- Fantasy Basho
Haru 2019 Recap Day Fifteen
It's all over. Very large men are singing karaoke at parties, a championship parade has taken place, and the ceremonial giant macaron has been presented. Another Basho is in the books. Here's how it shook out for everyone.
○○○○○○○○○○○○○○○ Y1e Hakuho
This is yusho number 42, zensho yuhso 15, win 1120, Makuuchi win 1026, and win 832 as Yokozuna for Hakuho. Those are all records that Hakuho has held for awhile and he merely added to them in Osaka. He also won the last tournament of the Heisei era, as the Emperor of Japan will abdicate at the end of April. That was a stated goal before the basho began, meaning Hakuho called his shot. If he is healthy enough, no one can touch Hakuho. That's a bigger question than it seems, as the dai-Yokozuna followed up his last zensho yusho in September by sitting out all of November. Still, he's the best around until he retires.
○○○○○○○●○○○○○○○ M4w Ichinojo
Two months ago, Ichinojo seemed like a disappointmen. Falling to Maegashira 4 after two straight 6-9 records, he appeared sluggish and unable to overcome any sort of adversity in the dohyo. Whatever he did in training between January and March needs to stay in place, because he was on fire. His main strategy was to allow his opponents to get in low and close, then slap, pull, or throw them in such a way to send them to the clay. At his immense size, everyone got inside, and with his crazy strength, he could beat almost anyone. Only Tochinoshin seemed unable to be thrown in this way.
His 14 wins should be appreciated. Without Hakuho, he might have won an Emperor's Cup. In 3 of the last 6 basho, 14 wins would have won it all. (And it's significant those were not basho featuring Hakuho every day.) This doesn't get the same recognition as Takakeisho or Mitakeumi's recent yushos, but here's a young, promising rikishi putting up a serious win total.
○○○○○●○○●○○○●○○ O1w Goeido
○○○●○○○○○○●○●○○ M7e Aoiyama
This is an interesting pair. Both men are veterans who have been up and down recently. Goeido was the hometown favorite Ozeki in Osaka, and his 5-0 start was impressive enough in appearance to make him a serious contender. Aoiyama was in the mid-Maegashira ranks, and his Day 4 loss to Chiyotairyu made him fall under-the-radar. That can make Goeido's 12 wins seem disappointing and Aoiyama's 12 amazing. They both got excellent records and Goeido will see a move to the Ozeki 1 East slot, while Aoiyama might even approach Sanyaku.
○○○○○●○●○○○○●○● M8w Kotoshogiku
Good for the former Ozeki to reach double digit wins. Kotoshogiku had a special prize shot on Day Fifteen, but lost to Ryuden. Still, he proved he's a formidable rikishi even if he hasn't got the ability to reach his former heights of long term Ozeki and one time yusho winner. He could see such a big promotion it will actively harm his chances of a big win total, because he struggles with the best of the best.
●○○○○○○○○●○●○●● Y1w Kakuryu
○○●○○○○○○●○○●●● O1e Takayasu
○○●○●○○○○○●●○●○ S1e Takakeisho
○○○●○○●○●○○●●○○ M11e Ryuden
○●○●●○○○○○○○○●● M12w Yoshikaze
What an odd group this is. Kakuryu and Takayasu are probably disappointed, because they expect to be in the yusho race and they both finished 2-4 over the last 6 days. Ryuden and Yoshikaze are both in the position of getting unexpected double digit totals.
Takakeisho managed to get an Ozeki promotion, although he too was probably hoping to be more in the yusho race. His final day match against Tochinoshin was for the Ozeki title, so he showed up when he needed to. He also beat Kakuryu and Takayasu, which means he has beat everyone above him on the March banzuke. Surprisingly, Takakeisho won the gino sho, or technique prize. He has exactly one technique, and while he's great at it, that's usually not what the prize is for.
●○○●●●○○○○○○○●● M11w Meisei
○●○●○●○●○●○○○○● M13e Tomokaze
●○●●○○○○●○○○●○● M13w Kagayaki
Interestingly, all three of these guys could have been in the group above, except they lost on Day Fifteen. No matter, each will be in a much higher spot on the banzuke come May. That's where all of these rikishi will get seriously tested, especially if they end up facing the Sanyaku by being in the upper Maegashira ranks.
