Additional Kyushu Day 2 Highlights


Hakuho

First off, check out Herouth’s fantastic write up here: Day 2 – Slip Slidin’ Away

Day 2 Thoughts

The Makuuchi corps put a very sloppy day one behind them, and delivered some excellent sumo action on day two. There were several fine battles of strength and will, and fans will marvels at Aminishiki’s skill and minimalistic approach to victory. Also of note, Endo fans are going to love today’s match – it seems like he may be past whatever trouble he had with his earlier injuries.

Two top men from Isegahama have us worried. Terunofuji clearly has no strength in his legs, and is more or less done for until his knees can heal up. As much as we all adore a giant McDonald’s-fries-eating kaiju in our sumo, it’s clear there is little chance he can defend his Ozeki bid. Just as troubling is the sumo of Yokozuna Harumafuji, who is clearly not up to speed yet. Our concern is that the Aki basho, which he slogged through in spite of whatever injury plagued him, was too much. Now we worry he is paying the price for his endurance.

Highlight Matches

Nishikigi defeats Ishiura – It’s natural to ask, “What happened to Ishiura?” A year ago he burst onto the dohyo and took everyone by surprise. Today he lost to Nishikigi. Not to slam Nishikigi, but Ishiura is a shadow of himself a year ago. Nishikigi got him moving and chased him off the dohyo.

Myogiryu defeats Daiamami – These two went at it for a good while, locked on each other’s mawashi, with Myogiryu eventually getting Daiamami upright and pushing him out.

Aminishiki defeats Kagayaki – Uncle Sumo made quick work of Kagayaki, meeting him at the tachiai, then moving back and pulling him down. Aminishiki once again made it look smooth and easy. It’s really neat to watch this much experience on the dohyo, as Aminishiki has been doing this for so long, one marvels at just how efficient the guy is.

Okinoumi defeats Aoiyama – I cheered this one, as Okinoumi has been struggling for a few tournaments. He actually had control of this match early, and danced Aoiyama around before pushing him backwards across the bales. It seems that Aoiyama injured his ankle in the match, sadly.

Ikioi defeats Asanoyama – The real Ikioi showed up today and decided to do some sumo, and it was great to watch. He took control from the start. He attempted a throw, but could not get it done. It didn’t matter, though, as he kept moving forward and Asanoyama could not mount a defense.

Endo defeats Kaisei – May have been the highlight match of the day, these two engaged in a vigorous mawashi battle that raged back and forth. Endo took the match with a shitatehineri, for those of you collecting kimarite. I really like the more genki version of Kaisei.

Shodai defeats Chiyoshoma – Still high at the tachiai, but today Shodai looked strong, confident and swiftly drove Chiyoshoma back and out. Can this version of Shodai please stick around? He’s the one we all like.

Tochinoshin defeats Daishomaru – Relieved to see a solid, strong win from the big Georgian. He continues to struggle with his bad knee, but today he showed his remarkable strength. He wrapped up Daishomaru and marched him out quickly.

Ichinojo defeats Takarafuji – Another protracted mawashi battle, which Ichinojo was all too happy to take to closure. Ichinojo seems to have picked up where he left off at Aki, and is showing some pretty solid sumo. I am looking forward to some of his matches against the San’yaku.

Hokutofuji defeats Mitakeumi – Second day in a row Hokutofuji gets a half step ahead of his opponent and just drives him back and out. Whatever Mitakeumi did to his foot seems to really be bothering him, as he can’t seem to apply much power to his attacks.

Shohozan defeats Terunofuji – Its clear that Terunofuji has absolutely no traction now, his knee is not strong enough for him to really do much sumo, and this tournament is going to be a daily visit from Mr. Pain for him. Shohozan seems to have almost took pity on him. Unless something changes, I am worried he won’t be able to win any matches this basho.

Chiyotairyu defeats Yoshikaze – Yoshikaze continues to be very streaky, and like Aki, he is starting off cold. Chiyotairyu took control of the match early and kept up the pressure. Yoshikaze more or less collapsed under his punishing attacks.

