Hatsu Day 6 – Lower Division Ones To Watch

We start act 2, and some of our lower division “ones to watch” are getting ready for their 3rd bout of the tournament. On day 6 we can enjoy some great matches, and we all hope that Kenho’s mawashi is tightened up today.

Hattorizakura vs Yuriki – Sumo’s eternal loss leader will once again show the offensive power of a discarded sock with a hole in the toe.

Wakaichiro vs Fudano – Wakaichiro finds himself in the 2-0 bracket, after surprising everyone by winning his previous match fighting on the mawashi. That match was rough and chaotic, but it was a win. Will he try it again against veteran Fudano?

Kenho vs Kasugamine – Kenho “The Package” squares off against 34 year old veteran Kasugamine in this 0-2 bracket match. Kenho has a distinct size advantage, and Kasugamine has had trouble holding rank above the bottom of Sandanme.

Torakio vs Denzan – In a 1-1 bracket match, Naruto beya’s man from Bulgaria tries to pick up his second white star. He faces Denzan, a veteran of 89 basho who at one time ranked securely in mid-Makushita, before injuries and poor performance relegated him to Sandanme.

Shoji vs Izumigawa – Another 1-1 bracket match, Musashigawa’s Shoji will take on Minezaki heya’s Izumigawa. Izumigawa is another young, up and coming rikihsi who is working his way through Sandanme. Should be a fairly even fight.

Musashikuni vs Okinofuji – It seems to be Musashigawa day at the Kokugikan as the heya’s scion Musashikuni competes against Hakkaku’s Okinofuji. Sadly this is an 0-2 bracket match, and Musashikuni has struggled thus far at Hatsu.

Ura vs Kitaharima – Ura picked up his first loss in several months on day 4, dropping to 1-1. Now he faces Kitanoumi’s former Juryo rikishi Kitaharima. Ura has probably reached a level of competition that is finally a challenge for him at this level of post-operative training and conditioning. So he will be working much harder to win from here on out.

Ichiyamamoto vs Hamayutaka – Ichiyamamoto dropped his first match (day 2) and now finds himself in the 1-1 bracket for his 3rd match. He will need to best Tokitsukaze heya’s Hamayutaka, who is fighting at close to his highest ever rank. They are roughly the same size and weight, so it could be a real battle.

Nagoya Basho News

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With just a handful of hours to go, here is the latest from Nagoya

The dohyo was consecrated this morning in the Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium. Offerings to the deities were sealed in the center of the platform, in a ceremony that completes preparation for the Nagoya basho.

As hoped, some injured rikishi that we follow have decided to play it safe, and not compete in Nagoya. This includes Ura and Terunofuji.  Ura is being rightfully cautious in returning to action, as the surgery to repair his knee takes about 9 months to heal. He had also gained a large amount of weight that would put additional strain on his knee. With him sitting out Nagoya, he will drop to mid or lower Sandanme for Aki. The chances of a Wakaichiro – Ura match are still remote, but growing.

Terunofuji underwent surgery a few weeks ago for his knee problems, and is likely still a physical wreck.  We think it will be many months before we see him return. He may even have to re-start sumo from the bottom division, which would be both a complete shame for Terunofuji, and a terrifying ordeal for the young men he would be tasked to defeat to regain any sort of rank.

Wakaichro is in action early in day 1, with a rematch against Sadogatake heya’s Kotosato.  Their prior match, on day 10 of Natsu, went to Kotosato. This offers the rikishi from Humble, Texas a chance to even the score. The two of them are roughly the same height and weight, and it should be a great match.

Finally, thanks to Herouth for pointing it out, the opening match of the entire basho is none other than Hattorizakura vs. Wakaoyama. For sumo fans who don’t know, Hattorizakura is a scrawny kid who just can’t seem to win, but keeps training. The sumo word is on pins and needles at the thought that Hattorizakura might actually win the first bout tonight. If so, all of the hard core sumo nerds will celebrate.

Everything You Need to Know After Act One

 

With the first act of the Kyushu basho coming to an end, here is a quick rundown of everything you need to know to get all caught up.

Yusho Race

Five days in and the leaderboard has already dwindled down to three men, all with perfect records. Maegashira 13 Aminishiki, Ozeki Goeido, and a very genki Yokozuna Hakuho have five wins each and are neck and neck in the yusho race. Behind them with four wins are Takayasu, Mitakeumi, Hokutofuji, Ichinojo, Arawashi, and surprisingly, Okinoumi. I expect this group to be much smaller by the end of act two.

Kinboshi

So far, there have been three kinboshi surrendered this basho. Tamawashi earned the first of these gold star victories on day 1 when he defeated Yokozuna Kisenosato. Up and comer Takakeisho claimed the other two when he beat Harumafuji on day 2 and Kisenosato on day 4.

Kyujo and Absences

There are currently six men on the banzuke who have pulled out of the competition. Ura, Takanoiwa and Yokozuna Kakuryu withdrew citing health issues before the start of the basho. Aoiyama joined them on day 3 after sustaining an ankle injury in his match with Okinoumi. Day 3 would also see Yokozuna Harumafuji pull out of the competition following accusations of an assault on Takanoiwa during the October jungyo tour. After four straight losses, former Ozeki Terunofuji withdrew on day 5 to address the multiple health issues that have been plaguing him as of late.

