Natsu Day 9 – Ones To Watch

Amakaze – Ready To Compete In the Sandanme Undefeated Bracket

For fans of the lower divisions, day 8 was obliteration, with many of our cohort in the “Ones to Watch” going down to defeat, and others finding their fortunes dashed on the dohyo. With all of our rikishi now having 4 matches complete, only Naya and Amazake are still undefeated, with everyone else taking at least one loss.

Action from day 8

RikishiOutcomeScore
HoshoryuLoss2-2
MidorifujiWin2-2
NayaWin4-0
MusashikuniLoss1-3
TerunofujiLoss3-1
ShojiLoss2-2
AmakazeWin4-0

Some highlights and lowlights: Amakaze tossed Shinyashiki like a sack of rice being loaded onto a truck; it’s really the only way to describe it. He picks up his kachi-koshi, remains undefeated and enters the yusho playoff bracket that holds 12 rikishi. Unless something odd happens, there WILL be a playoff for the Sandanme yusho.

Terunofuji’s match was a stumbling mess, and the former Ozeki looked completely off tempo and was ripe for a loss. This gives him his first black star, and takes him out of the yusho race. It also considerably slows his rise back toward the salaried ranks, and he may not find himself out of Sandanme for a bit longer.

Naya remains unbeaten, and he will enter the bracket for the Makushita yusho for the second consecutive tournament. Does this mean that Naya is suddenly better than his rival Hoshoryu? No, it underscores how brutal and effective the meat grinder is at the top of Makushita.

Hoshoryu found himself on a fast track to the south side zabuton when he squared off against another young fast-riser in Ryuko, who made quick work of Hoshoryu. Focus on 4 wins, Hoshoryu – you are in fine shape to get there.

Now on to day 9. You will note that most of the 4-0 lower division rikishi are in action on day 9, as they start to winnow the undefeated pool and try to get to a yusho winner within the remaining 3 matches. In Sandanme and Jonidan, it’s almost certain there will be playoff matches on day 15, but it’s going to be a great adventure to get there. Day 9 is heavy with the Makushita side of our roster, so it’s another late night for Team Tachiai!

Wakamotoharu vs Jokoryu – In this 1-3 bracket match, the loser goes away make-koshi, and facing demotion for Nagoya. Both of these men are trying to return to Juryo, one of them will face disappointment today.

Ichiyamamoto vs Hoshoryu – Two of our “Ones to Watch” up in the same match, it’s a 2-2 bracket that brings two scrappers face to face and underscores that fierce nature of the top ranks of Makushita. Ichiyamamoto won their only prior match.

Midorifuji vs Takakento – Another rematch will see Midorifuji try to even up the career record in this 2-2 bracket fight. Former Takanohana rikishi (now Chiganoura) Takakento is fighting at his highest ever rank, and needs 2 more to advance higher on the banzuke.

Naya vs Tsukahara – A 4-0 bracket match, the winner advances into the ever decreasing pool of rikishi who will compete for the Makushita yusho. Naya will face off against another fast risking young star in Kasugano’s Tsukahara, who has a Jonokuchi and Jonidan yusho to his name.

Roga vs Kototora – Young Roga finds himself in an upper Sandanme 2-2 bracket match, looking for 2 more wins to reach the safety of kachi-koshi. Kototora is fighting at his highest ever rank, but his 55 basho experience may provide a decisive edge.

Amakaze vs Tsugaruumi – Sandanme yusho bracket match sees former Juryo mainstay Amakaze go to work against Sandanme mainstay Tsugaruumi. Tsugaruumi has struggled with injury, and is one of the lighter rikishi in Sandanme. This might set up a second consecutive “grab and toss” from Amakaze.

Kitanowaka vs Oba – Former high school Yokozuna finds himself in a 3-1 bracket, but surprisingly he still has a path to a Jonokuchi yusho. With 3 matches left, there are only 3 rikishi with a 4-0 record, meaning there is a fair chance that the eventual yusho winner will not be undefeated. To remain in the hunt, he needs to get past Oba.