Goeido defeats Kotoshogiku – Some readers were upset with the Tachiai team during Aki because early coverage of Goeido was negative. As we explained at the time, it’s because he is capable of what we have seen the past two days. Strong, fast, low, aggressive and basically unstoppable.

Takayasu defeats Tochiozan – My pre-basho worries about Takayasu have more or less been quieted now. He looked solid against Tochiozan, and seems to be healthy enough to secure his 8.

Takakeisho defeats Harumafuji – Dear Harumafuji does not look good right now. I know he had a cold start at Aki as well, but it’s a tough basho for him, losing to two tadpoles in the first two days. Takakeisho did seem to overpower the Yokozuna, putting Harumafuji on defense (and a shaky one at that) right away.

Kisenosato defeats Onosho – Kisenosato picks one up as Onosho loses traction at the tachiai and drops. I am sure the recovering Yokozuna will take the win.

Hakuho defeats Tamawashi – Hakuho lands his left hand belt grip on Tamawashi that spins him around, and then pushes him out from behind. While I was hoping for some sort of “Flying Lesson”, this outcome is less hazardous for Tamawashi. The Boss is looking strong once more, and everyone else will need to get past him for the yusho.

Kyushu Day 2 Preview


Kisenosato-Dohyo-Iri-Kyushu-Day-1

Day 1 was a complete mess, more so than they usually are for a few reasons that come to mind. As has been cited and oft repeated, the tempo of the jungyo is really taking its toll. Rikishi lack the time to properly train, properly focus and properly prepare for a basho under the current schedule. This seems to increase the prevalence of injuries, and on day 1 we saw a lot of sloppy sumo in the upper division. Secondly, I think that you have people like Kisenosato, who have not really competed in sumo for many months, coming in rusty but giving it their all.

I would note how triumphant Aminishiki’s first day back in the top division was. Not only did he score a convincing win with an elegant and smooth uwatenage over Kotoyuki, for most fans in the west, this is the first time they have seen him interviewed. Aminishiki is so personable and sincere, it’s easy to imagine a future day where “Uncle Sumo” is masterfully handling press and PR for the Kyokai. For a man who has struggled and endured much, this must have been a sweet reward.

What We Are Watching Day 2

Nishikigi vs. Ishiura – Nishikigi refuses to give up, even when he’s not at his best. But one rikishi who seems to have his number is Ishiura. There have been reports that Ishiura injured his neck in training, and we will get to see how much he is impacted, if at all. Ishiura fans all hope that he’s only visiting Juryo, and will come roaring back to the top division soon.

Aminishiki vs. Kagayaki – Both men won their day 1 matches with power and poise, and now we get to see a hit-or-miss youngster face off against Uncle Sumo. This is actually the first time these two have ever met, but my early favorite is Aminishiki, due to my suspicion that Kagayaki will be a bit awestruck that he gets to fight Aminishiki.

Asanoyama vs. Ikioi – These two are practically the same guy, save that Ikioi is struggling to keep up now, and Asanoyama is ascendant. Day 1 Ikioi was sloppy and vague, and his fans are hoping that he can pull it together today. No matter how this bout goes, Asanoyama is going to look like he is having a great time.

Endo vs. Kaisei – I tend to liken Endo to a skilled hunter. He seems patient, and is always working to find a momentary weakness to facilities his strike. Kaisei is greatly improved, but is still lumbering around the dohyo a bit too much. Career totals give a slight edge to Endo, but I would love to see Kaisei pull this one out with some solid sumo.

Chiyoshoma vs. Shodai – Chiyoshoma displayed some excellent, well conceived offense day 1, while Shodai seems to be lost and directionless after some fantastic performance earlier in the year. Many of his fans were convinced he was on a trajectory similar to Mitakeumi, but then Shodai fell apart. He continues with his miserable tachiai, which I think is the root of his problem.

Daishomaru vs. Tochinoshin – Daishomaru has never won against Tochinoshin, but the big Georgain may be too banged up to present his normal wall of brute strength and limitless endurance to an opponent. We do hope that Tochinoshin can get in touch with his sumo, one could easily liken a genki Tochinoshin to fighting one of the stone monoliths on Easter Island.

