What You Need To Know After Act One

Photo courtesy of the official NHK twitter account

The curtain has dropped on Act One of the 2019 Hatsu Basho, and what show stopper it’s been! With major developments happening on and off the dohyo, here’s a quick update to catch you up on everything you need to know before Act Two.

Leader Board

It’s very early days in the Yusho race, but we already have a small quartet of 5-0 rikishi separating themselves from the crowd. The Brazillion behemoth Kaisei, Onosho, Mitakeumi, and Yokozuna Hakuho have all avoided defeat (some more closely than others) and remain perfect after Act One. A mob of chasers is right on their heels, with Chiyonokuni, Yago, Aoiyama, Nishikigi, Ichinojo, and Takakeisho all ending Day 5 with 4-1 records. Act Two will undoubtedly separate the boys from the men in what should be an interesting Yusho race.

Not Looking So Hot

At the far end of the standings is another race to determine who will be the last winless rikishi of Hatsu. The contenders are Daishomaru, Asanoyama, and Yoshikaze, who have yet to pick up their first win. Not doing much better is the fivesome of Kagayaki, Tochiozan, Komosubi Myogiryu, and Ozeki Goeido. As for the rest of the sanyaku, there are some big names who haven’t been looking their best this January. Kakuryu and Takayasu have both dropped three early matches, and as for Tochinohsin? Well, we’ll get to him in a bit. All of these rikishi will need to make some serious adjustments during the remainder of Hatsu.

Kyujo and Intai

For the first time since Act One of the 2017 Aki Basho, I’ve had to add  Intai heading of this section, and it won’t be the last time in the coming months and years if Bruce is correct. Much has already been said about the retirements of Takanoiwa and Kisenosato so I won’t go into detail here. As for injuries, the only man to bow out of competition during Act One was Tochinoshin. Leg injuries have robbed the Georgian of his forward movement and strength which resulted in him going winless after four days. Hopefully, Tochinoshin will get the rest and recuperation he needs to clear his kadoban status come March.


Prior to his retirement, Former Yokozuna Kisenosato gave up two kinboshi to Ichinojo and Tochiozan respectively. Ichinojo picked up a second gold star off of flagging Yokozuna Kakuryu. This was the second kinboshi Kakuryu has coughed up this January, as he also lost one to Nishikigi on Day 3. With Kakuryu looking precarious, and Hakuho off his game, we may come out of Act two with a few more kinboshi winners.

10 thoughts on “What You Need To Know After Act One

  1. It’s going to be interesting to see what standards they hold Kakuryu to after the procrastination over Kisenosato. I think he’ll be fine whatever this tournament given the number of chances Kisenosato was given.

    • Based on Kakuryu’s performance last year, I think he’ll be fine. He won 2 yusho last year and was literally the “anchor man” for the top division.

      • If he ends up pulling out this basho, he might get “encouraged” to enter again only when he’s healthy and in shape to fight the full 15 days at a Yokozuna level.

  2. Hakuho may be skilled, but he’s also getting really lucky. He could easily be 3-2 if not 2-3 at this point. I don’t see him maintaining his unbeaten streak, but of course he’s Hakuho so we’ll see.

    I have no idea what’s wrong with Asanoyama. He’s the big enigma for me this basho. He’s absolutely under performing and can’t get anything going right now. Kintamayama suggested in his video today that he might have an “invisible injury” and that’s as good of a guess as any. I think Yoshikaze, like Takekaze, is at the end of his run. He has no power and can’t even muster a decent defense against anyone. It’s really sad to watch.

    • But didn’t everyone say the same about Yoshikaze last July in Nagoya, when he was in the same M5W spot, had his mystery rash, and went 2-13, with opponents seemingly going out of their way to prevent him getting hurt? We thought he had some critical injury or illness and it might be the end for him.

      He bounced back from that with 11-4 from M15W at Aki. He looks like he’s on track for another 2-13 from M5W. Maybe the conclusion is that a sustainable level for him at this point of his career is somewhere around M10-12.

  3. Down in Juryo it looks like Tomokaze got hyped a little bit too much, or speaking in NBA terms, hits a little bit of a rookie wall. After starting promising on day 1 vs Ishiura, but he got schooled on day 2 by Aminishiki and got blasted out of the ring the last two days by Terutsuyoshi and Toyonoshima. For a guy of his size thats not an easy feature. Now 2-3 is not a false start, so lets see if he can regroup for act 2 and 3.

    Meanwhile Terutsuyoshi (4-1) looks like on a mission to get the makuuchi entry that got (we can now say wrongfully) denied to him in favor of Daishomaru. Ishiura (4-1) is looking genki as well and showing good sumo. It’s too early, but he might be on a track back to makuuchi as well. Chiyomaru (4-1) is in the one behind group as well and looking really good for the first time in ages. Last one in this group is Hakuyozan (4-1) who seems to continue his steady march up the banzuke. They all trail one man … Shimanoumi (5-0), who is the only one still unbeaten.

    Now of the veterans Toyonoshima (3-2) seems to start a bit slow from his current rank to make it back to Makuuchi next basho, but who knows … if he can increase the pace to a double digit record … . Sadly Aminishiki (1-4) seems to head the different direction. It’s not that he isn’t getting in good positions, just that lacks a bit power to move those heavy young guys out of the ring. Meanwhile Sokokurai (2-3) has to battle hard to stay in Juryo. Takekaze (1-4) seems to be on his last basho as Sekitori.

    Everybodys darling Enho is showing entertaining sumo every day. At 3-2 he mixes good and bad days. Unlike last basho however he didn’t get discouraged by consecutive losses on day 2 and 3, where his opponents just made themselves too heavy for him to move. Whether you believe it or not, today he pushed out Mitoryu by yorikiri.

    The big storyline like last basho with the glorious return of Toyonoshima and the rise of Tomokaze is missing so far, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Hakuyozan becomes the dark horse surprising everyone this time. Enho I fear will be mostly treading water. Hope he can secure his kachikoshi early. Tomorrow he fights Chiyomaru, who looked good so far, but may lack a bit of experience with this kind of small guy sumo.

  4. I’m really enjoying the surprising mobility and agility of the big boys (Kaisei, Aiyoyama, Ichinojo). The youngsters are also showing they’re up to the challenge of moving up the ranks…and I’ll be interested to see if Hakuho will actually win a bout instead of having a question hover over each close decision (not knocking his amazing escape artist abilities).

    • I think most of the bigger dudes are finally healthy, so they can use their lateral movement more in this basho. Mobility is so important in sumo and I think a lot of people under rate it for the larger competitors.


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