Natsu Day 13 Preview


Hakuho-Kensho

Marking Time Till The Final Showdown

Most of the questions around Natsu were resolved on day 12, and so the last big question – and it’s a big one, is the yusho. Right now, Yokozuna Hakuho has a 1 match lead over Yokozuna Harumafuji. Due to Kisenosato and Kakuryu’s withdraw, they will meet on the final bout of day 15. If both remain at their current scores (12-0, 11-1), Harumafuji can force a playoff by beating Hakuho. I can almost hear the echo of Osaka.

But first the two surviving Yokozuna have to navigate a few challengers. I would expect them to win the next two matches, but there is always an opting for wild outcomes.

There is also the question of the special prizes. Right now Ura, Takayasu, Tamawashi, Tochinoshin and Takakeisho could possibly be considered. For the most part it comes down to 10 wins or more.

For those looking forward to our July banzuke discussion, I dare you to try and figure out the Makuuchi <-> Juryo moves. No one in Juryo will end up with more than 10 wins, ok – that’s not too uncommon, but then there are 7 more that could end up with 9 wins. At this point, only J2w Kyokushuho and J4e Nishikigi look like they might be promotable. But then you have maybe 4 Maegashira who are probably worthy of demotion back to Juryo. Maybe once it’s all over the picture will make more sense, but I doubt it. One thing is certain, the July banzuke is going to have a huge amount of churn.

Natsu Leader board

LeaderHakuho
Hunt Group – Harumafuji
Chasers – Terunofuji, Takayasu, Ura

3 Matches Remain

What We Are Watching Day 13

Sadanoumi vs Kaisei – I am guessing they are trying on Sadanoumi as another promotable. Kaisei is still struggling to lock up a kachi-koshi, he needs 2 more wins.

Kotoyuki vs Kagayaki – Kagayaki has his kachi-koshi, and Kotoyuki may be headed to Juryo, he is also at least somewhat injured. Thus far Kotoyuki leads career matches 3-0, but with him being injured, and Kotoyuki improving quite a bit this basho, it’s time for a new page in their record book.

Ichinojo vs Tokushoryu – Tokushoryu can lock up his kachi-koshi with a win over the towering Ichinojo. I don’t know what happened to Ichinojo, but he really seems so very lost this basho. I think he could be a big deal (and not just his mass to height ratio), but like so many rikishi, he needs to clear up lingering health issues.

Daishomaru vs Takakeisho – Daishomaru trying for his kachi-koshi today against a red-hot Takakeisho. They are evenly matched career wise, but I am guessing Daishomaru may get this one.

Hokutofuji vs Onosho – Another lab experiment bout brought on by kyujo pock-marks in the torikumi. You could look at it as Maegashira 7 vs Maegashira 14, or as two up-and-coming youngsters duking it out. I do know that Onosho has a fun habit of beating Hokutofuji. So I bet this one is a brawl.

Ura vs Ikioi – Oh yes, thank you oh Great Sumo Cat of the Kokugikan! This is the kind of match that myself and sumo fans around the globe live for. What kind of bizzaro stuff is Ura going to produce today? Will Ikioi decode his incantations and put a stop to Ura’s sorcery?

Tochinoshin vs Shodai – Yes, yes, a hundred times yes! Both sumotori have secured their promotions, now it’s just to see who is king of the hill. Once again we get the big guy who can’t quite tachiai, against a man with tree trunks for thighs, who can and probably does lift the Tokyo Skytree so they can vacuum under it.

Chiyoshoma vs Yoshikaze – Now that the promotion lanes are going to be open, I am keen to see Yoshikaze reach his magic 8 wins, and cement himself in the San’yaku for July. Chiyoshoma is running on fumes, but can still deliver a great match, as he has dropped Takarafuji and Takakaze in the last two days.

Mitakeumi vs Endo – This goes double for Mitakeumi, I am pulling for him to get his magic 8 and remain in the San’yaku. By the dangly bits of Chiyonofuji, I think he can do it. Endo still has a slim chance at kachi-koshim but he has a bit of an uphill fight. Endo did look very sharp against Yoshikaze day 11, and that a hell of a brawl.

