to being dominant on day 8. He has a nice winning run going, and he is 3 wins away from kachi-koshi. Daishomaru is holding a steady course with nearly equal wins and losses. He also holds a 5-1 career advantage over Nishikigi.

Chiyotairyu vs Arawashi – Arawashi racked up 2 kinboshi in the New Years basho, and since then has been on a steady downward slide. But thus far he has a strong winning record. Chiyotairyu looked excellent on day 7 against Sadanoumi, and he will try hard to continue his winning run. 3 prior matches with Arawashi taking 2.

Ichinojo vs Ishiura – Another classic sumo big man / little man bout. This time the big man is about as big as they come, and the little man can bench press a small block V8. Ishiura took their only prior meeting, so lets see if he can continue to turn his record around.

Aoiyama vs Onosho – The Man Mountain goes up against one of the hard charging up and comers in the person of Onosho. This is their first meeting, and we can count on Aoiyama to try to pummel Onosho into defeat. His best hope is to get inside, grab a double handful of moob meat and start pushing.

Yoshikaze vs Kotoshogiku – Ojisan Kotoshogiku takes on the Berserker, who has looked muted since his loss to Hakuho via a Henkaho. Kotoshogiku is mostly out of gas, but he showed great fire against Harumafuji day 7. Kotoshogiku leads the series 20-5, so this may be loss #4 for Yoshikaze.

Takakeisho vs Mitakeumi – Could be the highlight match of the day, a first meeting, it pits future Ozeki Mitakeumi against Nagoya 2017 punching bag Takakeisho. Seriously, Takakeisho – it’s nothing personal. Everyone’s first ride at Maegashira 1 is a blood bath. It means you are going to be somebody one day, and the sumo world loves you.

Hokutofuji vs Goeido – Oh yeah! Another first time match up. This time we get to see which version of Goeido boots up, as I think Goeido 1.0 is going to taste clay and 2.0 is going to have a fun match. Hokutofuji is taking his share of lumps in the joi now, but he is giving almost as good as he gets. And he does not lose either his cool or his manners. Ladies and Gentlemen, the future of sumo is here.

Hakuho vs Ura – Yet another first time match! This one is going to be a crazy one, and I am just hoping that Ura does not get hurt. Sumo fans have been wondering what this meeting will look like, and now we all get to find out. Will Hokuho use the same approach he used against Takakeisho? I think he will engage Ura.

Kagayaki vs Harumafuji – Last of the wonderful first time meet ups for Sunday, I think that Kagayaki will probably be quickly and ultimately overwhelmed. But will Harumafuji give him a trip on the death-spin?

Nagoya Day 7 Preview


Hokotofuji
Yes, this is Kaio! Why is he here? Because he’s bloody awesome! Also because the author needs sleep

Nagoya’s Middle Weekend.

This weekend represents the half way point of the Nagoya basho, and what a crazy piece of sumo it has been already. The second act, which began on day 6, typically features narrowing the field to a handful of gusto contenders. Right now it’s tough to see anyone putting a stop to a second Hakuho yusho, but any given day on the dohyo can be a stage for surprises and changes of fortune. Keep in mind Hakuho was injured a year ago in Nagoya, and required surgery and months of physical therapy to become a viable Yokozuna once more.

As with the prior days of this basho, we have another great cluster of first time meetings between new rikishi and the old guard. These never fail to provide interest and some fantastic sumo.

Matches We Like

Chiyonokuni vs Nishikigi – Something happened to Chiyonokuni. At one point he was a rising star in sumo, in fact he was Maegashira 1 in May. Now he fights without winning, an seems to be a broken rikishi. Today he takes on Nishikigi, who very much wants to secure his future in Makuuchi.

Kotoyuki vs Shohozan – “Big Guns” Shohozan goes up against another hapless rikishi: Kotoyuki. I expect that Kotoyuki’s injuries may keep him from putting up much of a contest this time, as Shohozan is doing quite well so far this basho.

Daishomaru vs Okinoumi – First meeting between these two, and we finally saw some signs of life from Okinoumi on day 6. When his injuries are under control, he can and does show up with fantastic sumo.

