It’s Sunday, maybe you have some free time and you are a sumo fan. I have been missing some of my favorites, who have faded from the top division. So I am going to share this 22 minute long example of just how much sumo has changed since Osaka last year.
Sumo is always evolving, but this was in fact a monumental turning point for the sport it seems. A year later we can see recognize the seeds of change in this video. The triumph, the defeat, the raw emotion
Having re-injured the knee he had surgery for, our favorite Kaiju – otherwise known at Terunofuji, has decided to accept reality and withdraw from the Aki basho. This means that he will appear on the banzuke as a Sekiwake at Kyushu, and will have one chance to regain his Ozeki rank – with a score of at least 10 wins.
A healthy Terunofuji is capable of that kind of performance, but it remains to be seen if there is any road back from the damage he has sustained.
As we are quite fond of Terunofuji, we will be hoping and begging the Great Sumo Cat of the Kokugikan to convene with the deities to speed his healing.
Good morning Tachiai readers, almost time to stumble the 2 blocks to the Kokugikan, but first some thoughts on today’s matches. Firstly, looking forward to Wakaichiro’s second match. This will be against a rikishi with about the same experience level as his, and should be a more even fight. While I am sure I can capture video from the bout, it may need to be uploaded much later in the day, due to my wifi hotspot being dead.
On the Makuuchi side, it’s becoming clear that this may be the basho that flushes some of the injured and chronically wounded aside. From watching them fight, I would say
Kisenosato – in huge pain, impacted and should go kyujo. But The Great Pumpkin does not go kyujo, so look for him to hobble on.
Hakuho – all lights are green, he is healthy, fired up and looking to take back the spotlight.
Harumafuji – also seems to be at least 80% of himself or higher. Genki enough to trash all of his opponents thus far. Yes, fans, it’s even more awesome to watch first person when he blasts someone into the zabuton.
Kakuryu – He is all over the place, possibly not in the best of health, so this may be a tough basho for him.
Goeido – ankle rebuild is probably not enough to bring him back to fighting shape. It may be his only choice to retire.
Terunofuji – the Kaijū is having knee problems again, and it shows. This is a very sad state as I was looking forward to having him stomping around again.
Ishiura vs Ura – Ura is looking very good this tournament. Ishiura still seems to be looking for his groove. I hope we get a good match out of these two today.
Tamawashi vs Mitakeumi – Mitakeumi is really continuing his winning streak from the past two basho, and I would say that we are likely to avoid the “no-zeki” situation if Mitakeumi and Takayasu can keep their sumo going. Tamawashi is right behind them, but just a step down from what he needs.
Kotoshogiku vs Takayasu – Nothing will stop Takayasu. As was clear from his day 2 bout, Kotoshogiku is too banged up to even consistently make his one trick work anymore.
Yoshikaze vs Goeido – Yoshikaze is doing very well, even in his loss day 2 to Hakuho, he brought a full berserker style pounding to The Boss. Now a greatly reduced Goeido faces the same attack.
Endo vs Kakuryu – Can Endo hand Kakuryu his third straight loss? Endo is not looking that good this tournament, but the crowd loves him.
Kisenosato vs Chiyonokuni – Interesting because Chiyonokuni pulled a good win out on day 2, and Kisenosato is looking iffy.
Chiyoshoma vs Hakuho – Hakuho all the way, just question is what kind of kimarite.
Harumafuji vs Okinoumi – Probably Jason’s least favorite match up. Sadly Okinoumi is looking out of gas again, and Harumafuji seems to once again be enjoying himself.
Now that Takayasu has his first defeat, he has been dropped back to the group chasing Kisenosato. His bout with Kakuryu was excellent in many ways, but as long as Kakuryu kept moving, Takayasu was marking time until he lost. But Takayasu’s troubles are not over, as he still will face Harumafuji. As stated earlier, in past basho, Takayasu has a problem fading out at the end, either by losing concentration, giving up on a goal or just because he doubts his own ability. Everyone who wants him to earn his Ozeki rank knows he must over come this. So Harumafuji represents a test of this flaw. Will he rise to the challenge?
Elsewhere on the Torikumi, Terunofuji has yet to face real resistance, but we can assume that he will have Kisenosato on one of the last three days. With 3 Yokozuna and 1 Ozeki active, the final days will be a round robin between the 4 of them. So the chances of Terunofuji playing a day 14/15 spoiler are questionable as well.
That leaves us with Tochiozan. On day 12 he is bottom feeding on Maegashira 14 Myogiryu, which really seems to be tough to understand. He has yet to face anyone above Maegashira 6, which would seem reasonable given that he went into this tournament at Maegashira 10. But as he is now tied with second place, it would seem reasonable that he get someone like Yoshikaze to size himself against.
Haru Leader board
Leader – Kisenosato Hunt Group – Takayasu, Terunofuji, Tochiozan
4 Matches Remain
Matches We Like
Gagamaru vs Kyokushuho – Planet Gagamaru comes to visit from Juryo. He faces off against Kyokushuho who is already make-koshi, so this match is mostly for entertainment purposes only. Gagamaru has really been underperforming in the last several basho, so I am not sure there will be much here.
