Kyushu 2011 Wrap-up; or Kisenosato: Faux-zeki?

Another Kyushu basho down, another year in sumo comes to an end.  There was the potential for a good story line going into this basho.  With the Naruto-beya scandal and the death of Naruto oyakata, how will his deshi fare?  Will Harumafuji bounce back after his failed Tsuna-tori basho?  Is Kotooshu going to finally get that demotion that has been hanging around his neck like so many albatrosses?  Will Baruto scream “FIRE, BAD!” and lumber down the hanamichi, plowing through a wall of the Kokusai center?  Will the Geek pull his weight and get 10?  Will Kise make Ozeki?  Is Kakuryu going to try for another run?  Homasho+Meatgrinder=?

How about the youngbloods?  Is Okinoumi ready for sanyaku?  How about Tochinowaka or Gagamaru?  What about the freshman, Myogiryu, Aoiyama, Shohozan, and Tsurugidake?  Any promise in these guys?  Will someone have a late career rebirth?  Tokitenku, Kyokutenho, Wakanosato, Miyabiyama?  Or will Hakuho have to build a new shelf in the garage to store another yusho in?  And of course the question on everyone’s mind: How many special prizes will Kimurayama win?


Yokozuna Hakuho(14-1) took care of business.  He lost only one bout to the highest ranked ozeki, and showed no quarter.  Good on him.

Upper Management

  • Baruto (11-4)- Had a bad start with losses to Toyonoshima, Okinoumi, and Goeido, then went 10 for 11 losing only to Harumafuji.  Beat Hakuho.  It was a good November for Brontosaurus.
  • Harumafuji (8-7) – Got his 8 using 7 different kimarite.  Things obviously didn’t go his way, but he beat Geeku, who he usually loses to.  Fair enough, but not great.  He’ll probably have better luck in Hatsu.
  • Kotooshu (9-6)- Came in kadoban, and looked really shaky the first few days.  He did seem to settle down a few around day 5.  Still, not wonderful, and certainly not worthy of the rank.  I can’t believe this guy ever won a yusho.
  • Kotoshogiku (11-4)- Geek represented himself well.  Only lost to other ozeki or yokozuna with the exception of Tochinowaka.  Displayed good sumo, and a bit more diversity than usual.

Kisenosato (10-5G) – I’m doing Kise out of order for a reason here.  As for this basho, he started out doing well, moving well, but with a little sloppiness he only beat 1 guy ranked higher than him but everyone below him (save Goeido).  Not a bad performance, but he needs to be a bigger threat to the ozeki.

Now, let’s talk frankly.  Does Kisenosato deserve Ozeki promotion?  I’m not going to bother with “historical requirements”.  Back in the 30’s and 40’s then number of bouts per tournament fluctuated anywhere from 7 to 15 and almost everything in between.  If one looks at historical records of career ozeki (meaning ozeki that do not get promoted to yokozuna), one sees that in the VAST majority of circumstances 12 and 13 win bashos are infrequent at best, and are usually limited to once (maybe twice) a year, and not always every year.  So let’s just forget that “historical” crap for now.

One could certianly make the argument that Kise is performing on, or above, the level of the current ozeki (looking at results over the past year). Here are the numbers.

  •   Baruto – Nov. 11-4, Sept. 10-5, July 11-4, May 10-5, Jan. 9-6, Nov. 11-4.  Total of 62-28
  • Harumafuji – Nov. 8-7, Sept 8-7, July 14-1Y, May 10-5, Jan 8-7, Nov. 0-4-11.  48-31-11
  • Kotooshu – Nov. 9-6,Sept. 1-6-8, July 9-6,May 3-8-4,Jan. 10-5, Nov. 8-7.  39-38-12 (note the two kyujo basho.  At least one was a fake kyujo.)

Kise’s numbers are Nov. 10-5G, Sept. 12-3JS, 10-5, 8-7, 10-5S, 10-5S*. Total of 50-30.  So the proof is in the numbers.  However, I think we can all agree that our current ozeki are not a good yardstick to measure against.

Next, chew on this.  Between Jan. and July, Geeku got 32, needed to wait for 33 to get the nod.  Between Sept. of ’09 and Jan. of ’10 Bart got 33, but needed to wait for one more (14-1 to make 35) to get the nod.  Between May and Sept. Kakuryu got 31 and didn’t get the nod.  In addition there have been numerous other situations such as these.  So we can obviously see that it would be ridiculous to promote Kise with only the 31 wins.  That being said, he did put a stop to Hakuho’s 63 bout winning streak, and he has beaten him 3 times in the past year (Baruto, Geeku, and Harumafuji only have 2 each.)

