We are on kyujo watch in Tokyo, as both Yokozuna are not fighting well, and may in fact have injuries that are limiting their performance. The march of the next generation continues, and they are taking the veterans to task. As of the start of day 4, of the only a few of the old guard (age 30+) have a winning record. Over the duration of the basho, I expect that the veteran’s experience will compensate for the rough start. But Hatsu 2020 is helping to turn the page in sumo history.
What We Are Watching Day 4
Kiribayama vs Tokushoryu – An even match up in a number of ways. Both rikishi are 2-1 and they have a 1-1 career record. But it’s a veteran vs a young rikishi, and it’s strength vs mass. Tokushoryu has an extreme body shape, but he’s quite comfortable in that body, and he knows how to use it with great effect. I am giving him the edge today.
Tochiozan vs Daishomaru – Daishomaru visits from Juryo, and brings his spotless record to test against Tochiozan. In spite of his current Juryo ranking, Daishomaru has spent 19 basho in the top division, and if he can continue to dominate in Juryo we should see him back in Makuuchi for March.
Terutsuyoshi vs Ikioi – Ikioi can’t seem to buy a win right now, and he comes up against a man on a hot streak – Terutsuyoshi. Terutsuyoshi looks strong, confident and fully in control of his sumo right now, and I think it’s going to be another trip to the clay for dear old Ikioi.
Kaisei vs Shimanoumi – A first time match between Kaisei and Shimanoumi, and I expect that this is probably Kaisei’s match, given that once you get in a fight with a man that big, the best move is to get out of his way. Does Shimanoumi have the agility? Not sure.
Azumaryu vs Kotoeko – Should be a pick up for Kotoeko, who has a dominating 5-0 record over Azumaryu.
Tsurugisho vs Chiyomaru – This one will be a massive slap fest, and I am thinking its going t come down to duration. A short match favors Chiyomaru, and if Tsurugisho can draw the fight out, he can easily run Chiyomaru out of stamina.
Chiyotairyu vs Kotoshogiku – Kotoshogiku has a 15-2 career advantage over Chiyotairyu, but I also think that Kotoshogiku does not have enough health in his lower body remaining to generate much forward pressure to do too much against Chiyotairyu. The fans want to see the victorious hug-n-chug again, but I am doubtful.
Sadanoumi vs Kagayaki – Kagayaki seems to be completely ring-rust free, and dialed into his fundamentals-based sumo. But this will run into Sadanoumi’s speed and ability to quickly evolve a match from stalemate to victory – when Sadanoumi wins, he tends to do it quickly.
Takanosho vs Ishiura – Ishiura continues to fight well, but not have enough to win. I honestly think it may be down to some undisclosed injury, but I think it won’t really matter as Takanosho will dominate him on day 4.
Aoiyama vs Yutakayama – This match has a huge potential for brutal sumo. Any time Aoiyama is in a match there will be a lot of heavy blows landed, but with Yutakayama you have a rikishi that can take a lot of punishment, and keep fighting.
Ryuden vs Onosho – Onosho’s balance is worse than normal thus far, and this may in fact be over at the tachiai. Ryuden is expert at the tachiai slap-down, and Onosho is ripe for this tactic.
Takarafuji vs Shohozan – Takarafuji will (as always) attempt to stalemate and extend the match, banking on his strength and stamina to give them an advantage as the fight goes on. But Shohozan tends to grab Takarafuji and throw him around with great effect.
Tochinoshin vs Enho – First time match, and I am fairly sure it won’t be pretty. Option 1 – Tochinoshin can lift this little guy with one hand while performing a traditional Georgian folk dance. Option 2 – Enho is so small and quick that Tochinoshin really can’t quite figure out what to do, and ends up face first on the clay. Regardless of the fight, the crowd in Tokyo will lose their minds.
Okinoumi vs Meisei – Okinoumi is due for a win, and he brings a 4-0 career record to this match against Meisei.
Tamawashi vs Mitakeumi – These two have 22 career matches, with Mitakeumi holding a 20-2 advantage. He knows how to beat Tamawashi. In fact, even when Mitakeumi turns in a make-koshi, he manage to beat Tamawashi.
Asanoyama vs Abi – Abi looks more hurt every day. If he were healthy this would be a high interest match, given that Asanoyama seems to be on a hot streak. With Abi hurt, its kind of an obligatory death march that is just begging to increase Abi’s damage.
Shodai vs Takayasu – Takayasu needs every win he can muster, but Shodai is not a push over this tournament. The two have a 6-8 career record, so clearly Shodai has a formula for beating Takayasu, and Takayasu is quite a bit less than 100%.
Takakeisho vs Endo – Is anyone going to stop Endo, who seems to have changed out his golden mawashi and now is showing off his new “dark mode”? Endo is a master technician, and I fully expect him to latch on to Takakeisho’s mawashi immediately, and shut down any hope that the Ozeki can generate any offense. Takakeisho’s job is to strike first, strike hard, and keep Endo reacting to his sumo.
Daieisho vs Goeido – Everyone wants Goeido to rack his first win, but he just seems to lack enough force to win. Each of his 3 matches feature him switching from strong offense to a pulling attempt that hands the win to his opponent. Will he roll those dice again? I think everyone is ready for that gambit, so I doubt it will do him much good.
Hakuho vs Hokutofuji – Yokozuna Hakuho is in trouble, he desperately needs to get his mind back in his sumo, and focus on winning. Hokutofuji may try the opening nodowa for a 4th day in a row, but I kind of expect him to try something different today against The Boss.
Myogiryu vs Kakuryu – Kakuryu is also in trouble, and I think he is injured as well. The Yokozuna has a 11-9 career record with Myogiryu, so this is not a match that we can simply assume Kakuryu will win.