Nagoya Day 8 Preview

It’s the middle day of the glorious Nagoya tournament, and NHK World Japan will be live for the final 50 minutes of Makuuchi across their global streaming platform. Sadly I don’t think we will get to hear John Gunning, who was doing commentary with Ross Mihara for day 7, but the NHK Grand Sumo crew always do a fantastic job. If everything goes well, both Yokozuna could make kachi-koshi today, as they are unbeaten going into day 8.

Also with day 8’s preview, we take a look at the basho leader board. Act 2 is doing its job remarkably well – shaping the yusho race. There are 4 rikishi in numerical contention, with 3 actually likely to battle it out for the cup. But until someone starts putting dirt on the Yokozuna, it’s theirs to lose.

Nagoya Leaderboard

Leaders: Kakuryu, Hakuho
Chasers: Takayasu, Terutsuyoshi
Hunt Group: Mitakeumi, Ichinojo, Myogiryu, Tomokaze, Enho, Kotoyuki

8 Matches Remain

What We Are Watching Day 8

Kotoyuki vs Azumaryu – Azumaryu is up from Juryo to fill the Tochinoshin gap, and he draws against a surprisingly genki Kotoyuki who somehow is part of the leaderboard. Ok, fine – Mr 5×5, please take it into week 2. I would love to see you make a case for the cup.

Chiyomaru vs Enho – They don’t come much bigger than Chiyomaru, and they don’t come much smaller than Enho. If you wanted a bout of contrasts, here it is. Enho will need to find a way to get under that enormous belly in order to get to work.

Yago vs Sadanoumi – The series favors Sadanoumi 2-0, and Yago fans are hoping he can win his first today. I don’t have any news on what manner of malady is plaguing Yago, but it has to be something. You don’t go from a decent battler to someone squeezing by without an injury.

Terutsuyoshi vs Kagayaki – Terutsuyoshi would love to hang on to his slot in the chase group, but he has never won against Kagayaki (0-2). Kagayaki suffered a horrible case of ring rust in the first week, but seems to be back on his sumo. This will be a pivotal match.

Kaisei vs Nishikigi – Two sumo nice guys go head to head, but the outcome is fairly certain. I am sad for Kaisei. He’s hurt and not doing well, but he seems intent to solider on.

Kotoeko vs Tochiozan – Tochiozan continues to be a half step behind his normal level of sumo, and that might not be good enough to defeat Kotoeko this time around.

Toyonoshima vs Takagenji – Toyonoshima opened Nagoya losing 5 straight, and has now won the last 2. Did he learn from the prior 2 days matches against Takagenji? Lets see if Toyonoshima goes chest to chest and waits him out.

Myogiryu vs Daishoho – First time meeting between these two, but frankly I expect Myogiryu to put Daishoho without too much trouble.

Chiyotairyu vs Shohozan – Oh good, two heavily armed battle boys here to slug it out. If Shohozan can keep his balance and survive the first 10 seconds, he has a good chance of winning this one.

Okinoumi vs Shimanoumi – Another great first time match between an veteran Makuuchi mainstay who is holding his own this tournament, and a young, hard charging rikishi who seems to have some good upside potential. I give experience a small advantage here.

Kotoshogiku vs Tomokaze – Tomokaze won his first 5, and has dropped the last 2. The main weakness of his opponent today is poor strength from his lower body. If he can overpower Kotoshogiku after the tachiai, the veteran may not have enough strength to slow him down.

Onosho vs Takarafuji – I am looking for Takarafuji, who has excellent mobility, to take full advantages of Onosho’s apparent balance problems. Onosho will be well served to keep Takarafuji in front of me, and to overpower him early and keep moving him back.

Asanoyama vs Endo – Both are going to go yotsu, and it’s going to be fantastic. Endo is the far more versatile rikishi, and I expect that he will set the tone of the match. Asanoyama will try to keep it in his comfort zone, but I expect Endo to try for that shallow / mae-mitzu straight from the tachiai.

Aoiyama vs Hokutofuji – Although Hokutofuji holds a career 7-1 advantage over Aoiyama, I am expecting this to be a real brawl. Hokutofuji is looking more composed and more on point than he has in a long time, but Aoiyama has upped his sumo prior to Nagoya and is showing excellent balance and ring sense.

