Kyushu Day 2 Preview

I was satisfied with the action day 1, and if I am being honest, I think the match ups for day 2 are a notch better than we had for shonichi. Today may be contrasts day, as I see more than a couple clashes of sumo styles and approaches on the torikumi. Highlights for me are

  • Chiyoshoma vs Abi – forward power vs hit and shift
  • Wakamotoharu vs Hokutofuji – patient, stead sumo vs big opening move and rapid dispatch of any opponent
  • Ura vs Daieisho – Grab-n-tug sumo vs all power forward mega-thrust attacks
  • Wakatakakage vs Kiribayama – rising stars battle for dominance
  • Takayasu vs Shodai – wild man sumo vs the wall of daikon

What We Are Watching Day 2

Chiyomaru vs Hiradoumi – Today’s Juryo visitor is none other than his mighty roundness, Chiyomaru. He won his opening day match against Churanoumi. Ranked at Juryo 1 West, a simple kachi-koshi should be enough to return him to the top division in January. Hiradoumi took their only prior match, during Aki. Both start the day 1-0.

Kagayaki vs Terutsuyoshi – Terutsuyoshi really needs to rally soon. To me he looks like he is still hurt, and as such will be easy meat for Kagayaki, who holds a 7-3 career record, and has 50 kg in bulk, and 30 cm in height on Terutsuyoshi. Ranked at just Maegashira 16E, a make-koshi would likely send him back to Juryo for Hatsu.

Ichiyamamoto vs Atamifuji – After an opening day loss, Atamifuji will look for his first win in his first ever match against Ichiyamamoto. The challenge being that Ichiyamamoto puts a lot of power into his double arm thrusting attack, and tends to be at maximum range when he starts his run. This robs anyone who needs a hand hold to fight of even the smallest chance to get into the battle. Atamifuji does has a 30 kg size advantage, maybe it will come in handy today.

Azumaryu vs Oho – Both men start the day 0-1, and are looking for their first win. Oho continues to struggle with consistency in his sumo, and so it’s tough to know if he will be dialed into his sumo today or not. They have four prior career matches, that have split evenly 2-2.

Kotoeko vs Chiyotairyu – Its Sadogatake vs Kokonoe on the clay! To me, Chiyotairyu did not look sharp day one. I worry he’s going to continue the poor performance that has been plaguing him since mid 2021. I suspect an injury is to blame. The two are nearly even at 8-7 career wins.

Okinoumi vs Kotoshoho – Also in the ranks of “looking not very genki”, is Okinoumi. Not that I fault him. At 37 years old, he’s close to the point where his body may be telling him it’s time to consider hanging up the mawashi and putting that kabu to use. Kotoshoho had an opening day win, but is still tuning up to full honbasho power.

Aoiyama vs Onosho – Two rikishi with large amounts of forward power going head to head, this could be fast and ugly. It will come down to if Onosho is in a mood to keep his balance under control, and his feet in a workable position. Aoiyama did not show much power on day one, and may still be nursing his injury from this summer.

Chiyoshoma vs Abi – I admit I want to see Abi wreck the lower / middle ranks this November. I think he got the rank he got by missing September, but a brutal hammering will do the most to put him back near the named ranks, where I think he belongs. Today might be a good day for Chiyoshoma to employ liberal amounts of lateral sumo.

Takarafuji vs Takanosho – The news for Takarafuji is not good. After an opening day loss where it looked to me like his feet got out of cadence, he gets to face Takanosho, who he has only beaten twice in 9 attempts. Now in his mid-thirties, I add him into the group of rikishi who are really suffering the effects of accumulated injuries.

Tochinoshin vs Myogiryu – Tochinoshin is also in this age group, but seems to have found a way to maintain some level of sumo power, in spite of a knee that is little more than gristle, curry and scraps of old newspapers. He and Myogiryu had a 32 match career record, with Myogiryu leading 18-14.

Nishikigi vs Endo – Both men start the day 0-1, and Endo could really use a win to keep his score closer to the midline. The good news is that Nishikigi has never beaten Endo (0-7), so this might be a good pickup for Endo.

Ryuden vs Nishikifuji – This has my attention as potentially a big fight to start the second half of action. Both won their opening day fights, and look fairly genki on shonichi. The only prior match was May while both were ranked in Juryo, and it went to Nishikifuji.

