Hatsu Day 5 Preview

Kisenosato Worried

Day 4 was a fantastic day of sumo, the kind of day that makes a sumo fan wish they could see the entire 2 hour makuuchi broadcast. Perhaps one day? We can always dream.

Hakuho seems to have injured himself once more, and I would guess will push to go kyujo. Terunofuji’s medical slip for his kyujo recommends 1 week rest, implying that we could see him again in week 2 making a desperate bid to save himself from a demotion to juryo. With his health more or less out of control at this point, Terunofuji is a long way from his earlier Ozeki self.

Day 5 brings a close to the first act of Hatsu. Readers may recall that I divide the 15 day basho into three distinct 5 day arcs, as they always seem to form a pattern. The first act being where everyone shakes off the dust and settles into their “full power” sumo, and we get to see who is hot and who is not. Act two are where hopes get smashed and dreams get crushed. It’s also where we start to track the leaders, and look into the race for the Emperor’s cup. The second act contains the all important middle weekend, where the scheduling team usually tries to narrow the field through exciting matches between rikishi with strong winning records.

What We Are Watching Day 5

Kyokutaisei vs Asanoyama – Kyokutaisei comes up from Juryo to fill the empty slot left by Terunofuji. He faces an undefeated Asanoyama, who is looking very solid so far. Is it just me, or is Maegashira 12-17 really turning in some great sumo this basho? I know we talk about the tadpoles a lot (with good reason) but this class of rikishi really seem to be doing well, and dare I say it, having a lot of fun? Is sumo allowed to be fun?

Ishiura vs Ryuden – Ishiura hit the clay on day 4 in a surprising loss to Nishikigi, but day 5 he gets Ryuden, who in spite of his 1-3 record seems to be eager to battle each time on the dohyo. I am sure that Ryuden wants to stay in Makuuchi, so I expect him to dial up the intensity starting now.

Abi vs Kagayaki – Oh yes please! Abi seems capable of surprising any opponent thus far, where Kagayaki is sort of Kisenosato 2.0, steady, focused, straight ahead sumo with a lot of power behind it. Sure, Kagayaki is young and is not at Kisenosato skill or strength levels yet. Abi however, seems to be surprisingly adaptive, and fast on his feet. Could be a great match.

Kotoyuki vs Sokokurai – Kotoyuki has quietly put together a 3-1 record to start the basho. During his tour of Juryo in 2017, he was a mess. He seemed to constantly be injured and on a knife edge of further demotion. Now he is back in Makuuchi, and actually doing well enough. He faces the Kyushu Juryo Yusho winner, Sokokurai, who seems to be more than a little overwhelmed. Their career 7-1 record favors Kotoyuki.

Shohozan vs Chiyomaru – Big Guns Shohozan takes on the incredibly large Chiyomaru. I am sure that Shohozan can and possibly will squat press Chiyomaru, but with both of these men at 3-1, the workout is more likely to be blistering tsuppari with a side of uwatenage.

Okinoumi vs Endo – Okinoumi Seems to be in good enough physical condition, but thus far he has not quite been able to get his sumo to click. Fans may remember Nagoya 2016, where Okinoumi ripped up the San’yaku battle fleet before his injuries turned him into a cuddly petting zoo refugee. Endo on the other hand is cranked up and pushing higher for Osaka. They are evenly matched, with a career record of 5-4 slightly favoring Endo.

Shodai vs Ichinojo – Two giant, somewhat puffy and bloated men in blue mawashi. One is a bit slow and clumsy, and the other is frequently struggling to execute a decent tachiai. I have no clue what will happen here, but whatever it is, it will happen slowly.

Takakeisho vs Onosho – Yeah, let’s put the two angriest tadpoles in a bucket and let them battle! An idea so magical, it could result in a fantastic match. These two are actually real life friends, and have been working through sumo together for quite some time. But both are fierce competitors. I would give a slight advantage to Takakeisho, as he seems to be more “dialed in” right now.

Mitakeumi vs Tamawashi – Sekiwake fight! Tamawashi, who used to hold the East slot, takes his Oshi offense to the face and bulbous thorax of Mitakeumi, who has no intention of letting Tamawashi smudge his flawless 4-0 record. Mitakeumi holds an 8-2 career advantage.

Hokutofuji vs Takayasu – Forgive me, Takayasu fans, but I might make you mad. I think Takayasu has lost touch with the core of his sumo. His Tochinoshin match of day 4 was full of mistakes, and I think he really needs to focus on his fundamentals, which when he works in them, are outstanding. Hokutofuji comes in with a 1-3 record, but he’s been on a steady diet of Yokozuna sumo, and surviving fairly well. In fact, Takayasu has NEVER beaten Hokutofuji. Good grief.

Goeido vs Tochinoshin – Gut check time for Goeido! He knows he can’t go chest to chest with this beast of a man, so he’s got to stay mobile. When he does that, he tends to try and pull, and when he does that, he tends to lose. I will be interested to see if Tochinoshin has Goeido so psyched out that Goeido reverts to his buggy 1.0 software.

Hakuho vs Kotoshogiku – Hakuho has foot problems, and can’t transmit power to ground. I wonder if Kotoshogiku is feeling genki enough for his back bend, now that he dropped his arch-foe Kisenosato. For a healthy Hakuho, this is a straighforward win. But as-is, Kotoshogiku has a fair chance of another Kinboshi.

Kakuryu vs Chiyotairyu – Only really interesting because I am curious to see what Kakuryu does to put the big Sumo Elvis down. Kakuryu is fighting really well this basho, and if he can remain uninjured he will have a fantastic and convincing return to active status.

Yoshikaze vs Kisenosato – Even though Yoshikaze defeated Hakuho on Day 4, he still looks about a fraction of his normal self. Kisenosato has been high and unable to generate any arm strength on his go-to weapon, his left hand. Fair chance of another Yoshikaze kinboshi today.

Kyushu Day 9 Highlights

Kisenosato-Dohyo-Iri-Kyushu-Day-1

Let’s start with this – what on earth is Kisenosato doing? I do love some “Great Pumpkin” sumo, especially this close to Halloween, but he is fighting at mid-Maegashira level now. He certainly should not be out there as a Yokozuna, and I am sure that the Sumo Kyokai and the YDC are in an uproar that he returned to the dohyo well ahead of his full recovery. Last night prior to my US bed time, I was scanning all of the “usual sources” looking for the expected announcement that Kisenosato had withdrawn from the Kyushu basho with <insert malady here>. None came. I would guess that he is being counseled otherwise tonight.

In the race to catch Hakuho, all of the rikishi going in today one loss behind each went down to defeat, leaving “The Boss” out in front of everyone, undefeated, and with a 2 win lead starting the second week.

Highlight Matches

Kotoyuki defeats Okinoumi – Okinoumi has been on a winning streak, and it was a bit of a surprise to see Kotoyuki take control of this match and lead Okinoumi to his demise. People with skill in predictions have already been forecasting Kotoyuki’s return to Juryo for Hatsu, but perhaps he can in fact rally and stay in the top division.

Asanoyama defeats Nishikigi – The happy sumotori gave Nishikigi a solid fight right from the tachiai. Both men battled to the tawara where Nishikigi started the throw, but Asanoyama finished it. Asanoyama is not quite as genki as he was at Aki, but he still has some room to recover.

Takekaze defeats Aoiyama – Aoiyama needs every win he can squeeze from the remainder of the Kyushu basho. Getting off balance around Takekaze is a recipe for a loss, as Takekaze is experienced enough to make you pay.

Myogiryu defeats Ikioi – Ikioi gives up the inside grip in spite of clearly being a step ahead at the tachiai. Myogiryu is looking quite genki this basho – maybe he is back to his old self? Flagging Ikioi needs to pull himself together. I am going to assign this as another casualty of the intense jungyo schedule.

Daieisho defeats Aminishiki – Now that the push-me-pull-you pattern has run its course, Aminishiki is struggling to dominate matches. We all love uncle sumo, but the reality is he has damaged legs and there are limits to what he can do in a power battle with a young rikishi.

Chiyomaru defeats Kagayaki – Kagayaki clearly owns the start of this match, but Chiyomaru keeps giving ground, and Kagayaki is all too happy to chase him around the dohyo. This, of course, is a mistake as he gets his balance too far forward, and Chiyomaru pulls him down.

Kaisei defeats Shodai – Fairly good mawashi battle from these two, Shodai gave it everything he had and established moro-zashi almost right away. However, the massive Brazilian kept his defense solid. The match ended with a throw attempt at the tawara that Kaisei thought he lost, but Shodai touched down a split second earlier.

Endo defeats Tochinoshin – It was Endo from the start. I am going to guess that Tochinoshin’s knee is bothering him greatly, and he is unable to push against it with his massive strength.

Daishomaru defeats Ichinojo – The great boulder of Mongolia was not dialed in today, and Daishomaru got him high and out before he could gather his moss and recover. A bit surprising given how solid Ichinojo has been for the first 8 days. Hopefully, Minato Oyakata switches him back to Frosted Flakes, as the Count Chocula makes him seize up and idle rough.

Hokutofuji defeats Chiyoshoma – There was some naughty business just after a matta, with Chiyoshoma putting an extra “post matta” thrust into Hokutofuji’s face. Matta, matta again. On attempt 4 they get a successful launch, and with Hokutofuji now completely pissed off he blasted Chiyoshoma straight back and out.

