Haru Day 11 – Ones To Watch

Wakaichiro Fights For Kachi-Koshi On Day 11

Many of our “Ones to Watch” were competing day 10 in Osaka, with Hoshoryu picking up his second win, improving to 2-3 in a lengthy match that saw both rikishi struggle for a dominant position. Although it seems to me that Hoshoryu is getting frustrated by the fierce competition in the Makushita joi, the struggle will improve his sumo. It also gives Naya a chance to catch up, as Otake heya yusho hopeful goes into his day 11 yusho elimination match. We are also happy to point out that Wakaichiro managed to pick up his third win with a recovery at the tawara after his balance almost sent him over the edge.

We also have Terunofuji returning to continue his Jonidan yusho bid, and Amakaze competing as well. It’s a full slate for day 11, so grab something to snack on, fire up the stream from Japan and enjoy the lower divisions.

Day 11 Matches

Midorifuji vs Tochinobori – Midorifuji will be looking to pick up win #3, and draw even prior to his final match for Haru. A loss today would mean make-koshi, and a trip down the banzuke for May. His opponent today is Kasugano heya’s Tochinobori, who won their only prior match.

Wakatakamoto vs Kaito – Wakatakamoto has already locked in his kachi-koshi, and now he’s just seeing if he can run up the score. He has two brothers to join in the salaried ranks, and it seems to have motivated him. Day 11 he faces Kaito, who he has a 2-1 career lead against.

Musashikuni vs Horyuyama – Musashikuni is looking to avoid a second straight make-koshi in 2019, and needs to “win out” his remaining 2 matches. Day 11 he faces off against 167 kg (370 pound) Horyuyama. Musashikuni is no tiny fellow, but this is a lot of rikishi to battle. But Horyuyama seems to be having health problems and has been make-koshi for the last 2 basho.

Naya vs Kotoseigo – Naya continues in the yusho bracket, now at 5-0. Day 11 he takes on Makushita 58 Kotoseigo, from Sadogatake heya. Kotoseigo has had 3 extended periods where he sat out multiple tournaments, presumably for health reasons. He is currently fighting at his highest rank.

Torakio vs Baraki – The Naruto heya scion has yet to pick up even a single win for Haru. Is he injured? With lower ranked rikishi, one never gets to know. But we hope he somehow finds a reserve of genki energy and lands at least one win.

Wakaichiro vs Kasugamine – Texas’ own Wakaichiro returns to the Haru dohyo, with kachi-koshi on the line. A win today against Kasugamine would be his 4th, and jubilation would break out across the great state of Texas. As with day 10, Wakaichiro will need to overcome a sizable opponent, who outweighs him by at least 100 lbs.

Roga vs Wakayamanaka – Jonidan yusho bracket match, Mongolian rising star Roga is looking to improve to 6-0, and knock Wakayamanaka out of the race. Wakayamanaka is a former Sandanme rikishi how dropped out of sumo for a time and re-entered, whereas Roga is a young powerhouse who has yet to lose a match.

Kenho vs Sakai – In the really disappointing bracket, the already make-koshi Kenho is clearly not functioning well, and has not generated much offensive or defensive sumo during Haru. Hopefully he can survive his last 2 matches without further injury, and can recover in time for May.

Terunofuji vs Shimomura – Another Jonidan yusho elimination match; former Ozeki Terunofuji is unbeaten in his first basho back in sumo since taking an extended leave of absence to get his health under control. Although not looking quite healthy or fit, he has been fighting well and as a result is in the thick of competition for the Jonidan yusho. His competitor today is 18 year old Shimomura, who is only in his 2nd tournament as an actual ranked rikishi.

Amakaze vs Sakaefuji – Amakaze has a good day of sumo ahead. He is already kachi-koshi in his return to active sumo, and he is safe from further demotion. So the schedulers give him the gargantuan Sakaefuji for his 6th match. Amakaze is a skilled sumo practitioner, but it’s always quite a difficult to battle a human being that large.

Hattorizakura vs Sawada – Having run out of people in Jonikuchi to lose to, they have brought Hattorizakura up to Jonidan to face off against Sawada, whom has beaten him once before. Hattorizakura is my reminder that there are many paths to happiness in this world, including many I don’t understand.

