Day 10 From Lower Divisions

Jonokuchi
No one on the Jonokuchi torikumi is leading for the yusho though there were a few hopefuls with an outside chance on one loss. I found a great video featuring the first four bouts of Day 10. This is a gem and shows why I stay the whole day when I get a chance to watch a tournament live. It moves fast, these four bouts take less than 10 minutes.

First up, Hattorizakura was set to battle Shishimaru to see who would pick up their first win. Shishimaru is a big guy and seems to toy with Hattorizakura, giving him a little hope by backing up to the edge. Quickly, and unceremoniously, Shishimaru pivots and throws the hapless Hattorizakura to the clay. Shishimaru picks up his first win and Hattorizakura picks up his fifth loss. All is right with the universe.

Next up we have Yada on the left versus Houn. This does not go the way I expected. Things start out with pushing, thrusting, favoring the larger Yada. He whiffs on a punch and Houn pounces, grabs the belt and takes control. He’s not strong enough to topple the kid 40 kilos heavier. Instead, he looks like a truck driver, steering his out-of-control rig around the dohyo and out. Houn gets his second win of the tournament, tying his best finish. Can he pick up a third? Yada is 1-4 in his debut tournament.

The third bout in this video features Tanaka on the left versus Toya. Tanaka is slight but has some serious moxie. The 68kg bulldozer drives Toya back and throws him in a heap off the dohyo. Lastly, Takamasaki on the left against Sawada. A solid tachiai but Sawada seemed unready for the fact that given the combined inertia of these two he’d end up going backwards, slipping to 2-3 while Takamasaki improves to 3-2.

Sandanme
I couldn’t find any Jonidan bouts so we move on to the sandanme bout of Ones to Watch regular Naya (right) against Shohoryu. Naya is a tall guy but still seems to be a bit too high after the initial tachiai and tsuppari. Shohoryu manages to get inside, drive Naya back a bit on the defensive. Then he uses that belt grip, and some flexibility, to get a great shitatenage under-arm throw.

Makushita
Musashikuni began the Fukuoka tournament kyujo. He missed his first bout and came back in time for his second, which he lost. However, he has been on a tear since and picked up his third win on Day 10 against journeyman wrestler, Oazuma.

Oazuma has been in sumo for 12 years. He had a major setback in 2010 and fell back to Jonokuchi where he won the yusho. Since 2013, however, he’s been a makushita regular. In their bout, Musashikuni got a great drive off the line, pushing Oazuma straight back before he locked in with a solid belt grip with both hands and did his best Tochinoshin impression for a great yorikiri win. Musashikuni has a chance to pick up his kachi-koshi tomorrow against Obamaumi.

Juryo

This Juryo digest video starts of with a great tachiai between Daiseido, visiting from Makushita with his kachi-koshi already, and Tomokaze who will want two more wins to stay in the professional ranks. Daiseido’s forceful charge sends Tomokaze back to the straw bales but the big guy is agile and manages to escape to the other side of the dohyo. After a few attempts at shoving Daiseido out prove futile, Tomokaze perceives his opponent over-committing, and slips to the side. Daiseido’s own momentum launches him, uncontrolled, across the dohyo and Tomokaze’s hatakikomi attempt turns into a twisting sukuinage as his right arm pulls up while the left drives down.

Is it just me, or did Mitoryu attempt a henka? Azamaryu recovers but falls to a hatakikomi. Gokushindo has learned to keep Enho away from his belt at all costs. This bout is a lot of leaning with short bursts of activity which probably wore on Gokushindo’s focus. After a long wait, Enho pounces. While spinning and trying to keep those hands away from his belt, Gokushindo loses his balance and his hand touches the clay. A tiny mistake but that’s all it takes.

Ones to Watch: Kyushu 17 Wrap-up

Above: Enho rounds off his tournament by escorting Akinohana off the dohyo.
Video c/o Asashosakari

Remember way back in September and October when we were shaking our heads in disbelief at “Wacky” Aki? How positively calm those days seem now. We took a week or so to collect ourselves following the conclusion of the unprecedented events of the Kyushu basho, but now it’s time to wrap-up our “Ones to Watch” series for 2017. Thanks to everyone who sent through kind words and their suggestions of future rikishi to follow – I think we’ll have a good list in store for Hatsu.

Results

So, how did our picks do on the whole?

