Nagoya Day 5 Preview

Welcome to the end of act 1! Yes, dear readers, we are about to be ⅓ ofd the way through this wonderful festival of sumo in Nagoya. The purpose, once again, of act 1 is to knock the ring rust off of the rikishi and get everyone into tournament mode. We also start to get an idea about who is genki, and who is suffering. I think heading into day 5. we can say with some certainty:

Genki

  • Kakuryu – Looking surprisingly good. I think I can say that because so many times Kakuryu is clearly hurt and can not really execute his rather unique style of sumo. So far he’s using it to great effect.
  • Hakuho – As we suspected prior to the bashso, The Boss is back, he’s reset and he’s fighting well enough to dominate every match he enters.
  • Tomokaze – A pleasant surprise, the risking star from Oguruma heya has shown some really notable versatility
  • Terutsuyoshi – After a pair of 6-9 results that resulted in some amazing banzuke luck, and him remaining in the top division, Terutsuyoshi seems to have his sumo back, and he’s on his way to a solid basho in Nagoya

Suffering

  • Tochinoshin – Very worrisome in that he just cleared his Ozekiwake exile status. He’s hurt, he’s fighting as best he can, but he’s really not up to Ozeki level sumo.
  • Tamawashi – I have to assume injury here too. Tamawashi is too consistently powerful to start 0-4.
  • Meisei – Meisei is better than this, so don’t be surprised if he ends up pulling out a 7-8 or 8-7 final.

What We Are Watching Day 5

Yago vs Terutsuyoshi – This match does not seem like it would be close, you have the hulking Yago going up against pixie Terutsuyoshi. But their career record is 5-4, surprisingly even. I would expect that now that Terutsuyoshi seems to have gotten his sumo back, we are going to see some high-agility speed action from Terutsuyoshi, and we are going to see a struggling 2-2 Yago trying to keep him still.

Toyonoshima vs Kotoyuki – Toyonoshima finally picked up a win, and there was much rejoicing. Kotoyuki still seems a bit unfocused, but he looks like his sumo is working better than his last trip to the top division, which was January, and ended with a 4-11 result.

Chiyomaru vs Kaisei – A pair of super-heavies who have only 2 wins between them, and 6 losses. Both need to turn things around, but sadly for Kaisei, it may be down to injuries.

Tochiozan vs Enho – We all want Enho to win doing some acrobatic crazy man sumo. So let’s just see if Tochiozan’s experience will leave him distracted or give him to tools to efficiently shut down Enho’s antics.

Sadanoumi vs Nishikigi – To Nishikigi, Sadanoumi is just another blurry mess. But he has a good record of grabbing a hold of the green mawashi blur and pushing it off the dohyo (9-5). Let’s hope the gyoji does not wear green today.

Kagayaki vs Takagenji – Takagenji got his first taste of Nagoya clay on day 4, and I am willing to say that I think Kagayaki is getting into his sumo now, and we are likely to see some good, fundamental but possibly unexciting sumo from him. Given how Takagenji has been focusing on strong, efficient yotzu-sumo, it may shut down Kagayaki’s movement oriented offense.

Shohozan vs Daishoho – At 35 years old, Shohozan has to be on watch to “age out” of the top division at some point. He’s lacked some of the brutal sumo we have come to expect from him of late. Like Okinoumi, they seem to be hanging around, and we don’t mind at all, as long as they can still execute quality sumo.

Kotoeko vs Okinoumi – Kotoeko has never beaten Okinoumi, and comes into day 5 on a 2 bout losing streak. While Okinoumi stays in a “not too genki, not too weak” lane very well to keep his rank in the middle ⅓ of the top division, I don’t expect he will pick up his 4th loss today.

Myogiryu vs Tomokaze – Yes Myogiryu is fighting well, and his sumo looks really sharp. But something about Tomokaze is really clicking right now. So I would expect him to have the advantage in this day 5 match between two rikishi who are doing well.

Onosho vs Shimanoumi – Both of these men need to regroup. Onosho is encrusted with poor balance or some kind of metastasized ring-rust. Shimanoumi is looking dangerously out of his competence zone. We all want him to rise to the challenges of mid-Maegashira, but maybe its too soon.

