Nagoya Day 3 Preview

Bruce is working a tough programming gig, far away from home. So some of the reporting this week will be foreshortened, full of typos, and generally as genki as Yoshikaze’s sumo. You have been warned.

What We Are Watching Day 3

Terutsuyoshi vs Kaisei – Kaisei has suddenly been beset by a swarm of tiny, fast moving rikishi. After experiencing first hand Enho’s unique take on the “Death Spin”, he has to be wondering what manner of fresh hell Terutsuyoshi brings to day 3.

Kotoyuki vs Enho – I this “Penguin meets Fire Pixie” story, we will see how far Kotoyuki makes it into the crowd today, after he only made it to the area just beside the dohyo on day 2. Enho is fighting hurt, but he is fighting well. They met twice in Juryo, splitting the pair.

Toyonoshsima vs Yago – Both are solid rikishi who have started 0-2, and now one of them will have started 0-3. Talk about pulling an Ikioi…

Chiyomaru vs Kagayaki – The key to defeating Chiyomaru is lateral motion. Kagayaki likes to move forward at almost all times, so it’s straight into the fire for Mr Fundamentals.

Tochiozan vs Sadanoumi – Two technical rikishi, with 1-1 records, coming in with a 5-5 career record. Could we be any more symmetrical?

Kotoeko vs Takagenji – This is probably the highlight match of the first half, Takagenji has opened strong, and Kotoeko has shown excellent mobility and stability in his first 2 matches. I expect Takagenji to open strong, and Kotoeko to react today.

Nishikigi vs Daishoho – Nishikigi appears as lethargic and uncertain as his bad days of yore, clinging tenaciously to the bottom scrap of the banzuke. This guy kachi-koshied in upper Maegashira. Please the genki version of Nishikigi back!

Onosho vs Okinoumi – I am going to dare to say that maybe Onosho is getting some of his sumo back. We will know more following day 3 when he faces Okinoumi, who has yet to score his first white star.

Shohozan vs Tomokaze – Tomokaze has actually won both of their prior matches, and I have to wonder just how well Oguruma’s new top rikishi is going to do in July. Shohozan should be almost done removing his ring rust.

Chiyotairyu vs Shimanoumi – I don’t know what Shimanoumi is going to do about the cannon ball charge. Shimanoumi is not large, though he is fairly stable. If ever there was a time for a Henka or near-Henka, this might be it.

Myogiryu vs Takarafuji – Both of these guys are in the middle of the banzuke, and need to really crank it up. Both are capable of great sumo, but seem to have fallen into a middling rut.

Meisei vs Ichinojo – Fans are still wondering which version of Ichinojo is active right now. We want the powerful giant who tosses 150kg people around like straw. This is the first time Meisei has faced, “The Boulder”.

Kotoshogiku vs Daieisho – I expect that Kotoshogiku’s stamina is going to give out some time in week 2, but until then I am enjoying the genki, bouncing, throwing version of the Kyusho Bulldozer.

Abi vs Shodai – Someone probably said, “Let’s give Abi a bit of a break. I know… Shodai!”. But as we all know, once Shodai gets besieged by an oshi practitioner, random things tend to happen, and usually to Shodai’s advantage.

Mitakeumi vs Tamawashi – Maybe a bit early for the traditional Sekiwake brawl, but we will take it. This should be a big running battle if Tamawashi does not blow Mitakeumi up at the tachiai.

Endo vs Takayasu – Takayasu dropped a match in week 1, and everyone who hopes he will one day actually win a yusho has to just shake their head and hope for “next time”. As a life long Cubs / Bears fan, I know how this works. Now he has Endo, and Endo is full on heck’n an bam-boozl’n these days.

Goeido vs Aoiyama – When I see the 21-3 career advantage Goeido has over the Man-Mountain, I have hope that we will see some real sumo from the Ozeki today. I know Aoiyama would love to start Nagoya 3-0, but he will have to survive Goeido’s all out offensive.

