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