Kyushu Day 5 Highlights

Daishomaru defeated Terutsuyoshi. This was a quick one. After a decent tachiai, Terutsuyoshi circled the larger Daishomaru and seemed to lose his ring presence as his left foot landed on the tawara. From there a modest shove from Daishomaru was all that was needed for the win. Oshidashi.

Kagayaki fusen win over Wakatakakage.

Takanosho defeated Daishoho. After the tachiai, Takanosho got in low under Daishoho’s attack, brushed his arm away while securing a morozashi, and drove forward…almost through the gyoji. Yorikiri.

Chiyotairyu defeated Nishikigi. This bout was all Chiyotairyu tsuppari. Nishikigi tried an early shoulder blast to no effect. Chiyotairyu responded with some wave action tsuppari and thrust Nishikigi off the dohyo. Tsukidashi.

Chiyomaru defeated Ishiura. Ishiura’s hit and shift on the tachiai was well snuffed out by the Chiyomaru. Chiyomaru did not over-commit to moving forward so when Ishiura moved to Chiyomaru’s right, Maru drove the Miyagino beya man over the bales, giving no room for Ishiura to get a belt grip or mount an offense. Oshidashi.

Kotoshogiku defeated Shodai. Shodai allowed Kotoshogiku to play his game from the outset. Giku was able to get inside and wrap up the tournament leader and drive forward through Shodai. Yorikiri. Giku didn’t even launch much of his jack-rabbit gabburi attack. With the loss utter capitulation, Shodai ended West’s streak of victories and fell off the top of the leaderboard and into the mix at 4-1 while Kotoshogiku picked up his first win.

Sadanoumi defeated Shimanoumi. Shimanoumi had a stronger tachiai, driving Sadanoumi back. However, Sadanoumi secures a solid left hand belt grip. While Shimanoumi launched his attack, Sadanoumi powered through with that belt grip and picked up his third win. Yorikiri.

Yutakayama defeated Shohozan. Shohozan tried to move around Yutakayama to get a right-hand grip of green mawashi. The mountain successfully defended, however, and firmly locked onto Shohozan’s right arm, spun him around and then thrust him out of the ring. Tsukidashi. Yutakayama joined Shodai with a share of the lead at 4-1.

Kotoeko defeated Tsurugisho. Kotoeko rose up straight to greet Tsurugisho’s tachiai, and received a hail of tsuppari as punishment for such a weak start. Kotoeko circled under the barrage and Tsurugisho surprisingly couldn’t keep up. He took a knee in the middle of the dohyo under what I thought was a rather light, instinctive deflection from the lavender mawashi. Hatakikomi.

Enho defeated Aoiyama. Enho shifted to his right at the tachiai, hiding on the dark side of Aoiyama. All I could see for a while was a load of Aoiyama haymakers raining down on something on the other side. Thankfully, Enho rotated slightly in time to see that one of Aoiyama’s thrusts nearly shoved Enho down but he recovered and with a subtle shift and pull of his own was able to pull Aoiyama off balance and onto all fours. Hikiotoshi. Enho now holds a share of the lead at 4-1 while Aoiyama picked up his second loss.

Onosho defeated Kotoyuki. Kotoyuki unleashed a torrent of blows to Onosho’s face, forcing his head up and back. He then pulled for a hatakikomi attempt but Onosho was all over it. He knew what was coming, locked on target with a tractor beam and helped Kotoyuki’s own momentum carry him off the playing surface. Oshidashi.

Tamawashi defeated Ryuden. I want to know what aroma therapy Ryuden has in that bright red towel. Hopefully he can change it to something more effective against oshi-zumo, though. Ryuden tried, rather meekly, to get a left-hand grip but Tamawashi’s battering kept him away. Ryuden attempted to launch his own oshi-attack but Tamawashi piled on the pressure, and shoved Ryuden over the bales and into the crowd. Overwhelmed. Oshidashi.

Asanoyama defeated Hokutofuji. Asanoyama quickly wrapped up Hokutofuji at the tachiai. Hokutofuji seemed to want to have a leaning contest but his positioning after the tachiai was nowhere near the middle of the ring. His right foot was nearly on the tawara. If he wanted to have some long, drawn out belt battle, he’d need to work himself back to the center of the ring. From this position, however, Asanoyama was not going to ease off his attack. So while Hokutofuji leaned, Asanoyama applied more pressure, and forced him out. Yorikiri.

Abi defeated Endo. This was Abi’s match from the outset but his over exuberance nearly cost him. He wasn’t down for any of Endo’s head games and stare down, forcing the pair to reset. At the tachiai, he started battering Endo, whose half-hearted attempt to grab the mawashi was met with a hail of slaps. As Endo backed out, Abi stepped forward and nearly over the bales himself.