Ichinojo vs Aoiyama – The Man Mountain Aoiyama remains unbeaten. I have my doubts that Inchinojo will be the one to give him his first loss. This is an indication that we will see Aoiyama fight further up the banzuke shortly.

Ishiura vs Tochiozan – With only one prior meeting, it could be quite interesting. Except that Ishiura is quite unimpressive so far this tournament. Tochiozan on the other hand is doing quite well.

Onosho vs Kagayaki – Onosho has won 3 of their prior 4 meetings, and we can expect him to make that #4 on Saturday. Onosho is looking quite genki at the moment.

Yoshikaze vs Hokotofuji – The up-and-comer holds a 2-1 career advantage over the berserker! I expect a lot of furious action in this bout, so genuinely looking forward to it.

Ura vs Mitakeumi – First time meeting between a couple of great rikishi who have increasing amounts of fan and sponsor support. I would guess this will be all Mitakeumi, as he has been blowing out his lower ranked opponents. But Ura you can not count out. This could be the match of the day.

Takayasu vs Shodai – These two have split their prior 4 meetings, which is a bit of a surprise given how strong Takayasu’s tachiai is and how weak Shodai’s typically is.

Takakeisho vs Goeido – Maegashira 1 vs a seasoned Ozeki. It should be a walk over win with a strong chance of dismemberment. But the Ozeki is Goeido, so who knows?

Kotoshogiku vs Harumafuji – These two have a long history of matches going back many years, and Kotoshogiku leads by a surprising number of wins. Both rikishi are clearly functioning a fraction of their capability, but I expect Harumafuji to win.

Hakuho vs Ikioi – This should be a quick ejection of Ikioi and another win closer for the all time record for the boss.

Nagoya Day 6 Highlights


Takayasu

There’s a First Time For Many Things

We enter the middle weekend of the Nagoya basho missing 3 rikishi from the Yokozuna and Ozeki ranks. It is actually somewhat unremarkable in that we have seen similar problems for most of the last year. As we have written about frequently on Tachiai, the current crop of Ozeki and Yokozuna have all faced significant physical challenges in the past 18 months, and none of them, except maybe Hakuho and Takayasu, would be considered fit for action. For sumo this can quickly turn into a brand and marketing problem, as these top names are what bring in the bulk of the fans. Even in Japan, there are only a limited number of hard-core sumo followers (like the people who read this site), and that hard core group is not enough to really carry the sport.

On the up side, we had some fantastic matches today, including a couple of first time wins. Rikishi finally defeating a foe they had not been able to best in all of their prior matches. It is clear that both Mitakeumi and Ura are still ascendant, and along with Hokutofuji, and probably Takakeisho in a year or two, there is a core group of sumotori for the future.

Highlight Matches

Nishikigi defeats Sadanoumi – Nishikigi improves to 5-1, but he looks very stiff today for some reason. With 9 bouts remaining, he has a very strong chance of kochi-koshi, and solidifying his escape from Juryo.

Shohozan defeats Daishomaru – Really a great bout! Both rikishi were on pushing / slapping attack mode, and twice Daishomaru had him in trouble. Shohozan battled back strongly and and prevailed. For whatever reason, Shohozan has been looking really sharp this basho.

Chiyotairyu defeats Tokushoryu – Interesting because Tokushoryu attempted a henna, but Chiyotairyu saw it coming and made Tokushoryu pay. Note how Chiyotairyu keeps his eyes on the center of Tokushoryu’s chest during the tachiai. That’s how it’s done, lads!

Okinoumi defeats Ishiura – So good to see signs of life from Okinoumi! For those of you who may not know, Okinoumi has a significant lower pelvic injury, the repair of which would end his career. When it is acting up, he competes weakly. When it does not, the man can really deliver some great sumo. This bout ended with a Monoii, and the shipman determined Ishiura stepped out first.

Aoiyama defeats Takanoiwa – For reasons that defy my mind right now, Aoiyama remains undefeated, and tied with Hakuho for the lead of this basho. Takanoiwa really seems to have nothing to offer this tournament, so this was hardly a tough contest. I would expect the schedulers to give Aoiyama some more challenging opponents soon.

