Natsu Day 8 – Ones To Watch

Naya Arrives At The Kokugikan

Barn-burner action in the lower divisions on day 7, as a good spread of our “Ones to Watch” engaged in their 4th match. Some results from day 7

RikishiOutcomeScore
WakamotoharuLoss1-3
IchiyamamotoLoss2-2
WakatakamotoLoss1-3
AkuaWin3-1
RogaLoss2-2
WakaichiroWin2-2
KitanowakaLoss3-1
HattorizakuraLoss0-4

Can you say bloodbath for our cohort? Yes, we still have Wakaichiro, who shoved Harimanada around with great effect, picking up his second win of the basho. Akua looked rather sharp as well. I note that Roga lost his second match on day 7, which shows that he has risen to the point where competition is a challenge for him. This is great news as now his training can begin in earnest. I expect him to be a big deal in sumo shortly. We also have news that Kitanowaka lost his match, going down to college man Ito, and taking him off of the yusho pace for Jonokuchi. That first basho is always a big shuffling process for the new rikishi, and we won’t really get a good measure of Kitanowaka until Aki, I would predict.

Off to day 8, the middle day of the tournament, and we will see who can come home with a win. You may see more Tachiai folks at the Kokugikan on Sunday, please stop by and say hello, and feel free to beg for snacks!

Day 8 Matches

Hoshoryu vs Ryuko – The final match of Makushita for day 8 features a 2-1 bracket match up with Hoshoryu, who continues to be attracting an increasing amount of attention. This match is very symmetrical in several ways, my favorite being that Ryuko is another fast rising youngster who missed kachi-koshi in Osaka that would have seen him land in Juryo. That outcome is still on the table for Natsu, for both men, which means this match will be quite a brawl.

Midorifuji vs Asabenkei – Down in the 1-2 bracket, we find a Midorifuji, who has had a less than awesome basho thus far. But like Wakaichiro, if the focus in kachi-koshi, the goal is still well within reach. Asabenkei is a long serving sumo veteran and former Juryo man, who is going to have a distinct advantage in this match.

Naya vs Kaito – In the Makushita 3-0 bracket match is Naya, who has a chance to secure his majority winning record if he can overcome the much higher ranked Kaito. Kaito had a period between Hatsu and Kyushu in 2015 where he was not active in competition, and dropped from lower Makushita to Jonokuchi before fighting his way back up the banzuke. This will be a great test for Naya’s progress as a rikishi.

Musashikuni vs Fukuyama – Also in the 1-2 bracket, the scion of the Musashigawa clan needs to pick up this win against Senshu University rikishi Fukuyama. Fukuyama has been plateaued at lower to mid Makushita, and is looking for the next step in his sumo to progress. Musashikuni has a huge height and weight advantage in this match.

Terunofuji vs Daishosei – A Sandanme 3-0 match, we could see former Ozeki Terunofuji secure kachi-koshi on day 8 if he can get past Daishosei. Daishosei (from Oitekaze heya, naturally) has only been in sumo for 8 basho, and I am sure drawing a match against the former Ozeki is going to be quite an event in his career.

Shoji vs Ebisumaru = 2-1 bracket match from another of the Musashigawa clan we follow, he faces Ebisumaru who has never ranked higher than Sandanme.

Amakaze vs Shinyashiki – Also in the 3-0 bracket is former Juryo mainstay Amakaze, who could secure kachi-koshi and a slot in the yusho playoff bracket with a win on day 8. His opponent, Shinyashiki has 34 tournaments in his sumo career, most of them in Jonidan. We wish Shinyashiki good luck with the large and apparently genki Amakaze.

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.

Natsu Day 2 – Ones To Watch

Wakaichiro On Deck!

The day 2 roster of our “Ones to Watch” is loaded to the brim with our lower division favorites, and we are banking that we can get a video stream up in time to enjoy it. From day 1, I can share that Kitanowaka completely outclassed Garyu for a commanding win of his first ever sumo match in the professional ranks.

Who is on day 2? Well, everyone!

