Day 9 – Bouts from the lower divisions

Naya levitating Tsukahara

Another day of sumo in the books, and we are having our somewhat haphazard stroll through bouts in the lower divisions – ones to watch, and ones to take a surreptitious peek at.

Jonokuchi

We start with our gigantic friend, Toma, the road roller from Miyagino beya, who meets Ienoshima from Yamahibiki beya today:

Toma improves his way towards kachi-koshi.

Next up, famous Kitanowaka, here vs. Oba:

Kitanowaka’s legs look ridiculously longer than Oba’s. And he seems to have a bit of a koshi-daka issue (that is, he keeps his ass too high). But a win is a win.

Finally, we keep monitoring Toma’s steamrolled victim, Ito. Here against Sawanofuji from Isegahama:

Ito is in the Jonokuchi yusho race.

Jonidan

I asked for Toshonishiki footage, I got Toshonishiki footage. But alas, I didn’t get one of Toshonishiki winning. He suffers his first loss:

He loses not so much because of that ridiculous body size but because of a mistake that leaves him with his back to Tochikamiyama, who doesn’t miss the opportunity.

Sandanme

Shiraishi, the Sandanme tsuke-dashi from Tamanoi beya, continues his formidable performance:

No blinking. Fujisawa goes from tachiai to loss in one swoop.

Roga is facing Kototora. That is, a wolf faces a tiger.

The tiger nearly drives the wolf to the edge. After that Roga becomes a lot more careful, and manages to secure his third win.

I told you yesterday that Yoshoyama is doing well this basho, and managed to thoroughly jinx the poor Mongolian. Here he is, facing Hokutowaka:

Oops, sorry for the jinx, Tokitsukaze man.

Finally, if you want to see someone who is gaining self assurance from day to day and may well find himself back in the limelight come senshuraku, look no further than Amakaze, here against Tsugaruumi:

His tachiai is not something to write home about, though.

Makushita

Let’s start with Kyokusoten, who is having a really nice basho. Kyokusoten, if you recall, is Tamawashi’s brother-in-law, a tsukebito for hire (most recently Kakuryu’s), and a generally amiable fella.

At this rate he may find himself in the Makushita purgatory before long.

Take a look at Michael – the name in Japanese is “Maikeru”, which is rendered in kanji as “dance-kick”. He used to be Futagoyama’s pride until Roga showed up, but the competition within doesn’t seem to faze him:

He is now 5-0 and part of the Makushita yusho race.

We move on to the Makushita pixie, Midorifuji, who is facing the very popular Takakento (all Takas are popular):

Midorifuji, kind of like Enho’s bout today, is saved mostly by his speed and some luck avoiding the edge.

Next we move to some of our serious “Ones To Watch”, and first, a meeting between Ryuko and Kotokamatani. Both 3-1 coming into this bout.

Ryuko secures a tight morozashi, and manages to lift Kotokamatani out. Kotokamatani will have to wait for his kachi-koshi yet another day.

Hoshoryu faces Ichiyamamoto. Both 2-2 going into this match:

Ah… his hand touches the ground, and there is no recovery for the young Mongolian. Could he be on his way to his first Make-koshi? I’m sure he is going to get that angry phone call from his uncle soon.

Finally, we have Naya, the prince of Makushita. He faces Tsukahara, who is himself a “One To Watch”, with past championships in Jonokuchi and Jonidan:

Fierce tsuppari, followed by a wide pull, and Naya keeps himself in the yusho race.

Natsu Day 9 – Ones To Watch

Amakaze – Ready To Compete In the Sandanme Undefeated Bracket

For fans of the lower divisions, day 8 was obliteration, with many of our cohort in the “Ones to Watch” going down to defeat, and others finding their fortunes dashed on the dohyo. With all of our rikishi now having 4 matches complete, only Naya and Amazake are still undefeated, with everyone else taking at least one loss.

Action from day 8

RikishiOutcomeScore
HoshoryuLoss2-2
MidorifujiWin2-2
NayaWin4-0
MusashikuniLoss1-3
TerunofujiLoss3-1
ShojiLoss2-2
AmakazeWin4-0

Some highlights and lowlights: Amakaze tossed Shinyashiki like a sack of rice being loaded onto a truck; it’s really the only way to describe it. He picks up his kachi-koshi, remains undefeated and enters the yusho playoff bracket that holds 12 rikishi. Unless something odd happens, there WILL be a playoff for the Sandanme yusho.

Terunofuji’s match was a stumbling mess, and the former Ozeki looked completely off tempo and was ripe for a loss. This gives him his first black star, and takes him out of the yusho race. It also considerably slows his rise back toward the salaried ranks, and he may not find himself out of Sandanme for a bit longer.

