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Kakuryu - besides Ichinojo - has the best looking "I did THIS? I'm sooooo sorry!"-face. It is interesting how the last few basho looked like the new guys finally taking over, and now all of them looking troubled besides severely underranked Ichinojo. Still early in the tournament of course...

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Ichinojo and Hakuho are the only two Rikishi to remain unbeaten at Day 6. Hakuho defended crafty against a good Nishigiki attempt at a kotenage. Ichinojo resorted to one of his recently discovered favourite activities of ragdolling Endo into the dirt. 

While Aoiyama proved me right for once as an expected tough matchup (also surely none of us expected Kotoshogiku to go zensho anyway), Daeisho provided another upset over an Ozeki in Goeido. Other than his win over Takayasu, he didn't even need to be at his best with Goeido missing the tawara by what looked like a mile. 

Tochinoshin managed to beat Mitakeumi convincingly, much to may surprise. At 4-2, thinks suddenly don't look as bleak as they seemed at first, but there are lots of tough opponents yet to come. Takakeisho managed to bounce back for his Ozeki run, but at 4-2 there is not much margin for error. A lot of stuff is still way too early to tell. 

Leaderboard: Hakuho, Ichinojo 6-0

Hunter's Pack: Kakuryu, Takayasu, Goeido, Kotoshogiku, Aoiyama, Ryuden 5-1

Tomorrow Hakuho gets poor Shodai, Kakuryu gets poor Nishigiki. Maybe, just maybe, Nishigiki has a shot if he can get as much spirit into his effort as he did against Hakuho. Takayasu faces Hokotufuji (whom he has a negative head to head against btw), Goeido and Mitakeumi square off in what will be a telling match regarding the Ozeki's confidence. Tochinoshin gets Endo, while Takakeisho faces off with upset machine Daeisho (1-3 in head to head!). We might get another upset... 

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That Goeido stuff was too funny. The shimpan might as well have smacked his knuckles with a ruler.

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The English language commentary didn't seem to like it, but it seems like Ichinojo has learnt how to deal with the pushers now. Previously, it just seems like he'd just act like an elephant surprised by a mouse and run away. Now that he's actually learning how to wrestle, he's no longer my least favourite. Speaking of which, good on the gyoji for making Goeido sort himself out.

Takayasu has a surprisingly bad record against a few people. While he's never lost to Myogiryu when he's been ranked in Sanyaku, Takayasu only beat him twice as a Maegashira. Bottom line, he still has a losing head to head against Myogiryu, and the other day was the day he went ahead of Endo in their head-to-head.

Hakuho is just the best. More on this story as it develops.

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Takayasu for the longest time was a somewhat out of his depth rikishi as soon as he was nearing the top. Then he strung quite a few good records together from Komusubi and Sekiwake ranks. He has looked  on the way to Yusho contention for quite some time, but somehow choked away good chances when Yokozuna were kyujo or not strong enough. Right now his Sumo looks good, less fierce and reckless pushing, but strong and collected wrestling.

I hope this is a general change in his sumo. I loved his all out tachiai, but since he began using it he got injured quite a lot. 

Hakuho and Ichinojo both flawless after seven days, both didn't really get challenged all too much today. I personally feel like NHK commentators, as much as I like them, are a little harsh sometimes. Sumo IS more than a sport, but still... in the end it comes down to wins and losses. If you go 0-15, you get demoted. Far down the banzuke. If your opponents are hectic pushers, and if you are a wall of flesh, you thrust them down. If this gets you 10-12 wins, you go up. No complaining from me, even though I prefer proper belt battles.

Talking head to heads, here are a few within the 6-1 group for tomorrow: Aoiyama, whom I'm no fan of, is wreaking havoc in mid-Maegashira, gets Sadanoumi tomorrow. Both have split their 10 encounters equally. Kotoshogiku faces Okinoumi in their 23rd meeting, the former Ozeki has a 15-7 lead between them and one the last three. Takayasu v Shodai is at 7-4 and Shodai is 0-7 so far, BUT Shodai has won their last bout in January and managed to beat an Ozeki in each of the last four basho. Since he is trying to avoid Makekoshi, he will probably go all out. Or he is going to shodai. 

