Natsu Day 3 Preview

It’s fair to say we have had a solid start to the Natsu basho in the first two days. The lone surviving Yokozuna, Kakuryu, has won both of his opening matches convincingly in a manner that is an aggressive adjustment to his normally reactive style. He has shown power, guile and no shortage of excellent sumo in the first two wins, with his dispatching of Hokutofuji quite impressive. Hokutofuji blasted his way into another attempt at a handshake tachiai, but Kakuryu was faster still, and just denshamichi’d Hokutofuji half way back to the shitaku-beya.

Both Goeido and Takakeisho have opened strong as well, each day delivering a powerful reminder of why they hold the Ozeki rank. The upper ranks will get their “tough” matches in week 2, whereas this week they are culling the upper Maegashira.

What We Are Watching Day 3

Daishoho vs Takagenji – Takagenji brings his 2-0 Juryo record to the top division, looking to remain in the undefeated cohort. He and Daishoho are quite evenly matched, having battled each other in the lower divisions multiple times. Though Takagenji has added mass over the past 2 years, I think he would still qualify as a member of the “Pixies” group of smaller rikishi. (Hmm, not at 191 cm and 172 kg. -lksumo)

Enho vs Sadanoumi – First time match between these two, with Enho fresh to the top division, and Sadanoumi a long time dweller in upper Juryo and Makuuchi. Sadanoumi is happy to engage in a mawashi battle, but letting Enho get a grip has proven to be a surprisingly challenging event. The edge probably goes to Sadanoumi, as Enho seems a bit jittery still.

Shohozan vs Shimanoumi – When Shimanoumi posted to Maegashira 12 for his Makuuchi debut, I had my worries. Rather than easing him into the top division, he was landing in the middle of banzuke chaos, given the bizarre collection of bad to awful records that came out of Osaka. Now he is 0-2 going into his match against an 2-0 Shohozan, who does look to be in fairly good form.

Onosho vs Tomokaze – Dare I hope that Onosho has gotten his sumo back in tune? So far he has not gotten overly forward over his toes, and has kept his force center-mass against his opponent. Tomokaze is big, strong and will take your mawashi and make you suffer. It will be a race to see who can set the tone of the match out of the tachiai. This is my favorite bout for the first half of Makuuchi on day 3.

Asanoyama vs Meisei – Asanoyama has really been showing some speed and strength in the first 2 days of the basho. Readers know I have had my eye on him since he showed up in the top division, mostly because his attitude is one of the best I have seen. He works hard, he keeps himself positive and always takes each day as a chance to win. While his brother from another mother Yutakayama is regenerating himself in Juryo, we can enjoy all this great young rikishi has to offer.

Shodai vs Kaisei – It seems Shodai has gotten re-charged during some off-season visit to Toon Town, and his uncanny cartoon sumo is running well again. Today he has Kaisei who seems more frustrated and rusty than doing poorly. Fans around the world love Kaisei, as he is one of the most good-natured folks in sumo.

Yoshikaze vs Ryuden – Yoshikaze has been executing very minimalistic sumo for the first 2 days. The win on day 2 over Meisei was surprisingly un-energetic, but got the job done. This probably won’t work with Ryuden / Shin-Ikioi, who seems to be continuing his good performance from Osaka, where he was one of the few Maegashira who was able to post double-digit wins.

Chiyotairyu vs Abi – Chiyotairyu is off to an 0-2 start, and I think he will continue to struggle day 3. His tachiai is just as formidable as ever, but he seems to have challenges with his second step. When Chiyotairyu is in a winning grove, he flows smoothy out of his brutal tachiai into an all out assault. Both day 1 and 2 he seemed to lack that intensity.

Okinoumi vs Tochinoshin – Some fans were a bit unhappy that Tochinoshin unleashed the sky crane against Daieisho, but I am going to assume that he finally feels healthy, strong and it’s more of a jubilant celebration that he is back to his sumo more than anything else. I am going to watch him land that shallow left again day 3, and help Okinoumi keep reaching for the stars. (Their head-to-head matchup only favors the Sekiwake 7-5, with Okinoumi taking 3 of the last four, so this is another must-win bout in Tochinoshin’s quest for 10. -lksumo)

Ichinojo vs Tamawashi – Hey, Tamawashi – get it together man! You have an 0-2 start, and you are a better rikishi than that. Hell, you won a yusho a few months ago. The good news is that Ichinojo is not quite dialed in right now, so he might be able to get some attack in against the Boulder. (The head-to-head is even at 6-6, but has favored Tamawashi recently, so we could be in for a good bout. -lksumo)

Mitakeumi vs Takayasu – Both of these burly men are fighting hurt. Takayasu with a bad back and Mitakeumi with a gimpy knee. Both of them see to be a half step slow, so this will be match of attrition: whose pain will lose first? Takayasu holds a clear (12-5) career advantage.

