The topic of Yaocho, also know as match-fixing in English has been our top top search term this basho. Whether you believe it is happening or not that’s what people wondering about this basho, not Baruto’s first Yusho, nor the excellent playoff down in the Makushita Division. Though I haven’t spoken to our other reporters quite yet, I think we’ll focus in on the topic of yaocho with our post-basho commentary and other follow-up posts. I’ll mention it here too, but not quite yet. Let’s start with the eight-man Makushita Playoff I was mentioning yesterday!
Makushita Division rikishi only get paid a small stipend. Getting out of this division and into Juryo means big money and more comfort. With that serving as incentive, you can imagine how competitive this division gets, and how long it can take some men to get out of this division while others never do. When you see an eight man playoff Makushita, you know you are in for a treat!
MS 43 Shoho vs MS 1 Chiyootori
Chiyootori is a shoe-in for Juryo next basho but this eight-man playoff would be icing on the cake. Chiyootori takes Shoho back to the bales but Shoho mustards up something fierce, driving the MS 1 backwards and fast! Chiyootori looked calm throughout though. When they reached the bales Chiyoo simple threw Shoho to the ground as he was leaning far too forward. Chiyoo moves to the semi-finals.
Sakumayama vs Hakiai
Sakuma utilizes a quick belt-less arm throw for the easy win. Our Rikishi On The Rise moves to Semi-Finals.
Terashita vs Akinokawa
Terashita makes MS 60 Akinokawa look like he was moving in slow motion. Easy force out win for Terashita.
Kotoyutaka vs Tatsu
Tatsu and Kotoyutaka come out tsupari and all. Tatsu drives Yutaka back but the veteran gets hold of Tatsu’s arm just long enough to pull him off balance and easily push him out of the ring. Koto moves to the semi-finals.
Kotoyutaka vs Chiyootori
MS 30 vs MS 1 after a false start from Kotoyutaka both men reset, tachi-ai, and gain the belt. Chiyoo grip and strength won out here however with the MS 1 throwing Yutaka clear off the dohyo. No surprises here MS 1 moves to the finals.
Terashita vs Sakumayama
Rikishi on the Rise Sakumayama gains the outside belt upon tachi-ai impact and ushers the MS 22 off the dohyo with ease. Sakumayama moves on to the finals!
Sakumayama vs Chiyootori
Chiyoo drives Sakuma back. Both rikishi’s arms are upright and locked at the elbows trying to over-power the other. Sakumayama slowly begins turning Chiyootori for a belt less arm throw. Chiyootori’s legs fail him and Sakumayama wins! With a 6-1 record and Makushita Yusho Sakumayama will likely move to MS1 next basho while Chiyootori will move up to Juryo. Great way to end sumo’s most competitive division!
Chiyotairyu new to the division and a former amateur champion easily wins the division with a record of 13-2. Dude doesn’t even have enough hair to pull it back yet. He’s also our rikishi on the rise Sakumayama’s old rival. Can’t wait until these two men our in the same division!
Takamisakari dropped to 7-8 after a force out lose to Kitaharima, a much smaller rikishi. Takamisakari moves one step closer towards a potential retirement.
Speaking of which, Tochinonada retired yesterday. Although he was past his prime by the time I started watching sumo the Nada received 12 kinboshi during his career. S & S wishes him all the best as he begins his coaching career in the association.
Onto Makuuchi where the yusho has been decided.
Gagamaru 11-3 had already won the Kanto-sho fighting spirit prize this basho but when he faced off against 11-3 Tochiozan, Tochi also had a chance to win the prize by beating Gagamaru. Gaga grabbed Tochi’s throat at the tachi-ai and from there worked him to the bales for oshi-dashi win. Tochiozan joined the fans with that move and dropped to 11-4 while Gagamaru gets his first ever Jun-Yusho! Congrats to the Georgian on this major accomplishment.
Kisenosato works Kotooshu back for a yorikiri win.
Kotoshogiku was 7-7 going into today’s final bout. The JSA had him face off against Harumafuji a guy he has an advantage over. That being said today was a joke of a bout. Haruma’s tachi-ai showed no attempt to gain any belt or thurst move. He allowed Kotoshogiku the right hand outside grip and made no attempt to fight the at risk Ozeki. Haruma regained the belt and backed Koto to the center of the dohyo, but Koto just walks him out of the ring. According to our friend at Sumo Fan Magazine, Chris this is the 12th time in a row that a 7-7 Ozeki has won their final match to secure their 8 wins.
Baruto had a chance at a Zensho Yusho today against Hakuho. It wasn’t meant to be however. Baruto appeared to be thinking tsupari at the tachi-ai but by the time he raised his left arm (rather slowly) Hakuho grabbed it and then gained the right hand outside grip. Hakuho lifts & pushes the Estonian out for the yorikiri win.
My current perspective (which changes throughout each basho) is that the JSA is favoring Kisenosato and Kotoshogiku. Again according to Chris at Sumo Fan Magazine, NHK made a wild claim that Kisenosato would be fighting for the Yusho next basho. Comments like these concern me, as Kise was three wins outside of the yusho race this basho. The likelihood that all the fishy stuff this basho with the Dai Yokozuna is apart of a larger deal coming in Osaka or sometime this year would not surprise me.
So what do you our readers think of all of this? Is yaocho a problem? Do you think it exists? Would a website where everyday people vote on the legitimacy of each bout send a message to people? These are just thoughts from one man. Tell us your own.
Again a big congratulations to Baruto Ozeki for his first Makuuchi Division Yusho! Bring the tsupari with you to Osaka and I will be your biggest fan. That’s a promise.
More post-basho follow-up reporting to come. Thanks for making this basho and enjoyable one, all things considered. Valentine and others will be with you shortly for more post-basho opinions.