Hatsu Torikumi Released: Kisenosato Will Start

The NSK released the schedule for the opening two days of the upcoming tournament. Among the storylines, the headline is that Kisenosato is scheduled to compete. Out of the gate he will tackle two top tadpoles, Takakeisho and Hokutofuji. In truth, the entire yokozuna triumvirate will have their hands full. In his do-or-die hatsu, Kakuryu starts off with the reverse schedule, Hokutofuji followed by Takakeisho. Meanwhile, Hakuho begins with Onosho and then faces a hopefully resurgent Ichinojo on Day 2.

I’m excited to see Ichinojo back in the joi, starting with his first bout against Goeido. He had a premature taste last tournament from M4 as the depleted sanyaku ranks, with five unable to finish, meant he faced seven top tier opponents including Yokozuna and Ozeki. Without such injuries, M4 would likely face a couple of lower sanyaku opponents. Ichinojo held his own, beating Goeido, Mitakeumi, and Yoshikaze and finishing with 10 wins overall. A similar record this tournament will not only catapult him into san’yaku but could kick off an Ozeki run.

Kotoshogiku, the former ozeki, will prove to be an interesting test for Mitakeumi and Takayasu. Both are coming off injuries and may be ripe for an upset. The senior rikishi from Sadogatake is clearly driven. He wants to be back among the top ranks, even though he’s no longer on anyone’s short list for yusho contention. There were a few bouts in the last tournament where it looked like his sumo was developing beyond the humpity-bumpity. He still finds yorikiri and oshidashi wins, somehow. But if he starts picking up -nage wins, he could arrest his slide down the banzuke. The top ranks are a mix of banged-up geezers and green upstarts. It’s time to use some wiles.

Terunofuji will face Chiyomaru for the first time in four years. After two years in Juryo, Chiyomaru has apparently finally been cast in a recurring role among the lower maegashira and should serve as a decent early test of those knees. Is Terunofuji headed for Juryo or can he recover after a prolonged period of lower-ranked competition? On Day 2 he’ll face the one-time high-flying Kotoyuki, who’s coming off his own recovery in the lower ranks. If Kotoyuki has recovered, he may flip-flop with Kotoshogiku as top at Sadogatake. His tournament will start against Uncle Sumo Aminishiki.

I’m likely alone in my early picks but my Bout of the Day for Day 1 is Goeido v Ichinojo. This early bout should set the tone for both men’s basho. Will Goeido be in contention and will the Monster show up? As an optimist, I’m hoping for “Yes.” My pick for Day 2 is Tamawashi v Yoshikaze. One hopes to start an Ozeki run, the other just always brings it. “There Will Be Blood.”

Aki Basho Day 1&2 Matches Published


As expected, once Hakuho decided if he was in or out, the NSK published the torikumi (match schedule) for the first two days. It features some of the battles from my guess list, and some from the comments section. As always, Tachiai will do day-before previews and day of commentary starting Saturday US.

With the Aki basho just around the corner, we find ourselves in a strange situation where 3 out of 4 Yokozuna are sitting out a tournament. I am sure one of the wise statistics gurus will report how many years it’s been since something like this has happened (or this could be the first ever).

So this basho will be all about the up-and-coming wave of rikishi coming into their own. They still have Harumafuji and a swarm of Ozeki to battle, but in general this will be their turn to shine.

Nagoya Day 1 & 2 Torikumi Published!


Intense Action Early.

The roster of matches for day 1 and 2 have been published on the Nippon Sumo Kyokai web site earlier today, and it is available for sumo fans to review here.

Taachiai will cover our in more detail during our wall to wall daily coverage, but starting out I am excited to see Takayasu vs Hokutofuji, and the crazy match of the day: Terunofuji vs Takakeisho. I sure hope the kaiju is not hungry on Sunday…

Natsu Day 1 & 2 Torikumi is Live!


First Two Days Should Be Thrilling

The matches for the top divisions for the first two days of the Natsu basho are on the Nippon Sumo Kyokai website. Readers are encouraged to look them over.

Things get exciting right out of the gate with Yoshikaze matching against Yokozuna Kisenosato, and Yokozuna Hakuho facing off against rising star Chiyonokuni.

With myself now firmly located in Sumedia, just 3 blocks south of the Kokugikan, I will be working to bring you as much sumo action and ambiance as possible. Just about 24 hours now to the start of Natsu!

Haru Day 1 Torikumi Is Posted!


First Day Matches Start The Basho Right

You can see them yourself here!

Things that catch my eye right away:

  • Ura faces Sadanoumi in an early test of Ura’s resolve
  • Ichinojo vs Aoiyama in a battle of the giants.
  • Takayasu faces Shohozan in a brawl of Kisenosato’s retainers
  • Demon Slayer Takanoiwa challenges Tamawashi
  • Kisenosato has to overcome henka king Takekaze
  • Kotoshogiku’s first test is against Harumafuji

Tachiai’s wall to wall coverage starts now!

September Day 2 Preview


After covering day one yesterday, lets dive into the scheduled action for the second day of the Grand Sumo September tournament in Tokyo. With Hakuho getting medical attention for lingering injuries sustained in Nagoya, the tournament is wide open. The fans in Japan are strongly hoping that Kisenosato can win, and secure his ascension to Sumo’s highest rank: Yokozuna.

The match schedule started strong on day one, with some amazing match ups coming right out of the gate. Day two is a bit more predictable, the expected march of a sumo tournament. Word to the readers – the match ups are determined a day or two in advance, and do not follow a set formula. The Sumo Association will frequently tailor the matches based on who has a winning and who has a losing record. So handicapping these daily “torikumi” publications are of great interest.

Ikioi v Tamawashi – I want, oh how I want Ikioi to have a good tournament. He has been hit or miss in the last year or so, but he has a strong following among the fans in Japan, and is a bit of a media darling. Tamawashi is yet another strong Mongolian who has also been bouncing up and down the banzuke. They are both pusher / thruster guys, so whatever happens, I predict a lot of pounding on each other.

Aoiyama v Chiyonofuji – Speed and guile vs mass and power. Sumo fans love this kind of match up, as it is really easy for sumotori to just turn into giant mounds of flesh as a proven way to rank. Then you have guys Chiyonofuji (and Harumafuji, too) that stay small, get strong and focus on strength and mechanics as a way to win. Prediction – lord knows, but it will be great to watch this one.

Takanoiwa v Takarafuji – Takanoiwa was in a three way tie to win Nagoya during the final week of that tournament. As a result he received a massive promotion and now faces some tough opponents. The ascendant Takarafuji was very strong in Nagoya, but Takanoiwa went 12-3 thanks to a lot of great technique, speed and creativity. Prediction Takanoiwa will try a couple of throws and then Takarafuji will give him a nice yorikiri

Kisenosato v Tochiozan – Tochiozan has been looking really good, in fact I think he could be Ozeki material himself. I look at this bout as more of a master class instructed by a great Ozeki, Kisenosato, to a up-and-comer. Tochiozan prefers thrusting attacks, where Kisenosato is hug and chug. My prediction is that Kise will help Tochiozan understand that the upper ranks of sumo focus on the mawashi (belt), where mass and strength (rather than lightning speed) pay the bills.

Harumafuji v Yoshikaze – Well, the rematch of the Nagoya “Street fight” was bound to happen some time, but I assumed they would save it for week two. Oh no, why do that? Let’s have these guys bash each other silly on day two! With all due respect to Nagoya champion Harumafuji – when it comes to Yoshikaze, you are a kinboshi (special prize when a rank and file wrestler defeats a Yokozuna) vending machine. Prediction – Blood on the dohyo