Tamawashi and Goeido are pretty hard to seperate, but the Ozeki has 11 wins to Tamawashi's 8 (plus one forfeit win, bringing the total to 9). Their last encounter went to Tamawashi en route to his Yusho in January. 

Kakuryu - after a very shaky start bringing up many questions - has bought himself back into contention. Now he faces Hokutofuji. In actual matches, both collected one win each. In January, a forfeit freeby was collected by Hokotufuji. Hokutofuji is usually a tough customer, I can see this going either way. 

The two leaders face opposition where the head to head wins are a little less equally dustributed. Ichinojo is 5-14 against Tochinoshin (who also holds an additional win in a Juryo championship Playoff), losing the last five in a row to the Georgian. Hakuho is 37-2 against Tochiozan, winning the last 9 of the matches between the two. It's very likely that the greatest rikishi of all time will collect Kachikoshi tomorrow. 

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Really short overview, since I'm somewhat hard pressed in regards to time... 

Hakuho is the first one to secure Kachikoshi, and also the last one to remain undefeated after a short, but very exciting match over Shodai. If you can only see one bout, choose this one. 

Ichinojo fell to an unexpected Tochinoshin henka, which helped the Ozeki getting his dreaded belt grip and marching the co-leader out of the dohyo. 

Others at 7-1: Kakuryu, Takayasu, Goeido, Aoiyama 

Takakeisho is at 6-2, but with the upper rankers coming in the second week the last word isn't spoken regarding his Ozeki promotion. 

Mitakeumi is in trouble (four losses in a row), and gets Hakuho tomorrow. Oof. 

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Tochiozan vs. Hakuho was just silly. Here is a more complete retelling of the Tochiozan vs. Hakuho Rivalry. As much as it pains me to admit, Goeido is looking good.

You call Tochinoshin's henka unexpected, but I don't know that there was a way for him to beat Ichinojo without it. The big guy looks to have sussed out how to deal with thrusting attacks, and with that bad leg, I don't think Tochinoshin is winning a shoving match without a good belt grip.

Gutted for Mitakeumi. It might start to get easier after tomorrow, but not by much.

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2 hours ago, DangerMark said:

You call Tochinoshin's henka unexpected, but I don't know that there was a way for him to beat Ichinojo without it. The big guy looks to have sussed out how to deal with thrusting attacks, and with that bad leg, I don't think Tochinoshin is winning a shoving match without a good belt grip.

I 100% agree with you there. It was only unexpected because he was very angry not too long ago when Mitakeumi tried one on him. I can totally understand why he used it, he still demonstrated lots of his impressive strength after he got the grip. 

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Goeido twists Tochinoshin over on his bad leg, is still sleaze.

Takayasu goes for some Yotsu-sumo on Ichinojo, loses.

Hakuho lets Tamawashi get behind him, still wins.

And finally, Takakeisho's tsuppari obliterates Kakuryu; surely that's two wins left for him to make Ozeki.

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Honestly, I am a little afraid for his promotion. His loss to Goeido was a bad one. Maybe bad enough for the kiyokai to ask for 11 instead of 10 wins.

Takakeisho gets Takayasu tomorrow, who does not only win, but look good and is nominally still in the Yusho race. Tochinoshin always has a chance of getting a grip, and that would be all she wrote. I really hope I'm wrong, but I don't like Takakeisho's chances. 

Neither Mitakeumi's. Dude has to win out to stay in sanyaku, and he'll face Ichinojo tomorrow. There may be lots of shuffling around in lower sanyaku, with an possibly unexpected customer in Daeisho. 

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We are entering senshuraku, Hakuho in the lead with a spotless record and Kakuryu in front of him. Ichinojo at 13-1 may achieve the very rare feat of going 14-1 and not even get a shot at a ketteisen, should he win his bout with Kachikoshi-seeking Daeisho. The latter has a shot at making sanyaku with a winning record.

The biggest story on final day is the match between kadoban Ozeki and wannabe-Ozeki Takakeisho. At 7-7 and 9-5 respectively, both need to win their match to make it to their respective goals: Avoiding demotion and achieving promotion. The head to head heavily favours Takakeisho at 5-1, but he had a similiar advantage against Ichinojo today and lost in a blink. Tochinoshin is probably going to put in his all. Maybe even another henka?

