Kintamayama

March basho 2021

Recommended Posts

I do not think the current Ozeki are terrible at all. All three can really turn it on sometime and do okay most others. I do think that they struggle to do great 2 times in a row which normally would not be surprising but is kind of strange considering the lack of Yokozuna competing lately. 

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Morty said:

The criticism of the three Ozeki is also ill founded garbage.

[...]

I get that the criticism is partly because there are no dominant Yokozunae at the moment, but two of them have completed two and four Ozeki basho respectively, and the third has a yusho as an Ozeki. The criticism is unwarranted. 

 

I am not particularly a fan of disregarding criticism as garbage, but that could just be me. But now allow me to defend my trash opinion.

The part of your answer that I deleted for my quote was your list of tournament records of the current ozeki. This is all well and good, but I think - and this has nothing to do with the absence of the yokozuna - that for an ozeki not only the number of wins and losses matter, but also how these come about. It's of course always possible to lose. And the guys the ozeki are facing are really, really good (at least for the most part). But losing like Asanoyama did on day 8 against a struggling Daieisho? I don't think that bending backwards like that after just a few seconds was a particularly good look. Still, I would say Asanoyama may still be the most consistent one of the three ozeki in this tournament. At the very least, he is able to string more than two wins together, unlike Shodai and Takakeisho.

And no, I don't expect them to win every tournament. But I do expect them to be in contention for the title a little while longer. And while yes, Asanoyama and Shodai did have great records on first glance in the last tournament (11-4), Asanoyama's is a bit misleading. Due to his early losses, he was never in contention for the title, he would have required a number of rikishi to have spectacular collapses in the second week of the tournament to get in a prime position. This did not happen. 

The higher you climb on the ladder, the thinner the air gets. As an ozeki you are held to higher standards than everyone else minus the yokozuna. A sekiwaki is expected to perform better than a komusubi and so on. That is just the way it is. An ozeki gets higher rewards and recognition, but these come at a price. And saying that the ozeki (each in their own right) have under-performed is not unwarranted. Their performance, while not the worst of all time (and I have not seen anyone claim something to the contrary), is hardly inspiring at the moment. When they do well, they get lauded. When they do not as well, they get criticised. That is how life goes. 

Edited by SumoKitten
Grammar, typos...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
12 minutes ago, SumoKitten said:

But losing like Asanoyama did on day 8 against a struggling Daieisho? I don't think that bending backwards like that after just a few seconds was a particularly good look.

To nitpick a little, by day 8 Daieisho was back in some of his yusho winning form. It's not as bad as it sounds for an ozeki to be dropping a bout to a komusubi who's in form. If you ask me, and to restore your point a little, the worse offender was his loss the day before to Kiribiyama, where he got completely smoked by a rikishi who's not doing particularly well this tournament.

Edited by Seiyashi
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would argue that Daieisho was about to get his groove back, I don't think he has fully restored it yet. But his match made a more lasting impression on me than Kiribayama's win against Asanoyama. Be that as it may, he had two losses back to back where he didn't stand a chance. And that is exactly the point I was trying to convey. You can lose as an ozeki. And while it is also human to lose in spectacular fashion, it *does* open the door for criticism. 

Of course, the ozeki are not the worst. But calling all criticism as unwarranted or garbage as Morty did was something I refuted. Or at least tried to. I think I always make more sense in my head than on paper. (Thinkingindepth...)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, Kaninoyama said:

Last basho, Hoshoryu lost his first 5 bouts before winning all but his last one to finish 9-6.

This basho, he lost 3 of his first 4 bouts, and now stands at 7-4. 

Once he learns to eliminate these slow starts, look out. 

 

Can't even fathom how good he will be in a few years time when he's in his prime :)
Great things to come that's for sure.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

He's certainly a reason to be cheerful, but let's not provoke the gods of Sumo by saying "that's for sure".

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
56 minutes ago, SumoKitten said:

You can lose as an ozeki. And while it is also human to lose in spectacular fashion, it *does* open the door for criticism. 

Depending on what people are criticising, I think. You could criticise the ozekis' look in the bouts that they lose. You could be demeaning their general results. Or you could be criticising their lack of banzuke leadership.