Ryuden vs Tochinoshin – Tochinoshin is doing so poorly right now, that I am sort of worried to even watch this match. Ryuden already has one Ozeki scalp, and if he can shut down Tochinoshin’s battle for that left hand outside grip, he may get another.

Hokutofuji vs Hakuho – We know what is going to happen here. We love you Hokutofuji, please don’t get discouraged.

Kakuryu vs Asanoyama – Last chance for an Asanoyama kinboshi, so lets see what Kakuryu will do against the Natsu yusho winner. This is their first ever match.

Nagoya Day 2 Preview

Day Two Brings A Reckoning….

Day 2 we get Asanoyama vs Hakuho. Fans are eager for this, and with good cause. The two have never fought in a tournament, and Hakuho roughed up Asanoyama a bit in a pre-basho practice session, after Asanoyama surprised the Yokozuna by dominating their first training match.

Elsewhere, we have a lot of ring-rust to scrape off of a few Makuuchi rikishi, and a few that need to tune up their sumo. I am hoping that day 2 has less slop, and hopefully less slip, than day 1.

What We Are Watching Day 2

Yago vs Kotoyuki – Yago had a surprising amount of trouble with Kaisei on day 1, and now he’s against Mr 5 x 5, Kotoyuki. We can all be fairly sure that Kotoyuki will end up somewhere in the first 2 rows of zabutons, but how he gets there is the open question. For those of you wondering, yes, many times when he wins, he also ends up in the crowd. It’s his calling.

Toyonoshima vs Terutsuyoshi – Former Sekiwake might think he has landed in Oz, facing two Pixies back to back. But unlike his history with Enho, Terutsuyoshi has never taken a match from Toyonoshima.

Kaisei vs Enho – An injured Enho vs over 400 pounds of hairy Brazilian. I know the fans love this sort of thing, but I just want Enho to emerge in one piece. Truth be told, big men like Kaisei are especially susceptible to Enho’s speed and maneuver based attacks. Kaisei is literally twice Enho’s size. -lksumo

Tochiozan vs Chiyomaru – I am sure that Tochiozan is very disappointed in his day 1 display or ring rust, but he can make up for it with a strong showing against the bulbous Chiyomaru on day 2. ‘Maru has only beaten him once: Hatsu 2018. Chiyomaru will probably go for a pull down, and as long as Tochiozan can keep his feet, he should prevail.

Sadanoumi vs Kagayaki – Sadanoumi also looked especially rusty day 1, while Kagayaki surprised me with his reactions, his confidence and his ability to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. After a lackluster Natsu performance, I am hoping that Kagayaki’s school of sumo fundamentals is back in session.

Kotoeko vs Nishikigi – First ever match between these two, and I think we are going to see Kotoeko try to exploit the fact that Nishikigi’s eyesight is terrible. With Kotoeko’s maneuverability, I would guess we will see him try to stay way from Nishikigi’s front quarter.

Takagenji vs Daishoho – These two have a long running rivalry in the lower ranks, favoring Takagenji. Takagenji managed to secure a very plum rank for his first placement in the top division. Even if he should manage a mild losing record, his chances of being returned to Juryo are quite slim. But today we are going to see these two fight it out, and they typically go at it at close range.

Onosho vs Shohozan – The more times I re-watch Onosho’s day 1 match, the more sloppy it looks to me. Going against Shohozan, Onosho’s defensive footwork will be crucial to him staying competitive in this match.

Okinoumi vs Tomokaze – An odd fact that may be a bit unsettling to long-time sumo fans, but Tomokaze is now Oguruma’s top ranked rikishi. He is drawing Okinoumi early in the basho, while the older veteran rikishi still has some stamina, so this could be a fairly good match. This is their first ever bout.

Chiyotairyu vs Myogiryu – Myogiryu knows this match is all about him keeping his feet when Chiyotairyu’s canon ball tachiai comes roaring through. Myogiryu has won the last 2 of their bouts, so he should be able to absorb the blast if he’s on his sumo.

