Virgil Valentine’s Autumn Basho Top 10

You want the best?  You got the best…from number one to ten!


Light up a fine tobacco product of the Caribbean and sit back.  It’s time for the Virgil Valentine’s Autumn Basho Top 10.


1. YE Hakuho (13-2) (2)

2. SE Kotoshogiku (12-3) (4)

3. SW Kisenosato (12-3) (5)

4. OW Baruto (10-5) (3)

5. SE Kakuryu (9-6) (6)

6. M1E Homasho (10-5) (unranked)

7. OW Harumafuji (8-7) (1)

8. KE Toyonoshima (8-7) (8)

9. M1W Okinoumi (8-7) (9)

10. M3W Tochiozan (7-8) (unranked)

() = previous ranking


Truthfully, I’m glad Hakuho won the yusho because I knew he was the best out there this basho.  His wins were all quality wins, and his two losses were YAOCHO.  Yes, it still exists.  Hakuho knows Kokugikan needs butts on the zabutons, JSA needs the sheeple’s yennies, and more importantly, he’d like to see an increase in the number of envelopes of prize money for his bouts in the future.  Hakuho knows a loss to these two ‘future Japanese hopes’ will actually be better for his career, and that he can still get the yusho with two losses…he is that good, and he knows it.


There is a huge gap between number one and number two.  Let me make this very clear…Kotoshogiku achieved promotion to Ozeki with the bare minimum requirements, and it’s difficult to argue he even achieved this much if you saw his bouts.  Bare minimum means 33 quality wins over three basho.  Baruto had 35, Ama (Haruma) had 35, and Kotooshu had 36.  We make fun of these three when they don’t perform up to expectations of the rank, but they certainly performed above and beyond to get there.  At least at the top of my memory, the Geek beat Yoshikaze in a false-start bout, and Hakuho in YAOCHO.  He needed these wins, but would we be calling him Ozeki Kotoshogiku today if he lost either of these?  He and Kisenosato are just about equal and I decided to give the Geek the edge.


Baruto had some losses, some spoiler upsets, and overall, performed his role as an Ozeki not earnestly seeking the yusho.


At the end of last basho, Kakuryu was the best Sekiwake and the closest to Ozeki, but the nerves got the best of him.  He did, however, manage an overall honest performance as Sekiwake, and was able to take down big names like Kotoshogiku and Baruto.


“Notably absent is Homasho, who we all (except Briton-Meyer) know would double-digit makekoshi if he was in joi.”

—yes, that’s my quote from last basho’s Top 10 countdown.  The three previous times in his career Homasho has been ranked Maegashira 1 East, his results were 5-10, 3-12, 1-14.  Can you argue with me for making a bold statement?  Homasho has learned to do forward-motion sumo, and more importantly, offensive sumo.  In short, I’m finally impressed with his performance, and everyone is just so dazzled by his bows.


Harumafuji remains in the top ten because he kachikoshied with the most difficult schedule.  Haruma had big wins such as defeating Kakuryu and Kisenosato, but otherwise this basho was a huge choke following up his Yusho in July.  But…was he really on a mission to Yokozuna?  Did he really want to be Yokozuna?

Last I heard, an Ozeki makes 2.3 million yen per month.  A Yokozuna makes 2.8 million yen.  That’s an 18% salary increase, for certain, but let’s be honest.  That 2.3 million yen is a damn good salary for the son of a police officer from Mongolia.  Stick with ozeki, try to get your ‘expected’ ten wins per basho, an occasional yusho, and have a long career, rather than becoming Yokozuna, being ‘expected’ to be in the running for the yusho each basho, and under the watchful eye of the socialite-filled Yokozuna Deliberation Council and the vultures know as Japanese media.  Stay Ozeki, and give us many more years of exciting sumo (and a steady 2.3 million yen per month).


Toyonoshima and Okinoumi were good in joi, and had some big wins.  There’s not far behind Haruma.


Tochiozan is far behind the other nine, but deserves to be in tenth because of his 7-8 in joi, including big wins over the Geek and the Kak.


The Good:


YE Hakuho (13-2), but actually 13-0.  Excellent sumo and now with 20 yusho, a member of an exclusive club of greats.


