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Sumo’s newest Ozeki — Shodai Naoya

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13 minutes ago, Kintamayama said:

 I think only Asanoyama and Takakeishou became Ozeki after I said Shoudai was the next one, so it's two, not four. If anyone can find the first instance  of my utterance..

Ok, I'll bite. Takayasu & Tochinoshin make 4.

With the usual caveats about my memory, I'm sure you'd called Shodai the next ozeki within about 3 basho of him appearing in makuuchi, so it was Takayasu's unexpected rise that led to NTNO.

That has been a fairly common theme among recent ozeki promotions: a period of middling performances in makuuchi, followed by an unexpected, sustained improvement. Takayasu couldn't string KKs together, Tochinoshin had no chance with them knees, Takakeisho was too short (and his period of wildly varying performance has continued), and Asanoyama had 2 years of 50/50 MK/KK.

Looked at in that light, sanyaku mainstay Mitakeumi truly has been the barrier guard they all have to get past.

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26 minutes ago, RabidJohn said:

Ok, I'll bite. Takayasu & Tochinoshin make 4.

 

Yeah, and here's the proof.. Geez, time flies and I did miss it by 4..

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Well, I'm certainly no sumo expert but I couldn't help but notice two things. First, how skillful a technician Shoudai was/is. His real trouble seemed his tachiai. Either he survived it and then was able to give trouble to a lot of opponents, or not and then he got blasted out. I still don't understand how he was able to fix this as he's still coming pretty high but somehow the whole thing has startet working for him. And second, I remember how, during degeiko, I often read about one or another yokozuna practicing with him. That was  also telling a lot about his potential. They must have had a reason for doing it. And, vice versa, this probably helped him gain more experience, skill, etc. All in all, I'm really glad for him.

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12 minutes ago, Yaochozuna said:

Either he survived it and then was able to give trouble to a lot of opponents, or not and then he got blasted out. I still don't understand how he was able to fix this as he's still coming pretty high but somehow the whole thing has startet working for him.

Farfetched explanation attempt: The recent trend of the gyoji to call more matta?

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3 hours ago, Yaochozuna said:

His real trouble seemed his tachiai. Either he survived it and then was able to give trouble to a lot of opponents, or not and then he got blasted out. I still don't understand how he was able to fix this as he's still coming pretty high but somehow the whole thing has startet working for him.

Back in the non-pc days of my youth I'd have said Shodai always has and still does look like a big cissy at the tachi-ai, but of course I wouldn't dream of saying such a thing nowadays. 

He's not the only rikishi who tries to avoid leading with his head (very sensibly IMO), but Shodai's look of utter dislike for what he's doing takes it to a new level. His tachi-ai still looks wrong, but he's making it work now. My guess is he's starting to get the hang of that reactive sumo Hakuho is the master of (there's a name for it that I've forgotten), and it also explains his markedly improved recovery from setback that's been very evident recently. 

Suddenly, Asanoyama's obstacle-free path to the next rope looks... well he may turn out to be NTNY!

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Posted (edited)

It's actually his 4th basho in makuuchi, day 2. So your memory is about right @RabidJohn. :-)

Edited by Kashunowaka
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Shodai's four letter saying is 至誠一貫 (shisei ikkan)

According to yojikabe website this means:

"To penetrate sincerity to the very end, be extremely sincere. Through a single policy, method, attitude, passing through from the beginning to the end. To confront everything with a heart. "

Here's a phone background if you really want to get into it:

siseii_14.jpg

 

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1 hour ago, Kashunowaka said:

It's actually his 4th basho in makuuchi, day 2. So your memory is about right @RabidJohn. :-)

Wow, you actually found it?? Not only did I say he'll make it to Ozeki, but "quickly"..

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for a more serious prediction, i would say the three most likely "next ozeki" would be Terunofuji's return, Takanosho, or Takayasu's return.

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On 30/09/2020 at 16:08, Kintamayama said:

Shoudai's promotion  to Ozeki at this time...

Moti, if this post wasn't from you, I wouldn't have read it. Did your dog swallow the enter key?

Good description and insights, though.

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21 minutes ago, sahaven111 said:

for a more serious prediction, i would say the three most likely "next ozeki" would be Terunofuji's return, Takanosho, or Takayasu's return.

Terunofuji -- yes, if he can stay healthy (which both recent and not-so recent history says he can't)

Takanosho - If I had to pick a "next ozeki" it would be him, and he would thus be cursed forever to non-Ozekihood because that's how my predictions go so for his sake I won't say it.

Takayasu - I don't see him getting the rank back. He may bounce in and out of lower sanyaku, but I'd be surprised to see him string together 3 successful enough basho to make an Ozeki return.

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32 minutes ago, yorikiried by fate said:

Moti, if this post wasn't from you, I wouldn't have read it. Did your dog swallow the enter key?

