January Basho – Just Around The Corner

dec-random-jungyo

While the winter Jungyo works to wrap up this week, sumo fans in Okinawa prepare for a special mini tournament in the next few days in Ginowan. It’s sort of a Jungyo stop with a bunch of fun extras added.

Better yet – can you believe that we are less than two weeks away from the January Basho banzuke being release the day after Christmas? Sumo-Santa will deliver this year, boys and girls. With all of the action in Kyushu, the banzuke for Hatsu will be quite the shuffle.

As always, Tachiai will be ramping up coverage as we begin anticipating the action in Tokyo starting Sunday January 8th. That’s a bit more than 3 weeks away.

Hatsubasho 2015: Day 14

Marking Position for Water Break
Marking Position for Water Break

I’ve never seen a water break in the middle of a match. Today, Ichinojo and Terunofuji’s marathon bout was a long stalemate for most of the match. It was really interesting to see how at 4 minutes in, they stopped the match and then the gyoji marked each wrestler’s position and allowed the combatants to get some water. After the break, they started back where they left off but it wasn’t long before Ichinojo finally overpowered Terunofuji, dragging him over the straw bales.

In the yokozuna bouts, Kisenosato assured himself of jun yusho hy beating Kakuryu. He was very aggressive and just too powerful today for the yokozuna, who fell to 10-4. Harumafuji also fell to 10-4, as he had nothing to counter Hakuho. He basically held on for dear life as Hak dragged him around the ring, and forced him out. Tomorrow, Kisenosato takes on Harumafuji with a share of the jun yusho on the line while Hakuho faces Kakuryu with a chance at sealing this tournament with a dominant undefeated zensho yusho.

Endo picked up an impressive quick win against Kotoshogiku while Goeido gave himself a chance to save his ozeki ranking with a nice throw victory over Aoiyama. Oosunaarashi and Okinoumi both picked up their all-important 8th wins. Down in Juryo, Kitataiki has the yusho wrapped up while Gagamaru’s 10 wins will hopefully be enough to ensure both wrestlers make it back to makuuchi.

Hatsubasho 2015: Day 12

Is Hakuho's 2 bout lead impenetrable?
Is Hakuho’s 2 bout lead impenetrable?

Kisenosato is basically our only hope to drop Hakuho and make this basho interesting. Today, he survived a bit of a scare against Toyonoshima in an entertaining bout. Tomorrow they will battle for the 50th time. The superzuna has a 38-11 advantage in this lengthy rivalry that goes back to Makushita when Kisenosato was known by his real family name, Hagiwara. The historical data at Sumo Games is fantastic and really interesting. Forgive the plug but I love data and this is fascinating. In this case it’s also really interesting to see how quickly in their careers Hakuho advanced into the makuuchi and became a Yokozuna.
Continue reading

Hatsubasho 2015: Day 10

Two-thirds of the way through the tournament and Harumafuji looks possessed. He charged through Kotoshogiku and nearly sent the jack-rabbit ozeki back to Juryo, in spite of a 100+ pound weight difference. Were it not for that ill-advised gamble facing Jokoryu a few days ago…
Continue reading

Hatsubasho 2015: Day 8

Hak dispatches Aminishiki
Hak dispatches Aminishiki

Aminishiki (5-3) has been impressive but after a strong tachiai and quick grapple, Hakuho (8-0) side-stepped the charging maegashira and sent him sprawling off the dohyo. Nothing fancy about Harumafuji’s attack against Kaisei today. He went straight for the throat and the Brazilian could do nothing but retreat. Harumafuji stays one loss off pace at 7-1 while Kaisei drops to 4-4. Kakuryu fought off the hard-charging Aoiyama for his sixth win (6-2).
Continue reading

Hatsubasho 2015: Day 7

Harumafuji slips up
Harumafuji slips up

Harumafuji’s slip-up gives up a surprising gold star to a visibly injured Jokoryu. There’s a lot of speculation about why the yokozuna fell so easily but my take on it is he was trying for a rare kimarite and underestimated Jokoryu’s ability to stand his ground. I’ve never seen anyone reach all the way round the opponent to grab the thong part of the mawashi. Until I know the real name, I’m going to call it an attempted nuclear-wedgie. I will not fault Harumafuji for trying because I enjoy his creative style of sumo. He seems to always find new ways to win that I haven’t seen, like the komatasukui from yesterday. The timing today is questionable, when tied for the lead with Hakuho to close out week one.
Continue reading

