May Technichal Examination Basho Wrap-up

Well sumo fans, the May 技量審査場所 or “technical examination tournament” to you and me is over.  Before we get to the actual wrap up, let’s go through some facts, like Yusho, sansho, et al.  Waddaya say I pour myself some of this delightful Aberlour A’Bunadh cask strength, start with makuuchi and work our way down.

Makuuchi Yusho went to Hakuho yet again, bringing his total to 19 and tying Asashoryu for 7 in a row.  Junyusho was shared by East Komusubi Kakuryu, and West Maegashira 6 Tochinoshin with 12 wins each.  Ginosho (Technique prize) went to both East Komusubi Kakuryu and East Maegashira 1 Goeido (11-4) . Kantosho (Fighting Spirit Prize) goes to the aforementioned Tochinoshin, and West Maegashira 16 Kaisei, who in his makuuchi debut picked up 9 consecutive wins from the first day tying former Sadanoumi’s record from Kyushu 1980 and finishing with 10-5.

Irumagawa-beya’s diminutive Sagatsukasa picked up the Juryo yusho with 13-2 from East Juryo 12.  Matsutani (West Makushita 4) was the only guy in the division to get 7-0, sealing the Makushita yusho and the road back to Juryo.

Hokutokuni beat Yakunoshima in a playoff bout (both rikishi were 7-0) to secure the Sandanme yusho.  After an 8 basho hiatus (some kind of injury I assume) Hokutoumi has gone 4 basho without a single loss, although that’s expected of a ex-sekitori down in maezumo.  Tomozuna beya’s Kainoryu was the only guy in Jonidan with 7-0 thus clenching his first ever yusho.  Finally Hisanotora picks up his 2nd Jonokuchi yusho with a perfect 7-0.

Now onto my analysis.  I’ll just stick to Juryo and Makuuchi, in an attempt to curb the length here.  Makuuchi first and those more involved fans can stick around for Juryo after that.

On to makuuchi.  We’ll go from the top down here. 

Hakuho finished 13-2, but really, if this were a real basho, I don’t think he would have so easily toppled.  That being said, I think Harumafuji had a legitimate bout, but Kaio’s stunk enough for both of them.  I have no doubt that there was more than a little pressure to let the old Japanese standby win, when so many folks from disaster stricken areas were given free tickets to come see sumo.  That being said Hakuho did his job, but I look forward to seeing more intensity out of the guy in Nagoya.

Kotooshu, wow (3-8-4).  What a clod.  He looked unfocused and over stretched the entire basho.  It looked like Andre the Giant running for the free beer & pussy truck in a room with low ceilings.  He went kyujo just in time to go makekoshi by fusensho, claiming an aggravation to his old knee injury caused during his bout with Homasho.  Kadoban for him in Nagoya.  I hope he gets knocked back to sekiwake, maybe that’ll light a fire under his ass.

Kaio (9-6), I will say this, I don’t think many of his bouts were fixed.  That being said he was not doing ozeki level sumo.  There was a lot more trying not to lose than trying to win, if you take my meaning.  his win over Harumafuji was a good barometer of that.  I’d say he deserves maybe 6 or 7 out of the 9 he got. 

Baruto (10-5).  Another ozeki that was unfocused for a good deal of the basho.  He should have won the bout against Tochinoshin and Kotoshogiku, and it was too close a call on more than one occasion.  That being said, he had a few bouts and got his 10, so fair enough.  I stand by my calling him Master Blaster, and will continue to do so (although I think Boo Radley fits just as well.)

Harumafuji (10-5).  Looked better than he has recently.  We didn’t see much tell of the injuries he’s had of late, and his bouts against Baruto and Hakuho were quite good.  Pretty diverse this basho with 6 different kimarite including a rather rare susoharai (rear leg sweep) over Baruto.  Not bad for Harry.  Hoping he’ll stay in the Yusho race longer next time though.

Kotoshogiku (10-5)- Good performance by the Geek, although twice he got duped by nasty henkas and pretty much took himself out and he only used 2 kimarite the whole basho.  With the exception of Tochinoshin he only lost to sanyaku, so good job, guy.  Add a little bit more consistency and you might make Ozeki by September, but more likely is November.

Kisenosato (8-7) gave a disappointing performance.  Horribly inconsistent.  The only sanyaku he won against were Toyonoshima and Kaio (I’m not counting the fusensho win over Kotooshu).  Even Makuuchi’s co-biggest Loser, Homasho (3-12), beat the Kid.  His tachi-ais didn’t seem to go anywhere, and he almost never came out of the gates with an advantage.  I’m really hoping for at least 10-5 in Nagoya, but the way he’s dealing with rank-and-filers now a days, I would be happy with KK next time. 

Kakuryu (12-3JG).  Great showing from one of my favorite rikishi.  Matched Harumafuji with 6 kimarite for this basho losing only to ozeki and yokozuna and only on days 1,2, and 7.  Personally I think his bout against Kaisei was one of his better of the tournament (for Kaisei too for that matter).  He did henka twice, but given the sumo that followed, I don’t mind so much.  There is a bit of controversy going on about whether or not a 3rd sekiwake spot will be created for him, as both sekiwake got their majority of wins.  Technically 11 wins is the “mandatory promotion” line, but we’ll see.  Here’s hoping fish face slips into Sekiwake for Nagoya.

Toyonoshima (5-10).  His movement was off pretty much all tournament, he couldn’t get his stuff they way he usually likes it.  He got into a groove around day 11, but it was just damage control.  Hopefully this little bullfrog will get his shit together and be looking decent at a lower rank next basho.