Hattorizakura vs Higohikari – Congrats to Higohikari who will pick up his first win today against perpetual soft-sumo expert Hattorizakura.

Natsu Day 7 – Ones To Watch

Day 7 is loaded down with action for our “Ones to Watch”; it’s the middle weekend, and some of our favorites will be 4-0 by Sunday. Day 6 saw Musashikuni finally get his first win of the Basho to improve to 1-2, and hopefully put himself on the road to kachi-koshi. Elsewhere in Makushita, Wakatakamoto picked up his first win as well against Ayanoumi, while Akua lost his first to drop to 2-1. In Sandanme, Roga won to improve to 2-1, as did Shoji. Amakaze won against Hikarifuji to improve to 3-0.

Day 7 matches

Wakamotoharu vs Tamaki – Wakamotoharu finds himself in the 1-2 bracket going into the middle weekend, needing 3 more wins out of 4 matches to make kachi-koshi and likely punch his ticket back to Juryo. The problem with that plan is that out of the 3 prior matches with Tamaki, Wakamotoharu has won only one.

Kotokamatani vs Takanofuji – This 3-0 bracket match will determine who goes into the yusho playoff ladder, and it features both Makushita 2 rikishi, both of which have yet to lose. Kotokamatani has really been impressive thus far, and looks to be a good candidate for promotion, which the winner of this bout likely clinches -lksumo.

Ichiyamamoto vs Kizakiumi – What a difference a win makes, as Ichiyamamoto has 2 wins and only needs 2 more out of 4 to get to kachi-koshi. His Juryo promotion is not as certain, due to him being ranked Makushita 3, but his first goal has to be that 4th win. Okinawan Kizakiumi has rocketed up the banzuke after joining Kise heya from Nihon University’s sumo program. Ichiyamamoto is going to have his hands full.

Wakatakamoto vs Takakento – It’s an Onami brothers day of sumo, with all 3 on the dohyo during the afternoon. Wakatakamoto won the previous match against Takakento, which took place a year ago.

Akua vs Kototebakari – Kototebakari has been on a rocket ride up the banzuke since he joined Sadogatake in 2017. He is fighting at his personal highest rank ever, and could present a lot of fight to Akua, who I am convinced is still not completely recovered from his September 2018 injuries that caused him to withdraw from the Aki Basho on day 12.

Roga vs Wagurayama – After taking the first loss of his professional sumo career, Roga is back to dominating every match. Perhaps some of the pressure was relieved, and he can focus more on each match as it comes? This 2-1 bracket match means that Roga is most likely not going to contest for the Sandanme yusho, which may have also relieved some worries.

Wakaichiro vs Harimanada – After a cold 0-2 start, Wakaichiro looked like a completely different rikishi for his 3rd match, confidently launching Amamidake across the tawara and into the zabuton. With any luck we will see that kind of sumo again on day 7 as Wakaichiro goes up against Onoe heya’s Harimanada. Harimanada has never been ranked higher than Jonidan, and in fact was banzuke gai for about a year.

Kitanowaka vs Ito – Mr Fabulous takes on Ito in this Jonokuchi 3-0 match, where we will watch a former high school Yokozuna battle Saitama native Ito, a graduate of the Tokyo University of Agriculture. Will this one be less lopsided than the prior 3?

Hattorizakura vs Garyu – Good news for Garyu! He finally gets to pick up his first win. Perpetual soft sumo pro Hattorizakura shows no sign of getting fierce any time soon. It’s ok, the fans adore him.

Natsu Day 5 – Ones To Watch

Welcome to the end of act 1 – In the lower divisions, it has less of an effect than it does for sekitori, but we can already see how the lower division “Ones to Watch” are setting up for the remainder of the Natsu basho. In day 4 action, we had a large number of our cohort in action, with many of them in Sandanme. Amakaze, Terunofuji and Roga all won, while Musashikuni and Shoji lost, further lowering the overall Musashigawa heya’s record.