Shimanoumi vs Takarafuji – Day 1, Shimanoumi completely fell apart at the moment of tachiai. While the result was rather weak, Takarafuji’s technical sumo will require Shimanoumi to execute strongly and with confidence if he hopes to get his first win.

Meisei vs Kotoshogiku – Meisei showed a lot of ring rust day 1, but his lot is no easier day 2, where he faces the veteran Kotoshogiku, who is not yet worn down by daily matches. It will be Kotoshogiku going for the mawashi early, and engaging the hug-n-chug.

Ichinojo vs Daieisho – Ichinojo’s day 1 match was a clear cut disappointment. Is he back to being injured, or did he just go soft when he realized he did not have his body in position to attack? Daieisho will be going for center-mass at the tachiai, but Ichinojo presents quite a lot of mass to effect.

Mitakeumi vs Endo – Leading the day 1 “Derp Sumo” roster would be Mitakeumi, who looked completely distracted in his first loss. Endo will once again have a plan, and it will be really good. Mitakeumi, if he’s in form, can power through most of Endo’s sumo. I am eager to see if Mitakeumi’s day 1 flop has motivated him to come out strong. The two have split their previous 8 bouts. -lksumo

Aoiyama vs Tamawashi – Tamawashi lost traction day 1 on his way to an opening loss. Some of the more energetic footwork may need to be moderated on the slick Nagoya dohyo. I think Aoiyama won’t suffer that problem much, as his sumo usually relies on being enormous, immobile and delivering brutal round-house blows. This pair has met 11 times dating back to 2011, with Aoiyama holding a narrow 6-5 edge, including a victory in May that broke a string of 4 defeats. -lksumo

Goeido vs Abi – As a Komusubi, Abi is going to have a rough first week. Some experts believe that the ancient Jomon people first dug latrines at the edge of their villages, and bestowed the title “Komusubi” on the men tasked to clean them out. In spite of his day 1 loss, Goeido looked fairly good.

Shodai vs Tochinoshin – Tochinoshin needs to keep Shodai immobilized. Once that guy starts moving around the dohyo, all manner of chaotic things tend to happen to his opponents. I am sure Shodai took a good look at the Ozeki’s day 1 loss, and will possibly try some variation of Endo’s insightful opening mae-mitsu gambit. Like Endo, Shodai has been a tough matchup for the Ozeki, winning half of their dozen previous bouts, including 4 of the last 5. -lksumo

Ryuden vs Takayasu – Long time fans of Takayasu, myself included, are waiting for a sign that his sumo is headed to the next level. It may never come, but if it does, I think it will take the form of him going 7-0 in the first week. Ryuden comes in with a 2-1 career advantage, and some of his best sumo to date. Fun fact: the first of their 3 career meetings took place exactly 10 years ago, at Nagoya 2009, in low Makushita. -lksumo

Kakuryu vs Hokutofuji – Hokutofuji specializes in making his opponents back up. Kakuryu specializes in making his opponents over-commit. What the hell is going to happen here? I think whatever it is, it will be quick. The Yokozuna needs to resist the temptation to pull if he does not want to open Nagoya 1-1. Hokutofuji does have one kinboshi to show for their 4 prior meetings. -lksumo

Asanoyama vs Hakuho – Asanoyama showed day 1 that he is not intimidated to have a big match. But now it’s time to see if Hakuho did more to his head than just give Asanoyama a concussion. The real risk here is injury to Hakuho, as his ego is likely to demand that he not just beat Asanoyama, but possibly toss in some light humiliation. While such sumo accessories may have been easy to execute in his younger days, Hakuho may not appreciate Asanoyama’s stability and strength, as this is their first actual honbasho match.

