Can Mitakeumi Wake Up Kisenosato?
With day 5, we bring the first act of the Hatsu basho to a close. We know who is hot, and who is not. We can see that a number of fine sumotori are injured and in trouble, and that the cold equations of sumo are going to likely run their course unless some external force rescues them.
Day 4 was a weird one. Even HHK was so impressed with Ura’s distortion field that they snuck his match into the start of their highlight show. Having watched it several times, it reminds me quite a bit of Jackie Chan’s drunken master.
But at least one day 4, poor Ishiura took a break from the swirly he is getting this basho to win a match against Kagayaki, who is having a similarly disappointing tournament. Ishiura is debugging the problems that small, highly mobile rikishi have with the giants of Makuuchi – many of their sumo techniques simply won’t work. When Ura finally makes it out of Juryo, it will be the same thing once more. The rikishi who seems to be getting a handle on that is Chyonokuni.
At the start of day 5 there are still 5 rikishi who are undefeated:
- Hakuho, Kisenosato, Takanoiwa, Sokokurai, Sadanoumi
Which is pretty impressive, and there is a fine chance that most of them will be 5-0 at the end of day 5, too. But in general, day 5 seems to be tailored to the hot fighting the not, so it’s going to get ugly.
Gagamaru vs Ichinojo – In the category of planetary object colliding over Tokyo, we have this example. Who’s going to win? Ask an astrophysicist. Seriously though, Ichinojo is 3-1 right now. How? Consult the data from Hubble. Ichinojo has a 2-0 advantage historically.
Takanoiwa vs Chiyootori – Takanoiwa is ripping it up as part of the 4-0 group, and day 5 sees him against the struggling Chiyootori. I predict pushing, thrusting and a lot slapping.
Yoshikaze vs Ikioi – Both of these two are solidly 2-2 and having a lukewarm basho. Yoshikaze lost to Endo day 4 due to a brief mistake that Endo was able to exploit masterfully. Ikioi is the kind of over-commit / under-commit, so it could be a weird bout. Yoshikaze has a slight career advantage at 6-5
Terunofuji vs Tamawashi – Terunofuji was recently mistaken for the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald by the US coast guard. He’s really in tough shape and had very little power due to damage to his legs, knees, ankles and McPherson strut assembly. Tamawashi is looking very strong and may make it another weird bout. Lifetime advantage to Terunofuji at 4-2, but I think he is in pitiable condition.
Kisenosato vs Mitakeumi – This bout is likely to be the highlight of day 5. Kisenosato really has seems kind of depressed and detached, as if he is waiting for something exciting. Given how many scalps Mitakeumi has taken, this may be the day that “Dump Truck” Kisenosato finally gets a chance to work. Kise has won both of their prior meetings. I really hope this goes yotsu-zumō from the start.
Kakuryu vs Takayasu – Takayasu seemed to be suffering from the same kind of funk on day 4 that has consumed his stable mate Kisenosato, with the exception being that Takayasu lost. Today he takes on the wily Yokozuna Kakuryu and his reactive sumo style. Takayasu’s sumo is about being strong and stable, Kakuryu mobile and using the opponents energy against them. Kakuryu has won 11 of their prior 15 matches.
Hakuho vs Shohozan – Hakuho is back in form close enough to the original that he is a joy to watch. Up on day 5 is burly and rowdy Shohozan who is fighting better than his 2-2 record might indicate. In their prior 11 matches, Hakuho has won them all. So the question is what kind of attack plan will he use against the man from Fukuoka?
Okinoumi vs Harumafuji – With both of these guys at full health, it would be a quick bout with Harumafuji the easy winner. Both of them are in pretty bad shape, and with Harumafuji staring Moriya’s vendetta in the face, it could get kind of sloppy. I just pray neither one of them exit the bout more injured, which is a real possibility at this point. Harumafuji leads the career record with 12-6 over Okinoumi.