Good description and insights, though.

My dog ate my homework. 

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53 minutes ago, sahaven111 said:

for a more serious prediction, i would say the three most likely "next ozeki" would be Terunofuji's return, Takanosho, or Takayasu's return.

None of the above. Houshouryuu, Kotoshouhou, or Yutakayama.

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32 minutes ago, just_some_guy said:

Terunofuji -- yes, if he can stay healthy (which both recent and not-so recent history says he can't)

Takanosho - If I had to pick a "next ozeki" it would be him, and he would thus be cursed forever to non-Ozekihood because that's how my predictions go so for his sake I won't say it.

Takayasu - I don't see him getting the rank back. He may bounce in and out of lower sanyaku, but I'd be surprised to see him string together 3 successful enough basho to make an Ozeki return.

I'd be surprised to see *anyone* string together 3 successful basho for an ozeki return. It's only happened once before.

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On 30/09/2020 at 13:23, Yokozuna Hattorizakura said:

I'm going to miss all the next ozeki jokes.:'-(

 

next yokozuna jokes ?

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1 hour ago, Kintamayama said:

None of the above. Houshouryuu, Kotoshouhou, or Yutakayama.

How about Kiribayama?

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The last time we played the "Next Ozeki" game, we ended up with 19 that would be crowding that rank.  :-S I don't think any of them made it.

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12 hours ago, Yaochozuna said:

I still don't understand how he was able to fix this as he's still coming pretty high but somehow the whole thing has startet working for him. 

Two things.

One: he has became noticeably stronger.

Two: he talked about working specifically on his "explosiveness" (瞬発力 in Japanese) during the lock down/keiko restrictions.

Both of these have added up to a more formidable tachiai--the main thing that was missing from his otherwise well-rounded sumo game. 

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9 hours ago, RabidJohn said:

He's not the only rikishi who tries to avoid leading with his head (very sensibly IMO), but Shodai's look of utter dislike for what he's doing takes it to a new level. His tachi-ai still looks wrong, but he's making it work now. My guess is he's starting to get the hang of that reactive sumo Hakuho is the master of (there's a name for it that I've forgotten), and it also explains his markedly improved recovery from setback that's been very evident recently. 

Suddenly, Asanoyama's obstacle-free path to the next rope looks... well he may turn out to be NTNY!

I always thought Shodai's tachiai was slightly high and oddly angled, but he is very smart to avoid concussion and he is simply so large and physically strong that he can just roll with it. Additionally, I feel the two existing ozekis (Takakeisho and Asanoyama) have very clear agendas and specialisation (i.e. oshi zumo - gotta push someone out quickly, yotsu zumo - gotta get left hand grip). Of course these agendas aren't compulsions, otherwise they wouldn't be ozeki. We always talk about Takakeisho being limited but I think Asanoyama is (not as), but also very limited. It's a strange phenomenon we are seeing. Shodai is going through a journey that Hakuho has - to graduate from a specialisation (i.e. Hakuho's reliance on a left grip in ancient times) to a diverse, reactive and neutralising brand of sumo without a clear agenda, hence giving the illusion of being prepared for anything. 

As Kisenosato said in a recent Kyokai video, Asashoryu overwhelms and Hakuho neutralises/weakens before fighting back. Overwhelming is just a byproduct and not an end itself. It's a very difficult but smart and longevity-angled type of sumo Shodai is following and if he reaches Yokozuna and keeps this up, it's fully deserved. 

Asanoyama being the NTNY... yikes. I wouldn't wish that on anyone. 

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2 hours ago, Rainoyama said:

next yokozuna jokes ?

at this point that may not be a joke...

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@pricklypomegranate I've like your post, but I don't agree that Asanoyama is 'very limited'. However, not only does he have a strong left uwate grip like Kisenosato, on the evidence of this basho he might also be a bit of a choker. Those 3 opening losses were, to my mind, solely due to him suddenly finding himself effectively top of the banzuke and panicking. Once the expectation was gone, he started winning - and not only by yotsuzumo. 

If Asanoyama can't learn to deal with that weight of expectation, he'll be NTNY. I'm hoping it's just a minor learning curve blip, though; like his sole MK since his yusho, when he was joi for the first time.

---

Even though recent history has proven ozeki promotions to be completely unpredictable more than 3 basho before they actually happen, it's fun trying to predict them!

I've got my eye on Kiribayama. His shisho had a great ozeki career and now he's got a yokozuna (albeit a faded one) in the heya to learn from. He's inconsistent at the moment, though - and I remember Chiyoshoma briefly looking like he could be another Harumafuji. Kiribayama is probably not the next ozeki, but he's caught my interest.

