A number of friends of Tachiai are headed to Tokyo this week to take in sumo at the Kokugikan, and it is likely to be a great weekend of sumo. The weather is fairly nice in Tokyo, the food is always amazing, and the people are the best. Rumor has it some of them will be wearing their tachiai shirts around town, so you never know who might wind up on TV…
While some folks will be in Japan, the coverage on the blog will be non-stop, as we expect this to be a very exciting tournament thanks to the transitional era in sumo, and the absence of the dai-Yokozuna.
We can expect there to be another live stream event for Sunday’s Makuuchi division, brining fans world wide the last 50 minutes of the midway point of the tournament. The team may live-blog that one, and if we do it’s likely to be its normal non-sensical romp through the best of sumo. No promises yet…
What We Are Watching Day 4
Terutsuyoshi vs Chiyoshoma – Can we hope that Chiyoshoma can go through the first act without a henka? Does Terutsuyoshi succeed in converting his outrageous chance to stay in the top division into a kachi-koshi? Why is Bruce asking the Tachiai readers questions?
Wakatakakage vs Kotoeko – Wakatakakage comes up from Juryo to try out his dorm-room in a preview of what we hope is the first Onami brother to break into the top division. He faces bullpup muscle man Kotoeko, who seems to be fast enough to exploit any mistake, and strong enough to make it work. Speed match, sumo fans!
Tokushoryu vs Ishiura – Tokushoryu’s girth and low center of gravity is going to be Ishirua’s biggest obstacle on day 4. He’s got a 4-2 career advantage against Tokushoryu, and I am certain that Tokushoryu enters this match well frustrated by the two somewhat sloppy losses thus far. I am looking for Ishiura to dive and move, and stick a right-hand grip.
Daishoho vs Enho – Global sumo fans are finally getting to see why Team Tachiai has been going on about Enho. Not only is he a handsome fellow, his sumo is first rate. We have yet to see Enho in a stalemate situation, where he gets to show off some really impressive stamina as well. Maybe day 4 will leave Enho and Daishoho chest to chest at the center of the dohyo.
Shimanoumi vs Sadanoumi – Sadanoumi looks to have degraded his injured knee following Enho’s leg pick on day 3. He’s going to come against a struggling Shimanoumi for day 4, who understands very well how tough his road to eight wins is going to be now. This is their first ever match.
Chiyomaru vs Yago – Chiyomaru seems to be on a roll, and I am not talking about that enormous bulge above his mawashi. With a 3-0 start he looks like his regrouping mission in Juryo is paying off. Yago is a large, quite strong fellow, which introduces a few physics problems of note into today’s match. The trick for Yago will be keeping balance with that much mass bearing down on you.
Kagayaki vs Tochiozan – Kagayaki’s school of sumo fundamentals seems to be back in session. The day 3 win might have been at the edge of matta territory, but he won’t get that kind of jump on Tochiozan’s hair-trigger launch. I am expecting Tochiozan to drive inside fast, and to minimize his target zones, robbing Kagayaki of a chance to generate much offense.
Shohozan vs Onosho – I am looking for Shohozan to bait Onosho to get too far forward, which he is almost always willing to do. This would be followed by a throw, as it’s how Shohozan tends to end these matches, and he holds a 4-2 advantage over the tadpole.
Kaisei vs Tomokaze – This pairing holds a lot of interest for me. It’s their first-time meeting, which is always good, and you have a very burly Tomokaze going against Mr. Mass in Kaisei. I am sure Kaisei will want to land the first hand, and if he can keep Tomokaze centered, he can put that size to work.
Nishikigi vs Asanoyama – Yes, Nishikigi has looked like total hell thus far, while Asanoyama has been at the top of his sumo. But this is just the kind of match where Nishikigi rallies and puts his high-efficiency sumo to work. Asanoyama holds a 5-2 career advantage, so I am guessing day 4 is heavily in favor of Asanoyama.
Takarafuji vs Meisei – Another first-time match, Meisei is struggling to find his first win, while Takarafuji continues to quietly go about his sumo and rack up wins. Takarafuji can usually kachi-koshi at this rank, so I think he’s going to continue to win a bit more than 50% of his matches.
Myogiryu vs Yoshikaze – I worry this will be another match where Yoshikaze generates nearly zero offensive power, and leaves his fans (like me) wondering what damage is holding him back. Myogiryu could certainly use the win, and is likely going to face some named-ranked rikishi later in the basho.
Shodai vs Ryuden – This match also interests me greatly, as Ryuden has yet to win a single match from Shodai (0-2), who has excellent foot work and great lateral mobility, so this may be a weakness for Ryuden. But day 4 is a new day, and no telling what might happen.
Abi vs Daieisho – Daieisho has opened strong in the first 3 days, and I think his sumo has stepped up a notch. He holds a 4-2 career advantage over Abi, who took a chance to get into Chiyotairyu’s business early on day 3. I am guessing Daieisho will be ready to respond to a fast launch, and we will see if he can shut down the Abi-zumo attack.
Aoiyama vs Chiyotairyu – Both of these formidable rikishi had little to show for day 3 on the dohyo. I am expecting them to bounce back with vigor. Chiyotairyu has the harder trail here, as Aoiyama’s reach overpowers Chiyotairyu’s cannon-ball tachiai most of the time.
Ichinojo vs Okinoumi – Ichinojo seems to have lost the advantage he used to rack 14 wins in Osaka, which is the #1 gripe of his fans: his lack of consistent performance. So far he has been tossed about more than he has dominated, and with Okinoumi looking fairly genki, we may see some good technical sumo used against The Boulder on day 4.
Tamawashi vs Tochinoshin – Oh yes! Tochinoshin needs to land that left hand, and I know Tamawashi will use everything he has to keep mobile, keep striking, and keep Tochinoshin from setting his feet and lifting. Tamawashi showed some superb power and speed on day 3, and a similar attack might overpower the Ozekiwake.
Takakeisho vs Mitakeumi – Behold, Takakeisho’s kryptonite. When two tadpoles fight, the rank means nothing most days. Mitakeumi holds a 7-3 career advantage over the shin-Ozeki, and we are likely to see a high force oshi-brawl today. It will come down to Takakeisho setting up the wave-train before Mitakeumi can put him on his heels.
Hokutofuji vs Takayasu – Hokutofuji has the speed and power to challenge an injured Takayasu. I am certain that Takayasu is in fact injured, as he has not been able to execute much in the way of coherent offense yet. Hokutofuji has worked very hard to get his “handshake tachiai” to a state where he can put a hand on his opponent before they complete their launch, and he uses that early touch to control the match. Takayasu brings power and incredible stamina to the fight – something we have not seen thus far.
Goeido vs Kotoshogiku – This match up has a long history. Fifty, Five Zero, matches between these two. With Goeido holding the high ground 29-21. Speed vs stability today. Goeido faltered a bit against Endo, and let him take control to Goeido’s demise. I am sure he wants to stop the loss run at a single black star.
Endo vs Kakuryu – Fresh from surprising Goeido, Endo has seen how light Kotoshogiku made the Yokozuna look. The plan that worked was not let Kakuryu move, don’t give him space to evade, pin him to the tawara and force him to act rather than react. I am interested to see if Endo will try that strategy, too.