Daieisho fusen win over Tochinoshin. With Tochinoshin’s ozeki rank lost, there’s already talk of retirement but that’s premature. If he can take this break to recover, there’s no reason for retirement. Yes, he’s lost his ozeki rank but he likely has quite a while he could be effective as sekitori.

Okinoumi defeated Mitakeumi. Okinoumi pressured Mitakeumi after the tachiai with a vicious thrust to the face. Mitakeumi was forced back but worked his right arm around Okinoumi’s neck and into a headlock. He used the headlock to twist and try to throw Okinoumi but Okinoumi’s balance was superior. With the headlock attack, this kept Mitakeumi’s body positioned high. From Okinoumi’s lower center of gravity he was able to then effectively carry Mitakeumi across the ring and out, over the threshold. Yorikiri. Both men are 2-3.

Meisei defeated Takayasu. Meisei weathered everything Takayasu threw at him. Time and time again, Takayasu’s tsuppari would force Meisei to the edge but the Ozeki could never finish him off. Meisei would slip inside and back to the center of the ring, forcing the Ozeki to launch a new attack. Takayasu even tried a shoulder blast but that ended awkwardly with Takayasu’s back to Meisei. Takayasu then started a new attack and this time Meisei grabbed his left arm, putting his shoulder into a weird position and changing his direction, suddenly. This forced Takayasu to lose his balance, landing in a heap on the tawara. Kainahineri. Meisei joins the leadership pack at 4-1 while Takayasu falls to a disappointing 2-3.

Takarafuji defeated Takakeisho. Takakeisho was about to start some wave action but Slippin’ Jimmy slipped to the side and the T-Rex toppled over. Tsukiotoshi.

Hakuho defeated Myogiryu. Hakuho greeted Myogiryu with a quick shoulder blast and as he tried to tuck his left hand under for a belt grip, Myogiryu slapped his hand and backed away, retreating to the bales. As Hakuho pursued, Myogiryu lost his balance. Tsukiotoshi. Hakuho is back where he belongs, atop the group of leaders at 4-1.

Our thoughts go out to all those in Hong Kong and Chile. Stay safe.

Natsu Day 10 Preview

Myogiryu: “Then Takayasu said, pull my finger..”
Goeido: “No matter what, don’t pull Takayasu’s finger!”

We come to the end of act 2 now, and we have sorted the rikishi nicely into piles: the ones we know are doing well, the ones we know are doing poorly, and the third group who are struggling to stay afloat. For myself, I find the zero-sum game that is sumo quite fascinating. Every win comes at the expense of some other rikishi’s loss. When you have basho like Osaka, the devastation can be remarkable.

Launching into act 3, we are going to sort everyone into make and kachi koshi, and crown a tournament champion. With a broad front of 3 rikishi with 1 loss with 2 more just behind, there is a lot of competition left to play out this May. Starting on day 10, we will see a larger span of ranks in some matches, as the schedulers work to find pairs that keep the competition interesting and fair. Our worries about the 2 surviving Ozeki and the lone surviving Yokozuna seem to have been laid to rest, and we are all enjoying a re-energized Tochinoshin. I think that Team Pixie has really made a huge impression this basho, and I have to say that Enho may not be their captain, but he is certainly their heart. We are also watching Asanoyama have a great tournament, and we hope he can sustain this level of performance for the rest of the year.

Who has caught your eye this basho? Let us know in the comment section.

Natsu Leaderboard

Leaders: Kakuryu, Tochinoshin, Asanoyama
Chasers: Enho, Kotoeko
Hunt Group: Goeido, Takayasu, Mitakeumi, Abi, Ryuden, Shodai, Shohozan, Daishoho

6 Matches Remain

What We Are Watching Day 10

Chiyomaru vs Daishoho – Chiyomaru: a man of substance who has been mugged by elves a couple of days in a row. His record is in tatters, and I am sure he wonders how he finishes out with 8 wins now. Going up against Daishoho is not going to help. Daishoho is near the bottom of the banzuke for Natsu, but he’s fighting well and dominating his matches. The NHK-G showed the comically large soaking tub in the rikishi’s changing room – I encourage one of Chiyomaru’s tsukibeto to have that thing loaded and steaming hot for day 10.

Ishiura vs Sadanoumi – Ishiura has been able to conduct some good “Enho inspired” sumo the past few days, but he has taken his time to develop his attack before being able to close the deal. The issue with Sadanoumi is that he is a “fast mover” – his plan is on the dohyo and executing at fast forward speed. If Sadanoumi can keep Ishiura in front of him, it’s win #6 for the Sakaigawa man.

Shimanoumi vs Terutsuyoshi – Both of these rikishi are struggling to stay close to the line that takes them to a winning record, so the schedulers put them head to head. But Terutsuyoshi holds a 4-1 career advantage, and seems to be finally in touch with his sumo.

