Sumo debates for 2020 – 3/3

10. Will a rikishi win a yusho for the first time in 2020 ?

Last years showed us we’re not immune to great upsets, during a troubled period where top ranks are ageing and youngsters are struggling to meet up expectations. Indeed, 2018 and 2019 saw a maegashira lifting the Emperor’s Cup (Tochinoshin in 2018 and Asanoyama in 2019).

Anyone up for another surprise in 2020 ? At the risk of being a party spoiler, I’m not !

11. Will Hoshoryu reach maku’uchi ?

Lower divisions have seen the emergence in 2019 of Hoshoryu. Often called “nephew of…”, I’m sure he’ll want to prove his own strengh, in order to me remembered, not just as Asashoryu’s nephew.

A future star ? Hoshoryu Tomokatsu

His rise from jonokuchi has been pretty fast, although it took several honbasho for Hoshoryu to break the glass and reach the salaried ranks : from March of last year at makushita 7, 4-3, 4-3, 3-4 and 4-3 records saw him finally reach juryo. His first stint there did not bring much joy either, as he barely managed to save his rank, thanks to a senshuraku victory – he ended the tournament with a 7-8 make kochi.

Can he raise up his lever in 2020 ?

My prediction: Asashoryu has had harsh words towards him last year. I’m sure he will be a major help towards maku’uchi promotion in 2020.

12. Will Kotoshogiku stay in maku’uchi ?

Lots of words have been written about the way Kotoshogiku failed to regain his ozeki status, as an ozekiwake in March 2017. Since then, much less has been said about Kotoshogiku’s rather anonymous, albeit decent later career in maku’uchi – he even defeated Hakuho in Nagoya.

Former ozeki Kotoshogiku Kazuhiro (left)

Lately, his form has plunged, however. The former ozeki is on an unfortunate four make kochi streak (6-9, 7-8, 6-9, 6-9). He’ll turn 36 this month.

Can he find the winning formula again ? I’m afraid not.

13. Will Ishiura stay in maku’uchi ?

What about Ishiura ? Interestingly, he already spent six basho in a row in maku’uchi (from Kyushu 2016 to Aki 2017), but never during a full calendar year (he got demoted in Kyushu 2017 and Kyushu 2018). He spent four tournaments in the top division in 2019.

From hatakikomi to mitokorozeme : Ishiura Masakatsu

He is known for using the henka technique quite often during his bouts. Lately, however, his form seemed to improve, with combative 8-7 and 9-6 records at the end of the year. Last basho saw him use more raffined techniques, including one of the rarest techniques of the sport, mitokorozeme. It had not been used since Mainoumi, back in 1993 !

Can Ishiura’s sudden feisty sumo grant him a spot in maku’uchi during the whole year 2020 ? Unfortunately, I tend to say no.

14. Will Ura produce the greatest comeback ever ?

We spoke about Terunofuji’s remarkable return to juryo, and, possibly, to maku’uchi. What if Ura does the same ?

The greatest comeback ever ? Ura Kazuki

To put that question into context, Ura had a breakthrough in 2017, starting his first two honbasho in maku’uchi with two winning records. He even defeated former yokozuna Harumafuji in Nagoya, before seeing knee injuries totally stopping his rise. After almost a year without participating in a competitive bout, Ura started his comeback with 6-1 and 7-0 records in sandanme, before reinjuring his knees at the beginning of 2019. At the bottom of jonidan, Ura started his career again, producing a 6-1 record.

Is it on once and for all ? Can Ura produce six kachi koshi in 2020 ? Once again, I tend to say no, but wish him, as well as all other wrestlers and our readers, a successful year 2020 !

8 thoughts on “Sumo debates for 2020 – 3/3

  1. Question 10: It’s hard to say if there would be another surprise first yusho since it would obviously be a surprise. I’m kind of half-and-half on this one. My brain want to say no, but my heart wants to say yes.

    Question 11: Hoshoryu isn’t a bad wrestler, but I don’t see anything in particular that makes him stand out from other Juryo rikishi yet. I will give a conservative “no” answer. I wouldn’t be surprised if he has a steady rise of 9-6 tournaments for a bit but I think the upper ranks Juryo will be tough for him. Maybe in 2021, if you ask me.

    Question 12: I agree, Kotoshogiku’s Makuuchi days are likely over at this point. Maybe he can handle the Makuuchi Juryo revolving door for a little, but his future in the sport seems grim.

    This is a much tougher question to answer. Once again, this is a question where I’m torn on reasons I want to say both answers. I suppose since I expect him to do poorly next tournament, I’m going to also say no, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he sticks around this time since his sumo did seem much improved in the last couple basho.
    Since I’m unfamiliar with the time Ura was competing I feel reluctant to answer this, but since he is ranked quite low on the banzuke I’ll go out on a limb and say he gets his six kachi-koshi, why not. Ura just has to rise the ranks a little slower and then it’s possible.

    • I’m sorry, I forgot to mark questions 13 and 14! Just in case anyone is confused, I’m talking about Ishiura during the part after I talk about Kotoshogiku.

      • No problem! Ishiura is quite an enigma, isn’t he? Remember his makuuchi debut in Kyushu 2016? Went 10-0, finished 10-5 – imagine the crowd’s reaction, were he Enho? Oh my.
        However, that’s about it concerning his achievements – until the mitokorozeme kimarite last Basho.

    • My heart would moderately appreciate another maegashira win in 2020. I wish we had a strong san’yaku field.
      I just thought, however, that good old Kyokutenho remains an exception. Tochinoshin and Asanoyama achieved that great feat, but the near future proved they belonged to (high) san’yaku – and that their yusho was no fluke after all.
      Kyokutenho’s win is definitely different, surreal… and way funnier!

  2. Q10: yes. and maybe very soon. With only 8 titled wrestlers in January there are an awful lot of upset threateners with the potential to run wild: Mitakeumi, Tamawashi, Tochinoshin and Hokutofuji to name but three.

    Q11: no. I think he’ll get there at some point but he’s not exactly rocketing through the ranks is he?

    Q12: no, but he’s been proving me wrong since 2017, when I said that he would retire by the end of that year.

    Q13: probably yes, but Ishiura is a sore topic with me ever since I described him as the second coming of Chiyonofuji back in 2016.

    Q14: no, but I would so love to be wrong.

      • Yes, thé question is whether we’ll see a first time winner or not. I think the question is beyond Tochinoshin, Tamawashi or others. The fact is, q lot of makuuchi wrestlers have already lifted the cup. So it’s more about: will wee an unbelievable winner because of san’yaku failure, like Kyokutenho did? All suggestions are welcome here. Could be Yutakayama, Tsurugisho, any one…


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