Hajinochikara’s Spotlight For Aki Basho: Homasho

My rikishi on the bubble has risen to Maegashira 1. Now, its time to find out whether that bubble will pop.

I quite liked Valentine’s top ten posting after the last basho. The idea of considering a rikishi’s strength-of-schedule is an aspect of Sumo that the great Asashoryu-Hakuho rivalry has caused me to pay too little attention to. You might think that I mean that Asashoryu and Hakuho had a rivalry with each other. I do not. I mean that they had a rivalry with all the rest of Sumo.

My long term interest in each basho was to identify the rikishi that could topple them. My more immediate interest was to pinpoint which of them was currently looking stronger. When Asashoryu got ousted from the ring by a years-long henka on the part of the JSA, my immediate interest in each sumo basho was shattered, and my long term interest seemed hopeless as upcoming rikishi after upcoming rikishi displayed not that “je ne sais quoi” quality, but rather a more “Je ne sais pas quoi croire” quality.

I tended to be mistrustful of winning streaks, wondering more and more if it was all just yaocho.

But enough about that. This basho, my interest is different. I have chosen to look at this basho through the lens of a man crush on Homasho.

Homasho

• Homasho fits my idea of a good rikishi (read: he displays diversity in his sumo).

• I don’t think Homasho is at the top of his game yet (read: he hasn’t been up and down the Maegashira shoots and ladders course so many times that I have lost hope).

• When Homasho goes against opponents he is better than, he consistently wins (this leads me to believe that he has the constancy of character to be a great ozeki if he can ever push his skill level to that point).

Now, am I going to hang my hopes on whether he will get promoted at the end of this basho? Am I going to hope that he beats Hakuho? Am I going to wonder if he goes undefeated? Am I going to expect him to win the tournament? The answer to all these questions is no.

Its easy to get caught up in all those big questions, but during this tournament, I am going to focus on smaller questions. Is Homasho showing improvement? How will his performance at Maegashira 1 this year compare to his performance at Maegashira 2 last year. Will he kachikoshi? Who will he win against and what is his past record against those rikishi?

Strength-of-Schedule

At Maegashira 1, Homasho is likely to have a strong schedule. A year ago, Homasho found himself ranked at Maegashira 2 in the Aki Basho. During that basho, Homasho faced Kaio, then Harumafuji, then Kotooshu, then Hakuho, then Baruto. He also lost to all of these rikishi.

At Maegashira 1, he is likely to face all of them again in this coming tournament. Can he beat any of them?

Kyushu Basho

As Maegashira 3, in the Kyushu Basho of 2010, Hakuho picked up a yoritaoshi win over Baruto and a sukuinage win over Kotooshu. In that tournament he also faced and lost to Hakuho and Kaio.

During both the Aki Basho and the Kyushu Basho, Homasho just missed his kachikoshi – with a 7-8 record in each tournament.

Hatsu Basho

The Hatsu Basho found Homasho ranked at Maegashira 4. During this basho, Homasho faced and beat Kaio with a sukuinage. He also faced and beat Kotooshu with an oshidashi. In addition to these two wins, Homasho faced and lost to Hakuho and Baruto.

In this tournament, at Maegashira 4, Homasho managed to get his kachikoshi, finishing the tournament with an 8-7 record.

Natsu Bullshit

I have no idea what to make of this non-basho. I am just going to leave it out of my analysis of Homasho’s performance over the last year, saying only that one of the measly three wins Homasho got in this non-basho was over Kotooshu (yorikiri).

Nagoya Basho

After the Natsu Bullshit, Homasho was ranked at Maegashira 9. His record (11-4) shows that he was ranked too low, which strengthens my conviction that the Natsu Bullshit was… bullshit.

As Valentine noted in his Top Ten of the Nagoya Basho, Homasho’s schedule was weak; weaker even than a Utah beer. Homasho didn’t face any of the ozeki or the yokozuna.

