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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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!

Natsu Day 9 – Ones To Watch

Amakaze – Ready To Compete In the Sandanme Undefeated Bracket

For fans of the lower divisions, day 8 was obliteration, with many of our cohort in the “Ones to Watch” going down to defeat, and others finding their fortunes dashed on the dohyo. With all of our rikishi now having 4 matches complete, only Naya and Amazake are still undefeated, with everyone else taking at least one loss.

Action from day 8

RikishiOutcomeScore
HoshoryuLoss2-2
MidorifujiWin2-2
NayaWin4-0
MusashikuniLoss1-3
TerunofujiLoss3-1
ShojiLoss2-2
AmakazeWin4-0

Some highlights and lowlights: Amakaze tossed Shinyashiki like a sack of rice being loaded onto a truck; it’s really the only way to describe it. He picks up his kachi-koshi, remains undefeated and enters the yusho playoff bracket that holds 12 rikishi. Unless something odd happens, there WILL be a playoff for the Sandanme yusho.

Terunofuji’s match was a stumbling mess, and the former Ozeki looked completely off tempo and was ripe for a loss. This gives him his first black star, and takes him out of the yusho race. It also considerably slows his rise back toward the salaried ranks, and he may not find himself out of Sandanme for a bit longer.

Naya remains unbeaten, and he will enter the bracket for the Makushita yusho for the second consecutive tournament. Does this mean that Naya is suddenly better than his rival Hoshoryu? No, it underscores how brutal and effective the meat grinder is at the top of Makushita.

Hoshoryu found himself on a fast track to the south side zabuton when he squared off against another young fast-riser in Ryuko, who made quick work of Hoshoryu. Focus on 4 wins, Hoshoryu – you are in fine shape to get there.

Now on to day 9. You will note that most of the 4-0 lower division rikishi are in action on day 9, as they start to winnow the undefeated pool and try to get to a yusho winner within the remaining 3 matches. In Sandanme and Jonidan, it’s almost certain there will be playoff matches on day 15, but it’s going to be a great adventure to get there. Day 9 is heavy with the Makushita side of our roster, so it’s another late night for Team Tachiai!

Wakamotoharu vs Jokoryu – In this 1-3 bracket match, the loser goes away make-koshi, and facing demotion for Nagoya. Both of these men are trying to return to Juryo, one of them will face disappointment today.

Ichiyamamoto vs Hoshoryu – Two of our “Ones to Watch” up in the same match, it’s a 2-2 bracket that brings two scrappers face to face and underscores that fierce nature of the top ranks of Makushita. Ichiyamamoto won their only prior match.

Midorifuji vs Takakento – Another rematch will see Midorifuji try to even up the career record in this 2-2 bracket fight. Former Takanohana rikishi (now Chiganoura) Takakento is fighting at his highest ever rank, and needs 2 more to advance higher on the banzuke.

Naya vs Tsukahara – A 4-0 bracket match, the winner advances into the ever decreasing pool of rikishi who will compete for the Makushita yusho. Naya will face off against another fast risking young star in Kasugano’s Tsukahara, who has a Jonokuchi and Jonidan yusho to his name.

Roga vs Kototora – Young Roga finds himself in an upper Sandanme 2-2 bracket match, looking for 2 more wins to reach the safety of kachi-koshi. Kototora is fighting at his highest ever rank, but his 55 basho experience may provide a decisive edge.

Amakaze vs Tsugaruumi – Sandanme yusho bracket match sees former Juryo mainstay Amakaze go to work against Sandanme mainstay Tsugaruumi. Tsugaruumi has struggled with injury, and is one of the lighter rikishi in Sandanme. This might set up a second consecutive “grab and toss” from Amakaze.

Kitanowaka vs Oba – Former high school Yokozuna finds himself in a 3-1 bracket, but surprisingly he still has a path to a Jonokuchi yusho. With 3 matches left, there are only 3 rikishi with a 4-0 record, meaning there is a fair chance that the eventual yusho winner will not be undefeated. To remain in the hunt, he needs to get past Oba.

Hattorizakura vs Higohikari – Congrats to Higohikari who will pick up his first win today against perpetual soft-sumo expert Hattorizakura.

Natsu Day 7 – Ones To Watch

Day 7 is loaded down with action for our “Ones to Watch”; it’s the middle weekend, and some of our favorites will be 4-0 by Sunday. Day 6 saw Musashikuni finally get his first win of the Basho to improve to 1-2, and hopefully put himself on the road to kachi-koshi. Elsewhere in Makushita, Wakatakamoto picked up his first win as well against Ayanoumi, while Akua lost his first to drop to 2-1. In Sandanme, Roga won to improve to 2-1, as did Shoji. Amakaze won against Hikarifuji to improve to 3-0.