Takarafuji vs. Ichinojo – This could be a solid match today, as Ichinojo seems to be in touch with his sumo. Takarafuji dropped his day one match, but if he comes up ready on day 2, his careful methodical sumo could give Ichinojo a real challenge. But let’s get serious – I have stated that being enormous is not a valid sumo strategy, but if your sumo is running hot, being enormous can make you unstoppable. Slight edge to Takarafuji, even though Ichinojo leads their career series 8-2, due to the fact that Takarafuji has no neck to grab.

Mitakeumi vs. Hokutofuji – Hokutofuji is still destined for great things, even if he needs to consolidate his sumo a bit over the next few tournaments. Today’s match against Mitakeumi is likely a milestone on that road. Mitakeumi does not seem to be 100% at the moment, and loss to Hokutofuji would be a huge confidence booster coming on the back of Hokutofuji’s defeat of Terunofuji.

Terunofuji vs. Shohozan – This will be yet another painful to watch match. Terunofuji has no way to put power to ground, so his normal style to overpower his opponents is not going to happen. Shohozan’s highly mobile style is likely to cause a lot of trouble for Terunofuji, and I just hope he comes out of this without further injuring his bum knee. These two are tied 3-3 over their career.

Chiyotairyu vs. Yoshikaze – I am sure Yoshikaze is disappointed in his day 1 results. But as we all know, the Berserker tends to have cold tournament starts, catch fire and end by taking everyone’s lunch money. The super-sized Chiyotairyu is going to be a tough customer, but Yoshikaze will still try to see how high the burly man from Kokonoe will bounce.

Goeido vs. Kotoshogiku – Oh my, this will either be a dud or a barn burner. My advice to Kotoshogiku – henka hard, but sell it. Goeido is clearly working his 100% attack mode (which we love), so a henka would be a perfect opening gambit. Double bonus points to Goeido if he can get low on Kotoshogiku and run him off before the Bulldozer can even get started.

Tochiozan vs. Takayasu – Tochiozan has a habit of confounding and defeating Takayasu, he holds a career lead of 19-6 over the kadoban Ozeki. Takayasu can’t afford to drop any matches, so lets hope he can contain Tochiozan’s explosive offense.

Harumafuji vs. Takakeisho – Do you think Harumafuji is frustrated by his day 1 performance? Well, time to take it out on Onosho’s boon companion Takakeisho. The problem is Takakeisho won’t be intimidated, and can (and has) beaten Harumafuji in the past. Advice to the horse – bring out the nodowa and make him march around the dohyo a bit first, please.

Kisenosato vs. Onosho – Are you worried about Kisenosato? I know I am. Tamawashi really was in control of most of that day 1 match, and Kisenosato fans did not want to see that. The Yokozuna seems to have trouble transmitting his will through his feet and moving forward. Onosho, on the other hand, has no problems doing this, and may in fact pick up on Tamawashi’s attack by getting the less mobile Kisenosato to try and run him down. This is their first match.

Tamawashi vs. Hakuho – Tamawashi showed outstanding mobility and tactics in his day 1 match against Kisenosato, but today he draws “The Boss”. I will look for Hakuho to grab him early and possibly we will get to see Tamawashi get one of Hakuho’s “Flying Lessons” (where he gets his opponent off the dohyo and sideways headed for the clay).

Kyushu Day 1 Highlights


Kyushu-Day-1

Matta, Matta, Matta

Day one got off to a rough start, as many of the matches had difficulties getting underway properly, or finishing cleanly. Many of the rikishi seem to be off the pace, and a bit nervous. A good percentage of the matches either started with a matta or finished with a monoii! Typically the first few days of any basho feature the men shaking off the training cobwebs and getting back into tournament form.

In the upper ranks we had two Yokozuna losses today, one of them resulting in a kinboshi. We all knew that things were going to be rough, at least at the start, so don’t get worried just yet. In Kisenosato’s loss, there were a series of false starts, which clearly threw everyone’s timing off. For Harumafuji, it’s clear that he got off balance and Onosho made him pay. Elsewhere in the top ranks, Goeido looked damn awesome in his first match, blasting Takakeisho off the dohyo in the “Goeido 2.0” style we love so much.

