Let’s take an in-depth look at Ikioi’s upcoming tournament:
Ikioi is back at komusubi after spending all of 2015 among the rank-and-filers. In November 2014 he fought for the first (and only) time at this rank and finished with a less than impressive 6-9 record. He was clobbered for the first half of the tournament, losing 7 of 8 matches against his sanyaku opponents. However, he finished strongly, picking up 5 wins in the final week.
Last year was a yo-yo year, though, as he would have disastrous tournaments when ranked in the upper-maegashira and then great tournaments among the lower ranks. Last tournament, he was able to fight 10 maegashira – defeating all but one. He beat both komusubi and the injured Terunofuji but lost his sekiwake and yokozuna matches, picking up his second special prize in consecutive tournaments.
I hope to see him turn the corner and pick up some wins in this first week. In my mind, he needs 3 wins in week one as that schedule will be rough. He has never beaten any of the yokozuna and he’s a dreadful 4-21 against ozeki. Other than his one win over an injured Terunofuji, he’s had some success against Kotoshogiku by not letting the ozeki get a firm grip and using his agility to pick up three of these wins. He’s only slightly better, 4-19, against sekiwake and 5-11 versus komusubi.
I like Ikioi because he gives 100% effort in every match I’ve seen, thus he’s a great competitor. His lack of success against sanyaku opponents demonstrates he’s got a lot to learn but he does give his competition a run for their money. He’s lost some tight bouts. If he doesn’t get hurt during the first week, he’ll finish with a respectable second week.
*By the way, the Kanji for Ikioi comes from his Isenoumi beya: 伊勢ノ海。It means ‘momentum’.