Goeido vs Endo - ENDO EJECTION PROTOCOL ACTIVE. WEST SIDE I/O PORT AVAILABLE. APPLY 12 METER/SEC FORCE LATERAL TO ENDO-UNIT TO ACHIEVE WIN STATUS. ENGAGE.

Takakeisho vs Hokutofuji – Hokutofuji’s bag’o sumo has worked pretty well on the upper Maegashira, but for the named ranks it seems to be quite ineffective. I love that this is happening, as I see quite a bit of potential in Hokutofuji, but he needs to get a winning formula together against these rikishi, and that comes by continued beatings at the hands of the upper echelon.

Kotoshogiku vs Kakuryu – Are we going to see hypersonic doom Kakuryu again on day 3? Kotoshogiku’s sumo relies on him grappling his opponent and hopping like an aroused Mastiff to propel himself to victory. Should Kakuryu once again launch of the shikiri-sen, we might be left with only blurry, smeared images of a blue mawashi and bouncing thighs launched in a high, arcing track towards a throng of excited fans. Each of them hoping that the Kyushu Bulldozer lands nearby. (This is the 50th meeting between the pair! -lksumo)

Natsu Day 1 Highlights

Did you cheer when you saw this? Skycrane ahoy!

I found myself headed for bed at a surprisingly early hour for the first day of a basho. With AbemaTV now lost to me, and no real way to watch the lower divisions, I decided it was better to just pack it in, and enjoy the DVR’d NHK-G two hour top division program in the morning. While I wish I had seen the lower division matches, Makuuchi featured some absolute gems. With Hakuho out, the stage is set for some surprising story lines, and the possibility of a new champion for the new era.

A note to regular readers, highlight posts may come later this basho, due to changes in how we source our information. If we are late, never fear, Team Tachiai is just forwarding through video…

Day 1 Highlights

Toyonoshima defeats Chiyoshoma – No henka from Chiyoshoma today, who chose to meet Toyonoshima head on and fight. Chiyoshoma got a decent right hand outside grip, and tried to use it for an Uwatenage. Although this failed, it left Toyonoshima out of position and off balance. Chiyoshoma lunged to push his opponent out, but Toyonoshima managed to step aside and send him into the front row.

Daishoho defeats Ishiura – Ishiura also forgoes elusive sumo, meets Daishoho head to head, and applies some effort to the match. Ishiura does well by staying mobile, and works to stalemate Daishoho. Ok, good, but that’s not winning. Ishiura’s gambit to get inside and drive forward results in Daishoho applying an arm bar and winning the match by kimedashi.

Terutsuyoshi defeats Kotoeko – I suspect we may be glad that Terutsuyoshi managed to stay in the top division, in spite of a horrible score at the end of Osaka. Kotoeko took control at the tachiai, and was driving Terutsuyoshi around the dohyo like he was the boss. But Terutsuyoshi loaded and executed a tsukiotoshi while in reverse gear, taking the match. Great sumo!

Enho defeats Tokushoryu – Enho takes his first match as a Maegashira in solid Enho fashion. Tokushoryu had the size and reach advantage, but Enho took him for a ride on the tiny-town express. While Tokushoryu was working to lock on to Enho’s shoulders, Enho was on the mawashi, turning the larger rikishi and escorting him to the tawara. Enho gives his 2 kensho envelops to his mother for a Mother’s Day gift. She is even smaller than he is!

Chiyomaru defeats Sadanoumi – Blink and you might miss it. Chiyomaru is getting better milage with Akua’s green mawashi than Akua ever did. A very simple stand him up, slap him down win for the man in green.

Yago defeats Shimanoumi – Yago won the match, but to my eye Shimanoumi had better sumo today. Yago repeatedly worked to pull or slap Shimanoumi down (and eventually succeeded), but the shin-Maegashira was focusing center-mass and moving forward with power. After taking two consecutive Juryo yusho, Shimanoumi has the skill to succeed in the top division. Let’s hope he can settle into a working rhythm.

