Tokyo July Basho Day 3 Preview

Your humble editor did in fact miss posting a day 2 preview. Some of you may say, “Bruce, what gives?”. Much as I love sumo, I admit that I have gotten myself tangled with a high priority software development project which, at least for the first half of the basho, is consuming most of my waking hours. It’s not my first startup. I love a good bootstrap effort, and this one may help a lot of people if we can get everything to work. If my writing seems like its coming from a point of bleary eyed exhaustion, give yourself +100 genki points. I do manage to sacrifice some sleep to watch the top division, and I give my undying thanks to Kintamayama and Natto Sumo for serving it up via YouTube for me to consume in bits when I can throughout the day.

What We Are Watching Day 3

Meisei vs Kotoyuki – Meisei returns from Juryo for the day to fill the torikumi gap left by Kakuryu’s absence. Kotoyuki is off to a slow start at 0-2, and seems to have put on a bit of weight during the quarantine period. There is some logic to top division rikishi striving to carry as much mass as their sumo can handle, I suspect that Kotoyuki may have over-shot by about 10kg.

Terunofuji vs Chiyomaru – I was fairly sure that Terunofuji’s day 2 match was headed for disaster. Kotoeko kept a high energy tug-and-shift routine going, trying to apply maximum torque to the relics of Terunofuji’s knees. We don’t get to know how much pain he is in following a match, and today he has to find a way to shift around the epic bulk of Chiyomaru. He has fought him 6 times before, taking 4. Terunofuji is certainly strong enough to muscle Chiyomaru around somewhat, but those knees…

Kotoshoho vs Nishikigi – After being a complete limp fish day 1, Nishikigi came back with some vigor on day 2. But it’s anyone’s guess which version shows up today against Kotoshoho. On the topic of Kotoshoho, he young rookie to the top division has opened strong with two straight wins, and may be in for a traditional first basho 10 win run.

Kotoeko vs Wakatakakage – Speaking of first basho streaks – Wakatakakage, why are you winless? Get it in gear sir! In their 3 prior matches, Kotoeko has not lost one, so there is a solid chance that the fellow that makes Raja Pradhan sound like a typewriter (Wakatakakage) may start July 0-3. Cue the worried sumo ladies in 3..2..1

Takayasu vs Kotoshogiku – Oh how I loved Takayasu’s day 2 match. A sight not seen in a few years. Shohozan was being his traditional self, and flagrantly attacking Takayasu’s injured left elbow. Takayasu eventually just grabbed Shohozan and held him still for a while. A long while. This was traditional Takayasu sumo, with enough stamina to keep 30 normal people turning cartwheels for an hour. I swear he took a nap in there too. No rush… You tired yet Shohozan? No? Zzzz. Zzzz ZZ. How about now? Going to be a different contest today as Kotoshogiku is going to get close fast and press ahead hard. They have 27(!) career matches, with a slight 15-12 Takayasu edge.

Kotonowaka vs Shohozan – I have my concerns that Kotonowaka will join the elite group that includes Aoiyama and Kagayaki. The guy has some solid sumo moves, and that should carry the day against a fading but surly Shohozan. As this is their first ever match, I am sure that “Big Guns” Shohozan is going to give him the full street brawl routine.

Shimanoumi vs Sadanoumi – Much like in the mock basho, these two seem to be stuck in an indeterminate sumo state, perhaps by observing them we can collapse their wave function into something genki? All I know is that the bulkier Shimanoumi seems to be susceptible to Sadanoumi’s lightning tachiai.

Tochinoshin vs Myogiryu – 25 career matches and the score is 12-13! I am delighted that Tochinoshin is appearing at least somewhat genki, and has none of the “roadkill” aura that he has carried the last two tournaments. I am not sure his knee is up for any sky-crane action, but fans can hope.

Tamawashi vs Kaisei – I really liked both of these veteran stalwart’s wins on day 2. Tamawashi gave Chiyotairyu a near tea-bagging, and Kaisei out-bruted Tochinoshin. Maybe Kaisei’s wedding recently has motivated him to higher levels of performance. Sumo fans, there is a whole lot of Kaisei, and if he gets motivated, they may need to have the dohyo repair crew on standby.

