Yokozuna Kakuryu wins the March 2018 Grand Sumo Tournament in Osaka, his fourth top-division championship and his first since November 2016. He finished with an excellent 13-2 record, losing only to defending champ Tochinoshin and Ozeki Takayasu. Over the course of the tournament he used four different kimarite (winning techniques): hatakikomi (6), yorikiri (3), oshidashi (3), and tsukiotoshi (1).
Kaisei was living the dream for the first half of the tournament, a serious contender until the last few days when Kakuryu knocked him off his pedestal. He should be very pleased with a 12-3 record and a Kanto-sho prize for Fighting Spirit, punctuated with a good uwatenage (overarm throw) victory over Ikioi on the last day. Ikioi also had a great tournament despite an injured leg, finishing at 11-4. Hopefully both men are healthy next time around and continuing to threaten the top ranks.
Kaisei had a harsh test yesterday against Yokozuna Kakuryu, a bout scheduled to force him to earn a legitimate shot at the championship. Having lost that bout, he’s back to a normal routine and facing M13 Daishomaru, at the opposite end of the banzuke (and the quality spectrum) from the Yokozuna. So Kaisei celebrates by going bowling.
This one’s a bit anticlimactic for a bout between the two tournament leaders, but Kaisei has never had any success against Yokozuna Kakuryu. Losing eleven straight against Kakuryu going into today’s bout, Kaisei adds to his loss tally by standing up and immediately falling down, victim to Kakuryu’s quick jump backwards and strong slap to the back of Kaisei’s head. Kakuryu sits alone atop the leaderboard at 12-1, with the only possible challengers two losses back at 10-3. Ozeki Takayasu, M6 Kaisei, and M14 Ikioi have a shot only if Kakuryu loses the last two days to Takayasu and Goeido.
Kaisei’s been on a hot streak, at or near the top of the leaderboard for the entire tournament. Only one loss to Ichinojo has marred his record coming into today’s bout with Endo, and it looks like schedule makers are going to force him to earn a shot at the title by giving him some high-ranked opponents in the last days (Kakuryu tomorrow, for example). Maybe he’s thinking ahead instead of focusing on today, but he stumbles against Endo, who beats him with a soft, slow sidestep that Kaisei really should have avoided. Kaisei can’t stop his forward momentum and steps out on his own. His chances at his first title will depend largely on if Kakuryu wins or loses later in the day… Endo improves to 7-5.
The Baby-faced Mountain of Meat versus The Humongous Hairy Human. 816 pounds on the dohyo. Kaisei’s perfect record on the line. It’s a simple bout, starting with an impact that sounds like 816 pounds of bologna falling off a building. Ichinojo leans, Kaisei leans, and Ichinojo rests up for the big push that takes him to 8-2, and drops Kaisei out of the tournament lead to 9-1.
Kaisei keeps on trucking, adding another win to his perfect tally. He clamps down on Ryuden’s belt and heaves ho, ending up on top of the referee seated ringside but only after Ryuden ends up on top of the spectator seated behind the referee. Kaisei’s still tied for the tournament lead with six days remaining.