The Battle Of The Next Generation
Even before the start of the Hatsu basho, it was clear that we were starting to witness a changing tide in sumo. Prior to the basho, Tachiai mused on these two popular, next generation greats.
Both of them had a fairly decent tournament, both rikishi ended Hatsu with a slight losing record of 7-8. Shodai was “enjoying” his first trip to the meat grinder of sanyaku, and lost to the Yokozuna and the lone healthy Ozeki (Kisenosato). Still his 7-8 record means he may just be punted down to Komusubi for Osaka, or lower because of the crowd shoving their way towards sanyaku..
Endo had a slightly easier schedule, but managed to win over Goeido. The Endo vs Goeido bout is the one that sent Goeido to surgery to repair his broken ankle. In general Endo did not really shine this time out, and will probably drop a couple of spots to Maegashira 6 or so for Osaka.
Of course the stand out next-generation rikishi for Hatsu is without a doubt Mitakeumi, who finished 11-4, with kinboshi and special prizes. He faced the sanyaku and took home a pile of kensho that he liberated from Ozeki and Yokozuna opponents. A stalwart in collegiate sumo, he had primarily been a pusher/thruster. But like all pusher, he discovered it could only take him so far. In the past two tournaments he has increasingly shown skill with fighting via the mawashi, and this adaptation has been the key to his success.
Although Takayasu is striving hard to qualify for Ozeki, we will keep an eye on Mitakeumi, who may begin the process this year as well.