Terunofuji vs Tochiozan – Time to see if our favorite Kaiju was hurt badly on day 12, or if was just some kind of cramp that the trainers could work out. I really pray that Terunofuji can stay healthy, because for the past 2 basho, he has been the only credible Ozeki to be found. Tochiozan will provide a good test for him.

Harumafuji vs Takayasu – These two really do throw down hard. But it’s been since Aki that Takayasu actually won against “The Horse”. A win by the hairy one would cement his Ozeki status, and knock Harumafuji out of the yusho race. But my money is on Harumafuji for day 13, is only loss was a silly slip, and apart from that he is really in excellent form.

Tamawashi vs Hakuho – Hakuho has one goal now, keep in form and pick up no injuries. Tamawashi is strong enough to be a spoiler, but “The Boss” has been in most excellent form this basho, and it’s really magic to watch him do his sumo once more.

Natsu Day 11 Preview


kaiju mode
Ozeki Terunofuji Headed to McDonalds In Ryogoku, 11:22 PM Tuesday

We Start The Final Act

As we begin the last 5 days of this awesome tournament, it’s time to check up on a few of our story threads

Takayasu’s Ozeki Run – I would declare this on uncertain footing but still quite possible. Takayasu needs to face another Yokozuna who is currently unbeaten, and both Ozeki, one of which is operating in kaiju mode. That leaves him with 2-3 plausible wins, so still possible.

Injured Yokozuna Corps – Kakuryu already has withdrawn. He is probably facing pressure now to retire. He can in fact hang his hopes of delaying that by his November yusho in Fukuoka. Kisenosato insists on competing even though he lacks the strength in his upper body to present a reasonable threat to the upper San’yaku. Harumafuji and Hakuho have reverted to their genki forms, and are unbeaten and undeterred. It’s wonderful to see them both back to their former potency, and we are reminded of how they dominated everything sumo for years.

No-Zeki – Goeido is kadoban, this tournament, and is only 6-4 as of today. It’s not too far of a stretch to think he can pick up 2 more wins, but that’s very weak performance for an Ozeki. This week he faces all 3 Yokozuna, so I would guess at least 2 more losses are inbound. His match with Tamawashi may be the decider. Terunofuji on the other hand seems to be in the same mode he was in during Osaka. That of a rampaging sumo powerhouse with unbeatable strength. He has yet to face any Yokozuna, and I am guessing that he has a fair chance of beating any of them, except Kisenosato. I think he could actually injure Kisenosato.

Mitakeumi’s Komisubi Residency – He was out to strong start, but then hit some very rough patches. Now, Mitakeumi is in real danger of going make-koshi and being pushed back to rank and file Maegashira. I personally don’t think that’s going to harm him, as there is still a bunch of brush clearing that needs to take place in San’yaku before the promotion lanes are actually open. He has faced all of the Ozeki, but still needs to get by Harumafuji on day 11. After that he should draw some easier matches, and may end up 8-7 if he is not too discouraged.

Ojisan Kotoshogiku – We are at day 10, and he is still not make-koshi. His next loss seals his demotion, but he has faced both Ozeki and all three Yokozuna. Is it possible he can win his last 5 matches and escape demotion? Yes, but it would be highly improbably. But look at who he is likely to face: Chiyonokuni (2-8), Okinoumi (1-9!), Daieisho (2-8), Aoiyama (2-8)? We get to Tochiozan before we find a rikishi who is looking strong. So don’t write of Kotoshogiku yet. Then there is the thought of a Shodai – Kotoshogiku match, which might be a big deal.

Upper Maegashira Blood Bath – Ranks M1 – M5 contain 10 rikishi, only 3 of them have even or winning records. This is not atypical by any means, as the upper Maegashira are frequently the punching bags of the San’yaku, but the last few basho had been relatively gentle on these folks. But Natsu has brought the pain back with vengeance.

