Early Ozeki Runs Hatsu 2020

The Collapse of Champions

There have been some very interesting storylines coming out of Hatsu but I want to focus on this one for this article. This tournament was very rough on our Ozeki as we only have one left. Four former Ozeki are fighting it out in the Makuuchi, with yet another (Terunofuji) knocking at the door to make a comeback. Terunofuji was the only one among them with a winning record at Hatsu.

As Leonid predicts, Takayasu will likely fall into the rank-and-file. Goeido will fall to Sekiwake. Tochinoshin may swap places with Kagayaki and fall to M11. Kotoshogiku may drop a slot to M14. Other than Takayasu, all have won a tournament. Getting that second one in a row…and the Yokozuna’s privilege of a break without drop in rank…is really hard.

“Show of hands, who wants a promotion?”

Scanning for the Next Plateau

I’ve written about how this situation makes that Meat Puppets song (made famous by Nirvana) pop into my head. The last time I wrote about it, I looked really far down the banzuke. Perhaps I wasn’t aware how dire the situation would become. So I ask, who’s in a position to make a run now?

The Criteria

The criteria aren’t exact but 33 wins over three tournaments seems to be the line…though 32 may make it, as with Goeido’s 12-8-12 run. The run should also start in or near sanyaku but again we have recent exceptions. Tochinoshin’s run started from Maegashira 3 with a yusho 14Y-10-13. Ultimately, we’re looking for consistency at the sanyaku level.

Asanoyama

I will start with Asanoyama because I think this is the strongest run, and the one that is the furthest along. Leonid has written about his run before, especially since he may be starting from Kyushu at Maegashira 2 with 10 wins. It’s also the first real chance since Mitakeumi blew his shot from late last year. His 11 wins in Tokyo this month likely means 12 in Osaka would give him the magic number of 33.

Hokutofuji

If Asanoyama’s run can start from Kyushu, Hokutofuji just started a run here at Hatsu. His 11 wins from the same rank Asanoyama occupied in Kyushu will hopefully be enough to force an extra sekiwake slot since Goeido will occupy a slot, as Leonid has speculated. I’m editorializing here but I think this would be a smart move by the Kyokai. I can’t imagine they would want a vacant Ozeki slot to last long which means they need candidates. I’m never an advocate of early promotion by relaxing criteria but I think that blocking otherwise worthy promotions because there should only be two Sekiwake would be a bit silly. 11 wins at Maegashira 2 is certainly a performance worthy of the Sekiwake rank.

Shodai

Shodai’s case for a run starting now is likely weaker than Hokutofuji’s because of the lower rank, even though one of Hokutofuji’s wins was a fusen. Hokutofuji did pick up a kinboshi. But Maegashira 4 is in the joi and based on his 13-2 jun-yusho performance, Shodai certainly makes another strong case for Sekiwake. Two 10 win performances to follow and we may have Ozeki Shodai by Nagoya.

Endo

Endo’s case for a Sekiwake slot is weaker than those above but he is certainly deserving of a Komusubi slot. It would take a really special run but conceivably spectacular showings in Osaka and back in Tokyo in May could see Ozeki Endo in Nagoya but it is not going to happen. I just mention it because the run would make the newspapers go absolutely bonkers and that would be fun.

Thoughts?

I’m eager to hear what y’all think.

Hatsu Day 7 Highlights

Who Can Stop Him?

We enter the middle weekend with no Yokozuna, one Ozeki in the yusho chase and the other just trying to survive. The pall of injury seems to hang over the tournament and it may yet have claimed another key player in this drama.

The Bouts:

Kaisei defeated Tochiozan. Tochiozan had the more aggressive tachiai and was the instigator. It evolved into a belt battle. Tochiozan worked the pair over to the edge and forced the issue by tipping over but Kaisei was able to maintain his balance for a split second longer as they both fell. Kaisei is credited with an uwatenage but it seemed more like Tochiozan lost by gravity from his own throw attempt.

Azumaryu defeated Nishikigi with a quick pull after the solid tachiai. He put his arm on Nishikigi’s back and pushed down as he pulled back, text book hatakikomi.

Terutsuyoshi defeated Kiribayama in their first ever meeting. As Kiribayama charged at the tachiai, Terutsuyoshi pivoted in the direction of the gyoji, grabbing Kiribayama’s arm and wheeling Kakuryu’s protege around and out. Kotenage.

Tokyushoryu defeated Kotoeko. Kotoeko seemed very genki at the tachiai, appearing to want to drive things but Tokyushoryu wrapped Kotoeko up very quickly easily securing a belt grip and forced the lavender mawashi back and out for the yorikiri win.

Kotoshogiku defeated Ikioi. Ikioi met Kotoshogiku head on with a solid tachiai but Kotoshogiku was able to charge forward through the injured Ikioi who offered little resistance. The tawara provided no help, either as Ikioi stepped out. Yorikiri.

Chiyomaru defeated Shimanoumi with a Missy Elliot-themed pivot and pull. Chiyomaru sent blast after blast aimed at Shimanoumi’s face, forcing Shimanoumi high, then quickly “Reversed It”, pulled to the side while pushing down for a nicely executed hatakikomi.

Tsurugisho defeated Ishiura. Despite being carted off the dohyo yesterday, Tsurugisho showed up for his bout with Ishiura…only to vanish after the tachiai, leaving Ishiura to fall forward. Tsurugisho braced against Ishiura’s shoulders and pushed down while pulling away, using Ishiura’s forward momentum but aiming him at the clay, hikiotoshi.

Chiyotairyu defeated Yutakayama. Chiyotairyu attempted to follow Chiyomaru’s game plan with the upward blasts leading to a pull but Yutakayama snuffted it out, maintaining his balance and advancing toward the tawara. However, Chiyotairyu unleashed another powerful thrust from the side that sent Yutakayama sprawling. Tsukiotoshi.

