The Second Act Begins
Sumo fans rejoice! The tune up period of the Hatsu basho is now complete, and it’s time to sort the wheat from the chaff. Already a sizable block of rikishi are in trouble, and a handful are dominating their matches. Starting as soon as Sunday, it will be useful to actually consider who is leading this basho, and who has decent chance of winning the Emperor’s Cup.
As Andy has pointed out, the Ozeki ranks are in terrible shape, with only Kisenosato actually performing like one of Sumo’s leading athletes. Distant second is Goeido, who has reverted back to his inconsistent and hesitant form. Terunofuji is simply not recovered from his multiple chronic injuries to be a serious contender, and Kotoshogiku is being openly discussed for retirement prior to the Osaka basho in March. For the Ozeki who are struggling, the toughest part of their schedule starts Sunday when the focus shifts to inter-sanyaku matches.
All five rikishi who went into day 5 undefeated, remain undefeated.
In Juryo, Ura remains the only undefeated wrestler, and has turned in some solid bouts.
Gagamaru vs Osunaarashi – Once again this basho, Garamaru is not showing any real ambition, potential or remarkable sumo. To day he faces Osunaarashi, whose injuries seem to be wearing him down now. Each day it is more difficult for him to execute his sumo. Historically, he is tied with Garamaru 3-3 over their careers.
Takakeisho vs Sadanoumi – The Kyushu Juryo champion, Takakeisho, is unable to find an effective formula to compete in Makuuchi. Today he faces the undefeated Sadanoumi who is having a fantastic basho. This will be their first career match.
Hokutofuji vs Takanoiwa – Undefeated Takanoiwa faces Hokutofuji who has a single loss. This could be a real highlight match as both rikishi are doing well right now. Expect throws and thrusts straight from the tachiai.
Sokokurai vs Chiyonokuni – Sokokurai is also undefeated, and he faces 3-2 Chiyonokuni. This is really a rebuilding basho for Chiyonokuni, who has bulked up considerably, and is nursing injuries to his legs. Sokokurai holds a 5-2 record over Chiyonokuni
Takayasu vs Tochinoshin – In the battle of the Komusubi, we have Tochinoshin who has yet to get a win, and is likely headed down the banzuke for Osaka. Takayasu is getting by with a slight winning record, but he is likely good enough for this match. Tochinoshin leads the career series 6-5
Mitakeumi vs Kotoshogiku – This may be the match that convinces Kotoshogiku to retire. Mitakeumi has been fighting strong with consistency, and the injured Ozeki is likely to get overwhelmed by the younger sumotori. These rikishi have met three times and Ozeki Kotoshogiku leads 2-1
Shohozan vs Goeido – This should not even be competitive, but it will be. Shohozan at Maegashira should be easy pickings for an Ozeki, but who knows which Goeido is going to show up on day 6. Goeido has the advantage with a career record of 9-5 over Shohozan.
Tamawashi vs Harumfuji – Tamawashi is really playing like a solid Sekiwake this basho. Harumafuji is more hurt on day 6, with a possible ruptured muscle somewhere in his right leg. Harumafuji has actually lost 3 times to Tamawashi over the course of the 7 lifetime bouts.
Note: Day six will see the third bout for Wakaichirio, as always we will bring you his latest as we can get it.