Wakamotoharu vs Hokutofuji – I would love to see Wakamotoharu have another match where he is careful, patient and calmly puts together a winning yorikiri. Of course, this is nearly the opposite of the way that Hokutofuji fights. I expect him to come in with a fast combo attack and an early nodowa. If he can get his favorite combo to pay off, Wakamotoharu is going to have his hands full. Hokutofuji leads the series 2-1.

Sadanoumi vs Midorifuji – Sadanoumi surprised Hokutofuji on day one, and I give him even chances of doing it again today against Midorifuji. The trick for Sadanoumi is to get his hands on Midorifuji before the Isegahama man can get his feet set and begin his offense. They have split their 2 prior matches.

Tobizaru vs Meisei – Sumo’s flying monkey moves from winning against Shodai to fighting Meisei. Meisei lost his opening day match, but has a 6-2 career record against Tobizaru. The reason why that may not matter much is that Tobizaru has improved quite a bit over the past few months, and will be tough for Meisei to maintain any kind of hold.

Ura vs Daieisho – Both lost on day 1, but Ura seemed to already be into his sumo in his loss against Kiribayama, while Daieisho looked ill prepared for this fight with Takakeisho. These two are evenly balanced across their careers with Daieisho having a narrow 5-4 lead. Daieisho will look to open up his mega-thrust attack path, and Ura will be looking for an errant body part to grab and tug.

Wakatakakage vs Kiribayama – I am eager to see at what point Wakatakakage breaks out of his “cold start” routine and settles down to some powerful sumo. I note with amusement they have him fighting Kiribayama on day two, and he holds a 7-4 career advantage. A great fight of two of sumo’s rising stars.

Ichinojo vs Mitakeumi – Mitakeumi loves to fight Ichinojo most days. He holds a 15-7 career advantage over the Boulder, and has won 3 of their 4 matches so far this year. Mitakeumi needs the win to continue his drive to return to Ozeki, but Ichinojo looked really sharp in his day 1 win against Tamawashi.

Tamawashi vs Hoshoryu – If I had to guess, Tamawashi may have some frustrations from his day 1 match with Ichinojo to work out. Probably against Hoshoryu’s face, or neck. Hoshoryu is no easy mark right now, and in fact has a narrow 4-3 career lead against Tamawashi. This could be a big, quick match.

Takakeisho vs Kotonowaka – I harbor hopes that Takakeisho, the Grand Tadpole, will eject Kotonowaka like a damaged cassette tape stuck in an ancient Toyota Celica for 20 years. It’s been a while since we saw some solid wave-action, so here’s to hoping he can deliver that today.

Takayasu vs Shodai – I really don’t want to see Shodai as an Ozekiwake in January, so I hope he can find and reactivate his good sumo mode. He’s got a fairly fresh copy of Takayasu as challenger today, and that won’t be easy for him. He does hold a 17-9 career advantage, so it may come down to Takayasu keeping his balance and his feet during his habitual big opening forearm strike.

Haru Day 1 Highlights

Lordy lord, its wonderful to have sumo back. Everyone is looking fairly solid, with the exception of Shodai. I know I give Shodai a tough time, much as I did Goeido. The reason is that you can see the greatness in them, but something keeps them from employing the peak of their sport, and it is a shame to watch a great athlete under perform. But this is another matter entirely. I can state that the degrading effects of long term damage from COVID-19 can be enduring and quite limiting, even if you are not a highly trained competitor at the top of your sport. So in this matter, I have acres of sympathy for Shodai, and I salute that he’s mounting the dohyo anyhow and fighting on. Fans of his, don’t be surprised if he loses Ozeki, he may only have about 60% of his normal strength and stamina.

Highlight Matches

Ichiyamamoto defeats Kagayaki – Kagayaki had a good initial combo, landing at least one hand center mass, but Ichiyamamoto countered with a left hand outside grip, and just overpowered Kagayaki. Unusual sumo for Ichiyamamoto who would much rather have shoved Kagayaki around, but it’s what there was. I am going to guess Kagayaki is going to show us some of his traditional ring rust. Ichiyamamoto starts 1-0.

