Additional Thoughts On Aki Day 13


asanoyama

Day 13 is in the record books, and once again this Wacky Aki rose to the challenge of giving us a defining WTF day of sumo. First and foremost, Goeido lost to Takakeisho. Not in some grand epic battle, he seems to have fallen down. Then there was the rather impressive cluster of rikishi 2 wins behind Goeido. 10 of them actually. All but 2 of them lost their day 13 matches. That’s 8 rikishi who had a chance to claim the yusho, done and out in one day.

But because Goeido lost and Harumafuji won, we move yet closer to the enticing Senshuraku Showdown, as Harumafuji will face Goeido on the final match of the final day. There are still plenty of strange things that can happen tomorrow, day 14, but for now it looks like the yusho may be decided by the outcome of that match.

Or will it? Who’s that over in the corner looking happy and doing shiko while humming a jaunty tune in his head? It’s none other than the happy rikishi, Asanoyama. You see, he also won his match today, and he is also one behind Goeido now. Should he win again on Saturday, he is a yusho contender for the final day should Harumafuji defeat Goeido. Quite unlikely I would say, but what kind of sumo magic would it be if this young rikishi at the very bottom of the banzuke (M16e) could take the Emperor’s Cup in his first Makuuchi basho? The Great Sumo Cat of the Kokugikan would smile for sure.

Below is video via Twitter of Goeido suffering his catastrophic Slippiotoshi

 

Aki Day 6 Preview


Harumafuji-Kohei

With news of Ozeki Terunofuji’s withdrawal, the upper rank blood bath continues. For Kyushu, he will be ranked Sekiwake. Provided Takayasu can return to action, there will be just 2 Ozeki for the Kyushu basho. For some bright news, Sadanoumi has come out of kyuji status, and will be in Friday’s torikumi.

Thus we enter the middle third, or second act of Aki. This is where we get our first look at who might be in contention for the Emperor’s Cup. Typically the middle weekend of any basho features several high-stakes match ups, but with so many (5 out of 7) of the named ranks out, the schedulers are going to be struggling to create a compelling torikumi.

While there will be a lot of great sumo action today, there are a few matches that are actually pivotal in the emerging yusho race. The match of the day is, without a doubt, upstart Maegashira 3 Onosho vs Kadoban Ozeki Goeido. Goeido has been pulling punk moves in his last several matches, and as a fan I find it very disappointing. All we have to do is tee up footage from Aki 2016 to see what the real Goeido is capable of. We can only assume that he is hiding an injury, and is desperate to hang on to his Ozeki rank.

Second of the headline matches will be Chiyotairyu facing Yokozuna Harumafuji. Harumafuji currently has a losing record, and if for some reason he should lose on day 6, we can expect him to go kyujo. Nobody wants that to happen, so we are all counting on Chiyotairyu to come out of the tachiai, rampaging forward recklessly, like an insane water buffalo.

What We Are Watching Day 6

Nishikigi vs. Endo – Nishikigi has never beaten Endo, but “Mr Popular” is competing with a partially healed ankle, and is far short of his full capability. Nishikigi is still working to ensure he won’t be back in Juryo any time soon, so he’s pushing hard for every win.

Daishomaru vs. Asanoyama – Mr happy goes up against Daishomaru’s 4-1 hot streak. Asanoyama sits on the bottom rung of Makuuchi, but is doing fairly well at 3-2, but my gut tells me Friday will not be his day. This is their first match.

Yutakayama vs. Sadanoumi – A hearty welcome back to Sadanoumi, he faces a struggling Yutakayama who has been unable to really finish off anyone. His offense is sloppy, but not without potential. Sadanoumi has missed the first 5 days due to injury, and we hope he is healed enough to survive his return.

Ishiura vs. Takekaze – 38 year old veteran Takekaze is still struggling for his first win at Aki. He faces an Ishiura who seems to be lacking real vigor in his sumo. Ishiura has massive potential, but every basho he spends 8-7 or 7-8 in the middle of Makuuchi is an opportunity lost.

Daieisho vs. Arawashi – Battle of the 4-1, this is likely to be a real contest, as both of these rikishi are in the hunt group for the leadership.

Ichinojo vs. Kagayaki – Large asian men hitting each other, slowly. One of them will fall down.

Tamawashi vs. Tochinoshin – Hapless Tochinoshin is still hunting for his first win. Tamawashi is eagerly trying to start piecing together his kachi-koshi. Tochinoshin is capable of a win here, but he needs to get his gamey left leg to cooperate.