Ikioi vs Chiyotairyu – I think that both of them are a bit rusty at this stage, and are looking to keep fairly close to even by the end of the first act. Chiyotairyu has a slight 9-6 career lead, mostly due to his high energy cannonball tachiai, and his propensity to stand his opponent up and immediately knock them down at the start of the match. A gambit that works fairly well against the straight ahead Ikioi.

Terutsuyoshi vs Ishiura – Battle of the pixies, round 1. This time Terutsuyoshi is having a solid start, and Ishiura seems to be struggling. If you are asking yourself, “What happened to Ishiura?”, your judgement may be colored by the mock basho in May, where Ishiura was, at one point, the sole leader in the yusho race. I am sure real Ishiura would like to tap into fake Ishiura’s genki power right about now.

Tokushoryu vs Ryuden – Hatsu yusho winner and all around everyman Tokushoryu has started 0-2, possibly another victim of ring rust brought on by lack of joint training. Ryuden seems a bit under his normal performance level as well, but has managed to put his first white star on the board. I think that gives a slight edge to Ryuden today, but I am still looking for Tokushoryu to maintain a kachi-koshi pace.

Abi vs Enho – Straight up, Abi seems to also be a bit too massive for his sumo. Coupled with everyone getting a good hang of the ins and outs of “Abi-zumo”, his extra bulk have increased his ability to hold ground at the expense of attack speed. And frankly attack speed was the key to his sumo. The more he evolves closer to some kind of inflatable beach toy form, the easier it will be to overcome his offense. I give the nod to Enho if he can put down the beer for 10 minutes…

Hokutofuji vs Aoiyama – Hokutofuji also is looking quite rough. I know he is inherently streaky, and so once his sumo locks on, he should at least get to 7. But boy is it an uneven start for him. Big Dan has a matching 1-1 record, but looked more consistent in his first two matches. His day 2 match against Abi – brutal.

Kagayaki vs Kiribayama – For some reason, Kiribayama can’t yet get to a win. He’s up against Mr Fundamentals, who normally suffers a lot of ring rust. Not this July! He is focused and his sumo is sharp. While I would like to think that the young rising star, Kiribayama, can pull out a win here, I am going to favor Kagayaki keeping the streak alive.

Daieisho vs Takarafuji – So far we have yet to see Takarafuji deploy his defend and extend strategy. Everyone has just bundled him up and rushed him out with great effect. Daieisho is a good opponent to get back in stride, even though Takarafuji has a 4-6 career record against him. But Daieisho’s is prone to the stalemate tactics that Takarafuji prefers.

Onosho vs Mitakeumi – As an Onosho fan, his 0-2 start is disappointing, and it’s not going to get any better today when he steps off against an incredibly focused and genki Mitakeumi. During the mock basho, we had Mitakeumi likewise focused, strong and dominating nearly every match. I think it would be surprising and a bit spooky if he can replicate the Not-so-Basho result as well.

Shodai vs Takanosho – In the “What happened here” category – Shodai? He seems really hard, sharp and focused. Where his sumo and the past has been less than aggressive, so far this July he has come out strong and effective. I would guess Takanosho is smarting after two consecutive losses, and I would like to see him give Shodai a tough match.

Yutakayama vs Asanoyama – These two were once rivals when they first broke into the top division, and Yutakayama reached the top of the rank and file first, before injury forced him to regroup. Now its Asanoyama who is looking like a rock-solid Ozeki, and Yutakayama is struggling with an 0-2 start to July. They are tied 3-3 for their career, and both know how to disrupt and defeat the other. If Asanoyama can get his grip early, and shut down Yutakayama’s mobility, it’s going to be an 3-0 start for the shin-Ozeki.

Takakeisho vs Okinoumi – I think the 4 month stretch of relative isolation did Takakeisho quite a bit of good. He thus far seems to be strong, confident and back in control of his his body and his sumo. That day 1 shove against Yutakayama? BOOM! Okinoumi also seems to have benefited from the extended recovery period, and while he was no match for Hakuho, Kiribayama got a satisfying ejection from the ring. I favor Takakeisho in this one (6-2 career), especially because the Grand Tadpole seems to be back in the groove.