Highlight Matches

Nishikigi defeats Daiamami – Daiamami’s first Makuuchi bout, and Nishikigi gave him a pretty good fight. This turned into a strength battle, which Nishikigi seems to handle well.

Aminishiki defeats Kotoyuki – Aminishiki looked quite awesome in his win, and the crowd was really behind “Uncle Sumo”. Of course we had some matta action to slow things down, but in the end, Aminishiki deftly threw Kotoyuki, to score the win.

Asanoyama defeats Okinoumi – Asanoyama really nailed this tachiai, and dispatched Okinoumi with little fanfare. Its clear Okinoumi is bothered by his injury and could not muster much defensive force to stop Asanoyama’s advance.

Kaisei defeats Daieisho – Kaisei continues to improve, I think it looks like he did indeed lose some weight even from Aki. While still somewhat lethargic, he was faster and more aggressive than he has been in tournaments earlier this year. Daieisho gave him a decent fight for a bit, but completely lost his balance and was forced out.

Ichinojo defeats Chiyonokuni – It looked to me like an early start by Chiyonokuni, but Ichinojo took over and dominated this match, handling Chiyonokuni easily and forcing him out. Is it time to hope that Ichinojo is back on his sumo?

Hokutofuji defeats Terunofuji – Another match that had a rough start, Terunofuji could only offer any defense for a few seconds before his knees started to give way, and Hokutofuji dispatched him over the bales. This is going to be daily agony for Terunofuji, its clear.

Shohozan defeats Yoshikaze – Great battle between these two, it was a slug fest from the start, but Shohozan caught Yoshikaze overcommitted and off balance, and took him down.

Mitakeumi defeats Tochiozan – Another monoii, this time Tochiozan stepped out as he was pulling Mitakeumi down. The gyoji’s decision was reversed and Mitakeumi was given the win.

Takayasu defeats Chiyotairyu – In the burliest match you will see on day 1, these two giants finished fast, as Takayasu caught his opponent too far forward and pulled him down.

Goeido defeats Takakeisho – Oh yea! We got some Goeido 2.0 today, and he was on strong. Launching with unstoppable force straight out of the tachiai, he caught Takakeisho low, a really tough thing to do. His charge was strong and he just kept pushing ahead. You can see the look of surprise on Takakeisho’s face, and it’s over in the blink of an eye. This is the kind of Goeido we love to see, complete commitment to his attack, no turning back, no second chances. In this mode he is like a gunslinger of old west lore, and when he’s in his grove he is unstoppable. More please!

Tamawashi defeats Kisenosato – This match was a mess, I lost count on how many false starts / mattas were involved. The match itself was a bit of a puzzle, Kisenosato started strong, but Tamawashi broke contact and moved off. Kisenosato followed, and Tamawashi re-engaged with a very strong oshi attack which took the Yokozuna out. Kinboshi for Tamawashi.

Hakuho defeats Kotoshogiku – Good effort from Kotoshogiku, but wow, Hakuho was ready and strong today. Really great to see this guy work when he is in good form and good health. Hakuho took the fight to Kotoshogiku, and really controlled him throughout, ending the match with masterfully executed uwatedashinage.

Onosho defeats Harumafuji – Very surprising that Harumafuji lost control of this match at the tachiai, letting Onosho get underneath and inside. Onosho shows that last time was not a fluke, and he used a quick push/pull combo to get the Yokozuna on the clay. Impressive 2-0 against Harumafuji for Onosho now.

Kyushu Day 1 Preview


Uncle-Sumo

It’s been a solid 2 months since we last had competition to discuss, and it seems that the schedulers set up some fantastic matches for the first day. There are so many unknowns for this tournament, and all sumo fans are eager to see 3 of the 4 active Yokozuna in action.

There are a number of rikishi with quite a bit on the line this tournament, including Takayasu who is kadoban for the first time, and our favorite kaiju, Terunofuji, who has been demoted to Ozekiwake and needs 10 wins to return to his rank. For Terunofuji especially, this is going to be a difficult tournament. There is strong evidence that he is still injured and in pain. For Takayasu, it’s unclear how far into recovery he is, but we are fairly certain he will find some way to pick up 8 wins.