Kotoshogiku vs Takarafuji – Kotoshogiku seem to have paid a heavy price for discarding caution in his day 4 match, but that won’t be a problem day 5. A match against Takarafuji is typically a study in careful planning and execution. Unless Takarafuji is fighting Ichinojo, then it’s a couple of minutes of “No, Bad Pony!”

Chiyotairyu vs Ichinojo – Lets just admit that we all want to see Ichinojo slap Chiyotairyu around like he did Takarafuji on day 4. Maybe to the point where Chiyotairyu thinks he has enough and goes to fall down, but Ichinojo holds him up and smacks him a couple more times. Not that I don’t really like Chiyotairyu, because I do. But something about super bad, “Pulp Fiction” style Ichinojo is rather compelling.

Shodai vs Meisei – Meisei is winless, and has never beaten Shodai. So… Shodai… When is Shodai vs “Royale with Cheese” Ichinojo?.

Daieisho vs Tamawashi – Oh please Tamawashi, come back to us! Like so many of the beloved main-stays, you seem to be aging out with the rest of your cohort at the same time. Just a win. Just one to start with.

Mitakeumi vs Hokutofuji – Ok screw the old guys. The young bucks are going to bash the daylights out of each other. You may look at the stats and say (in your best sumo snob voice), “Well, of course – Mitakeumi is favored”. Not today. Hokutofuji has been fighting like a man possessed against the best in the business for the last 4 days, and today he’s against someone closer to his ability. I think there is a lot of pent up frustration that will express itself. In the form of hitting.

Goeido vs Ryuden – Ryuden stands a fair chance of giving Goeido the now famous “Paper Jam In Tray 2” treatment, if he can survive Goeido’s opening gambit.

Asanoyama vs Tochinoshin – I think Asanoyama’s so far limited experience is going to have him willingly go chest to chest with Tochinoshin, and we may see Tochinoshin finally get his first win.

Abi vs Takayasu – Takayasu will need to be steady, stable and patient with Abi. It should only take a few second for the Ozeki to overpower Abi’s right hand side, and the Takayasu owns the match.

Endo vs Hakuho – Is there any chance that The Boss could beat Endo twice? Enjoy the ride, Golden Boy.

Kakuryu vs Aoiyama – Aoiyama has displayed absolutely outstanding mobility and agility thus far, which is baffling when you consider his size. But I think Kakuryu is healthy, and The Man-Mountain is not going to score a kinboshi today.

Nagoya Day 3 Preview

Bruce is working a tough programming gig, far away from home. So some of the reporting this week will be foreshortened, full of typos, and generally as genki as Yoshikaze’s sumo. You have been warned.

What We Are Watching Day 3

Terutsuyoshi vs Kaisei – Kaisei has suddenly been beset by a swarm of tiny, fast moving rikishi. After experiencing first hand Enho’s unique take on the “Death Spin”, he has to be wondering what manner of fresh hell Terutsuyoshi brings to day 3.

Kotoyuki vs Enho – I this “Penguin meets Fire Pixie” story, we will see how far Kotoyuki makes it into the crowd today, after he only made it to the area just beside the dohyo on day 2. Enho is fighting hurt, but he is fighting well. They met twice in Juryo, splitting the pair.

Toyonoshsima vs Yago – Both are solid rikishi who have started 0-2, and now one of them will have started 0-3. Talk about pulling an Ikioi…

Chiyomaru vs Kagayaki – The key to defeating Chiyomaru is lateral motion. Kagayaki likes to move forward at almost all times, so it’s straight into the fire for Mr Fundamentals.

Tochiozan vs Sadanoumi – Two technical rikishi, with 1-1 records, coming in with a 5-5 career record. Could we be any more symmetrical?

Kotoeko vs Takagenji – This is probably the highlight match of the first half, Takagenji has opened strong, and Kotoeko has shown excellent mobility and stability in his first 2 matches. I expect Takagenji to open strong, and Kotoeko to react today.

