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Featured Rikishi - Homasho

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He has awesome balance. He has legs like teppo poles. His shoulders are huge, though they don't look it compared to his thighs.

While it lasts, here is a great display of that awesome balance, and the excellent mannerisms that are earning him brownie points with Obaa-chan across the nation (Online too long...) :

it's very small, but thank you goo (Eh?)

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He may be rising quickly, but he's not so young. He's 25, soon to be 26 in April. To put that in perspective, he's only 6 months younger than Asashoryu. There are 11 guys younger than him in Makuuchi right now:

Asasekiryu

Hakurozan

Yoshikaze

Kotooshu

Toyonoshima

Kotoshogiku

Ama

Baruto

Hakuho

Kakuryu

Kisenosato

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He may be rising quickly, but he's not so young. He's 25, soon to be 26 in April. To put that in perspective, he's only 6 months younger than Asashoryu. There are 11 guys younger than him in Makuuchi right now:

Asasekiryu

Hakurozan

Yoshikaze

Kotooshu

Toyonoshima

Kotoshogiku

Ama

Baruto

Hakuho

Kakuryu

Kisenosato

If I were to narrow down that list for, hrrrrm, relevance . . . for starters Hakurozan is wayyyy balder than Homasho so he doesn't count. Yoshikaze has already dropped down to Juryo once, only makes it back with an 8-7 for Hatsu, and will probably never be a joi-jin regular. Toyonoshima we can safely say is topping out as we speak, can't hold his rank this high for too long. Kotooshu and Hakuho are already Ozeki. So his real competition that show the right kind of fire might read more like:

Homasho

Asasekiryu

Kotoshogiku

Ama

Baruto

Kakuryu

Kisenosato

(heavily subject to my own subjectivity)

that's 7 youngish guys going for 3 soon-to-be vacant Ozeki slots and one more possibly open if we see 4 stellar performances and/or a yokozuna promotion. I would put Homasho, Kotoshogiku, Ama, and Kisenosato as the top 4, leaving out Baruto because I trust a recent forum-diagnosis that his knee is indeed in worse shape than he's admitting. It will be reinjured in 2007 perhaps much worse than the first time. I say he makes it to a perennial Sekiwake seat even if he heals completely. This would involve a current Sekiwake retiring or being promoted . . .

And there are always Kotomitsuki, Miyabiyama, and Roho to consider but I would only pick Miyabiyama for another Ozeki run unless Roho undergoes grand transformation. If you want to broaden it further, Wakanosato still has another chance to make it back to Sanyaku and others might want to add more. And of course we might expect to see Tochiozan, Goeido, Hochiyama, Hakuba, Wakanoho, etc. in similar range as Homasho within a year or two.

All in all it looks like stiff competition for the future of sanyaku. Probably only 4 or 5 positions opening up anytime soon. Something tells me that despite the young guns around him Homasho is still a front-runner.

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that's 7 youngish guys going for 3 soon-to-be vacant Ozeki slots and one more possibly open if we see 4 stellar performances and/or a yokozuna promotion.

Except that "vacant slot" is not how Ozeki promotions work at all. I'm quite sure the Kyokai wouldn't mind having only 3 Yokozuna + Ozeki for a while if nobody steps up after the three from the old guard are gone. Of course, somebody always tends to get the necessary wins sooner or later, but then even the arguably strongest lower sanyaku rikishi of the past five years (Wakanosato and Kotomitsuki) have had heaps of trouble with that even while the three Ozeki (four, when Musoyama was still around) were missing tournaments partially or in full due to injury all the time. A threesome of Asashoryu, Hakuho and a healthy Kotooshu could conceivably keep out challengers for quite a while, especially if there ends up being stiff competition within lower sanyaku so that the challengers keep killing each other's win-loss records in direct matchups.

Anyway, on the topic of Homasho, I largely agree with Gusoyama. I really enjoy watching Homasho do his thing, but I don't get the hype considering his advanced age. Compare his rise up the banzuke to the college rikishi who did make it to Ozeki and the difference in the path taken really is quite pronounced already. I'd say the upside is a Musoyama-like career from here on, but only if Homasho stays absolutely healthy for the rest of the decade, and manages to break through the joi-jin much faster than I expect him to do.