●○○○○●○●●○●●○●○ M5e Chiyotairyu
●●○●●○○○○●○○●●○ M6e Okinoumi
●●●○●○●●●○○○○○○ M6w Abi
●●○○○●●○●●○○○●○ M7w Takarafuji
Speaking of the upper Maegashira ranks in May, it will be composed of these four. All four won on Day Fifteen to get their Kachi-Koshi, which is always nice. It also might mean they get the Yokozuna and Ozeki at the Ryogoku. So full blessing and a curse territory. None of them had the kind of performances that would generate confidence they will survive.
○●●○○○●○○●●●●○● O2e Tochinoshin
○●○○●●●●●○○●●○○ K1e Mitakeumi
●●○●○●●●○●●○○○○ K1w Hokutofuji
●●●●○●○●○●○●○○○ M1w Endo
●○○●●○●○●○●○○●● M2e Daieisho
○○●○●○●○○○●●●●● M8e Asanoyama
●●○●○○●○○●●●○●○ M10e Shohozan
●○○○○●○○●●●●●●○ M15w Kotoeko
●●○○●○●●○●●○○●○ M16e Daishoho
○○●●○○●○●○●●○●● M17e Chiyoshoma
The unlucky ones who were just one win away from kachi-koshi. Tellingly, there are ten here while only 4 were in the 8-7 group. Most disappointed of all will be Tochinoshin, who was kadoban as an Ozeki for March. Since he couldn't manage 8 wins, he will be down to Sekiwake for May. The good news is that if he gets 10 wins in Tokyo, he'll pop right back up to Ozeki again. The bad news is that his knee looked so bad that it seems like a tough haul.
The others who will be disappointed are Mitakeumi, Hokutofuji, Daishoho, and Chiyoshoma. The first two will lose their Komusubi rank. The second two will likely lose their Makuuchi status (although the damage below might help Daishoho just hang on.) Everybody else will see a small slide on the Banzuke, which could be good for their prospects in May.
●○○●●●○●●○●○●○● M2w Myogiryu
●○●●○●●●○●○●○○● M10w Yago
●●●○●●●○●●○●○○○ M14e Terutsuyoshi
○○○○●●○●○●●●●●● M15e Ishiura
Myogiryu fought valiantly at Maegashira 2, but it wasn't enough. Yago couldn't improve on his great debut Makuuchi basho in January. Terustuyoshi got a rough welcome to Makuuchi this basho. Ishiura's triumphant return of the first week completely collapsed on him the second.
○●●●○○○●●●●○●●● S1w Tamawashi
●●●●●●●●●○○●○○○ M3w Shodai
○○●○●○●●●●●○●●● M5w Onosho
●●●○●○○●●●●●○●○ M9e Sadanoumi
○●●○●●●●●○●●●○○ M14w Toyonoshima
These rikishi were all train wrecks to varying degrees. Tamawashi had no ability to repeat his yusho performance from January. Shodai had a terrible first week, while Onosho had a terrible second week. Sadanoumi and Toyonoshima seemed to be unhealthy for much of the basho.
●●●●●●●○○●○●○●● M3e Nishikigi
Nishikigi only gets special mention because he got one fewer win than the group above and one more than the group below.
●●●●●●●○●●●○●○● M1e Kaisei
○●●●●●●●●○●●●●○ M4e Tochiozan
○○●○●●●●●●●●●●● M16w Yutakayama
Kaisei and Tochiozan were probably hurt, and they will get two months to recover and a cushier ranking. Yutakayama was an absolute disaster, looking injured, demoralized, and like he had lost his sumo. No one wants to get demoted to Juryo, but that might just allow him to sort everything out.
○●●●●●●●●●●●●○● M9w Ikioi
The real miracle is that Ikioi got even 2 wins. He was so injured he would take forever to get up after every match and noticeably limped the whole time.
––––––––––––––– M12e Chiyonokuni
Once again, we hope Chiyonokuni recovers for Natsu, when he will definitely join juryo.