One week from today, we will be eagerly watching live streams for Tokyo for the opening matches for the Hatsu basho. The sumo world has been very quiet for the past month as the jungyo wound down and everyone took breaks for Christmas and New Years. What news there has been is thin and lacking much in way of specifics.
We do know that Yokozuna Kisenosato continues to pantomime keiko sessions. I would say he’s not looking at all genki, in spite of being Y1 East for the new year. Hakuho is practicing, but its impossible to tell what he is going to do until say Friday when the Yokozuna must decide if they are in or out. The only Yokozuna who might be ready to compete would be Kakuryu. Now if you would have told sumo fans in January of 2017 that our best hope for a Yokozuna in a tournament would be Kakuryu, you would have been ignored. Such is the state of the top end of the banzuke.
Where the real interest is will be around the lower San’yaku ranks, and the rest of the joi-jin. In the sumo world these rikishi get very little coverage in the run up to the basho. Everyone focuses on the high-rankers almost exclusively, even if they are in rough shape. We do know (for the Ozeki)
- Takayasu is helping Kisenosato look like he is competent by losing a lot in practice
- Goeido looks super genki in keiko as always, but may fall to pieces in week
- Tochinoshin is still not 100%, but is muddling through like the trooper he is.
The next big event will be the practice supervised by the Yokozuna Deliberation Council – an event called a Soken. We will see San’yaku and select Maegashira compete head to head in front of sumo’s civilian advisory board (and probably Demon Kaka too). Look for news on that some time Monday.
Frankly I am eager for the next week to pass, and the competition to begin. Onward to Hatsu!