Tochiozan defeats Arawashi – Now that he has his make-koshi secure, Tochiozan decides to win one. It’s clear that Tochiozan’s left knee can barely support doing sumo. The first match ended with both men touching down / out together, so a torinaoshi was called.

Chiyotairyu defeats Shohozan – “Sumo Elvis” takes down local favorite Shohozan in this mawashi match. Both men prefer to win by bludgeoning their opponents to victory, but for some reason, they decided to go chest to chest. Solid match, and with any luck, we are seeing a shift in Chiyotairyu’s strategy.

Onosho defeats Takakeisho – Onosho’s magic red mawashi is doing its job and seems to have reversed his fortune. For today Takakeisho got gravely off balance, and Onosho swung to the side and put him on the clay. So help me, the kimarite looked like a dog groomer trimming a collie. But it’s a win, and Onosho needs them.

Tamawashi defeats Kotoshogiku – Kotoshogiku launches out of the tachiai and applies maximum pressure, but Tamawashi was able to pull out a kotenage at the edge. From the crowd reaction, they thought that local favorite, Kotoshogiku, had prevailed.

Takayasu defeats Mitakeumi – A messy, crazy match. They both opened with tsuppari, but Takayasu tried to go chest to chest. Mitakeumi wanted no part of that (Was it the Rolling Stones that sang “I’m Not Your Teppo Pole?”) and Mitakeumi danced away from Takayasu’s embrace. This unrequited invitation to support his burly bulk seemed to drive Takayasu into a rage and he chased down a now fleeing Mitakeumi and drove him to the clay.

Goeido defeats Yoshikaze – Yoshikaze dominated this match, but kept overcommitting to each attack. Goeido worked to just stay on his feet and stay inside, waiting. His persistence was rewarded with Yoshikaze put himself off balanced and Goeido was able to flick him out with minimal effort. Very sloppy match that Yoshikaze should have won.

Hakuho defeats Chiyonokuni – I am not sure anyone can stop Hakuho if he remains uninjured, and it was certainly not going to be this form of Chiyonokuni. I am surprised to see Hakuho go for the mini-Henka two days in a row. Perhaps he is bored and wants to see how many times he can deploy it before his opponents get wise.

Takarafuji defeats Kisenosato – I am sure they gave Kisenosato a solid but middling Maegashira 5 in order to define just how poorly he is doing. The answer is – quite poorly. I love some Takarafuji in the mornings, yes I do. But Kisenosato should have been able to bag and tag this guy in the blink of an eye. Instead, the match raged on as a mighty yotsu battle that saw Kisenosato take Takarafuji to the edge and run out of gas. Go kyujo, Great Pumpkin. High marks for your enthusiasm to return to competition, but you are not quite ready yet. You and Takayasu need to spend a couple of months hulking out again.

Kyushu Midpoint – Comments And Thoughts

It Was The Dog

As frequent readers will have noticed, several of our newer contributors are continuing to post amazing content to the site, and I am enjoying it so much, I have stepped back a bit and let them run. Though the Harumafuji scandal personally makes me rather sad, it turned into absolute blockbuster readership for Tachiai, and I would like to extend my thanks and welcome to all new readers.

We are now at the half way point of Kyushu, and a handful of rikishi are worthy of discussion. Let’s start at the top.

Hakuho – Clearly he is primed for yusho #40, and it’s now his to lose. True, he has his toughest opponents ahead, but right now he is dominating each and every match with his typical polished ease.

Kisenosato – As we guessed, he is back at least one basho too early. He has not really had a lot of sparring practice, and he is seriously at risk of going make-koshi at this time. The NSK did admonish him to wait and return only when he was ready to deliver Yokozuna grade sumo. Right now he is closer to upper Maegashira. I would rate him at only 70% of pre-injury Kisenosato, but I think he can get closer to 90% by Hatsu. It all comes down to returning to a maniacal training regimen with Takayasu, who is also in need.

Harumafuji – The story is becoming more convoluted as time marches on. Our earlier predictions that it might in fact be less sinister than original reports now look like they could pan out, and there is going to be a large amount of splatter that hits many parties involved in this. While things are not active (aside from the investigation moving forward), be aware that unless it’s a dire emergency, the NSK will leave further action until after the Kyushu basho is complete.

Kakuryu – One has to wonder if his involvement in the Takanoiwa incident may have played a role in his decision to sit out Kyushu.

Goeido – He continues to struggle with his identity. When he attacks with vigor, he wins; when he lets the other rikishi set the tone and tempo of the bout, he most likely loses. This is the gap that Goeido must cross if he would ever wish to stake a claim to his own tsuna. Until then, his fans have to hope that he stays true to his 2.0 self and remembers to attack and drive forward.

Takayasu – He’s going to clear kadoban, it’s fairly certain, but he’s only about 85% of his pre-injury self. So my prescription for him is to get cozy with his water bag, battle Kisenosato daily post-basho, and to sleep against his favorite, most comfortable teppo pole until new-years. I am sure your deshi will bring you KFC at Christmas (If not, let me know and I will fly over and get it for you), so revert to your gym-rat ways and go crazy again.

Mitakeumi – That toe is clearly giving him fits, and he may go kyujo once he gets his 8. Not really too much awesome from him this time, we just need him to heal up and come back at Hatsu like the future Ozeki he is.

Yoshikaze – Hot or cold with the Berserker. Thus far more cold than hot, and we have to hope he can cobble together his 8 before next Sunday.

Kotoshogiku – Komusubi is a tough rank, you get to give a lot of wins to the upper San’yaku, and Kotoshogiku is living that now. He stays in good cheer, and gives it his all each day, but his all is now painful and stiff, and possibly covered with ben-gay.

Onosho – Hey, don’t sweat this basho, kid. Komusubi is ancient Yayoi for “punching bag with legs”, it’s part of the welcome to being a serious sumotori, so have some fun with it. Consider using the Ishiura defense as chicks dig the loose mawashi, and play up the fact you look like a hippy-hop ball, possibly by commissioning your own line of plush figures. Also, try to get your weight centered over your feet, everyone knows you lean in hard, and they are now dialed into the fact you are not a weeble (as in, you do fall down).

Tamawashi – he wants back in san’yaku in a big way. He’s going to take your chanko and make you watch him eat it. Only possible defense might be to chase him away with a beer bottle. (Too soon?) [Yes. –PinkMawashi]

Takakeisho – This tadpole is having a great basho, if he can stay healthy he is going to be part of what pressures some of the old guys to hit intai. He’s shown surprising strength and fighting form against rikishi that intimidate his peers. He seems to not pay much mind to any of it, and just focuses on winning.

Hokutofuji – After a weak showing at Aki (most likely due to injuries), Kaio’s doppleganger is hell on wheels so far in Kyushu. He is showing fantastic sumo, and a fearless will to always drive forward. Should he manage to become more consistent and more efficient in his sumo, he could become a San’yaku mainstay.

Ichinojo – He is large, and I always say that being enormous is not an actual sumo strategy.  But when you are his size, if you get genki and can bring some actual sumo chops to a match, there is little that can stop you. Too early to say that he’s turned a corner, but it’s great to not cringe when you see him mount the dohyo.

Arawashi – While it’s not widely discussed, Arawashi was secretly upgraded by Elon Musk, and is now completely Tesla powered. This makes him not only a foreign born rikishi, but the first cyborg rikishi as well. Please be aware the NSK wants only one controversy at a time, so for the duration no one is talking about it (except your plucky crew at Tachiai).

Okinoumi – This guy has a persistent abdominal injury that can’t be healed, it can only be surgically repaired. When they do, his sumo career is probably over. So he muddles on and does the best he can, usually in varying degrees of pain ranging from “dear god, why?” to “kill me now”. So when you see him 6-1 after the first week, you have to feel happy for the man.

Aminishiki – Why not close out the list with Uncle Sumo? What a triumphant return to Makuuchi for a man who does not give up until he wants to. This guy is showing us sumo that is borderline magical in its efficiency and simplicity. Thank you for holding on to your dream sir, we should all consider following your example.

Day 7 – Redemption Will Wait

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I want a shot at redemption
Don’t want to end up a cartoon
In a cartoon graveyard

Paul Simon

The basho is turning wackier, with only Hakuho anchoring it at the moment.

Let’s start from the end this time. Hokutofuji grabs his third kinboshi, from the kinboshi dispenser that Kisenosato is proving to be. He takes a different tactic than Takakeisho and Shohozan, and combines nodowa with a right ottsuke which doesn’t allow the Yokozuna to get a left-hand grip.

I would expect the Yokozuna to just rely on his right hand, but he seems to be baffled and lost, and after a few dances around the dohyo Hokutofuji sends him out. Third loss for Kisenosato, and the sigh of relief from his fans yesterday seems to have been premature.

He is in an interesting position if he wants to go kyujo, though. You don’t just decide that you don’t want to participate. You have to hand in a medical certificate. And with the storm brewing around Takanoiwa’s medical certificate, the Kyokai is going to be checking that the certificates it gets are genuine. If he hands in a certificate regarding the state of his left arm and chest, he’ll probably have to abide by whatever the doctors recommend for it, and I doubt that it will just be “two weeks rest”.

