Kyushu Basho: Pre-Basho Report

Last basho, I started off with an eye towards the M1 Crux. Neither M1 disappointed. Homasho managed to get a promotion to Komusubi and Okinoumi gets another chance to prove himself in the M1 Crux over the first few days of this basho. He shares that honor with Goeido. I’ll leave those stories to the daily reporters this basho.

My focus on the first few days of this basho will be down at the bottom of the banzuke. I will be cheering for Kimurayama and Aoiyama this basho.

Kimurayama was looking good in the pocket last basho. I am hoping to see a strong crux performance out of him this basho. I don’t know if it will happen yet, but the wild swings that often happen for newly promoted Makuuchi rikishi have calmed down for him and he is steadily defending his turf down there at the bottom of the banzuke.

As I looked at Kimurayama’s Crux/Pocket Performance last basho, he strikes me as a rikishi on the verge. You’ll notice that he had a very solid pocket performance, and you will also notice the stars next to the names of many of the rikishi he faced. Those stars mean that it was difficult for me to decide if they belonged in his crux or his pocket (because their bout history was so short or because their bout history was so evenly matched)

Crux (1-6): Tenkaiho*, Daido*, Kitataiki, Tosyutaka*, Takarafuji, Asasekiryu*, Kokkai*

Pocket (6-2): Tamawashi*, Wakakoyu*, Aminishiki*, Tamaasuka, Yoshiazuma*, Shotenro*, Takanoyama*, Hochiyama

I will also be watching Aoiyama who is a freshman Makuuchi member. Aoiyama doesn’t get a crux/pocket report this time because he jumped up to Makuuchi from way down at Juryo 6 after spending just two basho in Juryo. He will be a lot of fun to watch in the coming tournament. Valentine is likely rising just as fast as Aoiyama seeing as Aoiyama is Valantine’s pick for Rikishi on the Bubble.

In addition to Kimurayama and Aoiyama, I will be watching Tsurugidake, Shohozan, and Sadanofuji. I consider all three of these rikishi cannon fodder, but I am hoping to be surprised. Here is a little about each.

Tsurugidake joins Aoiyama as fresh meat in the Makuuchi. He rises from Juryo 2. I would say that he is a name to remember, but there is no point to that seeing as the man is more likely than not to change his name by the time I am done writing this.

Shohozan is yet another Makuuchi newbie. He comes to us from Juryo 5. In his most recent stint, he has sped through Juryo in a mere two bashos, but unlike Aoiyama, Shohozan is more of the Rikishi on the Bounce than he is on the Bubble. He goes up and down more than an old man using faulty Viagra. We’ll have to see how he fares in Makuuchi.

Sadanofuji can’t be called a Makuuchi newbie yet. I think he just lost his way on the way to the bathroom and somehow found himself in the Makuuchi banzuke. He comes to us with a losing record in Juryo (54-66). I don’t expect to see much out of him this basho.

12 responses to “Kyushu Basho: Pre-Basho Report

  1. Good stuff there Briton-Meyer. But you left me hanging.. I want to hear your opinion on so many other matters…

    Any ideas about Kisenosato? His keiko reports have looked pretty darn good. The factor in play will probably be the death of his Shisho, will he rise to the occasion and snag the promotion, or melt down like he has countless times before?

    How about the geek? Promotion basho jitters? or par for the course?

    Is Kotooshu turned his shit around? Or is he still just shit?

    Has Kakuryu gotten off the hikikomori horse? or is he gonna melt down this basho too?

    Is Baruto finally destined for a yusho? Or are we destined to see more Boo Radley-esque limb flailing?

    Come on man, I need your overly complicated theories like i need a scotch to go with my Montecristo. but then again maybe you left it like that to stimulate conversation… you sly little tease, you.

  2. Cheering for Kimurayama is akin to cheering for a root canal: it’s aesthetically unpleasing and hurts like hell too. Kimurayama is an untalented hack. He’s a henka specialist and is only still in the top division because of all the expulsions earlier this year. His record over the last four basho: M 14, 6-9; M 17, 7-8 (surely the only make koshi at that rank every to remain in the top division; M 15, 7-8; M 16, 7-8. At least he’s consistant — consistantly bad. His sumo is listless and, as previously mentioned, he heavily utilizes the henka. His religation to juryo will help improve the quality of sumo.

    I agree that Aoiyama will be interesting to watch. He seems like a mini-Gagamaru, with much better balance. (Of course about half the people who blow a breathalyzer test have better balance thatn Gagamaru typically does.) The real jewel in the promoted juryo group of five though is Myogiryu. He’s the keeper and the one to watch.

  3. Well Creswell, all good points – I left them out because I know that everyone is dying to talk about them. I’ll be focusing like a laser down at the bottom of the banzuke until mid-basho, but I am looking forward to what everyone has to say about the top.

    My own opinions are that Kisenosato will have a middling basho. I am not looking for him to continue his streak.

    The Geek will disappoint me with a 10-5 record – his sumo will be safe and boring.

    Kotooshu defies prediction – its almost as though two men live in that huge body of his. One of those men lives the life of a champion. The other lives under a bridge and drinks from a bottle concealed in a paper bag. It is anyone’s guess which one will show up to the basho. Though it does seem that the champion is showing up less and less.

    I think Kakuryu will have a good basho this time around. I am not quite sure how good, but I am hoping for him to match the Geek win for win.

    Baruto will start the basho strong and fade towards the end… no reason for that prediction, but I felt that I had to make one.

    Let’s see how things pan out. And lets hear from all you readers… regardless of how the rikishi do, I hope we set a record for the most comments from readers this basho. You all check by here to see what we have to say, but I load this page several times a day hoping to see what you all have to say.