Shohozan defeats Tochiozan – It looked like Tochiozan’s battle plan was to stalemate Shohozan and look for an opening. He executed that with his expected top-level skill, until Shohozan lost his patience and drove in for an atypical combat-hug. Tochiozan moved to win in the blink of an eye, but could not finish the rotation to execute his throw.

Onosho defeats Kagayaki – My candidate for “ring rust match of the day”. Mr Fundamentals, Kagayaki, gets taken to the wood shed by a rather genki Onosho. Hard core sumo fans, you know, the ones who pine for AbemaTV access, are hoping that Onosho can get his body back to good form, and we can see some Takakeisho – Onosho Ozeki rivalry in the future. Onosho had the full happy meal today: Hips low, thrusting strongly against center mass, and strong forward movement.

Tomokaze defeats Nishikigi – Special mention in the “ring rust” category goes to Nishikigi, who seemed to change his mind about opening attack midway through the tachiai. Tomokaze works him hand to hand like he is pulling an enormous ball of taffy, and Nishikigi really can only struggle to stay on his feet.

Asanoyama defeats Kaisei – Closing our trifecta of ring rust, Kaisei did not fail to deliver on his expected oxidation. I really liked Asanoyama’s drive after the tachiai, and that shallow left hand grip was solid. Kaisei struggled to get a throw going at the bales, but Asanoyama just used the Brazilian’s balance shift to deliver a yorikiri.

Shodai defeats Meisei – Those of you wondering why so many fans think Shodai has a lot of potential, watch this match. He is sky-high at the tachiai. He’s practically trying to lose here. But following that, look at his agility, his ring sense, and the fact that even in defensive action, he maintains an element of offense. Could we please get Araiso Oyakata to teach this guy how to come off the line?

Takarafuji defeats Yoshikaze – Yeah, Yoshikaze knows he’s beat about 5 seconds into it, and decides not to risk injury with a tawara defense. For fans of one of the most intense rikishi in many years, this match is tough to watch.

Ryuden defeats Myogiryu – Shin-Ikioi (Ryuden) continues to shine. Today’s match showed really outstanding patience, and top level balance as Myogiryu changed offensive plans at least twice. Ryuden waited them out, and took his opportunity to get Myogiryu turned around and propelled him out.

Abi defeats Okinoumi – The double arm attack was shut off fairly early, but Abi was able to convert it to a powerful two hand nodowa, which he withdrew suddenly to perform a pull-down. Points to Okinoumi for shutting down the typical Abi-zumo offense (and to Abi for having a plan B –PinkMawashi).

Aoiyama defeats Tamawashi – This anticipated slug-fest did not fail to deliver. Tamawashi took command at the tachiai, and backed Aoiyama to the east. A massive shove from Tamawashi, intended to send Aoiyama out, only stood the Mongolian up as he slid back. Aoiyama cocked that meaty right arm and delivered a blow that made the crowd gasp, then took control.

Tochinoshin defeats Chiyotairyu – Chiyotairyu could not muster enough force at the tachiai to effectively disrupt Tochinoshin, who waded into the slap fest with gusto. In spite of Chiyotairyu focusing well on keeping Tochinoshin away from his mawashi, the Georgian found his mark. You can hear the crowd rally as both hands find their grip. We all know what’s coming. Hell, Tochinoshin has been waiting to do this for a couple of months. You can hear the motors roar as he lifts Chiyotairyu, who obliges by pedaling his legs in free air like some cartoon character, suddenly finding himself over a cliff. Let’s admit it, we all want to see him get his 10 and take back his Ozeki rank.

Daieisho defeats Ichinojo – Runner up in the ring rust prize is Ichinojo, who clearly struggled to execute his planned attack strategy. Multiple times he tried to pull down Daieisho, who evaded well. This left Ichinojo high, off balance and fairly easy pickings. A solid win for Daieisho.

Takakeisho defeats Endo – The thing that is really striking is that Takakeisho has gotten better at initiating the wave-action attack earlier and earlier in the match. Endo has no time to even begin any offense. Endo foolishly tried to match the shove, aiming for Takakeisho’s head and neck. This gave the shin-Ozeki a open lane straight to Endo’s center-mass, and it was over. 41 kensho banners. Wow.

