Skip to content

SUMO: 2018 Hatsu Basho Senshuraku [Final Day] (Day 15)

It’s Day 15, senshuraku [the final day] of the Hatsu Basho, and M3 Tochinoshin, the big bear from Georgia, has secured the yusho [tournament championship], his first one in the top division, and the first time since the 2012 Haru Basho that a rank-and-file rikishi has won a major tournament. It’s also the first time since January 2012 (and only the third time in sumo history) that a European-born rikishi has won a tournament.

For those who don’t know, Tochinoshin has had a rocky career, first coming up through the ranks in 2006–2008, he won the Juryo yusho ten years ago in January 2008 and premiered in the Makuuchi Division in May that same year. He bounced up and down the banzuke [ranking sheet] in the division for several years, getting as high as komusubi four times and finishing as runner-up for the yusho twice. But in May of 2013 he suffered a severe knee injury that kept him out of sumo for half-a-year and send him spiraling all the way down to the middle of the Makushita Division (where he was no longer even drawing a salary). He then fought his way back up, winning two Makushita yusho and two Juryo yusho over the course of four consecutive basho (three of them with perfect zensho [no loss] records) and finally returned to the Makuuchi Division in November of 2014. Still, for most of the time since then he has fought with huge bandages around both knees and clearly still being hampered by the nagging, chronic pain from his original injuries. He managed to get promoted to komusubi for four more tournaments, and even had one at the rank of sekiwake, but every time he climbed that high, his knees seems incapable of carrying him to the next level. Until this tournament.

Tochinoshin has looked strong and pain-free from Day 1. Maybe his wounds are finally healed. Maybe the recent birth of his first child (who is in Georgia, and who he hasn’t yet seen or held) pushed him past the pain. Whatever the reason, this has been a miraculous, perhaps once-in-a-career tournament for Tochinoshin, and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. I DO hope that it’s just the start of his resurgence and that he’ll make a run at a promotion to ozeki in the coming tournament (technically, all he needs is 10 wins in March to crest the traditional 33 wins over three tournaments barrier).

I don’t know what happened to yokozuna Kakuryu who, after going 10–0 over the first ten matches of this basho, seems to have forgotten everything that got him here. It’s a collapse on an epic scale that will only fuel debate about whether it’s time for him to retire (whereas if he’d stayed competitive in the yusho race for the whole basho it would have squashed such talk for at least half a year). He finishes the tournament with a match against ozeki Goeido, who had his own epic collapse, but managed to secure his kachi-koshi [majority of wins] yesterday against sekiwake Mitakeumi. Kakuryu better shut down the faltering ozeki if he doesn’t want the YDC [Yokozuna Deliberation Council] to be debating the merits of forcing him to hang up his mawashi for good.

As usual on senshuraku, I’ll highlight ALL the matches that feature rikishi who are “on the bubble” with 7–7 records, and there are A LOT of them this basho. These are the highest drama matches of the whole tournament as this one win means promotion, while one loss means demotion . . . and there are some rikishi who are on the bubble and also on the verge of demotion to Juryo.

Luckily, Kintamayama was able to put together a senshuraku video despite being on the road, so we can see ALL the matches on Day 15. His dedication to sumo fans around the world is incredible, and I highly encourage anyone who enjoys my little posts to donate a few dollars to his tip jar. He really works hard so that we can enjoy the daily matches.