He did face (and lose to) Kaisei and Kotoshogiku.

Homasho vs. Kaisei

I am expecting Homasho to start to consistently beat Kaisei over the next few bashes. Kaisei is like Baruto of yesteryear. His size confuses better rikishi, but they will soon learn to deal with it. At that point, Kaisei will either learn to fight better (as Baruto has) or he will not (as has happened with Kotooshu).

Kaisei is still too fresh for me to care about, except in that he will be a training ground for how to beat Baruto. Baruto’s sumo is now good enough that it is not an easy thing to separate his bulk from his skill. The two combined make him formidable. Kaisei has the bulk, but not the skill. This could give Homasho a chance to experiment in order to improve his skill against Baruto.

Kotoshogiku vs Homasho

This is the real test for my prediction the Homasho will be the next Ozeki. I don’t think that Kotoshogiku has the consistency of performance or diversity of technique to perform at a high level, but I do think he is a good rikishi. He may even get lucky and promote to Ozeki in this tournament – thus dashing my hopes for Homasho.

Whether Kotoshogiku promotes or not, I will be watching carefully to see if Homasho manages to pull a win out over Kotoshogiku in this tournament. Homasho has been consistently losing to Kotoshogiku, and I feel that surpassing Kotoshogiku is Homasho’s next step up the Sumo ladder. It is a step that I am happily nervous about: I wonder whether Homasho will be able to rise to that level.

What’s your spotlight for this tournament?

I’d like to open the comments section of this post to all the rest of the contributors and readers on the website to tell us why you are watching this basho. Who are you interested in? What are you interested in? Why are you interested in that aspect? Don’t feel that you have to write a lot or in great detail, even just writing the name of a rikishi you like would be interesting.

5 responses to “Hajinochikara’s Spotlight For Aki Basho: Homasho

  1. Well – there’s the obvious Ama-watch, which has been written about in enough detail that I won’t go into it.

    And Kotoshogiku – will the little round man belly-buck his way upward?

    Kakuryu and Kisenosato are still interesting to watch, but I never have any idea what is going to happen with them. I don’t see either as ever being Ozeki material.

    The guy no one has mentioned who I have my eye on is Tochiozan. He had a short period of pretty good sumo, and just looked amazing – including 11 wins in his first basho at Sekiwake – then took a BIG tumble down the banzuke. He was hyped – did it go to his head? Did he need to get spanked hard to take things seriously again? He managed 10 last basho in a low-mid rank. Is he on his way back? Or is he just going to yo-yo around like so many? He’s got the talent – can he put it together?

    And let me remind everyone – that Japanese hope Tatsu has made it to Makushita. Not the fasted rise – with 5 basho in Sandanme – but the kid is 17 years 3 months old – and ready to start into the Third Division …

    If all goes to the script he makes Juryo in 4, and Top Division in 3 after that, then the “real” run begins …

  2. Nice post Hajinochikara. The nice thing about this basho is that there are a lot of rikishi worth following.

    The two I am most interested in is Kakuryu and Okinoumi. Kakuryu is currently the sekiwake that has the best shot to gain Ozeki promotion. The six-time Gino-sho kid has won 22 in the last two bashos. If he wins 11 more including one over the Dai-Yokozuna it would be hard to deny him the promotion.

    Okinoumi is a much improved rikishi since his suspension for betting on baseball. In fact, I’d argue the time off gave him more time to train. His tachi-ai is went from tricycle to bullet train status and since then its been the number one factor in his recent success. I don’t expect him to get his eight here at M1, but also think he’ll likely get one or two surprising wins.

    Chris,

    Good call on Tatsu. I remember seeing him a few times and thinking that the big boy had the skill set to be great. It’ll be interesting to see how he manages these next few bashos.