Abi vs Ryuden – At some point Abi-zumo is going to come roaring back, and this might be the day, as Abi holds a 3-1 career advantage over Ryuden. Ryuden has been leading with his head the past two days, and maybe that might be slowing him down.

Mitakeumi vs Ichinojo – Both are in the hunt group, both are fighting well, and both are my favorite to win this match. Mitakeumi does hold a7-4 career advantage on the Boulder.

Goeido vs Meisei – If Goeido loses to Meisei, he’s really really hurt his ankle. This is like a bait minnow you feed to your bigger, fancy fish. You feel a bit sorry for it, but you know your fish needs to eat.

Tamawashi vs Takayasu – These two used to beat each other senseless occupying the Sekiwake ranks, and their career record is 12-12. If Takayasu is going to contend for the cup, he needs this win.

Kakuryu vs Daieisho – I am expecting a straight-forward win for the Yokozuna.

Shodai vs Hakuho – Given how much I deride Shodai, you would think I am going to make some quip about The Boss catapulting him back to toon town. But this is a very serious, very important match that I think is a must-win for Hakuho. Not only because he wants “yet another yusho”, but I think he may be near the limit of what his body can support for this basho. He needs his 8th win before he starts knocking heads against Takayasu, Mitakeumi and Tamawashi. So he’s got to beat Shodai, and I expect him to use every psych-out and mind game in his considerable arsenal to make sure Shodai defeats himself before the tachiai. Bonus points to Kakuryu if he can give his tachi-moshi one hell of a pep talk today.

Nagoya Day 4 Preview

Hey, Shin-Ikioi… Get Ready

We are only up to day 4, and we already have some very interesting developments in the basho. Ryuden is up today vs The Boss, and while I don’t expect him to beat Hakuho, I am curious to see how much of a challenge he presents. His sumo has taken on some great techniques that I think are going to cause all kinds of havoc in his lower ranking week 2 matches.

We also seem to have a switch in Takayasu’s sumo to a more deliberate, powerful style. I suspect this was forged in endless practice sessions with Araiso Oyakata, and it seems to still be settling in. We might see some very nice results in September, and better still in November if he can stick with it, and make it work.

Tomokaze is showing fantastic sumo, and I think he has a lot of potential. As we have been communicating at Tachiai, we are in an evolving transitional period in sumo, and it’s starting to become clear who some of the stars of the next era of sumo are likely to be, and I think Tomokaze could be a star.

Last but certainly not least, even though he comes to the dohyo heavily bandaged each day, Enho is a force in sumo at this rank. The question remains open as to what happens to him once he is placed higher up the banzuke. He is so amazingly fast, and never ever gives up. The crowd loves him, and so does Team Tachiai.

What We Are Watching Day 4

Toyonoshima vs Kaisei – Kaisei is finally done with those pesky short guys and their hyper-speed sumo. That right arm looks like it is a constant bother, so we know he is competing at less than genki levels. Toyonoshima needs a win in a bad way, and he holds a 6-2 career advantage over Kaisei, though their last head to head match was 2016!

Terutsuyoshi vs Enho – Pixie fight! This should be a giant pile of ultra awesome early in the top division day. I expect a lot of action, a lot of changes in who is dictating the match, and possible a few “did you see that” moves.

Chiyomaru vs Yago – While I have confidence that Chiyomaru can get his sumo in gear by the middle weekend and still end up with 7 or 8 wins, it seems something has broken lose in Yago-land, and his sumo is suffering. The guy has all of the tools needed to dominate this low in the banzuke, so I am going to assume its mostly some undisclosed injury.

Kotoyuki vs Sadanoumi – Kotoyuki went back to the shitaku-beya following his match, feeling like something was missing. Yes, he was unable to great the fine people who had made it to the venue to watch sumo. He had not been able to land his large, sweaty form in the middle of well connected ladies and high ranking corporate executives, and this left him feeling down. Today will be the day, Kotoyuki let your dreams take flight!

Kagayaki vs Nishikigi – I am sorry, but this match has me really interested. Nishikigi has been strong but slow since May, and Kagayaki was a dumpster fire for all of Natsu. Now Kagayaki seems to gotten most of his sumo back, and is ready to fight with limited gusto. I am sure Nishikigi will hug the nearest blurry object, and pin their arms to his body, then walk forward. I want to see Kagayaki do something unexpected here.

