March Tournament 2015: Day 2

Harumafuji wanted to end Tochiozan’s slow pre-tachiai ritual. He normally plants the balls of his feet and twists his heels to the center three times…kinda like a slow-mo, fat Dorothy. Well, Harumafuji may have put an end to Dorothy. He did not want to wait and just plowed into Tochi from Kochi. After giving him a little unnecessary extra shove, seems to taunt him a bit more, like, “What are you gonna do?” Uncharacteristically unsportsmanlike but I like the attitude. He’ll need that fire to beat Hakuho.

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Hatsubasho 2015: Day 12

Is Hakuho's 2 bout lead impenetrable?
Is Hakuho’s 2 bout lead impenetrable?

Kisenosato is basically our only hope to drop Hakuho and make this basho interesting. Today, he survived a bit of a scare against Toyonoshima in an entertaining bout. Tomorrow they will battle for the 50th time. The superzuna has a 38-11 advantage in this lengthy rivalry that goes back to Makushita when Kisenosato was known by his real family name, Hagiwara. The historical data at Sumo Games is fantastic and really interesting. Forgive the plug but I love data and this is fascinating. In this case it’s also really interesting to see how quickly in their careers Hakuho advanced into the makuuchi and became a Yokozuna.
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November Tournament: Day 8

My Day 8 update is a bit late. Had a busy day with early morning furniture delivery and then running errands, playing with the kids, etc.

My lead story is Ichinojo’s use of the fake-matta tactic. He’s used it successfully a few times, my favorite example was against Kisenosato, who, at the time, had a really slow tachiai. The process:

  1. He starts too early and bulls his way directly into the opponent,
  2. Bow to head judge,
  3. Dodge,
  4. Push opponent’s head down and hopefully the body follows for an easy win.

I don’t know why Ichinojo (4-4) tried his fake-matta-then-dodge-head-push tactic against a much lighter, weaker, maegashira Tochiozan (3-5) but I’m happy it failed. Tochiozan showed great balance as he probably knew what was coming after the matta. He stayed on his feet, shrugged off the weak head push, and seemed to gain leverage and better position by being lower. Thus in better position, he then pushed Ichinojo across the ring and out. Hopefully that’s the end of this matta-dodge-head-push. Or Ichinojo might go for a belt grab and really finish off his opponent.

Kakuryu stays in the lead with a perfect 8-0 record, and still undefeated against Ikioi. Ikioi (1-7) will really need to step on it and garner some wins to avoid dropping back into the ranks of the maegashira. He really needed to pick up a few more in that first week but I’ve got my hopes that he’ll be able to sweep his lower ranked opponents this week.

Hakuho gets himself into a little unnecessary drama by giving Terunofuji an extra little shove in the back after the match…but with the win stays one back of Kakuryu. He leads the chase group that has been whittled down to Hak, Kisenosato, and Kyokutenho.

Harumafuji (6-2) downs Takekaze (1-7), getting some revenge from kinboshi he gave up back in July. Kisenosato (7-1) took out fellow ozeki Kotoshogiku, who at 3-5 is having a terrible tournament. Kisenosato was on the ropes as it were, but Kotoshogiku’s knee just couldn’t get the final drive over the straw bales. Giku’s knee is not up to it. Goeido’s record (4-4) has not been much better as he lost to Takayasu (5-3). Goeido quickly got a belt grip but seemingly didn’t know what to do with it as Takayasu, with leverage, just drove him back and out.

Wide Open Yusho!

Goeido (7-6) powered through Hakuho (12-1), yes, powered through Hakuho, to hand the Yokozuna his first loss amid the flying zabuton. Then, Ichinojo (12-1) capped off the day with a victory over Kakuryu (10-3). It wasn’t a stunning victory at all. It was the SAME crafty victory he pulled off against Kisenosato (8-5). “Over eager” matta, feignting the direct tachiai, then dodging to the side for the easy henka victory when the fight goes “for reals”. Kakuryu should have been better prepared. He’s a yokozuna and shouldn’t have fallen for that especially since Ichinojo did THE.EXACT.SAME.THING against Kisenosato two days ago.

Meanwhile, Kisenosato secures his winning record and denies Osunaarashi (5-8) a winning record at the same time. The ozeki withstood the sand storm’s early aggressiveness but seemed to be at a disadvantage when Osunaarashi secured a hold on the mawashi. Osunaarashi tried to throw Kisenosato to his left side but maybe he was just too heavy? After the failed throw attempt, it then seemed he just ran out of space and tripped backwards over the straw bales.

In other ozeki action, Kotoshogiku (8-5) was shown the floor by an impressive Ikioi (9-4). Ikioi is still the only makuuchi wrestler to have defeated Ichinojo. Aminishiki, meanwhile, handed Okinoumi his third defeat. Both rikishi stand at 10-3, in a tie with Kakuryu. Aminishiki gets to take on Ozeki Kotoshogiku tomorrow while Okinoumi faces Tochinoshin (13-0) from Juryo. Tochinoshin will likely return to makuuchi next tournament after his recovery from his previous injury. It won’t be an easy win for Okinoumi but with all these interesting match ups it will make for an exciting weekend! That is, assuming Hakuho doesn’t fall for the same henka BS.