In the penultimate match, we have our only reliable yokozuna keeping his finger in the dike. Onosho said after the two trained together, that “the training was a valuable lesson for him to win their real bout”. I think he meant it, because he actually prevented Hakuho from getting any sort of grip on either his mawashi or his body. So Hakuho switched to plan B, sidestepped and handed Onosho his second tsukiotoshi of the basho. So in fact Onosho’s only win so far is against “Guilty Feet Have Got No Rhythm” Harumafuji on day 1.

Goeido‘s match with Shohozan seems to have been a replay of yesterday’s match with Chiyotairyu. Shohozan takes the initiative, and Goeido just reacts and retreats, and can’t find a way to attack. This is his second loss, he drops out of the chaser list. Also, he wanted to redeem himself for the last basho, and that redemption will be really hard to achieve now, because he really needs to do superb sumo from now on to make himself look like an Ozeki again, much less a candidate for a rope-run.

Takayasu, on the other hand, having made no vows, maintains a cool head after his losses. He takes Chiyonokuni‘s belt right from the tachiai. Chiyonokuni manages to escape the grip and plans to launch one of his cat-bat flurries, but he is too close to the edge and Takayasu gets him out before he can do anything. Takayasu needs to scrape three more wins to clear his kadoban, and with only one Yokozuna and one Ozeki to face in the second week, has a very good chance of doing so.

The Kotoshogiku vs. Yoshikaze bout starts well for old Giku, although Yoshikaze denies him the hips. But it seems that Kotoshogiku doesn’t have enough stamina and simply loses power after holding Yoshikaze against the tawara for a few seconds. Yoshikaze takes advantage and runs Kotoshogiku to the other side of the ring.

Tamawashi runs all over Mitakeumi. It seems Mitakeumi doesn’t even know what hit him.

I didn’t like the Takakeisho we saw today. It was too much like his old self, which may mean he is developing a Goeido-like tendency for version-flipping. Chiyotairyu attacks and attacks, only to have Takakeisho sidestep and hand him the tsukiotoshi. Well, Takakeisho can always say that he didn’t do anything that Hakuho didn’t do.

Ichinojo seems to have decided to go as Aminishiki today. Only, being about two times as thick as Aminishiki, he can’t move sideways fast enough, and Tochiozan‘s grabbed head simply meets his torso. Oops. But this basho Ichinojo thinks fast on his feet, and he manages to recover and push his opponent. Yet another win for the boulder. Tomorrow he faces the ailing Yokozuna, which is going to be a challenge for him, as he is not the kind of oshi man that Hokutofuji or Takakeisho are. Anyway, go go bridge abutment!

I don’t know exactly how, but Takarafuji actually managed a worse tachiai than Shodai. It seems he can’t win on days Aminishiki wins. Problem is, of course, that Aminishiki wins a lot. Shodai pushes him all the way out, and today Isegahama has only Aminishiki and Terutsuyoshi to look to… wait a minute, you really have to see this:

Terutsuyoshi faces the hitherto undefeated Sokokurai. The bout ends pretty quickly, only… they touch the ground at the same time. Then there are two whole minutes of monoii. And a torinaoshi.

But it is well worth the wait, because what follows is really, really exciting sumo. Kudos to both Terutsuyoshi and Sokokurai, to whom I apologized for the jinx of mentioning yesterday that he was undefeated.

OK, so this was more than a minute. More like 8 minutes (unless you were smart and skipped the monoii). We now go back to our scheduled programming.

Arawashi doesn’t waste much time in his match with Daishomaru. Unlike yesterday’s annoying henka, he gets right into a belt grip and pushes Daishomaru all the way to the other side. Quick and clean, and he keeps himself in the chaser group.

Chiyoshoma is disappointed again today. He manages to get a good grip on Endo and tries a suso-harai. Failing that he loses that shallow grip and his balance with it.

Daieisho tries a tsuppari attack against Tochinoshin. But the Georgian pays no attention, and gets him where he wants him – in a strong mawashi grip. From then there’s only one way for Daieisho, and that’s out.

It’s the seventh day. Seven is an odd number, and on odd days, Chiyomaru loses. Like clockwork. What is that slow, weak tachiai supposed to mean? Kaisei takes the gift and says thank you very much.

Ikioi seemed to have the upper hand in his bout with Okinoumi. But eventually, both fell down, nearly the same time, the shimpan had to consult amongst themselves before awarding Okinoumi the white star.

What’s up with Asanoyama? Where is the strong sumo we saw yesterday? Or is he only capable of executing that against feeble old men? Myogiryu sails forward easily and picks his fourth win.

I’d like to say that Kagayaki wins when he doesn’t do his Kermit Flail. But, well, this was basically a fluke. He did almost get Nishikigi in a kotonage, but then Nishikigi grabbed a hold of his hand – maybe with a tottari in mind, and dragged him to the other side, but then both fell, and unfortunately for Nishikigi, he fell first.

We’re down to the geriatric battle of the day. I’ve been waiting for this bout since the results of Aki became known, but it was a little too short for pleasure. Takekaze is on his way to Juryo, or to intai, and if Aminishiki wasn’t older than he, I’d berate him for harassing the elderly. The tachiai commences with a coconut clash, which seems to bother Uncle not at all. And then he did his push-me-pull-you trick and rolled the Oguruma man like a die.

That’s it, other than Kotoyuki quickly giving Daiamami another black star, though both will probably see each other in Juryo in Hatsu.

Leaders

Our Supreme Leader, Father Of Phoenixes, Ruler of Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya and Fukuoka, King Of Kings, Hakuho Sho.

Chasers

Hokutofuji (M3)
Ichinojo (M4)
Arawashi (M5)
Okinoumi (M12)
Aminishiki (M13)

Not a single member of the sanyaku in this list!


As you know, I follow Naruto beya. So here is Torakio trying to break a world record in matta. Be that as it may, the Bulgarian is kachi-koshi, 4-0, and who knows, may have his eyes on the jonidan yusho.

Day 6 – There Can Be Only One

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Another day at the office

Day 6 leaves us with only one man having any mathematical possibility of a zensho-yusho. Of course, the basho is still in early days, and the king may lose his crown yet, but at the moment, Hakuho reigns supreme.

But he is not the only sekitori with a clean, white score sheet. Down in Juryo, there is another man who is 6-0. The name may sound familiar: he’s a former chicken farmer, the only Chinese national on the banzuke. I give you Sokokurai!

Today the Inner-Mongolian had a match with the other all-win Juryo man, young Abi. Abi was all over the veteran, with his signature quick moves, but Sokokurai secured first a left-hand belt grip, then a morozashi, and showed Abi the way out with an okuridashi.

While we are in Juryo, want to see a beautiful kakenage? Here is the bout between Yutakayama and Kyokutaisei:

And now, how about a wardrobe malfunction, featuring, unsurprisingly, Ishiura messing around with a mawashi knot?

The way it looks, one of the shimpan must have informed the gyoji that the knot was untied, as he wasn’t in an angle to see it. So Ryuden – whom I must have jinxed yesterday in my comments about his standing among obasan – was lucky to lose by shitatenage rather than by exposure of manhood.

BTW, is it only me, or did Ishiura take advantage of the situation to improve his hold on the knot?

My advice to sekitori who are assigned to Ishiura: get your tsukebito to sew your mawashi knot before the bout.

OK, moving on to the Makuuchi, what did we have today?

Nishikigi is showing surprising tenacity, and at this rate, will secure his stay in Makuuchi for yet another basho. His match with Myogiryu was a battle for grips, but as Myogiryu changed his grip that last time, Nishikigi drove him out of the ring. Those grip changes are always risky.

Kagayaki is back to his bad sumo, where he looks more like Kermit the Frog flailing wildly than like a sumo wrestler with effective tsuppari. Kotoyuki says thank you and goodbye.

Asanoyama decided he has to regain his sumo, which is a good thing, but the hapless rival is our favorite Aminishiki, who is now down with the rest of the chasers. I hope he hasn’t damaged good old Uncle Sumo. That throw was all like “You wanted to get back to Makuuchi? Well, let me remind you what Makuuchi is really like”. Very aggressive. But can’t blame him. Aminishiki knows he is playing with the big boys again. Anyway, Asanoyama was on the offensive from the start, and although Aminishiki was the first to securely grab some silk, Asanoyama grabbed some of his own on the same side and performed that decisive uwatenage. Let’s hope Aminishiki returns tomorrow with his sneaky sumo and funny interviews.

Okinoumi certainly looks genki, and Endo didn’t make his bout easy in any way, as he was on the offensive and secured a grip with his right hand. But it was Okinoumi who grabbed his arm for a kotenage at the end.

Day 6 is an even day! And on even days, Chiyomaru brings his sumo to the arena! His match with Ikioi starts with a tsuppari barrage, and then suddenly he goes for a hug. Of course, no way for him to get anywhere close to Ikioi’s mawashi, but he doesn’t need to. He simply pushes the man down for a tsukiotoshi.

Kaisei doesn’t give Daishomaru any room to do anything. This bout was over in a flash, with Kaisei driving the maru in a quick arch to the bales.

Shodai‘s bout with Daieisho is also a matter of seconds. Shodai was simply not there today.