I buy that Asanoyama deserves criticism for consistency as far as those two bouts are concerned, because he really ought not to have lost both of them together (one of them would have been alright but two is a bridge too far). Takakeisho has fought the best among the three, IMO, but his sumo is just mechanically limited in a way that the other two aren't, and so he must lose some, but I don't think anyone is seriously criticising him for that. Shodai is probably doing the worst of the three at the moment, and regardless of his results in the past year, he has regressed to some really bad habits this basho. This he must be criticised for, too.

But as far as Morty's attack on criticism of the current ozeki with the belittling terms faux-zeki and ko-zeki, I think he has a point. Insofar as the current ozeki have been turning in really decent results, they really ought not to be belittled in that manner because they have proven themselves better than that.

The criticism for lack of banzuke leadership is far more nuanced than these, though. In an effectively yokozuna-less environment, the ozeki need to be consistently relied on to win or at the very least, live up to their name as barriers for the eventual yusho winner. Insofar as they have not done that consistently - insofar as it is shocking that only one person, a different person, has managed to do so each basho where there are three of them - then every basho in which they have failed to do so is an indictment on their collective capability and they must take some criticism for this, the strength of their individual results notwithstanding. Put bluntly, they might be good, but they're not great enough when it matters.

I can make the 7 non-yokozuna basho look good for the current ozeki by saying that ozeki or ozeki potentiates won 4 and were involved in chasing for the other 3. But I can also make it look really bad for the ozeki rank when only one was won by an ozeki (Takakeisho, Nov '20), one by an ozeki promotee (Shodai, Aki '20), and only 1 involved an ozeki or ozeki analogue chasing all the way to the wire and putting his body on the line to block the winner (Takakeisho as ozekiwake in Mitakeumi's yusho, Aki '19), over a period where there were 3 ozeki most of the time. Of the other 4: 

  • Hatsu '21: Despite his early loss to Daieisho, it was still well within Shodai's power to catch him, but losses to Mitakeumi (who went 9-6 at K1w that basho) and Terunofuji (S1e, 6-6 H2H against Shodai) made his final day loss to Asanoyama academic. Asanoyama was 2 off the pace even at nakabi, dropping three to Daieisho, Mitakeumi, and Takarafuji, before rallying to finish stronger, and Takakeisho followed his championship with a dismal kyujo and kadoban.
  • July '20: Asanoyama started his shin-ozeki basho well but failed to batter-up where it really counted, losing rather disgracefully to an ashitori by Terutsuyoshi and handing Terunofuji the cup. Takakeisho struggled that tournament and eventually went kyujo on day 12 once he got his kachi-koshi.
  • Hatsu '20: Takakeisho was well off the pace at the ozeki rank and it fell to Shodai, then an M4 and yet to be in full ozeki form, to try and halt Tokushoryu in Jan '20. The other ozeki then was Goeido, who retired at the rank after 5-10.
  • Natsu '19: Goeido and Takayasu both were 9-6 and at least 3 wins off the pace by day 14. Takakeisho had a disastrous shin-ozeki tournament, suffering the embarrassment of a winless return before going kyujo twice in the same basho.

Some credit is due to Terunofuji for getting wins off the ozeki, and some annoyance is due also to Mitakeumi for being a ridiculous party pooper, but these are the opponents your top ranked wrestlers really ought to be putting a game plan together to beat rather than to resign yourselves to dropping two to a resurgent ex-ozeki and a party pooper.

It does seems mildly unfair that there are two expectations of a rank depending on whether or not there's anyone above, and especially where the current holders are both held to a higher standard and bearing the cross that the previous batch left. But them's the breaks. As you said, the air is thinner at the top and right now, ozeki is the top. 

Edited by Seiyashi
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

Just to remind everybody, an average ozeki, i.e. guys who don't become yokozuna, averages something like 9.5 wins per basho, without including decline phases leading to demotion or intai (with that included it's even lower). That's it. It's all well and good to say "but without any active yokozuna, they're the ones who have to put up a challenge for the rope themselves", but maybe the guys we have now really are just average to slightly-above-average ozeki? It's unreasonable to consider them disappointing for not fulfilling a role they're not built to fulfill, notwithstanding the usual assumption - all too frequently pushed by the press in particular - that any newly promoted ozeki should be in the running for a tsuna before too long. The stratification just doesn't work like that; the gulf in both skill and results between an average ozeki and even just an average yokozuna is huge.

