Natsu Day 7 – Ones To Watch

Day 7 is loaded down with action for our “Ones to Watch”; it’s the middle weekend, and some of our favorites will be 4-0 by Sunday. Day 6 saw Musashikuni finally get his first win of the Basho to improve to 1-2, and hopefully put himself on the road to kachi-koshi. Elsewhere in Makushita, Wakatakamoto picked up his first win as well against Ayanoumi, while Akua lost his first to drop to 2-1. In Sandanme, Roga won to improve to 2-1, as did Shoji. Amakaze won against Hikarifuji to improve to 3-0.

Day 7 matches

Wakamotoharu vs Tamaki – Wakamotoharu finds himself in the 1-2 bracket going into the middle weekend, needing 3 more wins out of 4 matches to make kachi-koshi and likely punch his ticket back to Juryo. The problem with that plan is that out of the 3 prior matches with Tamaki, Wakamotoharu has won only one.

Kotokamatani vs Takanofuji – This 3-0 bracket match will determine who goes into the yusho playoff ladder, and it features both Makushita 2 rikishi, both of which have yet to lose. Kotokamatani has really been impressive thus far, and looks to be a good candidate for promotion, which the winner of this bout likely clinches -lksumo.

Ichiyamamoto vs Kizakiumi – What a difference a win makes, as Ichiyamamoto has 2 wins and only needs 2 more out of 4 to get to kachi-koshi. His Juryo promotion is not as certain, due to him being ranked Makushita 3, but his first goal has to be that 4th win. Okinawan Kizakiumi has rocketed up the banzuke after joining Kise heya from Nihon University’s sumo program. Ichiyamamoto is going to have his hands full.

Wakatakamoto vs Takakento – It’s an Onami brothers day of sumo, with all 3 on the dohyo during the afternoon. Wakatakamoto won the previous match against Takakento, which took place a year ago.

Akua vs Kototebakari – Kototebakari has been on a rocket ride up the banzuke since he joined Sadogatake in 2017. He is fighting at his personal highest rank ever, and could present a lot of fight to Akua, who I am convinced is still not completely recovered from his September 2018 injuries that caused him to withdraw from the Aki Basho on day 12.

Roga vs Wagurayama – After taking the first loss of his professional sumo career, Roga is back to dominating every match. Perhaps some of the pressure was relieved, and he can focus more on each match as it comes? This 2-1 bracket match means that Roga is most likely not going to contest for the Sandanme yusho, which may have also relieved some worries.

Wakaichiro vs Harimanada – After a cold 0-2 start, Wakaichiro looked like a completely different rikishi for his 3rd match, confidently launching Amamidake across the tawara and into the zabuton. With any luck we will see that kind of sumo again on day 7 as Wakaichiro goes up against Onoe heya’s Harimanada. Harimanada has never been ranked higher than Jonidan, and in fact was banzuke gai for about a year.

Kitanowaka vs Ito – Mr Fabulous takes on Ito in this Jonokuchi 3-0 match, where we will watch a former high school Yokozuna battle Saitama native Ito, a graduate of the Tokyo University of Agriculture. Will this one be less lopsided than the prior 3?

Hattorizakura vs Garyu – Good news for Garyu! He finally gets to pick up his first win. Perpetual soft sumo pro Hattorizakura shows no sign of getting fierce any time soon. It’s ok, the fans adore him.

Natsu Day 5 – Ones To Watch

Welcome to the end of act 1 – In the lower divisions, it has less of an effect than it does for sekitori, but we can already see how the lower division “Ones to Watch” are setting up for the remainder of the Natsu basho. In day 4 action, we had a large number of our cohort in action, with many of them in Sandanme. Amakaze, Terunofuji and Roga all won, while Musashikuni and Shoji lost, further lowering the overall Musashigawa heya’s record.

On to the matches!

Wakamotoharu vs Fujiazuma – A 0-2 bracket match, both of these rikishi share the Makushita 1 rank, and as is typical for the bloody battlefield at the top of sumo’s 3rd division, there is carnage everywhere. For these two, it’s about survival now. Both of them need 4 wins to get their ticket stamped to Juryo, but that looks like a long, steep climb from here.

Ichiyamamoto vs Tobizaru – It’s Ichiyamamoto’s turn to head to Juryo, this time to face the flying monkey; Tobizaru. Ichiyamamoto has tied his highest ever rank this basho, and with both Makushita 1’s in a tight spot, the Juryo promotion lanes my be a bit more open than usual. Time to step on the gas, guys.

