It’s only day 3 of the basho, and already Kyushu is loaded to the fill line with oddity. On day 2, the higher ranked rikishi in nearly every match lost. The only named rank athlete with a perfect record is Asanoyama. We have lost 3 (soon to be 4) rikishi to injury, and we have not gotten out of the first act. Sorry readers, but something is wrong in sumo land, maybe a few somethings.
But do keep in mind, sumo is a often brutal sport. It’s a combat focused zero-sum game, with a winner and loser in each match. The 6 basho + 4 jungyo schedule is merciless, and with the average weight of top division men climbing every higher, the risks for injuries compound.
But in the midst of this carnage, we are starting to see some of the future of sumo, in the fast approaching era when the current Yokozuna are both retired, and the young cohorts finally come into their own. But we have to wonder, how many of them can stay healthy to ascend the ranks when the promotion lanes open?
What We Are Watching Day 3
Wakatakakage vs Tokushoryu – In addition to having a 7-1 career advantage over the veteran, Wakatakakage seems to be on a opening hot streak. Will it be 3-0?
Terutsuyoshi vs Daishoho – His day 2 loss to Chiyomaru not withstanding, I think Terutsuyoshi is on a “recovery” tournament, to bounce back from his disastrous 4-11 score at Aki. I am looking him to make his 8, and maybe a few to spare.
Daishomaru vs Kagayaki – Kagayaki brings a 9-3 career advantage to this match, so I think he may get his second win on day 3. Daishomaru was bamboozled by Wakatakakage and let Nishikigi win in blind man’s bluff, so he has to get his act together or figure out what he is going to wear in Juryo in January.
Chiyomaru vs Nishikigi – Ok, this has my interest. I would think this series should favor Chiyomaru, but in fact Nishikigi tends to dominate these matches. Sure, Nishikigi can land his arm lock hold, but Chiyomaru has that giant belly as some sort of deflector shield.
Ishiura vs Chiyotairyu – Another match with odd history. I would assume that Chiyotairyu would overpower and dominate the smaller Ishiura, but it seems that with a 4-2 lead, it’s Ishiura who tends to give Chiyotairyu the business. That’s good news as Ishiura needs to find some wins starting now.
Takanosho vs Shodai – I know long time readers are going to assume this is a coded cry for rescue, but I think Shodai is going to run up the score this basho. At Maegashira 10, he’s going to out-class most of his opponents if he is healthy and in a good frame of mind.
Kotoshogiku vs Shimanoumi – It will be sad if Shimanoumi dealt local hero Kotoshogiku his 3rd consecutive loss. But lets be honest, as banged up ask Kotoshogiku is, it’s only a matter of when his next notch down the banzuke will happen. I love me some Kotoshogiku, but its kind of sad to watch him struggle.
Shohozan vs Sadanoumi – Shohozan was a brawling demon on day 2, even if he did go down to a loss. Will we see the same head pounding, face bashing sumo today? Sadanoumi has 13 career matches against Shohozan, so I am going to assume he knows how to avoid getting into a street fight.
Yutakayama vs Kotoeko – Oh I think this is going to be a good one. Both are strike-and-move oshi-rikishi, and so this may be a balanced fight. Yutakayama will have superior mass and defense, and Kotoeko may edge out in maneuverability and agility. Readers know I have Yutakayama earmarked to be Asanoyama’s rival, so lets see if he can stay healthy.
Onosho vs Enho – The lowest ranked of our tadpoles draws a match against power-pixie Enho, and this as “melt down” written all over it. Onosho has always had some balance issues, which got worse following knee surgery. If you fight against Enho, you had better watch your balance, as he can and will defy expectations of where and how the attacks will come.
Tsurugisho vs Ryuden – I am serious worried that Tsurugisho may have picked up some kind of concussion in his day 2 match with Shohozan. Maybe he’s kyujo today (1 in 6 chance, I would say). I think if the match goes on, Ryuden will have his hands full. While Ryuden racked up a 5-0 advantage from their time in Juryo, this version of Tsurugisho is bigger, stronger and possibly a bit pissed off.
Tamawashi vs Kotoyuki – We have not seen Kotoyuki crowd surf in a while, and given Tamawashi’s habit of sending opponents on orbital trajectories, we may get our first meet-and-greet for the zabuton crew today.
Aoiyama vs Tomokaze – This had better be a fusensho for Aoiyama. If Tomokaze shows up today, I am going to lose all hope.
Abi vs Myogiryu – Abi’s mental state may be poor right now. His Instagram antics got all rikishi everywhere thrown off of all social media, so I am guessing some of his fellow sumo men are disappointed in him. Even though he won day 2 against several parts of Takayasu, Abi is clearly not yet dialed in.
Hokutofuji vs Takarafuji – Oh good! Strategist and technician Takarafuji against both upper and lower parts of Hokutofuji, in seemingly good working order. I am going to look for Takarafuji to stalemate Hokutofuji as long as possible, looking for a mistake or opening. Hokutofuji is good at over-extending and over-committing, so lets see if “Not Kaio” has improved his discipline.
Endo vs Tochinoshin – A battle of excessive sadness. I now fear that Tochinoshin won’t make his 10, in fact I worry he may not even make 8. Endo will come in with a masterful plan, and I hope to see Tochinoshin pick him up and carry him around for 30 seconds like a box of green glass headed for the curb on Tuesday in Sumida.
Mitakeumi vs Meisei – Common wisdom might assume that the longest serving tadpole, Mitakeumi, would be the favorite, but Meisei is fighting very well this November, and I would not be surprised to see him take a few more scalps in the named ranks.
Okinoumi vs Takayasu – I think everyone knows that Takayasu is unable to generate any forward power on his left. The solution for any competent Makuuchi rikishi is fairly straightforward. I fear that we are going to be treated to a series of increasingly sad and depressing losses by the Ozeki as his injury compounds, and he gets even weaker on his left.
Takakeisho vs Daieisho – Fresh from a Hakuho kinboshi, Daieisho comes to call on a battered Takakeisho, who has yet to convince anyone that he’s got his sumo dialed in, let alone that his left pectoral muscle is fit.
Asanoyama vs Hakuho – Hakuho has stated that he is a fan of Asanoyama – “A new generation guy who can do yotsu-zumo”. So now we get their second meeting, and I suspect that Hakuho has a foot problem either because of that odd day 2 match, or revealed by it. Asanoyama is fighting in great form for the first act, and I think that he’s going to have a strong showing.