So does he deserve it?  No.  I would like to see him get promoted at a special kadoban status which requires him to get 10 wins.  Will this happen? No.  Will he be promoted?  All members of the judging committee decided to call a directors meeting, so it looks like he’s got it in the bag.  Is it fair? no.  Is it because he’s Japanese?  Partially.  Is it because of his stable master dying?  Partially.  Is it political and batshit insane?  Certainly.  Do I care?  No, Not really.  I like the guy, his bouts are often good, and we can only judge him against the situation he is in, and in that situation he’s out performing his superiors, so he’s getting the nod.  On to new business.

Middle Management

  • Kakuryu (10-5) – He took out 2 ozeki.  Had some solid bouts and didn’t lose to anyone under M1.  Good sekiwake effort.
  • Toyonoshima (9-6) – Another solid effort.  Beat 3 of 4 ozeki, showed good stuff, and his last bout was probably just to secure Kitataiki’s KK.  Another good sekiwake effort.
  • Homasho (4-11) – OK, so Homasho had a hell of a time in the Komusubi meatgrinder.  He fought hard, showed good stuff, and I like his style.  If there is such thing as a good 4-11 this might be it.

Full Time Workers

  • Okinoumi and Goeido (7-8) – Oki seems to be getting a feel for things,but needs to work on closing the sale.  Win over Bart is a plus.  Goeido is still trying to look as good as his hype.  But wins over both Sekiwake and 2 ozeki make him look decent.
  • Tochinowaka (7-8) – He is becoming one of my favorite guys to watch.  Even when he loses, it’s good sumo to watch.  2 ozeki scalps makes him look good for next basho.
  • Kitataiki (8-7) – Another rough start.  but decent effort.
  • Aminishiki (9-6) – Nothing wonderful, but it shows he still has some KKs left in the tank.
  • Miyabiyama (11-4) – Good score, but I just don’t enjoy watching him anymore.  His tactics work, but are no fun to watch.
  • Takekaze (10-5) – NIce looking score, and I love seeing an Akita native do well, but frankly, his sumo was not good.  Too many henkas.
  • Takayasu (9-6) – Good effort, he seems to over commit a little, but he’ll get more solid.  I see him struggling again in January.
  • Wakakoyu (12-3JK) – Great stuff from Wakako this go ’round.  A little bit of the push-pull nonsense I’m not fond of, but decent enough.
  • Myogiryu (10-5) – GOOD.  FORWARD.  MOVING.  SUMO.  PERIOD.  In a few basho I see him in joi/sanyaku.
  • Daido (8-7) – Nothing really jumped out at me, but good enough for Jazz.
  • Shohozan (10-5) – He struggled a little bit, but I like his intensity, and his drive.  I think he’ll fluctuate a bit before solidifying in Makuuchi.
  • Sadanofuji (8-7) – This was a surprise.  I figured he’d already booked his elevator ticket.  Nothing to write home about.  Next basho might not be so kind to him.
  • Aoiyama (11-4K) – He performed well both in and out of his crux and his pocket.  Well deserved score and Kanto-sho.  I think he’ll do well in mid-lower maegashira.  But i expect a hiccup once he gets a taste of joi.