As for their inability to challenge for yusho more consistently, let alone win them: Somebody like prime Hakuho might have been 90%+ favourite to win any given tournament, but even he wasn't able to give each opponent more than one loss per basho. So while having a dai-yokozuna running around will dramatically cut everybody else's championship chances, his effect on other rikishis' win-loss records is a lot more marginal, and taking away that dai-yokozuna won't magically turn the guys underneath him into consistent 11/12-win guys all of a sudden.

Edited by Asashosakari
  • Like 10
  • Thanks 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
14 minutes ago, Asashosakari said:

Just to remind everybody, an average ozeki, i.e. guys who don't become yokozuna, averages something like 9.5 wins per basho, without including decline phases leading to demotion or intai (with that included it's even lower). That's it. It's all well and good to say "but without any active yokozuna, they're the ones who have to put up a challenge for the rope themselves", but maybe the guys we have now really are just average to slightly-above-average ozeki? It's unreasonable to consider them disappointing for not fulfilling a role they're not built to fulfill, notwithstanding the usual assumption - all too frequently pushed by the press in particular - that any newly promoted ozeki should be in the running for a tsuna before too long. The stratification just doesn't work like that; the gulf in both skill and results between an average ozeki and even just an average yokozuna is huge.

As for their inability to challenge for yusho more consistently, let alone win them: Somebody like prime Hakuho might have been 90%+ favourite to win any given tournament, but even he wasn't able to give each opponent more than one loss per basho. So while having a dai-yokozuna running around will dramatically cut everybody else's championship chances, his effect on other rikishis' win-loss records is a lot more marginal, and taking away that dai-yokozuna won't magically turn the guys underneath him into consistent 11/12-win guys all of a sudden.

I can buy that ozeki generally don't score as well as we think they should or do. And I can buy that it's useless to criticise all the ozeki for not being yokozuna.

But in modern sumo, with about twice as many ozeki as there have been yokozuna since Chiyonoyama, you are expecting 1 in 2 ozeki to turn into a yokozuna. Since the last banzuke where an ozeki was promoted (Kisenosato), we have had 7 men in the rank, none of which performed or are performing well enough to be promoted soon, and your two "newcomers" are two of the misfiring 7. To make matters worse, the best prospect we can see for a yokozuna within this year is a 29-year-old ex-ozeki with more missing things in his joints than people have limbs, and we don't even know if he's going to last if he gets the rope.

So that's a really long drought period to go, and potentially still to go, without a yokozuna promotion even if you don't factor in being yokozuna-less soon, which (might I say needlessly and uselessly) adds to the calls for better-performing ozeki. With yokozuna promotion being tied so closely to winning yusho, it's not a very huge nor very unjustified leap to go from "we really ought to be getting a yokozuna out of at least one of these ozeki" to "these ozeki really ought to be winning championships". We came the closest with Takakeisho in November last year, but still no dice, and I think we've all quietly accepted that as far as consistency goes, Takakeisho is perhaps not the best yokozuna candidate anyway.

Maybe we're all just too het up wanting a new yokozuna and projecting on the current ozeki. But if the gap in skill between the average ozeki and the average yokozuna is wide, what about the gap in skill between the average ozeki and the average sanyaku? Average maegashira? The lack of yokozuna just casts the spotlight on how maybe not different the ozeki are from the joi, which jars very badly with what people think ozeki should be.

Edited by Seiyashi

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 minutes ago, Seiyashi said:

But in modern sumo, with about twice as many ozeki as there have been yokozuna since Chiyonoyama, you are expecting 1 in 2 ozeki to turn into a yokozuna. Since the last banzuke where an ozeki was promoted (Kisenosato), we have had 7 men in the rank, none of which performed or are performing well enough to be promoted soon, and your two "newcomers" are two of the misfiring 7. To make matters worse, the best prospect we can see for a yokozuna within this year is a 29-year-old ex-ozeki with more missing things in his joints than people have limbs, and we don't even know if he's going to last if he gets the rope.

So that's a really long drought period to go, and potentially still to go, without a yokozuna promotion even if you don't factor in being yokozuna-less soon, which (might I say needlessly and uselessly) adds to the calls for better-performing ozeki.