Naya remains unbeaten, and he will enter the bracket for the Makushita yusho for the second consecutive tournament. Does this mean that Naya is suddenly better than his rival Hoshoryu? No, it underscores how brutal and effective the meat grinder is at the top of Makushita.

Hoshoryu found himself on a fast track to the south side zabuton when he squared off against another young fast-riser in Ryuko, who made quick work of Hoshoryu. Focus on 4 wins, Hoshoryu – you are in fine shape to get there.

Now on to day 9. You will note that most of the 4-0 lower division rikishi are in action on day 9, as they start to winnow the undefeated pool and try to get to a yusho winner within the remaining 3 matches. In Sandanme and Jonidan, it’s almost certain there will be playoff matches on day 15, but it’s going to be a great adventure to get there. Day 9 is heavy with the Makushita side of our roster, so it’s another late night for Team Tachiai!

Wakamotoharu vs Jokoryu – In this 1-3 bracket match, the loser goes away make-koshi, and facing demotion for Nagoya. Both of these men are trying to return to Juryo, one of them will face disappointment today.

Ichiyamamoto vs Hoshoryu – Two of our “Ones to Watch” up in the same match, it’s a 2-2 bracket that brings two scrappers face to face and underscores that fierce nature of the top ranks of Makushita. Ichiyamamoto won their only prior match.

Midorifuji vs Takakento – Another rematch will see Midorifuji try to even up the career record in this 2-2 bracket fight. Former Takanohana rikishi (now Chiganoura) Takakento is fighting at his highest ever rank, and needs 2 more to advance higher on the banzuke.

Naya vs Tsukahara – A 4-0 bracket match, the winner advances into the ever decreasing pool of rikishi who will compete for the Makushita yusho. Naya will face off against another fast risking young star in Kasugano’s Tsukahara, who has a Jonokuchi and Jonidan yusho to his name.

Roga vs Kototora – Young Roga finds himself in an upper Sandanme 2-2 bracket match, looking for 2 more wins to reach the safety of kachi-koshi. Kototora is fighting at his highest ever rank, but his 55 basho experience may provide a decisive edge.

Amakaze vs Tsugaruumi – Sandanme yusho bracket match sees former Juryo mainstay Amakaze go to work against Sandanme mainstay Tsugaruumi. Tsugaruumi has struggled with injury, and is one of the lighter rikishi in Sandanme. This might set up a second consecutive “grab and toss” from Amakaze.

Kitanowaka vs Oba – Former high school Yokozuna finds himself in a 3-1 bracket, but surprisingly he still has a path to a Jonokuchi yusho. With 3 matches left, there are only 3 rikishi with a 4-0 record, meaning there is a fair chance that the eventual yusho winner will not be undefeated. To remain in the hunt, he needs to get past Oba.

Hattorizakura vs Higohikari – Congrats to Higohikari who will pick up his first win today against perpetual soft-sumo expert Hattorizakura.

Natsu Day 7 – Ones To Watch

Day 7 is loaded down with action for our “Ones to Watch”; it’s the middle weekend, and some of our favorites will be 4-0 by Sunday. Day 6 saw Musashikuni finally get his first win of the Basho to improve to 1-2, and hopefully put himself on the road to kachi-koshi. Elsewhere in Makushita, Wakatakamoto picked up his first win as well against Ayanoumi, while Akua lost his first to drop to 2-1. In Sandanme, Roga won to improve to 2-1, as did Shoji. Amakaze won against Hikarifuji to improve to 3-0.

Day 7 matches

Wakamotoharu vs Tamaki – Wakamotoharu finds himself in the 1-2 bracket going into the middle weekend, needing 3 more wins out of 4 matches to make kachi-koshi and likely punch his ticket back to Juryo. The problem with that plan is that out of the 3 prior matches with Tamaki, Wakamotoharu has won only one.

Kotokamatani vs Takanofuji – This 3-0 bracket match will determine who goes into the yusho playoff ladder, and it features both Makushita 2 rikishi, both of which have yet to lose. Kotokamatani has really been impressive thus far, and looks to be a good candidate for promotion, which the winner of this bout likely clinches -lksumo.

Ichiyamamoto vs Kizakiumi – What a difference a win makes, as Ichiyamamoto has 2 wins and only needs 2 more out of 4 to get to kachi-koshi. His Juryo promotion is not as certain, due to him being ranked Makushita 3, but his first goal has to be that 4th win. Okinawan Kizakiumi has rocketed up the banzuke after joining Kise heya from Nihon University’s sumo program. Ichiyamamoto is going to have his hands full.

Wakatakamoto vs Takakento – It’s an Onami brothers day of sumo, with all 3 on the dohyo during the afternoon. Wakatakamoto won the previous match against Takakento, which took place a year ago.