  • Tochinoshin (2-13) – Wearing normal clothes outside the heya cost him his keiko, something tells me he’ll never do that again.  He looked garbage.
  • Kyokutenho (4-11) – He’s getting up there in age.  At 36, he’s not long for the sumo world.  He’s still a dangerous guy on a good day though.
  • Aran (4-11) – Yet again Alan looked messy.  He seemed to not be able to decide what kind of sumo he wanted to do.  I think the banzuke committee will be less friendly to him for Jan.  However, he’ll do well from further down the banzuke.
  • Gagamaru (2-13) – I had a feeling this would happen.  It’s WAY too easy for guys on the top of the banzuke to get around his offense.  Good experience for him.  But he needs a bit more diversity in his game.  Some more mobility would be nice too.
  • Tochiozan (5-6-4) – Looked like he was on track to pick up 9, certainly his 8.  But his injury side tracked him.  Big money for him next basho from lower down.
  • Yoshikaze (7-8) – I kind of hate to put the guy down here.  There were a few bouts he should have won, and his movement, though ample was, as usual erratic, and could have been better.
  • Tokitenku (6-9) – almost all of his wins were over makekoshi rikishi.  Strangely the only ketaguri I saw him go for worked.  He usually whiffs on them.
  • Wakanosato (2-4-9) – Again only won over losing rikishi.  I don’t think he was up to snuff this basho.  I hope he does better, because, although late in his career, he is a fighter, and is great on the belt.
  • Kokkai (1-14) – smells of shit.  ligu-gwing gligigigugugu gweoooo-go.
  • Fujiazuma (7-8) – Not terrible.  Beat Myogiryu on senshuraku.  Room for improvement, which I think he’ll make.
  • Sagatsukasa (6-9) -It’s tough for the little guy.  But he’s serious and I’ve seen improvement, and I think we’ll see more.  He had a lot more close calls than past makuuchi basho.
  • Tamawashi (5-10) – 5 straight makekoshi, 3 of which are 5-10 losses.  If he sticks around in makuuchi next basho, he’ll need a serious adjustment.  He went for the belt a few times this basho, which is not his strong point.  Whatever happened to Daly’s infatuation with this guy?
  • Asasekiryu (6-9) – AGAIN 5 of his 6 were over makekoshi rikishi.  He looked shit, and couldn’t even win when he threw in henkas.  Have a coke and a smile, and think things over, Sexy.
  • Kaisei (6-9) – A-FUCKING-GAIN, won 5 over makekoshi rikishi.  4 of 6 ended with 5-10 or worse.  What happened to the Kaisei from Natsu that had a 9-0 start?  I want him back.
  • Takarafuji (5-10) – Takara can hold his own in Juryo, but he’s just no ready to KK in makuuchi yet.  It’s not necessarily his speed, but his choices.
  • Tsurugidake (4-11) – He was all over the place, and didn’t belong in Makuuchi to begin with.
  • Kimurayama (4-11) – Well, well ,well.  I’ll beat this horse once more, Briton-Meyer and then let it go.  His shite sumo was on full display.  On most occasions he was already on the way out from his own back peddaling, he henka-ed too much, and the few wins he had made me want to vomit and then eat it just so i could vomit twice.

Probable Layoffs

Kimurayama, Tsurugidake, Takarafuji, Tamawashi

Probable Hires

Tenkaiho, Yoshiazuma, Chiyonokuni, Takanoyama/Tosayutaka

From the Application file:

Ikioi was on fire, going 8 in a row, only dropping 3 (one by hansoku) and picked up the yusho.  His stuff was not 100% clean, there were a few dirty wins, but that’ll get better with time.  Makuuchi by Osaka.  Takanoyama picked up his 9 and is moving a bit better.  Takamisakari exceeded all expectation and picked up 9, avoiding (or postponing) retirement.  Tosayutaka picked up 10 and a possible ticket back to Makuuchi.  And down in Makushita Russian Amuru will be breaking the sekitori barrier for January.

Overall, this basho was exciting for the first 10 days, but then got bored of itself and imploded, pretty much when Kotoshogiku fell out of the lead, Kise started getting sloppy and Tochinowaka’s chances for KK dwindled.

I’m sure there will be news to report in the next few days.  So stay tuned for them, as well as some cigar and whisky reviews, as well as other various articles including the S&S sansho.  Thanks for tuning in for Kyushu 2011.


2 responses to “Kyushu 2011 Wrap-up; or Kisenosato: Faux-zeki?

  1. Pingback: Kyushu Basho Day 15 « 四門

  2. Thank you for the year end round up. There are two ways to look at Kisenosato’s promotion. The first is that the only difference between his performance and Kotoshogiku’s before his promotion was that Kotoshogiku had one more win, that win coming as a “gift” from Hakuho (Kotoshogiku actually got two “gift” wins from Hakuho in his run up to ozeki; I guess Hakuho wasn’t in the giving mood at Kyushu). Also, you don’t have to go back to the 30s and 40s to find worse ozeki promotions: Kotokaze — 9/10/12; Masuiyama — 8/11/12; Kitabayama — 8/9/11; and Wakahaguro — 7/11/12, were all significantly less deserving.

    However, the better way to look at the promotion is that it was not properly earned. The correct comparison isn’t Kisenosato’s record to the record of the present ozeki during the same time span (everyone understands that with the possible, though increasingly doubtful, possibility of Baruto, these are just career ozeki), it’s Kisenosato’s record to the present ozeki during their ozeki runs, and Kise’s is worse, usually by quite a lot. He should have been made to earn it in at his second go-round, just as Kotoshogiku was.

    But life will go on. Hopefully Kisenosato will show that the “promise” for which he is in part being awarded this promotion play out. Regardless, this is just another example of how arbitrary and poorly run the Japan Sumo Association is.

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