But it's frankly useless to try to collectivize the ozeki rank holders like that. They're 7 individual rikishi, and if they're all just ozeki-caliber fighters, then that's simply the end of the story, and no amount of teeth-gnashing or wishcasting is somehow going to turn one of them into The One. That's not the fault of any of the rikishi involved, nor of "the ozeki rank" in itself. Fans can either enjoy the rikishi that are there, or they can wallow in "When will my one true love show himself at last?" melodrama.

  • Like 9

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

Worth remembering that “Yokozuna” isn’t a specific objectively measurable benchmark, it’s just an Ozeki who was the best among his peers at a given time. Some Yokozuna haven’t been as good as some Ozeki, but they managed two yusho in a row (or similar) in their era and got the rope. It may be that all the Ozeki right now are in fact pretty damn good, and being as good as each other they stop each other dominating long enough to earn promotion. Besides the other Ozeki, they each have to contend also with Terunofuji, Takayasu, and (arguably) Mitakeumi and Daieisho, who are quasi-Ozeki and play their part in denying dominance to any one rikishi. It’s not hard to see why nobody consistently gets 12+ wins — they’re all taking wins off one another here and there.

What I’m trying to say, in my inarticulate way, is that the measure of an Ozeki is not that he stands out among his peers — that’s the measure of a Yokozuna — but that he consistently holds his own against them, does his best to stop them being dominant enough to become Yokozuna and contends for the yusho from time to time. When he’s not in the yusho hunt, he at least influences it by winning key bouts and putting pressure on the leaders. Maybe what we have now is not in fact a weak Ozeki corp, but a strong one. Maybe we’re blessed to be seeing such an evenly matched group of peers at the top. For what it’s worth, I am quite enjoying the ‘It’s your turn to yusho’ unpredictability this current crop serve up after more than a decade of Hakuho and Asashoryu winning almost every time.

Edited by Eikokurai
  • Like 7

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 minutes ago, Eikokurai said:

What I’m trying to say, in my inarticulate way, is that the measure of an Ozeki is not that he stands out among his peers — that’s the measure of a Yokozuna — but that he consistently holds his own against them, does his best to stop them being dominant enough to become Yokozuna and contends for the yusho from time to time. When he’s not in the yusho hunt, he at least influences it by winning key bouts and putting pressure on the leaders. Maybe what we have now is not in fact a weak Ozeki corp, but a strong one. Maybe we’re blessed to be seeing such an evenly matched group of peers at the top.

That's a way to put it that I haven't thought of before. It is true that they are quite nicely matched at the moment. But how would you account for the fact that their sumo is inconsistent and considered to be bad with some regularity by commentators? Asanoyama got shaded very badly by Kitanofuji and Hakkaku early in the basho, and Shodai's tachiai has regressed to being too high. If they are evenly matched and their sumo isn't good, doesn't that make them a weak corps rather than a strong one?

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 minutes ago, Eikokurai said:

Worth remembering that “Yokozuna” isn’t a specific objectively measurable benchmark, it’s just an Ozeki who was the best among his peers at a given time. Some Yokozuna haven’t been as good as some Ozeki, but they managed two yusho in a row (or similar) in their era and got the rope. It may be that all the Ozeki right now are in fact pretty damn good, and being as good as each other they stop each other dominating long enough to earn promotion. Besides the other Ozeki, they each have to contend also with Terunofuji, Takayasu, and (arguably) Mitakeumi and Daieisho, who are quasi-Ozeki and play their part in denying dominance to any one rikishi. It’s not hard to see why nobody consistently gets 12+ wins — they’re all taking wins off one another here and there.

What I’m trying to say, in my inarticulate way, is that the measure of an Ozeki is not that he stands out among his peers — that’s the measure of a Yokozuna — but that he consistently holds his own against them, does his best to stop them being dominant enough to become Yokozuna and contends for the yusho from time to time. When he’s not in the yusho hunt, he at least influences it by winning key bouts and putting pressure on the leaders. Maybe what we have now is not in fact a weak Ozeki corp, but a strong one. Maybe we’re blessed to be seeing such an evenly matched group of peers at the top. For what it’s worth, I am quite enjoying the ‘It’s your turn to yusho’ unpredictability this current crop serve up after more than a decade of Hakuho and Asashoryu winning almost every time.

Maybe the current ozekies can be given a passing score, but none of them has the potential to be dominant. After Hakuho also gone, there'll be no yokozuna in a long time and people lose interest in sumo.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 minutes ago, Seiyashi said:

But how would you account for the fact that their sumo is inconsistent and considered to be bad with some regularity by commentators?