What We Are Watching Day 1

Kotoyuki vs. Aminishiki – In a match that replays last tournament’s Juryo action, Uncle Sumo goes against Kotoyuki. I am guessing that for US fans, they will show this on the highlight reel. It will be quite welcome to watch him in action. One thing that was apparent while watching the May tournament in Tokyo, the crowd really loves Aminishiki. With any luck they will show some of that reaction, too. Kotoyuki looks to be over his injuries, and ready to resume fighting at top division levels.

Okinoumi vs. Asanoyama – I am going to be delighted to see how Asanoyama does in his second top division tournament. The guy has a perpetual positive attitude it seems, and one has to respect that. Okinoumi is always hit-or-miss on any day depending on how his chronic injuries are doing.

Aoiyama vs. Ikioi – At Aki, Aoiyama was ranked pretty high, and he suffered quite a bit as a result. He is much more effective at this layer of the banzuke, and should be quite competitive. I would love to see Ikioi have a good tournament, but he seems to be struggling this year.

Kaisei vs. Daieisho – Kaisei made it back to Makuuchi in September, and looked like he lost a bunch of mass. Furthermore, in the NHK segment on Tomozuna Oyakata, there were plenty of shots showing Kaisei training, and he seems to have lost still more weight. I think this indicates some good things for the man from Brazil, as he had gotten too heavy and it had begun to retard his sumo. Daieisho opened very strong at Aki, and I am eager to see if he can do it again. This will be a nice test, as Kaisei was defeated by Daieisho in both of their previous bouts.

Endo vs. Chiyomaru – Endo has quietly been getting his sumo stronger, match by match, since he had surgery over the summer. Hopefully this will inspire the badly damaged Ura that its possible to get fixed up, heal up, and return to the dohyo. Endo holds a 3-1 advantage over Chiyomaru.

Chiyonokuni vs. Ichinojo – Mighty Ichinojo seemed to actually wake up and focus on sumo during Aki, and it was great to see. I know the giant suffers from all manner of injuries due to his enormous size and weight. On the other hand, Chiyonokuni is a blistering firestorm of sumo offense, and I think Maegashira 4 is a very good rank for him. They are tied in career matches at 2-2.

Terunofuji vs. Hokutofuji – The labor of pain starts early for Terunofuji, he has never defeated Hokutofuji, who suffered a hand injury during Aki and was a shadow of his normal self. If he has returned ready and ganki, this could be tough for Terunofuji. Not only must he win, he needs to protect his injured knees in order to keep fighting in top form for the whole tournament. Thus far, Terunofuji has not found a way to defeat Hokutofuji in any of their prior matches.

Shohozan vs. Yoshikaze – Battle of the brawlers, “Big Guns” Shohozan is the underdog in this match. Yoshikaze kept his normal low profile during the jungyo, but I am quite sure he is primed for battle.

Mitakeumi vs. Tochiozan – Mitakeumi has quietly put together the second most wins this year, just behind Harumafuji. He looked vague and unfocused during Aki, and he faces a full spread of Yokozuna this time around. He warms up against Tochiozan over whom he has a 4-1 career edge.

Chiyotairyu vs. Takayasu – How healed up is Takayasu? Time to find out when he faces off against super-sized Chiyotairyu on day 1. During Aki, Chiyotairyu was showing some solid sumo and some overwhelming force, so this is not going to be easy for Takayasu in the slightest.

Goeido vs. Takakeisho – Goeido has some work to do to repair his reputation after Aki, and his day one bout against Takakeisho is a great place to start. Goeido has been looking especially sharp in both jungyo and practice, so I am expecting a lot of Goeido 2.0 this basho. Oddly enough, they are even at 1-1 for their career totals.

Kisenosato vs. Tamawashi – Is it finally time to welcome the return of Kisenosato? Almost every sumo fan in the world has their hopes pinned on his return to health and vigor. Although Tamawashi is no longer in the San’yaku slot he held for so long, he can be counted on for explosive sumo straight from the start. This will be an excellent test of just how healed up Kisenosato is.