Nishikigi vs Daishoho – Nishikigi appears as lethargic and uncertain as his bad days of yore, clinging tenaciously to the bottom scrap of the banzuke. This guy kachi-koshied in upper Maegashira. Please the genki version of Nishikigi back!

Onosho vs Okinoumi – I am going to dare to say that maybe Onosho is getting some of his sumo back. We will know more following day 3 when he faces Okinoumi, who has yet to score his first white star.

Shohozan vs Tomokaze – Tomokaze has actually won both of their prior matches, and I have to wonder just how well Oguruma’s new top rikishi is going to do in July. Shohozan should be almost done removing his ring rust.

Chiyotairyu vs Shimanoumi – I don’t know what Shimanoumi is going to do about the cannon ball charge. Shimanoumi is not large, though he is fairly stable. If ever there was a time for a Henka or near-Henka, this might be it.

Myogiryu vs Takarafuji – Both of these guys are in the middle of the banzuke, and need to really crank it up. Both are capable of great sumo, but seem to have fallen into a middling rut.

Meisei vs Ichinojo – Fans are still wondering which version of Ichinojo is active right now. We want the powerful giant who tosses 150kg people around like straw. This is the first time Meisei has faced, “The Boulder”.

Kotoshogiku vs Daieisho – I expect that Kotoshogiku’s stamina is going to give out some time in week 2, but until then I am enjoying the genki, bouncing, throwing version of the Kyusho Bulldozer.

Abi vs Shodai – Someone probably said, “Let’s give Abi a bit of a break. I know… Shodai!”. But as we all know, once Shodai gets besieged by an oshi practitioner, random things tend to happen, and usually to Shodai’s advantage.

Mitakeumi vs Tamawashi – Maybe a bit early for the traditional Sekiwake brawl, but we will take it. This should be a big running battle if Tamawashi does not blow Mitakeumi up at the tachiai.

Endo vs Takayasu – Takayasu dropped a match in week 1, and everyone who hopes he will one day actually win a yusho has to just shake their head and hope for “next time”. As a life long Cubs / Bears fan, I know how this works. Now he has Endo, and Endo is full on heck’n an bam-boozl’n these days.

Goeido vs Aoiyama – When I see the 21-3 career advantage Goeido has over the Man-Mountain, I have hope that we will see some real sumo from the Ozeki today. I know Aoiyama would love to start Nagoya 3-0, but he will have to survive Goeido’s all out offensive.

Ryuden vs Tochinoshin – Tochinoshin is doing so poorly right now, that I am sort of worried to even watch this match. Ryuden already has one Ozeki scalp, and if he can shut down Tochinoshin’s battle for that left hand outside grip, he may get another.

Hokutofuji vs Hakuho – We know what is going to happen here. We love you Hokutofuji, please don’t get discouraged.

Kakuryu vs Asanoyama – Last chance for an Asanoyama kinboshi, so lets see what Kakuryu will do against the Natsu yusho winner. This is their first ever match.

Nagoya Day 2 Preview

Day Two Brings A Reckoning….

Day 2 we get Asanoyama vs Hakuho. Fans are eager for this, and with good cause. The two have never fought in a tournament, and Hakuho roughed up Asanoyama a bit in a pre-basho practice session, after Asanoyama surprised the Yokozuna by dominating their first training match.

Elsewhere, we have a lot of ring-rust to scrape off of a few Makuuchi rikishi, and a few that need to tune up their sumo. I am hoping that day 2 has less slop, and hopefully less slip, than day 1.

What We Are Watching Day 2

Yago vs Kotoyuki – Yago had a surprising amount of trouble with Kaisei on day 1, and now he’s against Mr 5 x 5, Kotoyuki. We can all be fairly sure that Kotoyuki will end up somewhere in the first 2 rows of zabutons, but how he gets there is the open question. For those of you wondering, yes, many times when he wins, he also ends up in the crowd. It’s his calling.

Toyonoshima vs Terutsuyoshi – Former Sekiwake might think he has landed in Oz, facing two Pixies back to back. But unlike his history with Enho, Terutsuyoshi has never taken a match from Toyonoshima.

