Wide Open Yusho!

Goeido (7-6) powered through Hakuho (12-1), yes, powered through Hakuho, to hand the Yokozuna his first loss amid the flying zabuton. Then, Ichinojo (12-1) capped off the day with a victory over Kakuryu (10-3). It wasn’t a stunning victory at all. It was the SAME crafty victory he pulled off against Kisenosato (8-5). “Over eager” matta, feignting the direct tachiai, then dodging to the side for the easy henka victory when the fight goes “for reals”. Kakuryu should have been better prepared. He’s a yokozuna and shouldn’t have fallen for that especially since Ichinojo did THE.EXACT.SAME.THING against Kisenosato two days ago.

Meanwhile, Kisenosato secures his winning record and denies Osunaarashi (5-8) a winning record at the same time. The ozeki withstood the sand storm’s early aggressiveness but seemed to be at a disadvantage when Osunaarashi secured a hold on the mawashi. Osunaarashi tried to throw Kisenosato to his left side but maybe he was just too heavy? After the failed throw attempt, it then seemed he just ran out of space and tripped backwards over the straw bales.

In other ozeki action, Kotoshogiku (8-5) was shown the floor by an impressive Ikioi (9-4). Ikioi is still the only makuuchi wrestler to have defeated Ichinojo. Aminishiki, meanwhile, handed Okinoumi his third defeat. Both rikishi stand at 10-3, in a tie with Kakuryu. Aminishiki gets to take on Ozeki Kotoshogiku tomorrow while Okinoumi faces Tochinoshin (13-0) from Juryo. Tochinoshin will likely return to makuuchi next tournament after his recovery from his previous injury. It won’t be an easy win for Okinoumi but with all these interesting match ups it will make for an exciting weekend! That is, assuming Hakuho doesn’t fall for the same henka BS.

Ichinojo Dodges Kisenosato

Yes, Hakuho (11-0) still leads. He’s peerless, the best. He dispatched Takekaze (5-6) with ease. There was no surprise in that, unlike yesterday when Osunaarashi was, for a moment, able to challenge the Yokozuna.

What was surprising was Ichinojo’s (10-1) near-henka victory over Kisenosato (7-4). Kisenosato has a very slow tachiai. He draws more than his fair share of false starts – matta, in Japanese. However, I think the rookie and his coaches outwitted the Ozeki. After being “tempted” into two false starts where he appeared to charge straight at Kisenosato, Ichinojo dodged to his left – exactly opposite Kisenosato’s taped shoulder – and gave Kisenosato a shove to make sure he fell flat on his face. BRAVO.


You’re on notice, Kisenosato, Ichinojo exposed the weakness in slow-rolling your tachiai. He hopes to gain the advantage of knowing his opponent’s plan of attack – but Ichinojo disguised his planned dodge beautifully. This is speculation but I think the youngster planned to bait Kisenosato into thinking he’d take the injured left shoulder head-on. He faked it twice to reinforce the point…then dodged to Kisenosato’s right! Beautiful. I look forward to watching this youngster develop. He’ll face a desparate Goeido (6-5) tomorrow.

In other matches, Kakuryu (10-1) is tied with the young upstart, one loss off pace. Unlike Ichinojo, Goeido really was a bit over-eager to face the Yokozuna. He false started, and on the fair-start Kakuryu was able to quickly gain control and show Goeido to the floor.  Osunaarashi fell to 4-7 against Kotoshogiku (7-4). Kotoshogiku bulled through Osunaarashi’s aggressive slapping attack and pushed the maegashira #4 off the dohyo.

Endo (2-9) got a win against Chiyotairyu (1-10). Ikioi (7-4), still the only rikishi to defeat Ichinojo, won his match against Takanoiwa (4-7). Aminishiki (8-3) is alone with 8 wins since Kyukutenho lost against Tochiozan (both on 7-4). Okinoumi (9-2) still has an outside chance for jun-yusho with his win over Sadanoumi (6-5) as Kakuryu and Ichinojo will be facing stronger opponents in the coming days. Both of them will be battling Ozeki tomorrow while Okinoumi will face maegashira #10 Kitataiki.

In non-tournament related news, I’m eager to start a conversation based on comments made by ex-Kotooshu where he expresses an intent to use data and scientific methods to improve sumo training. It’s a brief article and I’m very eager to learn more.  I’m a data hound and love to pour over the data available over at sumogames (linked in the menu above). However, I know there’s so much more data that could be collected…like information on match duration, injuries, taped body parts, and how many ad banners each rikishi has from sponsors.