Edited by Asashosakari

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On the idea of a 'vacant' Ozeki slot, of course it is a simplification and I only make it to see the total potential of a 'full' banzuke to absorb the best talent. I said that the performances would have to be stellar in order to merit so many promotions, right? And I recognize that when all three of the old guard are gone, potential Ozeki will normally move up the sanyaku ranks one at a time as long as we have two perennial Sekiwake choking up that lane of traffic. In other words I don't expect to suddenly see 3 new ozeki storm the ranks over a period of three basho. It would probably take more like three years at the absolute shortest.

Edited by kaiguma

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On the idea of a 'vacant' Ozeki slot, of course it is a simplification and I only make it to see the total potential of a 'full' banzuke to absorb the best talent. I said that the performances would have to be stellar in order to merit so many promotions, right?

Do you mean in the aggregate? That's certainly true, but then there's the problem of diminishing returns I alluded to...the more semi-credible Ozeki candidates you stuff into sanyaku (and I do agree that there seems to be plenty of joijin-level talent to be coming up), the harder it becomes for any single one of them to break out. That's mitigated somewhat by the fact that more candidates means there's a bigger chance for somebody to break out by sheer luck. To pull some dumb numbers: you'd be more likely to see somebody promoted to Ozeki if you have seven rikishi vying for the Ozeki promotion at 30% individual probability, than if there are four guys at 50% each. I have no idea what the numbers would look like in reality, but I suspect having fewer candidates makes it easier for somebody to break through. At most it's probably a wash.

My own point was regarding individual performances, and that they'd have to be stellar to merit any promotion, not just the third or fourth new Ozeki. At least it's highly doubtful that they would deviate much from the 33-win guideline, even if there remain, say, only two Yokozuna and one Ozeki at some point.

And I recognize that when all three of the old guard are gone, potential Ozeki will normally move up the sanyaku ranks one at a time as long as we have two perennial Sekiwake choking up that lane of traffic. In other words I don't expect to suddenly see 3 new ozeki storm the ranks over a period of three basho. It would probably take more like three years at the absolute shortest.

But that still requires having 3 guys who have Ozeki potential in the first place. Despite his age Homasho's a good candidate in that he seems to have the right work ethic to keep improving, plus a great oyakata to get him to improve. But as far as I'm concerned it's far from sure that he'll get there...the history of the Sekiwake rank is littered with guys you could have written exactly the same things about. One thing Homasho perversely has going for him is that he didn't do much sumo in his early 20s after he dropped out of Nichidai, so his physical decline phase might be starting later than the usual age 28/29.

At any rate, other than Homasho the only one I'm willing to accept as an Ozeki hope is Kisenosato. I used to think Baruto could get there on sheer force alone, but that's been shattered for now, and while I haven't turned as negative on him as Kaikitsune, he'll definitely have an uphill battle to fight. Other than that, I certainly don't buy any of the Mongolians as potential Ozeki, nor Roho. Kotoshogiku I just might accept, but if he makes it within 3 years I'd be surprised. Kotomitsuki and Miyabiyama, if they do make it (and I doubt it, especially for Mickey), would probably be out of the rank again before the Kaio/Taikai/Azuma trio is even retired completely. Wakanosato as a sanyaku threat is probably over and done with, as sad as that makes me to write it. Maybe Goeido, Wakanoho and Tochiozan will bring the goods, but I really don't have much of a handle on their upside yet, and at any rate three years isn't much time to go from lower Juryo to Ozeki if you're as young as they are. (Just ask Kisenosato.)

So, discounting the possible rise of a college phenom who has yet to turn pro, I think it's not at all sure that we'll see even three new, steady Ozeki before the decade is out. In other words, I pretty much agree that three years is probably the absolute minimum for three new Ozeki...I do believe that Kisenosato is the only can't-miss prospect among the candidates so at least for me, trying to predict who the other two guys (if any) might turn out to be is pretty much a matter of rolling dice.

Edited by Asashosakari

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I expect Homasho to fully heat the wall this basho. Let's wait and see how he comes back in Haru and make some more educated guesses then, shall we?

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I expect Homasho to fully heat the wall this basho. Let's wait and see how he comes back in Haru and make some more educated guesses then, shall we?

He doesnt' seem to be heating the wall just yet. Honorable wins, so far. Only one spot of bad sumo manners, and he's just hanging in there.

He may be 25, but in sumo years, he's just a baby. Quite a late bloomer, in fact. He only just started Ozumo in March of 2004, and has worked his way up rather quickly. His record is "only" 115-58, though not as impressive looking in makuuchi at 41-32. His body has just not taken the pounding of someone like Hokutoriki, Shimotori, or Takanowaka, even Miyabiyama(who are only a couple years older, but each have hundreds and hundreds of matches more in Ozumo) Asasekiryu is basically the same age, and has hundreds more matches in sumo, and signed up 4 years earlier.

That's four years more wear and tear, that Homasho doesn't have, and he's already higher up the banzuke.

I think he has no sumo sense yet, and is sitting at Maegashira #4 on natural ability alone. In the next couple of years, he will hone his skills, and become really a threat to make Ozeki. I think his skills are better than the newer ozeki already, but not as good as the older ones were, once upon a time. And at the moment, he is not "the second coming of Asashoryu" , for sure. But give him some time, and he should develop into a good match. He's just going to be hitting his peak around 28-30, and should sustain at least 3-5 years after that. Hakuho is hitting his stride early in his life, but already at his 21 has more than twice as many matches as Homasho. I think his peak will have come and gone before Homasho's begins.

Age has less to do with it, for all sumo's probably, than cumulative injury effect, and wearing out mind and body.

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He's just going to be hitting his peak around 28-30, and should sustain at least 3-5 years after that.

The first part says less than you probably think it does...28/29 pretty much is the average age for Makuuchi rikishi to reach their peak. If Homasho really is "young" in the physical sense, he should still have some room to improve even in his early 30s.

At any rate, we're just starting to get a sense for how collegiate rikishi might age, now that the glut of mid-1990s tsukedashi rikishi is in their early to mid 30s...my early impression is that their peak isn't significantly later (maybe at most one year on average, as a semi-educated guess), but that the reduced wear on their bodies allows them to have a more drawn-out decline phase. Of course, assuming the amount of ex-college rikishi in Makuuchi remains as high as it is right now (and that's probably a good assumption to make), there won't be much of a comparative advantage in that for Homasho unless he really does manage to shift/extend his peak.

BTW, I'm not sure that Takanowaka and Shimotori are particularly apt comparisons to make the point you're trying to make. Takanowaka isn't just "a couple of years older", but rather five (!), and Shimotori is a collegiate rikishi (his age at entry was just 9 months lower than Homasho's) so he's actually a perfect example of how it is possible to be washed up even if you're still on the right side of 30 and had a comparatively low amount of wear and tear.

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Yup, gonna eat that crow. But then again, nearly every maegashira didn't do as I expected this basho (thank god Sekitori Oracle is on vacation).

Homasho might well go as far as Tochiazuma - just a matter of how long it takes.

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Didn't we have way too many discussions like that in the past? A mid-20 rikishi having one good basho at a lower-Maegashira rank is pronounced as an Ozeki-candidate... Homasho is as less likely to become an Ozeki than Asasekiryu, Hokutoriki, Buyuzan or Tamanoshima were in the past.

As for this basho, Homasho for sure showed some good sumo against guys like Dejima, Aminishiki or Tochinonada. But he was ranked 1/2-rank too low on the Banzuke too face the real top guy, and in fact faced only three Sanyaku rikishi. He lost to all three of them, though he was awarded a win against Kotooshu for some strange reason! (Laughing...)

Next basho he WILL actually heat the wall unless he manages to lose tmr against Kasugao, which would at least probably end up this strange discussion about Homasho as a potential Ozeki! (In a state of confusion...)

Edited by Flohru

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He's just going to be hitting his peak around 28-30, and should sustain at least 3-5 years after that.