Haru Day 8 (Nakabi) – Ones To Watch

While Hoshoryu has hit the Makushita wall, his sometimes rival, Naya, finished day 7 with a 4-0 record. Already kachi-koshi, he now enters the yusho bracket, along with any other rikishi who manage to finish their 4th match with 4 wins. Day 7 also saw Terunofuji win, to bring him to 4-0, and into the Jonidan yusho bracket. Meanwhile Wakaichiro dominated his day 7 match against Kotourasaki, and improved to 2-2.

On to day 8 action!

Hoshoryu vs Kotodaigo – This is an even match of two lean, fast moving rikishi who focus on technical sumo over size or brute strength. At Makushita 7, Hoshoryu is finding the competition especially tough, and is challenged as never before in his sumo career. While very optimistic fans entertained the notion of a strong kachi-koshi launching Hoshoryu to Juryo, the top 10 ranks of Makushita are a slaughterhouse, and most feel thankful just to rack up their 4th win.

Ichiyamamoto vs Gokushindo – Former Juryo man Gokushindo dropped to Ms20 for Haru, but his 3-0 record brings him up to battle Ichiyamamoto. Gokushindo has been a sekitori, and he wants back in the life of sumo’s nobility, and he is fighting like he means it. Ichiyamamoto’s sumo is red-hot this basho, so this might be an epic clash of rikishis battling for their kachi-koshi.

Wakatakamoto vs Chiyootori – Another former sekitori, Chiyootori, is also in the 3-0 bracket. The winner gets their kachi-koshi and moves on to join Naya in the yusho bracket. The last of the lower ranked Onami brothers seems to have strong motivation to join his brothers in Juryo.

Torakio vs Oisato – Naruto heya scion, Torakio, is having a terrible Haru. He is 0-3, and a loss on day 8 would mean make-koshi. His rank means he is safe in Sandanme, but it would be a setback for his work to reach Makushita.

Torakio vs Mori – Sumo’s leviathan, Kenho, looks to pick up his second win against the much much smaller Mori.

Hattorizakura vs Toya – Hattorizakura has faced Toya 3 times, and lost every time. Although not as meek as Hattorizakura, Toya has yet to achieve a single kachi-koshi tournament.

Haru Day 5 – Ones To Watch

The Amakaze – Terunofuji match ended without injury, and Terunofuji was able to execute a somewhat clumsy kotenage for the win. Elsewhere, Hattorizakura did in fact lose again, even though Houn looks even more malnourished and underdeveloped than Hattorizakura, if that were possible.

Naya also picked up a win, and looked really strong doing it. He improves to a solid 2-0 start. The crowd was really into this match, and you can hear by all of the hooting and hollering in the video below:

Day 5 Matches

Ichiyamamoto vs Kaito – Both rikishi have made it to the 2-0 bracket, and this is their first ever match. Kaito is another young, hard-charging rikishi who actually had to talk almost a year off to recover from injury in 2015, and is fighting near his top ever rank. They are evenly matched in size and weight – it should be a solid bout.

Wakatakamoto vs Asakoki – Also a 2-0 bracket match, the lowest ranked Onami brother enters this rematch with Makushita mainstay Asakoki looking to advance to the increasingly narrow undefeated bracket. Asakoki holds a slight size advantage, but Wakatakamoto won their single prior match.

Musashikuni vs Tsurubayashi – An additional 2-0 bracket match in Makushita, the scion of the Musashigawa stable holds a distinct height and weight advantage over Tsurubayashi, who has been fighting in Makushita since 2012. Musashikuni does indeed seem to have overcome his injuries and physical problems, and is back to strong power-sumo.

Torakio vs Kotokino – Torakio has yet to win his first match of the basho, and he tries his luck against Sandanme 11 Kotokino. Kotokino is about 180 kg, and is a seriously bulky guy, so I expect Torakio to have his work cut out for him.

Shoji vs Koshinishiki – Another Musashigawa rikishi in action on day 5, and Shoji is looking to improve his 1-1 record against long-ranked Sandanme rikishi Koshinishiki.

Wakaichiro vs Kiryu – Our Texas sumotori, Wakaichiro, lost his day 3 match after he found himself too far forward against a skilled opponent. In their only prior match, Wakaichiro was able to defeat the much larger Kiryu via hatakikomi.

Kenho vs Fukuazuma – Kenho lost his day 4 match, and enters day 5 with a 1-1 score. At 107 kg, Fukuazuma is less than half of Kendo’s size. Kenho has terrible mobility on most days, so I expect that Fukuazuma is going to use this to his advantage.

