Haru Day 13 – Ones To Watch

Naya is ready to rumble

As we enter the final 3 days of the basho, the lower division rikishi are facing their final match. For a large number of our “Ones to Watch”, their final match will decide if they exit Osaka with a winning or losing record. In Day 12 action, Hoshoryu battled back to even his score at 3-3 with a win over Sakigake (video below). After a rough period with 3 straight losses in a row, Hoshoryu has battled back to even.

Day 13 Matches

Akua vs Chiyosakae – A 3-3 bracket match, the winner will be kachi-koshi, and the loser make-koshi. Chiyosakae is a 39 basho Makushita veteran who will not be an easy match for Akua.

Ichiyamamoto vs Irodori – Ichiyamamoto takes on Makushita 1 East Irodori in a 5-1 bracket match. Irodori is already likely headed to Juryo, but this match might determine if Ichiyamamoto joins him.

Naya vs Churanoumi – The Makushita yusho playoff match, both rikishi are 6-0 heading into their final match. The winner takes the tournament, the loser gets a nice promotion.

Torakio vs Sekizuka – Neither of these rikishi have a single win. For Torakio this has been a total collapse, and I have to wonder what kind of injury has prevented him from executing really any good sumo for the past 2 weeks.

Shoji vs Komakiryu – Both rikishi are already make-koshi (2-4 bracket), so this match determines how stiff of a demotion is coming to them.

Roga vs Kotomiyakura – Split Jonidan / Sandanme playoff, due to the odd number of undefeated rikishi in both divisions. If Roga wins, there will be a follow-on playoff match later in the tournament to decide the Jonidan yusho.

Terunofuji vs Sadatsuyoshi – Jonidan yusho playoff match, this one may or may not determine the yusho given how the Roga match turns out. Sadatsuyoshi is another young rikishi, who has never before had 6 wins in a tournament, so this is a big moment for him. If Terunofuji repeats his day 11 performance, Sadatsuyoshi will get a rough ride.

Hattorizakura vs Hakuyo – The found someone in Jonikuchi for Hattorizakura to lose to! Hakuyo has been kyujo up until now, but returns for his final match against sumo’s most losing Jonidan.

Haru Day 12 – Ones To Watch

After the full roster and day 11, day 12 brings only a few of our “Ones to Watch” to the dohyo for their 6th match. Day 11 action saw wins by Terunofuji, Amakaze, Roga, Naya and Midorifuji. Sadly Wakaichiro lost his 6th match, and will face make or kachi koshi his final bout. Naya remains in the Makushita yusho hunt, picking up his 6th win. Terunofuji and Roga won their day 11 matches to advance to 6-0 and remain in the yusho hunt.

Day 12 Matches

Hoshoryu vs Sakigake – Loser of this match is make-koshi. Sakigake is a former Juryo rikishi who has been working in Makushita for the last 4 years. Typically in the top 15 ranks of Makushita, Sakigake is one tough competitor, and he will be a handful for Hoshoryu.

Akua vs Ryusei – As with the match above, this is a 2-3 bracket fight, and the loser will take home a make-koshi. After a strong open, Akua has struggled to make headway against a very competitive Makushita Joi-jin. Ryusei is a 32 year old veteran, and this match may come down to who gets the inside position at the tachiai.

Ichiyamamoto vs Kototebakari – Both rikishi are kachi-koshi, and have a single loss. So this match is simply to run up the score. For Ichiyamamoto, there is a slim, outside chance that he might be promotable if he wins the remainder of his matches. Kototebakari is yet another fast-risking young hard-charger. At 19 years of age and 144 kg, he is in a “sweet spot” for Makushita.

Shoji vs Tsuyukusa – Yet another 2-3 bracket match, with the loser being make-koshi for Osaka. Musashigawa heya’s Shoji faces another young, up and coming rikishi looking to press into Makushita.

Haru Day 9 – Ones To Watch

In day 8 action, the Makushita yusho race was locked in as a number of strong rikishi managed to join Naya in the 4-0 column, including fellow one to watch Ichiyamamoto, and former Sekitori mainstay Chiyootori. With only 7 rikishi with perfect records, the field will narrow quickly, and the yusho winner may not end the basho with a perfect record. Late in the Makushita fight roster, Hoshoryu dropped his 3rd match of the basho, and has clearly hit a level of competition that presents a real and formidable challenge to his growing sumo skill.

Day 9 Matches

Ichiyamamoto vs Churanoumi – Let the yusho elimination begin! Ichiyamamoto will take on phenom (and former Juryo man) Churanoumi, who has both a Jonidan and Sandanme yusho to his name from 2016. Churanoumi Has been ranked in the top 10 of Makushita or above since Osaka last year, so Ichiyamamoto has a tough day’s work in front of him.

Midorifuji vs Bushozan – A 2-2 bracket match, Midorifuji wukk face Fujishima heya’s Bushozan, who is looking to bounce back from a make-koshi in January.

Naya vs Tsurubayashi – The second match of our “ones to watch” in the yusho bracket, young Naya is facing off against higher ranked rikishi in an effort to contest for the division title. Ms38 ranked Tsurubayashi is a rough equal for Naya in terms of size and weight, but the 25 year old rikishi Kise heya is a 40 tournament Makushita veteran, and will bring a wealth of experience to the dohyo.

