Welcome ladies and gentlemen to the first basho of 2014, the Hatsu. As always this basho is hosted in the Ryogoku Kokugikan in Tokyo. It started last Sunday, but we can only provide select coverage from today. I’ve chosen a select few bouts to cover today, the rikishi of interest.
E-M12 Gagamaru (5-2) vs W-M16 Satoyama (5-2)
Gagamaru notably weighs in under 200 kgs this basho, just. This is a positive thing because he was in need of being able to move faster. Only losing to Yoshikaze on Day 1, and Fujiazuma on Day 6 he comes into today with a 6-2 record.
The much smaller Satoyama, weighing in somewhere around 120 kgs is saying that weight isn’t everything. Sugar Daddy only oat on Day 3 to Osunaarashi (in a bout that lasted over 3 minutes) and on Day 5 to Tokitenku.
At the tachi-ai Gaga looks about 4 times bigger than Satoyama. Sugar came in low, ducking before making contact to try get in to the mawashi. Gaga proceeded to slap the shit out of Sugar. Sato tried to weather the storm and bided his time until he could get a grip on Gagas mawashi. Gaga employed a vicious arm lock throw attempt that took about 3 goes to work, but it really looked like he was going to snap Satoyama’s arm like a toothpick. Fortunately he didn’t. Win to Gaga.
E-M16 Osunaarashi (5-2) vs W-M10 Endo (6-1)
Osunaarashi who is just in his second makuuchi division tournament is on course to get his first makekoshi (he finished with a 7-8 record last basho). Bar forgetting how to play sumo on Day 4 against Gagamaru, and losing to the jury ranked Terunofuji on Day 2 he has been getting his wins. Not all from great quality sumo, he still isn’t bending his knees enough to keep his centre of gravity right.
Endo has been very impressive this basho. Not always from forward moving sumo, but more often from his defensive last ditch throws at the edge. On Day 4 against Takarafuji there seemed like no way to escape but with amazing
ring tawara sense he balanced on top of the straw bales as he spun around to allow Takarafuji fall before he stepped out. On Day 6 Endo got knocked in the eye with Kitataiki’s head, and since then his right eye has been very swollen.
The crowd was well excited for this bout. Osunaarashi or Boody as he likes to be called, started with a shoulder blast followed by tsuppari. Endo was driving forward and just as he got his left hand on Boody’s belt he felt a hand on the back of his head and found himself on the dohyo! Great sumo from Boody.
E-S Goeido (4-3) vs W-M1 Okinoumi (3-4)
Is there another rikishi that can disappoint as much as Goeido? (did you just hear Kisenosato?) He is skilled, he can display great sumo, and he can make you think that yes, he will be a future ozeki. But instead of getting into sumo fully and confronting his opponents he slips into the idea that he can pull his opponents forward and slap them down, and invariably loses. He started off with a perfect 4-0 and the last three days posted a 0-3. Forward moving sumo boyo!
Okinoumi Ayumi started off by beating Kakuryu and Kotoshogiku before being beated by Hakuho and Kisenosato bouncing back to beat Chiyotairyu but then losing to Kyokutenho and Tochiozan.
Today Geoido hit, got the left hand grip and shifted to the side immediately. He then drove forward, and although he lost the grip it was already game over for Okinoumi who was in this bout at all.
W-M4 Takekaze (5-2) vs W-S Kotooshu (4-3)
Former ozeki Kotooshu needs 10-5 or better result this basho if he ever wants to regain his ozeki status. God and all his angels wishing he won’t get that result. I have been supporting all his opponents with a passion that always surprises my bird. Ikioi, Tochiozan and Kakuryu have been my heroes.
Takekaze has been on fire this tournament. Yesterday he completely overpowered Aoiyama, driving him straight back and out from the tachi-ai! He has also beaten Kaisei, Kyokutenho, Myogiryu and the Snake.
Kotoo has a 16-5 career record over the Akitian, and won 5 out of their 6 previous meeting too. The tallest man in the division against the smallest, and both prone to henka. Come on Akita!
Take got in under Kotooshu to raise him up, but the Bulgarian locked onto his arms to prevent the drive. Kotooshu then got a double handed grip and rushed forward, Takekaze’s legs gave way and he fell over backwards. Zannen desu. Kotooshu still has a lot of work to do, he faces Okinoumi tomorrow.