M17 Daiamami (7–7) vs. J2 Aoiyama (9–5)—Daiamami is our first rikishi on the bubble with a 7–7 record. He’s facing Aoiyama, who is coming up from Juryo for the day, and who also has something to fight for. If Aoiyama wins, he’ll move into a tie for the Juryo yusho and take part in a playoff to decide the winner. (2:35)
J1 Kyokutaisei (7–7) vs. M15 Nishikigi (7–7)—Two rikishi on the bubble going head-to-head. It doesn’t get more dramatic than this. Of course, one is at the top of Juryo and the other at the bottom of Makuuchi. If Kyokutaisei wins, expect them to basically switch spots on the banzuke in March, but if Nishikigi wins they’ll both remain pretty much where they are. (3:05)
M11 Kotoyuki (7–7) vs. M15 Ishiura (8–6)—Kotoyuki is on the bubble, still struggling to find a way to be as dominant as he was in his first year in the upper division. On the other hand, Ishiura has returned from Juryo and having regained the secret to beating opponents who are often twice his size. (4:05)
M16 Ryuden (10–4) vs. M9 Chiyomaru (8–6)—Ryudan has already achieved double-digit wins in this, his rookie tournament in the upper division. As a result, he will be awarded a kanto-sho [fighting spirit prize] when the basho concludes. He’d love, though, to add one more win to his tally just for good measure. (5:15)
M9 Shohozan (9–5) vs. M14 Abi (9–5)—Abi has been told that he will be awarded a kanto-sho [fighting spirit prize] IF he beats Shohozan today and achieves double-digit wins in his rookie Makuuchi tournament. This will be a challenge as Shohozan is still smarting from his loss to Tochinoshin yesterday and wants to get his own record up to double-digit wins. (5:45)
M4 Shodai (7–7) vs. M12 Kagayaki (8–6)—Shodai needs one more win to get his kachi-koshi, while Kagayaki has only just secured his. Two rikishi with a lot of potential who are having trouble showing it on a day in/day out basis over a fifteen day basho.  (7:00)
M5 Endo (9–5) vs. M3 Tochinoshin (13–1)—On top of having secured the the yusho for the Hatsu Basho, Tochinoshin will also gets two special prizes—the sukun-sho [outstanding performance prize] and the gino-sho [technique prize]. The first is in honor of him being a rank-and-file rikishi who performed like a yokozuna for an entire fifteen day tournament. The second one, I think, is because he won NOT by overpowering and crushing all his opponents (as one might expect him go given his size and preferred fighting style), instead he changed his style each match to suit the opponent he was facing.  Tochinoshin got his yusho through a series kimarite [winning techniques] that included throws, maneuvers, and even counter maneuvers. He has one last opponent to overcome in Endo, who will certainly challenge Tochinoshin to find some unique techniques to beat his speedy attacks. (7:25)
M3 Chiyotairyu (7–7) vs. M13 Daieisho (9–5)—Chiyotairyu is another rikishi on the bubble. If he can beat Daiesho, he’ll move closer to getting a sanyaku rank in March. Meanwhile, Daieisho was one of the leaders throughout Week 1 and he’d like to punctuate his performance y achieving double-digit wins. (8:20)
M6 Takarafuji (7–7) vs. M2 Kotoshogiku (7–7)—Two rikishi on the bubble. Kotoshogiku looked very good in Week 1 and is trying to prove that he still deserves to be a sanyaku rikishi. Takarafuji, on the other hand, is trying to shake off a slow start to the basho and earn his way back to the top tier of the Maegashira ranks. (8:50)
Komusubi Takakeisho (5–9) vs. M4 Arawashi (7–7)—Arawashi is the last of our bubble rikishi, and he’s got a tough draw against komusubi Takakeisho. If Arawashi wins, he’ll probably end up being ranked higher than Takakeisho in March. (11:50)
Sekiwake Mitakeumi (8–6) vs. ozeki Takayasu (11–3)—This ought to be one of the strongest matches of the day. Both rikishi have snapped out of mid-tournament slumps and ar trying to finish strong. Both have something to prove in that they have their sights set on promotion to a rare rank sometime in the near future. We’ll see whether Mitakeumi looks more like an ozeki . . . or Takayasu looks more like a yokozuna. (13:00)
Yokozuna Kakuryu (10–4) vs. ozeki Goeido (8–6)—Two top-ranked rikishi who are limping to the end of this basho. Kakuryu has lost four in a row now, and wants to put an end to the slide so as to stave off calls for his resignation. Meanwhile, Goeido only just managed to get his kachi-koshi yesterday and looks like he’s fallen back into his weak-sauce ozeki ways. They both have great sum still within them somewhere . . . we saw it in Week 1. The question is whether either of them can summon that spirit here on senshuraku. (14:00)

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *