This Hits Keep Rolling
Apologies on the late posting this week. Your humble author is humbling nursing a terrible cold, and executing a mandatory cross-country drive. This should improve on Saturday, possibly with the introduction of the Tachiai daily morning update podcast. 5 minutes of all the action of the day from Japan. Provided my voice comes back….
We are only two days into the basho, so it’s far too early to talk about who is hot and who is not. But there are some interesting trends already.
Daishomaru, Chiyoshoma, Tochiozan and Takarafuji are all 2-0. That’s right, there are only 5 Maegashira who are still undefeated. Clearly, this basho things are a bit more balanced, meaning that the banzuke was a better fit for the rikishi available. Of course once we hit day 6 on Friday, we should be able to know who has a chance to lead the pack.
Five of the eleven San’yaku are still undefeated. Which further underscores our worry that the upper ranks have quite a bit of “walking wounded”. The only two San’yaku who thus far look healthy and fit are Kisenosato and Takayasu.
Matches We Like
Daishomaru vs Kyokushuho – These two have only met twice before, with one win each. I expect a lot of pushing and shoving from these two, with a throw to finish.
Ura vs Tochiozan – Ura has been working hard to apply his technique to Makuuchi, which is turning out to be a challenge. Tochiozan is a storied veteran who has seen better days, but can still reach for greatness. This is the first time these two have matched, and I am eager to see what happens.
Chiyoshoma vs Kotoyuki – Chiyoshoma has a small hot streak going at 2-0, but he faces Kotoyuki, who is a fierce pusher / thruster. Kotoyuki is still young, and we hope that he develops a better mawashi technique. This transition form pure pusher-thruster to hybrid seems to have been the key element that really ignited Mitkaeumi, and I belive that Kotoyuki has great potential if he can expand his sumo.
Endo vs Takarafuji – Takarafuji is closer to the end of his career than the beginning. Endo can learn much from Takarafuji’s sumu. Takarafuji leads their career matches 4-2. I epxect that Takarafuji will prevail.
Kotoshogiku vs Takayasu – It’s time to see what happens when Kotoshogiku matches with a man looking to beat everyone between him and his Ozeki title. Kotoshogiku has been holding up well the first two days, and is looking much better than I thought he would. But Takayasu is hungry. He is also one of the few rikishi who has the strength, stance and ring awareness to survive a “hug-n-chug” attack from the master. This may be the big match of the day.
Goeido vs Shodai – Goeido is always hit-or-miss, except for Goeido 2.0. Shodai is looking nicely upgraded since Hatsu. This will be a great test to see if Goeido is going to be able to put power-to-ground through that damaged ankle. Slight edge to Goeido.
Ikioi vs Kakuryu – Readers, try to carefully examine what Kakuryu does the moment of the tachiai. His normal approach will be to absorb Ikioi’s initial thrusts and fall back and circle. Ikioi will chase him, and Kakuryu will wait for the correct moment when Ikioi is off balance, and he will close the deal. This is the essence of Kakuryu, look to see if he does it today.
Takanoiwa vs Kisenosato – Takanoiwa can surprise anyone on any given day. That being said, I think that we are going to see Kisenosato hit that Mae pose of sumo doom, and Takanoiwa will be done.