Juryo Meat Grinder – Upper Juryo is in worse shape than anything I have seen in some time. None of the top 6 Juryo ranks has anyone with more than 6 wins. Without a strong leader or leaders, it throws the promotion picture into chaos. It’s clear that a number of rikishi will be booted out of Makuuchi, but are any of these Juryo guys worthy to replace them?

Osunaarashi In Trouble – He is 1-9 right now. Given that the NSK has given him brutal demotions in the past, it’s reasonable to ask how far down the banzuke he will fall. It was clear from watching him in person that his multiple, unrecovered injuries have robbed him of the physical presence he used to command.

Natsu Leader board

LeadersHarumafuji, Hakuho
Chasers – Terunofuji, Takayasu, Shodai, Tochinoshin, Ura

5 Matches Remain

* Note, we are almost to the point where the math required for anyone to catch Hakuho or Harumafuji becomes unworkable.

Matches We Like

Kaisei vs Toyohibiki – In spite of his injuries, it seems Kaisei decided he is not going back to Juryo, no matter what. He needs 2 more wins to make that a reality. He has a 10-5 career advantage over Toyohibiki.

Tochinoshin vs Tokushoryu – Tokushoryu trying for kachi-koshi against a resurgent Tochinoshin. I am looking for Tochinoshin to employ his massive strength and size advantage if he can grab the mawashi, Tochinoshin will be thrusting with everything to keep the big Georgian away.

Chiyotairyu vs Takakeisho – Less of a mismatch than a M7 vs M14 bout should be. If Takakeisho wins, he claims his kachi-koshi. But Chiyotairyu has beaten him 2 out of their 3 times they have matched before. I would guess Chiyotairyu is going to try for a quick slap down before Takakeisho can set his feet and start his sumo.

Ura vs Shodai – Also a match likely better than you would expect with a M10 vs M5 bout. Ura deploy his quantum sumo against Shodai’s flawed tachiai. As Ura will probably go low and crazy, it’s going to be fun to see how Shodai reacts. This is their first ever match. May be the best match of day 11.

Endo vs Yoshikaze – Time to see if Endo learned anything from the Mitakeumi vs Yoshikaze bout. I am guessing he did not. Interestingly enough, these two are tied 5-5 over their career. Endo is looking a bit off now, and may be hurt, where Yoshikaze seems to actually be enjoying himself almost as much as Hakuho is.

Kotoshogiku vs Chiyonokuni – Yes, Chiyonokuni is already make-koshi, but he has not been phoning in his matches. He has stepped on the dohyo each day with a plan to win, and he has given it his all. Kotoshogiku has a narrow path to hold onto Sekiwake, and the next step is defeating Chiyonokuni.

Tochiozan vs Takayasu – This is a must win for Takayasu. Given the brutality of the rest of his schedule, he needs to bank this win. Tochiozan is stronger this basho than he has looked since Nagoya 2016, so it’s not a foregone conclusion. Also of note is Tochiozan leads the career matches 18-5, so he has a habit of beating Takayasu. Much as Kintamayama seems to play on it, it does seem true that Takayasu is a chronic worrier, and it may restrain his sumo on day 11.

Terunofuji vs Aoiyama – The only question is what look of pain Aoiyama will have on his face moments after the tachiai. Kailua for the win over the man shaped meat mountain.

Hakuho vs Goeido – Only Goeido 2.0 has a chance here, and it would be so very magical if he appeared and battled Hakuho to a win. But reality says Hakuho is going to play with Goeido for a bit, then toss him around. Success here means that Goeido can come out of it without an injury.

Harumafuji vs Mitakeumi – I am still hoping to see the death-spin. It’s been many months since Harumafuji tried to put a man in orbit, and I do so hope he can pull that one out this basho. Mitakeumi is still going to be a big deal in a while, but day 11 he gets to “enjoy” Harumafuji.