Hoshoryu vs Kotokamatani – Two early favorites for the front of any promotion queue, the only two rikishi at the top of Makushita who are unbeaten face each other tonight for sole possession of the overtaking lane. Both are sharp, capable and healthy. Furthermore, both of them show considerable amount of planning in each match, and I think this could be a highlight bout of the day.

Midorifuji vs Kototebakari – A 1-1 bracket match, Midorifuji is still in great shape working towards 4 wins. He has faced Kototebakari once before, for a loss.

Terunofuji vs Komakiryu – For these two it’s 2-0 head to head on day 5, but it’s an odd match up to be certain. Komakiryu is a 34 year old veteran from Kise heya, and spent a good amount of time in Makushita before drifting back down to Sandanme. Terunofuji is still not even close to his real capabilities, but is improved from Osaka. Winner advances to the 3-0 bracket.

Wakaichiro vs Amamidake – For Wakaichiro fans, the numbers are grim. Currently at 0-2, both matches featured frustrating surprises that has left Wakaichiro without a win. The good news is that there is still a path to kachi-koshi, and Wakaichiro has recovered from this situation in the past.

Kitanowaka vs Yabugasaki – The young Jonokuchi sensation will face another newcomer who is a height and weight match for him. As always, its tough to rank new recruits straight from Maezumo, and we expect the Nagoya banzuke to have a better sort order. If anything, Kitanowaka may be under-ranked right now.

Low Division bouts – Day 3

Kotokamatani wearing an oicho-mage for his Juryo visit today

Here are a few bouts I collected for day 3.

Down in Jonokuchi, Toma, Hakuho’s gigantic uchi-deshi, had his second bout for this basho, vs. Ito, and his first monoii.

Ow, ow, ow. Poor Ito. He looks completely out of it. Well, 206kg falling on top of you is no small matter (see what I did there?). He is lucky the shimpan did not decide on a torinaoshi.

First loss for Toma, then.

Edit: This bout from the TV angle. The Isamiashi is much clearer:

Edit: I found Kitanowaka’s bout vs. Tokisakae – here it is:

Mmm. That man belongs at least in Sandanme at the moment, if not Makushita.

The rest of the videos I found are from Makushita. Let’s start with Tomisakae, who faces Tanabe.

Yeah, the video doesn’t include the tachiai. But Tomisakae, Isegahama’s back-flipping rikishi, seems to be serious this basho.

The famous Naya vs. Koba:

This bout reminds me of a Takakeisho bout. Could it be he is influencing his tsukebito already? Naya does well to maintain his balance as Koba tries to dispatch him near the edge there, and then actually wins by pulling wildly – which will not always work for him.

The match between Hoshoryu and Jokoryu today was all over the Japanese press. “Hoshoryu’s first bout with a former san-yaku wrestler”, the titles shouted. Let’s see how this went, in NattoSumo’s excellent clip:

Hoshoryu said, in an interview after this bout: “I guessed that he will go for a slap, and slap he did. By the time I had reacted he already had his arms well inside. I am glad I was still able to push forward”.

Yes, it wasn’t a bout Hoshoryu should be too proud of. His Tachiai was, indeed, not quite fast enough for a good opponent.

As for that monoii – NattoSumo says he doesn’t understand exactly what happened. Well, the sportscaster is saying “It seems Hoshoryu’s leg was out first… but by then, Jokoryu was already out of balance. The commentator agrees: “He had no body” (that’s like saying his body was dead). But says the word “bimyo” – which means this is not clear-cut. The kyogi (discussion of a monoii) proceeds, and Onomatsu oyakata announces – surprisingly clearly – that they were discussing the leg, but decided with the judge. So it seems that they indeed judged Jokoryu’s body to be dead.

Hoshoryu is 2-0, and fans expect him to be matched next with Takanofuji (the former Takayoshitoshi, you know), who is also 2-0 and looking very aggressive.

Ichiyamamoto vs. Fujiazuma:

Compared to all the above drops and falls, this bout looks positively serene.

We venture into Juryo, where Kotokamatani is visiting to balance the odd number of sekitori in this basho. For this reason, he gets a fine-looking oicho-mage. He goes against our friend Akiseyama:

Akiseyama uses every bit of his experience, but Kotokamatani plants his head and exhibits a lot of patience. He is rewarded by becoming todays blob on the NSK’s “Fan-chosen Fighting Spirit Rikishi” list (Makushita rikishi don’t have a photo in the NSK app, so they are shown as a rikishi-shaped blob if they get elected for that list).