Kaisei vs Enho – An injured Enho vs over 400 pounds of hairy Brazilian. I know the fans love this sort of thing, but I just want Enho to emerge in one piece. Truth be told, big men like Kaisei are especially susceptible to Enho’s speed and maneuver based attacks. Kaisei is literally twice Enho’s size. -lksumo

Tochiozan vs Chiyomaru – I am sure that Tochiozan is very disappointed in his day 1 display or ring rust, but he can make up for it with a strong showing against the bulbous Chiyomaru on day 2. ‘Maru has only beaten him once: Hatsu 2018. Chiyomaru will probably go for a pull down, and as long as Tochiozan can keep his feet, he should prevail.

Sadanoumi vs Kagayaki – Sadanoumi also looked especially rusty day 1, while Kagayaki surprised me with his reactions, his confidence and his ability to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. After a lackluster Natsu performance, I am hoping that Kagayaki’s school of sumo fundamentals is back in session.

Kotoeko vs Nishikigi – First ever match between these two, and I think we are going to see Kotoeko try to exploit the fact that Nishikigi’s eyesight is terrible. With Kotoeko’s maneuverability, I would guess we will see him try to stay way from Nishikigi’s front quarter.

Takagenji vs Daishoho – These two have a long running rivalry in the lower ranks, favoring Takagenji. Takagenji managed to secure a very plum rank for his first placement in the top division. Even if he should manage a mild losing record, his chances of being returned to Juryo are quite slim. But today we are going to see these two fight it out, and they typically go at it at close range.

Onosho vs Shohozan – The more times I re-watch Onosho’s day 1 match, the more sloppy it looks to me. Going against Shohozan, Onosho’s defensive footwork will be crucial to him staying competitive in this match.

Okinoumi vs Tomokaze – An odd fact that may be a bit unsettling to long-time sumo fans, but Tomokaze is now Oguruma’s top ranked rikishi. He is drawing Okinoumi early in the basho, while the older veteran rikishi still has some stamina, so this could be a fairly good match. This is their first ever bout.

Chiyotairyu vs Myogiryu – Myogiryu knows this match is all about him keeping his feet when Chiyotairyu’s canon ball tachiai comes roaring through. Myogiryu has won the last 2 of their bouts, so he should be able to absorb the blast if he’s on his sumo.

Shimanoumi vs Takarafuji – Day 1, Shimanoumi completely fell apart at the moment of tachiai. While the result was rather weak, Takarafuji’s technical sumo will require Shimanoumi to execute strongly and with confidence if he hopes to get his first win.

Meisei vs Kotoshogiku – Meisei showed a lot of ring rust day 1, but his lot is no easier day 2, where he faces the veteran Kotoshogiku, who is not yet worn down by daily matches. It will be Kotoshogiku going for the mawashi early, and engaging the hug-n-chug.

Ichinojo vs Daieisho – Ichinojo’s day 1 match was a clear cut disappointment. Is he back to being injured, or did he just go soft when he realized he did not have his body in position to attack? Daieisho will be going for center-mass at the tachiai, but Ichinojo presents quite a lot of mass to effect.

Mitakeumi vs Endo – Leading the day 1 “Derp Sumo” roster would be Mitakeumi, who looked completely distracted in his first loss. Endo will once again have a plan, and it will be really good. Mitakeumi, if he’s in form, can power through most of Endo’s sumo. I am eager to see if Mitakeumi’s day 1 flop has motivated him to come out strong. The two have split their previous 8 bouts. -lksumo

Aoiyama vs Tamawashi – Tamawashi lost traction day 1 on his way to an opening loss. Some of the more energetic footwork may need to be moderated on the slick Nagoya dohyo. I think Aoiyama won’t suffer that problem much, as his sumo usually relies on being enormous, immobile and delivering brutal round-house blows. This pair has met 11 times dating back to 2011, with Aoiyama holding a narrow 6-5 edge, including a victory in May that broke a string of 4 defeats. -lksumo

Goeido vs Abi – As a Komusubi, Abi is going to have a rough first week. Some experts believe that the ancient Jomon people first dug latrines at the edge of their villages, and bestowed the title “Komusubi” on the men tasked to clean them out. In spite of his day 1 loss, Goeido looked fairly good.