E-O Kisenosato (5-2) vs W-K Tochiozan (4-3)
Kisenosato entered this basho in tsunatori status, meaning that he was a candidate for promotion to the rank of Yokozuna. The exact requirements were a little vague however. Some said he would need to take the yusho, some said a 13-2 finish would be good enough, and other agreed that a 13-2 is enough only if he didn’t lose in the first 5 days. Well on Day 1 he faced off against M1 Toyonoshima to who he had a 27-8 record over. All expected him to win easily, but he didn’t and Toyonoshima won via sukuinage. The tsunatori recovered and won the next 3 days, but lost on Day 5 when he tried to win a mental battle about who gets down at the tachi-ai first with Aoiyama.
Tochiozan has been chugging along, he lost his first 3 and won the last 4.
Kisenosato has a slight edge over Tochiozan 14-9, but will need to be on top of his mentality to win today.
Tochiozan won the mental battle before the tachi-ai. Tricking the ozeki into squatting own at the tachi-ai first. And you know that annoyed Kise!
Tochiozan demanded the a double handed inside grip from the tachi-ai. Just as he went to drive forward Kisenosato went to go makikae but Tochi seized on the opportunity and drove forward. Kissy gave up on the idea of makikae but he was already on the tawara and at an odd angle. Tochiozan was perfectly set up to force the ozeki out. So at 5-3 after 8 days, all talk of yokozuna promotion will now evaporate.
E-O Kotoshogiku (4-3) vs E-M3 Aoiyama (3-4)
Kotoshogiku came into this basho as an injured kadoban ozeki hoping for a miracle! Kotoshogiku needs to get 8 wins this tournament or he will be dropped down to sekiwake where he will need 10 wins to regain his ozeki status, the exact same situation as his stablemate Kotooshu is in right now. Kotoshogiku has been using lightning fast tachi-ais, trying to win his bouts as quickly as possible before his weak right shoulder has time to fail him. Yesterday Ikioi used that against him, taking an initial hit before slipping to the side and throwing the ozeki forward to give him his 3rd loss. Okinoumi and Toyonoshima being the other two to beat him. Day 4 was a very happy for him when he picked up a fusen freebie from Myogiryu who was absent from injury.
Aoiyama powered through Myogiryu, Shohozan and Kisenosato. Too bad he can’t gain more consistence however. As I said earlier he let Takekaze destroy him yesterday!
These two have only met 3 times in the past, Kotoshogiku with 2 wins, Aoiyama winning in July 2012.
Kotoshogiku saw that the Bulgarian over extended himself at the tachi-ai and the ozeki slapped him down with ease. The fight didn’t last 2 seconds! Kotoshogiku now only needs 3 more wins.
W-M2 Ikioi (2-5) vs W-O Kakuryu (6-1)
Ozeki Kak lost on Day 1 against Okinoumi, but righted his ship and won all bouts since then. He had a very close call with Toyoshibiki on Day 5. Yesterday he defeated Kotooshu which made me very happy indeed.
Ikioi only 2 wins this basho has been over the two guys from the Sadogatake stable, Kotoshogiku and Kotooshu! Good man!
All handbags in the tsuppari slap fest. Ikioi couldn’t get the belt so tried to drive forward. The ozeki sensed in and slapped Ikioi down. Ikioi fell spectacularly across the dohyo. There should be some good photos of it on the web tomorrow!
Kakuryu keeps himself in the race for the jun-yusho.
W-Y Hakuho (7-0) vs E-M5 Shohozan (6-1)
Hakuho henka-ed Tochiozan on Day 1 after he Tochi false started. But has been very impressive since then.
Apart from being manhandled by Aoiyama on Day 4, Shohozan has been the man doing the handling. Today, I expect the roles to revert however!
After Shohozan made a false start, so I wondered if the Yokozuna would henka again or not.
Hakuho hit straight on, but Sho definitely looked to win the tachi-ai, pushing the Yokuzuna back some. Hakuho calmly caught Shoho’s right arm and swung him forward, around and out with one tug.
After Day 8 the leaderboard looks like this:
Hakuho – perfect
Kakuryu – 7-1
Gagamaru, Shohozan, Endo, Osunaarashi, and Tokushoryu – 6-2
Creswell will be here on Tuesday if JR can keep the tracks clear.