Table of Contents
- Setting the Stage
- The Banzuke
- Return of Hakuho
- The Action
Setting the Stage
The troupe heads out of Tokyo and to Nagoya for the first time since the COVID pandemic forced the sumo world to self-isolate. The impact has been devastating. The sumo world lost one active rikishi, and in the days before this tournament, a former wrestler and oyakata died of the infection. However, vaccination rates have started to climb and the nation begins to turn outward as it will host the Olympics in a few weeks. Athletes have begun to arrive and quarantine prior to moving to the Olympic venues. However, most fans will be watching from home, and it’s the same in Nagoya for this tournament.
The ranking list for the July tournament was released on June 21 and immediately the debates raged over questionable over promotions and under-demotions. Abi made his return to the sekitori ranks and Ichiyamamoto shocked everyone by earning a slot in Makuuchi that many, including Leonid and myself, had going to Yutakayama.
Return of Hakuho
The Boss is back! Hakuho returned to action after recovering from knee surgery. He had last mounted the dohyo in March but withdrew and opted for surgery to repair his knee. The sumo world waits with bated breath as we hope he will last the full fortnight.
The Rope Run
Terunofuji’s astonishing comeback story continues. He has won the last two top-division yusho. Success in this tournament will see him surpass his previous Ozeki rank with promotion to Yokozuna. The sumo world waits with bated breath as we hope he will secure promotion to sumo’s highest rank. (Yes, I’m aware I just plagiarized myself.)
For readers who want to relive the action, we have summarized and aggregated Tachiai’s coverage and analysis here in this table. This includes Bruce’s Previews and Highlights, as well as Josh and Leonid’s analyses. Beginning in this tournament, we’re also testing expanded coverage of sumo’s lowest division to better introduce new recruits and up-and-coming wrestlers. Feedback is appreciated.
The Yusho picture narrowed considerably quickly to be a two-horse race, and did not let up until the finish line. The action clearly did not leave all sumo enthusiasts satisfied. Several wrestlers fell out of the action due to injury, including Ozeki Takakeisho and the popular Endo. For others, the quality of sumo was considered to be lacking. Ozeki Shodai’s kadoban status was only decided on senshuraku. And Yokozuna Hakuho continued to display sumo qualities from this latter stage of his career, using various methods considered unworthy of a Yokozuna, including harite and kachi-age at the tachiai and visible displays of emotion. One of the biggest head-scratchers for many was his decision during the Shodai bout to line up back at the tawara rather than forward at the shikirisen.
The upper- and lower-division yusho outcomes are summarized here. Don’t scroll below here if you don’t want to see the outcomes before reading through the coverage above.
The Makuuchi Yusho was claimed by Hakuho on senshuraku. His euphoric shout at the win was startling to some viewers.
The Kyokai is offering up two videos of the Championship Bout. The first is filmed from the camera angle we’ve grown accustomed to. The second is filmed from ringside and provides a very interesting, new perspective and new shots that were not seen in the live action. The shot of Terunofuji’s bow, in defeat, hints at his genuine character but also foreshadows a deep, animus and brewing rivalry with Hakuho. I look forward to seeing this rivalry renewed in September.
For those who track such things, the macaron was pink, and again held upside-down.
The Juryo title also came down to senshuraku with Mitoryu and Abi sharing the lead. Mitoryu claimed the title with a win over Wakamotoharu and Abi’s loss to Midorifuji. This ended Abi’s streak of two consecutive Makushita yusho but it is clear that both will jump up the banzuke. Depending on how the Makuuchi banzuke shakes out and how many demotion slots are available, Mitoryu may lay claim to a promotion slot. But with Ichiyamamoto securing his kachi-koshi, it’s more likely both will find themselves at or nearer the top of Juryo.
With Abi promoted to Juryo, the Makushita yusho this time came down to a showdown between 6-0 Hokuseiho and Ishizaki. Ishizaki had won the Sandanme yusho in May in his debut tournament. The 22-year-old Ishizaki had been granted a privileged entry in Sandanme, skipping Jonokuchi and Jonidan because of his university sumo success at Nippon Sports Science University (日体大). Hokuseiho won the showdown bout and thus earned the title. His height and reach remind me of Akebono.
Hatooka, of Kise-beya won the Sandanme Yusho with his victory over 39-year-old, former Makuuchi wrestler, Sagatsukasa. Sagatsukasa ended a make-koshi streak that saw him fall to the lower half of Sandanme. His success will not likely bring him back into Makushita but should propel him higher in Sandanme.
The Jonidan yusho was decided in a senshuraku playoff between Fujiseiun, winner of May’s Jonokuchi yusho, and Osanai. Both men come from university sumo programs. Fujiseiun, 23, went to Meiji University while Osanai, 22, went to Kinki University. Osanai won the yusho this time and I predict many more bouts in this exciting rivalry.
Lastly, as we saw in our Jonokuchi division coverage, debutant Shunrai won the Jonokuchi yusho.
Two Special Prizes were awarded this tournament. Hoshoryu won the Technique Prize and Kotonowaka won the Fighting Spirit Prize. No prize was awarded for Outstanding Performance.
As we look ahead to September, there a good deal of intrigue and uncertainty around the next banzuke.