Lower divisions – Days 13 and 14

Hey, Hoshoryu, Asashoryu called and asked for his game face to be returned

Hey, I owe you readers two days of randomly picked lower division bouts!

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Lower divisions – Days 11 and 12

Hoshoryu avoided a make-koshi on his birthday

Today I’m trying to catch up on two days of lower division action. Let’s start with day 11, May 22.

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Natsu Day 13 – Ones To Watch

Naya Gives An Opponent A Flying Lesson..

With just a couple of days left, its time for our “Ones to Watch” to head to their final matches of Natsu. Many of the rikishi we are following managed to already score their 4th win, taking the pressure off for the final day. While none of them are in competition for divisional yusho, most of them have fought well this May, and will find themselves with new, more difficult challenges in Nagoya.

This will be a great day of lower division sumo, as most of the yusho will be decided today as the remaining 6-0 rikishi face off to find the best of each division. The action in Makushita the past 2 days has been extraordinary, in many cases exceeding what we have seen in Juryo and Makuuchi for nearly every match. The playoffs are a bit akward this time, as some of the divisions have 3 undefeated rikishi. In that case two of them meet head to head, and the third takes on a 5-1 rikishi, with a playoff on Sunday if needed to decide the yusho.

Makushita:
Takanofuji (Ms2w) vs Chiyoarashi (Ms35e)

Sandanme:
Shiraishi (Sd100TD) vs Hokutotsubasa (Sd22w)
and
Hokutokawa (Sd12w) vs Kirinoryu (Ms56e)

with a playoff on senshuraku if needed.

Jonidan:
Tochikamiyama (Jd42w) vs Terasawa (Jd14w)
and
Ito (Jk20e) vs Okinohama (Jd78w)

Yes, a Jonokuchi undefeated against a Jonidan

Jonokuchi:
Watanabe (Jk11e) vs Kawabuchi (Jk24e)

Indeed, this time the lower division yusho races are a complete and utter mess. Let the best man win!

Day 13 Matches

Wakamotoharu vs Shiba – Both rikishi already have a losing record tally for Natsu, this match is to see how far down the banzuke they will fall. This is especially bitter for Wakamotoharu, who needed a simple kachi-koshi to join his brother in Juryo.

Ichiyamamoto vs Akiseyama – In the mean time, Juryo promotion candidate Ichiyamamoto visits sumo’s 2nd highest division to try his skill against Akiseyama, who is in need of a couple more wins to secure his Juryo spot in July. So this could in effect be an “exchange bout” -lksumo.

Wakatakamoto vs Shonannoumi – It’s Onami brother madness, with all 3 of them on the dohyo today. Sadly, Wakatakamoto shares his brother’s make-koshi result for Natsu, and will find himself pushed down the banzuke in July. The only prior match with Shonannoumi was last year during Natsu, and Wakatakamoto prevailed.

Naya vs Bushozan – Naya is possibly going to join the Makushita joi for Nagoya, and this 5-1 bracket match will decide the magnitude of his promotion. No matter who wins this one, there will be a good chance of a Naya vs Bushozan rematch in 2 months time.

Terunofuji vs Daishozen – A Sandanme 5-1 match. The disappointment was evident on Terunofuji’s face when he stumbled to his only defeat on day 8 against Sd51w Daishosei. Today’s opponent, Daishozen, is tiny compared to Terunofuji. I am going to look for another stand-up tachiai, grab-and-toss kimarite today.

Shoji vs Koshinoryu – This 3-3 “Darwin Match” will see the winner get their kachi-koshi and the loser relegated to demotion with a make-koshi. This is their first ever match, and we will be hoping for some solid sumo from Shoji, who may soon have Wakaichiro chasing him.

Kitanowaka vs Chiyooume – While I am sure he is disappinted to not be fighting for the Jonokuchi yusho, Kitanowaka is blasting his way out of sumo’s lowest division no matter what. A win today would likely seal his rank into the lower quartile of Jonidan for the sweat-box that is Nagoya.