    @ ScreechingOwl: I’ll stand by Kimurayama to the bitter end this basho… no promises next basho… root canals may hurt, but sometimes they are necessary – as is henka.

    I’ll add Myogiryu to my list of rikishi to watch at the beginning of this basho. Nice tip. Part of the reason I am focusing on the bottom this basho is because I usually get so caught up with the big stories (Kotooshu sucking, Kisenosato trying, Kotoshogiku promoting, Baruto growing more brain tissue, Hakuho yushoing) that I forget to pay enough attention to Juryo and the bottom of the banzuke.

  4. “The Geek will disappoint me with a 10-5 record – his sumo will be safe and boring.”

    I’ll be impressed if the Geek musters 10-5. First tournament for Shin-Ozekis tend to be a difficult ones, and especially those whom reached the rank by the skin of their teeth.

  5. Kimurayama? No comment comes to mind, save that I don’t think he’ll be in the division after Kyushu, and I won’t be sad if he never returns to Makuuchi. I have liked what I’ve seen of Myogiryu and also hope/expect to see more strong sumo from Okinoumi this basho. With vulnerable Ozeki at the top, things are primed for guys like Kisenosato, Homasho, Kakuryu, Toyonoshima, and the Don of the Juans mentioned previously.

    Hakuho is without a doubt still the favorite far and away.

    Should be a great couple of weeks.

    “Pour yourself a glass gentlemen, and light up that cigar; we’ve got ourselves a basho.”
    ~Josef Daly

  6. I have to go with the crowd here Briton-Meyer… Kimurayama may kachikoshi this basho, but it will be through a)luck or b)chicken-shit sumo. With b) being more of a guarantee that a probability. I will not root for him. I will boo for him.

    I agree with Valentine, i see 10 being the very top of Kotoshogiku’s range here. 8 or 9 is more likely. (8 being the most statistically probable.) 10 would impress me. 11 would surprise me, and 12 would make me believe in intelligent design (at least as it pertains to the bacterial flagellum). In fact, I’ll go as far as to say that if he yushos, I’ll drink a full glass of Spirytus with my thanksgiving dinner.

    I think that Kise will get promoted, not because he deserves it, but because other rikishi will soft-pedal him due to his loss of shisho, and because of everyone’s hard-on for a “story-book run”. Same goes for Takayasu, Wakanosato, and Takanoyama.

    Something tells me to expect a surprise from Toyonoshima… maybe it’s because I’m drunk.

    All that aside, I am glad that we can all agree on two facts, Kotooshu is beyond predicting within a reasonable doubt (or really bothering with at all for that matter), and that Hakuho is the favorite by more of a long shot than can be, or needs to be, measured.

  7. Creswell and Valentine, I agree with about the Geek. If he gets 10 wins, it will be because some of those wins were easier to get than they should have been. I chose the number because he is the Japanese shin-Ozeki and Sumo needs some good publicity back home.

    I’ll hold my opinion on Kise until mid-basho. I liked his sumo last basho, but I need to see what he is up to this basho before I get my hopes up for an Ozeki promotion. I do think he would make a better Ozeki than the Geek.

    As far as Kimurayama goes – I think he will get his kachikoshi using so-called “chicken-shit sumo” rather than due to luck. Screeching Owl noted that Kimurayama has been consistently bad. At the lower levels of the banzuke, consistently sucking is much better than inconsistently rocking. The true danger to the sport are the rikishi who rise on inconsistently good sumo (Kotooshu). As long as Kimurayama can hang in the top division, he can improve his sumo. At the lower levels, I deem consistency as being of higher importance than promising sumo.

    Thoughts on henka deserve a post of their own.

  8. I disagree. Inconsistently rocking keeps one in the top division while consistently sucking sends one back to Juryo. The banzuke is built upon this idea. Kimurayama has seven more losses to go. You better believe I am counting them down.

  9. Inconsistently rocking is how one gains experience. Some of the best rikishi ever had their time rocking inconsistently. This includes yokozuna like Chiyonofuji and Takanosato. Not to mention countless ozeki and sanyaku regulars.

    Homasho is another rikishi that, until very recently, inconsistently rocked. Harumafuji is another. Tochiozan is another. While yes these guys sometimes employ henkas, they do good forward moving sumo.

    Kimurayama almost always will slap and pull while moving backwards and circling around. Even Hakuba would henka and move forward.

  10. Between Kotoshogiku and Kisenosato, my money’s on Kotoshogiku to have a better tournament. Kisenosato is ridden by demons. The negative energy coming off that guy would stop a train. Kotoshogiku will do better because he’s working on his head game. Until Kisenosato consults an exorcist, he’ll never reach his potential.

  11. You make a good point about Homasho, but his inconsistency had more to do with rank variation than it did with his sumo. The higher he went, the fewer he won. When he was at a given level, he tended to get a fairly consistent record. That’s one of the reasons why I backed him last basho – he had consistent performance and his tachiai improved.

    What I see with Kimurayama is a set of opponents who don’t overwhelmingly beat him (i.e. he has a chance with every bout he walks into), he has been bringing home a consistent set of wins at the same general level over the last few basho, and this is his last chance. That is why I am backing him this basho.

    Kimurayama – if he gets his kachikoshi this tournament – will hopefully start moving upwards. Forward moving sumo is only good because backward moving sumo is ineffective against skilled opponents. Kimurayama – again, if he sticks it this basho – will find that out as he moves past the wide-eyed newbie bracket.

    @Matagidan – I will be counting down his wins until kachikoshi. 8 more to go.

    @Beth – Good point, but we’ll have to see how Kise handles his demons. No opinion from me there until mid-basho.

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