Shodai vs Tochinoshin – Tochinoshin needs to keep Shodai immobilized. Once that guy starts moving around the dohyo, all manner of chaotic things tend to happen to his opponents. I am sure Shodai took a good look at the Ozeki’s day 1 loss, and will possibly try some variation of Endo’s insightful opening mae-mitsu gambit. Like Endo, Shodai has been a tough matchup for the Ozeki, winning half of their dozen previous bouts, including 4 of the last 5. -lksumo

Ryuden vs Takayasu – Long time fans of Takayasu, myself included, are waiting for a sign that his sumo is headed to the next level. It may never come, but if it does, I think it will take the form of him going 7-0 in the first week. Ryuden comes in with a 2-1 career advantage, and some of his best sumo to date. Fun fact: the first of their 3 career meetings took place exactly 10 years ago, at Nagoya 2009, in low Makushita. -lksumo

Kakuryu vs Hokutofuji – Hokutofuji specializes in making his opponents back up. Kakuryu specializes in making his opponents over-commit. What the hell is going to happen here? I think whatever it is, it will be quick. The Yokozuna needs to resist the temptation to pull if he does not want to open Nagoya 1-1. Hokutofuji does have one kinboshi to show for their 4 prior meetings. -lksumo

Asanoyama vs Hakuho – Asanoyama showed day 1 that he is not intimidated to have a big match. But now it’s time to see if Hakuho did more to his head than just give Asanoyama a concussion. The real risk here is injury to Hakuho, as his ego is likely to demand that he not just beat Asanoyama, but possibly toss in some light humiliation. While such sumo accessories may have been easy to execute in his younger days, Hakuho may not appreciate Asanoyama’s stability and strength, as this is their first actual honbasho match.

Natsu Day 9 Preview

As lksumo has pointed out, the day 8 results have thrown what had been a fairly orderly basho into chaos. I love it. In addition to defeats of both yusho race leaders, we seem to have a possible re-kyujo of shin-ozeki Takakeisho. I can almost guarantee that the YDC is going to complain about it should he re-kyujo. To some extent, they have a point. Stay off the dohyo unless you are fit to compete. I give Takakeisho a lot of latitude myself, as he is young and has a foreshortened sense of the long road that could be / should be ahead of him. Should he decide he is out for good, Tochinoshin would get the fusen-sho white star, and his kachi-koshi by default win.

There are 3 leaders now in the Makuuchi yusho arasoi, each one of them is far from invincible, and everyone knows that. This makes the week 2 matches against the Ozeki and Yokozuna that much more meaningful, as any of them, or all of them, could be taken down again. For Goeido and Takayasu, they are still walking a narrow path to their 8, but each needs just 3 more wins to avoid kadoban. For Takayasu, I forsee trouble on day 9.

Natsu Leaderboard

Are you ready for this? Because this is how nuts it became.

Leaders: Kakuryu, Tochinoshin, Asanoyama
Chaser: Abi, Ryuden, Enho, Kotoeko
Hunt Group: Goeido, Takayasu, Mitakeumi, Shodai, Shohozan, Tochiozan, Daishoho

7 Matches Remain

The first reader who dares to comment “Shodai Yusho!” Is going to be fined 1000 Genki points.

What We Are Watching Day 9

Toyonoshima vs Enho – Sumo fans can’t get enough Enho, myself included. Veteran Toyonoshima has yet to beat him, so we may see more pixie magic on Monday.

Chiyomaru vs Terutsuyoshi – Enho’s day 8 match makes a good template for a small guy to tie someone like Chiyomaru in knots, so let’s see if Terutsuyoshi can enact a similar battle plan. Just don’t slow down, don’t stand still and never be in any one spot for more than 1 second.

Ishiura vs Yago – Ishiura is trying to copy some of Enho’s fire, but he’s still a work in progress. Yago is a giant who packs a lot of power but is not capable of rapid lateral motion. He’s leagues better than Chiyomaru, but it should be possible to keep Yago from getting too stable on his feet, and use that to divert his own energy into Ishiura’s offensive moves.