Kotoshogiku defeats Takayasu – I can’t recall how long its been since I have seen Kotoshogiku at this level of intensity. For recent fans, this was what Ozeki Kotoshogiku looked like at his peak. Granted, Takayasu is nursing a bad back right now, but that was awesome.

Goeido defeats Hokutofuji – I love this match because it shows Goeido’s speed. Hokutofuji likes to set up a nodowa at the tachiai, and take control before his opponent can do anything other than react. But Goeido is so fast and so low, you can see the surprise in Hokutofuji’s reaction. I am so very happy that Goeido seems to be healthy and on his sumo.

Kakuryu defeats Mitakeumi – Mitakeumi could not generate forward pressure against the Yokozuna, who executes a textbook oshi battle plan. This was interesting to me in that Kakuryu is usually going to start a match and react to his opponent. Today he took charge and dictated the win. This shift may have surprised Mitakeumi. It sort of surprised me!

Haru Day 15 Preview

Once More…

It’s been a big crazy ride! Haru has been 14 days of the legends of sumo stomping with force through the rank and file, taking white starts wherever they go. Not a single kinboshi this tournament, let that sink in. Now that we are down to 2 Yokozuna, and they are both in fairly good health, the chances of a gold star are down. Looking at Kakuryu, there is a chance that his ankle is not quite right again, but with just one day left to go, I don’t think we will see him go kyujo.

The battle of day is, with no doubt, Takakeisho vs Tochinoshin. The landscape of the final day of the basho has been set up expertly by lksumo, as is his custom, but I wanted to examine this match. Tochinoshin is a mawashi rikishi, and he likes to use “lift and shift” sumo to remove his opponents bodily from the dohyo. When he is in good health, he can and does do it to anyone, including Ichinojo. Frequently this is accompanied by his opponent pedaling their legs furiously as the are lifted to height and carried to the janome like a crate of green bottles on Wednesday in Sumida. If Tochinoshin can get a hold of you, there is simply no way to stop it. It has even worked on Hakuho.

Takakeisho is a finely honed oshi-fighter, with the focus being primarily on thrusting / pushing attack and less on slapping his opponents around. He has perfected what we sometimes call a “wave action” attack, which features both arms working in tandem or near tandem to apply overwhelming force to his opponents body. This works best when he can get inside, and he can focus on center-mass. The day 14 match broke down when, for reasons we can’t explain, Takakeisho targeted Ichinojo’s neck, with absolutely zero effect. This double arm push is repeated in rapid succession, like a series of waves breaking against his opponent’s body. The result is that his opponents must constantly react and fight for stance and balance, all the while Takakeisho is moving them rapidly to the tawara.

The fight will hinge on if Takakeisho can move fast enough at the tachiai to land his first push before Tochinoshin can get a hand on Takakeisho’s mawashi. If Tochinoshin can grab a hold of this tadpole, it’s likely to Takakeisho’s doom. Tochinoshin’s sumo typically relies on him being able to set his feet and brace his shoulders and hips for his “sky crane” lift; this means if Takakeisho is landing wave after wave of heavy force thrusts against him, he won’t have a chance to use his lethal move.

A real clash of sumo styles and approaches, and on the line is who gets that 3rd Ozeki slot. The stakes could not be higher, and the rikishi nearly opposites.

What We Are Watching Day 15

Shohozan vs Chiyoshoma – The bottom man on the banzuke needs one more win to hold on to Makuuchi. Shohozan has lost 4 of the last 5, and seems out of gas. Should Chiyoshoma lose, he will join the platoon of rikishi that are eligible for return to Juryo.

Ryuden vs Kotoshogiku – Kotoshogiku has had a great tournament, and this is his highest score since his January 2016 yusho (14-1), but it seems to me he has run out of stamina, and he may be picked off by Ryuden on day 15. Many fans, myself included, are a bit let down that the schedulers did not put Kotoshogiku against Toyonoshima for their final match. Some of these guys need to take nostalgia into account.

Asanoyama vs Kotoeko – Asanoyama has been fighting for that 8th win for the last 4 days, and his chances are good on day 15, as he holds a 4-0 career advantage over Kotoeko.

Ishiura vs Takarafuji – Takarafuji is also in the 7-7 category, and will need to keep Ishiura in front of him to pick up #8. Ishiura may as well henka this one, in my opinion. But do make it acrobatic!