Nagoya Day 1 Preview

Photo Courtesy Of The Japan Sumo Association’s Twitter Feed

After a long, very dry spell, its once again time for sumo! Earlier on Saturday, the Dohyo Matsuri was conducted, and everything is now ready for the first matches on Sunday morning. There is a somewhat clearer picture of who is genki and who is not as we count down the final hours to the start of the basho. Some headlines

  • Hakuho – The right arm is advertised to be back to full power, and he seems healthy and ready to go.
  • Kakuryu – His chronic back problems seem to have returned, so it may be a less than average performance from Big K
  • Goeido – No word at all. I am going to guess is has been practicing like a maniac as he always does.
  • Takayasu – Also reported to be having body issues, but Andy maintains we will see his best sumo ever this July.
  • Tochinoshin – Possibly jet lagged, some reports of injury, but I am going to expect him to be back to fighting like a bear that has the strength of two bears.
  • Takakeisho – Sitting out Nagoya, he will be Ozekiwake in September with a 10 win mountain to climb. A tough outcome for the most successful of the tadpole clan.
  • Yoshikaze – Injury to a ligament on his right knee, with a mandatory 2 month rest period. I would guess this is probably an intai situation, as he has a kabu and is going to make an outstanding sumo elder.
  • Enho – Shoulder, thigh, whatever – this guy is banged up but has enough heart to fight anyhow.

To fans new to Tachiai (and welcome, we are glad you are here!) – we tend to talk about any basho as a series of 3 acts, each of which are constructed to have specific tone and desired outcome. Each act lasts 5 days, and their job is to take us from a wide open field of eager, healthy competitors to a lone champion on day 15.

  • Act 1 – We knock the ring rust off of the rikishi and see who is genki and who is not. I expect a great deal of ring rust in the first 3 days.
  • Act 2 – We can finally start thinking about a leader board as we head into the middle weekend, and we start to sort the competitors from the survivors from the damned.
  • Act 3 – The intimate sumo test of endurance sorts the make/kachi koshi roster, pits the upper ranks against one another, and crowns a yusho winner.

With that, it’s on day 1!

What We Are Watching Day 1

Kotoyuki vs Terutsuyoshi – Mr 5 x 5 (so named because he is about as wide as he is tall) managed to wobble his way back to the top division. He starts the tournament against pixie salt-blaster Terutsuyoshi, who is at the bottom rung of Makuuchi with another chance to stay in the top division. After a great run in Juryo, Terutsuyoshi looked a notch less genki in May – will the heat of Nagoya bring him back to life?

Kaisei vs Yago – Is Kaisei healthy this time? His big body is more than adequate to just out-jumbo most rikishi in the bottom of Makuuchi. But I think we are going to see massive ring-rust this match, with both Kaisei and Yago likely looking clumsy, slow and uncertain.

Toyonoshima vs Enho – Welcome back to the top division once again to former sekiwake Toyonoshima, who refuses to give up and keeps fighting onward. His first match is against an injured Fire-Pixie Enho, who holds a 4-0 lead over Toyonoshima. This match will give fans some idea of how banged up Enho really is.

Chiyomaru vs Sadanoumi – I expect this match to be extra rusty, as both men tend to have slow starts to any tournament, historically the advantage goes to Chiyomaru (9-3), but big Chiyo is also typically one of the most rusty fellows on the banzuke.

Tochiozan vs Kagayaki – Both of these rikishi suffered terrible performance in May, and find themselves in the bottom third of Makuuchi for Nagoya. Both of them are technical rikishi, but Tochiozan’s vast experience and superior range of technique will probably prevail over Mr Fundamentals, Kagayaki.

Nishikigi vs Takagenji – Takagenji’s first match ranked in the top division. He’s had a tough fight to get here, but he’s ranked all the way up at M10 – a testament on how jumbled the promotion / demotion graph was at the end of Natsu. Nishikigi is still smiling and looking at photos of his magical holiday in the joi-jin, but his sumo seems to have faded a bit. This is their first ever match up.

Kotoeko vs Daishoho – After displaying Shodai level banzuke luck (he held M15W for 3 tournaments with losing records), he is finally ranked a bit further up the roster and finds himself in a test of who is ready to rumble against Daishoho. Two of a handful of lower Maegashira rikishi to kachi-koshi in May, Kotoeko and Daishoho get a chance to tune up on day 1.