Kachi-koshi: 17
Make-koshi: 3
Yusho: 🏆🏆
Hattorizakura-watch: ⚫️⚫️⚫️⚫️⚫️⚫️⚫️

Makushita

Ms4 Mitoryu (Nishikido) – Mitoryu sealed his promotion to Juryo with a fine 6-1 record, justifying our selection as top pick in the Makushita ranks this time out. He’ll be ineligible for the list next time, but the much-vaunted rikishi will continue to be one to watch as he continues his progression and hopefully consolidates his place among the sekitori.

Ms7 Hokaho (Miyagino) – I was somewhat hopeful that Hokaho could continue his run, having scored winning records in every other basho in 2017. However the run stops here as he slumped to a 3-4 make-koshi courtesy of a final match loss against…

Ms11 Takayoshitoshi (Takanohana) – … who sealed his kachi-koshi in the same match. Takagenji’s twin will no doubt be challenged to follow his brother’s (who has managed to hold on to his place in Juryo) progress as he’ll see himself inside the top 10 Makushita ranks for Hatsu. The question is whether he can put together the run of consistency that could see him in promotion contention by mid-2018 – his mental makeup and application have been debated somewhat within the comments section of this site.

Ms12 Wakatakakage (Arashio) vs Ms22 Murata (Takasago) – Despite entering the tournament at a similar pedigree (just the odd loss separating them over their careers), the strength of schedule really told here. Wakatakakage was simply out-shoved against a selection of seasoned vets at this level en route to a 3-4 make-koshi, including the eventual yusho winner Tochihiryu. Murata on the other hand was able to bulldoze his way through the middle of the pack to a very strong 6-1 record that will see him promoted above his contemporary next time out and almost certainly into the top 10 Makushita ranks.

Ms14 Jokoryu (Kise) vs Ms14 Enho (Miyagino) – I felt there was a lot of spice in the Makushita 14 pairing as Jokoryu was the very last rikishi before Enho to achieve 3 consecutive 7-0 records to begin his career. With different goals at stake – Jokoryu’s late career fightback to the pro ranks, Enho’s effort to continue a blistering start to his career – both men valiantly achieved 5-2 records which will see them also placed in the Makushita top 10 in January.

It’s worth noting that Enho’s energy is absolutely remarkable, and currently his speed is the main trait that helps him overcome the massive size gaps that exist between him and most competitors. Additionally, he does a good job of keeping his opponents away from the mawashi, as once he’s locked up he’s fairly easy for larger, stronger rikishi to move around (as somewhat evidenced by his loss to the enormous Akiseyama, albeit a match where his arms rather than his belt were locked up). While he displays at times a composure beyond his years in the manner in which he dispatches much larger opponents, he also has suffered a few wild crashes off the dohyo, so we will hope that he stays healthy as he continues his development.

Ms26 Ichiyamamoto (Nishonoseki) – I got this one a bit wrong, as I picked Ichiyamamoto as a bit of a sleeper yusho pick owing to the weak strength of schedule and his absolute tear up the banzuke to this point. He will continue his progression after posting a 4-3 kachi-koshi but we will want to see more next time. He displayed some good poise, despite being smaller than many of his opponents.

Ms50 Ryuko (Onoe) – A strong performance in his Makushita debut, putting up a 5-2 kachi-koshi, the odd loss coming to…

Ms52 Nishikifuji (Isegahama) – … whose victory over Ryuko (in a match that probably could have gone either way, Nishikifuji slapping down Ryuko on the verge of being pushed out at the edge) sealed a 6-1 tournament in which both men coughed up the other losses to the promising Mongolian Kiribayama. Both Ryuko and Nishikifuji are set for strong promotions upward in January and we will continue to monitor their progress. It’s worth noting that Nishikifuji’s performance at Kyushu was a rare bright spot for the otherwise beleaguered Isegahama stable.

Sandanme

Sd13 Fukuyama (Fujishima) vs Sd16 Tanabe (Kise) – I’ve rated Tanabe as the better of these two for a while, having only lost to Enho in his career entering the basho (in fairness to Fukuyama, he’d only lost to Tanabe, but he wasn’t running into Enho). This time, Enho was in another division and Tanabe repaid this faith with a solid 5-2 record that bested Fukuyama’s narrow 4 win kachi-koshi. Tanabe’s showing should be good enough to earn him a promotion, while Fukuyama will likely need to take another crack from the top of Sandanme next time out. As an aside, this is the part of the banzuke where an awful lot of rikishi’s successes are dependent about how they do against the squad from Sadogatake-beya. Both of these guys ended up facing 3 Koto-men – as did Tomokaze and Wakaichiro.