Nishikigi defeats Kotokuzan – Nishikigi had his hands low at the tachiai, it looked like he wanted a right hand frontal grip, but instead he surrendered the inside route to Kotokuzan, who immediately attacked high. At the moment that Nishikigi, Kotokuzan attempts to pull, and that was all Nishikigi needed to finish the match, giving him a 1-0 opening day.

Tochinoshin defeats Akua – Wow, Tochinoshin delivers a left hand forearm smash to Akua’s face, dropping him in place, and eliciting a gasp from the crowd. Brutal. Tochinoshin need every win he can bag, and he is off to a 1-0 start.

Yutakayama defeats Chiyonokuni – That’s a lot of tape on Yutakayama, it would seem that right arm is still a worry. Chiyonokuni’s tachiai seemed to have been formulated around a pair of round house blows, which gave Yutakayama a clear path to Chiyonokuni’s chest. He took full advantage of that, landing solid thrusts while Chiyonokuni was still trying to get his arms moving. This quickly put Chiyonokuni on the bales, and Yutakayama found the power to finish him off. Yutakayama at 1-0.

Kotoshoho defeats Chiyomaru – Two separate pulling attempts by Chiyomaru were completely ineffective. Kotoshoho kept his feet and kept the power applied center-mass. He had Chiyomaru on the move, and kept him from setting up any real defense. 1-0 start for Kotoshoho.

Chiyotairyu defeats Kotoeko – I do enjoy Kotoeko’s enthusiasm, and many times its enough to carry the match. But today it could not help him, even his double inside grip could not help him, as Chiyotairyu calmly pivots at the tawara and deposits him out of bounds. A for effort, F for results. Chiyotairyu 1-0.

Terutsuyoshi defeats Myogiryu – Terutsuyoshi wanted an ashitori, but had to settle for a somewhat clumsy henka / hikiotoshi instead. Its been a fair amount of time since we have seen Terutsuyoshi actually execute a solid ashitori, I wonder if he’s still got the mojo to pull it off.

Aoiyama defeats Shimanoumi – Solid hand placement today by Aoiyama, he continues to struggle to transmit power to ground through that bandaged up left knee, and I think it’s going to keep him from really fighting at much above lower Maegashira level until he can get it in working order. Shimanoumi puts in a couple of good combos, but with Aoiyama latched onto your throat like that, there is not much you can do if you can’t break his grip.

Tobizaru defeats Wakamotoharu – I am not sure if Wakamotoharu was not quite ready to start, or not, but Tobizaru charged in strong and overwhelmed whatever Wakamotoharu had in mind for this match. Power sumo from the flying monkey to start 1-0.

Chiyoshoma defeats Sadanoumi – Sadanoumi was not going to let Chiyoshoma get the advantage at the tachiai, and you can see him really push hard to maintain the advantage. Chiyoshoma attempts to break off the attack, and both rikishi end up at the tawara, and move to throw. Its a mutual toss out, with Sadanoumi stepping out first (confirmed after a monoii) to give Chiyoshoma a win on day 1. Pretty good sumo from both in this match.

Takayasu defeats Okinoumi – It’s been 2 basho since we have seen Takayasu, and I think today’s tachiai is the best one I have seen from him in a while. There was not shouting, no crazy antics. He just takes the fight strongly to Okinoumi. They lock up chest to chest, and for a moment I was hoping there was a stamina contest about to break out. I think Okinoumi worried about that too, and executed a couple of weight shifts to improve his position. Takayasu read this perfectly and used Okinoumi’s moving balance to throw, sending Okinoumi down via uwatenage, and picking up a day 1 win.

Kotonowaka defeats Hokutofuji – I had assumed since his top division debut that Kotonowaka was going to turn into a powerful mainstay of the top division. Today’s match against Hokutofuji shows some of the mechanics that I think is going to take him into the named ranks before very long, and to be honest I am thrilled. Hokutofuji put in a solid match, but Kotonowaka had an answer for every attack. Moreover Kotonowaka’s defensive work today was exemplary, and it kept him in the match until he could corral Hokutofuji and put him off the dohyo.