Hakuho vs Endo – A juicy, ripe morsel to finish the day. These two have had a bit of a blood feud going on for several tournaments, and both have shown a willingness to pound the other into a bloody mess. Hakuho looked rather tentative day 1, but gave Yutakayama a fast roll in the clay on day 2. We know the boss has been less than thrilled with the lack of test bouts leading up to the basho, and I suspect that the population of Oitekaze beya probably gave Endo somewhat better prep. Will there be blood?

Osaka Day 3 Highlights

After some humdrum sumo to start the basho, today featured some hard, brutal matches. Some rikishi continued their winning runs, and few that had not seen their first wins, took a white star with great suno. Fast, brutal and aggressive sumo was on tap today, and it was great to see the rikishi bring their better sumo to the dohyo today. What did we get to see? Big Dan unleashed the V-Twin, Asanoyama reverts to Oshi-zuno, Shohozan unleashed a murderous lunge at the tachiai, Kotoshogiku snuck in a back bend, and the wave-action tsuppari machine washed Endo into the zabuton zone. Oh, and Enho and Yutakayama conducted what I can only assume is some sort of fertility dance.

Highlight Matches

Daiamami defeats Meisei – Daiamami picks up his first win of Haru. He tried to get a left hand frontal hold at the tachiai, but Meisei did a masterful job of disrupting Daiamami first few attacks. The match was quite even until Meisei attempted to pull Diamami forward from his forearm. His hold on that arm failed and left him off balance and Daiamami pushed him out. Maybe Daiamami is getting used to the empty hall.

Kotonowaka defeats Shimanoumi – Kotonowaka started with a surprisingly lethargic tachiai, and immediately tried to land a right hand inside. Because this is Kotonowaka’s trademark opening gambit, Shimanoumi shut it down. Kotonowaka kept working for grip, and executed a solid sukuinage at the tawara to seal the win. Did anyone else catch Kotoshogiku doing a back bend in in the tunnel in the background of that video? Brought a smile to my face.

Chiyomaru defeats Tsurugisho – Chiyomaru has a strong start to Haru, clearly the atmospherics don’t bother him one bit. He was fast and aggressive out of the tachiai, and once again stood his opponent up, and slapped him down. Chiyomaru improves to 3-0.

Azumaryu defeats Nishikigi – Nishikigi still cant find his first win without his glasses. Nishikigi came off of the shikiri-sen hard and fast, got a grip, but was too far forward. Azumaryu read it perfectly and exploited Nishikigi’s mistake to send him to the clay.

Aoiyama defeats Kotoshogiku – “Big Dan” Aoiyama improves to 3-0 in thunderous style. He blasted off the line and went straight into a V-Twin attack. When Aoiyama attacks with both arms thrusting, and he connects center-mass, there is little anyone or anything can do. I had to watch it twice, it was just so massive.

Ikioi defeats Kaisei – Wow, a strength battle that features Ikioi out powering Kaisei! That’s some serious chanko power, indeed. Both of them fought well, but Ikioi somehow managed to keep his stamina. Sadly Kaisei is still looking for his first win.

Chiyotairyu defeats Terutsuyoshi – Chiyotairyu also starts 3-0, today he took a straight ahead tachiai from Terutsuyoshi, grabbed the back of Terutsuyoshi’s neck and chucked him forward like a bale of rice. Wow.

Ishiura defeats Tochiozan – Tochiozan self-isolates into the 0-3 club as Ishiura picks up his 3rd straight win to start Haru. Tochiozan did manage to get some offense running, but Ishiura stayed mobile, and Mr Efficiency was unable to really do much other than chase him around for the first part of the match. Tochiozan eventually captured him and they went chest to chest. Bad mistake for Tochiozan, as Ishiura channels Enho and unleashed a brilliant shitatehineri. Suddenly one moment Tochiozan has Ishiura clamped down, the next he is on his back in the clay. Nice sumo Ishiura!

Takanosho defeats Sadanoumi – A showcase example of Sadanoumi’s tremendous speed, he was inside and attacking Takanosho in a moment at the tachiai. Takanosho worked hard to stop Sadanoumi’s forward rush, and ended with a double inside grip. Realizing he had the advantage, Takanosho dropped his hips and attacked. Three strokes of the gaburi-yori and it was his third solid win, as Takanosho maintains his place in the 3-0 club.