Sd53 Tomokaze (Oguruma) – Tomokaze comes up one loss short of “doing an Enho” from his first three tournaments – he dropped one match in Aki, but stormed back with a zensho (via playoff) here that solidified his credentials as a bona fide prospect. His relatively low ranking in the Sandanme division means he should end up somewhere around the magical Makushita 30 mark at which another unprecedented zensho might clinch another promotion, but it is likely based on past precedent that he’ll fall just short of this mark.

Sd84 Kotokumazoe (Sadogatake) – Talking of the myriad prospects of Sadogatake-beya, Kotokumazoe reinforces his credentials after his lengthy absence from the banzuke with a third straight solid tournament. His 5 win record should fire him up another 30-35 positions next time out.

Sd85 Wakaichiro (Musashigawa) – There’s no getting around that it was a disappointing debut at Sandanme level for the Texan, who has vowed to do better next time out. While his 1 win performance in the final basho of the year was not what he or his fans were hoping for, we are excited to see him continue his progression and hopefully solidify his credentials upon his return to Jonidan where he has already shown solid skill in several previous tournaments this year.

Jonidan

Jd15 Shoji (Musashigawa) – It’s a second straight yusho for Wakaichiro’s stablemate, who will swap places with the Tachiai-favorite in January as he earns an automatic promotion that will see him placed somewhere between Sd20-30. As we noted in our lower division yusho wrap-up, Shoji sealed the deal with a final match win over Torakio with whom he is developing a nice little rivalry.

Jd49 Torakio (Naruto) vs Jd49 Sumidagawa (Naruto) – Torakio may yet get another chance to avenge his second straight yusho race defeat to Shoji at Hatsu, as his 6 win record will more than likely be enough to get him up to Sandanme (the last time it wasn’t from his level was 1975). So while they’ll likely work from opposite ends of the division, one wouldn’t bet against the big and strong Bulgarian getting matched up with Shoji again should both men dominate in their step up.

For Sumidagawa, Torakio’s massive stablemate, the goal at Hatsu will be consolidation and further progression after he netted a 4-3 kachi-koshi which some Tachiai commenters mentioned might be the height of his ambition with respect to his more esteemed aforementioned colleague.

Jonokuchi

Jk20 Amatsu (Onomatsu) – 27 year old Amatsu turned in a fine performance on his comeback to the dohyo after nearly 3 years away. He only suffered one blemish, with a 6 win record that will see him comfortably promoted in his effort to make it back to the Makushita ranks. As I remarked last time, it was disappointing not to see him matched up with the yusho winner Kotoseigo given they were only placed 2 spots apart on the banzuke.

Jk20 Hayashi (Fujishima) – Speaking of solid performances, top debutant “Mike” Hayashi turned in a 6-1 record, his sole loss coming to the yusho winner Kotoseigo. He will be promoted at Hatsu and we will continue to monitor his progress. He will likely be replaced as our “top debutant to watch” at Hatsu by much vaunted Mongolian Yoshoyama of Tokitsukaze-beya.

Finally, while we don’t technically list Hattorizakura of Shikihide-beya as “one to watch,” we certainly will continue to look for his results, and unfortunately he put up his ninth straight 0-7 tournament at Kyushu. This tournament saw him do what I guess we can call a reverse Futabayama, as he has passed the legendary Yokozuna’s run of 63 and run his loss streak now to 67 consecutive losses (his second loss this time out, against the debutant Takita, was particularly heartbreaking as it looked like a sure win until he got Aminishiki’d at the edge). Here’s an interesting stat if you’re a Hattorizakura fan: only 16 other rikishi have managed to stay on the banzuke while not winning for seven consecutive tournaments (without going banzuke-gai). All of the other 16 were kyujo at some point, though a few did put up legitimate winless tournaments over that period. The great Yokozuna Takanohana II is a member of that list in the injury-addled latter stages of his career, so I guess Hattorizakura can at least say they have that in common!