Takarafuji defeats Ishiura – A poorly time tachiai, that could have been called a matta. Ishiura struggled to get any kind of offense started against Takarafuji’s world class “defend and extend” sumo. When Ishiura went for the leg sweep, he bet the whole match on that move. It missed, and two steps later Takarafuji slapped him down for a day 1. win. Solid match plan for Ishiura, but when Takarafuji is dialed into his sumo, it’s tough to find a way to attack.

Kiribayama defeats Endo – Endo tried to impose his offense at the tachiai, and it worked for just a moment. But a poorly conceived leg trip really handed the match to Kiribayama, who knew exactly what to do with that move. Sadly in the present day, most of his opponents have a good formula for shutting down Endo’s preferred attacks, and its tough for him to dominate a match. Kiribayama starts 1-0.

Meisei defeats Takanosho – Meisei instantly dumps onigiri-kun at the tachiai. Did Takanosho forget to take a second step? If he had moved that left foot forward, even a few inches, he could have prevented Meisei’s uwatedashinage.

Onosho defeats Abi – I was looking forward to this match, and it did not disappoint. One of the important elements is that Abi produces so much forward pressure with that double arm thrusting attack that there is zero chance that Onosho will fall forward onto his face as is his custom. So he was free to dial up the power to maximum and just plow Abi like a country lane covered in snow.

Wakatakakage defeats Tamawashi – Tamawashi responded strongly to Wakatakakage’s opening combo, but found himself pushing Osaka air as Wakatakakage moved to the side. I am going to chalk this one up to ring rust, as normally Tamawashi tracks is opponent quite well. Wakatakakage gets a 1-0s start for Osaka.

Mitakeumi defeats Ichinojo – I loved the fact that Ichinojo was the aggressor in the opening moments of this match. I think he surprised Mitakeumi with a fierce start. It all went for naught as Ichinojo tried to pull, and handed advantage to Mitakeumi who instantly capitalized on this mistake and took control. Three steps later, Ichinojo was out and Mitakeumi had won his first match ranked as an Ozeki.

Takakeisho defeats Ura – Ura worked to stay low, but given Takakeisho’s stature, it was not really to Ura’s advantage. As Takakeisho’s thrusting attacks stood him up, Ura could not find anything to grab and tug, and quickly ran out of space on the dohyo. Solid day 1 win for Takakeisho, who needs to make his 8 to clear kadoban.

Daieisho defeats Shodai – Yeah, this is going to be a rough basho for Shodai, I would guess. Suffering for lingering COVID effects, he is up against the best in the sumo world. He has a “Ozeki Black” mawashi now, which is nice to see, but his body is going to be a problem for him. Daieisho gets the upper hand almost at once, and proceeds to have his way for the short duration of this match. Daieisho starts 1-0.

Terunofuji defeats Hoshoryu – Hoshoryu put a lot of power into that tachiai, and you could hear it literally make a “splat” noise as he impacted Terunofuji’s body. We did even get to see signs of the kaiju today, as the Yokozuna calmly bundled Hoshoryu up and tossed him back off the dohyo to think again. Terunofuji 1-0.

Regarding Shodai’s “Wall of Daikon”

Readers have started to ask about a term that I use regarding Shodai, and what seems to be a preferred technique of his. I call this “Wall of Daikon”. it’s a quasi defensive strategy that takes advantage of his giant pasty body, that looks somewhat like an animated daikon radish.  That might be enough for some, but the links to daikon run deep with him.  Read on…

Shodai’s university is the Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology, If I recall. I think he has a kesho-mawashi with the school mascot on it somewhere. They have some kind of Daikon odori / matsuri sort of thing – see here: 

Try as I might, I can’t divorce myself from thinking these guys are trying to energize Shodai with whatever genki power they can summon from these hapless vegetables that escaped from a green market somewhere in Tokyo.

He’s also really large, broad and kind of pasty, and looks a bit like an anthropomorphic daikon. He has adopted a mostly defensive style of sumo, with the centerpiece being using his large body as an enormous blunt object to crowd, strike and shove his opponents out. I thought about calling it a “Brick wall” tactic, but that was not very Nihon-centric, and also did not quite fit. Then the whole daikon angle came together, and it just seemed to fit.

So when you see me writing about the “Wall of Daikon”, it’s Shodai executing his defensive, body-centric sumo strategy well.

Hope that helps.

Wait, what? the picture was not enough? Ok, how about some video?