Lots of potential demotees from Makuuchi. Ikioi, who is clearly a walking hospital, is very likely to get demoted at M9 and 2-12. Toyonoshima (4-10, M#14 west), Yutakayama (3-11, M#16 West) are all but confirmed. The 6-8-gang of Ishiura (M#15 east), Kotoeko (M#15 west) and Daishoho (M#16 East) aswell as Terutsuyoshi (5-9, M14 east) COULD all get demoted with losses on their final day. Chiyoshoma at the very bottom rank of M#17 is 7-7. A loss should also mean demotion for him. 

The luck of a lot of the potential demotees is the lack of upper rankers in Juryo performing well. Shimanoumi, winner of Hatsu's Juryo basho and No. 1 East of the second division, has secured 12 wins, the tournament victory and a guaranteed spot in Makuuchi in May. I haven't seen too much of him, but back to back Yushos in Juryo is quite strong. 

Chiyomaru should be back aswell, having a 9-5 score going into the final day from Juryo #1 West. I would say Enho (J#2 West) should be in with his eight wins, if only by virtue of a boatload of demotees. I've been wrong before though. Would love to see that little guy in Makuuchi, but at 1,65 m and roughly 100 kg he'll be dwarved by EVERYONE. 

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Breaking News: Takakeisho promoted, Hakuho zensho winner in last Basho of Heisei era

 

The headline pretty much tells the Story. Takakeisho beat Tochinoshin convincingly today. Ounomatsu Oyakata and Hakkaku Rijicho both confirmed that Takakeisho will be fighting at Ozeki rank in May. Rijicho is the head of the rikkikai, who are the sumo elders deciding about everything in this sport. Happy to hear it, it's deserved. 

Hakuho meanwhile managed to win the Osaka tournament with a perfect 15-0-record, fending of Ichinojo's (14-1) challenge by overcoming a spirited fellow Yokozuna Kakuryu in an epic bout. This means Hakuho has won at least one Makuuchi Yusho every a year since 2006. The unfortunate News is that he seems to have injured his arm in the process, needing help to receive the gigantic trophies on the dohyo. 

Sanyaku is hard to call. Of course demoted Tochinoshin will be at the eastern Sekiwake spot in Natsu Basho, Ichinojo will join him on the western side. But then it gets tough to call. Mitakeumi's narrowing of the Makekoshi deficite might be enough to keep him at Komusubi. Aoiyama has a very promotable 12-3 record, but is all the way down at Maegashira #7. Chiotairyu (M #5 East), Okinoumi (M #6 East) and Abi (M #6 West) are all ranked higher than the Bulgarian, but not by much and they all scored bare minimum Kachikoshi. There is also an outside shot of both Komusubi staying at their ranks, Hokutofuji like Mitakeumi finished on 7-8. Hatsu Yusho winner Tamawashi finished at 5-10 and will be out of sanyaku in May. 

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With the tournament in the books, a major topic of discussion has been Hakuho's extraordinary Yusho Interview. After conducting said Interview, Hakuho acknowledged The special occasion that was the end of the Heisei era and asked the crowd for three claps to signal for the end of Sumo under the reign of the recently abdicated emperor. 

This in return lead to the Yokozuna Delibaration Council to convene and furthermore to rijikai (council of Sumo elders) to bring in the Yokozuna for questioning. An only recently formed compliance commitee did the same, questioning Hakuho and his Oyakata for 90 minutes about the matter. The compliance commitee will decide on a punishment. It's not the first time he did sth out of line during a championship unterview, in November 2017 he commented on the unfolding Harumafuji scandal and then asked the crowd for three chants of Banzai. Back then he got warned, but received a two month Suspension of payment because he was present during the incident between Harumafuji and Takanoiwa, but didn't step in early enough to prevent it (Kakuryu got a month's Suspension of pay for the same reason). 

So yeah, there's also Drama between Bashos. 

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Uhm, what? I get that leading three cheers for someone still under investigation is a bad idea, but three claps for the Emperor seems pretty uncontroversial to me. 