Hattorizakura vs Nangu – They found someone with an 0-6 recored for Hattorizakura to face! Poor Nangu has been kyujo since the start of the basho, but comes back for his final match: against sumo’s wagoto mainstay. Congrats Nangu on your impending win!

Day 10 – Ones To Watch In The Lower Division

Today’s post merges our daily “Ones To Watch” with my erratic video coverage of the lower divisions. Enjoy!

Kasugaryu. Seems to have a weird pact with the Great Cat Of The Kokugikan

Jonidan

None of our “Ones to watch” or “Ones to be flattened by” featured today in Jonokuchi, so we skip right to Jonidan. Satonofuji, the legendary bow twirler, won his first day, but then suffered three consecutive losses. Can he still salvage a kachi-koshi? The road there goes through Kotomanabe (the “nabe” in that name is actually the same as in “chanko-nabe”, a pot!)

Two years older than Aminishiki, Satonofuji is still sumo-worthy.

Next we have Wakaichiro’s bout, which Andy captured for us. Wakaichiro faces Takataisho, who is known as the tsukebito who survived Takanoiwa.

Nice work! Our man from Texas may yet get that kachi-koshi!

Sandanme

The following footage is not recommended to the feint-of-heart. Kasugaryu, our current yumi-tori performer from the wonderful photo at the top, faces Tanakayama, and not only loses, but dislocates his knee.

The most bizarre scene follows, wherein Kasugaryu, with an expression that says more “not again!” than “ow!”, resets his own knee, then limps over to make his bow.

Ow.

When Bruce pointed out this strange occurrence this morning on my Twitter feed, I was sure by the end of the day we will see Satonofuji or Shohoryu covering for the bow man in the closing ceremony, but no:

What is this man made of? 😨

On we go to the less bizarre parts of Sandanme, and we have our “One To Watch”, Shoji from Musashigawa beya, facing Sumanoumi:

Nice survival at the edge there. Shoji is now 3-2 and closer to a kachi-koshi.

Finally, the main match of interest in Sandanme today has been that of former Ozeki Terunofuji vs. Fujitaisei of Fujishima beya.

Angry, or rather, exasperated yori-kiri it is. In the previous bout he said he made a mistake in thinking his opponent stepped outside when he didn’t. This time he made damn well sure.

Makushita

We start at the bottom, with the official American One To Watch, Musashikuni. He is facing Genkaiho from Otake beya (Same “ho” as in “Hakuho” and “Enho” – there are lots of these).

Genkaiho tries an arm lock there, but Musashikuni’s determination and better strength determine the result. Musashikuni maintains his chance of a kachi-koshi.

What’s up with Akua/Aqua then? He is facing Kaisho:

Aaaand… he is kachi-koshi within the blink of an eye, setting Kaisho gently on the floor by going backwards in a big arc.

Let’s take a peek at Isegahama’s back-flipping Tomisakae. He is faced with Ryusei, both are 3-1, and one of them will be kachi-koshi after this bout:

Alas, it is not our back-flipping hyperactive Tomisakae. Ryusei is kachi-koshi, and Tomisakae will have to look for his in the next bout.

Wakatakamoto faced Kizenryu today. At 1-3 he was with his back to the wall in his attempt to keep up with his little brothers (sorry, only partial footage here):

Although Wakatakamoto is the one who breaks the stalemate, Kizenryu is the one who takes advantage of his movement for a kotenage. The eldest Onami is make-koshi.

Our final match of the day is between Kototebakari and Kotokuzan. Note that Kotokuzan is not one of the Sadogatake Kotos (or he wouldn’t be facing Kototebakari) – it’s actually Kōtokuzan, from Arashio beya, who was hoping to become Sekitori before his oyakata retires.

This marks Kotokuzan’s third loss, and he needs to win out to avoid increasing his distance from the Heaven/Hell line at the top of Makushita. Kototebakari is now in a more comfortable position, though of course, at his level, he would have liked to be 5-0 rather than 3-2. Wouldn’t we all.

What are we expecting tomorrow?

In Jonidan, Wakaichiro returns to the dohyo to face Nakai. Hopefully, he can complete his kachi-koshi this day!