Onosho defeats Daieisho – Onosho continues to excel, and he dispatched Daieisho without much work or fanfare. Unless he suddenly chokes, I would expect Onosho to be ranked much higher in the fall.

Chiyoshoma defeats Ichinojo – Another excellent match, Chiyoshoma threw everything he had at Ichinojo in a bout that raged across the dohyo for a decent amount of time. Lots of good “distraction slaps” from Chiyoshoma helped keep the Mongolian giant reacting instead of winning.

Tochiozan defeats Kagayaki – Tochiozan is another veteran rikishi who has been doing very well this tournament. Today he dominated Kagayaki, riding him around the dohyo like a rented mule. Tochiozan improves to 5-1.

Ura defeats Takakeisho – The first time in his career, Ura wins a match against Takakeisho. He did it by employing a henna, which Takakeisho swallowed whole. Guidance to Takakeisho, study what Chiyotairyu did today. Ura executed that really well – being small and incredibly fast, I do hope he does not become a henka artist.

Mitakeumi defeats Yoshikaze – Mitakeumi continues to impress. Yoshikaze gave him the full measure, including a mini-henka at the tachiai, but Mitakeumi stuck with it and prevailed. This was the first time in 4 matches that Mitakeumi was able to win one from Yoshikaze.

Tamawashi defeats Goeido – Tamawashi really dialed it up to 11 in his match against Goeido, starting with a tachiai so strong it rocked the Ozeki onto his heels. Impressively, Goeido escaped from Tamawashi’s attempt to finish him and battled back strongly. This was a solid match, and a really nice win by Tamawashi.

Takayasu defeats Tochinoshin – Takayasu is at his best (in my opinion) when he engages in a battle of strength and endurance. He is better at this than anyone in sumo today. The man has the endurance to power a small city for a week. To be honest, an epic match like this would not have happened if Tochinoshin were not nearly his equal. But Takayasu, when faced with a bout like this, wears his opponent down – as long as it takes, and once they tire, still has plenty left to take them out.

Hakuho defeats Hokutofuji – Not really anyone left who can credibly stop the boss. Match was notable by yet another display of Hokutofuji’s outstanding etiquette. More of this please. sumotori!

Harumafuji defeats Ikioi – Ikioi is really looking like he is at ⅔ normal energy. I hope whatever is ailing him, it can be resolved by Aki. Harumafuji appears to have found the means to keep his obvious pain under control long enough to win a match.

Natsu Wrap Up & Day 15 Highlights


Hakuho-15

The Boss Is Back

In completing his perfect yusho, Yokozuna Hakuho has made it clear that he is back in form and ready to resume his reign as the dai-Yokozua. It’s been a long, difficult road for Hakuho. After he injured his foot in Nagoya, he chose to miss Aki and undergo an operation to reconstruct his big toe and to fix parts of his knee. The recovery was not easy. The surgery and immobility afterwords had a bigger impact than I am sure he expected. As a result he has been under performing for months.

In that period, we have seen some rikish who would normally be eking out kachi-koshi scores here and there truly excel. This is in part because to top predator (and some of his cohorts) have been under performing, in culling rikishi from the ranks.

You can think of it this way, for Hakuho to get to 15 wins, the rest of Makuuchi had to absorb 15 losses. With Hakuho kyujo, someone else got those 15 wins. Everyone’s score increased. You got to see Kisenosato finally make Yokozuna, you got to see Goeido take a zensho yusho. You got to see Kakuryu rack up (at last) a yusho himself. It’s been a great year without a Hakuho. But now he is back, and he is genki and he is ready to rule once more.

A sign of that include his late pushes after a match have returned, so maybe he feels he is fine and will stay fine, and he is free to be Hakuho the great. This has huge implications for sumo for the next year or two. Specifically the other Yokozuna and anyone wishing to follow Takayasu up the Ozeki trail.

For a long time nobody but Hakuho could yusho. When he is / was healthy he is / was unstoppable. We saw that again here during Natsu. Is he back to that level? He wants you to think he is, to be sure. But is he? Maybe? But it’s clear that the one armed Yokozuna needs a repair job if he wants to contend once more. It would be brutally sad if Kisenosato had to follow Kakuryu into a series of revolving kyujos due to a combination of untreated and unresolved injuries, and a mighty, nearly unbeatable uber-sumotori at the top of the heap.