Kotoshogiku vs. Hakuho – The boss gets to meet home-town boy Kotoshogiku on day one, and frankly I am thrilled. The Kyushu Bulldozer is easy to anticipate, but he finds ways to trap you into his sumo and make you pay. Hakuho is so fast, so clever and so skilled that it will likely be a contest between Hakuho’s trying to stay mobile, and Kotoshogiku trying to lock the Yokozuna up. Hakuho dominates their career matches 52-5.

Harumafuji vs. Onosho – Onosho is feeling fierce, and who better to temper him than the winner of the Aki yusho? Harumafuji has spent some of the intervening two months nursing himself back to health, but he spent the first week of Aki second-guessing his sumo, and dropping matches to underlings. Onosho won their only prior match, and I am sure that Harumafuji is going to make Onosho pay.

Kyushu Basho Genki Report


Kisenosato-Attacks

Are you ready? The last basho of the year is getting ready to start this weekend in the magical city of Fukuoka, and Tachiai will be bringing you all the best. As with many of the tournaments for the past few years, injuries at or near the top are stealing headlines early, but the aggressive young rikishi are ready to move ever higher as the injured bow out.

Without further delay.. the Genki report!

Rikishi: Harumafuji
Genki: ✭✭✭
Notes: He took the Aki yusho by sheer force of will alone. It was clear that every day was misery, but he mounted the dohyo and gave battle to everyone. He throttled back quite a bit during the fall jungyo, and he has been rather guarded about his condition.
Forecast: Nobody stops Harumfuji, they will need to carry him out on a stretcher first. He’s in until double digits, even if it kills him.

Rikishi: Hakuho
Genki: ✭✭✭
Notes: He sat out Aki, and has been hit or miss during jungyo and the run up to the Kyushu tournament. His surgery last year to repair his toe and his knee still bother him from time to time, but he seems together enough to at least start the basho.
Forecast: The boss wants 40 yusho, but he seems to have new found appreciation for his age and the wear that is showing on his body. His first week is against lower rankers, so I expect he will be cautious from the start.

Rikishi: Kisenosato
Genki: ✭✭✭✭
Notes: The Great Pumpkin has been in rough shape since he ruptured his pectoral muscle in Osaka. I can state with some certainty that he did not get the recommended surgical treatment, but instead tried to nurse things along until he was “better”. He has looked fairly convincing in practice for several weeks, and maybe he’s good enough?
Forecast: We should see within the first few days if he is really going to be able to compete. Millions of sumo fans want him to be healthy, and he seems ready to go.

Rikishi: Goeido
Genki: ✭✭✭✭
Notes: Goeido can be compared to a great opportunist. He heads into Kyushu without any kadoban risk, and with questionable condition among the Yokozuna and his fellow Ozeki, Takayasu. He has looked solid in practice, and some of his blistering tachiai launch sequences were on display this past week.
Forecast: If we start losing Yokozuna, he is a Yusho contender, I predict.

Rikishi: Takayasu
Genki: ✭✭
Notes: A healthy Takayasu is a force of nature. Strong, stable and with almost inhuman endurance. In a battle of strength there are none who can best him consistently. Sadly his thigh muscle injury seems to not be completely healed, and he is literally limping into Kyushu looking to clear his kadoban status.
Forecast: By hook or by crook, the newest Ozeki is going to pick up 8 wins if he can go the distance. If he’s as injured as I think he is, it’s going to be daily agony for him.

Rikishi: Mitakeumi
Genki: ✭✭
Notes: After some decent coverage prior to Aki, Mitakeumi really failed to deliver; even against a depleted Ozeki / Yokozuna roster. Sure, even the best sumotori have bad tournaments, but Mitakeumi has not really been displaying dominant sumo in the days leading up to Kyushu.
Forecast: Much as I like Mitakeumi, I think he may go make-koshi this tournament. The upper San’yaku all need a lot of wins, and that means Komusubi and Sekiwake are going to get pounded this time.