Continuing with the flash bouts, Chiyoshoma and Arawashi was supposed to be a lovely bout, but here is one henka I could certainly do without. The Japanese announcer: “It was disappointing sumo today”.

Curiously, now that Aminishiki has lost, it seems like everybody else in Isegahama finally started to win. I checked, and Homarefuji and even poor Terutsuyoshi who was winless until today won. And they are joined by Takarafuji, who unbelievably wins a tsuppari battle with Chiyonokuni.

Ichinojo bounces back from yesterday’s loss. Well, not “bounces”. More like “rises ponderously”. It’s a battle between his weight and patience and Tochinoshin‘s strength. Tochinoshin is the first to secure two hands on Ichinojo’s mawashi, although one of them is at the front. Ichinojo manages to undo that grip, and eventually they settle into a standard migi-yotsu, and Tochinoshin tries to lift the boulder. Um, no. With all due respect, nobody can lift that thing. And after he wastes his energy on this attempt, Ichinojo starts pushing him all the way to a plain and simple yori-kiri. I’m glad Tochinoshin did not cause further harm to his knee in that attempt, but go, go Mongolian boulder!

Hokutofuji continues to impress. He keeps his pelvis miles from Kotoshogiku‘s, pushes forward, then retreats fast and pulls the Komusubi down. Kotoshogiku is going to drop back down to Maegashira at this rate.

Tamawashi goes on a slapping match with Yoshikaze. But the elderly sekiwake is not what he used to be. Tamawashi gets him overcommitted and pushes him down.

Even Mitakeumi got the memo: Onosho can be easily beaten if you get him to charge at you like a billy-goat. So they get forwards and backwards a few time, and then Mitakeumi make a fast retreat, and hands Onosho yet another hatakikomi. Sad. In the last basho Onosho said that he learned what his weak points were and he’ll work on them, but I guess he was thinking about different weak points. That man also seems to be heading back to maegashira, unless he learns the art of footwork fast. Mitakeumi, on the other hand, despite his injury, is sailing through quite nicely and is looking to maintain his sekiwake position easily.

Goeido booted up in the wrong mode today. He didn’t really engage Chiyotairyu. He was reactive. And eventually, he lost his balance. Chiyotairyu is probably surprised that he managed to scrape a white star off of the hitherto undefeated Ozeki, and without even breaking much sweat. The Ozeki also drops off the leader list, and joins the legion who will now have to wait for the Dai-Yokozuna to make a mistake.

Takayasu, however, drops even further, with his second loss of the bout. He was actually initiating a strong tsuppari, but he didn’t seem to realize that Takakeisho is a newer model from the same locomotive factory where he himself was manufactured. The Ozeki found himself further away from the center than he wanted, and got pushed out decisively.

And finally we get actual Yokozuna sumo from Kisenosato. This one was decisive and dominant, despite the fact that Tochiozan had him in a Morozashi for a couple of seconds. And did my eyes decieve me or did Kisenosato use his left side to twist Tochiozan back for the tsukiotoshi? More of this, please, Kisenosato. We are low on Yokozuna right now!

Finally, another wonderful textbook uwatenage from the Lord Of The Ring, Hakuho. Tachiai. Slap. Quick migi-yotsu. Drag to the tawara. Then perform the throw. And as both bodies were already on a trajectory, the Yokozuna deftly lifts his left leg and gives Shohozan a little more torque to ensure that he falls down first. Again, a work of art.

The leader list:

only one man. The almighty Hakuho.

The chaser list:

Goeido (O)
Mitakeumi (S)
Hokutofuji (M3)
Ichinojo (M4)
Arawashi (M5)
Okinoumi (M12)
Aminishiki (M13)


For your enjoyment, here are the Taka Twins – with a guest appearance by Enho!

Enho/Takayoshitoshi

Takagenji/Daiseido

Aki Day 14 Preview

sake
Recommended Toolkit For Day 14

Everyone knew that the 2017 Aki basho was going to be a strange animal. With Yokozuna sitting out, Ozeki dropping like flies, and even Maegashira (Ura) getting in on the act. The ranks for Makuuchi were decimated in the style of the old Roman legions. This lack of top end talent has led to a large group of Rikishi with nearly the same score as of the end of day 13. We have seen this phenomenon in Juryo in many of the past several basho. Without the upper San’yaku around to thrash the rank and file, most rikishi are around .500.

Which brings us to the question of the yusho winner’s record. We don’t know who it will be yet, but we know for certain it will be no better than 12-3, and that only happens if Goeido’s is undefeated in his final two matches. It’s perhaps a bit more likely that the final score may be 11-4, or even a dreaded 10-5. Now to be sure, a 10-5 record is a good score in sumo, but keep in mind just how many rikishi who are active in this basho have turned in a 10-5 score. There are even disastrous possibilities that Goeido loses his last 2 matches, and Harumfuji loses one. Many of the 13 (yes, THIRTEEN!) rikishi currently at 8 wins will be at 10 wins by the final day. While the chances have faded for now, the specter of the barnyard brawl / Senshuraku Showdown is still there.

But first all competitors must negotiate a rather treacherous day 14. The scheduling gods have constructed a set of bouts to winnow that field of 13 to a hopefully more manageable number.

Aki Leader board

Goeido needs to win, and needs Harumafuji and Asanoyama to both lose, and he will win the Aki basho. Please note the numbers below are not a parody, but are the actual stats for the yusho race.

Leader – Goeido
Hunt Group – (2) Harumafuji, Asanoyama
Chasers – (13) Yoshikaze, Kotoshogiku, Onosho, Chiyotairyu, Takakeisho, Takarafuji, Takanoiwa, Arawashi, Daieisho, Chiyomaru, Daishomaru, Kaisei, Endo

2 Matches Remain

URGENT NOTIFICATION TO TACHIAI READERS

Please note, due to the special circumstances surrounding this basho and the stakes of day 14, please feel welcome to observe the following Tachiai Yusho Drinking Game:

  1. Get a 330 ml or 750 ml of drinkable sake. I will be using a fine Hakkaisan, myself.
  2. Pour a standard sized cup, if you are in Japan, have someone pour it for you.
  3. These events require a sip from your sake cup:
    1. a matta
    2. a monii
    3. a match with more than 1 wave of banners
    4. Yoshikaze bleeds for any reason
    5. Someone secures their kachi-koshi
  4. These events require you to drain and refill your cup:
    1. a member of the hunt group or chasers loses a match
    2. Someone suffers a mawashi oriented wardrobe malfunction.
    3. A combatant collides with a gyoji, seated or standing
    4. A combatant lands on one of the shimpan
    5. A combatant deploys a henka
    6. A combatant lands on an elderly lady ringside, who seems far too pleased by the event.
  5. These events requires you to drain the sake bottle in one go:
    1. Tochiozan bursts into flames
    2. Someone gets carted off in the big wheelchair
    3. Hakuho suddenly re-enters the basho just to give Goeido a swirly
    4. Kisenosato’s uninjured right leg appears, grafted to Takayasu’s body and begins to do shiko in the hanamichi
    5. Goeido wins the yusho

What We Are Watching Day 14

Okinoumi vs. Takekaze – Loser of the match gets make-koshi. With Okinoumi at M14w, he could end up in Juryo for November.

Chiyonokuni vs. Kaisei – Our favorite badger, Chiyonokuni, goes against a surprisingly and delightfully resurgent Kaisei, who already has his kachi-koshi. Chiyonokuni picks up his kachi-koshi with a win.

Shohozan vs. Chiyomaru – “Big Guns” vs the ever bulbous Chiyomaru, with Shohozan looking to take a win from the lower ranked, higher mass Chiyomaru. A win for Shohozan is his kachi-koshi, but a win for Chiyomaru keeps him in the group 2 losses behind Goeido.

Onosho vs. Asanoyama – You know they are trying to break up Asanoyama’s bid to compete for a possibly yusho match when they match him (Maegashira 16) with Onosho (Maegashira 3). I do know that whatever the outcome, Asanoyama will think he is the luckiest man in the Kokugikan for just getting a chance to compete.

Endo vs Chiyotairyu – Maegashira 14 vs Maegashira 3… Well the M14 is Endo, but this shows just how far the schedulers are going to try and trim that block of 13 (15 total if you count Harumafuji and Asanoyama) down to something smaller. I sure they are worried about nightmare scenarios that would require an 16 rikishi mini-tournament.

Tochinoshin vs. Ishiura – File this one under “The Gurney Is The Reward”, both of these guys need medical attention, and are really in no condition to compete. They both have matching horrible 3-10 records.

Daieisho vs. Kotoshogiku – At this point I want to see Ojisan Kotoshogiku in the big basho barnyard brawl. If you are in the twilight of a pretty interesting career, what better way to spend one of your remaining basho? Another M1 to M11 giant gap “weeding” match. Bottom of the banzuke guys are taking it in the onions today.

Takakeisho vs. Tochiozan – After today’s match between Takakeisho and Goeido, I have no idea what is going to happen to Tochiozan, but I fear possible spontaneous human combustion. Checking sumodb, there are no matches I can find that have ended with that kimarite, but I am sure they would have just called it “hatakikomi” instead.