A quick Google reveals that I am Wrong. Apparently the problem is that the three claps thing is for celebrating the end of something and a Basho isn't over until a proper ending ceremony is conducted.

Asashoryu bottling a guy in a nightclub pales in comparison to this latest outrage. 

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It is hard to grasp, and I had the same initial reaction. Sumo is however deeply enrooted in tradition an viceversa. To a degree, the YDC is right to point out behaviour they found to be odd, in general their only job is to nominate a new Yokozuna candidate for the kiyokai to confirm.

I think the association should have simply told Hakuho that it wasn't ok, slap on the wrist, yadayada... 

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After 42 championships, I'm inclined to believe that Hakuho knows more about the finest traditions of Sumo than the YDC, whose only function recently seems to have been to delay Takakeisho's promotion to Ozeki by two months.

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Posted (edited)

That was actually the kiyokai, the actual Sumo association, from what I understand. The YDC only suggests Yokozuna promotions* from what I understand. 

*in theory

Edited by ReiseReise

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My bad, I thought the YDC were also involved in Ozeki promotions as well; but it seems that you're right. Guess they've got to find other things to do with their time.

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I think that is pretty much it, yeah. 

I also get all the stuff mixed up. So many bodies, loads of commitees etc. The YDC convenes after every tournament and very often they comment on both top ranks, it is very understandable to assume their influence on both, Yokozuna and Ozeki rankers. 

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Hakuho's injured and taking the next Basho off, isn't he?

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Hakuho has torn a muscle in his arm but has refused surgery. The Japan Times has him quoted as saying "It will take time if I have surgery. I’ll get stronger if I rest." He's on the regional tour, doing dohyo-iri, but not wrestling. Personally I doubt if he'll be back for the next basho, but who knows? He might try it and wind up knackering his arm completely.

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He has seen Kisenosato's troubles, I really don't understand why he doesn't opt for surgery. Maybe his injury isn't as bad as it looked on TV. I can still see him sitting out Natsu, but only time will tell. 

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News upon News surrounding Hakuho. The dominant Yokozuna has apparently handed in a request to denounce his Mongolian citizenship. 

The general (and logical) assumption was that Hakuho wants to obtain Japanese citizenship. His goal seems to be to remain in Sumo after his retirement and form a Hakuho stable. Exceptional Yokozunae tend to get the right to keep the name after retirement (Takanohana being the last example), but they - like everyone else - also need to have Japanese citizenship to stay in Sumo after retirement. Japan doesn't allow dual citizenship, so no option for Hakuho. 

Pretty much no comments from the man himself so far, but there have been rumours that he aims to get Japanese citizenship in time to perform his Yokozuna ring entrance at the 2020 Olympic games' opening ceremony.

After the Death of Hakuho's father last year many voices were heard claiming the biggest obstacle to Hakuho becoming Japanese was gone. Seems like these voices weren't far off. I wonder if the most recent incidents played a part aswell. 

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The basho is closing in. With that, the Banzuke will be published tomorrow, on the very last day of the Heisei era. With a new emperor we will get a new Ozeki in Takakeisho, as much is already known. It is also very likely for us to get two top division debutants in Shimanoumi and Enho (a very little questionmark behind the latter). Ichinojo is going back up to Sekiwake, Tochinoshin will be there aswell, dreaming of ten wins for an immediate return to Ozeki. 

Otherwise, there is not much certainty. Who will drop out of Makuuchi? Can Mitakeumi hold on to sanyaku despite his losing record in Osaka? Who will dominate at the Ryōgoku Kokugikan? How fit is Hakuho? Hype Hype Hype 

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Posted (edited)

Banzuke is out. Mitakeumi remains in Sanyaku, Tamawashi falls to Maegashira 3, below M1 Kotoshogiku, but above my boy Abi at M4. Aoyama is back up to Komusubi. 

As my esteemed colleague @ReiseReise predicted, both Shimanoumi (M12) and Enho (M14) make their top division debuts. Tokushoryu makes his return, whilst Terutsuyoshi (M15) hangs on in there. Ikkioi, Toyonoshima, Yutakayama and the injured Chiyonokuni all drop out. 

Edited by DangerMark
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