Natsu Day 8 – Ones To Watch

Naya Arrives At The Kokugikan

Barn-burner action in the lower divisions on day 7, as a good spread of our “Ones to Watch” engaged in their 4th match. Some results from day 7

RikishiOutcomeScore
WakamotoharuLoss1-3
IchiyamamotoLoss2-2
WakatakamotoLoss1-3
AkuaWin3-1
RogaLoss2-2
WakaichiroWin2-2
KitanowakaLoss3-1
HattorizakuraLoss0-4

Can you say bloodbath for our cohort? Yes, we still have Wakaichiro, who shoved Harimanada around with great effect, picking up his second win of the basho. Akua looked rather sharp as well. I note that Roga lost his second match on day 7, which shows that he has risen to the point where competition is a challenge for him. This is great news as now his training can begin in earnest. I expect him to be a big deal in sumo shortly. We also have news that Kitanowaka lost his match, going down to college man Ito, and taking him off of the yusho pace for Jonokuchi. That first basho is always a big shuffling process for the new rikishi, and we won’t really get a good measure of Kitanowaka until Aki, I would predict.

Off to day 8, the middle day of the tournament, and we will see who can come home with a win. You may see more Tachiai folks at the Kokugikan on Sunday, please stop by and say hello, and feel free to beg for snacks!

Day 8 Matches

Hoshoryu vs Ryuko – The final match of Makushita for day 8 features a 2-1 bracket match up with Hoshoryu, who continues to be attracting an increasing amount of attention. This match is very symmetrical in several ways, my favorite being that Ryuko is another fast rising youngster who missed kachi-koshi in Osaka that would have seen him land in Juryo. That outcome is still on the table for Natsu, for both men, which means this match will be quite a brawl.

Midorifuji vs Asabenkei – Down in the 1-2 bracket, we find a Midorifuji, who has had a less than awesome basho thus far. But like Wakaichiro, if the focus in kachi-koshi, the goal is still well within reach. Asabenkei is a long serving sumo veteran and former Juryo man, who is going to have a distinct advantage in this match.

Naya vs Kaito – In the Makushita 3-0 bracket match is Naya, who has a chance to secure his majority winning record if he can overcome the much higher ranked Kaito. Kaito had a period between Hatsu and Kyushu in 2015 where he was not active in competition, and dropped from lower Makushita to Jonokuchi before fighting his way back up the banzuke. This will be a great test for Naya’s progress as a rikishi.

Musashikuni vs Fukuyama – Also in the 1-2 bracket, the scion of the Musashigawa clan needs to pick up this win against Senshu University rikishi Fukuyama. Fukuyama has been plateaued at lower to mid Makushita, and is looking for the next step in his sumo to progress. Musashikuni has a huge height and weight advantage in this match.

Terunofuji vs Daishosei – A Sandanme 3-0 match, we could see former Ozeki Terunofuji secure kachi-koshi on day 8 if he can get past Daishosei. Daishosei (from Oitekaze heya, naturally) has only been in sumo for 8 basho, and I am sure drawing a match against the former Ozeki is going to be quite an event in his career.

Shoji vs Ebisumaru = 2-1 bracket match from another of the Musashigawa clan we follow, he faces Ebisumaru who has never ranked higher than Sandanme.

Amakaze vs Shinyashiki – Also in the 3-0 bracket is former Juryo mainstay Amakaze, who could secure kachi-koshi and a slot in the yusho playoff bracket with a win on day 8. His opponent, Shinyashiki has 34 tournaments in his sumo career, most of them in Jonidan. We wish Shinyashiki good luck with the large and apparently genki Amakaze.

Hatsu Day 6 – Ones To Watch

Amakaze – Keep Winning Please!

First, the day 5 action did not disappoint. For starters, Wakaichiro reverted to form and blasted Amamidake off the dohyo with little resistance from Amamidake. He advances to 1-2, and he still has a fair shot at kachi-koshi. Terunofuji made similar swift work of Komakiryu, and former high school Yokozuna Kitanowaka dispatched the helpless Yabugasaki along the same lines. For those who made it to Makushita, Midorifuji lost, Hoshoryu lost, Wakamotoharu won, as did Ichiyamamoto in his visit to Juryo – forcing out Tobizaru to improve to 2-1.

Now on to day 6, and we find the remainder of our rikishi stepping on the clay to have their 3rd match of the basho. For the undefeated, this weekend could bring the first kachi-koshi scores, and we are eagerly waiting to see if any of our favorites will make it into yusho playoff brackets.

Day 6 Matches

Wakatakamoto vs Ayanoumi – A misery match as both rikishi come to the dohyo with 0-2 records. Thankfully at least one of these guys will leave with their first win. Wakatakamoto can still get to 4 wins, but he needs to turn his sumo around and start dominating his matches.