Shohozan vs Okinoumi – By accounts on social media (thanks Melissa), Shohozan broke his phone this week, and the typically dour faced rikishi is possibly even more sour than ever. This is actually an interesting match as both rikishi are highly skilled veterans. Shohozan will try to keep things mobile, and Okinoumi will want to go chest to chest. With ring rust and the traditionally slippery Nagoya dohyo, it could be messy.

Onosho vs Tomokaze – Still no make-koshi for Tomokaze, who is now the senior ranked rikishi from Oguruma (Yoshikaze fans like myself note this with sadness). Now the lowest ranked tadpole, Onosho is still struggling to get his sumo back following an extensive kyujo for knee repairs, an even that his friend Takakeisho is sadly suffering now. I predict that both of these men will be in the joi-jin for September, and today is all about getting the ready for that duty in 60 days.

Myogiryu vs Shimanoumi – Shimanoumi had a slow start to his debut Makuuchi tournament, but rallied and finished strongly, earning him a Maegashira 6 slot. Myogiryu spent all of Natsu fighting well but losing, a sad form of sumo that sadly too many rikishi adopted in May. This is their first ever career match.

Chiyotairyu vs Takarafuji – If Takarafuji can keep the match going longer than 20 seconds, he can take Chiyotairyu down when he loses stamina. But of course we will see Chiyotairyu trend towards his canon ball tachiai. Mix with a liberal dusting of ring rust and it could make for some very sloppy sumo.

Kotoshogiku vs Ichinojo – I think a big question for a lot of sumo fans is what kind of state is Ichinojo in? The Mongolian Monster is hot or cold, and when he’s hot he’s not beatable without some kind of sorcery. We get our first peek today when Kotoshogiku is going to have to try something other than his traditional hug-n-chug. Ichinojo is just too enormous.

Meisei vs Daieisho – Daieisho followed the Myogiryu pattern of fighting well but losing during Natsu, while Meisei battled to a 10-5 win, and I expect that we may see Meisei pick up where he left off. He is not prone to ring rust, and I would guess he spent the intervening 8 weeks training hard and getting ready.

Shodai vs Tamawashi – I really want to see Tamawashi bundle, tape and Fedex Shodai back to Kumamoto for Monday AM delivery, but when Shodai gets in trouble with an oshi-zumo specialist, he turns on some kind of chaos-generation engine that causes all kinds of odd things to happen. I tend to call this Shodai’s “Cartoon Sumo”, and it means Tamawashi needs to be careful.

Mitakeumi vs Aoiyama – Aoiyama tends to get quite rusty, but so does Mitakeumi. We can be certain Mitakeumi will try to dodge the nodowa at the tachiai, and close the distance to Aoiyama’s enormous pasty chest in an effort to shut down the haymakers from Aoiyama. If he can get close enough, it’s Mitakeumi’s match.

Endo vs Tochinoshin – I expect Tochinoshin to be extra rusty, as he traveled back to Georgia during the break, and I think he’s not quite a tuned up as he would normally be. This is dangerous when facing Endo, who is an extremely technical rikishi who likes to pre-visualize his matches. Tochinoshin will go left hard at the tachiai, and I expect Endo to use this to his advantage.

Hokutofuji vs Takayasu – We will get an early read on how healthy Takayasu is, when he takes on the highly maneuverable Hokutofuji on day 1. These two are evenly matched, and their 4-4 career records underscores that. If Takayasu wants to win his first yusho, he needs to rack up the white stars week 1 against his lower ranked opponents.

Goeido vs Asanoyama – As stated above, Goeido’s condition is unknown, and presumed genki. Meanwhile we know Asanoyama suffered a concussion during a training session with Yokozuna Hakuho. This either left him somewhat impaired in action speed and reflex, or really motivated him apply maximum beat-down on everyone. I expect Asanoyama will go for the mawashi early, but I am sure Goeido knows that, and I think he will go for a frontal (mae-mitsu) grip during the tachiai.