Takanosho defeated Kagayaki by keeping his balance. Kagayaki really lost this one by ceding ground with a pull. He tried to push Takanosho down but stepped out first.

Sadanoumi defeated Aoiyama. Big Dan got the tsuppari engine going, laying into Sadanoumi but Sadanoumi grabbed hold of his right arm and pulled, forcing Aoiyama off balance. Another gentle shove sent Aoiyama over the straw bales and out for the hikkake win.

Ryuden defeated Shohozan. Shohozan was the aggressor, laying into Ryuden raining blows right to the head, preventing Ryuden from any sort of belt grip. But his follow-on pull was poorly executed as he seemed to forget to actually pull Ryuden with him…so Ryuden just stayed standing in the middle of the dohyo. Shohozan re-engaged but this time Ryuden grabbed Shohozan and flung him forward and out. Okuridashi.

Tochino-henka defeated Takarafuji. Hatakikomi. Let us move on.

Onosho defeated Meisei with raw power. Meisei locked up at the tachiai but Onosho dug his head right into Meisei’s face. That seemed rather uncomfortable and did the trick. Putting all that weight into Meisei got the pair moving forward. With Meisei effectively wrapped up there was nowhere to run but backwards and out. Yorikiri.

Okinoumi defeated Enho. Okinoumi led Enho back to the tawara and then squished him. At the start, Enho tried to keep Okinoumi away but Okinoumi continued to advance. Once he wrapped up Enho at the armpit, he moved forward, forcing Enho onto his back. Oof. Yoritaoshi.

Purple Endo defeated Tamawashi. Endo met Tamawashi with a weird, weak tachiai. As Tamawashi put his head down to drive forward through Endo, Endo shifted to the side and let Tamawashi bull himself forward over the bales. Is this the Imperial Roman purple? Tottari.

Mitakeumi defeated Daieisho. Mitakeumi used his considerable power to drive Daieisho to the bales but instead of redoubling his efforts to force him over, Mitakeumi tried for a pull. Daieisho kept his balance but his position was bad as he was half turned. Mitakeumi used that to then push Endo’s Oitekaze stablemate out the other side. Yorikiri. Mitakeumi seemed to tweak the knee in the win and was not able to squat with it, instead squatting with one leg, keeping the left out to the side. He also needed Yobidashi assistance to climb down from the dohyo.

Takayasu defeated Myogiryu. Myogiryu brawled and tried real hard to keep Takayasu away from his belt which was a smart idea, had he followed through. After Myogiryu wore himself out, he stood at the center of the ring, keeping Takayasu at bay. Takayasu seemed content to just wait him out and perhaps Myogiryu should have just let the stalemate continue, awaiting Takayasu to advance? Instead Myogiryu got bored and drove into Takayasu. This body contact allowed Takayasu to counter by getting a belt grip and as they tussled, Takayasu shifted his grip and improved it to the point where he was holding onto Myogiryu’s belt near the knot. Since Myogiryu was now sideways into Takayasu, the Sekiwake ushered Myogiryu forward and out. Oshidashi.

In this bout, Takayasu reminded me of fly paper or of those sticky mouse traps. As Myogiryu would wriggle to try to get free, Takayasu would envelope more of his opponent until he had him in that extremely awkward, sideways position.

Asanoyama defeated Hokutofuji. Solid tachiai. Asanoyama got a quick grip with the right hand in the front of Hokutofuji’s belt and simply drove forward through Hokutofuji. Hokutofuji tried to peel him off by thrusting at Asanoyama’s glowing face but power sumo prevailed. Yorikiri.

Goeido defeated Shodai. Bruce’s departure from Tokyo broke the enchantment Shodai had over this tournament. Shodai was the aggressor, pursuing Goeido throughout the bout. But at every turn Goeido thwarted Shodai’s advance and kept his balance at the straw bales. Goeido parried Shodai’s final charge, getting in behind and then pushing the leader over. Okuritaoshi.

Takakeisho defeated Abi. Abi’s slaps are often just a prelude to a pulldown. They’re not threatening or powerful on their own. After an initial slapfest from both, Takakeisho thrust out knocking Abi to the right and close to the bales. I do not know why Abi would choose this terrible position to try his hatakikomi pull but he did. With zero space behind him he effectively backed out. Oshidashi.

Summary:

After a week of action, Shodai stumbles early in his prospective yusho run. So, to answer my question from the photo? Goeido can stop him. Goeido plays the hero in today’s drama. Wait, what? Anyway, now a crowded field of five leads with one loss, headed by Takakeisho. This pack includes Endo and Shodai from the Maegashira joi and Terutsuyoshi and Tokushoryu from the bottom of the banzuke. Sekiwake Asanoyama heads up a chase group of five more competitors one win back. Asanoyama is accompanied by a merry band of Okinoumi, Yutakayama, Kagayaki and Azumaryu.

Aki 2019 Jungyo report – Day 9

Today’s event was supposed to have been day 10, but of the three events in Shizuoka prefecture, the one at Izu – which was the place where the typhoon made its landfall – has been cancelled. Around noon October 13th, the rikishi finally left Yamanashi prefecture and headed around Mt. Fuji, down to Shizuoka, in big buses. There have been no safety issues for the rikishi and their support staff from the weather.

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Aki 2019 Jungyo report – Day 7

From Chiba, we head west to Kanagawa prefecture. Since these Jungyo reports are actually posted a couple of days after the event, we now know that Typhoon #19 has been through many of the areas the Jungyo was planned in. You’ll see a happy town of Sagamihara today, but two days later, it will be disaster area. Post-typhoon events are likely to be accompanied by rounds to comfort the survivors. But today we’ll concentrate on the happy side.

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