Mitakeumi vs. Kotoshogiku – Now that Kotoshogiku’s unbeaten run has ended, perhaps Mitakeumi will feel up to getting his own record up to 3-3. Mitakeumi will need to stay mobile and not let the Kyushu Bulldozer lock him up and chug him across the bales.

Onosho vs. Goeido – I am fine with Goeido winning this one, as long as I see him actually move forward and execute at least one sumo move. But given what happened to Harumafuji on day 5, Goeido will be lucky if he is not forced into some involuntary yoga position on his way to the upper deck.

Chiyotairyu vs. Harumafuji – Oh Great Sumo Cat of the Kokugikan, please give us one more triumphant Harumafuji death-spin. Let Chiyotairyu launch from the dohyo like a North Korean missile headed for Guam, but land safely in the lap of some lovely and adoring fan.

Ozeki Terunofuji Withdraws From Aki


Terunofuji

Having re-injured the knee he had surgery for, our favorite Kaiju – otherwise known at Terunofuji, has decided to accept reality and withdraw from the Aki basho. This means that he will appear on the banzuke as a Sekiwake at Kyushu, and will have one chance to regain his Ozeki rank – with a score of at least 10 wins.

A healthy Terunofuji is capable of that kind of performance, but it remains to be seen if there is any road back from the damage he has sustained.

As we are quite fond of Terunofuji, we will be hoping and begging the Great Sumo Cat of the Kokugikan to convene with the deities to speed his healing.

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?

One Year On – My Why of Tachiai


Bruce-Kokugikan

This week marks 1 year since Andy was kind enough to let me start posting to Tachiai. Andy created the site, and posted news and comments about the sumo world when he could. But with a career and family, he was limited.

I started 2016 as a frustrated fan. I had become aware of sumo during my time in Japan in the mid 1980’s, but as I frequently state – Sumo is a production for Japanese people people living in Japan (this has not really changed). My chances to connect with and follow sumo were few and far between, and so I did not take more than a passing interest.

This changed when I learned that I could stream NHK via my Apple TV, and began watching the tournament highlight shows nightly. Suddenly given access to some level of sumo, I was thrilled and soaked up as much as I could. I suspect that I was not the only person to undergo this evolution, as sumo’s global following seems to be increasing month over month.

With access to media and information, sumo has potential to have a global following. I have believed this since the 1980s, and that’s why I took Andy’s generous offer to help write for the site and ran with it. In the past year, we have added several more contributors, each of whom have brought wonderful and engaging content to the site.

Our readership continues to grow month over month, with a distinct basho / non-basho pace – I owe this to the idea that the nascent global sumo fan base is hungry for more news and media to support their interest in sumo. Together, the Tachiai team has grown this site beyond anything I could have anticipated. As one of a handful of english language sumo web site, we occupy a strange but quite enjoyable niche.

In the past year, I have managed to attend a basho in Tokyo, meet a number of wonderful people in and around the sumo business, and help a growing number of fans connect with and enjoy sumo. With Aki around the corner, I am excited to start my second year of contributing to the site, and looking forward to helping grow the global sumo fan base.

Thank you to Andy for letting me write for Tachiai, thanks to the fans for reading the site, and thanks most of all to my dear wife for helping me indulge my love of sumo.

Oh yeah – My first post to Tachiai here

Sumo’s Summer Break


hakuho-phone

Readers of the site will notice that our posting activity is very slow right now. The reason is that the sumo world is not really doing much of note during the period between Natsu and Nagoya. After most basho, there is a tour through one of the regions of Japan to promote sumo and make closer connections with the fans outside of the big cities.

After the Natsu basho, there was no tour. As a result, most of the rikishi took a well earned break to train, visit relatives, seek medical attention for long running problems, or just work out like mad. While the news cycle is very slow now, it is likely that some interesting developments will take place in the next month leading up to the Nagoya basho. Until then, news on tachiai may be rather thin, but rest assured, we are keeping both eyes on the sumo word.

Natsu Day 13 Preview


Hakuho-Kensho

Marking Time Till The Final Showdown

Most of the questions around Natsu were resolved on day 12, and so the last big question – and it’s a big one, is the yusho. Right now, Yokozuna Hakuho has a 1 match lead over Yokozuna Harumafuji. Due to Kisenosato and Kakuryu’s withdraw, they will meet on the final bout of day 15. If both remain at their current scores (12-0, 11-1), Harumafuji can force a playoff by beating Hakuho. I can almost hear the echo of Osaka.