Haru Day 3 – Ones to Watch

Beneath This Humble Visage Is a Man of Steel…

With day 2 loaded to the rafters with action among our “ones to watch”, it was fantastic to see that time and again, the rikishi we are following won their first matches. Some notable highlights

Wakaichiro looks healthier than he has in a while, and immediately overpowered Kotoito and ran him off the dohyo. We are still looking for sharable video of the match, and will publish it once it’s on YouTube.

Kenho, who looked horrid and lethargic at Hatsu, came out strong and blasted Toshonishiki from the south edge of the dohyo.

Hoshoryu’s match against Tokushinho included a leg trip that was executed with great skill. I have to say its damn exciting to see this young man competing this well at such a high rank. We all hope he can keep it going.

For fans of Musashikuni, maybe it’s time to think he has his injuries under control, and we get to see what this guy is capable of. He looked strong against Okinofuji for day 2.

With so many of our Ones to Watch winning day 2, they are now in the 1 win bracket, and are competing again on day 3. This includes what seems to be most of Musashigawa’s clan on the dohyo at some point today. It’s a back to back late night of sumo goodness for those of us in the US! On to the matches.

Hoshoryu vs Kizakiumi – This is a rematch of the Hatsu day 2 bout where Hoshoryu lost. Is it time for him to even the score? Will Hoshoryu peel away those Clark Kent glasses and battle like a son of Krypton? In January Kizakiumi overpowered Hoshoryu, maybe tonight he can return the favor.

Akua vs Tamaki – Akua has won both of their two prior match-ups, and it remains to be seen if Tamaki is going to be much of a challenge. Akua is still trying to get his sumo back together after his September Juryo debut ended in injury and kyujo. He has been struggling since, so don’t count Tamaki out.

Ichiyamamoto vs Asabenkei – Another juicy nugget in the top grouping in Makushita, newcomer Ichiyamamoto takes on the much bulkier veteran Asabenkei. Asabenkei was ranked in Juryo last year, before taking two tournaments off to recover from injury. This one is going to be brutal.

Midorifuji vs Gokushindo – Gokushindo took the Makushita yusho last September, and promptly bombed out of Juryo in Kyushu. Since then he has been trying to regroup, and now he needs to overcome a fairly genki Midorifuji.

Wakatakamoto vs Asahisho – A rematch from Osaka last year, which Wakatakamoto won. Asahisho was a Maegashira in 2012, but has been struggling since then. But we can consider Asahisho representative of the kind of rikishi Wakatakamoto will need to overcome to join his brothers in the salaried ranks.

Musashikuni vs Omoto – The scion of Musashigawa heya looks to improve to 2-0 against former University rikishi Omoto, who has been struggling with injuries for the past year. This has left him drifting between upper Sandanme and lower Makushita.

Torakio vs Musashiumi – Naruto’s Torakio takes on another of the Musashigawa clan, where both are looking to pick up their first win. Musashiumi is a 37 year old veteran, and will bring that experience to bare against youthful Torakio.

Shoji vs Daishozen – A bit further down the Sandanme torikumi we see Shoji taking on Daishozen, who should be considered a Sandanme mainstay. Advantage on mass and reach go to Shoji, so let’s see if he can make it work for him.

Wakaichiro vs Wakakinsho – Coming from a strong day 2 win, Wakaichiro gets a rematch against Wakakinsho. These two last met at Aki 2017, where Wakaichiro, was out-maneuvered and lost. This will be an interesting re-test, as Wakaichiro’s sumo has improved massively since then.

Haru Day 2 – Ones to Watch

Wakaichiro Returns To Action – Haru Day 2

I am back from my drive across the dusty wasteland of western Texas, and ready to join the team in covering the Haru basho. Thanks to Josh, Andy and Liam for filling in for me while I was out among the tumbleweeds and oil wells, it was much appreciated, and as always I love reading and watching what you folks put together.

Day 1 was really light for our “Ones to Watch” crew, but here are some results for you following along.

Wakatakamoto defeated Tochinobori – The last non-sekitori Onami brother finds himself in the thick of Makushita, but managed to pick up a win on day one. Given my personal experience with sibling rivalry, this has to be a strong motivator for Wakatakamoto, especially if his brothers are giving him a helping of grief and extra chores.

Naya defeats Fukamiyama – Naya is now wearing his mage (top knot) and looks like a proper rikishi. His opponent for day 1, Fukamiyama, is working to regain footing in Makushita after a trip to Sandanme. Sadly he received a black star for his first match.