Arawashi vs. Yoshikaze – Another “weeding” match, this one featuring an 11 rank gap. I am sure both these guys will apply themselves, and this could actually be a really good match. But I am going to guess that Yoshikaze puts the doom on this guy, and keeps pushing for double digit wins.

Takanoiwa vs. Goeido – THE pivotal match. Demon Hunter Takanoiwa, secure in his kachi-koshi, has the yusho race run through his match today. Win, and Takanoiwa has a chance to participate in the big basho barnyard brawl. Lose and he sets up a possible Goeido finish should Harumafuji lose the match following. We have no idea what version of GoeidoOS will boot up on Saturday, but I am guessing his software crew is patching like mad given today’s software faults on the mobility platform.

Mitakeumi vs. Harumafuji – Mitakeumi is still struggling to find the wins to hang onto his Sekiwake position. He might be able to take one from Harumfuji, but it’s clear the Yokozuna has caught the scent of the sake dried to the inside of the Emperor’s cup, and today I saw a fire in his eyes that replaced the weary gloom from earlier this basho. Mitakeumi has it within him to win this one, but he has struggled to tap the fountain of strength and energy that has visited him so easily in past tournaments.

Aki Day 5 Preview

Good-Squishy

As Kintamayama has labeled it, “The Wacky Aki” continues to be outside the ordinary. Sumo has been a static or slowly evolving system for a good many years, and most fans have come to expect a specific and repeating dynamic to hold power during a basho. For at least this basho, those forces are gone, and we are seeing host of new rivalries and dynamics trying to form. As the Tachiai crew has maintained since Aki last year, the lack of a strong menacing Yokozuna corps is the biggest factor that is at play. With your typical Yokozuna taking in 10-13 victories per basho, that’s a whole lot of losses to the lower ranks to absorb. Sumo is, in fact, a zero sum game. For every win, there is a loss. For a rikishi that has 15 wins, there are 15 rikishi with 1 additional loss. Add to that an Ozeki corps that takes 8-11 wins per basho, and you define the strong headwinds any rikishi faces getting movement up the banzuke.

For the Wacky Aki, we have a Yokozuna who is now 2-2, and looking hurt (as was expected), 3 Yokozuna in dry-dock due to injuries, 1 Ozeki injured for at least a month, 1 Ozeki that is in no condition to fight, and 1 Ozeki who seems too worried about maintaining his rank to give battle to even the most middling opponent.

Can we turn our hope to the San’yaku battle fleet, who in the last few basho have stepped up where the Yokozuna and Ozeki crumbled? Between the Sekiwake and Komusubi, there are 3 wins, and 13 losses at the end of day 4. The west side has yet to win a single match, and if it were not for Tamawashi playing through the pain, east would not even have 3.

What is the result? The rank-and-file rikishi are calling the shots, taking the lime light (and rightfully so) and everyone is watching in eager anticipation of fierce competition. The result is a lot of oshi-zumo.

Which brings us to day 5 – This is the final day for what I call the “First Act” of Wacky Aki. After this, everyone needs to pay close attention to who can still scrape together a kachi-koshi, and who has an outright shot at the yusho. Much as it baffles me to say it, the chance of “Kotoshogiku Day” are brighter than I would like them. But starting Friday, all of the tadpoles are going to have to work out their emotions of possibly contending for the Emperor’s Cup. Frankly some of them won’t be able to keep their sumo under control, and may self destruct. Stay tuned, as the warm ups are about over. The middle weekend will, more than possibly any time in the last few years, really sort the wheat from the chaff.

What We Are Watching Day 5

Endo vs. Kotoyuki – Kotoyuki make a return from Juryo to face a resurgent Endo. Kotoyuki has been a long time Makuuchi guy, who simply could not continue to compete with the various injuries he was nursing, but is 3-1 in Juryo 3w, and may very well be able to win his place in the top division this basho. Endo is coming back from surgery, and has not practiced much, but is doing very well at the bottom of the Maegashira banzuke. This could be another solid match like the one Endo turned in day 4.

Daieisho vs. Chiyomaru – Daieisho is still in the unbeaten group that features several tadpoles. He holds a narrow 3-2 advantage over Chiyomaru in his career record, but Chiyomaru has been flagging the basho, and is not looking very energetic.

Takanoiwa vs. Arawashi – Both of these rikishi are fighting well, and have winning records coming to today’s bout. Takanoiwa enters unbeaten, and holds a 7-3 career advantage over Arawashi. But Arawashi’s day 4 win over Chiyoshoma looked particularly nice, and maybe we are going to see some additional outstanding sumo today.

Takarafuji vs. Kagayaki – Takarafuji has been quietly plugging away in the middle of the banzuke, doing very solid sumo (albeit, with no neck whatsoever). I expect him to completely roll Kagayaki, who has been pretty terrible at Aki expect for his drubbing of Takakeisho day 4. Kagayaki won their only prior match-up.

Ichinojo vs. Ikioi – A great and magical event happened on day 4. Chiyonokuni seems to have managed to toggle Ichinojo’s “mode switch” from bridge abutment back to sumo wrestler. With any luck it stayed in the sumo mode and we can see him try to fold Ikioi more than 7 times without using a hydraulic press.

Chiyonokuni vs. Takakeisho – Takakeisho seems to have reverted to some larval form day 4, with his charge-and-retreat sumo that got him taunted by Hakuho at Nagoya. Chiyonokuni will chase him down and give him an atomic wedgie if he tries that today, so I expect some very strong oshi-zumo from these two. Chiyonokuni leads career series 3-1.

Shodai vs. Kotoshogiku – It’s as if an earlier, more genki Kotoshogiku stepped out of a time portal from last year and is running crazy with no healthy Ozeki or Yokozuna to stop him. I anticipate that at the tachiai, Shodai will stand up woodenly and embrace Kotoshogiku, who will immediately apply the hug-n-chug. Thankfully NHK no longer shows us views of Kotoshogiku adjusting the butt-strap on his mawashi.

Tamawashi vs. Tochiozan – Tochiozan, if you were going to make a case for being San’yaku, this was the easy basho to do it. But instead this very capable rikishi is part of that ugly 0-4 crowd. Tamawashi is hurt, but I would give him the advantage in spite of Tochiozan leading the career series 10-2.

Hokutofuji vs. Yoshikaze – Also on the “wake me up before you go-go” list is my beloved Yoshikaze. I don’t know if he is hurt, distracted or just plain having a crummy basho. But I want him to get it going, please. Hokutofuji is fresh off of a rather spectacular victory over the lone surviving Yokozuna, and he is likely feeling very genki indeed. Hokutofuji has a 3-1 advantage over Yoshikaze, so I am not hopeful the Berserker will correct his side on day 5.

Mitakeumi vs. Tochinoshin – Contributor and commentator lksumo nailed it, this is the “battle of the disappointments”. Both of these rikishi came into Wacky Aki with the potential to really advance their careers. Instead both of them are struggling to find ways to stave off brutal levels of demotion. Prediction for the fight – both men skip the dohyo-iri, and get shit-faced starting at noon. They show up wasted and giddy around 3:00 PM, and only partially secure their mawashi. Bout ends with a rapid cut away on NHK as both men do their impressions of the final scene of “The Full Monty”.

Chiyotairyu vs. Goeido – Chiyotairyu! Expect the henka. Please give Goeido some dirt therapy for all of us fans, to encourage him to actual do some sumo. Goeido, boot up in 2.0 mode and show that bulked up Chiyotairyu that you’re his daddy. Make us think you have some sumo left, show us some fire sir, or it’s no Okonomiyaki for you!

Terunofuji vs. Shohozan – I am really concerned that Terunofuji does not have the strength to actually do Ozeki sumo. Furthermore, I fear that he is going to get hurt because he is competing without a whole lot of strength. Shohozan holds a slight 3-2 advantage over their career match ups.

Onosho vs. Harumafuji – This one fills me with excitement and trepidation at the same time. Onosho really showed a lot of level headed calculus in his pre-match confrontation with Terunofuji day 4, so we know he is not easily intimidated. Harumafuji is not at 100%, and I fear additional losses may put pressure on him to go kyujo, leaving us in the dreaded “No-kazuna” situation we hoped to avoid. With problems in both arms and both legs, Harumafuji is one bad fall away from intai.

Aki Day 4 Highlights

onosho

We are almost done with the first third of the Aki basho, and it’s clear that this one is going to have a unusual and unruly start. With so many of the upper ranks missing due to injuries, and a few who remained competing hurt, it’s really a wide open scramble for the yusho.

At the end of day 4, there are no fewer than five rikishi who are undefeated, none of which are who you would expect to be dominant. This includes: Kotoshogiku, Onosho, Chiyotairyu, Takanoiwa, and Daieisho.

But it gets worse, also at the end of day 4, a number of rikishi who were expected to at least be holding a .500 average are winless! This includes: Yoshikaze, Tochiozan, and Tochinoshin, with Mitakeumi not far behind at 1-3.

It’s a bit early to proclaim a trend, but for the opening third of the basho, it’s been the playground of the tadpole crew, and they look like they won’t be slowing down. We will get our first idea of who might go the distance and take the cup by this weekend, but thus far it’s not who a long term fan might expect.

Day 4 Matches

Tokushoryu defeats Asanoyama – Tokushoryu finally gets his first win at Aki, and looked really solid doing it. I must remark that yet again, Asanoyama just really seems to be so happy that he gets to do sumo today.