Akua vs Kototebakari – Kototebakari has been on a rocket ride up the banzuke since he joined Sadogatake in 2017. He is fighting at his personal highest rank ever, and could present a lot of fight to Akua, who I am convinced is still not completely recovered from his September 2018 injuries that caused him to withdraw from the Aki Basho on day 12.

Roga vs Wagurayama – After taking the first loss of his professional sumo career, Roga is back to dominating every match. Perhaps some of the pressure was relieved, and he can focus more on each match as it comes? This 2-1 bracket match means that Roga is most likely not going to contest for the Sandanme yusho, which may have also relieved some worries.

Wakaichiro vs Harimanada – After a cold 0-2 start, Wakaichiro looked like a completely different rikishi for his 3rd match, confidently launching Amamidake across the tawara and into the zabuton. With any luck we will see that kind of sumo again on day 7 as Wakaichiro goes up against Onoe heya’s Harimanada. Harimanada has never been ranked higher than Jonidan, and in fact was banzuke gai for about a year.

Kitanowaka vs Ito – Mr Fabulous takes on Ito in this Jonokuchi 3-0 match, where we will watch a former high school Yokozuna battle Saitama native Ito, a graduate of the Tokyo University of Agriculture. Will this one be less lopsided than the prior 3?

Hattorizakura vs Garyu – Good news for Garyu! He finally gets to pick up his first win. Perpetual soft sumo pro Hattorizakura shows no sign of getting fierce any time soon. It’s ok, the fans adore him.

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.

Natsu Day 4 – Ones To Watch

After a fairly light schedule on day 3, we are back in the thick of things for day 4. Sadly Wakaichiro lost his second match after a shaky tachiai led to problems with balance and foot placement. He starts Natsu with 0-2, which I am sure is frustrating the daylights out of him. In Jonokuchi, Kitanowaka improved to 2-0 over Tokisakae. Watching Kitanowaka fight, you can see there is a great deal of potential in need of refinement. The good news is that the Hakkaku heya has a strong program, and he will have every chance to make the most out of his sumo years.

Ichiyamamoto dispatched Fujiazuma to improve to 1-1, Hoshoryu took Jokoryu apart with a yoritaoshi, and improved to 2-0 as well. In the battle of the “Ones to Watch”, Akua forced out Midorifuji to take the white start and join the 2-0 cohort, joined by Naya, who slapped down Koba. There is a lot of potential for the “Ones to Watch” to face each other even before they cross the kachi-koshi line, and the next few days may see so very exciting action in Makushita. Many of these young men may be the stars of the near future, and we could be witnessing the beginning of rivalries.

Day 4 Matches

Wakatakamoto vs Nogami – Midorifuji defeated Nogami on day 2, and now he faces another of our cohort. Nogami is close to his highest ever rank, and I am sure he is going to be a chew-toy for all of the budding sumo monsters that are stomping around the top echelon of Makushita this basho.

Musashikuni vs Higonojo – Musashikuni still looks really rough, which is a huge disappointment of his fans. Higonojo is a 34 year old former Juryo man, who is fairly far down the banzuke after taking a 7-0 Makushita yusho at Osaka 2018. Good luck Mama!

Roga vs Yamaguchi – I know a number of fans have Roga fever, and there are good reasons why. But his first ever professional sumo loss came on day 2, and hopefully it has helped re-focus the young man on the match at hand. Today he faces on of my favorites in former Maegashira and Nihon University man, Yamaguchi. Yamaguchi’s rank has been falling since he went kyujo at Hatsu 2018, and it’s likely he is fighting hurt. Good luck Roga, you may be in for a rough ride.

Terunofuji vs Kasugaryu – Terunofuji looks less pasty, flabby and worried than he did in Osaka. He seems to have some of his ring sense back, and a good measure of his aggressive fighting spirit. Kasugaryu’s highest ever rank was near the bottom of Makushita, so this may be one-sided.

Shoji vs Tokimaru – A bright spot for Mushashigawa heya is that Shoji seems to be in good health and fighting well. He faces another young, hard charging rikishi in Tokimaru, who hails from Miyagino heya, where Hakuho practices.

Amakaze vs Daishoki – I should also mention that Amakaze continues to look solid. The Oitekaze heya returnee seems to be over his physical issues, and is fighting well. He’s on a shallower climb back up the banzuke than Terunofuji, but I am liking what I see thus far.

Hattorizakura vs Yamamoto – Hattorizakura did in fact state he was going to try to achieve kachi-koshi during the Reiwa era. These eras can last a few decades, so don’t try to set your calendar by Hattorizakura’s prediction.