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SUMO: 2018 Nagoya Basho (Day 11)

It’s Day 11 of the Nagoya Basho, and I’m back from my personal kyujo [absence due to medical condition]. There’s been an interesting change in the standings, but not at the very top. Sekiwake Mitakeumi remains undefeated (now at 10–0) and is alone atop the leaderboard. However, his closest remaining rival, M13 Asanoyama, lost on Tuesday, dropping to 8–2 and giving Mitakeumi a two-win lead over his closest competition. 

For his part, Mitakeumi continues to perform like someone who has been in a tight yusho [tournament championship] race before—calmly going about his business and doing his own brand of sumo. And now that he’s got a buffer between himself and the rest of the field, I can only imagine that the pressure he’s feeling has backed off just a little. He’s also beaten his own personal demon and finally managed to get double-digit wins while ranked in sanyaku. I’m definitely rooting for Mitakeumi to take the yusho, but I continue to be skeptical that he’ll just waltz up and do so without facing some mighty internal challenges.

Asanoyama, the last of the rikishi who was hot on Mitakeumi’s heels, lost a wild match yesterday against M16 Hokutofuji, another young rikishi who belongs much further up the banzuke [ranking sheet]. Hokutofuji was the yusho runner-up last November, but struggled with some knee issues in the early months of this year. It’s good to see him looking strong again, but sad that it comes at the expense of a fellow up-and-comer who was doing so well this basho.

Ozeki Takayasu lost for the third time yesterday, when M4 Kaisei used a kotonage [arm bar] to roll him off the dohyo. Unfortunately, the arm in question was Takayasu’s left, which is the one he injured in May’s tournament, and seemed to strain again in his Day 5 win over M2 Ikioi. Takayasu was clearly in pain after his loss to Kaisei, but since the ozeki is kadoban [threatened with ozeki demotion] and his record sitting at 7–3, he MUST persevere until he gets that 8th win for kachi-koshi [majority of wins]. Once he does that, though, I’m pretty sure we’ll see Takayasu to kyujo for the remainder of the Nagoya Basho.

Speaking of painful kotonage and going kyujo, M1 Kotoshogiku has withdrawn from the tournament after komusubi Tamawashi used an arm bar to throw him off the dohyo. He landed in a heap on an obasan [old lady] and just lay there grasping his right arm and grimacing in pain. (There’s no word on what expressions the obasan was making.) Not surprisingly, he’s been diagnosed with bicep and tricep strains that will take at least three weeks to heal, and so will finish the basho with a 3-8-4 record, which is a real shame because Kotoshogiku fought very hard in Nagoya. His win/loss record suffers from the fact that he’s one of the few rikishi who actually DID have to fight against ALL of the sanyaku rikishi this tournament—both yokozuna, all three ozeki, and both pairs of sekiwake and komusubi. In fact, it’s a testimony to how well he performed that he managed to GET three wins out of that schedule. 

Today’s top matches include:

M13 Asanoyama (8–2) vs. M10 Nishikigi (5–5)—With his loss yesterday, Asanoyama drops two-wins behind the leader. HOWEVER, if he can take advantage of the relatively low level of his competition he’s facing, he can stay in the yusho race. (1:10)
M6 Endo (7–3) vs. M3 Takakeisho (7–3)—After losing his third match yesterday, fan favorite Endo is still trying to get his kachi-koshi eighth win. Of course, so is Takakeisho, who has been using a very interesting style of sumo lately. Should make for a fun match. (7:20)
Komusubi Tamawashi (6–4) vs. M2 Ikioi (5–5)—Both Tamawashi and Ikioi are at VERY difficult rungs of the banzuke, where they must start their tournaments with matches against the top-rankers. Usually, coming into Week 2 with just two or three wins is considered a success, but both of them are doing much better this basho. Indeed, they both seem poised to get kachi-koshi and promotions even higher up the rankings. Of course, only one of them can notch another win today. (11:25)
M4 Kaisei (7–3) vs. sekiwake Mitakeumi (10–0)—Mitakeumi has a two-win lead over his nearest competition, and a three-win lead over most of the field. Of course, his opponents are only going to get tougher each day ahead for the remainder of the basho. Kaisei “version A” has been showing up most days, here in Nagoya (maybe because the summer heat is very Brazilian), and if that continues, he’ll for sure give Mitakeumi a run for his money. Also, Mitakeumi has NEVER beaten Kaisei before (though they’ve only met four times previously). (13:15)
Sekiwake Ichinojo (4–6) vs. ozeki Takayasu (7–3)—Takayasu needs one more win to erase his kadoban status. The big question here is about his left arm and how much pressure can he exert with it? Ichinojo seems to have utterly fallen back on his lazy ways, but he’s still a monster of a human being, and Takayasu probably can’t beat him with one arm almost literally tied behind his back. Probably won’t be the best sumo of the day, but it may be the most interesting match. (14:15)
Ozeki Goiedo (7–3) vs. M5 Daishomaru (3–7)—Goeido also needs one more win to get kachi-koshi and erase his kadoban status. He, however, has a much easier path to walk against Daishomaru, who is having a pretty dismal tournament. (15:15)

2 Comments

  1. Noel wrote:

    Oh, what a day for “Kaisei B” to show up! :-/
    Also: I like him, but I give Takayasu one more day to get his kachi-koshi before he simply goes kyujo and accepts demotion. He looked like he had no real fighting spirit today, and we’ve seen that look before; usually right before he goes kyujo. :-(

    Wednesday, July 18, 2018 at 5:59 pm | Permalink
  2. Stan! wrote:

    Maybe … but I don’t think so. Putting together a three-tournament run that’s worthy of an ozeki promotion is something that sometimes only happens once in a career—sometimes even for ozeki. I mean, think of the last few years … the only sitting ozeki who put together 33 wins in back-to-back-to-back tournaments was Kisenosato. Heck, even yokozuna Kakuryu failed to meet that mark most of the time over the past few years. Kotoshogiku and Goeido have regularly been kadoban multiple times a year, and Terunofuji managed to scratch and cling to the rank for two years after he injured his knee and SHOULD have taken demotion in favor of rest and recuperation. I don’t think that Takayasu will just give up until he literally is UNABLE to get into the ring.

    The BIGGER question in my mind is whether any of his upcoming opponents will be willing to engage in some yaocho [match fixing] to get him that one win. There’s a long history in sumo of rikishi from a friendly heya taking a dive to help a compatriot make kachi-koshi. There was some serious debate about whether or not Goeido was the recipient of that in order to land his promotion. The problem for Takayasu is that he’s got high-quality opponents coming up–Mitakeumi today, Endo tomorrow, Goeido probably on Sunday–that leaves only one spot for a potential “helpful opponent.”

    Fortunately for Takayasu, he’s already FOUGHT everyone else ranked M4 and higher. So the two highest-ranked opponents he could be asked to face are M5 Daishomaru and M5 Yoshikaze (who have a total of 3 wins between them so far this basho). The Kyokai can throw Takayasu a bone on Saturday and still claim that they gave him the “toughest opponent available.”

    Wednesday, July 18, 2018 at 9:11 pm | Permalink

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