Endo defeats Yutakayama – I really liked this bout, not only because Endo won, but because Yutakayama gave him a really good fight. Move me to the “Endo is going to be alright” column. Great footwork at the edge of the ring by Endo to secure the win. If he can keep from getting further banged up, we should see him competitive in upper Maegashira by the Hatsubasho.

Daieisho defeats Kaisei – Undefeated Daieisho bested the Brazilian, who I am certain loss some weight and is moving much better. But Daieisho is really just cranking this tournament, and is not giving any quarter. In fact, most of the tadpoles are undefeated or have a winning record.

Kagayaki defeats Takakeisho – Kagayaki continues to be Takakeisho’s kryptonite. Takakeisho can wreck any number or rikishi on any given day. But for some reason, Kagayaki, in spite of his poor performance thus far, can just slap him around like a rented mule. Takakeisho was throwing everything he had at Kagayaki, but it had little or no success.

Chiyotairyu defeats Shohozan – The Biggie Sized Chiyotairyu remains undefeated, and his slap down of Shohozan lacked anything in terms of graceful sumo, but it got the job done. I am really looking forward to Chiyotairyu taking a crack at Goeido on day 5.

Shodai defeats Tochiozan – After a very strong Nagoya basho, Tochiozan has fallen off a cliff, and has yet to win a single match. I was delighted to see that today Shodai decided he was going to do some sumo, and looked like he actually wore his fighting mawashi today.

Tamawashi defeats Mitakeumi – In the group of rikishi who have fallen off a cliff, a close second would have to be Mitakeumi. He is clearly suffering the curse of going on NHK World to talk about his sumo, and we can only hope that he is able to pull out a kachi-koshi by day 15. Tamawashi appears to have overcome his ankle sprain, and was in full effect day 4. Oh yeah, there was a monoii because the Gyoji could not quite figure out who touched down first.

Kotoshogiku defeats Yoshikaze – Also in the cliff diving team, my favorite Yoshikaze. After remarking it would be fun to be the oldest rikishi to be promoted to Ozeki, he is now in a deep hole and struggling. My biggest fear lies in the fact that Kotoshogiku remains undefeated, and I worry that my “Kotoshogiku day” may have to come to pass. It’s too early for me to start looking for a blue mawashi to wear, but the dread of doing so fills me with terror.

Onosho defeats Terunofuji – More trouble in kaiju land as the Onosho gives Terunofuji some amphibian firepower. Terunofuji now has a 1-3 start, and we have to start worrying about him facing demotion. Onosho joins many other tadpoles in the undefeated column.

Goeido defeats Tochinoshin – Another dirty henka from Goeido. Really man, you can in fact beat these guys if you give it a try. But Tochinoshin, how were you not ready for this after what he did to Yoshikaze day 3? Some junky sumo here in the second to last match of the day.

Hokutofuji defeats Harumafuji – Hopefully fans don’t assume that just because Harumafuji decided to compete in Aki that he is anything close to 100%. It’s more along the lines of he is a tough and stubborn cuss. But that should not subtract from Hokutofuji’s rally masterful win today. He was quick and strong, and took the fight to the Yokozuna, and prevailed.

Aki Day 4 Preview

Kotoshogiku-Harumafuji

With day 3 behind us, we can all hope that everyone who has survived thus far has gotten their rusty sumo techniques old and working, and the basho proper can get underway. With just 3 days complete, no one’s record is beyond recovery, and everyone still has a kachi-koshi as a possible outcome.

I beg and pray that the Aki blood bath is complete, but something tells me we will lose one or two more. Tamawashi looked like balls today, and his damaged ankle will likely keep him from doing much real sumo for at least a few days. He may still end up declaring himself kyujo before day 15.

The real story in the first three days, besides the injuries, is the strength of the new group of rikishi who are really blasting everything they have faced this far. This includes Daieisho, Onosho and Takakeisho. It’s far too early to talk about the yusho, but it’s possible one of these guys might be in contention during the second week.

One thing of note, with so many rikishi out, the entire torikumi has gotten much shorter.

What We Are Watching Day 4

Tokushoryu vs. Asanoyama – Tokushoryu has had a really poor showing this basho, and on day 4 he is taking on Asanoyama, who seems to be really having a great time and doing fairly well. This is a first meeting between these two men. Tokushoryu has yet to win a single match, so at some point soon, he is going to get really eager to win by almost any means he can.

Endo vs. Yutakayama – Endo seems to be well enough to handle lower Maegashira opponents, and the sumo world is glad for it. There is hope that he can continue to strengthen and improve, and possible return to some of his former glory. Yutakayama is having a bit of a rough ride in his first basho in the top division, but that is not unusual.

Daieisho vs. Kaisei – Daieisho is so far unbeaten, and he faces a resurgent Kaisei, who is a bit stronger than I expected. Is it just me, or did he drop some weight too? He had gotten horribly large, and I think it diminished his sumo. Daieisho won their only prior encounter.

Takanoiwa vs. Takekaze – Takanoiwa is also unbeaten, interestingly enough, and on day 4 he takes on Takekaze, who has yet to win any match during Aki. Takekaze is not looking overly energetic thus far, so maybe he will wake up and show us at least a majestic henka on day 4.

Kagayaki vs. Takakeisho – Kagayaki is another of the “no wins yet” crew, and he faces a really energetic and highly combative Takakeisho, who has yet to lose. It’s strange to note, that in their 3 prior matches, Takakeisho has yet to beat Kagayaki once.

Shohozan vs. Chiyotairyu – Chiyotairyu’s extra mass seems to have really complimented his sumo, and his opponents are having a difficult time blunting his attacks. But his day 4 match against “Big Guns” Shohozan may be a new story. It’s possible that Shohozan could bench press Chiyotairyu on a good day. Chiyotairyu leads the series 3-2.

Mitakeumi vs. Tamawashi – Mitakeumi needs to continue bouncing back, and Tamawashi is hurt. I don’t doubt that Tamawashi is going to put up a huge fight, but if Mitakeumi is going to make a play to keep his Sekiwake rank (let along start an Ozeki campaign), he needs to start dominating now.

Kotoshogiku vs. Yoshikaze – These matches between these two are one sided in Kotoshogiku’s favor. Plus it seems that Yoshikaze is flagging for multiple reasons (none of which I know). So I am going to expect Kotoshogiku to win this one, and maybe Yoshikaze start’s bouncing back on day 5.

Terunofuji vs. Onosho – Now this one is interesting, the big Ozeki against the angry tadpole. It’s time for Onosho to test himself against a fairly capable Ozeki class rikishi. Granted, Terunofuji is not at full health, but it’s a great test.

Tochinoshin vs. Goeido – Henka probably won’t work for Goeido today, so I expect him to actually have to use some sumo against Tochinoshin. Tochinoshin has beaten him a few times, but Goeido really needs to line up the wins and clear the kadoban flag sooner rather than later.

Hokutofuji vs. Harumafuji – I am sure Harumafuji will be aggressive, focused and unless the gyoji whacks him with the war-fan, he’s not going to stop no matter what. Now, Hokutofuji, is certain to give him a good, solid fight, and I have hopes that this match can be a real contest.

Aki Day 3 Highlights

Matta?

Day 3 in bizzaro basho, and the whole Tachiai crew, along with the cat, are wondering if this thing is ever going to settle down and stop pooping it’s diaper.

If you have yet to watch the NHK highlight reel, or Jason or Kintamayama, I strongly recommend a stiff drink before and during. With now 7 rikishi out kyujo – Including the majority of the Yokozuna and Ozeki corps – each day seems a bit more odd and off pace. Yet there is abundant great sumo taking place, and in the absence of the top guys, the up and coming team are really in the spotlight. With rikishi like Takakeisho and Onosho clearly standing out every day, they are getting a great deal of attention, and probably new fans. This is another step down the path of transition that we have been pointing out for the past several tournaments, and it’s not going to reverse.

If you are wondering, many of the Angry Tadpoles are still undefeated at the end of day 3. These guys are a real driving force for the near-term future of sumo.

Rather than call it highlights, for today I am going to call it…

Things That Happened Today

Asanoyama defeats Yutakayama – I have decided I like Asanoyama. He just seems to be having a great time on the dohyo, even when he loses. It’s as if each time he steps up on the clay, he says to himself, “Can you believe they are paying me to have this much fun? Holy crap, what a life!”

Aminishiki defeats Tokushoryu – Yeah, thats right! Uncle Sumo came to Makuuchi for a day and won! His fans in the Kokugikan are legion, and he frequently gets a bigger reaction than 80% of Maegashira. There was a false start, but the second attempt was actually some really good sumo. Tokushoryu was trying to apply overwhelming bulldozery, but Uncle Sumo decided he was fine with that. He offered some token resistance to get Tokushoryu well cranked up, then pulled him down.

Endo defeats Kaisei – Ok, I am starting to allow myself to get optimistic about Endo’s recovery. Sure he is fighting the bottom end of Makuuchi, but I would say his ankle is at best 75% of good. He even had the presence of mind to break Kaisei’s fall. I think with the bloodbath thus far, everyone is worried someone else is going to catch a career impacting injury.

