As we enter the final 3 days of the basho, the lower division rikishi are facing their final match. For a large number of our “Ones to Watch”, their final match will decide if they exit Osaka with a winning or losing record. In Day 12 action, Hoshoryu battled back to even his score at 3-3 with a win over Sakigake (video below). After a rough period with 3 straight losses in a row, Hoshoryu has battled back to even.
Day 13 Matches
Akua vs Chiyosakae – A 3-3 bracket match, the winner will be kachi-koshi, and the loser make-koshi. Chiyosakae is a 39 basho Makushita veteran who will not be an easy match for Akua.
Ichiyamamoto vs Irodori – Ichiyamamoto takes on Makushita 1 East Irodori in a 5-1 bracket match. Irodori is already likely headed to Juryo, but this match might determine if Ichiyamamoto joins him.
Naya vs Churanoumi – The Makushita yusho playoff match, both rikishi are 6-0 heading into their final match. The winner takes the tournament, the loser gets a nice promotion.
Torakio vs Sekizuka – Neither of these rikishi have a single win. For Torakio this has been a total collapse, and I have to wonder what kind of injury has prevented him from executing really any good sumo for the past 2 weeks.
Shoji vs Komakiryu – Both rikishi are already make-koshi (2-4 bracket), so this match determines how stiff of a demotion is coming to them.
Roga vs Kotomiyakura – Split Jonidan / Sandanme playoff, due to the odd number of undefeated rikishi in both divisions. If Roga wins, there will be a follow-on playoff match later in the tournament to decide the Jonidan yusho.
Terunofuji vs Sadatsuyoshi – Jonidan yusho playoff match, this one may or may not determine the yusho given how the Roga match turns out. Sadatsuyoshi is another young rikishi, who has never before had 6 wins in a tournament, so this is a big moment for him. If Terunofuji repeats his day 11 performance, Sadatsuyoshi will get a rough ride.
Hattorizakura vs Hakuyo – The found someone in Jonikuchi for Hattorizakura to lose to! Hakuyo has been kyujo up until now, but returns for his final match against sumo’s most losing Jonidan.
Many of our “Ones to Watch” were competing day 10 in Osaka, with Hoshoryu picking up his second win, improving to 2-3 in a lengthy match that saw both rikishi struggle for a dominant position. Although it seems to me that Hoshoryu is getting frustrated by the fierce competition in the Makushita joi, the struggle will improve his sumo. It also gives Naya a chance to catch up, as Otake heya yusho hopeful goes into his day 11 yusho elimination match. We are also happy to point out that Wakaichiro managed to pick up his third win with a recovery at the tawara after his balance almost sent him over the edge.
We also have Terunofuji returning to continue his Jonidan yusho bid, and Amakaze competing as well. It’s a full slate for day 11, so grab something to snack on, fire up the stream from Japan and enjoy the lower divisions.
Day 11 Matches
Midorifuji vs Tochinobori – Midorifuji will be looking to pick up win #3, and draw even prior to his final match for Haru. A loss today would mean make-koshi, and a trip down the banzuke for May. His opponent today is Kasugano heya’s Tochinobori, who won their only prior match.
Wakatakamoto vs Kaito – Wakatakamoto has already locked in his kachi-koshi, and now he’s just seeing if he can run up the score. He has two brothers to join in the salaried ranks, and it seems to have motivated him. Day 11 he faces Kaito, who he has a 2-1 career lead against.
Musashikuni vs Horyuyama – Musashikuni is looking to avoid a second straight make-koshi in 2019, and needs to “win out” his remaining 2 matches. Day 11 he faces off against 167 kg (370 pound) Horyuyama. Musashikuni is no tiny fellow, but this is a lot of rikishi to battle. But Horyuyama seems to be having health problems and has been make-koshi for the last 2 basho.
Naya vs Kotoseigo – Naya continues in the yusho bracket, now at 5-0. Day 11 he takes on Makushita 58 Kotoseigo, from Sadogatake heya. Kotoseigo has had 3 extended periods where he sat out multiple tournaments, presumably for health reasons. He is currently fighting at his highest rank.
Torakio vs Baraki – The Naruto heya scion has yet to pick up even a single win for Haru. Is he injured? With lower ranked rikishi, one never gets to know. But we hope he somehow finds a reserve of genki energy and lands at least one win.
Wakaichiro vs Kasugamine – Texas’ own Wakaichiro returns to the Haru dohyo, with kachi-koshi on the line. A win today against Kasugamine would be his 4th, and jubilation would break out across the great state of Texas. As with day 10, Wakaichiro will need to overcome a sizable opponent, who outweighs him by at least 100 lbs.
Roga vs Wakayamanaka – Jonidan yusho bracket match, Mongolian rising star Roga is looking to improve to 6-0, and knock Wakayamanaka out of the race. Wakayamanaka is a former Sandanme rikishi how dropped out of sumo for a time and re-entered, whereas Roga is a young powerhouse who has yet to lose a match.