But first the two surviving Yokozuna have to navigate a few challengers. I would expect them to win the next two matches, but there is always an opting for wild outcomes.

There is also the question of the special prizes. Right now Ura, Takayasu, Tamawashi, Tochinoshin and Takakeisho could possibly be considered. For the most part it comes down to 10 wins or more.

For those looking forward to our July banzuke discussion, I dare you to try and figure out the Makuuchi <-> Juryo moves. No one in Juryo will end up with more than 10 wins, ok – that’s not too uncommon, but then there are 7 more that could end up with 9 wins. At this point, only J2w Kyokushuho and J4e Nishikigi look like they might be promotable. But then you have maybe 4 Maegashira who are probably worthy of demotion back to Juryo. Maybe once it’s all over the picture will make more sense, but I doubt it. One thing is certain, the July banzuke is going to have a huge amount of churn.

Natsu Leader board

LeaderHakuho
Hunt Group – Harumafuji
Chasers – Terunofuji, Takayasu, Ura

3 Matches Remain

What We Are Watching Day 13

Sadanoumi vs Kaisei – I am guessing they are trying on Sadanoumi as another promotable. Kaisei is still struggling to lock up a kachi-koshi, he needs 2 more wins.

Kotoyuki vs Kagayaki – Kagayaki has his kachi-koshi, and Kotoyuki may be headed to Juryo, he is also at least somewhat injured. Thus far Kotoyuki leads career matches 3-0, but with him being injured, and Kotoyuki improving quite a bit this basho, it’s time for a new page in their record book.

Ichinojo vs Tokushoryu – Tokushoryu can lock up his kachi-koshi with a win over the towering Ichinojo. I don’t know what happened to Ichinojo, but he really seems so very lost this basho. I think he could be a big deal (and not just his mass to height ratio), but like so many rikishi, he needs to clear up lingering health issues.

Daishomaru vs Takakeisho – Daishomaru trying for his kachi-koshi today against a red-hot Takakeisho. They are evenly matched career wise, but I am guessing Daishomaru may get this one.

Hokutofuji vs Onosho – Another lab experiment bout brought on by kyujo pock-marks in the torikumi. You could look at it as Maegashira 7 vs Maegashira 14, or as two up-and-coming youngsters duking it out. I do know that Onosho has a fun habit of beating Hokutofuji. So I bet this one is a brawl.

Ura vs Ikioi – Oh yes, thank you oh Great Sumo Cat of the Kokugikan! This is the kind of match that myself and sumo fans around the globe live for. What kind of bizzaro stuff is Ura going to produce today? Will Ikioi decode his incantations and put a stop to Ura’s sorcery?

Tochinoshin vs Shodai – Yes, yes, a hundred times yes! Both sumotori have secured their promotions, now it’s just to see who is king of the hill. Once again we get the big guy who can’t quite tachiai, against a man with tree trunks for thighs, who can and probably does lift the Tokyo Skytree so they can vacuum under it.

Chiyoshoma vs Yoshikaze – Now that the promotion lanes are going to be open, I am keen to see Yoshikaze reach his magic 8 wins, and cement himself in the San’yaku for July. Chiyoshoma is running on fumes, but can still deliver a great match, as he has dropped Takarafuji and Takakaze in the last two days.

Mitakeumi vs Endo – This goes double for Mitakeumi, I am pulling for him to get his magic 8 and remain in the San’yaku. By the dangly bits of Chiyonofuji, I think he can do it. Endo still has a slim chance at kachi-koshim but he has a bit of an uphill fight. Endo did look very sharp against Yoshikaze day 11, and that a hell of a brawl.

Terunofuji vs Tochiozan – Time to see if our favorite Kaiju was hurt badly on day 12, or if was just some kind of cramp that the trainers could work out. I really pray that Terunofuji can stay healthy, because for the past 2 basho, he has been the only credible Ozeki to be found. Tochiozan will provide a good test for him.

Harumafuji vs Takayasu – These two really do throw down hard. But it’s been since Aki that Takayasu actually won against “The Horse”. A win by the hairy one would cement his Ozeki status, and knock Harumafuji out of the yusho race. But my money is on Harumafuji for day 13, is only loss was a silly slip, and apart from that he is really in excellent form.

Tamawashi vs Hakuho – Hakuho has one goal now, keep in form and pick up no injuries. Tamawashi is strong enough to be a spoiler, but “The Boss” has been in most excellent form this basho, and it’s really magic to watch him do his sumo once more.