Kisenosato vs Tamawashi – Although Kisenosato has won all 9 of their prior meetings, Tamawashi has a fair chance against the one-armed Yokozuna. I am still looking for Kisenosato to do the responsible thing and go kyujo.

Natsu Day 10 Highlights


Takayasu

The Hard Chargers Already Achieve Kachi-Koshi.

Day 10, we saw a number of hard charging rikishi achieve their tournament winning records, known as kachi-koshi. This includes

  • Takayasu (actually secured day 9)
  • Terunofuji
  • Shodai
  • Tochinoshin
  • Ura

Kisenosato is in a tough spot – he is too injured to be competitive against the other Yokozuna and probably Terunofuji. There is a real chance he could end up with a make-koshi. Does he go kyujo? I think everyone would understand, but his pride would prevent him from sitting out the rest of the tournament. I am sure the NSK is worrying about what to do next.

The mess in Juryo continues to decay into radioactive slag. The chances of anyone being really worth to promote to Makuuchi is quite slime, as everyone in the top half of Juryo (and could be considered for promotion) has a record no better than 6-4. While there are several rikishi in Makuuchi worthy of return to Juryo, it’s going to be a real wild guess how the July banzuke is going to end up.

Takayasu’s Ozeki run has some problems, though he is likely to overcome. It’s the same issue that Kisenosato and Goeido face. With either Harumafuji or Hakuho healthy, it’s really tough towards impossible to be too dominant. With both of them healthy, you have to be thankful for every win in the upper ranks you can score. Fans will recall that this was the status quo for many years, and it’s one of the primary reasons Kisenosato stayed an Ozeki.

Selected Matches

Yutakayama defeats Ishiura – This was a bit of a strange match. It quickly went to Yutakayama holding Ishiura by the armpits, with Ishura bent over at the waist with a firm grip on Yutakayama’s mawashi. They stayed like this for quite a while until Yutakayama broke the stalemate, and tossed Ishura like a pizza crust into the Shimpan.

Tochinoshin defeats Daishomaru – Another weird one, there were two mattas, each time Daishomaru attempted a very poor henka without putting his hands on the dohyo at the tachiai. The third try? Henka again, but Tochinoshin was having none of it, and Daishomaru was done. Congratulations to Tochinoshin for a fairly early kachi-koshi

Ura defeats Kaisei – Kaisei seemed to struggle to figure out what to do with Ura, who once again was very low at the tachiai. Ura established a firm double hand flab-hold and began to lead Kaisei around like some kind of farm animal. Ura finished Kaisei off with a rather clever leg trip, and had his 8th win. Congratulations to Ura for his kachi-koshi, too.

Ichinojo defeats Takanoiwa – Very good bout right from the tachiai. Both rikishi struggled for control back and forth several times, and it seemed that Takanoiwa finally got the upper hand. Ichinojo was able to halt Takanoiwa’s charge at the tawara, and applied a rather well executed tsukiotoshi for the win.

Shodai defeats Sokokurai – Sokokurai had early control of this match, and looked to be in charge. But he could not put Shodai away. Shodai allowed Sokokurai to do all the work, and as Sokokurai tired, Shodai battled him back to the center of the dohyo. Sokokurai rallied and moved Shodai to the edge, but once again could not finish him. With his heels on the tawara, Shodai applied a somewhat clumsy tsukiotoshi to win the match. Shodaim also picks up his kachi-koshi

Terunofuji defeats Yoshikaze – Yoshikaze started out with an attack plan, and engaged with vigor. However, he was up against a kaiju, who had no interest in playing with the berserker. Terunofuji picked him up like a puppy and set him outside the tawara. Yoshikaze to his credit knew the match was lost and went along with it. Terunofuji also hits 8 wins and claims his kachi-koshi.

Goeido defeats Chiyoshoma – Looked like Goeido 2.0. Keep in mind Goeido is kadoban this tournament, and is still 2 wins from reaffirming his rank. He has some tough matches coming up during the rest of this week.

Harumafuji defeats Tochiozan – Showing that he was not as injured as we feared yesterday, Harumafuji launched off the line and pushed Tochiozan directly out. It was no contest.