Abi vs Hakuho – I am sure Abi is coming into this one excited to take on the dai-Yokozuna. I am also sure that this is the absolute best chance anyone is going to have to drop Hakuho. While Abi-zumo is not going to do much to phase Hakuho, with an extended kyujo, I expect Hakuho’s reflexes to be off. Good luck Abi.

Kakuryu vs Ryuden – A first look at Kakuryu, and to what extent (if any) his back is going to impact his performance. If we se him moving in reverse, it’s going to be a short basho for sumo’s other Yokozuna.

Natsu Day 15 Highlights

Enho Gives Everything In His Day 15 Match With Shohozan
Image courtesy of friend of Tachiai, NicolaAnn08 on Twitter

Described by one friend as “Anti-climatic”, day 15 in general was a study in how many rikishi were hurt and fighting poorly vs a small core who managed to stay healthy. The schedulers threw in a good number of “Darwin Matches” where both rikishi were 7-7, and one walked away with winning record, the other with a losing record and demotion. The atmosphere in the Kokugikan was off, as vending machines were taken off line, there were hour long lines to be screened to enter, and there were protective guards everywhere. But some solid sumo did take place, and the final day of the Natsu Basho went off without a hitch.

As expected, US President Trump did appear with Prime Minster Abe, and both handed trophies to Asanoyama who looked happy, overwhelmed and just a little bit uncertain. President Trump was courteous, and at times appeared very happy (handing over the Presidents Cup) and bored (during some of the matches). If the President or any of his staff find themselves taken with the notion of sumo, I strongly recommend reading Tachiai, watching Jason and Kintamayama, and listening to Grand Sumo Breakdown during the next 2 months to be primed for what should be an epic battle in Nagoya.

We are all eagerly awaiting lksumo’s crystal ball post due up later today, but I can say that this basho was a death march for far too many rikishi. A few big names were missing, and the ones who hung in there were fighting well below their normal capabilities. I think this basho greatly underscored just how tough it is to keep a group of 40 or so rikishi healthy, fighting and fit.

Highlight Matches

Chiyoshoma defeats Ikioi – Chiyoshoma delivers a slap and a pull to drop Ikioi to 4-11. Is this the end of Ikioi as we know him? Clearly he is still too hurt to fight effectively. Its tough to see long time favorites go out banged up and down.

Shohozan defeats Enho – The first of the Darwin matches, Shohozan threw in all of his unsavory behavior including multiple matta (one with a full charge and slap) before the match could get underway for real. When the match did finally start, it was a wild brawl with Enho dodging and weaving at his best, but Shohozan was clearly in charge. The two went chest to chest, and Enho struggled to get leverage over the larger Shohozan, but “Big Guns” remained upright and stable, while Enho became increasingly tired. Eventually Enho’s attacks left him too low, and Shohozan helped him to take a face full of Natsu clay. Huge effort by Enho, and typical crummy attitude from Shohozan, but he did pick up his 8th win.

Onosho defeats Chiyomaru – Second Darwin match, Onosho’s propensity to put too much pressure in front of his ankles was no worry with Chiyomaru’s mass to push against, and Chiyomaru found himself without any room to work, or any chance to move to the side.

Kagayaki defeats Ishiura – Both men end the basho 5-10, with Ishiura likely headed to Juryo. Ishiura lost the last 5 consecutive matches, and is in dire need to regroup. The entire Pixie contingent looks to have faded through week 2, as Enho also lost his last 6 consecutive matches, after a strong start.

Tomokaze defeats Sadanoumi – Another Darwin match, Tomokaze lets Sadanoumi come to him, then employs superior strength and stability to overpower, lift and eject Sadanoumi. Tomokaze has yet to endure his first make-koshi of his professional career.

Meisei defeats Daishoho – Meisei has over-performed this basho, finishing with a 10-5 record, and a solid win over Daishoho. Meisei took a mae-mitsu grip early, and never gave an inch.

Shodai defeats Kotoeko – Shodai finishes with double digit wins, after finishing Osaka with double digit losses. I think his sumo looked better, and his opponents were in worse condition this tournament. I insist if this guy could improve his tachiai, he would be a force of sumo.

