Tochinoshin Withdraws From Kyushu Basho

As reported by Herouth on Twitter a short time ago

Former Ozeki Tochinoshin has withdrawn from the Kyushu Basho due to an injury to an abdominal muscle. This effectively ends his campaign to return to the rank of Ozeki, and his heartbreaking news for his fans world wide.

We wish him a successful recovery and a quick return to action.

Kyushu Day 4 Preview

Image from the Japan Sumo Association Twitter Feed

Heading into day 4, it’s clear that once again the lower San’yaku ranks are healthier and fighting harder than the Ozeki and Yokozuna. True, Hakuho is fighting well and looks strong, but the Ozeki corps is in tatters, with the one “good” Ozeki, Goeido, damaged and seeking treatment for his injured ankle.

I compliment Takayasu for his indomitable fighting sprint. Its clear that left arm is not much of a tool, but he’s piecing together wins as he can. I think it will be a struggle for him to make his 8, but I have faith he can get there.

Takakeisho is likewise muddling through, but as his sumo revolves around explosive power from his chest muscles, one of which is damaged, he has a tougher path to 8, and is evident from his day 2 and 3 matches.

*Note, as an Ozekiwake, I count Tochinoshin in the Ozeki corps.

Right now the ones to watch are Mitakeumi, Hokutofuji and Asanoyama. These rikishi seem to be on their sumo, in good health and hungry to win. Endo is fighting well, but coming up 5% short in each match. Tochinoshin is still clearly hurt, and I worry what he’s going to do. Abi is distracted, I think, but he may be able to snap out of it soon.

Fans be aware, this may be a jumble of a basho. But as long as Hakuho is healthy and in it, he’s the clear favorite for the win.

What We Are Watching Day 4

Terutsuyoshi vs Wakatakakage – Wakatakakage is on a hot streak to celebrate his Makuuchi debut. He and Terutsuyoshi a fairly even match, but I am going to go with a momentum call to say that Wakatakakage has an edge for this day 4 match.

Daishoho vs Nishikigi – As noted in the day 3 highlights, there seems to be some kind of performance crisis with the Oitekaze rikishi (Daishoho, Daishomaru) that will hopefully correct soon. If Nishikigi is back to good form, we may see him run up a fairly good score from this far down the banzuke. There is every indication that Daishoho may not give him much trouble today.

Chiyomaru vs Daishomaru – I am going to say Daishomaru in this match, if for no other reason than he is due for his first win. Chiyomaru is a tough rikishi to fight based on his enormity, but Daishomaru has proven to be up to the task in the past (5-2 career).

Ishiura vs Takanosho – Also in the winless column is Ishiura. I am sure The Boss is giving him a measure of grief about this already, but we never know what kind of injuries the rikishi may have sustained in training or during the basho.

Kagayaki vs Chiyotairyu – Kagayaki seems to have shaken off his ring rust on day 3, and I would say that we finally saw good form from Chiyotairyu as well. This match has a good amount of potential, and I expect that Kagayaki’s plan would be to survive the first 10 seconds upright and in-bounds. After his initial surge, Chiyotairyu tends to quickly drop intensity, leaving himself open for counter attack.

Shimanoumi vs Shodai – Oh sure, why not. Let’s see Shodai go 4-0. At this rank he is a bit over-powered if he is healthy, and there is every indication that he is. I would like to see him run the table.

Shohozan vs Kotoshogiku – Two home town favorites go head to head. Shohozan is even more pugilistic and slap-happy than any other recent basho, and I am curious if he is going to take the “Big Guns” approach to Kotoshogiku. We have yet to see Kotoshogiku unleash a proper hug-n-chug attack, so maybe day 4 will be the day.

Yutakayama vs Sadanoumi – This match has a good amount of potential, with Sadanoumi bringing more maneuverability and Yutakayama brining more strength. I would look for an early try for a pull down / slap down from Sadanoumi.

Onosho vs Tsurugisho – If I were Tsurugisho, I would be quite grumpy by now. He had his face bashed by Shohozan, he was matted into submission by Ryduen. Now he gets to take a turn with Onosho, who is (to my eye) struggling at this rank. Can Tsurugisho get back in a groove?

Kotoeko vs Enho – Kotoeko is winless, and he’s going against “week 1” Enho, who tends to be faster, more decisive, and better underneath. In past matches, Kotoeko has been able to use Enho’s low body position to his advantage. I am eager to see the man from Miyazaki get his first win.

Tamawashi vs Aoiyama – Back from a day off due to his fusensho win over the injured Tomokaze, we get to see if Aoiyama can fire up the V-Twin and give Tamawashi a rough ride. Both will be focusing on oshi-zumo, but we will see who sets the tempo and form of the match.

Ryuden vs Kotoyuki – Will it be another Ryuden matta-fest? Kotoyuki seems to have picked up where he left off at Aki, showing up sumo far better than his doldrum days in Juryo, where he struggled with injuries.