Tochinoshin defeats Kiribayama – I am overjoyed that Tochinoshin found his sumo today, and picked up his first win of Haru. He was fast, hit hard at the tachiai, and his left hand found his outside grip. Was it “skycrane sumo”? No, but it was a solid win and he looked good doing it.

Shohozan defeats Takarafuji – Shohozan also joins the first win club for today. That murderous lunge at the tachiai was a wonder, and I think it surprised Takarafuji who took a moment to set up his defense. But that momentary disorientation may have been enough, as Takarafuji struggled to find a good grip, Shohozan broke free and got behind Takarafuji, pushing him out from behind.

Kagayaki defeats Tamawashi – Great clash of styles in this match. Tamawashi focused on Kagayaki’s head, working to disorient him and disrupt his balance. But Kagayaki’s stance was wide and stable, and he focused pressure center-mass and pushed ahead strongly. Really classic fundamentals based sumo from Kagayaki today, and he left Tamawashi with no route to rally.

Ryuden defeats Myogiryu – Sadly Myogiryu joins the self-isolation group down at 0-3. This match was all about Ryuden’s superior reach, and his ability to wrap Myogiryu up, and shut down any chance he had to attack or defend.

Abi defeats Onosho – Abi picks up his first win of the basho, and he did it with his trademark Abi-zumo. His tachiai was a half step ahead, and he landed both hands against Onosho’s upper body. Onosho worked to respond, but Abi did not release the pressure. As is his custom, Onosho lost his balance and hit the clay.

Yutakayama defeats Enho – Lovely slow motion tachiai, I love when Yutakayama does this (its not his first time in a battle with Enho). This probably shut down plans A,B and G for Enho, and the two circled each other. Enho kept trying to grab an part of Yutakayama’s body, and Yutakayama kept thwarting every grasp. The match wears on, and it just keeps getting strange. Holding hands, dancing around – I am not sure I quite understand this pixie-sumo. Were they trying to summon an enchanted toadstool? Eventually Yutakayama closes in and shoves him to the clay. Huge effort from both.

Hokutofuji defeats Tokushoryu – Nice change-up tachiai from Hokutofuji today, he took Tokushoryu straight to his chest and went to work. Hokutofuji immediately had Tokushoryu on the run, and Tokushoryu attempted his trade mark thrust down at the bales, but could not get the timing worked out and was over the bales too early. Hatsu yusho winner Tokushoryu is still searching for his first win, and joins the quarantine group.

Mitakeumi defeats Shodai – Surprisingly solid sumo from two habitual under-performers. Shodai’s tachiai seems to be improved, but Mitakeumi was really low, and his body position was excellent. Shodai was never able to lower his hips, and Mitakeumi controlled this match from the start. Shodai tried a pull, tried turning, nothing work as Mitakeumi keep him locked down, with his hips and shoulders square to Shodai’s center-mass. Mitakeumi improves to 3-0, and looked very good today.

Asanoyama defeats Daieisho – Asanoyama takes another step closer to his double digit goal while Daieisho still can’t find his first win, and joins the quarantine group at 0-3. Daieisho opened strong and drove Asanoyama back, but Asanoyama rallied and dropped back to his original oshi-zumo form and attacked with power. Glad to see that the future Ozeki still has that toolkit close at hand when its needed.

Takakeisho defeats Endo – Oh so happy to see Takakeisho unleash the wave-action attack. Endo clearly was driving for a mawashi hold, as it seems to be the key to shutting down Takakeisho’s offense (at least for now). After an initial skirmish, Takakeisho set up the wave attacks. When he gets those running, nobody can keep their feet. Made my day….
Kimarite: tsukidashi
Takakeisho: 2-1
Endo: 1-2

Kakuryu defeats Okinoumi – I felt a sense of relief to see Kakuryu back in the groove. He came out fast and hard at the tachiai, and that left hand went straight to Okinoumi’s mawashi. Immediately, Okinoumi knew he was trapped, and Kakuryu dialed up the power. Great Yokozuna style today, and he improves to 2-1.

Hakuho defeats Takayasu – I know that Hakuho as many well deserved defenders, but in all sincerity – what the hell was that? Takayasu is a shade of his former self, and The Boss really struggled with this match. Hakuho is sol versitle that he completely improvised this match from start to finish, but it still worked. Hakuho improves to 3-0, but that was a lot more frantic than what we are used to seeing from him.