Is that something unusual, though? Seems to me the typical career ozeki falls into one of two camps: Largely one-dimensional sumo, consistently executed (Chiyotaikai, Kotoshogiku, Takakeisho), or multi-faceted sumo with regular ups and downs. At the risk of vastly oversimplifying things: If the latter type were consistent, they'd be yokozuna.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
12 minutes ago, Seiyashi said:

That's a way to put it that I haven't thought of before. It is true that they are quite nicely matched at the moment. But how would you account for the fact that their sumo is inconsistent and considered to be bad with some regularity by commentators? Asanoyama got shaded very badly by Kitanofuji and Hakkaku early in the basho, and Shodai's tachiai has regressed to being too high. If they are evenly matched and their sumo isn't good, doesn't that make them a weak corps rather than a strong one?

I suppose I’d fall back on the ‘look at the banzuke’ defence. If their sumo truly is sloppy, they wouldn’t have made it to Ozeki and they won’t stay there very long. Their schedules are always the toughest in sumo, so if they are handling themselves, they’re performing at the expected level.

I may add to this in the morning. It’s nearly 1 a.m. in Shanghai and I need to sleep! :)

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 minutes ago, Dapeng said:

Maybe the current ozekies can be given a passing score, but none of them has the potential to be dominant. After Hakuho also gone, there'll be no yokozuna in a long time and people lose interest in sumo.

I don't know about that one. I became a fan of sumo without the presence of yokozuna. I mostly knew them from "they can't compete" notice at the beginning of tournaments. 

3 minutes ago, Asashosakari said:

Is that something unusual, though? Seems to me the typical career ozeki falls into one of two camps: Largely one-dimensional sumo, consistently executed (Chiyotaikai, Kotoshogiku, Takakeisho), or multi-faceted sumo with regular ups and downs. At the risk of vastly oversimplifying things: If the latter type were consistent, they'd be yokozuna.

That is a fair point. And to be honest, ups and downs in any rikishi's career are only natural. But noticing these ups and downs is just as natural.

I enjoy the current discussion of whether or not the current ozeki are average, below or under, or if some of them could be yokozuna material, if they are a good tier group or an under-performing one. This is the reason I looked for a forum like this in the first place. Deprecating any (critical) arguments though, is what I took offense at. 

4 minutes ago, Eikokurai said:

Their schedules are always the toughest in sumo, so if they are handling themselves, they’re performing at the expected level.

I thought the komusubi's schedule was tougher? In any case, the ozeki as a group would look more confident and convincing, if not at least one of them had to fend off his kadoban status every other tournament. Recency bias is a notable thing. (Good night!)

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
17 minutes ago, SumoKitten said:
24 minutes ago, Eikokurai said:

Their schedules are always the toughest in sumo, so if they are handling themselves, they’re performing at the expected level.

I thought the komusubi's schedule was tougher?

Technically the sanyaku and the joi have equally tough schedules based only on opponents, as they wind up fighting each other. The sanyaku do have it tougher sometimes if they are called to gatekeep some upstart from way down the banzuke who's on a tear, and therefore in arguably better form than the joi, but other than that, if you look at the makuuchi win-loss matrix (Kyushu 2020 Basho (sumogames.de)) you will see that the bout matchups effectively split makuuchi into two divisions - upper makuuchi (sanyaku + joi) and lower makuuchi.

The difference (and hence toughness) would be in the order of the bouts, especially accounting for things like ring rust, injuries, and decreasing stamina as the basho goes on.

Komusubi usually wind up fighting the whole sanyaku in the first week beginning with a yokozuna. (The rest of upper sanyaku start fighting komusubi and work their way down through the joi, leaving enough space to slot in the yokozuna, ozeki, and sekiwake backwards from senshuraku.) Most shin-komusubi are so thoroughly demoralised by getting their rear handed to them in the first week that it's considered very credible to produce a KK on shin-komusubi. So for komusubi, it's tough in the sense of keeping your head in the game after being whupped repeatedly; Daieisho is doing a very good job to come back 6-5 from 0-5, even though he's not shin-komusubi.