On to the matches!

Wakamotoharu vs Fujiazuma – A 0-2 bracket match, both of these rikishi share the Makushita 1 rank, and as is typical for the bloody battlefield at the top of sumo’s 3rd division, there is carnage everywhere. For these two, it’s about survival now. Both of them need 4 wins to get their ticket stamped to Juryo, but that looks like a long, steep climb from here.

Ichiyamamoto vs Tobizaru – It’s Ichiyamamoto’s turn to head to Juryo, this time to face the flying monkey; Tobizaru. Ichiyamamoto has tied his highest ever rank this basho, and with both Makushita 1’s in a tight spot, the Juryo promotion lanes my be a bit more open than usual. Time to step on the gas, guys.

Hoshoryu vs Kotokamatani – Two early favorites for the front of any promotion queue, the only two rikishi at the top of Makushita who are unbeaten face each other tonight for sole possession of the overtaking lane. Both are sharp, capable and healthy. Furthermore, both of them show considerable amount of planning in each match, and I think this could be a highlight bout of the day.

Midorifuji vs Kototebakari – A 1-1 bracket match, Midorifuji is still in great shape working towards 4 wins. He has faced Kototebakari once before, for a loss.

Terunofuji vs Komakiryu – For these two it’s 2-0 head to head on day 5, but it’s an odd match up to be certain. Komakiryu is a 34 year old veteran from Kise heya, and spent a good amount of time in Makushita before drifting back down to Sandanme. Terunofuji is still not even close to his real capabilities, but is improved from Osaka. Winner advances to the 3-0 bracket.

Wakaichiro vs Amamidake – For Wakaichiro fans, the numbers are grim. Currently at 0-2, both matches featured frustrating surprises that has left Wakaichiro without a win. The good news is that there is still a path to kachi-koshi, and Wakaichiro has recovered from this situation in the past.

Kitanowaka vs Yabugasaki – The young Jonokuchi sensation will face another newcomer who is a height and weight match for him. As always, its tough to rank new recruits straight from Maezumo, and we expect the Nagoya banzuke to have a better sort order. If anything, Kitanowaka may be under-ranked right now.

Low Division bouts – Day 3

Kotokamatani wearing an oicho-mage for his Juryo visit today

Here are a few bouts I collected for day 3.

Down in Jonokuchi, Toma, Hakuho’s gigantic uchi-deshi, had his second bout for this basho, vs. Ito, and his first monoii.

Ow, ow, ow. Poor Ito. He looks completely out of it. Well, 206kg falling on top of you is no small matter (see what I did there?). He is lucky the shimpan did not decide on a torinaoshi.

First loss for Toma, then.

Edit: This bout from the TV angle. The Isamiashi is much clearer:

Edit: I found Kitanowaka’s bout vs. Tokisakae – here it is:

Mmm. That man belongs at least in Sandanme at the moment, if not Makushita.

The rest of the videos I found are from Makushita. Let’s start with Tomisakae, who faces Tanabe.

Yeah, the video doesn’t include the tachiai. But Tomisakae, Isegahama’s back-flipping rikishi, seems to be serious this basho.

The famous Naya vs. Koba:

This bout reminds me of a Takakeisho bout. Could it be he is influencing his tsukebito already? Naya does well to maintain his balance as Koba tries to dispatch him near the edge there, and then actually wins by pulling wildly – which will not always work for him.

The match between Hoshoryu and Jokoryu today was all over the Japanese press. “Hoshoryu’s first bout with a former san-yaku wrestler”, the titles shouted. Let’s see how this went, in NattoSumo’s excellent clip:

Hoshoryu said, in an interview after this bout: “I guessed that he will go for a slap, and slap he did. By the time I had reacted he already had his arms well inside. I am glad I was still able to push forward”.

Yes, it wasn’t a bout Hoshoryu should be too proud of. His Tachiai was, indeed, not quite fast enough for a good opponent.