Tochiozan vs Takagenji – As Tochiozan ages out, his “hot” streaks are fewer and further between. Takagenji seems to be on a hot streak of his own right now. and his sumo looks better than I have recalled seeing it in over a year.

Shohozan vs Kotoeko – A’slappin and a’poundin and a’smackin and a’shovin. This match has all of the goodies one hopes to see on a day at “The Sumo”. Shohozan is eventually going to get it in gear. Maybe today is the day.

Daishoho vs Okinoumi – Also in the “aging out” group we find Okinoumi. This is his first ever match against the winless Daishoho. I would expect that the man who put Shimane-ken in the sumo lexicon will dominate over the hapless Mongolian.

Myogiryu vs Onosho – Career favors Onosho 3-1, but Onosho can’t keep his weight centered since his knee injury. Unless he gets his balance down, its going to be face plant after face plant. Oh, and bring back that red mawashi. Whatever kami was in that thing was a real fighter.

Tomokaze vs Shimanoumi – Shimanoumi has yet to take one from Tomokaze, who I am thinking will be a force for the future. Hell, Shimanoumi might be too, but he needs a bit of seasoning.

Kotoshogiku vs Chiyotairyu – Oh goodie, this one is lopsided for the Kyushu Bulldozer, as Kotoshogiku leads the career series 13-1. Not that Chiyotairyu lacks any power or fighting spirit, but Kotoshogiku seems very dialed in right now.

Takarafuji vs Ichinojo – Bruce want monster-Ichinojo to pick up puny Takarafuji and take him home to meet the pony. (11-2 carer favors Ichinojo)

Aoiyama vs Meisei – I was not expecting Meisei to open Nagoya 0-3 (I am sure neither was he). Save for the one match with Goeido, Aoiyama has looked in form and powerful. I don’t expect Meisei to correct the slide today.

Mitakeumi vs Shodai – Readers of Tachiai know how I feel about Shodai. He’s nearly as annoying as Endo in the breaks he gets, but without the good looks or technical sumo chops. But he does tend to blow Mitakeumi up. I am sure this really annoys Mitakeumi, too.

Endo vs Tamawashi – I think this is the match where Tamawashi overcomes his extensive, explosive and crippling ring-rust. 0-3? Come on! Go smack Endo the Golden around, I am sure he does not want another interview this basho, so help him get a make-koshi, if you would.

Daieisho vs Tochinoshin – A sumo fan using the wonderful sumodb might assume that the schedulers had given Tochinoshin a lovely cupcake with his match today against Daieisho. But I am going to assume that Tochinoshin’s injuries are performance limiting enough that this is more or less a bit of a “decider”. If you can’t overcome Daieisho, maybe you need to go kyujo. Let’s see if Tochinoshin can rally.

Asanoyama vs Takayasu – Oh Great Sumo Cat of the Kokugikan, than you for blessing your humble sumo fans with this match. We hope that it involves two burly men grabbing each other bodily and trying to toss the other one around. Grant us our pleas that we might see yet another Takayasu rematch, and an endless shimpan parade.

Goeido vs Hokutofuji – Both of these men like to blast off the line with the subtlety of a bowling ball to the crotch. What he hell happens at a quantum level where these two guys slam into each other? I do expect that yet again, Hokutofuji will fight brilliantly, but lose. This seems to be the stage he is in right now with his sumo career.

Kakuryu vs Abi – Kakuryu is looking really good right now, and I am eager to see him play with Abi before he puts him into the clay. But you have to love Abi, the guy really gets pumped when it’s time for his match, and it’s really clear that he has a lot of fun with the sport.

Ryuden vs Hakuho – Oh good heavens! This has the potential to be quite the battle. Hakuho seems to only be about 80% genki, and that may be degraded enough that Ryuden can put him in that pain-pose that he has been using for the last dozen or so matches. Of course we have all seen Hakuho use it in the past, so I am hoping he has some special magical moves to counter it with a flourish and a thud.