Kagayaki vs Abi – Abi, old bean, I worry you won’t diversify unless you lose more matches. Won’t you give something else a try? Your double arm attack is solid, but is that all you can do? You have so much talent. Ok, go ahead and win day 15, and while you are at it, give Kagayaki some reason to look a bit more excited. The poor fellow looks a bit like the walking dead some days. Thanks, signed: your fans.

Okinoumi vs Yoshikaze – Yoshikaze at 10 wins, Okinoumi at 7 wins… Yeah, I think Okinoumi gets this one.

Chiyotairyu vs Myogiryu – Although Chiyotairyu needs a win to get to 8, I am going say that Myogiryu has an advantage here due to his shorter stature, and his strength. Chiyotairyu can and does hit like a wrecking ball, but he loses stamina in a hurry.

Daieisho vs Ichinojo – “Hulk Smash!”

Tochinoshin vs Takakeisho – The big match, in my book. It may only last seconds, but it’s going to leave someone out in the cold.

Takayasu vs Goeido – Both Ozeki have 10 wins or better, so I see this as a “test match” of Takayasu’s tuned up sumo style. Goeido is going to blast in fast with everything he has. In the past that is sometimes enough to actually bowl the burly Takayasu over. But Takayasu has changed his “contact” stance a bit at the tachiai, and I think we may see this shift into a battle for grip in the first 4 seconds. If Takayasu can stalemate Goeido to the point his frustration leads Goeido into an attempt to pull, he will have his opening to strike.

Hakuho vs Kakuryu – The Boss goes up against Big K for the final match. Should Hakuho go down for some reason and Ichinojo prevail, we will get one more tasty sumo morsel before the long break leading up to Natsu. Wise money is on Hakuho to contain, constrain and then maintain his perfect record. But it will be fun to watch.

Hatsu Day 7 Highlights

Some of our readers, and many sumo fans in general, have complained that recent basho have ended up being “Sumo light”, due to the lack of Yokozuna and Ozeki participation. As we near the half way point of this basho, we are down to 1 Yokozuna and 1.5 Ozeki, and the focus really has shifted to the lower ranks. With so many titans of sumo off the dohyo, the focus has shifted to the lower ranks.

I am impressed that Goeido is soldiering on, and finding ways to win in spite of the problems with his right arm. I expect him to go kyujo after he can manage an 8th win. Thankfully Hakuho looks genki enough, and Takayasu seems to be over his flu.

Highlight Matches

Chiyonokuni defeats Yutakayama – Any match with Chiyonokuni has the potential to be a mad-cap barn burner, and today Yutakayama put everything he could towards a win. The result was a wild tsuki-oshi fest that see-sawed back and forth. A great way to start the top division today.

Kotoyuki defeats Daiamami – A second spirited bout to start the day, Daiamami held advanage several times, but The Penguin battled back each time. At attempted slap down reversed the opponents, and Kotoyuki put Daiamami’s back to the tawara, and pushed with purpose.

Yago defeats Daishomaru – Hapless, winless Daishomaru has nothing serious to offer the surging youngster Yago, and goes down to defeat. We did, however, get to see Yago engage in a oshi-zumo match, and win.

Ikioi defeats Chiyoshoma – Chiyoshoma’s attempt at a face slap embedded in his tachiai (ala Hakuho) results in Ikioi getting poked in the eye. In spite of (or fueled by) this, Ikioi surges into battle with yet another injury and finds a way to overpower his opponent. Word is he was complaining of vision problems following the match.

Abi defeats Takarafuji – There seems to be some magic in Abi-zumo, as he effectively landed a nodowa against a many with no neck. Takarafuji found hims sumo disrupted, and battled to clear Abi’s attacks, but ran out of dohyo to maneuver.

Endo defeats Kagayaki – Both men threw the kitchen sink at each other, with Endo calling the tune. At one point their early oshi fest went chest to chest and the competitors actually did look like they were dancing. Post match, Endo was holding his forehead – another oversized bandage for a Kagayaki competitor? Maybe he needs to modify that tachiai.

Asanoyama defeats Sadanoumi – Member of the Kagayaki head wound club Sadanoumi cannot endure Asanoyama’s spin attack, and eats clay. Asanoyama picks up a much needed win.

