Welcome to the final day of Act 1! As you may recall, act 1 is all about bringing the rikishi up to tournament performance while getting the ring-rust knocked off and scraped away. It’s clear that there are some rikishi who are in terrible condition coming into the end of act 1, and a surprisingly small number who have managed to remain undefeated. I think this portends a very flat, even competition for act 2 of the basho, where we sort the survivors from the damned. So far it looks like we will get to keep Kakuryu, and avoid the “No-kazuna” situation that was scandalous and unthinkable 2 years ago.
Meanwhile, shin-Ozeki Takakeisho is in unknown condition following him injuring himself in his day 4 match against Mitakeumi. Team Tachiai’s best medical consultants have declared that the attempt to graft even the smallest element of yotsu-sumo onto his body has resulted in a kimarite malfunction, and the damage could be extensive. Reports from Japan have stated that Chiganoura Oyakata is taking special care of his Ozeki. They are going to have a medical work-up done, and he is inclined to keep Takakeisho out of competition if he’s not 100%. Good Oyakata! EDIT: News reports from Japan now indicate that Takakeisho will be absent tomorrow. It is unclear at this point whether he will return later in the tournament. -lksumo
One of the aforementioned 4-0 score-holders is Ozekiwake Tochinoshin, who is on a mission to rack up 10 wins and reclaim his Ozeki rank. When he’s healthy, as he seems right now, the man is a force of nature. As with most other sumo fans around the world, we are eager to see him overcome the challenge in front of him and regain his title.
What We Are Watching Day 5.
Terutsuyoshi vs Kyokushuho – Kyokushuho visits from Juryo to face off against Terutsuyoshi, who may, at long last, be finding a working formula for his sumo in the top division. Mongolian Kyokushuho is looking for a path that returns him to the top division, with his last posting being as Maegashira 14 during Osaka 2017!
Chiyoshoma vs Enho – Oh this has train-wreck written all over it. You have the highly maneuverable Enho facing off for the first time against a known henka master. Not only henka, but flying henka! Will Chiyoshoma take flight before Enho can catch a grip, or will Enho find a way to lock his feet to the clay?
Tokushoryu vs Yago – Bottom-heavy Tokushoryu will square off against Yago in this battle of the twos. Both men have 2-2 records, and their career record is tied 2-2. Math-oriented fans can only hope that the first match is indecisive, and after a monoii, a torinaoshi is called, resulting in there being 2 matches between these 2.
Chiyomaru vs Tochiozan – I might say “keep on rolling!” to 3-1 Chiyomaru, but that is actually possible, and probably dangerous. In fact it has been learned by Tachiai that Chiyomaru is forbidden to climb hills or even steep sidewalks, as any slip or fall could cause damage to local buildings, parked cars and any nearby fishing fleet.
Shimanoumi vs Onosho – At Maegashira 10, Onosho should be cleaning up handily. Instead he is still struggling. So today’s match against Shimanoumi looks like a favor, as Shimanoumi has yet to find a way to beat the Mighty Tadpole on the dohyo.
Kagayaki vs Asanoyama – Oh, what a great match. Clearly the schedulers want to throw a wrinkle at Asanoyama, who has only beaten Kagayaki one time in their 6 prior meetings. Asanoyama comes in undefeated, and frankly looking to be executing the best sumo of his top-division career. Can Mr. Fundamentals make it 6 by putting the leading member of the Freshmen on the clay?
Shodai vs Yoshikaze – How is Shodai at 3-1? I am going to guess Yoshikaze is going to have a tough time with this match, as Yoshikaze has been hampered by a shocking lack of mobility this basho, and Shodai seems to be bouncing around every match, win or lose.
Myogiryu vs Abi – After it seemed that Abi-zumo had run out of useful life earlier this year, somehow it’s back to being quite potent. Maybe it’s the oddball “Chanko Napolitan” they serve at the heya. Myogiryu still seems to be looking for his sumo in a box somewhere at the heya, and needs to find it soon.
Okinoumi vs Ryuden – Only one rikishi in active competition still has zero wins: Okinoumi. Which is odd because he is fighting well. Maybe he can work out some of his frustrations against Shin-Ikioi / Ryuden, as Ryuden is quietly putting together quite a winning streak when you consider Osaka as well.
Endo vs Kotoshogiku – Both men are 1-3, and need to start turning things around if they want to avoid a typical Maegashira 1 / 2 outcome for this basho. Kotoshogiku’s attacks are still wonderfully effective, but he seems to lack the strength to get them to pay against the named ranks.
Hokutofuji vs Tochinoshin – The key to this match will be if Hokutofuji can land his nodowa before Tochinoshin can get that left hand grip. Hokutofuji will want to hit and shift; Tochinoshin will want to hold and lift. Hokutofuji holds a slight career advantage (3-2), and I think he may be the first rikishi to put dirt on the Ozekiwake.
Ichinojo vs Mitakeumi – I think we may see Ichinojo revert to his Osaka form sooner rather than later. Mitakeumi likes to rush in, and so the stand them up / knock them down tactic might carry this match. Of course it’s possible that Mitakeumi is still trying to figure out what happened against Takakeisho, and will be too baffled 24 hours later to execute proper sumo.
Goeido vs Daieisho – Engineers worked frantically to patch that Endo bug, and Goeido is now running GoeiDOS 2.4.1, which should be more than effective against Daieisho. (Perhaps surprisingly, Daieisho holds a 2-1 career edge, including the upset that derailed Goeido after his strong start last basho. -lksumo)
Takakeisho vs Tamawashi – I would say 50/50 chance this match does not take place, and Tamawashi ends up with a fusensho to boost him to 2-3. If it does take place, I am going to expect a real roaming oshi-battle with a lot of force, and maybe a couple of crowd-pleasing haymakers.
Chiyotairyu vs Takayasu – It’s clear that we likely won’t be talking about how Takayasu is finally going to get his first yusho. In fact, I am still trying to decide what he is up to these days. He is still winning, but he’s frankly all over the sumo spectrum every day. While it makes it tough on his opponents to guess what he’s going to do, it’s not really helping his score.
Kakuryu vs Aoiyama – Kakuryu is a delightful contrast to Hakuho, as Kakuryu allows his opponent to dictate the terms of the match to start, and them brutally applies his magic. The net result in terms of Aoiyama is a 17-1 career advantage that may not in fact improve on Natsu day 5.