Daieisho defeats Nishikigi – Daieisho is not getting a lot of coverage because he is down at Maegashira 11, but he is looking in solid form right now. Granted Nishikigi is not the strongest opponent, but Daieisho’s sumo was spot on today.

Arawashi defeats Takarafuji – Really nice effort by both Rikishi, Arawashi had a much better tachiai and was able to set up the throw.

Takakeisho defeats Shodai – Everyone sing along… Shodai blew another tachiai. Easy to do when you are tall and looking rather lethargic this basho, and your opponent is an amped-up bowling ball with legs who has chrome side pipes and the low-rider package. I counted 2 tsuppari from Takakeisho for every 1 from Shodai. Frankly Shodai looked surprised that this tadpole was kicking his butt. Takakeisho remains undefeated.

Chiyotairyu defeats Tochiozan – Chiyotairyu continues to deliver above expectations, and is really knocking down some of the better rikishi that are not in the hospital.

Onosho defeats Tamawashi – I am still thinking that Tamawashi did more to his ankle than he cares to admit. Onosho was once again at 11+ on a 1-10 scale, and Tamawashi seems to be lacking his prior ability to transmit power to ground.

Mitakeumi defeats Shohozan – Mitakeumi hopefully is shaking off the cobwebs and the jinx of going on NHK to talk about his sumo. Big Guns Shohozan is sporting some Yoshikaze-style face damage now, so that may be effecting his sumo. Mitakeumi won by a fairly quick slap-down for a convincing victory.

Goeido defeats Yoshikaze – Goeido unleashes a dirty henka, but Yoshikaze bought it. Goeido really needs to clear his kadoban status, so I am sure nobody really is too sore about his deciding not to take the Berserker on head-to-head.

Terunofuji defeats Tochinoshin – Thank you oh Great Sumo Cat of the Kokugikan. The knee-less wonder won in fairly convincing fashion over Tochinoshin, and maybe there is hope that he’s still got some health left. Tochinoshin gave it his all, and put up a great fight. Terunofuji was relieved, the fans are relieved, and even my cat liked it.

Kotoshogiku “something-something” Harumafuji – I could call it a win, it was recorded as a win, but what the hell was it? It was, in fact, Kotoshogiku’s first kinboshi, but should it have been? Clearly we had a matta, but for whatever reason the gyoji did not call it back. Again, after yesterday’s injury fest, I am sure people like Harumafuji are being extra careful. Should he have ignored the matta and just given The Kyushu Bulldozer (Kotoshogiku) a death spin and a ride in the wheelchair? Either way, it’s in the record books now and Harumafuji has his first loss of the basho. Kotoshogiku… Undefeated?

Aki Day 2 Preview

Dohyo-iri

Day 1 was not a kind in San’yaku land. Not only was there a clear losing streak among the named ranks, but many of the men who really needed to shine looked value and ill-prepared. Many of the up-and-coming rank and file rikishi seem to sense that there is a magic opportunity now, and pounced on the opening day. Some random comments before we preview day 2.

Harumafuji looked a bit stiff, but got the job done. I am very thankful he is going to try to tough it out. He is the man to beat this basho. Takayasu finally decided to wear the black mawashi, and he took the fight to Tochinoshin with gusto. Tochinoshin has a really bad left knee, and he is only one bad fall away from retirement, so it was worrisome to see him sail off the dohyo day 1.

Goeido should have known better, so should have Terunofuji. Hopefully they got that initial choke behind them and they can get down to business. Mitakeumi, sorry bloke! Onosho wanted it more. So up your sumo and let your day 1 loss motivate you for the next 14 days. Yoshikaze got smoked at the tachiai and could never recover. Chiyotairyu really was in outstanding form, and never gave the Berserker any opening to even start any offense.

Poor Shodai, his tachiai is still high and clumsy. Ura read him like some cheap manga and put him away just as Shodai overcommitted to a kimarite. Endo looks like he has a long road to full health. I get that he is competing to try and avoid demotion to Juryo or lower, but he may have a tough time of it.

I am going to be very interested to see if the day 1 problems in the San’yaku are just cobwebs being cleared away, or a further sign that the next generation are coming into their own.

What We Are Watching Day 2

Endo vs Asanoyama – Endo looked vague and fairly disoriented in his day 1 match, where Asanoyama seemed to have a plan and executed it well. it’s an open question on just how well recovered Endo is from his surgery in August. This is their first contest.

Daishomaru vs Kaisei – Kaisei looked strong but lethargic against Nishikigi. He has also never beaten Daishomaru in their prior two matches. Daishomaru, on the other hand, was fast, precise and in control day 1.

Chiyonokuni vs Takarafuji – Chiyonokuni has been struggling to regain his fighting spirit after a brutal outcome from the May tournament. He looked solid day one, but he faces the neckless wonder of Takarafuji, who leads their career series 4-2.

Ikioi vs Kagayaki – Ikioi’s day 1 match was also lack-luster, though he won, he did so in what seemed to be a sloppy and clumsy kimarite. Kagayaki is also one who is struggling for consistency, and has flashes of brilliance. Kagayaki has yet to win a match with Ikioi.

Shodai vs Ichinojo – I cite this because it has the potential to be a real yawner. Ichinojo is once again looking slow and lethargic, and I think he has gained a good amount of mass in the last few months. Shodai is stuck in a bit of a rut, and looked poor in his day 1 match with Ura.

Takakeisho vs Ura – Ura is fighting injured, but it was fun to see him improvise a win over Shodai on day 1. Takakeisho, on the other hand, is the epitome of the Angry Tadpole crew. He was blazingly fast and give his match everything, and came away a winner. Takakeisho leads their series 6-1. My hope is that Ura just comes away without further injury.

Shohozan vs Tochiozan – This has a lot of potential for an excellent bout. They are closely matched, and have similar styles of sumo. I give a slight edge to Tochiozan for this bout, in spite of the fact that Shohozan leads 11-7 over their career.

Mitakeumi vs Chiyotairyu – Mitakeumi was caught half way to his first step on day 1’s tachiai. This is quite unusual for him, and he was dead weight for Onosho to remove from the dohyo. Chiyotairyu’s outing against Yoshikaze was fast, effective and brutal. If Mitakeumi is serious about his Sekiwake rank, it’s time to bring his top-shelf sumo.

Onosho vs Yoshikaze – It’s tough to get the drop on Yoshikaze, but it happened day 1. Onosho has a chance to do it again, as hie is fast, strong and low to the ground. I expect Yoshikaze to be far more aggressive off the line today.

Takayasu vs Tamawashi – Takayasu is finally wearing his black mawashi, and it seems to suite him quite well. Tamawashi’s day 1 loss was more about balance problems than anything, and I am confident his day 2 sumo will be much improved. This could be a really good battle.

Terunofuji vs Kotoshogiku – I am really worried about Terunofuji. I know he is not in good shape, and he gets into a negative mood, and his mood really drives his sumo. When he is down, it seems as if he cannot win no matter what. Kotoshogiku’s day 1 mini henka was executed well, but he needs to use it sparingly.

Hokutofuji vs Goeido – Hokutofuji has something to prove, and it’s something rather spectacular. Goeido really can’t afford to lose bouts to rank-and-file rikishi, as he need to clear his kadoban flag early. Goeido won their only prior match.

Tochinoshin vs Harumafuji – Harumafuji is clearly in a lot of pain, but his sumo on day 1 was excellent. i expect him to not let Tochinoshin get anywhere near his belt, and to attempt his famous nodowa to keep the big Georgain under control.

Nagoya Day 14 Highlights

Takayasu-Harumafuji

It has been a rough morning in Castle Bermondsey, so I do beg forgiveness in being tardy with the update. Many of you will have seen the NHK highlight reel by now. For whatever reasons there seems to be a desire to keep Hakuho from claiming the yusho outright by now. I say this because Aoiyama has had a ridiculously easy schedule. Don’t get me wrong, he still won all of those matches fair and square. But compare this to some prior basho where anyone outside of san’yaku who was close to the leader group was given increasingly difficult matches until they fell away.

For example, you have a Maegashira 8 (Aoiyama) who is on a hot streak. So who does he get for day 14? A Komusubi? An Ozeki? Nah, lets pit him against a Maegashra 12. So there remains an outside tiny chance that Hakuho will lose to Harumafuji on day 15, and we will see The Boss square off against Aoiyama. Followed by several minutes of slow motion replay of Aoiyama’s pendulous man-mammaries swinging wildly as Hakuho batters his up and down the dohyo for sport.

In other news, Ura is now make-koshi, and it is for the best. He has many fans, and they seem to love their little wizard – he is lovable. But he was always going to go make-koshi the first time he faced the san’yaku battle fleet. In the grand scheme of things that would have been Aki, but due to injuries it was at Nagoya. He will come to rest down the banzuke, and with any luck be dominant down there and have a chance to not do further damage to that banged up knee. Trust me when I say, Ura will be back.

Selected Matches Day 14

Chiyonokuni defeats Sokokurai – Chiyonokuni’s rally is a great story coming out of Nagoya. After his turn in the meat grinder as Maegashira 1 during Natsu, he seemed to have started Nagoya down and unfocused. He was able to get his sumo together and return as strong as in the past, and lock down a winning record. Chiyonokuni is another rikishi we will likely see more good things from in the future.