Kaisei defeats Onosho – The only rank and file undefeated rikishi takes a loss at the hands of a surprisingly genki Kaisei. With this loss, Hakuho has sole possession of the lead.

Daieisho defeats Yoshikaze – Yoshikaze seems to have completely run out of energy to compete at the Makuuchi level. It’s painful to watch.

Chiyotairyu defeats Aoiyama – The hatakikomi came quickly, and made me gasp. Few rikishi are big enough and fast enough to roll someone the size of Aoiyama, but Chiyotairyu certainly can.

Okinoumi defeats Ryuden – Ryuden seems to have lost his fighting spirit, and each day seems to be going through the motions. Kind of tough to watch, but when injuries happen, this is the result.

Hokutofuji fusensho Mitakeumi – Mitakeumi damaged his knee day 6, and is missing an excellent chance to run up the score against a reduced Ozeki and Yokozuna force. Hokutofuji picks up back to back default wins, something that has not happened in decades.

Myogiryu defeats Nishikigi – Nishikigi’s magical adventure in the joi-jin looks like it has run out of gas. Can he refuel and return to surprising his opponents? I do hope so. Myogiryu gets a much needed win.

Tamawashi defeats Tochiozan – Tochiozan was on defense the entire match, and Tamawashi batted him about before deciding to finish him.

Takakeisho defeats Ichinojo – Ichinojo has reverted to the docile form of whatever species he is, and failed to deactivate Takakeisho’s wave action attack by grabbing his opponent’s mawashi until it was too late and he was already struggling for balance.

Takayasu defeats Kotoshogiku – Takayasu’s recovery from the flu continues, and he delivers the hug-n-chug to counter Kotoshogiku’s favorite attack strategy. With advantage in size, youth and joint health, Takayasu carried the match.

Goeido defeats Shodai – Impressive that Goeido is finding ways to win, now up to 3 wins out of a needed 8. He was helped by Shodai’s trademark crappy tachiai. Shodai was able to back to Ozeki to the bales, but did not lower his hips to thrust out Goeido, and instead Shodai launched his own body higher. Goeido capitalized on this blunder and won.

Hakuho defeats Shohozan – Hakuho is the lone undefeated rikishi, and is the man to beat for the Emperor’s cup. Shohozan could not generate much offense, and Hakuho waited for his moment and pulled “Big Guns” Shohozan down.

Hatsu Story 1 – Takakeisho

Takakeisho 4

While I am certainly grumpy about the state of the upper ranks, it’s clear that a lot of well deserved attention will be focused on Takakeisho during the Hatsu basho. A young, dynamic rikishi, he has been on a nearly unbroken upward tear since his Makuuchi debut 2 years ago. He is now poised on the cusp of an Ozeki promotion, amid talk that he may represent a look at the future of sumo.

Takakeisho has a distinctive bulbous body shape that makes him look a bit like a tadpole, and was part of the invention of the “Tadpole” moniker. But that name glosses over some specifics about Takakeisho and his sumo that I think are important to understanding his future. Clearly Takakeisho is a man driven to compete, and to hone himself to ever higher levels of performance. He has become a master at a unique brand of oshi-zumo that he continues to refine with great effect (seen here against Kisenosato 1 year ago).

At Tachiai we have referred to this as his trademark “Wave Action” that features him delivering potent double-arm thrusts squarely towards his opponent’s center of mass, while rapidly shifting his position. His attack style delivers a steady rain of power that disrupts, unbalances and frequently defeats any rikishi he faces.

I take delight in understanding that this approach was developed in part because Takakeisho has fairly short arms. This might normally hamper a rikishi’s career, but he has found a way to use this feature of his body type as a potent weapon instead.

With his Kyushu basho win in the history books, Takakeisho participated in many celebrations and festivities in the two months since the last tournament. Sometimes this hampers the performance of a rikishi in the following basho, and Team Tachiai will be watching with great interest to see if the extra burden, pressure and distraction of being the Kyushu yusho winner will weight down the young rising star. Fans keeping score understand that his magic number is 11 to be considered for a promotion to Ozeki, which given his most recent post-injury record (42 over 4 basho), should be within reach. Much of his chances will come down to the somewhat questionable state of the Yokozuna and Ozeki corps, as only Takayasu and Mitakeumi were able to defeat him in November. Tachiai will be following him closely, and hoping for a good, strong showing in Tokyo from Takakeisho.