I've also got my eye on Kotoshoho. Such raw talent, but still a lot to learn, and in a frame that's still got some filling out to do. He's got the same sort of amateur sumo background many of the top guys seem to have these days. Again, probably NTNO, but one day...

Hoshoryu alternated between looking like he wasn't ready for makuuchi and looking like he could beat anyone. Very talented with an undeniable pedigree, he's got the potential, but he's still very much unformed and untrained. I'm glad he got the last day KK to remain in makuuchi and have another go. Incidentally, when that happened Hiro Morita said something like 'I'll bet his uncle's pleased with that'. I thought, 'No, moto-Asashoryu is probably on Twitter BMing his nephew as usual and calling him a disgrace to the family. All done out of love and a desire to see him improve, of course!'

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, RabidJohn said:

@pricklypomegranate I've like your post, but I don't agree that Asanoyama is 'very limited'. However, not only does he have a strong left uwate grip like Kisenosato, on the evidence of this basho he might also be a bit of a choker. Those 3 opening losses were, to my mind, solely due to him suddenly finding himself effectively top of the banzuke and panicking. Once the expectation was gone, he started winning - and not only by yotsuzumo. 

If Asanoyama can't learn to deal with that weight of expectation, he'll be NTNY. I'm hoping it's just a minor learning curve blip, though; like his sole MK since his yusho, when he was joi for the first time.

Thanks for replying! I do like a discussion. I would rephrase it as "somewhat limited".

However, my main problem with Asanoyama is not his reliance on yotsu-zumo but rather the fact that he has a very clear, well-publicized agenda that strong opponents will deny (i.e. Shodai), clever and experience opponents will exploit (i.e. Hakuho, Kakuryu) or mismatched opponents like avoid (i.e. Takakeisho). It forms the basis of his strategy and his identity as a sumo wrestler - just as how Hakuho's fighting style and identity was initially developed in opposition to Asashoryu's. While deviation from his agenda doesn't necessarily mean he will definitely lose (he is Ozeki after all), he might be jolted psychologically by loss or sudden technique switches on the dohyo or the need to reinvent himself as a more diverse rikishi. I notice that almost all yokozuna, even Kakuryu, are well-versed in all techniques and do not have a clear "agenda" they are stuck to.  I do not think Asanoyama's mental fragility is as crippling as Kisenosato (and it's not Kisenosato's fault for developing such a personality imo), but Asa just might not recover on time like this basho.

His mental fragility could also come from inexperience, which is the best weakness as it will go away with time, but as an older ozeki, he might need quicker rectification.

Hate to sound like Takasago, but doing degeiko aversion therapy with Hakuho might help - only if Hakuho is in fighting fit and absolutely promises not to be an idiot and do super dangerous techniques weeks before basho again... Miyagino-beya is proud to be ozumo's nightmare fuel supplier :-P

2 hours ago, RabidJohn said:

I've got my eye on Kiribayama. His shisho had a great ozeki career and now he's got a yokozuna (albeit a faded one) in the heya to learn from. He's inconsistent at the moment, though - and I remember Chiyoshoma briefly looking like he could be another Harumafuji. Kiribayama is probably not the next ozeki, but he's caught my interest.

I've also got my eye on Kotoshoho. Such raw talent, but still a lot to learn, and in a frame that's still got some filling out to do. He's got the same sort of amateur sumo background many of the top guys seem to have these days. Again, probably NTNO, but one day...

Hoshoryu alternated between looking like he wasn't ready for makuuchi and looking like he could beat anyone. Very talented with an undeniable pedigree, he's got the potential, but he's still very much unformed and untrained. I'm glad he got the last day KK to remain in makuuchi and have another go. Incidentally, when that happened Hiro Morita said something like 'I'll bet his uncle's pleased with that'. I thought, 'No, moto-Asashoryu is probably on Twitter BMing his nephew as usual and calling him a disgrace to the family. All done out of love and a desire to see him improve, of course!'

Don't think Kiribayama will make Ozeki, and if he does, it might be a Tochinoshin kind of situation as he is way too injured. Chiyoshoma... if there is a "yikes" rikishi that would be it. I will be keeping a closer eye on Kotoshoho (though I might still hold back on Hoshoryu)

My yokozuna joke: I would rather be NTNY than have Asashoryu as my uncle (Laughing...)

Edited by pricklypomegranate
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Just thinking about Shodai's promotion and the next Ozeki(s) after him makes me so excited,
we got so many great young rikishi who could all make the second highest rank. Sumo's future is bright!

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So Kiribayama's got a dicky shoulder. So what? Chiyonofuji was dislocating his shoulders before he became yokozuna, and he even won 1 of his yokozuna yusho after going kyujo with another dislocated shoulder! I'm not saying Kiribayama is YO material, but that shoulders ain't knees or backs.

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