Lower Division Yusho Watch

torakio
Torakio: Foiled again

As we head into the final day’s action, here’s a quick update as to where the yusho results in the bottom four divisions sit:

Makushita

30 year old Tochihiryu of Kasugano-beya has clinched his first yusho at this level by way of a 7-0 record that took him past several veteran and upcoming names: a split of 4 former sekitori looking to make their way back and 3 hot shot up and comers (Wakatakakage, Kiribayama and Chiyonoumi). After 2 years in the wilderness from the professional ranks, he will return to Juryo looking for a 2nd kachi-koshi at the 9th attempt.

Given what was at stake, it was a little disappointing to see his clinching win come by way of a henka against Kiribayama (hat tip once again to Tachiai commenter Asashosakari for the video).

Sandanme

Tachiai “One to Watch” Tomokaze of Oguruma-beya will feature in a playoff against Tsuyukusa of Otake-beya. This will be Tsuyukusa’s second playoff having lost the first in Jonidan earlier this year. Tomokaze, meanwhile, is off to a blistering 20-1 start to his career. He’s one Jonidan loss short of having “done an Enho.”

Jonidan

Shoji of Musashigawa-beya continues his perfect career start by way of another final match victory over the big Bulgarian Torakio (pictured above). Their bout was yet another epic between the two, who are really establishing some rivalry early on. Check it out here (thanks again to Asashosakari!). Unlike the title decider from Makushita, it is a match worthy of deciding the championship, although Torakio’s visibly disappointed demeanor after the match is going to need to improve. But as we saw in the NHK World Preview, he’s putting in the long hours in sumo school.

Happily, both of these men were featured as part of our “Ones to Watch” series and we will continue tracking both of their progress. Also happily, Jonidan is a great division if you’re a fan of awkward sumo hairstyles.

Jonokuchi

23 year old Kotoseigo of Sadogatake-beya smashed the competition en route to a zensho. Admittedly we’re a little disappointed, given that he is another rikishi to have been on and off the dohyo for long stretches over the past few years, that he was not matched up at all with another comeback success story in Amatsu. He did however take on much vaunted new boy Hayashi and blasted him off the dohyo (after a matta).

Hattorizakura did not compete for the yusho this time out, however we will cover his travails further of course in the end of basho “Ones to Watch” roundup.

Why I Love Sumo

I want to extend a huge thank you to Nista for finding this gem and posting it in the comments of Herouth’s Day 6 Summary. This bout features the first ever meeting of Kozakura and Yabuoka. Bouts like this are amazing and should be broadcast free internationally to promote sumo. (It’s preferable to watching re-runs of the news and documentaries.) Anyway, I’m not going to offer much in the way of preview or commentary on the bout, but I will offer a little background on the two participants. I hope you enjoy.

Kozakura is a 22-year-old from Ibaraki prefecture, like Kisenosato, and Takayasu. His shikona, 小櫻 means little cherry blossom but he uses an old variant kanji for sakura. Instead of the more commonly used 桜, he uses 櫻. He is a member of the Tatsunami stable, whose top rikishi is the recent Juryo sensation, Meisei. This stable is led by former komusubi Asahiyutaka. While still young, Kozakura’s sumo career began seven years ago and he has been bouncing between Jonokuchi and Jonidan. He reached his highest rank of Jonidan 47W in September of 2015 but has been on a long slide back into Jonokuchi. Despite the great effort, this loss is one of three so far. This 1-3 record so far means he will need to win out in order to get a kachi-koshi. Two more wins, though, may arrest the slide and have a chance at rejoining Jonidan.

Yabuoka, on the other hand, is a 19-year-old whose sumo journey began this year when he joined the Fujishima stable. This stable is lead by former Ozeki legend Dejima, now Onaruto Oyakata. He’s from Osaka, like Goeido, Ikioi, and Daishomaru, and is still fighting under his real name, Yabuoka Kazutaka. Oka means “hill” and is a common kanji used for place names and people’s last names – like Fukuoka. It’s an important one to know for Japanese learners. After a great spring which propelled him into the midst of Jonidan, the youngster has dropped back into Jonokuchi. He’s clearly skilled and has a lot of heart, but at a mere 87kg, he will be trying to gain mass to advance. He is 2-1 so far this tournament. One more win may earn him a spot back in Jonidan, but he’ll surely want to pick up a few more.