Amakaze is to face the sandanme-tsukedashi, Shiraishi, in what could be a very challenging match for both of them. Shiraishi is a strong up-and-comer, Amakaze has sekitori experience and newfound confidence. The winner stays in the yusho race, the loser… doesn’t.

Terunofuji ascends the dohyo again. Now that he has ensured his kachi-koshi, he will want to increase his winning margin to 5-1 against Asadaimon from Takazago beya.

Roga will want to achieve his kachi-koshi vs. Aratora from Isenoumi beya.

Naya is going to have a very fierce match tomorrow vs. Takanofuji (former Takayoshitoshi) who is very determined to regain his sekitori status and keep up with his “little” twin brother Takagenji. Both wrestlers are in the yusho race, and this is going to be deadly.

Hoshoryu is facing Fujiazuma, hoping not to give himself a make-koshi as a birthday present. Yes, Hoshoryu is 20 years old as of today, which in Japan is the age of majority. Many happy returns! Both wrestlers are 2-3 and this is going to be a killer bout.

Ichiyamamoto is going to face Kotokamatani. The winner of this match is kachi-koshi, and Ichiyamamoto will fiercely try to get his kachi-koshi now to be able to extend it enough to skip over the head of his rival on his way to sekitori-land.

Wakamotoharu gets to face Kizenryu, who gave his older brother his make-koshi today. The loser of this bout is make-koshi, and Wakamotoharu will want to avoid that like the plague, avenge his brother and regain his own sekitori status.

Nary a dull moment on day 11! Onwards and upwards!

Lower division bouts – Day 8

Nicola captured the former Ozeki; even the loyal fans in the background couldn’t help

Hot on the heels of Bruce’s One’s To Watch post, here are some low-division bouts, including many of the Ones To Watch and their wreckage.

Let’s start at Jonokuchi. Although I thought Toma, Hakuho’s gigantic recruit, would do well in Jonokuchi, simply on the merit of his combined weight and experience, he came into Nakabi with a 1-2 record. Here he is facing one of Futagoyama’s newbies, Denuma:

The boy has a lot of improvement to do despite this win here, if he is going to meet the standard set by all the other uchi-deshi recruited by the dai-yokozuna, namely, to become sekitori and hold that position (barring injury – poor Yamaguchi).

By the way, remember Ito, the guy thoroughly pancaked by Toma on day 3? Well, it seems that getting a 206kg cannonball may be good for your career – he is currently 4-0 with a chance at the Jonokuchi yusho.

Next we move to Sandanme, only stopping at Jonidan long enough to inform you that Toshonishiki is on fire this tournament with 4-0, and I really wish I could find some footage because the man is almost as thin as Hattorizakura. Maybe he charms his opponent with his pretty face.

Well, at the very bottom of Sandanme we have Shiraishi, the tsuke-dashi. That is, a wrestler who entered sumo as Sandanme 100 instead of going through Maezumo and Jonokuchi. This is a privilege you attain by being top 8 in one of the applicable amateur championships. And so far, he has justified it, arriving at Nakabi with a 3-0 record. Here he faces Kaiyuma, from Asakayama beya (Kaio’s stable):

Our friend Yoshoyama is currently at Sandanme 9W, and has a straight win record. If he can keep it up and win the Yusho, he may land right very close to the Makushita “here be dragons” zone. He faces Fujita, who is rather bigger than he is:

This doesn’t stop the Mongolian from Tokitsukaze beya from keeping his straight record.

Next up in Sandanme – Amakaze, who can do the mean splits, and apparently, the mean sumo as well:

Don’t blink. Amakaze is on fire.

Finally, we arrive at the wreckage that is the Terunofuji vs. Daishosei bout. Both come into this bout lossless:

The former Ozeki makes an amateur mistake there, thinking that Daishosei’s foot went out and dropping his defenses as a result. Daishosei is not intimidated enough to miss the opportunity thus opened. Terunofuji goes down the hana-michi cussing (well, to the extent that you can cuss in Japanese – and Mongolian doesn’t even have cuss words).

