Lower divisions – Days 11 and 12

Hoshoryu avoided a make-koshi on his birthday

Today I’m trying to catch up on two days of lower division action. Let’s start with day 11, May 22.

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Natsu Day 12 – Ones To Watch

Day 11 was chock-ablock with our “Ones to Watch” cohorts, and that leaves day 12 with a light schedule. On day 11, we had the yusho candidates facing each other, and the few remaining undefeated in our list all took their first loss. This included Naya losing to Takanofuji, who will face Chiyoarashi for the Makushita yusho. In Sandanme, Amakaze lost to Toyo University entrant Shiraishi, who will go on to contest for the yusho on day 13.

I also am happy to report that Wakaichiro picked up his 4th win and secure his kachi-koshi after a worrying 0-2 start. He battled back from a cold opening to a winning record, with one match left to decide how large his July promotion will be. For reasons I don’t understand, he always fights better in Tokyo.

For those following the return of former Ozeki Terunofuji, he also won decisively on day 11, improving to 5-1. Roga also won, securing his kachi-koshi in a very one-sided match against Aratora.

Day 12 Matches

Wakatakamoto vs Jokoryu – Both men hold a make-koshi (1-4), and for Jokoryu this derails any hope he might have of returning to the salaried ranks any time soon. Experience edge goes to Jokoryu, and I think I would give a health advantage to Wakatakamoto.

Midorifuji vs Chiyootori – The former Komusubi, Chiyootori, is one win away from a winning record, if he can get past Midorifuji. Chiyootori is not ranked high enough to make it back to Juryo this tournament, but he could possibly get to that position by Aki with some skill and some luck.

Akua vs Bushozan – Both men have their 4th win already, and now they are fighting for rank in the Makushita joi-jin for Nagoya. Bushozan is fighting just below his highest ever rank, where Akua seeks to return to Juryo soon.

Musashikuni vs Keitenkai – Musashikuni can still reach kachi-koshi, but he needs to win his 2 remaining matches. His oppoennt, Keitenkai, was injured on day 2 of Aki 2012, and spent the next year struggling to recover and re-ascend the banzuke.

Shoji vs Hikarugenji – Winner of this match is kachi-koshi. Their one prior match was taken by Osaka native Hikarugenji.

Kitanowaka vs Ryuga – This match is actually to determine where to rank both of these 4-1 rikishi for the Nagoya banzuke. I would expect both of them to make the cut for Jonidan, but where is the quesiton.

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 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.