Haru Pre-Basho Report

As I (and everyone) usually say before each basho, we have the makings for some exciting sumo.  There is another potential Yokozuna run, a possible Ozeki run, some new blood in the sanyaku, not quite as many over-ranked rikishi as we have seen in the past few basho, a few under-ranked fellows who should do well, an exciting newcomer joining the makuuchi division, juryo looks exciting this time out, and we have some exciting new recruits to the sumo world.  We’ll start off with some keiko and injury reports, then dive right into the meat of this report, so you, my dear readers, have a decent idea of what to expect coming into this basho.  So pour the whisky, light up a fine cigar, or pack yourself a full pipe, and lets get started.

Injuries

Starting off with Russian Amuru.  He had a crackerjack basho back in hatsu and was sitting pretty, high up on the Juryo banzuke, but ligament damage in his arm is going to sit him out for March, and possibly May, and beyond.

Sakumayama suffered a fractured sternum in keiko.  He returned to keiko, but might not have all cylinders firing for Haru.

Kokonoe beya had the worst run of things here… Chiyonokuni suffered a dislocated shoulder back in hatsu, and has been taking it slow during keiko, but will enter on the first day of Haru.  Could be a big deal, could be nothing.  But keep a look out.

Chiyoarashi missed last basho for an ankle injury, but will be in and ready to go for day 1.

The worst news comes from Chiyozakura who apparently broke a knee and possibly his neck.  Some say it may be a career ending injury, but I haven’t found any solid sources, so we’ll just have to wait and see.

Lastly Kakuryu has been having trouble with his shoulder as well.  No confirmed serious injury, just not functioning well, and causing him pain.  May have an adverse effect on his 3rd basho in a row with a technical chance at ozeki.

Sanyaku

What can I say about Hakuho that hasn’t already been said about my crotch?  The very least we’ve come to expect is an amazing performance.  He’s still, of course, favored to win the yusho.  But in the past few basho we’ve seen a few chinks (not sure whether pun intended or not) in his armor.  So I’d go from 99% assured to about 80%.

Baruto is under the microscope this basho.  With the kyokai saying a 12-3 and maybe even a junyusho will be considered, there’ll be a lot of pressure this time around.  Bart has also been experimenting with different tachi-ai’s and techniques.  It seems he may want to add more than a Frankenstein-style-lurch-n-grab pouch on his sumo utility belt.  Keiko reports say his haridashi was looking pretty damn good.

I do have some concerns about his tsuna run.  It seems to me that the kyokai is desperate to make another yokozuna.  Perhaps they think a yokozuna showdown on senshuraku will lasso in more viewers and sell more tickets, and perhaps it will.  Maybe the kyokai wants to appeal to more international viewers.  Let me be clear, I am not saying that Baruto’s sumo is sub-par.  He is certainly the best ozeki on the dohyo, and i like his stuff.  He’s a good contrast to Hakuho in style and personality, and a good match in the strength department.

However, I think its a bit premature to be throwing out a sideways rope to Bart.  Bart hasn’t posted anything over 11 wins since he made ozeki back in 2010.  I would like to see how he does this basho.  If he gets 12 or more, then give him the rope if he snags a junyusho or yusho in natsu.  That being said, as usual, i make a call that seems to me to make perfect sense, and the kyokai will inevitably do either the exact opposite, or come up with a bizarre solution that is completely tangential.  In any event, look for Bart to post over 11 and I give him a 19% chance at a yusho.

Harumafuji is predicatble in being hard to predict, but I have a good feeling about him this basho, and i’m gonna go with it.  11 for Harry with some interesting bouts.

Kisenosato is still one of the kyokai’s golden boys.  He’ll do ok.  Most likely a forgettable 10, maybe 9.

Kotooshu did too well last basho.  Methinks a melt down is nigh.  Oshu should listen to the seers, and beware the ides of March…

The Geek kind of cooled off last basho.  My gut tells me that he’ll ramp his way back up slowly.  Give him 10.

Kakuryu is not going to be at 100%.  He can be kind of streaky, and little things can really throw his game off.  I would think he’ll finish 9-6 after a rocky start.

Aminishiki is too old for game of this caliber.  He won’t make his 8, but he’ll take a few sanyaku colleagues down along the way. 6-9 or 5-10.

I see Gagamaru and Tochiozan going in opposite directions.  Gaga is gonna collapse in the meat grinder.  So is Ozan.  But one of the two is gonna bring things back and get his 8.  Big O gets my vote for that.  Gaga is gonna end up back in mid-high maegashira.