The first part says less than you probably think it does...28/29 pretty much is the average age for Makuuchi rikishi to reach their peak. If Homasho really is "young" in the physical sense, he should still have some room to improve even in his early 30s.

At any rate, we're just starting to get a sense for how collegiate rikishi might age, now that the glut of mid-1990s tsukedashi rikishi is in their early to mid 30s...my early impression is that their peak isn't significantly later (maybe at most one year on average, as a semi-educated guess), but that the reduced wear on their bodies allows them to have a more drawn-out decline phase. Of course, assuming the amount of ex-college rikishi in Makuuchi remains as high as it is right now (and that's probably a good assumption to make), there won't be much of a comparative advantage in that for Homasho unless he really does manage to shift/extend his peak.

BTW, I'm not sure that Takanowaka and Shimotori are particularly apt comparisons to make the point you're trying to make. Takanowaka isn't just "a couple of years older", but rather five (!), and Shimotori is a collegiate rikishi (his age at entry was just 9 months lower than Homasho's) so he's actually a perfect example of how it is possible to be washed up even if you're still on the right side of 30 and had a comparatively low amount of wear and tear.

Maybe we are talking up Homasho a little bit, but it seems for good reason. He's got a lot of potential, and I was just saying that he is more of a "special case" than is often thought. He maybe isn't so young chronologically, but he is extremely young, Ozumo-wise, and he shows a lot of potential. That's all. Maybe he doesn't go to Ozeki in the next year, but he certainly has the physical tools to do it. Seems determined and committed as well.

Bad examples, you are right.

Homasho's story is sort of cool too. He was a college rikishi. Maybe was good? But he quit and now comes back. So, I guess he did not experience the full course of college sumo either, so he is not as refined as he might someday become.

I think he will hang around at upper makuuchi for a while, and get experience. He didn't do so bad this basho. Takamisakari is unusually good this basho. Losing to Ama is not reason to dismiss him. Kotomitsuki is strong this basho. No disgrace there. The "boy wonder" Kisenosato lost to some of the same names Homasho did, and it doesn't go against him even though he looked worse in doing it. I know, I know. Bad comparison. But still. Maybe we should actually let Homasho turn into "the new Asasekiryu" before we pronounce him such.

Besides, I like that he bows and is respectful.

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Homasho almost never looks bad in his defeats. That characteristics is one that many other potential ozeki hopes haven't had. He is very similar to Tochiazuma in that regard. WHen Azuma is healthy he never loses easily. In Homasho's case the history may be unique and so but the current situation shows his potential best. Not only does he have quite personal style, he is mastering his style better and better. He is one of the rikishi who rarely is susceptible to slapdowns. He reminds me of Tochiazuma in that. EVen when he is slapped down eventually, he makes tremendous effort to stabilize himself. These kind of solid characteristics are extremely important when it comes to breaking into the sanyaku for good. Defense is very strong and his attack is strong too. The main point is that Homasho has the defensive strength that he needs when facing sanyaku rikishi. You could already see that well in Kotooshu bout. If you don't have solid defense, it is very difficult to be an ozeki hope.

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If you don't have solid defense, it is very difficult to be an ozeki hope.

Chiyotaikai notwithstanding ...

that boy was absent from all the "defense classes" in Kokonoe. Or maybe "Offense is the best Defense"?

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Chiyotaikai notwithstanding ...

... maybe "Offense is the best Defense"?

Early in his career for sure. Later on, his best defense has turned out to be his excellent sense of balance. Who can forget the height of his injury troubles in late '04, early '05 when he'd regularly get three or four wins per basho by dancing on the tawara as his opponents sailed by into row three... :-) At the risk of simplifying the matter too much, that's why he's still an Ozeki even with a severely damaged body, and Miyabiyama and Dejima aren't. Their defense was just too bad to compensate even halfway for a failing offense.

At any rate, I agree with Kaikitsune on this point. Offense can get you to Ozeki, but it doesn't keep you there. Just look at Kotooshu...with damaged knees, he's merely a 9-10 win rikishi, and that's at his young age and with at least some traces of good defense. Baruto would almost surely have ended up the same way (or worse) if he had managed to duplicate Osh's quick rise. Of course, in reality he's managed to blow out his knee even earlier than anybody expected, so that Ozeki run is shelved for now.