Nagoya Day 3 Highlights

I will come out and say it – Tochinoshin is in trouble. There were some reports that he was injured prior to the bashso, and he has started Nagoya 0-3. He is struggling with, and losing to his “warm up” opponents. He has just battled back from Ozekiwake (a feat that Takakeisho will have before him at Aki), and is already looking at another kadoban. We love watching Tochinoshin engage the “skycrane” and lift his opponents, but it seems many of the top-division rikishi have worked hard to ensure he never gets the grip needed to do it.

I would further state that Ryuden now has a pair of Ozeki scalps, and looks absolutely spot-on in his sumo. He has found a way to lock his opponents down into a difficult, half-twisted posture and forces them to either break out somehow, or stand there and take it. Both outcomes work to his advantage. At 29, he is not a “young” rikishi, but he is delivering some fantastic sumo.

Highlight Matches

Terutsuyoshi defeats Kaisei – Terutsuyoshi goes immediately for Kaisei’s bandaged right arm, and completely disrupts any attempt at offensive sumo. Yeah, Terutsuyoshi got the white star, but OUCH. Hopefully Kaisei is done being swarmed by pixies for a while, he was completely out maneuvered both days.

Enho defeats Kotoyuki – Kotoyuki was certainly looking to disrupt Enho’s timing, a pair of matta, and a few other things leading up to the tachiai. But it was all for naught as Enho owned the bulk of this match, save for the moment when Kotoyuki rallied and pushed Enho into his Ura-style shock absorbing squat. To add insult to injury, Kotoyuki had no opportunity to end up in the crowd.

Yago defeats Toyonoshima – Its clear that both men are off their sumo in a significant way. Yago gets his first win, as Toyonoshima decided to go chest to chest but gave Yago his favorite grip.

Kagayaki defeats Chiyomaru – Chiyomaru likes to use his big body moving strongly forward as his primary weapon. Kagayaki, to his credit, was able to absorb Chiyomaru’s opening attacks, giving little ground. The match was largely stalemated until Chiyomaru attempted a pull against Kagayaki’s neck. The moment that Chiyomaru released forward pressure, Kagayaki attacked and won the match.

Sadanoumi defeats Tochiozan – Sadanoumi got both hands inside on Tochizan’s mawashi (morozashi) at the tachiai, and there was not much Tochiozan could do.

Takagenji defeats Kotoeko – Takagenji really looks solid right now. His sumo is strong, efficient and focused. He got inside Kotoeko after Kotoeko’s initial double arm thrust to Takageni’s neck, and proceeded to march Kotoeko out.

Nishikigi defeats Daishoho – This match may appear to be two large men standing around, holding each other in some kind of battle-cuddle (which is it), but its also a re-emergence of Nishikigi’s “good” form. Daishoho got the better of the tachiai, but quickly found Nishikigi more than up to the task of stopping any offense. The key move came about 30 seconds in when Nishikigi shifted hiss grip, getting his right hand inside, and with it control of the match.

Okinoumi defeats Onosho – Onosho succeeds in once again getting too much of his weight in front his toes, and finds Okinoumi ready to slap him down with a quick push to the back of the neck. This is Onosho’s fatal flaw, and he needs to get it fixed before his sumo can really shine. Also, he needs to bring back the red mawashi.

Tomokaze defeats Shohozan – Tomokaze won an oshi battle against Shohozan (which is not easy), and looked good doing it. At one point Tomokaze spins up a train of thrusts against Shohozan’s shoulders, pushing “Big Guns” back. I lament the expected intai of Yoshikaze, but this new guy from Oguruma seems quite good.

Shimanoumi defeats Chiyotairyu – This came down to Shimanoumi keeping his balance in the face of Chiyotairyu’s massive tachiai. Shimanoumi expertly timed a pivot and sent Chiyotairyu to the clay.

Myogiryu defeats Takarafuji – Both rikishi made a good show of it, but it was all Myogiryu, who got inside at the tachiai, and never gave up the advantage.

Ichinojo defeats Meisei – Ichinojo took Meisei to his chest, and in spite of Meisei having a morozashi (double inside) grip, there was exactly zero that Meisei could do to stop the rampaging landslide that was Ichinojo. When Ichinojo is healthy, he’s an absolute monster.

Kotoshogiku defeats Daieisho – I do love a genki Kotoshogiku! Daieisho was able to slow him down only for a moment, before the Kyushu Bulldozer lowered the blade and pushed Daieisho out and away.