Let’s finish with Aminishiki, who is facing Irodori, the newbie. Aminishiki tends to win first encounters:

And indeed he does, in his usual style. Your opponent gets too enthusiastic about his tsuppari? Move a little sideways and let him enjoy the view from below the dohyo.

Natsu Day 1 – Ones To Watch

Kitanowaka’s Ready For His First Match As A Rikishi

We start the Natsu basho with a light schedule of our “Ones to Watch”, with most of the first matches for our favorites coming day 2. But the schedulers are still kicking off the Makushita doom brawl in proper style. Let’s get straight to the matches

Wakamotoharu vs Kotokamatani – After his Juryo debut make-koshi, Onami brother Wakamotoharu simply needs a winning record to stamp his return ticket to the paid ranks. But at this level of competition this will be no easy matter. His opening match is against rising star Kotokamatani, who has been on a steady upward climb through the upper strata of Makushita.

Wakatakamoto vs Chiyosakae – More Onami sumo! This time the lowest ranked of the Waka brothers faces off against Chiyosakae, a long-serving Makushita veteran who is fighting at his highest rank after 40 tournaments in sumo’s 3rd highest division.

Akua vs Ayanoumi – We have been following Akua for the past several tournaments, and he seems to still be struggling to put his sumo back together after withdrawing from the 2018 Aki basho due to injury. Today he will face off against Ayanoumi, who has foregone the typical sumo bulk in favor of strength and agility.

Amakaze vs Taranami – The former Juryo mainstay will face a 17 year old Taranami, who is fighting at his highest ever rank. Only in his 13th basho, Amakaze may find Taranami a fairly straightforward opponent, as long as Amakaze’s body is still in good condition.

Kitanowaka vs Garyu – Kitanowaka’s first every ranked sumo match finds him against another newcomer from the generous flock that participated in Maezumo in Osaka. At this level of competition, it’s typically difficult to tell what is going to happen…

Haru Day 6 – Ones To Watch

Sakaefuji’s Says, “What Are The Rest Of You Going To Eat?” – Photo From The NSK Twitter Feed

Day 5 was brutal to our “Ones to Watch” group, with Musashikuni, Torakio, Shoji, Wakaichiro, and Kenho all going down to defeat. Given the group above, it was not a good day for the Musashigawa clan at all. Several of our lower division rikishi find themselves at a 1-2 record heading into the middle weekend, and having to work hard to avoid a make-koshi for Osaka.

But Ichiyamamoto and Wakatakamoto are at 3-0, and will likely move to the yusho elimination bracket over the weekend. For added excitement, Gokushindo and Chiyootori are also in the 3-0 group in Makushita, so we will see some great matches Saturday and Sunday.

Today’s torikumi features the 3rd match for the remainder of the lower divisions, and today’s final tally will provide a clear picture of the yusho race in all groups.

Day 6 Matches

Hoshoryu vs Kotokamatani – A 1-1 bracket match, Hoshoryu faces another fast rising future start of sumo – the 150kg Kotokamatani from Sadogatake heya. Kotokamatani has spent 15 basho in Makushita, and is fighting at his highest ever rank.

Akua vs Dewahayate – Another 1-1 bracket match, Akua faces a match against frequent opponent Dewahayate from Dewanoumi heya. Like Akua, Dewahayate is a former Juryo man who would love to return to the salaried ranks. They have had 6 prior matches, and are evenly split.

Midorifuji vs Kainoryu – Again in the 1-1 bracket, compact powerhouse Midorifuji will attempt to get a second win over Tomozuna heya’s Kainoryu to improve to 2-1.

Naya vs Tenkaiho – In the 2-0 bracket, Naya will try to follow up his dominant performance on day 4 in his match against 190 kg former Makuuchi rikishi Tenkaiho. Since he lost his Maegashira rank in 2014, Tenkaiho slowly dropped through Juryo, and has been bouncing around of Makushita since. This will be an execellent test for Naya’s developing skills, as this is a skilled veteran.

Terunofuji vs Sakaefuji – With his win over Amakaze, Terunofuji is in the 2-0 bracket: bad knees and all. So the schedulers decide to try him out on the 200 kg Sakaefuji. I have no idea what Terunofuji is going to do with this meat-mountain of a man.

Amakaze vs Toyama – While not officially on our list, Amakaze fights yet another member of Musashigawa, and its Toyama, who is fighting at his highest rank.

Hattorizakura vs Hokutoryu – Its fun to watch the Hattorizakura matches, as the crowd cheer him on every time, hoping that this is the time that he decides to apply himself and put his heart into competition. Japanese sumo fans are (at times) the sweetest people on the planet.