Kotoeko vs Tochiozan – I am really looking forward to this match, as they are basically the same guy (much like Ikioi and Ryuden) about 5 years apart. That 5 year gap leaves Kotoeko employing a lot of frantic energy, and Tochiozan employing a lot of guile and cunning. Kotoeko won their only prior meeting.

Shodai vs Kagayaki – Whatever is plaguing Kagayaki is not easing up, and if Shodai can continue to put that much energy into his post-tachiai sumo, it’s going to be a fun match. I am sure Kagayaki will consult his mental catalog of great sumo, and then Shodai will unleash some sort of strong random stuff and leave Mr Fundamentals stumped. Shodai leads their career series 3-1.

Onosho vs Yoshikaze – I can only imagine that Onosho re-watched that match with Meisei in slow motion a few dozen times, each time wondering what he could have done differently to prevent that whole attack from blowing up in his face. Shake it off Jr Tadpole! You have to face a faltering Yoshikaze on day 9. This match makes me sad on many levels.

Takarafuji vs Nishikigi – Let me guess, Nishikigi lets Takarafuji get morozashi, then pins his arms and uses that to push Takarafuji around like a hand truck.

Asanoyama vs Ryuden – Yusho co-leader Asanoyama faces shin-Ikioi in the first match of the second half. Asanoyama has lost the last 5 consecutive matches to Ryuden. But I don’t think I have seen Asanoyama in better form, ever. These guys are going to be joi-jin mainstays next year, I would guess. So let’s hope this turns into a great sumo rivalry.

Tamawashi vs Daieisho – After putting dirt on the lone surviving Yokozuna, it’s time for Tamawashi to patrol the upper Maegashira ranks. He holds a 5-2 advantage over Daieisho, so I am starting to wonder if we might see Tamawashi kachi-koshi and possibly a candidate for san’yaku yet again.

Endo vs Chiyotairyu – Chiyotairyu is in a pretty deep hole, and I want him to rally starting day 9 and press hard. Endo can execute amazing technical sumo as we saw on day 8, but sometimes there is no remedy for 400 pounds of high-energy rikishi on a collision course.

Hokutofuji vs Mitakeumi – In spite of what you may assume, they are fairly evenly matched with a 5-4 career advantage for Mitakeumi. Hokutofuji is still a bit hit-or-miss with his sumo, so I am going to assume that if the gyoji can keep out of the way, we will see Mitakeumi inch closer to his 8th.

Aoiyama vs Kotoshogiku – Both of these men are in a deep hole in terms of win/loss, but frankly I would rather see Kotoshogiku make it to kachi-koshi right now. Give the old guy one more run at the top as a way to say thank you for being one of the best in a generation.

Goeido vs Abi – I am going to state that this match is going to be over quickly. If Goeido can get a proper launch off, it’s going to be unlikely for Abi to stop his forward pressure. This is why I think we will see at least one matta, to help dither Goeido’s timing.

Takakeisho vs Tochinoshin – I am going to assume this one won’t happen. The story is all over the Japanese press that Takakeisho will return to kyujo status, but no official word from the NHK as of right now. But if it does happen, I think we are going to see Tochinoshin struggle to land a grip, and Takakeisho possibly blow out his knee, joining Ura on the “could have been” list of sumo. Update: NHK has announced the withdrawal. -lksumo https://www3.nhk.or.jp/news/html/20190520/k10011922041000.html

Myogiryu vs Takayasu – You might think “Maegashira 5 vs Ozeki, this is a gimme”. Well, Takayasu has a 7-11 Myogiryu deficit. Granted, all of their recent meetings have been all Takayasu, but we know for certain that Myogiryu knows how to beat him. Takayasu needs 3 more to pick up his kachi-koshi.

Okinoumi vs Kakuryu – Yokozuna Kakuryu’s day 8 loss has punctured the illusion of superior invincibility that tends to surround sumo’s Yokozuna. With that mental barrier broken (both in Kakuryu’s mind and the mind of the rest of his opponents), the chances of his tasting clay again have gone up. Okinoumi is only in fair condition this basho, so I am not looking for him to produce an upset on day 9.