Chiyonokuni finished 2-13. He’s much better than that, and I think he still has a lot of promise. He just peaked hard when a lot of other sekitori were flailing, and he got caught in a storm of beat downs by everyone. He will recover, he will be back. He’s one to watch.

Okinoumi & Takarafuji finished 3-12. Both are old for rikishi, both have various performance limiting injuries. This is one of the problems with Makuuchi at the moment, its full of guys in their 30s. As a pure meritocracy, it’s full of people who can win, and those that can’t win go away over time. We are in one of those times, but because of the way the banzuke works, it could take a long time before fading veterans make way for the up and coming hard chargers.

Daieisho, Aoiyama, Takekaze, Toyohibiki, Myogiryu & Yutakayama finished 4-11. You might expect there to be a brutal banzuke thump down for these rikishi, but for every down there must be an up. And many of the pressure from the lower ranks you might expect did not materialize due to near absolute parity in Juryo. 13 Juryo wresters ended with 8-7 or 7-8.

Matches That Mattered On Day 15

Ura defeats Daishomaru – Ura does a reverse tachiai. You can rightly ask “what the hell was that?”, but hey! it worked! Was it a henka? No, not really. Was it strange? Yes. I thought I saw Daishomaru smiling and maybe giggling a bit over what had just happened, but then I had already had a glass of sake, so who knows.

Tochinoshin defeats Toyohibiki – Kind of sour ending by back to back henkas from Tochinoshin. I am going to guess he re-injured that mummified knee, and that’s why he henka’d his last two matches.

Ishiura defeats Takekaze – Ishiura gets to be Hakuho’s standard bearer – very happy for Ishiura, he pulled out a kachi-koshi on the last day. He has some work to do, and hopefully a healthy Hakuho can provide some assistance. His deshi needs some upgrades.

Tochiozan defeats Shohozan – Both end with 6-9, both are in the older crowd that is lingering around, due to lack of pressure from Juryo. Don’t get me wrong, Makuuchi is good sumo now, but it could and should be better. But right now Juryo is kind of broken for some reason I have not figured out. There should be a crop of early 20’s rikishi who stand these old guys on their ear daily, but that is not happening.

Hokutofuji defeats Yoshikaze – Hokutofuji joins the joi next basho, I would assume. It will be time to see if the up-and-comer has the mojo to really make a stand against the San’yaku. With a healthy Hakuho, it could be a blood bath again (as the basho were before he was hurt a year ago). Yoshikaze at this point is just running up his personal score. While we fans out side Japan mostly focus on what the NHK video shows us, it’s important to note that inside the sumotori community, everyone loves Yoshikaze, and I predict that once he retires and exercises his kabu, he is going to be a very big deal in sumo management indeed.

Shodai defeats Mitakeumi – Whatever they put in Shodai’s chanko the last few days, do keep it up! Next basho, we get Shodai back in the joi, and it’s bloodbath time for him, too!

Kotoshogiku defeats Ikioi – Well, that was like the Kotoshogiku of old. We should all enjoy it while it lasts. It’s sort of sad to see him fade, but I guess he is still calling his own outcomes, so I praise his persistence. Ikioi is still hit or miss, but then he has been for a while now.

Tamawashi defeats Goeido – Goeido 1.0 came back for old time’s sake. Now that Kadoban is lifted for a few months, he can afford to be unfocused. Please go get rested, ready and strong Goeido. Nothing would confound the critics and delight the fans more than a second basho full of Goeido 2.0. Who knows, you might even convince Hakuho to retire…

Terunofuji defeats Takayasu – I love the Kaiju when he’s on his sumo. Although I am a ginormous Takayasu fan, it was very good to see Terunofuji deploy all of his moves against the man who will be Ozeki. Even to the point of crushing his arms, which we have not seen in some time. People use to be afraid of facing this guy because they would leave the bout hurt. If Kisenosato can be restored to working order, Takayasu will make a great Ozeki. But while he is training on his own (like he was the for the past 2 months) he is vulnerable. The two are a team, and together they will excel.