The Bad:


OW Kotooshu (1-6-8) We know you bowed out to “elbow injury,” but was it really?  Your sumo didn’t look like a guy dealing with an injury.  Kaisei was dealing with an injury, but fought until the end.  Your countryman, Aoiyama was dealing with injury, but entered on day three and got a 10-3-2 in Juryo.  Your sumo looked amateur.  Why are you still ozeki?


The Ugly:


5-10 KW Aran.  Three of his wins were slap-down wins, one pull-down, and one honest force-out.  The slap-downs and pull-down all were henka wins.  Ugly stuff.  Aran, we’re friends.  Grow some potatoes and fight straight-up sumo now!

There you have it, friends.  Temperatures will cool down, so save your sweatin’ till November!

6 responses to “Virgil Valentine’s Autumn Basho Top 10

  1. Really? Hakuho threw two bouts? If he was so sure of yusho why didn’t he throw his bout on the last day and give us a three way play off?

    What you say about Harumafuji is pretty interesting. I wonder if that was Kaio’s strategy all those years too, going kadoban every other tournament and somehow pulling out the wins he needed to maintain his rank. These guys are pretty well paid aren’t they! Wow!

  2. It was Senshuraku and Hakuho just wanted to pick up the trophy and go home. On top of that, if there was a three-way playoff, he’d have to stand up on the dohyo and fight the Geek, Kissy, and all of the Kokugikan rooting for his loss.

  3. That makes sense. I bet he might have thrown the final bout if it was going to be a two-way play off, just to prove that he could beat his opponent no matter how much the pressure was on. But a three-way play off is risky – he would have to fight one rikishi first and then the second rikishi might win…

    Has there ever been a three way play off? How much time to the rikishi get in between bouts? How do they figure out who fights who first?

  4. Oh there have been several three way play offs, and even play offs with more. A year or two back there was a seven-way play off in Makushita! It happens from time to time, even in Makuuchi when there isn’t a dominant Yokozuna.

    They get the normal time limit between bouts…five minutes or so.

    How do the figure out who fights who? Drawing straws. Think old-school.

  5. You may get a kick out of my only comment to all this. So I’ve probably mentioned that my brother and I have a Fantasy Sumo system. And going into the last 3 bouts I was up 97-95. We sat, holding our breath, not fast-forwarding to build up all the “delightful tension.”
    First match – he has Kisenosato (I have had the Kid in my stable forever, but couldn’t afford to keep him anymore ((in our system, the longer you keep rikishi the more you have to pay them))) and I have Goeido.
    Next bout is the Geek vs. Bart. I picked up the Geek with money I freed up by letting The Kid go. He’s had Baruto ever since we started in Sept. 09.
    Final bout – it all comes down to the last match – Harumafuji vs. Hakuho. He’s had Hakuho since day one also (I drafted Asashoryu – we won 2 of 3 yusho – then you all know what happened. 😦 ) and I was running Harumafuji. Despite bringing home a stack of envelopes LAST TIME for me (yes – we have prize money in wax-sealed envelopes, tied together with ribbon, and we chop three times before we take them), Harumafuji had been a let down this time around – if he had just gotten a couple simple wins we wouldn’t be in this situation.
    Then it happened – he lost and my brother comes back to win 98-97.
    A sumo-storybook comeback.
    I’m just sharing because you all are probably the only nerds on the planet who would appreciate! 🙂

    As a sidenote: Gagamaru and Kotoshogiku won me some envelopes for their special prizes, so I celebrated that evening with a dram of Balvenie Peated Cask and a Partagas Black.

  6. Regarding the cases of Hakuho v Kisenosato and Hakuho v Kotoshogiku: yeah, they were, in almost all certainty, yaocho. So what? it’s nothing new, and it’s nothing that is going to end. Let’s deal with the fact that this happens, and move on.

    Chris, we here do a Guess the banzuke contest every basho. I usually claim or share the 1st place slot, but a ton of mistakes, some idiotic, some very idiotic, led me to an embarrassing loss this basho. Unlike you, I had no envelopes to cry myself to sleep on, my whisky was decent at best, and my cigar was good for the price, but over-all a let down. However, I am a huge proponent of the Partagas family. Nice choices (at least in regards to smoke and drink), and here’s to a better basho in Kyushu.

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