Abi vs Meisei – I am going to come out and say it. The social media scandal and ban has Abi distracted. His sumo is off, his concentration is not sharp, and his matches are less intense than they should be. In spite of his day 3 loss, Meisei is fighting very well right now, and will give Abi a tough match.

Myogiryu vs Asanoyama – This should be a fairly workable win for Asanoyama. He has a size and strength advantage over Myogiryu, and his sumo is making steady improvements each tournament. The outstanding question is – did the Hakuho belly flop rattle his nerves? I would hope that it did not.

Mitakeumi vs Daieisho – I see no relief for the Oitekaze heartbreak in this match, as I think that Mitakeumi is in a groove now, and we will see good sumo from him. At least up to day 10, when he traditionally starts to fade.

Takarafuji vs Tochinoshin – Fans are still waiting for Tochinoshin to break out the sky-crane. Will today be the day? He has a tough road ahead of him to get to 10, and this is his “easy” week.

Takakeisho vs Endo – Its fairly evident that Takakeisho is no better than 80% genki right now, and is struggling against opponents he would normally dispatch with two massive shoves. Into this steps Endo, the master technician. I anticipate that Endo will go for the shallow right hand again, and if he lands that it’s going to be quick and ugly.

Hokutofuji vs Takayasu – That Hokutofuji handshake tachiai is going to be aimed for Takayasu’s left arm pit, and if it finds its mark, it could get very ugly fast. With each of the remaining Ozeki in a damaged state, it’s open season for the lower San’yaku to make their marks.

Okinoumi vs Hakuho – These two have a 21 match history, and Okinoumi has only won 1. So I am sure “The Boss” has a catalog of ways to put Okinoumi on the clay.

Ozeki Train Wreck, Part 7, Takakeisho

Image From The Japan Sumo Association Twitter Feed

The last of the Ozeki corps facing a tough November tournament is none other than the grand tadpole, Takakeisho. After a string of dominant tournaments and a yusho, Takakeisho has found himself bouncing from injury to unfortunate injury since achieving Ozeki. A lower body injury in May sidelined him for most of the Natsu basho, and completely out of Nagoya. He returned to competition in September as an Ozekiwake, needing 10 wins to return to rank, which he picked up easily, finishing 12-3, securing his 3rd jun-yusho and competing in a senshuraku playoff for the cup. Sadly during that final playoff match against Mitakeumi, Takakeisho suffered a muscle tear to his left pectoral muscle and has been working to recover since.

Though not as severe as the tear that ended Kisenosato’s career, the extensive bruising left sumo fans worried that he might never return to good health. Skipping the fall jungyo tour, Takakeisho focused on healing his body and keeping his sumo sharp. He did not return to practice until November 1st, a short 8 days before the start of the tournament.

Since then, he has been fighting well, but not without concern to the ichimon Oyakata. He began by fighting the likes of Takanosho, Kagayaki and Onosho, winning more than he lost. His training sessions have been punctuated by bouts of pain in his left pectoral muscles, causing him to sit out on some practice matches. In recent days, Takakeisho has resumed matches against the likes of Maegashira 1 Daieisho, finishing 10-3. While the sumo elders overseeing the work up to Kyushu are starting to be more optimistic about Takakeisho, he is clearly going to need to nurse his left side in every match.

Team Tachiai loves that compact powerhouse of an Ozeki, and hopes he can come through at Kyushu in good form with no new injuries or physical problems. With both Yokozuna looking healthy, Takakeisho will face strong competition on his way to 8 wins.

Ozeki Train Wreck, Part 6, Tochinoshin

Image From NHK Video

The sumo world enters Kyushu with 3 of the 4 Ozeki calibre rikishi in damaged condition. Perhaps none more perilously than Tochinoshin. During 2013, risking star Tochinoshin significantly injured his right knee, which led him to seek surgery to repair the damage, and an extended kyujo. After sitting out 3 consecutive basho, he re-entered competition at the bottom of Makushita, and promptly racked up 4 consecutive yusho to blast his way back into the top division.

His hard work, dedication to sumo and relentless training saw him promoted to Ozeki in 2018, the the cheers of fans around the world. Since then Tochinoshin has struggled to keep his sumo working at Ozeki levels, and a string of problems and injuries have put him at the cusp of permanent demotion back to the lower ranks.

The threat: re-injury to that right knee. Problems with that knee saw him struggle during Aki, finishing with a 6-9 record on top of his kadoban status. As a result he enters Kyushu as an “Ozekiwake” with a chance to re-attain Ozeki status with a 10 win tournament.

A healthy Tochinoshin can deliver 10 wins in brilliant style, using his trademark lift-and-shift sumo that leaves nearly any opponent helpless if the big Georgian can land his lethal left hand outside grip. But that trademark move requires him to have steady footing to carry not only his own weight, but the massive bulk of his opponent.

In the training leading up to Kyushu, Tochinoshin and his Oyakata have worked hard to put a positive spin on things, and Team Tachiai dearly hope he really is healthy, and this is not just the normal sumo-style window dressing. We will be watching with eager anticipation as Tochinoshin presses for 10 wins, and a return to sumo’s second highest rank.