Kotoshogiku defeats Kisenosato – The sad tale of Kisenosato’s injuries continues. In his loss, the Japanese Yokozuna prolonged the inevitable for Kotoshogiku by another day.

Hakuho defeats Takayasu – Takayasu put everything he had into this match, but he was completely out-classed by Hakuho. Hakuho secured a solid mawashi grip early, and Takayasu struggled to get any traction. As Takayasu struggled to set up a throw, Hakuho decided he was done playing, lowered his head and his hips and drove them both off the dohyo, landing in the first row of zabuton. Some really good sumo. But it’s clear that the last 2 wins Takayasu needs to secure a bit to be promoted to Ozei will not be an easy run.

Natsu Day 10 Preview


bow-twirling

Closing Out The Second Act.

Hard to believe, but we are about to complete the middle ⅓ of Natsu. Hakuho and Harumafuji are the leaders, with no one really able to even give either of them a decent fight so far. There is a lot of interest in Takayasu vs Hakuho, which is the final match of the day. Frankly I don’t think it will be much of a contest, and I say this as a hard core Takayasu fan. Right now Hakuho is back to his old amazing ways, and the only people who could possibly challenge him are Harumafuji, or a healthy Kisenosato. Sadly no chance for a healthy Kisenosato.

Harumafuji appears to have at least mildly injured his right knee in his dive off the dohyo defeating Tamawashi. If this is something the trainers can work, or another performance limiting injury, we should be able to tell tomorrow when Harumafuji faces a surprisingly resurgent Tochiozan. Tochiozan made very easy work of Kisenosato on day 9, and it brings up a really tricky question.

If Kisenosato, is having a sub-par (for him) basho, everyone knows it’s because he is more or less a one armed Yokozuna. Everyone gets it, and frankly we are all amazed that he is still competitive in this condition. But given that the press and the YDC are very critical of Yokozuna with sub-par performance, are they going to make a point of admonishing him? Are they just going to keep quiet because he is the Japanese golden boy? This is very ugly territory. Don’t be surprised if at some point this week, Kisenosato goes Kyujo. No one in their right mind would blame him. In my opinion he should be recovering from surgery right now, but he is too dedicated to sumo, and the dignity of his Yokozuna rank.

Natsu Leader board

LeadersHarumafuji, Hakuho
Hunt Group – Takayasu
Chasers – Terunofuji, Shodai, Tochinoshin, Ura

6 Matches Remain

Apologies, but the match previews will be brief, jet-lag is crushing me today.

Matches We Like

Tochinoshin vs Daishomaru – Both of these rikishi are exceeding their baseline for the last 3 basho. Daishomaru is coming in with 6-3, and Tochinoshin has an outstanding 7-2, and if he wins would clinch his kachi-koshi. In their 3 prior bouts, Tochinoshin won them all.

Kaisei vs Ura – The fans love a big vs little bout. It will be really interesting to see if Ura’s gymnastics work against the meat mountain that is Kaisei. This is their first match ever.

Okinoumi vs Daieisho – both of these men are 1-8. This is the saddest match in sumo. Both are already make-koshi. Both are facing significant demotion.

Terunofuji vs Yoshikaze – While I love me some Yoshikaze, Terunofuji is clearly Kaiju positive right now, and if he gets frustrated using his technique to defeat you, he just picks you up and carries you to the curb like this week’s non-burnable trash. I am going to be curious to see what if anything Yoshikaze does to try and counter this. Career record of 6-5 in favor of Terunofuji, so they are, at times, evenly matched.

Harumafuji vs Tochiozan – Previewed above, the prior 32 matches have been mostly won by Harumafuji (24-8), but Harumafuji may have hurt himself day 9, and Tochiozan is looking surprisingly good, especially coming off of his kinboshi against Kisenosato day 9.