We’re up to Makushita, and we have Musashikuni vs. Fukuyama. Musashikuni is not having a very good tournament and comes into this bout 1-2:

The American ends up sitting frustrated at the edge of the dohyo, needing to win all his bouts from this moment on.

Next we have Midorifuji vs. Asabenkei. They, too, are 1-2 each as they mount the dohyo. While Midorifuji is very talented, he is also very small. Asabenkei, on the other hand, has some Juryo experience, but seems rather worse for wear.

Midorifuji executes a rather nice katasukashi. You can’t see it in this footage, but Asabenkei has real trouble getting up and over to his position for the bow. Sigh.

So let’s take a look at Hoshoryu vs. Ryuko.

Hoshoryu can’t even cite his lack of weight in this bout. I guess lack of experience.

On a higher note, here is Naya vs. Kaito:

Typical Naya tsuppari, ending in a kachi-koshi and a chance at the Makushita yusho.

Finally, we are up to Juryo – where Kizakiumi is paying a visit, facing Arawashi. Kizakiumi is Churanoumi’s brother, and he is so fresh he can’t even get the oicho-mage that is usually granted to Makushita rikishi who have a Juryo bout.

I thought Arawashi was in a better state than this before the basho. But he may find himself saying goodbye to his kesho-mawashi for the first time since 2013.

My final bout for this report is Daishomaru vs. Aminishiki. Believe it or not, Aminishiki is in the picture for the Juryo yusho, trailing Takagenji by a mere 2 loss margin together with Toyonoshima.

Amazingly, he can still win a bout going forward.

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.

Natsu Day 5 – Ones To Watch

Welcome to the end of act 1 – In the lower divisions, it has less of an effect than it does for sekitori, but we can already see how the lower division “Ones to Watch” are setting up for the remainder of the Natsu basho. In day 4 action, we had a large number of our cohort in action, with many of them in Sandanme. Amakaze, Terunofuji and Roga all won, while Musashikuni and Shoji lost, further lowering the overall Musashigawa heya’s record.

On to the matches!

Wakamotoharu vs Fujiazuma – A 0-2 bracket match, both of these rikishi share the Makushita 1 rank, and as is typical for the bloody battlefield at the top of sumo’s 3rd division, there is carnage everywhere. For these two, it’s about survival now. Both of them need 4 wins to get their ticket stamped to Juryo, but that looks like a long, steep climb from here.

Ichiyamamoto vs Tobizaru – It’s Ichiyamamoto’s turn to head to Juryo, this time to face the flying monkey; Tobizaru. Ichiyamamoto has tied his highest ever rank this basho, and with both Makushita 1’s in a tight spot, the Juryo promotion lanes my be a bit more open than usual. Time to step on the gas, guys.

Hoshoryu vs Kotokamatani – Two early favorites for the front of any promotion queue, the only two rikishi at the top of Makushita who are unbeaten face each other tonight for sole possession of the overtaking lane. Both are sharp, capable and healthy. Furthermore, both of them show considerable amount of planning in each match, and I think this could be a highlight bout of the day.

Midorifuji vs Kototebakari – A 1-1 bracket match, Midorifuji is still in great shape working towards 4 wins. He has faced Kototebakari once before, for a loss.

Terunofuji vs Komakiryu – For these two it’s 2-0 head to head on day 5, but it’s an odd match up to be certain. Komakiryu is a 34 year old veteran from Kise heya, and spent a good amount of time in Makushita before drifting back down to Sandanme. Terunofuji is still not even close to his real capabilities, but is improved from Osaka. Winner advances to the 3-0 bracket.

Wakaichiro vs Amamidake – For Wakaichiro fans, the numbers are grim. Currently at 0-2, both matches featured frustrating surprises that has left Wakaichiro without a win. The good news is that there is still a path to kachi-koshi, and Wakaichiro has recovered from this situation in the past.

Kitanowaka vs Yabugasaki – The young Jonokuchi sensation will face another newcomer who is a height and weight match for him. As always, its tough to rank new recruits straight from Maezumo, and we expect the Nagoya banzuke to have a better sort order. If anything, Kitanowaka may be under-ranked right now.