Wakamotoharu vs Seiro – Wakamotoharu lost his day 1 match, but thanks to the banzuke imbalance created by Hakuho going kyujo, there is an upper Makushita rikishi tasked to fill in a Juryo slot each day. For day 2, we see Wakamotoharu return to Juryo and face off against Seiro. Might we see Hoshoryu at some point?

Ichiyamamoto vs Takanofuji – For the final match in Makushita (which will happen after the Juryo dohyo-iri), we get this high-voltage clash. Ichiyamamoto is taking his second run at the ceiling of Makushita against the former Takayoshitoshi, who was dropped from Juryo last basho due to poor performance.

Hoshoryu vs Tamaki – First match for Hoshoryu, who is attracting a lot of attention the closer he gets to the salaried ranks. His opponent today is no slouch – Tamaki bounced off the top of the Makushita wall as a Ms3 East rikishi in Kyushu, and is taking his second run at the top.

Midorifuji vs Nogami – Fighting at his highest ever rank, Midorifuji has his first match against veteran Aomori-ken rikishi, Nogami, who fights under his given name. Nogami has been splashing about at this rank for a while, and is probably near his theoretical peak. But this is the kind of Rikishi that Midorifuji will need to master to break into the top echelon.

Naya vs Sagatsukasa – As if day 2 were not yet stuffed full enough of sumo awesome, here we go. Naya is finally starting to catch up to his rival Hoshoryu, but he is entering the thick of Makushita’s under-ranks. Sagatsukasa is a former Maegashira on the downward slope of his career, but he will bring an arsenal of technique and experience to the dohyo to measure against Naya’s youth and vigor.

Musashikuni vs Higoarashi – Musashikuni is coming off a two basho make-koshi streak, and really needs to turn things around. His day 2 match against Higoarashi is their third meeting, with Higoarashi holding a 2-1 edge. Come on Mamu! You can get it done!

Roga vs Hokutotsubasa – I am sure Hokutotsubasa looked at the torikumi Sunday evening and said, “Oh crap”. While that is not normally the reaction that a former Makushita rikishi would give when finding out they were facing who was about to have their first Sandanme match, but this is Roga. He wants your lunch money… and your chanko. We get to see how Roga handles himself against a well skilled and tough opponent.

Must… find.. way… to connect… to… Japan….

Terunofuji vs Daishomune – The Great Sumo Cat of the Kokugikan laughs at me, trying to find a way to watch sumo from the land of the big hats and broad cattle. Sure, the wolf’s match (above) needs even more goodness. Let’s throw in the Kaiju as well. Everyone is curious if Daishomune will face a Terunofuji that looks just as terrible as he did in Osaka, or if Terunofuji is getting his health under control. We all want him in fine shape and fighting well.

Shoji vs Asanojo – Another fast rising rikishi, Shoji, will face off against Asanojo, a 32 year old veteran who has never ranked higher than Sandanme. If Shoji has his health back in line, this should be an easy match. Let’s hope he’s finally back to fighting form.

Wakaichiro vs Miyakogawa – I make no bones that I am a die-hard Wakaichiro booster. Today he’s facing a rematch with Miyakogawa, who he holds a career 2-1 advantage against. We hope America’s finest rikishi can apply some of that newly developed muscle against his rival and start Natsu out with a white star.

Hattorizakura vs Kitajima – Sadly, unless we can get a stream running, we will miss sumo’s perpetual loser – Hattorizakura. Free win day for Kitajima.

Preview – Tachiai’s “Ones to Watch”

At Tachiai, we have a group of talented or unique rikishi we follow each tournament in the lower divisions. Some of them are young up-and-coming potentials who are fighting their way to the top. Some are injured veterans struggling to return to the limelight of the top divisions. We call them the “Ones to Watch”.

The Osaka basho featured intense competition in the lower divisions, with some of our favorites going down in flames, but others rising to the cusp of promotion into the salaried ranks. The Natsu basho looks to have some of the most full-throttle action in a while, with an elite crop of rikishi gathering in the top 10 ranks of Makushita, and a few beloved veterans pushing hard up the ranks to return to their former glory. Lets take a look at who we will be following this May.

