Andy’s Day One Match-To-Watch

As Leonid pointed out yesterday, the torikumi is up and ready, with bout pairings for the first two days’ action. With over a month of no sumo, I’ll be over the moon to see Jk24 Chiyooume & Higohikari kick things off in a few hours. I hopped over to the SumoDB to learn a bit more about these two wrestlers and queried both in my Kimarite Dashboard.

Both men are 15+ year veterans of osumo, and both have had their share of struggles, competing in Maezumo again to start the year as both had fallen out of sumo from kyujo tournaments. Neither had remarkable performances in maezumo, the Kokonoe Chiyooume 2-4 and Higohikari going 1-5.

Chiyooume is from Tokyo and has won 256 bouts over a career spanning almost 90 tournaments. He fought under the name Kaneko until his promotion to Sandanme in 2014. He clearly favors yotsu-zumo, with nearly 40% of his wins from yorikiri, followed by 12% uwatenage.

Chiyooume

Higohikari, on the other hand, is from Kumamoto and has been a bit of a journeyman, starting at Mihogaseki beya, moving on to Kise, then Kitanoumi, and back to Kise beya. He’s also picked up more than 200 wins over his career but it’s been 12 years since these two have fought, last time both were using different shikona. His sumo style is more balanced than his Kokonoe opponent, actually winning most matches with hatakokomi but also quite a few with oshidashi and yorikiri.

Higohikari

So, what’s the tale of the tape? It looks like Higohikari should come into this with the strategy of keeping Chiyooume off his belt. In their three previous matches (way back in the ’00s!) Chiyooume won two by yorikiri while Higohikari’s sole win back in 2004 was by oshidashi.

When I first planned this article, I was going to write about the Abi/Aoiyama matchup. That one will be interesting in itself as both have the same oshi style. It’s liable to be a real slapfest. But in their one bout from last year, Abi won really quickly. He seemed to gain the advantage with a nodowa, right off the bat, and then backed Aoiyama out. Will Higohikari try to replicate this with his own aggressive oshi-attack (perhaps leading to a pull-down if the plum over-commits)? Or will Chiyooume persevere, establish a solid belt grip, and toss Higohikari to the clay? We’ll find out in a few hours.

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