Abi defeats Shodai – Abi opened strong and finished quickly, before Shodai could try any random nonsense, which he almost did at the tawara.

Mitakeumi defeats Tamawashi – Mitakeumi continues to dominate Tamawashi, and it was quite a one-sided affair today.

Takayasu defeats Endo (Twice) – For the second day in a row, Takayasu’s match endures a torinaoshi. His day 2 match, it was necessary, I am not so sure about today. Endo decided he wanted to also test Takayasu’s ability to stand around in a sumo stance for long periods of time. Big mistake as we have it on good authority that Takayasu sometimes sleeps in that position while carrying on a days long battle with a teppo pole. News flash, sometimes the pole gives up first. To me it was clear that Endo was the loser of match one, but being Endo, the monoii went in is favor. No problem, Takayasu beat him again.

Goeido defeats Aoiyama – Aoiyama tried a hit and shift / slap down combo, and Goeido made him pay. When Goeido launches the all out speed tachiai, there is not much anyone can do to recover.

Ryuden defeats Tochinoshin – As mentioned in the introduction, Ryuden tends to land his left hand about mid-way around his opponents mawashi, and use that grip to turn them. This results in Ryuden’s opponents not being able to square either their hips or shoulders, and puts Ryuden in command. Tochinoshin got this treatment today, and his massive strength was taken away from him. I have seen Hakuho use this same technique, and it is quite potent.

Hakuho defeats Hokutofuji – Wow! What an effort by Hokutofuji. I can confidently say that Hokutofuji owned the first 15 seconds of this match, and had Hakuho reacting rather than attacking. Hakuho eventually got a very odd double hand grip on Hokutofuji’s mawashi knot, and dropped him to the clay, with a bit of a tea-bagging at the end. Hokutofuji’s time will come. Maybe soon.

Kakuryu defeats Asanoyama – Some really glorious Kakuryu sumo today. Even the smallest mistake can beat you with Kakuryu as your opponent. As Asanoyama presses forward to try to land his right hand on the Yokozuna’s mawashi, he raises up. That was all the opening that Kakuryu needed to transition into an under shoulder swing down (katasukashi). Great sumo from the Yokozuna today.

Nagoya Day 2 Highlights

Some truly fantastic sumo today in Nagoya. We got to see Ryuden take on Takayasu in an endurance contests (always a questionable move), and we had the highlight bout between Hakuho and Natsu yusho winner Asanoyama.

I would not that Aminishiki, whom we fondly refer to as Uncle Sumo, may have finally damaged his fragile knee in a bout with Ryuko. He was clearly in pain following his match, and was wheeled away in that enormous wheelchair, which is sometimes a sign of big trouble. While this is terrible news for everyone, Aminishiki does own a Kabu, or sumo elder status, and when he finally decides to hang up the knee brace, he will continue to be a part of sumo for many years to come.

Highlight Matches

Kotoyuki defeats Yago – True to form, Kotoyuki leaps from the dohyo, but can’t quite find the momentum to get into the crowd. Yago allowed Kotoyuki to get inside at the tachiai, and really failed to generate any real offense.

Terutsuyoshi defeats Toyonoshima – Toyonoshima got the better of the tachiai, but after Terutsuyoshi stopped Toyonoshima’s advance, Toyonoshima tried to pull, and Terutsuyoshi made him pay. After shin-maku jitters last basho, is Terutsuyoshi back in form now? That would be wonderful.

Enho defeats Kaisei – As Kaisei discovered, the sumo mechanics are difference when you have someone small, fast and compact as Enho. Kaisei found himself a right hand reaching all the way over Enho’s back and grabbing his mawashi knot. In many cases this would have been a commandingly dominant position, but all it did was ensure that Enho had ample room to swing around and get behind Kaisei. Even banged up, Enho is quite an amazing rikishi.

Tochiozan defeats Chiyomaru – This one was all attributable to Tochiozan’s depth of experience, his ability to remain in control of his body, and wait for Chiyomaru to lose his balance. With that enormous pot-belly in front of him, it is in fact only a matter of time before Chiyomaru naturally leans forward.