Tokushoryu defeats Yoshikaze – Yoshikaze puts forth an effort to win on the final day, but the amount of force he can put into any move seems to be just a fraction of his normal. This comes after double digit wins in Osaka. His performance is either on or off the past 18 months, and I have to wonder if he’s starting to eye that kabu now.

Shimanoumi defeats Takarafuji – Two time Juryo yusho winner Shimanoumi came roaring back from a middling start to win his last 6 in a row, and end with at 10-5 record. That was a lot of Makuuchi jitters and ring rust to scrape off, but once he settled in he produced some solid sumo. He may find himself in a tougher crowd in Nagoya.

Abi defeats Tamawashi – Two false starts by Abi left him a bit slow at the tachiai, but he still landed his double arm shoulder attack, and used Tamawashi’s lateral move to send him arcing into the clay. Both men end Natsu 10-5, and Abi receives the Kanto-sho.

Chiyotairyu defeats Tochiozan – This bout was a mess, it featured a solid forward start from Chiyotairyu, followed by a lateral collapse that saw the big Kokenoe man hit the clay, but win because Tochiozan had already stopped out.

Daieisho defeats Terutsuyoshi – Both rikishi end Natsu make-koshi, with Terutsuyoshi following a cold start to the basho with a week 2 fade. There are a good number of rikishi at the bottom of the banzuke with really terrible records, and it may be another log-jam in the demotion queue that sees some incredible banzuke luck bestowed on the least terrible of the lot. Will that include Terutsuyoshi?

Endo defeats Yago – Endo catches Yago’s tachiai, lets him begin to push and then drops him to the clay. Simple, easy, effective.

Kotoshogiku defeats Okinoumi – A fairly traditional Kotoshogiku hug-n-chug win, but his hip pumping was less focused than normal, and it took quite a bit of time and effort to finish Okinoumi. Both men end the basho with losing records.

Hokutofuji defeats Nishikigi – Hokutofuji’s “Handshake Tachiai” pays off as Nishikigi puts all of his hopes into grabbing a piece of Hokutofuji’s mawashi, and comes up with air. Left without anything to hold on to, Nishikigi is quickly propelled out for an oshidashi loss.

Mitakeumi defeats Asanoyama – Many fans will declare this a bellwether match, as it shows that Asanoyama did not have the mettle to be the Natsu champion. They may have a point, but that’s not how honbasho works. Mitakeumi is able to enact his preferred sumo strategy, and try as he might, Asanoyama cannot get into the grip and foot placement we have seen him use to rack up 12 wins prior to today. Does this foreshadow Asanoyama’s upcoming opponents in Nagoya? Probably, yes.

Ryuden defeats Aoiyama – Ryuden finishes with double digits, and I have to say his sumo was dead on this tournament. Aoiyama was only a fraction of his normal strength by this stage of the tournament, and Ryuden masterfully absorbed everything Aoiyama delivered in terms of tsuppari.

Ichinojo defeats Myogiryu – When Ichinojo is “on” he turns his opponents into rag-dolls and tosses them around at his leisure. This happened today with Myogiryu, who looked like an play-thing in a giant’s toy box.

Takayasu defeats Tochinoshin – Both of these rikishi are fighting hurt, and are only at a fraction of their expected power and speed. Takayasu takes a big chance going chest to chest against Tochinoshin, but rather than set up the sky crane, Tochinoshin oddly decides to try and pull Takayasu, which was all the Ozeki needed to rush forward and take Tochinoshin to the clay. Yeah, Tochinoshin is clearly hurt, and that was crap sumo compared to his first week performance.

Kakuryu defeats Goeido – They made a good match of it, no shady moves, no cheap sumo here, the top two surviving rikishi finished the day with a solid yotsu match that saw the Yokozuna take his 11th win.

That’s it for our daily highlight coverage. Thank you, dear readers, for sharing the Natsu Basho with us!