  3. @Daly (Matagidan):

    Looking at Kakuryu’s line-up from the last tournament, it looks like he only lost to rikishi he is likely to face again in this tournament. Imagining for a moment that his line-up happens to pit him against all the guys he lost to last basho, which do you think he is likely to beat this time around?

    His losses in the last basho were to: hAruMA, Kisenosato, Hakuho, Toyonoshima, and Kotoshogiku.

    Also, I tell you what (“what”): if your Okinoumi and my Homasho were flavors of ice-cream, Homasho would be “Jungle Ice” or “Icing on the Cake” and Okinoumi would be “Nuts to You” or “Cookie Dough.” That’s right. I said it. What are you going to do about it?

    @Chris:

    I am excited to see whether Haruma is hAruMA (awesomeness) or HaRUma (meaninglessness).

    I also agree with you about Kisenosato (though not about Kakuryu). I keep all my whiskey bottles from basho to basho on a shelf and I have a post-it notes stuck to those bottles where I keep track of the rikishi I was interested in at that time. Kisenosato’s name is written on several of these post it notes, but on more recent notes, I have added a question mark after his name. (Okinoumi’s name is written on several notes, too, but I have crossed it off and replaced it with Homasho).

    As for Kakuryu – Patton gave me a hot tip on Kakuryu two years ago when I had never heard of him – now, Kakuryu is at Sekiwake for his second tournament in a row. I agree with Daly that this tournament is Kakuryu’s make it or break it moment. I will either write a question mark next to Kakuryu’s name at the end of this tournament or an exclamation mark.

  4. Nice one Briton-Meyer,

    I too have a bit of a man-crush on Homasho. It all started a few years ago when he stated that he though that the west shitakubeya was cursed, because a few guys on the west got concussions. Ever since then it’s been non-stop platonic-love thrill ride (i believe the icing on the cake you are referring to are his bows, and the cigars he peddles). He’s stepped up his tachi-ai and isn’t quite as defensive at the get go (which isn’t a bad thing), and his otsuke is a pretty good go-to-weapon. He’s been doing pretty well against the big guns recently despite losing some matches.

    Kise and the Geek (sounds like an 80’s buddy comedy), I like Kise, he’s got fire in his bouts, but it sometimes gets sloppy and bites him in the ass. He’s diverse, but he gets psyched out. Geek, like everyone says, is a one-trick pony. He’s strong, but if that hug-n-chug doesn’t work he’s usually screwed. Not to mention that I’ve seen some pretty embarrassing losses via henka.

    Fishface, he’s my front runner. I’ve been watching him for a few years now, and he’s only gotten better and more consistent. For a while he was a bit smaller and that was causing some problems for him, but he’s gained some weight and some muscle (mostly in the mawashi), and is looking much better for it.

    I’m split here. I love Homey, but Okinoumi is becoming one of my favorites. I like his chill demeanor on the dohyo. I like how he’s improved, and mostly I like his structure and his good use of his bulk. I guess it will again be my turn to peel you two apart once the absinthe starts flowing.

    @Chris, yeah, TOTALLY! I can’t wait to see Tatsu rip stuff up. I’m also excited to see Myogiryu and Sotairyu in upper juryo, and Kimikaze (former Naoe) and Chiyonokuni in the lower half. In makushita Tatsu, Ryuden, Homarefuji, and Amuru (Sasakiyama goes without saying). Below that I’ve got my eyes on Wakamisho, Aragyoshi, Kotodaiki, and Meisei.

    Let us not forget (and I’m not braggin’ here) that my bubble rikishi, Takanoyama, is up in makuuchi too. He did pretty well at the YDC soken, scoring well over 50% wins, and received a good does of the crowd’s affection. He’s always fun to watch, and I think he will at least be a hanger-on in mid-maegashira for a while yet.

    In any event I see this being an exciting basho, at least in comparison to recent ones (Natsu bull-shit , I’m talking to you).

  5. Pingback: Hopeful Rikishi And Not So Hopeful Hajinochikara | Sumo & Stogies

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