Akua vs Kaito – On the other side of the score, we have the so far undefeated Akua, who if he can continue his momentum can put himself within range to return to the top of Makushita for Nagoya. Day 6 he faces Asakayama’s Kaito who is on a bit of a surge since Hatsu, going 5-2 for the first 2 basho of 2019.

Naya vs Ryusei – Also in the 2-0 bracket is Naya, who seems to have come to a level of comfort with his larger body, and his sumo. He faces 32 year old veteran Ryusei, who has been struggling for the past 6 months with 2 consecutive kachi-koshi scores.

Musashikuni vs Goryu – Sadly we find that Musashikuni has yet to win a single match, and day 6 is his best chance to stave off a path to make-koshi by overcoming 29 year old veteran Goryu, who is moving back up the banzuke after an extended period in Sandanme.

Roga vs Hokuyozan – Roga finds himself in the 1-1 bracket at the top third of Sandanme, and can cleanly move to Makushita should he pick up the remaining matches. Hokuyozan has struggled with 3 kyujo periods in his career, and is currently fighting at his highest ever rank.

Shoji vs Saionji – Shoji has faced Saionji before on Hatsu 2019 day 6, which he lost to Saionji. This rematch in the 1-1 bracket will put the winner in positive score going into the middle weekend of the basho. Mushashigawa heya could use some wins today, as many of their kanban rikishi are under-performing at the start of Natsu.

Amakaze vs Hikarifuji – Amakaze continues to quietly go about the business of winning matches, he comes into day 6 2-0, and frankly looking fairly sharp. Hikarifuji is a 20 year old rikishi who peaked at Sandanme 24 in January before falling down the banzuke to his current rank of Sd81.

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.

Lower Division Bouts – Day 2

Hoshoryu, wearing a severe expression before his bout

Here is a brief collection of lower-division bouts I found interesting. Some of these have been summarized by Bruce earlier.

Jonokuchi

We can’t start the the new era without seeing Hattorizakura lose his first bout of the Reiwa era. And no, you can’t tell me that was a spoiler.

Hattorizakura – here facing Kitajima – vowed to make a kachi-koshi in Reiwa. It will probably not be in Reiwa 1.

Our next bout features Hakuho’s most recent uchi-deshi. Reminder: an uchi-deshi is a wrestler who has been recruited by a senior member of a heya (usually an oyakata, but apparently Yokozuna also qualify) who has plans to form his own heya. While he is still in his original heya, the uchi-deshi belongs to that same heya and answers to the stablemaster there. But when the time comes for the man who recruited him to form his own heya, the uchi-deshi will join him there.

So Hakuho has four uchi-deshi to date – Yamaguchi, Ishiura, Enho and – most recently – Toma. Toma is 18 years old, fresh out of high-school – the famous Tottori Johoku high-school where Ishiura’s father is head coaching. And he weighs more than Kaisei. 206kg. He faces Tomiyutaka here:

I don’t think he should have too many problems getting through Jonokuchi, given both his weight advantage and obvious sumo capabilities. But Hakuho commanded him to lose weight, and I think we can see mobility issues even at this stage, which will manifest themselves once he gets to the higher levels. I just hope Hakuho’s command will be more effective than the one he gave Enho.

Also in Jonokuchi – and I do not have a video, sorry – is Hanakaze from Tatsunami beya. He made history today getting his first win in the Reiwa era, being the only active rikishi having fought in official matches in three different eras. Born in 1970, he joined Sumo in 1986, which was in the Showa era, continued through the entire Heisei era, and is now trying to complete at least one basho in the Reiwa era. He won his bout with a rather convincing uwatenage.

Sandanme

Other than telling you that Satonofuji won his bout, I don’t have much to say of Jonidan, so I’ll skip directly to Sandanme. First, here is Yoshoyama, whom we have met in Jungyo. Although Mongolian, he has not blazed his way through the lower divisions. Nevertheless, so far he only has one make-koshi to his name.

His rival in this match is Ryuseio, who has both height and weight advantage. But as you can see, Yoshoyama is no weakling.

Next, let’s take a look at Roga, the Jonidan Yusho winner from Osaka. By the way, like Toma, he is a graduate of the Tottori Johoku high-school, which he joined on Hakuho’s recommendation. He faces Hokutotsubasa in this bout:

Looks like he is going to have a chon-mage by Senshuraku. But alas, this is his first career loss, probably due to ring rust.

For many of us (read: me), the highlight match at Sandanme this day was, of course, Terunofuji vs. Daishomune. The former Ozeki has been working on his upper body, and seems to be slightly less bloated and slightly more mobile than he was in the previous basho:

Harizashi? Really? Oh well, all is fair in love and Sumo.

Makushita

Naya, Taiho’s grandson, remember him? A few days ago I lamented the fact that there are no sekitori at his stable to pull him up. Well, guess what? He has been assigned as tsukebito to Takakeisho, no less.