Rikishi: Yoshikaze
Genki: ✭✭✭
Notes: Yoshikaze is a stalwart. No matter what is happening, he puts it all on the line every day. But he’s also rather “Streaky”, meaning that he goes on both winning and losing runs for multiple days. He’s in his home ground now, and the people of Oita are likely to be in attendance to cheer on the Berserker.
Forecast: I also think he is a strong candidate for make-koshi, in part because of the pressure from above to pick up wins, and the fact that a 7-8 record could put him at Komusubi for January. Losing a few to the right people might go far.

Rikishi: Terunofuji
Genki: ✭
Notes: Entering Kyushu as an Ozekiwake, he needs 10 wins to return to Ozeki standing. A healthy Terunofuji could do this with a smile in between runs to McDonalds, but our dear Kaiju is in terrible physical condition.
Forecast: I just hope he is not more seriously hurt, the double digit wins seem almost impossible, but I know he is going to give it everything.

Rikishi: Kotoshogiku
Genki: ✭✭✭✭
Notes: Who thought that the Kyushu Bulldozer could battle back into San’yaku? Not me, that is certain. But as of late, Kotoshogiku has really been turning up and delivering burly, aggressive, dominant sumo. A Genki Kotoshogiku is pure magic, and I sincerely hope he’s in good form for Kyushu. As a hometown boy, I can assure you that his fans will be out in force. Look for a week 2 match against Terunofuji if the Kaiju looks to be getting close to his 10 wins.
Forecast: Probably a solid basho from Kotoshogiku, likely kachi-koshi and retaining San’yaku for the new year.

Rikishi: Onosho
Genki: ✭✭✭
Notes: Super-tadpole Onosho has been laying low, and avoiding high intensity training with the big guns. Prior to Aki, he worked sailing with some of the best, and took a pounding. This really helped him get ready to excel during September, but for Kyushu he has stayed mostly at home to train. We will see if it works.
Forecast: Make-koshi to be certain, but he is going to take a few scalps. He will be back.

Rikishi: Takakeisho
Genki: ✭✭✭✭
Notes: You can bet your finest Okonomiyaki that Takakeisho wants to put Onosho behind him on the January banzuke. He is tough, he is motivated, and reports are he is in great condition. I expect that like most of the joi, they are going to be bled hard this tournament.
Forecast: The re-match with Hakuho should be a highlight match in the first week.

Rikishi: Chiyotairyu
Genki: ✭✭✭✭
Notes: The supersized edition of Chiyotairyu was really producing during Aki and he’s looking to repeat in Kyushu. But if the Yokozuna and Ozeki corps are going to be competing all the way through Kyushu, he may have a tough road. Chiyotairyu does not seem to be worried, he trains like a mad man, and may be in his best condition ever.
Forecast: The rest of the joi are going to get wise to his thunderous tachiai, and that will leave him off tempo.

Harumafuji Wins Aki Basho


Harumafuji Yusho

In the final match of the final day, the championship of the Aki basho was decided in a pair of exciting contests between the lone surviving Yokozuna, Harumafuji and the lone surviving Ozeki, Goeido.

Harumafuji took the initiative early in the match and quickly drove Goeido from the ring, setting up a playoff to decide the champion. Both rikishi retired to the dressing rooms to prepare for the final, deciding match. In a strange outcome of the rules, Harumafuji (being higher ranked) would enter from the East and Goeido from the West. This was the opposite of their final match of regular play. So fans were treated to video of both Team Goeido and Team Harumafuji passing each other in the hall.

Before returning to the dohyo, Yokozuna Harumafuji was seen practicing a tachiai with Juryo rikishi Terutsuyoshi. This was critical as he was working out hand placement that moments later use against Goeido.

The final and deciding match was over at lighting speed, as Harumafuji blasted Goeido over the tawara, using the same body grip he practiced on Terutsuyoshi. Harumafuji picks up his 9th tournament win, and his yusho parade featured “Uncle Sumo” Aminishiki carrying the victory banner.

Tachiai congratulates both Harumafuji and Goeido for going the distance and competing with everything they could muster in this strange and chaotic basho. You guys stuck it out, and in the end made it worth watching.