M1 looks good with Myogiryu and Tochinowaka.  I think both guys will hover around 8-7 or 7-8, but will both give it everything and look pretty darn good in the process.

M2 is the opposite.  Yoshikaze has never KKed this high up on the banzuke.  Tokitenku has a few times but it has been a few years since that happened.  Both of these guys will be headed back down.  But I always enjoy seeing Yoshi move, and Tenku viciously kick people in the shins.

M3&4 will be interesting.  Kyokutenho is old, but is a tough opponent, and can always do pretty well.  Aran, Tochinoshin, and Toyonoshima can all do really well if they are on their game, although some are more consistent than others.  All 4 of these guys will be fun to watch this basho.  I’d give a KK to 2 out of these 4.

M5&6 – Look for Homasho to rally this basho.  He should be able to kill it from M5.  I would think special prize, maybe a ginosho in the works.  M5 is where Wakakoyu should be right now.  He needs a bit more work before he faces a harder schedule.  Some would argue that Goeido is under ranked at M4, and maybe he is, but I don’t care because I just don’t like him.  Shohozan, however, I do like, and this will be a really telling basho for him.  I want to see him do well, but things could get really sticky for him really fast.  Again I am not sure I see more than 50% of these 4 picking up their 8.

After M5 things always kind of turn into a circus.  So I’ll just throw out some predictions here. Takayasu is under-ranked, 10 with a kantosho.  Okinoumi is also under0-ranked, 9 wins and a close call, nearly misses kantosho.  I will hate watching Miyabiyama’s sumo.  Kitataiki starts of strong and somehow screws it up.  3rd time in makuuchi is not a charm for Takarafuji.  Takanoyama is interesting to watch, but scrapes out his 8 with a few disappointing close calls.  Wakanosato watches Matlock and thinks about drinking a V8.  Tamawashi and Shotenro show up to the office, and I’m guessing only one of them will really do any work.

Now onto Ikoi.  I REALLY want him to do well.  I REALLY want to see double digits, but I just think he’ll have a bit of a tough time adjusting.  I’ll give him 8, but not much more.  His sumo is solid, I like his stuff, and he can improvise pretty well when under pressure.

Down in Juryo there is one shikona on everyone’s lips: Chiyotairyu.  I see no reason why he won’t pick up this yusho, with very few problems.  Other guys I like to do well in juryo: Tosayutaka, Sotairyu, Kaisei, Masunoyama, and Hokutokuni.

As for new recruits two top the list.  College yokozuna Yamaguchi, who was personally selected by Hakuho to come to Miyagino-beya.  Yamaguchi is the first college freshman to get the title in 24 years.  He is eligible fro tsukedashi, meaning he’ll start right at makushita 15.

The other is Osunaarashi (Abdelrahman Alaa Eldin Mohamed Ahmed Sharan, called Boody for short).  He was on the banzuke last time, but had not passed his Japanese exams, which he has now passed.  He should be in Maezumo this basho, ready to tear up the banzuke .

There is also former juryo Tsugaruumi’s Grandson Uno Masanobu.  He’s 15 and wants to surpass his grandfather and make it to makuuchi.

Alright gents, that’s all for now.  Oh, yeah, kyokai posted day 1 & 2 matchups.  Check em out.  Day 1   Day 2

7 responses to “Haru Pre-Basho Report

  1. When I heard the news about the JSA offering a side-belt to Baruto if he got 12 wins I felt the taste some of lovely Ardbeg 10 year old in the back of my throat. Unhappily, it was coming from the wrong direction. This 12 win gimmick is even worse than the single they laid down a few months back.

    Let’s take a stroll down memory lane. The year was 1993. New razzle-dazzler Takanohana had just won the natsu basho with a 14-1 and then went 13-2 for the jun-yusho in Nagoya. Afterwards he was promoted to Yokozuna and all hailed his skill and glory rained down upon him. Wait, nevermind, that didn’t happen because the JSA ruled that to become worthy of the title of Yokozuna you needed to win two tournaments in a row. Takanohana eventually ended up winning 7! tournaments before finally donning the rope. Now it seems that one 14-1 yusho rife with mediocre wins and a semi-decent follow up performace at the next basho is worthy of the highest rank in the sport. For now I will just have to swallow the regurgitated Ardbeg and whatever else the JSA wants to shove down our throats.