Chiyoraizan defeats Shoji – Shoji had made it as high as Makushita 52 before a string of make-koshi tournaments left him in lower Sandanme. With a 5-2 finish at Hatsu, he is in a difference class of rikishi in Osaka. His day 1 loss is nothing more than poor fortune, and in fact he has lost his opening match in each of his past 4 basho.

Terunofuji defeats Wakanoguchi – The most followed Jonidan match for a while, former Ozeki Terunofuji began his long climb back to the top ranks on day one with a win. Terunofuji looked pale, flabby and sort of lost. He was clearly deconditioned and his two heavily bandaged knees were evident. But he managed a win with a very powerful thrust down that gave Wakanoguchi a face full of Osaka clay. Its true that this far down Jonidan, it might be enough to be huge, and a former Ozeki. But his fans all hope that he can get his sumo back together, and get his body in fighting form.

But with so many of our ones to watch sitting out day 1, we know day 2 is going to be a non-stop battle of the strong and the eager, fighting their way up the ranks. Let’s break down who we expect to see in action early on Monday in Osaka.

Hoshoryu vs Tokushinho – Hoshoryu is only in his 7th tournament as a professional rikishi, and he finds himself in the upper ranks of the brutal Makushita division. A strong performance here and a lot of luck might bring him to the salaried ranks for May. His first match of Haru is against the long-time Juryo vet, Tokushinho. After a terrible 4-11 tournament for Kyushu 2015, Tokushinho has been relegated to Makushita, and has always fallen short when he reached a promotable rank. This should be a solid match of experience vs youth.

Akua vs Shiba – With Akua’s day-glow mawashi appropriated by Chiyomaru, it’s up to the one time Juryo man to battle his way back to the salaried ranks and reclaim his colors. Shiba has been occupying a upper Makushita rank for the past several years, and it’s high time this former university sumo star overcome whatever is holding him back and achieve a kachi-koshi from a promotable rank.

Ichiyamamoto vs Sakigake – The intense action keeps rolling with this battle between Ichiyamamoto and Mongolian veteran Sakigake. Ichiyamamoto has been ranked in Juryo for 5 tournaments across his career, but has been in Makushita since Hatsu 2015. Another “rising star vs veteran” match for day 2!

Midorifuji vs Tanabe – These two young, fast rising rikishi are outside of promotable range, but both of them are entering Haru with kachi-koshi scores in January, and looking to chase higher into the Makushita ranks. Both of them are former college rikishi, and already had a good amount of experience before starting their professional sumo careers.

Musashikuni vs Okinofuji – Musashikuni has had make-koshi scores in 3 of the last 4 tournaments, most likely due to persistent problems with his ankles and feet. With the long period of practice and training in Tokyo since January, his fans are hopeful that he is in better fighting for in Osaka, and can start strong. His opponent, Okinofuji, has 37 basho in Makushita.

Torakio vs Amanoshima – Bulgarian Torakio, the nephew of Naruto Oyakata, is fighting at his highest ever rank of Sandanme 30. Amanoshima has spent most of his career in Sandanme, but has suffered two straight make-koshi since his last Makushita visit at Kyushu in 2018. Good luck tiger-cub!

Wakaichiro vs Kotoito – Wakaichiro’s strong performance at Hatsu boosted him to the bottom of Sandanme, where his fans hope he can build on his success. The primary concerns are his injuries, which seem to be accumulating. His sumo form continues to improve, and if his body is accommodating, he should be able to hold Sandanme rank this tournament. His opponent is a young up and comer, Kotoito, from the storied Sadogatake heya. At only 16 years of age, he is quite young.

Kenho vs Toshonishiki – Kenho’s only strategy at Hatsu was to be enormous and as immobile as possible. Sadly with his knee and hip problems, he was unable to cover the immobile portion with any great effect. As a result he was reduced back to Jonidan, and needs to regroup. His first match of Haru is against youngster Toshonishiki, who is fighting at his highest rank. It’s possible this is the larges human Toshonishiki has ever tried to battle.

Hattorizakura vs Shachinofuji – Fighting at a career high rank of Jonikuchi 15, Hattorizakura’s fans hope that he might defy the odds and actually win 2 matches in the same basho. Oddly enough this is a rematch against Shachinofuji, who (of course) beat him last time.