Torakio vs Dairaido – Torakio is still hunting for his first win. Will he score it against former Juryo wrestler Takadagawa? It’s going to be a tough day for the Naruto heya rikishi.

Terunofuji vs Daiyusho – Jonidan yusho race match, former Ozeki Terunofuji looks a little better with each match, and his opponent on day 9 has only been in sumo since Osaka of last year. The prospect of fighting an increasingly genki former Ozeki probably fills young Daiyusho (he’s only 16…) with dread.

Hattorizakura vs Higohikari – I am going to watch this match just in case Higohikari falls down.

Haru Day 8 (Nakabi) – Ones To Watch

While Hoshoryu has hit the Makushita wall, his sometimes rival, Naya, finished day 7 with a 4-0 record. Already kachi-koshi, he now enters the yusho bracket, along with any other rikishi who manage to finish their 4th match with 4 wins. Day 7 also saw Terunofuji win, to bring him to 4-0, and into the Jonidan yusho bracket. Meanwhile Wakaichiro dominated his day 7 match against Kotourasaki, and improved to 2-2.

On to day 8 action!

Hoshoryu vs Kotodaigo – This is an even match of two lean, fast moving rikishi who focus on technical sumo over size or brute strength. At Makushita 7, Hoshoryu is finding the competition especially tough, and is challenged as never before in his sumo career. While very optimistic fans entertained the notion of a strong kachi-koshi launching Hoshoryu to Juryo, the top 10 ranks of Makushita are a slaughterhouse, and most feel thankful just to rack up their 4th win.

Ichiyamamoto vs Gokushindo – Former Juryo man Gokushindo dropped to Ms20 for Haru, but his 3-0 record brings him up to battle Ichiyamamoto. Gokushindo has been a sekitori, and he wants back in the life of sumo’s nobility, and he is fighting like he means it. Ichiyamamoto’s sumo is red-hot this basho, so this might be an epic clash of rikishis battling for their kachi-koshi.

Wakatakamoto vs Chiyootori – Another former sekitori, Chiyootori, is also in the 3-0 bracket. The winner gets their kachi-koshi and moves on to join Naya in the yusho bracket. The last of the lower ranked Onami brothers seems to have strong motivation to join his brothers in Juryo.

Torakio vs Oisato – Naruto heya scion, Torakio, is having a terrible Haru. He is 0-3, and a loss on day 8 would mean make-koshi. His rank means he is safe in Sandanme, but it would be a setback for his work to reach Makushita.

Torakio vs Mori – Sumo’s leviathan, Kenho, looks to pick up his second win against the much much smaller Mori.

Hattorizakura vs Toya – Hattorizakura has faced Toya 3 times, and lost every time. Although not as meek as Hattorizakura, Toya has yet to achieve a single kachi-koshi tournament.

Haru Day 5 – Ones To Watch

The Amakaze – Terunofuji match ended without injury, and Terunofuji was able to execute a somewhat clumsy kotenage for the win. Elsewhere, Hattorizakura did in fact lose again, even though Houn looks even more malnourished and underdeveloped than Hattorizakura, if that were possible.

Naya also picked up a win, and looked really strong doing it. He improves to a solid 2-0 start. The crowd was really into this match, and you can hear by all of the hooting and hollering in the video below:

Day 5 Matches

Ichiyamamoto vs Kaito – Both rikishi have made it to the 2-0 bracket, and this is their first ever match. Kaito is another young, hard-charging rikishi who actually had to talk almost a year off to recover from injury in 2015, and is fighting near his top ever rank. They are evenly matched in size and weight – it should be a solid bout.

Wakatakamoto vs Asakoki – Also a 2-0 bracket match, the lowest ranked Onami brother enters this rematch with Makushita mainstay Asakoki looking to advance to the increasingly narrow undefeated bracket. Asakoki holds a slight size advantage, but Wakatakamoto won their single prior match.

Musashikuni vs Tsurubayashi – An additional 2-0 bracket match in Makushita, the scion of the Musashigawa stable holds a distinct height and weight advantage over Tsurubayashi, who has been fighting in Makushita since 2012. Musashikuni does indeed seem to have overcome his injuries and physical problems, and is back to strong power-sumo.

Torakio vs Kotokino – Torakio has yet to win his first match of the basho, and he tries his luck against Sandanme 11 Kotokino. Kotokino is about 180 kg, and is a seriously bulky guy, so I expect Torakio to have his work cut out for him.

Shoji vs Koshinishiki – Another Musashigawa rikishi in action on day 5, and Shoji is looking to improve his 1-1 record against long-ranked Sandanme rikishi Koshinishiki.

Wakaichiro vs Kiryu – Our Texas sumotori, Wakaichiro, lost his day 3 match after he found himself too far forward against a skilled opponent. In their only prior match, Wakaichiro was able to defeat the much larger Kiryu via hatakikomi.

Kenho vs Fukuazuma – Kenho lost his day 4 match, and enters day 5 with a 1-1 score. At 107 kg, Fukuazuma is less than half of Kendo’s size. Kenho has terrible mobility on most days, so I expect that Fukuazuma is going to use this to his advantage.