Hokutofuji defeats Ishiura – Hokutofuji picks up kachi-koshi and will be a rank or two higher in Tokyo come September.

Onosho defeats Yoshikaze – Special prize for Onosho, I will predict. That would be two in a row for his first two Makuuchi basho. Yoshikaze looked like he was not quite fully spun up, and Onosho executed well.

Tochinoshin defeats Kotoshogiku – The big Georgain consigns Ojisan Kotoshogiku’s san’yaku rank to the past. Really nice execution by Tochinoshin in this match. His return to good form is a welcome development.

Tochiozan defeats Mitakeumi – No Ozeki run starting for Mitakeumi, there is always next time, but he will get to keep his Sekiwake rank. Tochiozan once again looked calm and worked his attack plan expertly.

Hakuho defeats Goeido – Goeido must beat Takayasu on day 15 to avoid the probationary kadoban status.

Harumafuji defeats Takayasu – Harumafuji once again deploys a tottari. Takayasu ends up looking even more hurt. This basho has really knocked him around, and I hope he gets a chance to heal up.

Nagoya Day 14 Preview

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Special Prize Contenders

Two more days of sumo until September, and the upcoming Aki banzuke promises to be a mad re-shuffle. But before everyone heads off to summer jungyo and awaits their next ranking, the final stanzas of Nagoya will play out. One thing yet to be revealed – the special prize winners. Below are some of my guesses on who could be eligible.

  • Tochiozan – He has been on a huge roll this basho, and will finish with at least 10 wins. He has looked calm, strong and confident in every match, especially his crumpling of Ozeki Takayasu.
  • Aoiyama – While he has yet to fight anyone in the higher ranks, his 11+ wins for the basho are likely to attract the special prize judges. Even thought I think any final day play off with Hakuho is unlikely and ill advised, he will likely end the basho with the jun-yusho, and for a rank and file Maegashira, that’s a praiseworthy accomplishment.
  • Yoshikaze – When Yoshikaze is having a good basho, he is almost always in consideration for another special prize. The guy probably as a whole wall of his apartment with them. He will end with a 9+ win kachi-koshi from the very difficult Komusubi rank.
  • Onosho – The kid has the juice, no doubt about that. He has been consistently excellent, and he is headed for the joi-jin in September. The day 14 Yoshikaze / Onosho match result may decide which of them gets a special prize.
  • Tochinoshin – From the Maegashira 2 rank, he has defeated a Yokozuna, both Sekiwake and an Ozeki, plus will finish with kachi-koshi. This guy has been competing in spite of some really painful injuries, and this kind of record is a testament to his dedication to recover, and his love of the sport.

Nagoya Leader board

This is Hakuho’s basho to lose. The biggest threat is on the finally day, when he will face Harumafuji in the final match of the basho’s final day.

Leader – Hakuho
Chaser – Aoiyama
Hunt Group – Harumafuji, Tochiozan

2 Matches Remain

What We Are Watching Day 14

Yoshikaze vs Onosho – I do strongly suspect the winner of this match will get the special prize nod. Onosho is going to be in the top 3 Maegashira ranks September, and it’s time to give him a taste of some of the rikishi he will face. A genki Yoshikaze is a great place to start, as he will discombobulate his opponent and then defeat them. Onosho has been quite resilient thus far, so I am keen to see how this goes. This the their first match.

Tochinoshin vs Kotoshogiku – The Kyushu Bulldozer needs to pick up both day 14 and day 15 matches. His record against Tochinoshin os 23-4, so he has history on his side. But Tochinoshin is looking very strong this basho, and it may be down to the big Georgian to end Kotoshogiku’s san’yaku standing.

Tamawashi vs Ura – I am looking for Ura to be in defensive mode, and for this to be a fairly easy win for Tamawashi. I agree and approve of this strategy, as Ura’s make-koshi is a function of his schedule now, and the most important thing to take away from Nagoya now (for Ura) is a body that can be healed enough to compete in the Aki basho in 7 weeks.

Tochiozan vs Mitakeumi – Tochiozan has never beaten Mitakeumi. I am sure Mitakeumi would like to pick up at least one more win in order to punctuate his remaining at the rank of Sekiwake. This match has interest because Mitakeumi’s style is somewhat frantic, while Tochiozan has been very controlled and methodical.

Hakuho vs Goeido – Interesting because Goeido tends to do whacky stuff when he is desperate. And he is quite desperate now. Doing wacky stuff in a match with Hakuho can have unexpected and sometimes amazing results.

Takayasu vs Harumafuji – I expect Harumafuji to handle this without much too much fuss. I would like to see Takayasu at full throttle for this bout (and his Goeido match tomorrow), but he seems injured, stiff and off his sumo.

Nagoya Day 13 Highlights

Hakuho-1048-NSK

Hakuho Takes The Record, Aoiyama Remains One Behind

Day 13 brought the long expected celebration of yet another record to Yokozuna Hakuho’s name. The sumo world is rightly celebrating the man and his great achievements. Hakuho’s excellence may have saved sumo on more than one occasion, and the fact that he continues to dominate the sport this far into his career is a testament to his love of all things sumo.

On the eve of his record achievement, the Japanese press began to talk of Hakuho taking a step he has resisted this far – seeking Japanese citizen ship and securing an enduring role in the sumo kyokai. Hakuho loves being Mongolian, but in the past several months, there has been discussions between the kyokai and Team Hakuho about his future. While we are all enjoying seeing the greatest rikishi in modern times continue to win match after match, the day when he will retire is not so very far away. What will sumo do to continue to bask in the publicity and excellence that Hakuho brings to the sport?

Meanwhile, the man mountain that is Aoiyama was declared the winner in a strange bout with Kagayaki. Rather than try to describe it, I encourage readers to watch it via Youtube (Kintamayama) or the NHK feed later today. With his win, he remains at 2 losses and is in a position to contest for the yusho against Hakuho should the Yokozuna manage to lose any of his upcoming matches against Harumafuji or Goeido. On the extreme outside range of likeliness, there is a bizzare chance that there could be a Hakuho / Aoiyama play off on the final day. Hakuho has an 18-1 record against Aoiyama, so it would likely be some kind of beating applied should it come to pass.

Highlight Matches

Chiyonokuni defeats Sadanoumi – Chiyonokuni’s turn around from a really crummy first few days has been dramatic. With his next win, he will secure his winning record and a likely return to the top half of Makuuchi for the fall basho. Both men landed solid mawashi grips early and it was a battle of strength. Several times Sadanoumi nearly shook him off, but Chiyonokuni was able to get him to the bales and lift him out.

Nishikigi defeats Okinoumi – Continued respect to Nishikigi, who is giving it everything he can muster every day. he is now one win from staying in Makuuchi. Nishikigi got inside early and applied the pressure. Okinoumi seems to have really faded, most likely due to injuries.

Chiyomaru defeats Daieisho – Excellent tsuppari battle that locks in Chiyomaru’s kachi-koshi and ensures he will not be back in Juryo in septepber.

Shohozan defeats Onosho – Big Guns picks up his kachi-koshi against Onosho. Although Onosho has been fighting well this basho, this match was all Shohozan from the start.

Tochiozan defeats Takarafuji – Tochiozan shows no signs of slowing down. He is now in double digit wins, and I would guess headed for a special prize. He has had an outstanding basho. Today’s match was another calm, focused effort by Tochiozan. He was able to get inside on Takarafuji, and controlled him from there.

Kotoshogiku defeats Ura – Ura does not even offer a stiff challenge to Kotoshogiku, and I suspect this was a strategic loss to protect himself from further injury. Kotoshogiku’s chances of kachi-koshi once again rise, and it becomes increasingly possible he can retain his san’yaku slot at least one more basho.

Yoshikaze defeats Ikioi – Ikioi really put up an excellent struggle, but like so much of this basho he came out the loser at the end. Ikioi has strength and skill, but his performance has been lagging as late. I would love to see him geanki once more.

Tochinoshin defeats Mitakeumi – In spite of the really great performance Tochinoshin has had the entire basho, he was unable to secure his winning record until today. The bout with Mitakeumi quickly went to the mawashi, and Mitakeumi could not out-muscle one of the strongest men in sumo. Mitakeumi now needs both final bouts to be wins if he wants to stake any claim towards a (in my opinion premature) Ozeki campaign.

Hokutofuji defeats Tamawashi – Tamawashi is now in real danger of losing his Sekiwake rank for September, he must win both remaining matches for a minimal kachi-koshi to defend his position. Today’s bout was all Hokutofuji from the tachiai. Hokutofuji was able to take command, get the dominant pushing attack started and drive Tamawashi out.

Harumafuji defeats Goeido – Goeido is now in serious jepardoy of re-earning kadoban status. His only hope is a final day win against Takayasu. Harumafuji opened strong, and Goeido had no effective counter strategy to stop himself from being driven backwards out of the ring.

Hakuho defeats Takayasu – Well, that was different and kind of wild. Hakuho decided he was going to do a strong-man pushing contest with Takayasu, and won! The Boss deployed a fair amount of nodawa, which put Takayasu first on defense, then off balance, and finally the Yokozuna tossed Takayasu sideways to the clay. Tomorrow Hakuho faces Goeido.

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?