Hatsubasho 2015: Day 5

HakuhoIkioi

Ikioi (0-5) came close to pulling off the upset of his career against Hakuho. In a characteristically spirited fight he very nearly conquered the yokozuna, slapping the champ down by the shoulder. But, the gyoji was right calling Hakuho as victor. On review, the heel of Ikioi’s foot had touched the dirt on the wrong side of the straw bale while Hakuho was still in the air [blurry picture above]. He’s clearly much better than his winless record would attest…but he’ll get there.
Continue reading

Hatsubasho 2015: Day 4

Painful stance for Kotoshogiku
Painful stance for Kotoshogiku

I really think Ichinojo puts a lot of planning into each bout. He’s a real tactician. He was very slow at the tachiai…waiting for Kotoshogiku to make the first move. With the ozeki’s knee issues, it was apparent that he was experiencing discomfort holding a crouched stance for more than a few seconds before the tachiai. After just a few seconds, he had to adjust into more of a forward lean and finally had to go ahead into a three-point stance and initiate the charge rather than wait on Ichinojo. As he bulled across the dohyo, Ichinojo just grabbed him by the back and pushed him down. Some do not like his tactics but I enjoy the chess he plays. Kisenosato used to slow roll his tachiai, getting many opponents to false start, until Ichinojo abused him.
Continue reading

Hatsubasho 2015: Day 3

Forget what I said yesterday about Kakuryu’s leg drive. Maybe his foot was asleep. He drove Tochinoshin out today, which is no mean feat. However, Hakuho and Harumafuji just look plain dangerous. They destroyed Takarafuji and Ikioi in short order. Also with 3 wins are maegashiras Jokoryu, Okinoumi, and Arawashi. Jokoryu’s been solid. If he keeps it up we’ll see how he does against better competition. Right now, though, Hakuho and Harumafuji look unstoppable.

Two Ozeki went down today, Kotoshogiku and Kisenosato. Kotoshogiku came up a bit lame on his leg. I hope it’s not too serious but it will seriously hinder his chances at staying among the Ozeki. Kisenosato hung on for dear life against Terunofuji who claimed his second ozeki scalp. For his efforts, he gets to face Hakuho tomorrow who beat him in each of their two meetings in September and November last year.

Aoiyama fell today to Ichinojo who met his fellow sekiwake head on with a strong tachiai and perservered for the yorikiri forceout. Endo had an evenly matched, lively bout against Aminishiki and should have won. Review shows Aminishiki touching with his hand before the pair tumbled off the dohyo into the crowd. But in the heat of the moment, Aminishiki was ruled victor and disappointingly there was no monoii conference to review the decision. As further punishment, Endo will face Harumafuji tomorrow. He may want to pull a Chiyoootori and call in sick.

Hatsubasho 2015: Day 2

Kakuryu was the first yokozuna to fall today. His knee seemed to give when he was pushed to the edge of the dohyo. Given yesterday’s stumble, I’m wondering how healthy his knee is. He didn’t seem to get much drive against Takarafuji. He’s scheduled to take on Tochinoshin tomorrow who, despite the past injury, has a lot of power in his legs. For his part, he put up a valiant effort against Hakuho today so I’m going to pick him over a weakened Kakuryu tomorrow.

Harumafuji is looking on top of his game. He quickly dispatched Takayasu, revenge for the out-of-control spill over the summer? Kotoshogiku and Kisenosato both picked up wins but Goeido dropped his bout to Terunofuji. Aminishiki picked up a good throw victory against Ichinojo and Endo lost to Aoiyama. Endo immediately went back to view the replay of his match because I’m sure he thought Aoiyama stepped out. Replays show Aoiyama danced along the straw bails, letting Endo fall to the floor. He was never out.

So far, it’s looking like Harumafuji, Hakuho, Kisenosato, and Aoiyama will be battling for the title. They’re looking pretty fierce.