Here he is vs. Sagatsukasa:

No worries!

Now, let’s take a look at Midorifuji. He is one of two Isegahama sekitori hopefuls and a pixie. His style seems to follow that of Terutsuyoshi, adjusted for his lower weight, of course.

The bout is good, but his final win seems to be due to Nogami’s leg collapsing. Nogami barely makes it to the bowing spot.

Finally, the one you have all been waiting for. Well, maybe. It’s Hoshoryu, Asashoryu’s nephew and the guy shown in the top photo with a very severe expression on his face. Hoshoryu does not want to end up like Roga. He wants to be sekitori, and he needs every win he can muster.

This video, by the way, is taken from NattoSumo’s channel, where you can watch full daily Makuuchi digests, including stats and some commentary. It’s my personal substitute for Kintamayama’s channel for this basho.

Hoshoryu shows superb oshi work, especially for a wrestler who is a typical Mongolian and an expert thrower.

Natsu Day 2 – Ones To Watch

Wakaichiro On Deck!

The day 2 roster of our “Ones to Watch” is loaded to the brim with our lower division favorites, and we are banking that we can get a video stream up in time to enjoy it. From day 1, I can share that Kitanowaka completely outclassed Garyu for a commanding win of his first ever sumo match in the professional ranks.

Who is on day 2? Well, everyone!

Wakamotoharu vs Seiro – Wakamotoharu lost his day 1 match, but thanks to the banzuke imbalance created by Hakuho going kyujo, there is an upper Makushita rikishi tasked to fill in a Juryo slot each day. For day 2, we see Wakamotoharu return to Juryo and face off against Seiro. Might we see Hoshoryu at some point?

Ichiyamamoto vs Takanofuji – For the final match in Makushita (which will happen after the Juryo dohyo-iri), we get this high-voltage clash. Ichiyamamoto is taking his second run at the ceiling of Makushita against the former Takayoshitoshi, who was dropped from Juryo last basho due to poor performance.

Hoshoryu vs Tamaki – First match for Hoshoryu, who is attracting a lot of attention the closer he gets to the salaried ranks. His opponent today is no slouch – Tamaki bounced off the top of the Makushita wall as a Ms3 East rikishi in Kyushu, and is taking his second run at the top.

Midorifuji vs Nogami – Fighting at his highest ever rank, Midorifuji has his first match against veteran Aomori-ken rikishi, Nogami, who fights under his given name. Nogami has been splashing about at this rank for a while, and is probably near his theoretical peak. But this is the kind of Rikishi that Midorifuji will need to master to break into the top echelon.

Naya vs Sagatsukasa – As if day 2 were not yet stuffed full enough of sumo awesome, here we go. Naya is finally starting to catch up to his rival Hoshoryu, but he is entering the thick of Makushita’s under-ranks. Sagatsukasa is a former Maegashira on the downward slope of his career, but he will bring an arsenal of technique and experience to the dohyo to measure against Naya’s youth and vigor.

Musashikuni vs Higoarashi – Musashikuni is coming off a two basho make-koshi streak, and really needs to turn things around. His day 2 match against Higoarashi is their third meeting, with Higoarashi holding a 2-1 edge. Come on Mamu! You can get it done!

Roga vs Hokutotsubasa – I am sure Hokutotsubasa looked at the torikumi Sunday evening and said, “Oh crap”. While that is not normally the reaction that a former Makushita rikishi would give when finding out they were facing who was about to have their first Sandanme match, but this is Roga. He wants your lunch money… and your chanko. We get to see how Roga handles himself against a well skilled and tough opponent.

Must… find.. way… to connect… to… Japan….

Terunofuji vs Daishomune – The Great Sumo Cat of the Kokugikan laughs at me, trying to find a way to watch sumo from the land of the big hats and broad cattle. Sure, the wolf’s match (above) needs even more goodness. Let’s throw in the Kaiju as well. Everyone is curious if Daishomune will face a Terunofuji that looks just as terrible as he did in Osaka, or if Terunofuji is getting his health under control. We all want him in fine shape and fighting well.

Shoji vs Asanojo – Another fast rising rikishi, Shoji, will face off against Asanojo, a 32 year old veteran who has never ranked higher than Sandanme. If Shoji has his health back in line, this should be an easy match. Let’s hope he’s finally back to fighting form.

Wakaichiro vs Miyakogawa – I make no bones that I am a die-hard Wakaichiro booster. Today he’s facing a rematch with Miyakogawa, who he holds a career 2-1 advantage against. We hope America’s finest rikishi can apply some of that newly developed muscle against his rival and start Natsu out with a white star.

Hattorizakura vs Kitajima – Sadly, unless we can get a stream running, we will miss sumo’s perpetual loser – Hattorizakura. Free win day for Kitajima.