Tozai-Sei

On day 1, I mentioned that I would be keeping track of the unofficial Tozai-sei Championship going on between the East and West sides of the banzuke. The Tozai-sei was an award used in the early 20th century and was given to the side of the banzuke with the most wins, and I’ve decided to resurrect it for a bit of added fun this basho. The rules are simple: for every win a rikishi gets, his side receives a point. After five days, the West leads the East with a record of 53 to 46. This lead is no doubt thanks to Aminishiki, Ichinojo, Takayasu, and Hakuho, who have a combined 18 points thus far. The top point earners on the East side are Okinoumi, Mitakeumi, and Goeido, who have 14 points between them.

With day 6 set to start in just a few short hours, there are still so many great sumo highlights to look forward to as the Kyushu basho rolls on.

Handicapping The Haru Banzuke – Part 3

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The Fish Tank & Fresh Faces

In the last of our series prognosticating the banzuke for Haru, we take a look at the lower half Makuuchi, including the rikishi who are likely to be demoted down to Juryo and promoted out of Juryo to the upper division.

The action during Hatsu in January saw some incredible winning records among rikishi ranked below Maegashira 4, several of whom racked up double digit records. This resulted in some dramatic shifts up and down the banzuke, with some names familiar to Tachiai readers poised for some of their lowest ranking in many tournaments.

Gone from the upper division are Chiyootori, who was only at Maegashira 14, but had a terrible rank velocity score of -3.3, which is identical to his stablemate Chiyotairyu. One of them is going back to Juryo most likely, and a flip of a coin gave me Chiyootori. The overwhelming swarm of Kokonoe beya wrestlers in January caused fits for scheduling, and frankly it will be good to thin the ranks a bit.

Likewise we can wave goodbye to Gagamaru, the massive Georgan turned in yet another terrible performance in January, with a rank velocity score of -5.5 from his 5-10 result. Sadly we are also losing Osunaarashi, who gave it everything he had but was just too injured to compete in January. His last demotion was brutal, and I have no idea how far down the banzuke he is going to drop.

Joining Makuuchi from Juryo are 3 favorites who have worked hard to win their upper-division slots: Juryo yusho winner DaieishoKyokushuho, and Tachiai favorite Ura.

Running everyone’s scores through the magic computations gives us the following list:

East Rank West
Chiyoshoma Maegashira 8 Kaisei
Okinoumi Maegashira 9 Kotoyuki
Tochiozan Maegashira 10 Kagayaki
Ishiura Maegashira 11 Myogiryu
Takakeisho Maegashira 12 Daishomaru
Sadanoumi Maegashira 13 Daieisho
Ura Maegashira 14 Nishikigi
Kyokushuho Maegashira 15 Chiyoo
Chiyotairyu Maegashira 16

First up at Maegashira 8, Chiyoshoma dropping 2 ranks from Maegashira 6. Chiyoshoma had a fairly decent performance at Hatsu, including wins over Maegashira 4 Endo and Maegashira 5 Takekaze. He is joined on the west by Kaisei, who has been struggling for several tournaments, but managed to get his kachi-koshi with a win over Gagamaru on the final day.

Leading up Maegashira 9 is the injured and struggling Okinoumi, who could only find 4 wins in January. He drops 6 ranks in a fairly brutal demotion that is more a testament to his injuries than his sumo skill. Joining him is Kotoyuki, another veteran who had a terrible tournament in January. He falls 3 ranks to take up the west position.

Tochiozan falls 6 ranks as well to take the Maegashira 10e slot. He managed only 3 wins in January and is really having trouble recapturing his former power and strength. Joining him is Kagayaki, who rises 1 rank on the back of his 8-7 kachi-koshi from January.

After an impressive debut performance in Kyushu, Ishiura struggled during Hatsu, managing only 6 wins. He drops two ranks to take up the Maegashira 11e slot. Myogiryu had a horrific Hatsu, with a 4-11 result. He drops 4 ranks to occupy the Maegashira 11w slot at Osaka.

Maegashira 12 seems to be a strange rank this tournament. Both occupants, Takakeisho in the east and Daishomaru in the west, were at this same rank for January, and ended up with 7-8 records. But because of the downward velocity of some other rikishi, they ended up here. Be aware that they may end up lower in the final, NSK banzuke.

Sadanoumi improves to Maegashira 13e for Haru after being Maegashira 15 in January, his 8-7 kachi-koshi record was enough to bring him forward 2 ranks. He is joined by the Juryo yusho winner, Daieisho, who is making his return to Makuuchi after 3 tournaments in Jury.

At Meagashira 14e, making his Makuuchi debut – none other than Ura. Only time will tell if he can survive in the top division, but many fans (including myself) are hopeful we can finally get a steady digest of Ura’s sumo acrobatics in our video feed. At 14 west, we find the hapless Nishikigi. Nishikigi’s record was worthy of demotion by the “rank velocity” formula, but it was necessary to round out Maegashira ranks, so being slightly less damaged than some of the others, I have him staying.

Also up from Juryo, Kyokushuho re-joins the top division, after spending Hatsu in Juryo. Also at Maegashira 15 is Chiyoo, who was chosen by coin toss from the 3 demotable Kokonoe wrestlers.

if there is a need for a single Maegashira 16 to even out Makuuchi, Tachiai predicts Chiyotairyu survive demotion back to Juryo in order to balance the banzuke. This will come down to how many of the injured rikishi actually state they will be able to compete, and may be decided at the last minute.

That’s Bruce’s guess for Haru 2017. As always, please feel free to post your ideas too!