In contrast, upper sanyaku generally ought to be cleaning house against their opponents for the first week with their tougher, yusho deciding bouts against each other coming in the second week, so if they haven't been doing well in the first week (ring rust or injuries) it only gets worse and "tougher" from there. Add audience expectation, possible kadoban clearing, and yusho storylines, alongside depleting stamina, aggravated injuries, and you have a pressure cooker of a situation to deal with both mentally and physically.

Terunofuji is the best example of depleting stamina this basho where he looked really good early on but has been visibly getting sloppier as the basho goes on. Takayasu is the exceptional inhumanly enduring freak of nature who, despite fighting the longest bouts of the basho by far over everyone else, still has more than enough left in the tank to fight minutes-long bouts and look good doing it. Asanoyama's shin-ozeki basho is probably the best example of getting cooked by expectation; he was defying all expectations as a shin-ozeki with 9 straight wins and keeping pace with Hakuho. Then he dropped one to Mitakeumi, Hakuho withdrew, and suddenly he was the only one between Terunofuji and the yusho, and everyone started looking at him harder as a yokozuna potentiate. I don't know if it made a difference to his bout with Terunofuji, since Terunofuji also beat him next basho, but he certainly looked like a chump when he got ashitori-ed by Terutsuyoshi on day 13 to knock him out of the yusho race for good.

Edited by Seiyashi
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, Amamaniac said:

Actually, that is no meaner than the term "faux-zeki" circulated in these parts! ;-)

I've always preferred the ozekiwake term, myself. 

The new crop of ozeki are still pretty unseasoned. Throw enough salt on them and they'll get better. Or, uh, tenderized? Par-boiled? I should probably go make myself lunch. BRB.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 minutes ago, Seiyashi said:

Terunofuji is the best example this basho where he looked really good early on but has been visibly getting sloppier as the basho goes on. Takayasu is the exceptional inhumanly enduring freak of nature who, despite fighting the longest bouts of the basho by far over everyone else, still has more than enough left in the tank to fight minutes-long bouts and look good doing it.

(I've just discovered the quote section function and I already love it, yay me!)

I think in addition to increasing sloppiness, it doesn't help him that his strategy of lifting the opponent out of the ring doesn't work on everyone. Takayasu was too strong and blocked him, Shimanoumi had amazing footwork paired with a bit of luck. Terunofuji has been a one trick pony for the majority of the tournament. So his change in strategy was quite refreshing to see today. 

I hope that Takayasu will show his bear strength and endurance in the last four days, winning out. (Praying...)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
25 minutes ago, SumoKitten said:

I think in addition to increasing sloppiness, it doesn't help him that his strategy of lifting the opponent out of the ring doesn't work on everyone. Takayasu was too strong and blocked him, Shimanoumi had amazing footwork paired with a bit of luck. Terunofuji has been a one trick pony for the majority of the tournament. So his change in strategy was quite refreshing to see today. 

Funny you should say that, because his resorting to that strategy is a strategy of last resort.

In his earlier life as an ozeki, that strategy was his favourite to employ. Because of his size and strength, he would invite a morozashi, and then simply lock arms under his opponents elbows, lift them up in a kime-hold, and dump them over the bales with a kimedashi. That wasn't a good strategy for two reasons: first, inviting a morozashi is not a good idea against people who know what they're doing, and second, the way he liked to execute the kime-hold put a lot of strain on his knees, which blew out on him two basho into his ozeki career.

When he reinvented himself coming back up the banzuke, he showed off a lot more technical sophistication in his sumo. Terunofuji's sumo for the first half has actually been anything but one-trick; he went shitatenage, oshidashi, yoritaoshi and kotenage for the first 4 bouts. It's after his oshidashi loss to Onosho that the wheels started coming off. Onosho exposed the weakness of the kimedashi - if the opponent isn't actually trying to get a yotsu grip and anchoring his hands in your mawashi, the kime hold just becomes a liability because the opponent now has a prime anchor to stay upright while initiating a gaburi-yori attack while you have no leverage to lift up since the pivot point - the opponent's hands on your mawashi - is not there. 

That he is falling back on old habits is not a good sign; it suggests that for some reason he is failing to execute his newer brand of sumo at the tachiai (his kimedashi win against Myogiryu was an odd loss at the tachiai that he managed to convert) or is getting frustrated, hence the assessment that his sumo is getting sloppy. Shimanoumi lucked out by exploiting Terunofuji's relatively poorer lateral mobility, and if you slow their bout right down you can actually see Terunofuji's feet failing to keep up completely by crashing together just before he falls.