As for that monoii – NattoSumo says he doesn’t understand exactly what happened. Well, the sportscaster is saying “It seems Hoshoryu’s leg was out first… but by then, Jokoryu was already out of balance. The commentator agrees: “He had no body” (that’s like saying his body was dead). But says the word “bimyo” – which means this is not clear-cut. The kyogi (discussion of a monoii) proceeds, and Onomatsu oyakata announces – surprisingly clearly – that they were discussing the leg, but decided with the judge. So it seems that they indeed judged Jokoryu’s body to be dead.

Hoshoryu is 2-0, and fans expect him to be matched next with Takanofuji (the former Takayoshitoshi, you know), who is also 2-0 and looking very aggressive.

Ichiyamamoto vs. Fujiazuma:

Compared to all the above drops and falls, this bout looks positively serene.

We venture into Juryo, where Kotokamatani is visiting to balance the odd number of sekitori in this basho. For this reason, he gets a fine-looking oicho-mage. He goes against our friend Akiseyama:

Akiseyama uses every bit of his experience, but Kotokamatani plants his head and exhibits a lot of patience. He is rewarded by becoming todays blob on the NSK’s “Fan-chosen Fighting Spirit Rikishi” list (Makushita rikishi don’t have a photo in the NSK app, so they are shown as a rikishi-shaped blob if they get elected for that list).

Let’s finish with Aminishiki, who is facing Irodori, the newbie. Aminishiki tends to win first encounters:

And indeed he does, in his usual style. Your opponent gets too enthusiastic about his tsuppari? Move a little sideways and let him enjoy the view from below the dohyo.

Natsu Day 3 – Ones To Watch

On day 2 the lower division did not disappoint, with some fantastic and interesting matches. I will note that Wakaichiro lost his first match of the Natsu basho. In a surprising tactic, he went chest to chest with Miyakogawa, which is the format that Miyakogawa prefers. To his credit, Wakaichiro showed a lot of fighting spirit, and some impressive strength, lifting and swinging Miyakogawa multiple times. But Miyakogawa was very stable, and was able to keep on his feet, eventually finding and exploiting an opening to take the match.

In Sandanme, Terunofuji won his first match, and looks to be in somewhat improved physical condition from Osaka. He made quick and easy work of Daishomune, and will move on to the 1-0 bracket. Roga did not fare as well, and suffered his first ever loss as a professional rikishi, dropping his match to Hokutotsubasa.

In Makushita, Midorifuji showed Nogami some really fabulous sumo to win his first match, Naya racked up his first win, and Hoshoryu prevailed against Tamaki.

Day 3 Matches

Ichiyamamoto vs Fujiazuma – After his day 2 loss, Ichiyamamoto will look for his first win against former Maegashira Fujiazuma. While some may wonder how Ichiyamamoto is drawing such tough opponents, the upper brackets of Makushita are thick with former top division rikishi who are seeking a way back to the salaried ranks.

Hoshoryu vs Jokoryu – Yes, that Jokoryu, who has lost his paid rank and is now down in Makushita battling 12 other high energy rikishi looking to climb the ladder back to Sekitori status. As some are starting to think about how Hoshoryu might fare in juryo, this will be an excellent test.

Midorifuji vs Akua – Oh yes, two of our “Ones to Watch” competing head to head! We expect that this will be a solid match, as Midorifuji probably holds a speed and energy advantage, and Akua has the edge in size and experience.

Wakaichiro vs Taketsukasa – After a hard fought day 2 opening match, Wakaichiro gets his next shot at his first win of Natsu against young Taketsukasa, from Irumagawa heya. Taketsukasa is only in his 7th basho as a professional rikishi, and has been as high as Sandanme 93.

Kitanowaka vs Tokisakae – Kitanowaka’s first match (day 1) was a completely lopsided event, and I am going to guess we will see more of that on day 3, as 120kg Tokisakae has the misfortune of drawing a match with Kitanowaka.