On Tuesday the Sponichi Annex put out their projection of Hakuho’s first 4 bouts for the upcoming Kyushu tournament, in which the Mongolian Dai-yokozuna will continue his race to beat Futabayama’s record of 69 consecutive wins. At first glance, I began to think that there is a chance Hakuho may not even make it past shonichi. But then I calmed myself down and took a look back at Hakuho’s match ups with each rikishi. Here they are (with my personal predictions) in reverse order.
Day 4 – Aminishiki – Aminishiki can be a bit slippery and tricky at the tachiai; he is a constant foil for Kotooshu and has been known to bring down the top dogs. In fact he has 7 kinboshi to prove it: Takanohana (1), Musashimaru (1), Asashoryu (4), and Hakuho (1). This doesn’t count his records against ozeki (Kotooshu 14-10, Baruto 5-8, Kaio 6-16.) However Aminishiki hasn’t beaten Hakuho since Kyushu 2008, and Hakuho has only improved since then. His tachiai is pretty much henka proof. I don’t see the sneak being any impediment. 66.
Day 3 – Kotoshogiku – The geek has little to no game against the Dai-Yokozuna. 1 lonely win back in Kyushu 2007. Geek has a formula: Fight to an inside position (preferably morozashi) and gabburi the opponent out. However, Hakuho is too quick to let the slightly slower Geeker get an inside position without the Geek giving away an inside as well. In which case Kublai will use lateral motion and probably an uwatenage to douse Koto the less. If Kotoshogiku had a more Kotomitsuki-like tachi-ai, Hakuho should be worried, but since that’s not the case… 65.
Day 2 – Kisenosato – The kid learned better than to try a harite on this opponent. I believe it was back on day 1o in May when Kise opened up with a harite against Hakuho. The subsequent Oshidashi-dameoshi combined with Hakuho’s “He needs to think about who he is harite-ing” comment, might put a damper on the tachi slap the kid loves so much. Kise almost always leaves himself wide open at the tachi-ai, spelling an easy inside right hand for Hakuho very early on in the bout, once he gets the outside left it’s over. But with a 4 -21 record against the Yokozuna (Kise’s last win coming in Aki 08) expect the Kid to put up more fight than most. Still, I see Hakuho getting inside easily enough and winning this one yorikiri. 64 .
Day 1 – Tochinoshin – This guy is the X-factor. An extremely solid lower body coupled with amazing upper body strength make Noshin a tough guy to move. It is possible for Hakuho to lose to Noshin in a mawashi battle. I see Hakuho opening maybe with a harite, and trying to get inside first, being extremely agressive on the tachi-ai, getting a good position and having driven Noshin back a bit, then whilst keeping constant pressure and good, low position, waiting either for the right opportunity, or the Georgian to make a mistake, like if the Georgian brings Hakuho in close to attempt a tsuridashi he can’t follow through on. I expect Tochinoshin to be Hakuho’s biggest hurdle in getting to 70 wins. Although some guys may have more career wins over Hakuho, Noshin has him on the first day, so Hakuho won’t have as much win momentum. If someone is gonna stop the Khan from getting 70 it’ll be this guy. After day one the only person Hakuho will lose to is himself (also extremely unlikely.) 63.