Hatsu Torikumi Released: Kisenosato Will Start

The NSK released the schedule for the opening two days of the upcoming tournament. Among the storylines, the headline is that Kisenosato is scheduled to compete. Out of the gate he will tackle two top tadpoles, Takakeisho and Hokutofuji. In truth, the entire yokozuna triumvirate will have their hands full. In his do-or-die hatsu, Kakuryu starts off with the reverse schedule, Hokutofuji followed by Takakeisho. Meanwhile, Hakuho begins with Onosho and then faces a hopefully resurgent Ichinojo on Day 2.

I’m excited to see Ichinojo back in the joi, starting with his first bout against Goeido. He had a premature taste last tournament from M4 as the depleted sanyaku ranks, with five unable to finish, meant he faced seven top tier opponents including Yokozuna and Ozeki. Without such injuries, M4 would likely face a couple of lower sanyaku opponents. Ichinojo held his own, beating Goeido, Mitakeumi, and Yoshikaze and finishing with 10 wins overall. A similar record this tournament will not only catapult him into san’yaku but could kick off an Ozeki run.

Kotoshogiku, the former ozeki, will prove to be an interesting test for Mitakeumi and Takayasu. Both are coming off injuries and may be ripe for an upset. The senior rikishi from Sadogatake is clearly driven. He wants to be back among the top ranks, even though he’s no longer on anyone’s short list for yusho contention. There were a few bouts in the last tournament where it looked like his sumo was developing beyond the humpity-bumpity. He still finds yorikiri and oshidashi wins, somehow. But if he starts picking up -nage wins, he could arrest his slide down the banzuke. The top ranks are a mix of banged-up geezers and green upstarts. It’s time to use some wiles.

Terunofuji will face Chiyomaru for the first time in four years. After two years in Juryo, Chiyomaru has apparently finally been cast in a recurring role among the lower maegashira and should serve as a decent early test of those knees. Is Terunofuji headed for Juryo or can he recover after a prolonged period of lower-ranked competition? On Day 2 he’ll face the one-time high-flying Kotoyuki, who’s coming off his own recovery in the lower ranks. If Kotoyuki has recovered, he may flip-flop with Kotoshogiku as top at Sadogatake. His tournament will start against Uncle Sumo Aminishiki.

I’m likely alone in my early picks but my Bout of the Day for Day 1 is Goeido v Ichinojo. This early bout should set the tone for both men’s basho. Will Goeido be in contention and will the Monster show up? As an optimist, I’m hoping for “Yes.” My pick for Day 2 is Tamawashi v Yoshikaze. One hopes to start an Ozeki run, the other just always brings it. “There Will Be Blood.”

9 thoughts on “Hatsu Torikumi Released: Kisenosato Will Start

  1. The first two days are really exciting!
    It is making me doubt my decision to go to the second week instead of the first 😭
    I truly hope Ichinojo is genki, as he is amazing to watch when he is.

  2. How many kinboshi will be given up in the first two days? I’m guessing 3, one by each yokozuna (as long as Onosho is wearing the red mawashi).

    I think Hakuho is still working himself back into fighting shape, and he’ll be harder to beat later on in the basho, but may drop one early. As for the other two yokuzunas, I’m actually (perhaps foolishly) bullish on their prospects for this tournament, and I’m guessing both win 10-12 matches, but Takakeisho and Hokutofuji provide quite the early test.

    What are you guys predicting for the first two days?

  3. I am a ”cup half empty guy” and I have a terrible feeling that both injured Yokozuna will, not only give up a couple of gold star wins this month, but neither will make it through the tournament. Hate to be such a downer but I’m afraid neither man is healthy and will not be given the chance to get healthy. I think this is their last hurrah.Boy, I hope I’m wrong.

  4. Kakuryu’s face betrays no emotion as he pushes his dwindling pile of chips to the centre: “All in”. Kisenosato hesitates; he glances at his cards; he counts his chips. A single bead of sweat charts an erratic path down the great slope of his forehead: And then… “All in”.

    I know sumo and gambling are not supposed to mix but that’s how I visualise the situation.


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