Kisenosato vs Kotoshogiku – This should be a Kisenosato win. I expect that Kisenosato will go kyujo as soon as he secures his kachi-koshi, which could come day 11. But interestingly enough, Kotoshogiku holds a slight 33-31 career edge over Kisenosato. Both of them are operating at a fraction of their typical capabilities, so who knows where this one is going.

Takayasu vs Hakuho – This one has everyone excited, but I am calling my bet for Hakuho. Their career record is 14-2 in favor of the Michael Jordan of sumo. Takayasu is a man on a mission, and is looking good, but Hakuho is more or less his old self right now, and that means beating him requires speed, strength and a large amount of luck.

Natsu Day 5 Highlights


Kisenosato-5

Kisenosato Gut Checks The Universe, Universe Blinks

At end of all things and at the end of time, I belive Kisenosato will be there, continuing to refuse to give up, or let anything, including the laws of nature stop him. More on that in a moment.

It was the final Kokugikan day, and I am sad to leave my in-person sumo behind. I leave with a greatly expanded appreciation for the sport, it’s fans and most especially it’s contestants. Getting over here and doing this is hideously expensive, but it was (at least for me) transformative.

A note on Juryo, though I think it’s kind of a mess right now, for some reason Planet Gagamaru is gunning hard to return to Makuuchi for Nagoya, and he may be brining Yamaguchi with him. Nothing has really changed, and Gagamaru has not really improved, but it seems he’s the guy who is losing the least.

Match Highlights

Daishomaru defeats Yutakayama – Daishomaru supplied a huge shoulder blast at the tachiai, and followed up nicely with a relentless pushing attack. Yutakayama was dispatched shortly afterwards.

Tokushoryu defeats Kaisei – Tokushoryu really was in command of this bout from the start, with an initial nodowa that really seemed to disrupt Kaisei for a moment, but he found Tokushoryu’s mawashi, but he was still too high and Tokushoryu was able to put him down at the edge.

Ishiura defeats Arawashi – Arawashi can’t buy a break

Kotoyuki defeats Ura – As with yesterday, Ura was late off the line, almost in matta territory, and Kotoyuki took command. it’s also clear that Ura loves to put his head down at the start, and take his eyes off his opponent. This is sually where he loses control of the match. Let’s just say he is still working on his Makuuchi formula, but it is certainly coming along.

Kagayaki defeats Ichinojo – Ichinojo seems to have nothing to offer but his own ponderous bulk. Showing no maneuverability really, Kagayaki was in complete control from the start and simply waltzed him out.

Takakeisho defeats Hokutofuji – Takakeisho owned this match from the start, though Hokutofuji put up a valiant fight. Takakeisho consistantly kept Hokutofuji off balance. With Hokutofuji’s center of gravity high, it was only a matter of time before Takakeisho’s repeated pull down attempts worked.

Tamawashi defeats Yoshikaze – Tamawashi establshed control of this match quickly, and never let Yoshikaze plant his feet or get his weight forward, which is essential for his early bout strategies.

Takayasu obliterates Endo – Takayasu easily put Endo away. Endo started a pushing match but Takayasu was able to lock up a mawashi grip and control Endo. At this point Takayasu’s overwhelming strength and size took charge and Endo was done. Takayasu now needs 5 wins for Ozeki – he can lose half his remaining matches and still get the job done.

Goeido defeats Chiyonokuni – The last two days have been Goeido 2.0, I do hope he can stay, because I really like that guy’s sumo. Fast, aggressive and unstoppable.

Terunofuji defeats Kotoshogiku this was the bout the fans wanted in Osaka. Solid tachiai, Kotoshogiku set up his hug and chug, and Terunofuji stopped it DEAD., he then took over and put Kotoshogiku in the dirt with a an overarm throw. Fantastic job from Terunofuji. My condolences oojisan Kotoshogiku. I seriously wonder if I was present for his last win as an active sumotori.

Hakuho defeats Mitakeumi – The Boss is in form, and everyone else is going down to defeat. Even Mitakeumi who is fighting close to Takayasu’s level now. Mitakeumi brought some pressure early to Hakuho, but he rapidly countered and diverted Mitakeumi attack. The tachiai featured Hakuho’s favored shoulder blast. It’s good to see the Michael Jordan of sumo back in fighting form.

