The Yokozuna and Ozeki Are Hurting
It’s clear that the Ozeki / Yokozuna problems from January have not abated, and we are seeing a strong effort from the lower San’yaku. As most sumo fans will tell you, the Sekiwake and Komusubi ranks are horrific assignments that see rikishi get handed brutal losing records that typically launch them down the banzuke for several tournaments. Let’s take a look at Nagoya 2016
Nagoya – Yokozuna / Ozeki (day 4)
Total of 20 wins, 8 losses after 5 days, or a 0.71 wins / day from this crew. Very powerful. They Yokozuna crew produced 0.83 wins / day, which is even more dominant.
Meanwhile, lower San’yaku was a blood bath
Nagoya – Sekiwake / Komusubi (day 4)
6 wins, 10 losses by day 4. Kaisei and Takayasu were pulling hard, but Kotoyuki and Tochinoshin were being beaten bloody. In fact, now almost a year later and neither one has actually recovered from that basho’s pounding. This crew turned in 0.3 wins / day. Very ugly, right? And this is how it typically is for these ranks.
Now lets see what is happening during the first 4 days of Haru
Osaka – Yokozuna / Ozeki (day 4)
Not as strong, they are producing an average of 0.66 wins / day, with Kisenosato and Terunofuji really hauling most of that themselves. Meanwhile, in lower San’yaku land
Osaka – Sekiwake / Komusubi (day 4)
Also averaging a respectable 0.66 wins / day. Instead of the normal beating, the Sekiwake and Komusubi are keeping pace with the Ozeki and Yokozuna. While the basho is still young, this would seem to indicate that there is a real challenge to the top men of sumo from the lieutenant ranks now. Also keep in mind, the first week is “Hell Week” for the Sekiwake and Komusubi, where they are typically pounded to a bloody mess by the Ozeki and Yokozuna. Week 2 has them returning the favor to the Makuuchi troops.
As with Hatsu, this is going to be a departure from the typical basho, and is a further signal that we will likely see a change soon.