Goeido (11-4G).  Although I don’t really like the guy or the rushed and slipshod nature of his sumo, I do have to say he did well this basho.  He had the most diverse basho using 7 different kimarite, beating all ozeki, and only losing to sanyaku.  Good for him.  We’ll see how he does with 2 straight bashos of 1st week meatgrinder.   

to keep things shorter, I’m just going to focus on (what I deem to be) exceptional rikishi from here on out.  The first of which is…

Okinoumi (7-8).  This was Casanova’s first basho ranked this high.  He only lost to one of the 4 Ozeki (Baruto) and beat a Komusubi (Toyonoshima).  however he put up a decent enough fight against the rest of the sanyaku.  He’ll slip down a bit, but I think he’ll bounce back and we might even see him back in Joi for September.

Tochinoshin(12-3K).  looked great this basho.  Hands down his best bout was against Baruto on day 13.  He looked really strong this whole month, bouts like the one against Asasekiryu show just how solid his lower body is.  My bet is M1 or Komusubi for next basho, but perhaps a less than stellar basho.  I want him to do well, but would be willing to bet no more than kachi koshi.

Tosayutaka (10-5).  Daly always calls this guy Mr. Forgettable.  Which, although I agree there are very few bouts of his I remember solidly, every bout of his I watch I enjoy.  The guy always gives everything, and is a strong fighter.  He didn’t lose to slouches, and he didn’t henka.  However, he is gonna be a bit over ranked next basho, so I would put him at 8-7 but 7-8 or 6-9 is more likely.

Gagamaru (8-7).  I don’t believe Gaga really earned this kachikoshi.  I don’t know if it has to do with the extra 2 kilos he gained, or maybe his keiko wasn’t what he’s used to, but he was WAY off balance this basho.  It seemed like the only time he could win was when someone went straight in.  Any lateral motion whatsoever and it seemed that the Lady was going down.

Last but certainly not least I come to…

Kaisei(10-5k).  Kaisei looked more than solid this basho.  Winning 9 in a row and looking good while doing it.  his best bout, I think was against Kaukryu on day 13.  In fact… Day 13 was a pretty good day.  Watch that day if you’re going to watch any from this basho.

In juryo we saw probably the piss-poorest basho I can remember.  10 rikishi got the boot, and of the remaining 18, 10 makekoshied.  Only Hochiyama picked up 7-8, most of the losses were more on par with 5-10, 4-11.  Those in Juryo who did win, did not do so in spectacular fashion.  Sagatsukasa 13-2, Takarafuji and Fujiazuma 9-6, Takayasu, Daido, Tamaasuka, and Yoshiazuma all with 8-7. 

Yeah, we’re gonna see pretty much all of those guys up in Makuuchi next go ’round, but that is not such an encouraging thought.  Lets look at the numbers. 

Of the juryo rikishi that kachikoshi-ed, their combined records against makuuchi rikishi were 3-9 this basho.  Those 3 wins coming from Daido (2) and Takarafuji (1).  All of juryo posted a paltry 3-19 against makuuchi rikishi, and yes those are the same 3 wins.  Sagatsukasa picked up the yusho without facing a single Makuuchi opponent, and in fact, faced one (Aoiyama) from makushita.  That being said, the little guy did well.  I would look forward to Takarafuji, Daido, and Sagatsukasa to do well, and possibly KK next basho.

13 Makushita rikishi will be promoted to Juryo, two with Makekoshi records.  They are, in banzuke order: (n=new juryo, *=makekoshi)

Aoiyama(n), Kakizoe(*), Takanoyama(n), Kanbayashi, Arawashi(n)*, Kaonishiki(n), Matsutani, Tenkaiho(n) (former Minami), Sotairyu, Myogiryu, Chiyonokuni(n), Hitenryu(n) (former Mochimaru), and Hamanishiki.

Of these 13 the only ones I can see hangin around as sekitori are Kanbayashi, Matsutani, Myogiryu, and maybe Sotairyu.  Chiyonokuni has an outside chance.  I’d love to see Aoiyama and especially Takanoyama stay in Juryo or make it to makuuchi, but not yet I think for those two… and Hamanishiki is just too old.

In any event.  The banzuke is gonna be f-ed up this July.  There are HUGE holes that need to be filled and not enough guys to pull it off.  The JSA has cut the number of sekitori in makuuchi from 42 to 40 and in juryo from 28 to 26.  Personally I see this being just like the gambling scandal from last year, only worse.  The banzuke is going to go through a fluctuation period with guys being constantly over and under-ranked probably until Hatsu or Osaka.  Really, Tosayutaka doesn’t belong at M1 or 2.  So he’ll have a shit-show in Nagoya nd get demoted WAY far down, then have a good basho and bounce way back up. 

The same is gonna go with the guys coming up from Juryo, they are going to be ranked WAY to high, have crap bashos then get sent back down, whilst the guys in juryo are gonna have great bashos with all the new Makushita meat.  Same with makushita.  With makushita joi mainstays like Takanoyama, Aoiyama, and the others up in juryo things are going to get very interesting down there.  And the cycle will continue, until the fluctuations equalize out.  I’m guessing come hatsu things will be pretty back to normal.  So, until then we can expect bashos like this one.  No ozeki promotions are in the immediate future.  However keep your eyes open for a Miyabiyama retirement soon.  He’s flirting with Juryo and if he drops down there via makekoshi he’ll have to retire.  Well, make sure to stay tuned here in the coming weeks.  We’re going to have profiles on all the new sekitori, a few whisky and cigar reviews, breaking banzuke news, as well as keiko reports leading up to Nagoya 2011.  Don’t forget to take our quizzes as well, they’re harder than you’d think.  Thanks for reading.

~Creswell

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