Wakamotoharu – After a 1 basho visit to Juryo, Wakamotoharu’s 5-10 record sees him relegated back to the top of Makushita. A simple kachi-koshi should be enough to return him to sekitori status, but in Makushita this is no easy task. He will be in fierce competition against the likes of Kotokamatani, Kizakiumi and Ryuko.

Ichiyamamoto – Returning to his highest ever rank of Ms3e, he will need to maintain a winning record to press for promotion. He has been kachi-koshi in his past 3 basho, and he will be working hard to overcome the same competitor that Wakamotoharu must out-shine to gain a handful of possible promotion spots to Juryo.

Hoshoryu – The young Mongolian powerhouse finds himself inches away from breaking into the salaried ranks, and he has yet to rack up his first make-koshi tournament. But the top 4 ranks of Makushita feature 4 rikishi who are fighting at their highest ever ranks, and a pair who are near their top posting. The competition in this bracket may be some of the toughest in many years.

Wakatakamoto – Just outside the Makushita meat grinder at the top, the lowest ranked Oanmi brother will be looking to pick up his 4 wins and inch closer to “the Wall”. His two prior tournaments have resulted in solid 5-2 results, and he looks to have his sumo in good form.

Midorifuji – Competing at his highest ever rank of Ms13e, he will face off day 1 against flagging former Juryo man Gokushindo on day 1. The top half of Makushita is frequently inhabited with former sekitori struggling to find a way back to the top. Note: Gokushindo has since withdrawn from the tournament.

Akua – Speaking of men who bounced out of Juryo and are still trying to find a way home, we find Akua, who I would predict is still suffering from one mechanical injury that saw him go kyujo from the 2018 Aki basho on day 12. If he has his body in good condition, he should be a tough competitor and we will see him start is long climb back upwards.

Naya – Another young rikishi with a lot of promise, Naya has size, his family heritage and all of the training they imparted on him in his favor. He finished Osaka with an impressive 6-1, and will find the competition quite a bit more challenging.

Musashikuni – Two consecutive make-koshi tournaments have put the scion of the Musashigawa heya back into the bottom range of Makushita. Musashikuni has had physical problems with his undercarriage, and his fans are simply waiting for him to get his body in good working order, and return to his normally powerful ways.

Ura – Note that we are unlikely to see Ura any time soon. He has once again had surgery to reconstruct his knee, but both Ura and his Oyakata have stated flatly they are looking for nothing short of perfection in the repair before he begins training again. I would guess no sooner than next year, by which time he will be well down the banzuke.

Roga – After finishing 7-0 in Osaka, and taking the Jonidan yusho, risking Mongolian star Roga finds himself in the top quarter of Sandanme. Given the strength and focus of his sumo thus far, I am guessing he will be a strong contender against the Sandanme regulars.

Terunofuji – The injured Ozeki made his return in Osaka, and finished 7-0 in Jonidan, losing the yusho in a playoff match with Roga. He is subsequently ranked a bit further down the banzuke at Sd49e. Terunofuji looked physically out of sorts in Osaka, and we hope he has been training and working on his conditioning since then. If he’s mechanically well, he should be able to make swift work of most of his opponents.

Torakio – It has been announced that the one time scion of Naruto heya has left sumo. He was struggling quite a bit as of late, and he has decided to pack it in and return to Bulgaria.

Shoji – A one time up and coming rikishi, Shoji peaked at Makushita 52 last year at Natsu, and has been trending lower since. Now near the middle of Sandanme, he has a real opportunity to regroup and get his sumo back on track.

Amakaze – A former Juryo mainstay, Amakaze became injured and took and extended kyujo, re-entering competition in Osaka, and turning in a respectable 6-1 from Jonidan. Now ranked towards the bottom of Sandanme, he should have a fairly easy kachi-koshi if his joints stay healthy.

Wakaichiro – Tachiai favorite Wakaichiro has yet to find the formula to hit and stick in Sandanme. During 2018, he faced a number of physical challenges, and each consecutive match saw him mount the dohyo with an increasing amount of tape on his body. Since then it seems he may have turned a corner on his health, which will delight his fans.

Kitanowaka – New sumotori Kitanowaka will have his first professional sumo matches in Tokyo this may. An impressive young man from Yamagata, he starts his sumo career at Jonokuchi 16e.