Homasho is certainly special in the sense that a) his offense and defense are quite well-balanced, and b) unlike most other Ozeki hopes his skills aren't lagging behind his physical qualities (if anything, it's the other way around for him). I definitely think he's the best bet for Ozeki in quite a while to come along out of the collegiate ranks, but I remain worried on the question of how much career time he has left to accomplish all that he has the potential for.

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Just wanted to say that this is exactly the kind of discussion I visioned when starting Featured rikishi-threads years ago. Deeply moving. If Kisenosato-thread would have triggered even remotely similar discussion, two tear drops of content might fall.

Homasho finished Hatsu 2007 with a uwatenage loss against Kasugao. It was unfortunate but in overall Homasho debuted well at M4 and is a contributor of positive kind.

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Just wanted to say that this is exactly the kind of discussion I visioned when starting Featured rikishi-threads years ago. Deeply moving. If Kisenosato-thread would have triggered even remotely similar discussion, two tear drops of content might fall.

Kisenosato is so disappointing , three teardrops fall every time you mention him..

Edited by Kintamayama

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Homasho went 11-4 in Haru 2007 and 5-10 at M1 in Natsu 2007.

His record in Natsu was bad and he ended up losing his 4 last bouts to maegashira opponents. Yet his power is clear and he already has good records/bouts against the sanyaku guys.

2-1 against Kotooshu

1-1 against Kisenosato

2-2 against Ama

1-1 against Kotomitsuki

1-0 against Chiyotaikai

0-1 against KaioU (after a great bout in Natsu)

0-1 against Shoryu

0-2 against Hakuho

1-3 against Shogun

He also is 0-2 against Tochiouzan.

He has honed his forward leaning style and especially against Taikai and Osh it works very well not letting either of those get their sumo fully in. Very intense bouts against Ama and Kisenosato too and isn't easily captured in morozashi by Kotomitsuki.

Good future ahead. He should bounce back well and next time at high maegahira kachi koshi should be much more likely. He is a difficult for for anyone in sumo for sure and I am sure Terao makes sure he continues hard work to get better and better.

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He had a horrible tournament.

Does anyone know if he had an injury or something?

Record of 3-12 is really bad.

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Homasho is a "grin and bear" it kind of guy, if he was injured or sick we likely wouldnt know about it. In this years Osaka's Haru basho by chance I was bumped into him at an afterhours medical clinic during the basho (his Beya's Osaka base is 5 mins from my house) He was quite ill with the flu/a virus, yet was competing without complaint and even winning a few bouts. No one knew of his condition.

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He had a horrible tournament.

Does anyone know if he had an injury or something?

Record of 3-12 is really bad.

I don't think he was in the best condition, but I do think his result was actually worse than his performance. He got off to a bad start, and just couldn't pull out of the dive. Lost confidence, couldn't decide what to do at the tachiai, overextended a little too much on attack; it's not unusual at M1, M2, AND komusubi. That was one reason I was so happy when Wakanosato came back from a 1-6 start to finish 9-6 in his first basho as a komusubi. Usually, if you start 1-6, you're lucky if you just don't makekoshi too badly.

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Besides the lost of confidence, Homasho got a left elbow injury in a bout against Ama, though he had not been doing very well at the time. Moreover, his deashi seemed to be not exactly well sometimes...

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He is 7-23 in last 30 bouts in makuuchi.That is very odd. This was discussed earlier on some other thread but here is an update on this official Homasho-thread. He will be at low maegashira in Haru and something is definitely wrong with him. Too tuned up body resulting in numerous small enough injuries not clealry visible? Lower back problem often explains these kind of odd slumps. His defense is not strong anymore as it was. Haru basho will be a good test to see if he has recovered at all.

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I'm not sure there's anything definitely wrong. He's had a poor couple of tournaments but he's still relatively inexperienced. Every rikishi has a wobble now and again. I'm sure he'll bounce back in March.

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