Kenho vs Sakai – In the really disappointing bracket, the already make-koshi Kenho is clearly not functioning well, and has not generated much offensive or defensive sumo during Haru. Hopefully he can survive his last 2 matches without further injury, and can recover in time for May.
Terunofuji vs Shimomura – Another Jonidan yusho elimination match; former Ozeki Terunofuji is unbeaten in his first basho back in sumo since taking an extended leave of absence to get his health under control. Although not looking quite healthy or fit, he has been fighting well and as a result is in the thick of competition for the Jonidan yusho. His competitor today is 18 year old Shimomura, who is only in his 2nd tournament as an actual ranked rikishi.
Amakaze vs Sakaefuji – Amakaze has a good day of sumo ahead. He is already kachi-koshi in his return to active sumo, and he is safe from further demotion. So the schedulers give him the gargantuan Sakaefuji for his 6th match. Amakaze is a skilled sumo practitioner, but it’s always quite a difficult to battle a human being that large.
Hattorizakura vs Sawada – Having run out of people in Jonikuchi to lose to, they have brought Hattorizakura up to Jonidan to face off against Sawada, whom has beaten him once before. Hattorizakura is my reminder that there are many paths to happiness in this world, including many I don’t understand.
In day 8 action, the Makushita yusho race was locked in as a number of strong rikishi managed to join Naya in the 4-0 column, including fellow one to watch Ichiyamamoto, and former Sekitori mainstay Chiyootori. With only 7 rikishi with perfect records, the field will narrow quickly, and the yusho winner may not end the basho with a perfect record. Late in the Makushita fight roster, Hoshoryu dropped his 3rd match of the basho, and has clearly hit a level of competition that presents a real and formidable challenge to his growing sumo skill.
Day 9 Matches
Ichiyamamoto vs Churanoumi – Let the yusho elimination begin! Ichiyamamoto will take on phenom (and former Juryo man) Churanoumi, who has both a Jonidan and Sandanme yusho to his name from 2016. Churanoumi Has been ranked in the top 10 of Makushita or above since Osaka last year, so Ichiyamamoto has a tough day’s work in front of him.
Midorifuji vs Bushozan – A 2-2 bracket match, Midorifuji wukk face Fujishima heya’s Bushozan, who is looking to bounce back from a make-koshi in January.
Naya vs Tsurubayashi – The second match of our “ones to watch” in the yusho bracket, young Naya is facing off against higher ranked rikishi in an effort to contest for the division title. Ms38 ranked Tsurubayashi is a rough equal for Naya in terms of size and weight, but the 25 year old rikishi Kise heya is a 40 tournament Makushita veteran, and will bring a wealth of experience to the dohyo.
Torakio vs Dairaido – Torakio is still hunting for his first win. Will he score it against former Juryo wrestler Takadagawa? It’s going to be a tough day for the Naruto heya rikishi.
Terunofuji vs Daiyusho – Jonidan yusho race match, former Ozeki Terunofuji looks a little better with each match, and his opponent on day 9 has only been in sumo since Osaka of last year. The prospect of fighting an increasingly genki former Ozeki probably fills young Daiyusho (he’s only 16…) with dread.
Hattorizakura vs Higohikari – I am going to watch this match just in case Higohikari falls down.
A quick update on the lower divisions for day 7, another roster full of action. Day 6 action saw Amakaze, Terunofuji and Naya bring in white stars.
Akua vs Toyohibiki – Former Makuuchi mainstay Toyohibiki takes on Akua, as the next stop on Akua’s drive to return to Juryo. Toyohibiki has struggled since going kyujo from Juryo in Hatsu 2018.
Midorifuji vs Kototebakari – A 2-1 bracket match, compact powerhouse Midorifuji will face fast rising star Kototebakari from Sadogatake heya. Kototebakari has been in professional sumo for 8 basho, and has been on a rapid upward ascent. Given their size and sumo style, this could be a barn-burner match.
Musashikuni vs Takaryu – Like Musashikuni, Takaryu rose quickly into Makushita, and has been trying to find a way past “the wall”. This 2-1 bracket will see who advances, and who will struggle to get to kachi-koshi this tournament.
Naya vs Kotoryusei – This 3-0 bracket match does in fact have Makushitia yusho implications. The winner will take home a kachi-koshi on day 7 (quite a feat) and advance to the increasingly narrow yusho contender group. Naya continues to look strong, confident and absolutely sure of his sumo.
Shoji vs Hagane – A 1-2 bracket match, Musashigawa’s Shoji will be fighting to pick up his second win, and pull even for the tournament.
Wakaichiro vs Kotourasaki – Our Texan sumotori will be facing Sandanme 100 Kotourasaki from Sadogatake heya. A relative light weight (68kg), he has a Jonidan yusho to his name. After an opening win, Wakaichiro has left the dohyo disappointed for the past 2 matches. A win today would put him even for the tournament.
Terunofuji vs Teraosho – After dispatching the gargantuan Sakaefuji on day 6, Terunofuji is 3-0 for Haru, and faces a long serving lower division rikishi, Teraosho. Thus far, Terunofuji seems to be maintaining his knees well, even against truly massive opponents.
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.