We have arrived at the end of Haru 2019’s act one. By the Bruconian Honbasho Partitioning Scheme (BHPS), Act 1 features getting the top rikishi tuned up, and discovering who is hot, and who is not. Going into day 5, we have a solid list of rikishi with no defeats, and a sad list of men who still have no wins.
Even after day 5, it will still be far too early to start talking about a leader board, but it’s clear that thus far the Yokozuna are going to be the favorites to play pivotal role for the final week.
What We Are Watching Day 5
Yutakayama vs Kotoeko – Kotoeko really looks like a real scrapper this tournament, and Yutakayama is working hard to stay in the top division, but Yutakayama’s day 4 performance seems to indicate that he is still not even close to 100%. Though they have a career 2-2 record, I would give the advantage to Kotoeko for day 5, as he seems to “want” it more.
Daishoho vs Kagayaki – Kagayaki clearly goes into the “Not” bucket, and has shown no vigor or real power thus far in Osaka. As with most rikishi, we have no idea how banged up he actually is, but I would guess that he has some injury that is holding him back. His level of technique and strength at Maegashira 13 should be an easy kachi-koshi, but Kagayaki is struggling.
Ryuden vs Yoshikaze – My money is on Shin-Ikioi here, as Yoshikaze looks to be ready to take up his kabu this year. Its sad to see him fade, but it’s evident that the “Berserker” is not coming back to haunt the upper ranks.
Ikioi vs Kotoshogiku – Ikioi does not have the health or strength to give Kotoshogiku more than token resistance. With a bonus that Kotoshogiku really seems to be dialed in this tournament, and it’s wonderful to see. All of our hopes that Ikioi took the 6 weeks between Hatsu and Haru to get healed seem to have been dashed.
Aoiyama vs Asanoyama – This will be an interesting one, both come into day 5 with a 3-1 record, and both are oshi-zumo specialists. But Aoiyama is a pugilist of world renown, and Asanoyama is a pusher with very good balance. Aoiyama tends to start these matches with a nodowa at the tachiai to keep an opponent like Asanoyama from landing any thrusts. Asanoyama does hold a 3-1 career advantage, so he understands how to overcome Aoiyama’s “bludgeon zone”.
Onosho vs Ichinojo – Now THIS match has a lot of potential. Ichinojo can and may pick up Onosho, who in spite of his somewhat rhomboid shape is a dense, compact life-form. But Onosho does not seem to care when things like that happen. He opens up in a blaze of fury, and is capable of beating nearly anyone into submission. So far Ichinojo has been in the driver’s seat every day, but Onosho won’t let that stop him.
Tochiozan vs Endo – When will Endo get his first win? The stats say that it’s long odds for day 5, as Tochiozan holds a 7-2 career advantage over Endo. Endo fans must be frustrated that each time he gets near san’yaku, he underwhelms.
Mitakeumi vs Hokutofuji – I am going to go with Mitakeumi for day 5, even though Hokutofuji has been strong each day. Mitakeumi seems to be quite driven right now, and has been running a very focused attack profile that is focusing on staying low and attacking center-mass. Hokutofuji’s neck-fetish, should he deploy it again day 5, will be ineffective.
Takakeisho vs Tamawashi – Unless Tamawashi can get a hold of one of Takakeisho’s arms, this is going to be advantage Takakeisho. At some point, I think Tamawashi is going to turn things around this basho, and I still see him getting to 8 wins, but maybe that march starts on Saturday.
Takayasu vs Nishikigi – Nishikigi is unlikely to find his first win on day 5, and I hope we see Takayasu not start the match with that shoulder-blast. Takayasu is one off the pace, and he needs to stay there. I anticipate his week 2 matches are going to be “high interest”.
Tochinoshin vs Kaisei – Kaisei is good enough, and strong enough to provide an effective challenge to Tochinoshin. With Tochinoshin not really able to tap his nearly inhuman strength, he will struggle with Kaisei’s enormous body.
Shodai vs Goeido – Winless Shodai vs unbeaten Goeido, what could happen here?
Daieisho vs Kakuryu – Daieisho continues to show strong sumo in the face of the top rankers, and I think he will give Kakuryu some interest for day 5. Kakuryu is hard to beat, in that you have to overcome is uncanny ability to exploit even the smallest mistake.
Hakuho vs Myogiryu – I will be keeping an eye on Hakuho for day 5, as I think that leap from the dohyo into the zabuton on the east side did more than give several executives the thrill of their lives. Hakuho has struggled since October with foot and leg problems, and I think he has been very effective at hiding the extent of his problems thus far. That leap had the potential to stress whatever healing had taken place, and we may see him start to struggle.