Day 7 matches

Wakamotoharu vs Tamaki – Wakamotoharu finds himself in the 1-2 bracket going into the middle weekend, needing 3 more wins out of 4 matches to make kachi-koshi and likely punch his ticket back to Juryo. The problem with that plan is that out of the 3 prior matches with Tamaki, Wakamotoharu has won only one.

Kotokamatani vs Takanofuji – This 3-0 bracket match will determine who goes into the yusho playoff ladder, and it features both Makushita 2 rikishi, both of which have yet to lose. Kotokamatani has really been impressive thus far, and looks to be a good candidate for promotion, which the winner of this bout likely clinches -lksumo.

Ichiyamamoto vs Kizakiumi – What a difference a win makes, as Ichiyamamoto has 2 wins and only needs 2 more out of 4 to get to kachi-koshi. His Juryo promotion is not as certain, due to him being ranked Makushita 3, but his first goal has to be that 4th win. Okinawan Kizakiumi has rocketed up the banzuke after joining Kise heya from Nihon University’s sumo program. Ichiyamamoto is going to have his hands full.

Wakatakamoto vs Takakento – It’s an Onami brothers day of sumo, with all 3 on the dohyo during the afternoon. Wakatakamoto won the previous match against Takakento, which took place a year ago.

Akua vs Kototebakari – Kototebakari has been on a rocket ride up the banzuke since he joined Sadogatake in 2017. He is fighting at his personal highest rank ever, and could present a lot of fight to Akua, who I am convinced is still not completely recovered from his September 2018 injuries that caused him to withdraw from the Aki Basho on day 12.

Roga vs Wagurayama – After taking the first loss of his professional sumo career, Roga is back to dominating every match. Perhaps some of the pressure was relieved, and he can focus more on each match as it comes? This 2-1 bracket match means that Roga is most likely not going to contest for the Sandanme yusho, which may have also relieved some worries.

Wakaichiro vs Harimanada – After a cold 0-2 start, Wakaichiro looked like a completely different rikishi for his 3rd match, confidently launching Amamidake across the tawara and into the zabuton. With any luck we will see that kind of sumo again on day 7 as Wakaichiro goes up against Onoe heya’s Harimanada. Harimanada has never been ranked higher than Jonidan, and in fact was banzuke gai for about a year.

Kitanowaka vs Ito – Mr Fabulous takes on Ito in this Jonokuchi 3-0 match, where we will watch a former high school Yokozuna battle Saitama native Ito, a graduate of the Tokyo University of Agriculture. Will this one be less lopsided than the prior 3?

Hattorizakura vs Garyu – Good news for Garyu! He finally gets to pick up his first win. Perpetual soft sumo pro Hattorizakura shows no sign of getting fierce any time soon. It’s ok, the fans adore him.

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.

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.

Natsu Day 1 – Ones To Watch

Kitanowaka’s Ready For His First Match As A Rikishi

We start the Natsu basho with a light schedule of our “Ones to Watch”, with most of the first matches for our favorites coming day 2. But the schedulers are still kicking off the Makushita doom brawl in proper style. Let’s get straight to the matches

Wakamotoharu vs Kotokamatani – After his Juryo debut make-koshi, Onami brother Wakamotoharu simply needs a winning record to stamp his return ticket to the paid ranks. But at this level of competition this will be no easy matter. His opening match is against rising star Kotokamatani, who has been on a steady upward climb through the upper strata of Makushita.

Wakatakamoto vs Chiyosakae – More Onami sumo! This time the lowest ranked of the Waka brothers faces off against Chiyosakae, a long-serving Makushita veteran who is fighting at his highest rank after 40 tournaments in sumo’s 3rd highest division.

Akua vs Ayanoumi – We have been following Akua for the past several tournaments, and he seems to still be struggling to put his sumo back together after withdrawing from the 2018 Aki basho due to injury. Today he will face off against Ayanoumi, who has foregone the typical sumo bulk in favor of strength and agility.

Amakaze vs Taranami – The former Juryo mainstay will face a 17 year old Taranami, who is fighting at his highest ever rank. Only in his 13th basho, Amakaze may find Taranami a fairly straightforward opponent, as long as Amakaze’s body is still in good condition.

Kitanowaka vs Garyu – Kitanowaka’s first every ranked sumo match finds him against another newcomer from the generous flock that participated in Maezumo in Osaka. At this level of competition, it’s typically difficult to tell what is going to happen…