Hakuho defeats Harumafuji – Kind of one for the ages. It was a great match, especially the series of moves Hakuho used to change the dynamics of the match and get Harumafuji un-stuck and moving backwards. Given Harumafuji’s re-injury to his ankle, I think he put on a hell of a performance. My complements to both men

Natsu Day 15 Preview


Onosho

One More Time.

The end is nigh! Well, for this basho anyhow. It’s been great fun to write like a madman once more, and it’s hard to fathom that just last week I was in Tokyo. The whole thing turned into giant, sumo encrusted jet-lag blur. A very nice blur, but a blur none the less. But now all the clothes I took smell like those tatami mats, and I find I kind of like it. I am also having withdrawal symptoms due to a lack of Katsu Curry, or any real source of soup soba.

Much has been decided, and there are a few interesting things left to resolve. With Kotoshogiku and Takayasu out of Sekiwake, the promotion lanes are finally open again, and it’s a mad dog-pile to see which up-and-comer is going to stand out for a slot as a punching bag in Nagoya.

Then there are the rikishi who are on a knife edge to try and get a kachi-koshi bolted down.

  • Ishiura (fights Takekaze)
  • Kaisei (fights Kagayaki)

What’s going to happen in Juryo? Good lord, who knows! Well, actually the Juryo yusho will either be Nishikigi or Aminishiki, by some magic they both ended day 14 with 9 wins, and had not fought each other. I am sure the schedulers were doing high fives. Does Aminishiki get promoted to Makuuchi from Juryo 8 if he takes the Juryo yusho? Does Nishikigi get promoted if he takes the Jun-Yusho? I don’t envy the banzuke team for this one. I suggest the get well drunk, eat a giant box of Takoyaki, and make up something that rhymes.

Matches We Like

Daishomaru vs Ura – Special prize time for Ura? Can he crack 11 wins with some kind of win over Daishomaru? The only other time they fought, Daishomaru took him apart. I am hoping Ura still has a few magic beans left to eat before his match tomorrow.

Tochinoshin vs Toyohibiki – I call shenanigans! Paul Bunyon with 11 wins going against Shin-Juryo Toyohibiki? Ah well, double bonus points for a henka this time. Triple bonus if they do simultaneous henkae (sp?). Ceremonial Tonkatsu helmet for Toyohibiki if he can actually beat him.

Onosho vs Takakeisho – Both contenders for a special prize, winner should be given said prize, loser gets to drive around the streets of Tokyo in a go-kart dressed as a mini-Bowser.

Hokutofuji vs Yoshikaze – As noted there is some kind of weird San’yaku triangle / drinking game going on, and I am pretty sure it’s a good thing. Who gets to be crowned Sekiwake? Well, I am guessing it comes down to who wins matches today. This one should be good, as Hokutofuji is “strong like bull!”, while Yoshikaze is the kind of guy who can win against nearly anyone.

Mitakeumi vs Shodai – Another part of this triangle, will Mitakeumi take Shodai down? I will admit, Shodai has been looking rather solid the last 3 days, is he genki enough to contain Mitakeumi? Mitakeumi wants that Sekiwake slot, he has really been at Tamawashi levels for the last two basho.

Tamawashi vs Goeido – Winner gets double digits, I would love to see Goeido finish with 10 wins, but I am guessing that Tamawashi wants to go out on a win too. Get Goeido 2.0 on the phone, he needs to make an appearance at the Kokugikan today.

Terunofuji vs Takayasu – Time to try on the Ozeki rank one stop early. Hey, Takayasu! Today, move forward, no pulling, no moving backwards. You are one of the best yotsu-zumō around. How about you uncork a bucket of that and let the Kaiju have a whiff of the aroma of Ozeki Takayasu?

Harumafuji vs Hakuho – Well, this one is zensho-yusho. Harumafuji is hurt, but I am sure the rivalry between him and Hakuho will drive him to peak performance. I just hope that he comes out of it in an recoverable condition. Harumafuji is, in my opinion, unique in sumo for the present day. I hope he can stick with us in good condition for a few years more. Oh yes, in his interview today Hakuho looked really very happy. Like I have not seen Hakuho in a long time. It was quite pleasant.