Aki Day 15 Preview


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After many twists and turns, we have reached the final day of the 2017 Aki basho. I would like to thank our readers for joining us for the ride, and we are grateful for each of you taking the time to read our musings for the past 15 days. The fall out from Aki is likely to be quite dramatic. The old guard re-asserted their dominance in the second week, but the trend is clear that the younger rikishi are coming into their own. But first day 15 – it comes down to the rikishi still struggling for kachi-koshi, and the final act of the yusho race.

Going into day 15, there are 5 rikishi who will decide their kachi-koshi in their final match. Two of them are San’yaku! The list is: Mitakeumi, Tamawashi, Ichinojo, Chiyoshoma, Okinoumi. Mitakeumi in particular is a tight spot, as he faces Yoshikaze. But the 3 Maegashira who are on the bubble all have relatively easy draws for the final day.

The yusho race was narrowed to a simple contest between Yokozuna Harumafuji and Ozeki Goeido. The final match, of the final day. If Goeido wins, he is champion. If he loses, there is an immediate tie-breaker match between them again to determine the winner. For the scheduling team, this is a remarkable triumph in the face of absolutely miserable conditions. Ideally the yusho will come down to a high-stakes match on the final day. This draws viewers and fans, and creates overwhelming excitement. So my congratulations to that team for succeeding in spite of a difficult situation.

Please note, the Tachiai Yusho Drinking Game is still valid for day 15, if readers choose to participate.

What We Are Watching Day 15

Okinoumi vs. Sadanoumi – Okinoumi is battling for kachi-koshi but lksumo has him safe at the bottom of Makuuchi regardless. Sadanoumi seem to have found his sumo, and has won the two prior days. He is certainly returning to Juryo, but with any luck his injuries will be healed enough that he won’t be there long.

Kaisei vs. Arawashi – Kaisei test match, going up against the higher ranked Arawashi. Kaisei looks lighter, faster and generally in much better condition than any prior 2017 appearance, and I am delighted to see him back in form. With any luck he will continue his improvements and be fordable in Kyushu. Arawashi has been eating his Wheaties, and is generally doing awesomely this basho.

Chiyoshoma vs. Yutakayama – Scheduling throws Maegashira 8 Chiyoshoma a bone by making him face Maegashira 15 Yutakayama for his kachi-koshi on the final day.

Ichinojo vs. Daieisho – Another gift from scheduling, Maegashira 6 Ichinojo faces Maegashira 11 Daieisho for his kachi-koshi deciding match. A win will likely put Ichinojo in the joi-jin for Kyushu. We hope he can find some of his old energy and vigor.

Shodai vs. Endo – Another Endo test match, these are likely helping the banzuke team figure out just how healed up Endo is, and how high they can safely rank him for Kyushu. With Ura and possibly a few others out for a while, they need more kanban rikishi in the public eye to keep sumo compelling.

Asanoyama vs. Chiyotairyu – Likely a test match for Asanoyama, to help judge where to rank him for Kyushu. I am sure sumo-Elvis Chiyotairyu will dismantle him, but it’s important to see how Asanoyama holds up.

Tamawashi vs. Takakeisho – Komusubi Tamawashi needs a win to keep his San’yaku rank alive, and he’s going to have a tough time taking a win from Takakeisho. I have no doubt that Takakeisho is eager to rejoin the joi-jin and revisit his experience with Yokozuna Hakuho.

Mitakeumi vs. Yoshikaze – Yoshikaze has been very docile the past two days, and one has to wonder if he is injured or just throttled back for now. Mitakeumi needs to hope that he’s off his sumo on day 15, or the future Ozeki will lose his coveted Sekiwake rank. Yoshikaze holds a 3-1 advantage in their career statistics.

Goeido vs. Harumafuji – The ultimate match to end the basho, the yusho is on the line, and it’s Japan vs Mongolia. It’s the unreliable Ozeki against a battle scared war machine Yokozuna who never gives up. Harumafuji holds a 31-11 career advantage. If the same Goeido shows up that was on the dohyo day 14, this will be one for the highlight reels.