Heading into day 4, it’s clear that once again the lower San’yaku ranks are healthier and fighting harder than the Ozeki and Yokozuna. True, Hakuho is fighting well and looks strong, but the Ozeki corps is in tatters, with the one “good” Ozeki, Goeido, damaged and seeking treatment for his injured ankle.
I compliment Takayasu for his indomitable fighting sprint. Its clear that left arm is not much of a tool, but he’s piecing together wins as he can. I think it will be a struggle for him to make his 8, but I have faith he can get there.
Takakeisho is likewise muddling through, but as his sumo revolves around explosive power from his chest muscles, one of which is damaged, he has a tougher path to 8, and is evident from his day 2 and 3 matches.
*Note, as an Ozekiwake, I count Tochinoshin in the Ozeki corps.
Right now the ones to watch are Mitakeumi, Hokutofuji and Asanoyama. These rikishi seem to be on their sumo, in good health and hungry to win. Endo is fighting well, but coming up 5% short in each match. Tochinoshin is still clearly hurt, and I worry what he’s going to do. Abi is distracted, I think, but he may be able to snap out of it soon.
Fans be aware, this may be a jumble of a basho. But as long as Hakuho is healthy and in it, he’s the clear favorite for the win.
What We Are Watching Day 4
Terutsuyoshi vs Wakatakakage – Wakatakakage is on a hot streak to celebrate his Makuuchi debut. He and Terutsuyoshi a fairly even match, but I am going to go with a momentum call to say that Wakatakakage has an edge for this day 4 match.
Daishoho vs Nishikigi – As noted in the day 3 highlights, there seems to be some kind of performance crisis with the Oitekaze rikishi (Daishoho, Daishomaru) that will hopefully correct soon. If Nishikigi is back to good form, we may see him run up a fairly good score from this far down the banzuke. There is every indication that Daishoho may not give him much trouble today.
Chiyomaru vs Daishomaru – I am going to say Daishomaru in this match, if for no other reason than he is due for his first win. Chiyomaru is a tough rikishi to fight based on his enormity, but Daishomaru has proven to be up to the task in the past (5-2 career).
Ishiura vs Takanosho – Also in the winless column is Ishiura. I am sure The Boss is giving him a measure of grief about this already, but we never know what kind of injuries the rikishi may have sustained in training or during the basho.
Kagayaki vs Chiyotairyu – Kagayaki seems to have shaken off his ring rust on day 3, and I would say that we finally saw good form from Chiyotairyu as well. This match has a good amount of potential, and I expect that Kagayaki’s plan would be to survive the first 10 seconds upright and in-bounds. After his initial surge, Chiyotairyu tends to quickly drop intensity, leaving himself open for counter attack.
Shimanoumi vs Shodai – Oh sure, why not. Let’s see Shodai go 4-0. At this rank he is a bit over-powered if he is healthy, and there is every indication that he is. I would like to see him run the table.
Shohozan vs Kotoshogiku – Two home town favorites go head to head. Shohozan is even more pugilistic and slap-happy than any other recent basho, and I am curious if he is going to take the “Big Guns” approach to Kotoshogiku. We have yet to see Kotoshogiku unleash a proper hug-n-chug attack, so maybe day 4 will be the day.
Yutakayama vs Sadanoumi – This match has a good amount of potential, with Sadanoumi bringing more maneuverability and Yutakayama brining more strength. I would look for an early try for a pull down / slap down from Sadanoumi.
Onosho vs Tsurugisho – If I were Tsurugisho, I would be quite grumpy by now. He had his face bashed by Shohozan, he was matted into submission by Ryduen. Now he gets to take a turn with Onosho, who is (to my eye) struggling at this rank. Can Tsurugisho get back in a groove?
Kotoeko vs Enho – Kotoeko is winless, and he’s going against “week 1” Enho, who tends to be faster, more decisive, and better underneath. In past matches, Kotoeko has been able to use Enho’s low body position to his advantage. I am eager to see the man from Miyazaki get his first win.
Tamawashi vs Aoiyama – Back from a day off due to his fusensho win over the injured Tomokaze, we get to see if Aoiyama can fire up the V-Twin and give Tamawashi a rough ride. Both will be focusing on oshi-zumo, but we will see who sets the tempo and form of the match.
Ryuden vs Kotoyuki – Will it be another Ryuden matta-fest? Kotoyuki seems to have picked up where he left off at Aki, showing up sumo far better than his doldrum days in Juryo, where he struggled with injuries.
Abi vs Meisei – I am going to come out and say it. The social media scandal and ban has Abi distracted. His sumo is off, his concentration is not sharp, and his matches are less intense than they should be. In spite of his day 3 loss, Meisei is fighting very well right now, and will give Abi a tough match.
Myogiryu vs Asanoyama – This should be a fairly workable win for Asanoyama. He has a size and strength advantage over Myogiryu, and his sumo is making steady improvements each tournament. The outstanding question is – did the Hakuho belly flop rattle his nerves? I would hope that it did not.
Mitakeumi vs Daieisho – I see no relief for the Oitekaze heartbreak in this match, as I think that Mitakeumi is in a groove now, and we will see good sumo from him. At least up to day 10, when he traditionally starts to fade.
Takarafuji vs Tochinoshin – Fans are still waiting for Tochinoshin to break out the sky-crane. Will today be the day? He has a tough road ahead of him to get to 10, and this is his “easy” week.
Takakeisho vs Endo – Its fairly evident that Takakeisho is no better than 80% genki right now, and is struggling against opponents he would normally dispatch with two massive shoves. Into this steps Endo, the master technician. I anticipate that Endo will go for the shallow right hand again, and if he lands that it’s going to be quick and ugly.
Hokutofuji vs Takayasu – That Hokutofuji handshake tachiai is going to be aimed for Takayasu’s left arm pit, and if it finds its mark, it could get very ugly fast. With each of the remaining Ozeki in a damaged state, it’s open season for the lower San’yaku to make their marks.
Okinoumi vs Hakuho – These two have a 21 match history, and Okinoumi has only won 1. So I am sure “The Boss” has a catalog of ways to put Okinoumi on the clay.