Okinoumi gets a fusen win over Kakuryu – Okinoumi first and only win this tournament.

Harumafuji defeats Daieisho – Harumafuji wins by his mini-henka – seriously, what is Daieisho doing matched against these guys?

Ancient Jōmon guardian spirit posseses Kisenosato, defeats Chiyoshoma – Dear god, what a champion. After a matta (Kisenosato jumped early?), they were off. Everyone is hitting his left side hard because they know Kisenosato is wounded. Chiyoshoma was on him like a wad of wet noodles, but Kisenosato would not relent. Somehow he got Chiyoshoma out and down. To everyone who wondered what kind of Yokozuna Kisenosato would make, now you know. How does it feel to be defeated by a one arm man? Ask Chiyoshoma.

Natsu Day 5 Preview


Banners

In Which I End My Occupation of the Kokugikan

The sad day has come when my sumo tickets for Natsu have run out, and I will no longer enjoy sumo in the raw organic form. As I remarked earlier, it is a completely different experience, at both exciting and relaxing at the same time.

When you watch a sporting event like sumo on TV, you see what the camera and the editors want to show you. When you are live at the venue, you can see whatever your eyes might show you. From a technical standpoint, the cameras likely win. From an aesthetics and enjoyment standpoint (for me anyhow) there is no comparison.

This is the final day of the first third of this basho, as the basho tends to move in thirds. The first third shows you who is too hurt to compete, and gets the San’yaku warmed up for the big matches starting this weekend. Given the imbalance in the banzuke (because of the Ozeki and Kisenosato), the lower San’yaku is once again the bright spot for this basho. The middle third starts Friday, and it tends to have a very different character.

Select Matches We Like

Onosho vs Myogiryu – Onosho has been fighting hard this first week, and I look for him to overwhelm Myogiryu, who has been keeping steady at 2-2.

Tokushoryu vs Kaisei – I am hoping for a day 4 repeat where Kaisei moves forward, keeping his center of gravity low. It may sound silly, but a renewed focus on fundamentals for him would probably reinvigorate his flagging career.

Kotoyuki vs Ura – After day 4’s crazy outcome, Kotoyuki gets a try at surviving the space-time distortion field. I still think the Shimpan had to find some way to call that match, inspite of Ura’s gymnastics.

Tochiozan vs Shodai – Tochiozan continues his hot streak from last basho, and he has seem to overcome his injuries from last year and is back on his sumo. It’s great to watch because he is strong and usually patient. Shodai looked good on day 4, but his tachiai is still his weakest point.

Tamawashi vs Yoshikaze – This could be the best match of the day. Yoshikaze is fighting at his best unseen for many tournaments, and it’s really wonderful to watch, especially for a Yoshikaze fan like myself. Tamawashi has been operating better than his 2-2 record would indicate, and it’s time for him to turn it around.

Endo vs Takayasu – I expect a repeat of the Mitakeumi vs Takayasu fight, except that it’s Endo and he’s kind of stumbly. If Takayasu can avoid an injury, he is looking good for at least 10 wins.

Chiyonokuni vs Goeido – Day 4 Goeido was looking better than he had this basho, and was actually able to put power to ground. Perhaps he has found a way to compete in spite of the problems with his ankle, which would be fantastic news.

Terunofuji vs Kotoshogiku – It’s fairly sad to watch Kotoshogiku fade away. Even the crowd knows hes on the path out, but he persists in fighting.

Mitakeumi vs Hakuho – Mitakeumi will put up a good fight, but I expect Hakuho to clear the dohyo with his usual flair. I am interested to see how long Mitakeumi can make it last.

Kisenosato vs Chiyoshoma – At what point does Kisenosato sit out? It’s against his very nature, but as we outlined the nature of his injury is quite serious, and unlikely to have been healed in the 8 weeks or so since he was injured. The sooner the better.