Chiyoshoma vs Yago – Chiyoshoma, clinging to the bottom left corner of the banzuke, desperately needs a win, but then again, so does Yago. Is it time for Chiyoshoma to bring out his henka paddle and start evading the tachiai?

Enho vs Tochiozan – Enho might get his 8th win today, but the challenge is that Tochiozan is not large enough that the submarine tachiai is going to phase him, not slow enough that the normal scampering pixie sumo is going to baffle him, nor inexperienced enough that he is going to worry if Enho puts his face into his navel. First time match between these two.

Kagayaki vs Tokushoryu – Loser of this match receives a brand new make-koshi, and a hearty invitation to regroup and come back in July with their normal top-division class sumo. Kagayaki has stayed true to his form, but has bungled nearly every match. Tokushoryu has forgotten his form, but done what he could with whatever sumo came to mind. Try again guys.

Kotoeko vs Onosho – Although Kotoeko is 5 ranks lower on the banzuke, I personally think he may take this one from Onosho this time. Kotoeko seems to have some of his best sumo going in some time, and Onosho is still struggling with what seems to be a persistent balance problem.

Shodai vs Asanoyama – Someone on the scheduling team is really pushing my buttons, as they pair Shodai with Asanoyama. I am looking for some solid cartoon sumo out of Shodai day 10, and depending on what Asanoyama was doing most Saturday mornings as a child, he may have no idea what happened to him. Shodai won their only prior match, after opening a box from Acme moments before walking down the hanamichi.

Shohozan vs Meisei – Meisei has this “Little Engine That Could” vibe going on right now, so I am sure he will do his utmost. Shohozan seems to have gotten his punk moves out of his system, and has settled own into some first rate sumo in the past few days. This might be a really exciting match.

Takarafuji vs Tomokaze – Tomokaze has a 3 match losing streak going, and all of the piano time he wants is not fixing his sumo. But Takarafuji won’t take any pity on the Oguruma man, as Takarafuji is going to always execute his plan, no matter who he’s facing.

Nishikigi vs Yoshikaze – I predict this will result in Yoshikaze getting his make-koshi. What has been plaguing him for the past several basho? He’s not telling. I just hope that he’s ok when this is all done.

Myogiryu vs Tamawashi – Tamawashi has a real chance to be back in San’yaku, and maybe even back at Sekiwake. Myogiryu will have a very different opponent than his day 9 match with Takayasu – this one will be sharp, short and intense. There will be plenty of kinetic energy in play, Myogiryu will just need to make sure it’s working for him instead of Tamawashi.

Hokutofuji vs Chiyotairyu – Both come in with 3-6 records, and are looking at the make-koshi line racing toward them. Only one of them will exit with a much needed win. These schedulers are being complete bastards, aren’t they?

Daieisho vs Kotoshogiku – I know I commented on lksumo’s day 5 storyline post that I liked Kotoshogiku for a possible San’yaku slot. Of course that was the cue for the Kyushu-Bulldozer to suffer a performance-robbing breakdown. Since then Kotoshogiku has been unable to produce much in the way of offense, and looking poor. If it’s any help, he has a 4-1 career advantage over Daieisho.

Aoiyama vs Endo – Much like that Hokutofuji/Chiyotairyu match, team “3-6” throws two more onto the dohyo for a beating, this time the rubbery man-mountain Aoiyama and the perpetually “almost genki” Endo. Aoiyama holds a 7-3 career advantage, and may just smack Endo around for a while before sending him a loss closer to that make-koshi-bound angry bouillabaisse stewing in that soaking tub near the shitaku-beya.

Mitakeumi vs Tochinoshin – Tochinoshin got a day away from competition with the Takakeisho re-kyujo, so he comes to this match rested and ready. Sure, he’s going to try to to land the left hand outside, and engage the sky crane. We just want to see what Mitakeumi is going to do about it. I am sure Mitakeumi is well aware of the 7-3 Tochinoshin career advantage, and has no desire to make it 8-3.

Ryuden vs Takayasu – Did you know Ryuden (aka Shin-Ikioi) holds a 2-0 career lead over Takayasu? Sure, one of them is from Makushita in 2009, but this certainly removes some air of invincibility around the Ozeki. Takayasu seems to be working well enough that he can figure out a win on whatever terms evolve during the course of a match, so I think Ryuden has his hands full.

Goeido vs Okinoumi – You know what would go really well in the make-koshi hot tub? Some fresh Shimane Taimeishi! I am sure Okinoumi will give him a solid, but ultimately losing, fight. (The two have a long 25-bout history, which the Ozeki leads 19-6, though Okinoumi pulled off the upset the last time they met, in January. -lksumo)

Abi vs Kakuryu – These two have split their 2 prior matches, and I think Abi is due a win or two this week. I can see someone getting dirt on the Yokozuna at least one more time, and it may as well be a nice kinboshi.