Sadanoumi defeats Kagayaki – Solid sumo from both, and Kagayaki had control of the match. But as Kagayaki backed Sadanoumi to the tawara, his shoulders and hips were not square to Sadanoumi. Sadanoumi deftly used this to deliver a seldom seen kimarite, an amiuchi (fishermans throw), with Kagayaki as the catch of the day.

Kotoeko defeats Nishikigi – Simple nodowa to stand Nishikigi up at the tachiai, and a pivot to the rear for a push out. Where has the mega-genki Nishikigi of earlier this year gone?

Takagenji defeats Daishoho – The two go chest to chest at the tachiai, and this seems to play well for Takagenji. Daishoho puts up a good fight, but Takagenji has better position, better foot placement and all around better sumo.

Onosho defeats Shohozan – Greatly improved balance from Onosho today, but it was also true that Shohozan gave him a stable platform to push against. We did not see Onosho favoring his damaged right knee today, which is a hopeful sign.

Tomokaze defeats Okinoumi – To me it looks like whatever plan Okinoumi had going into the match got blown at the tachiai, and he was more or less along for the ride. Okinoumi’s attempt to throw down Tomokaze at the bales was too late, as Okinoumi’s heel was out. Tomokaze continues to execute well, and if he has the stamina to stay strong into week 2, this could be a break out basho for him.

Chiyotairyu defeats Myogiryu – Chiyotairyu’s canon ball tachiai finds its mark today, and Myogiryu gets an express trip out of the west side of the dohyo. Chiyotairyu looks genki right now, and his sumo works well at this rank, but seems to falter much higher up the banzuke.

Takarafuji defeats Shimanoumi – Takarafuji’s sumo is skilled, patient and effective. Today Shimanoumi found his attacks blunted, stalemated and ultimately defeated. True to form, he waited Shimanoumi out, and when Shimanoumi charged forward, Takarafuji converted his energy into the power for a match winning uwatenage.

Kotoshogiku defeats Meisei – Meisei did masterful work to keep Kotoshogiku from squaring his hips and applying his lethal hug-n-chug attack. In fact Kotoshogiku fought most of the match one one foot, but still managed to keep a solid grip on Meisei’s mawasshi. This payed off as Meisei over-extended, which Kotoshogiku read instinctively and triggered the match winning throw.

Ichinojo defeats Daieisho – Today, rather than shutting down and giving up, Ichinojo rallied when Daieisho put him under pressure. Dare we hope that day 1 was just a slow start?

Mitakeumi defeats Endo – Day 1 Mitakeumi looked terrible. His normal high energy, high impact sumo was not even attempted. It seems he resolved to put that behind him, and he come out strong against Endo. Mitakeumi got inside early, and never gave up the advantage.

Aoiyama defeats Tamawashi – Look out, it seems Aoiyama is genki this July. Knowing that Tamawashi is going for maximum forward pressure, Aoiyama resists, and resists until he expertly times a step to the side, sending the Sekiwake to the clay.

Goeido defeats Abi – Abi always rushes powerfully into the tachiai, and if his opponent does not meet him with full pressure to catch his opening attack, this is the result. Compliments to Goeido for this useful demonstration.

Shodai defeats Tochinoshin – Tochinoshin is an absolute mess right now. We all hope that he gets his sumo together and starts dominating some of these “warm up” week 1 matches.

Ryuden defeats Takayasu – I am starting to appreciate Ryuden now. He took on a man with nearly unlimited stamina and made it work. The first match ended with both rikishi touching out at the same time, and a torinaoshi was called. Ryuden took the rematch, and picked up a fantastic win. Go get ’em Shin-Ikioi!

Kakuryu defeats Hokutofuji – Textbook reactive sumo from Kakuryu. Hokutofuji attacks strongly from the tachiai, with a predictable focus on landing a nodowa. Kakuryu is a master at giving ground on the dohyo to his advantage, and collapses Hokutofuji’s opening gambit with skill.

Hakuho defeats Asanoyama – This match did live up to the hype, as the Natsu yushso winner gave The Boss a solid fight. But the Yokozuna’s immense experience allowed him to wear down Asanoyama, and wait for his opening. It came when Asanoyama repeatedly tried to lift Hakuho, and as a result raised himself up, giving Hakuho the correct position to unleash his much favored uwatenage. Solid effort from Asanoyama, and I think he did as well as anyone might do with their first match against the most dominant rikishi in recorded history.