    Sucks that Myogiryus second bout is up against Hakuho. Hopefully he won’t get too disheartened by a 2nd day loss and keeps trucking through the meatgrinder.

    I agree wholeheartedly that Gagamaru is about to implode again this basho. I don’t know what people see in this guy. He has size and…. fat? I have never been impressed by this guy and am sure all of the sanyaku are viewing him as an easy win.

    As I mentioned to someone earlier, this basho is going to be crucial for Takanoyama to see whether or not he deserves to be in Makuuchi or not. His last few excursions up he had the benefit of all kinds of luck in his favor. This time he is situated at the lowest possible ranking on the banzuke with fewer underanked rikishi as usual. Considering his age, If he can’t get his shit together and makekoshi this time he probably will never belong up in the upper ranks. Sad, considering how much fun this guy’s sumo is to watch.

  2. Bart is fun to watch – and makes things interesting with his ability to spoil and even challenge. But unless he runs another 14-1 – yusho or not – there is no way he deserves a promotion. If, twice in a row, only the BEST guy can beat him, then ok.

    I’m hoping the JSA can figure that out – or at least since Bart is more Caucasian than the average Caucasian – hopefully they’ll factor in some racism and make him earn it.

    A Yokozuna showdown on the final day may sell extra tickets the first couple times – but if one of the Yokozuna is only winning 10 or 11 matches per basho that will fade away quickly and create the new dilemma of “What do we do with our 10-win Yokozuna?”

  3. Interesting first two matchups for Goedo; he’s not met Shohozan before, so I guess that DoS is 2.5. I don’t know all that much about Shohozan, but he appears to be a rikishi on the way up, whereas lately Goeido has been on the way down, so… I don’t have a great feeling about Day 1.
    Toyonoshima and Goedo, on the other hand, have a long bout history – the upshot of which is that Goedo doesn’t beat the guy very often. Only once in the last 5 bouts, so DoS of 4. Would be great to get those four points, but, given the history… I don’t have a great feeling about Day 2, either.

  4. … and I also don’t have a great feeling about my spelling. I am 1:3 on spelling Goeido’s name in my previous post. Not a promising record.

    • “Go-Edo” is an old Japanese chant. Called out at 17th century football games from my research. So you were still very Japanese.🙂

      The one thing I know about Shohozan is that he loves what in MMA is called the “rape choke.” There is probably a Japanese word that sounds more elegant than “rape choke” – but basically he likes to lunge at guys and get his thumbs on their neck. It happens quick – so it may be “upper chest” to be legal – or face to be legal – but usually ends up near neck. He’s good, but he needs more moves than that to stick around.

      My two yen …

  5. Hajinochikara

    I agree with you on your assessment of Homasho, Patton. He is perfectly ranked at M5. I am hoping to see a strong performance out of him this basho. I still think he would be a great Ozeki someday – but I may have (ok definitely did) jump the gun by predicting he would be the next Ozeki in September last year. I’ll stick with that prediction now, though. I hope Homasho moves up through Jo’i over the course of this year and makes an Ozeki bid next year.

    Homasho has a very short record against his opponent on day 1 (Fellow M5 ranker, Wakakoyu). The two have faced each other only once back in July of 2009. Homasho won. On Day 2, Homasho faces Takayasu. The two have faced off only twice (both bouts in the last year). The first bout they fought went to Homasho, the second bout (last basho), went to Takayasu.

    So Homasho’s DoS against Wakakoyu on Day 1 is 0+ and his DoS against Takayasu on Day 2 is 2.5+ (+ indicates short bout history, whereas a * would indicate that it is the first time they have faced eachother) Hard to make a prediction with such short bout histories… just have to hope for the best…

    Now… as for Baruto. I like the bold predictions… makes the basho more interesting. I say that Baruto goes 14-1 or zensho-yusho. I predict he beats Hakuho and if he loses, it will be to Kotooshu, Kotoshogiku, or Harumafuji.

    For Hakuho, I am not ready to write the guy off quite yet. This basho will be the deciding one for me as to whether his star is waning. I say he goes 14-1 (his one loss being to Baruto). If Baruto goes Zensho-yusho, that is that, but if Baruto goes 14-1, Hakuho will win the play off.

    Those predictions will be enough to keep me on the edge of my seat (or get disappointed quickly… I have to admit that I am quite worried about Baruto’s ability to keep it together under the stress of a Yokozuna promotion)

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