Daieisho vs Sadanoumi – Daieisho shows a lot of promise, and could pick up his kachi-koshi today against Sadanoumi, who I have to assume is hurt in some way, as he is not quite as potent as he was in January.
Ichinojo vs Takakeisho – Takakeisho is also a young rakish with a lot of promise, today he will try for his kachi-koshi against the lumbering giant Ichinojo, who may once again be suffering from an injured back. This is the first time these two have ever faced off.
Chiyonokuni vs Ishiura – Two powerhouse rikishi, with Chiyonokuni gunning for his kachi-koshi, and Ishiura working to refine his Makuuchi moves. In their past 3 matches, Chiyonokuni has won them all.
Kotoshogiku vs Takarafuji – Kotoshogiku must win 3 of his last 4. His first step on finishing that journey is defeating Takarafuji. Takarafuji is not showing overwhelming sumo this tournament, so Kotoshogikum has a decent shot at a win here. But I would guess the rikishi have figured out that if you keep moving, he can’t employ his sumo. Watch for Takarafuji to stay mobile.
Endo vs Terunofuji – A few moments of struggle, then Terunofuji tosses him away like a used baby-wipe. I love me some Endo, but he is not dialed up high enough to put a dent in this Mongolian Monster when he is operating in Kaiju mode.
Arawashi vs Kisenosato – Arawashi is not in a winning mode, so that indicates that Kisenosato will be able to defeat him while looking like he’s ready for his ukiyo-e close up. But then again, Arawashi took out Harumafuji a few days ago. Best not to underestimate him, because he has a history of surprises.
Harumafuji vs Takayasu – Takayasu has beaten The Horse 4 times in the past. So it’s possible if Takayasu thinks he can do it. This is a mental and emotional test for him. Harumafuji is pushing hard through a lot of pain right now, but he is still an amazing fighter. Advantage here to Harmuafuji, unless Takayasu can tap his best sumo and make it happen.
Here we go! The first and second day of matches are now on the Nihon Sumo Kyokai (Japan Sumo Association) web page, and they are not easing into this tournament, no indeed.
Highlights of the first day (Sunday September 11th)
Takayasu v Taknoiwa – I may be alone in thinking this is pure genius, but Taknoiwa nearly won Nagoya at Maegashira 11, so what do we do with people like that? Why we promote him to Maegashira 3, and then put him against a giant hulking Sekiwake who excels at testing crumple zones on Ozeki. My prediction – “ouch”
Amakaze v Chiyoshoma – Also known as Gamera v Danger Mouse. In a rematch from Juryo, why not put the amazing, kaiju scale Amakaze against one of his smaller, but no less potent Juryo rivals, see what happens. Either Chiyoshoma ends up crushed by the kaiju, or Amakaze takes a header into the ringside cushions, sending bento and yakitori flying to the upper deck.
Gagamaru v Homarefuji – A pair of pushme-pullyous go at it, with Gagamaru’s planetary scale tipping the scales in his favor. Slight, but non-zero chance that Homarefuji slips during the match and falls into Gagamaru’s immense gravity well, ending up in a stable and inescapable orbit until the fall equinox on the 22nd. Sumo rules are unclear if this would require Homarefuji to be declared kyujo, or if both rikishi would share a single win/loss record.
Shodai v Kotoshogiku – An early indication if Kotoshogiku is going to be able to overcome his kadoban status an hold on to Ozeki. Both of these guys are large and tend to favor the mawashi (廻し) / belt fighting approach. My prediction – “sweaty struggle for ranking”
Yoshikaze v Terunofuji – I am going to assume that the Sumo Association wants to see if Yoshikaze is ready to resume San’yaku duties come November. So let’s give him an Ozeki warm up. Terunofuji was able to get a winning record in Nagoya to overcome his kadoban and retain his Ozeki rank, but did not really look dominant. One has to wonder if his broken collar bone is still bothering him. My request is that neither of these guys gets hurt, as this clash is likely to be intense.
Kisenosato v Okinoumi – While it’s not the last match of the day, everyone is going to be focused on this. Kisenosato can’t afford losses if he wants to triumph in his push to make Yokozuna while Hakuho is on the bench. All of Japan is riveted on this guy and this tournament. Okinoumi is no slouch. My prediction – Kise by yorikiri about 30 seconds in.
Tochiozan v Kakuryu – Proving once again that Komusubi is the toughest rank in sumo (I assume it means “favorite punching bag” in ancient Ainu), ascendant Tochiozan gets Kakuryu on the Yokozuna’s first bout after a recuperation break. If Kakuryu is ready, this may not last past the Tachiai.
Harumafuji v Kaisei – Plan of the day if you are Komusubi? Struggle. Here Harumafuji (the horse) will be holding a quick lecture at how to eject a burly Brazilian from a clay platform.
Special Juryo Match
I call it out here, because those of us hapless North Americans who only get NHK highlights are likely to miss it. One of the most desired bouts in Juryo comes on day one. Ura v Osunaarashi. It’s the Jackie Chan of sumo vs the Egyptian powerhouse who was massively demoted for recovering from injuries and missing Nagoya. This could in fact be one of the best matches of the day. You know I will be watching Jason’s all sumo channel on YouTube for this one.