Takayasu is an odd outlier here. Courtesy of Kisenosato, Takayasu is one of the most well-rounded packages in sumo now: low stance, great hipwork, good sumo sense, and the ability to switch between oshi and yotsu as the situation demands. Takayasu is too good to be caught by the kimedashi and Terunofuji knows it, but going into yotsu with Takayasu is also asking for trouble because of the ottsuke. Terunofuji just simply doesn't have the answers to Takayasu at this point, so it's not exactly an indictment on his sumo that he lost to Takayasu.

Edited by Seiyashi
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 hours ago, Kaninoyama said:

Midorifuji was limping painfully after his match. Appears to be a right ankle injury, suffered while bracing on the bales against Kagayaki's weight (according to the interviewer). May be an unfortunate kyujo for him after today. 

Midorifuji seemed to extend his right leg quite a bit before his right foot made contact with the bales.  He may have pulled a muscle or injured a tendon in the area of his right ankle (just a guess).   Watch this video starting at at 2:55.  First it shows the bout, then Midorifuji limping all the way back to the dressing area.  His limp gets worse the farther he walks.  Finally, he is offered help by (former) Aminishiki and another former rikishi but he turns it down and continues limping while holding onto his tsukebito.  I hope he's not kyujo today. 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It seems to me that an ozeki is simply an ozeki, not a yokozuna, and perhaps we shouldn't expect yokozuna-like sumo from each of them. 

But a few thoughts about today:

Did Akiseyama try a HNH in his bout?
Tobizarus smile after his throw was priceless. 
Tochinoshins literally on his last legs (sorry for the pun). It's painful to see him struggling to get any use out of his injured leg, even after the bout. 
Hokutofuji is putting together a pretty good basho. Can he beat Daieisho to sekiwake? ;-)
Vintage ozeki sumo from Shodai. He's good and I've been surprised to see people thinking he'll fall from ozeki any time soon.
Takakeisho is obviously not at his strongest this basho, but with 7 wins now he'll make it over the kachikoshi line. His struggles are concerning though, and due to his one sided sumo to me he seems be more susceptible to losing his rank than any of his peers.
And Asanoyama was simply solid, not much else to say. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It’s been interesting reading the comments (and jokes/jibes) about the current crop of Ozeki not being up to scratch. Whether the criticism is entirely fair, I’ll leave that for others to hammer out.

What I find utterly fascinating at the moment is that the three relatively new Ozeki are being hunted down by two former Ozeki namely Teru and ‘Yasu, either of whom (or both) could surpass the current triumvirate. On their heels are the usual faces like Mita and Daieisho but further back there are rikishi with talent like Wakatakakage, Tobizaru and Hoshoryu looking to move up the ranks too.

Ozeki must be a pretty tough place to be at the moment, desperately trying to string a couple of yusho together to become the next yokozuna while really having to battle their peers with similar talent. That's the issue I suppose, is there anyone here able to surpass those around them? Will it be a current Ozeki who makes it to the rope, one of the former Ozeki or someone else? I’ve absolutely no idea but, in sumo terms, we live in exciting times and I’m glued to the whole thing to see how it plays out.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Much talk about about the current crop of ozeki, with some putting forward the view that the reason none of them can dominate is that they are an unusually strong group.

Let's imagine a six-man, all-play-all "strong ozeki" tournament, with all men in their absolute primes.

Your contenders are Konishiki, Kaio, Baruto, Asanoyama, Shodai and Takakeisho.

Which three spots do you think that our current trio would fill in the final table?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
13 minutes ago, Tigerboy1966 said:

Much talk about about the current crop of ozeki, with some putting forward the view that the reason none of them can dominate is that they are an unusually strong group.

Let's imagine a six-man, all-play-all "strong ozeki" tournament, with all men in their absolute primes.

Your contenders are Konishiki, Kaio, Baruto, Asanoyama, Shodai and Takakeisho.

Which three spots do you think that our current trio would fill in the final table?

I can't help thinking of the 11-4 and 12-3 type performances from this Ozeki troika, during basho when no Yokozuna show up.  If one assumes that two Yokozuna on the banzuke count for, say, 1.5 fewer wins per basho from the Sanyaku, the last year doesn't look as impressive.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now