Natsu Day 4 Results


Day 3

Apologies For a Lack Of Preview!

As feared, connectivity in Japan has been hit-or-miss, and it has greatly impacted my ability to post, upload photos and video and a host of other things. But fear not, dear readers! The day 5 results from the Kokugikan are here!

It seems today was “Salaryman Day” or something of the sort. A few minutes before the Makuuchi dohyo-iri, a few thousand salarymen began streaming into the upper deck stadium seats at the Kokugikan. I am sure it’s perfectly normal, but to this sumo fan, it seemed a bit surreal. They were followed by ushers carrying huge flats of beer cans, which were passed around the crowd of business men.

There was some massive, raucous action on day 4, so I strongly encourage all to watch the matches on NHK, or better yet, Jason’s all sumo channel.

Selected Highlights

Onosho defeats Myogiryu – There was a huge amount of effort in this bout, and it featured competing throw attempts that ended at the edge. It was a great way to start Makuuchi.

Kaisei defeats Chiyotairyu – Kaisei won – yes, by moving forward. He has the bulk and the leg strength, but it seems he needs to put away the pulling technique and take a page from Kisenosato’s book – 蜻蛉 (Tonbo)

Tochinoshin defeats Ura – There were so many things wrong in this bout, it took a rather lengthy monoii to try and put a fig leaf on it. First of all, there should have been a matta at the start, but sure, whatever. Then there was an excellent raging battle between size and strength vs speed. It ended with some fantastic acrobatics at the tawara, and it looked to me like the Gyoji said “screw it” and pointed his gumbai in a random direction. Without the benefit or replay, I can only go by what my eyes saw, but it seemed Ura’s win.

Takakeisho defeats Ichinojo – Slow motion sumo match. I left 30 minutes after the final bout, and Ichinojo had yet to reach the clay.

Ikioi defeats Tochiozan – Big ugly slap fest the Ikioi managed to win. I would expect Tochiozan’s hot streak to continue past today, even though Ikioi racked up a win.

Shodai defeats Takarafuji – Great strength match, polite of Takarafuji to take advantage of Shodai’s consistently sloppy tachiai.

Takayasu defeats Mitakeumi – Probably the match of the day, and they both put everything into it. Takayasu is displaying almost unthinkable strength and determination this week, and even a really aggressive highly motivated Mitakeumi could not defeat him. Takayasu now needs 6 wins, and certainly looks like Ozeki material

Kotoshogiku defeats Tamawashi – So happy that Kotoshogiku got a win and was able to deploy his hug-n-chug. He is headed towards a hard, brutal make-koshi, most likely. I am grateful I had a chance to see him operate when he was healthy.

Terunofuji defeats Chiyoshoma – Terunofuji looking somewhat better, I am staring to hope that he will put forth a strong effort this time and avoid more kadoban nonsense.

Goeido defeats Daieisho – Future Sekiwake Goeido pretzeled up Daieisho, who must be wondering what the hell happened an how he ended up in this living sumo hell, and why the schedulers hate him so much.

Harumafuji defeats Chiyonokuni – Harumafuji’s back! In person it was clear he was trying for Chiyonokuni’s mawashi, and I was hoping to see the spin cycle today. Instead he had to settle for launching Chiyonokuni into a handy Shimpan landing zone.

Yoshikaze defeats Kakuryu – The Berserker is on fire right now, and it’s tough to stand up to him. Kakuryu is in deep ugly trouble now, his reactive sumo is not working this time, and he will have to endure calls for his retirement.

Endo defeats Kisenosato – Kisenosato gives up his first kinboshi, he is clearly still hurt in a very performance limiting way. Hell, a left handed Yokozuna loses use of his left upper body, but still manages to win half his matches. I expect him to somehow swallow (for him) a bitter pill and go kyujo on the weekend.

Hakuho defeats Okinoumi – I honestly feel sorry for Okinoumi. Hakuho is clearly back in fighting form, and he’s just going to crumple and fold everyone for the next 11 days.