The sun is up on my final day in Tokyo, and before I wander off to Ryogoku to enjoy one more day of sumo at the Kokugikan, let’s take a look at what day 6 has in store. It’s the start of act 2 of the Hatsu basho, and this is where we narrow the field to find out who has what it takes to compete for the yusho, and to start sorting the survivors from the damned. Right now it’s safe to say that it’s going to be a tumultuous yusho race, where only 1 Ozeki is in any condition to contend.
But 10 days is a long time in honbasho. A lot of dirt, pain and injuries lie ahead for everyone, and by day 12 when the stamina fades, its going to be tough for some just to mount the dohyo. Prior to the basho, I had been working on the idea this might be the last triumph for some of the old guard, but thus far many of them are struggling. Sumo is a tough sport, and as any combat sport its physically punishing. The grueling schedule of tournaments and promotional tours give these athletes little time for healing up from injuries or treatment short of some kind of supervised medical intervention (such as surgery).
I will remark that that the Tachiai photo safari has been a massive success. The entire plan was to gather enough imagery that we would largely break our dependance on internet-sourced imagery to decorate our posts. In addition to hundreds of frames of “evergreen” shots we can use to make post banners, there has been a fountain of sumo action shots every day. It’s been a great trip, and as always it’s been fantastic to watch sumo in person.
Day 6 Matches
Tochiozan vs Kiribayama – I would say that Tochiozan is actually under-performing thus far. At this low of a rank, his level of skill and strength should be dominating almost any opponent. He does have a winning record, and I expect he is going to use his high-efficiency sumo against Kiribayama today with great effect.
Kizakiumi vs Ikioi – The bring the injured, 0-5 Kizakiumi up from Juryo to fight the damaged relic of Ikioi for the second match of the day. This kind of sumo is tough to watch.
Terutsuyoshi vs Tokushoryu – To make up for the torture match before it, we get this sparkling jewel. Undefeated Terutsuyoshi comes up against the “cab forward” sumo of Tokushoryu. What will Terutsuyoshi do about that giant forward protuberance that Tokushoryu wields with such great effect? I can’t wait to find out.
Kotoshogiku vs Azumaryu – As some of our readers have noted, somehow Kotoshogiku has pieced together a formula for winning matches with his damaged body, and he’s going to put it to work in his first ever match with Azumaryu.
Kaisei vs Kotoeko – After having a fantastic run in Kyushu, Kaisei is back to struggling daily. Kotoeko will have a lot of mass to move to take the match today, but his strength and lateral sumo skill will likely carry the day.
Tsurugisho vs Shimanoumi – These two are so evenly matched that they could possibly swap mawashi and swap sides and few would notice. Both of them had tough losses on day 5, and are looking to bounce back.
Chiyomaru vs Ishiura – Big man / little man match deluxe, we get to see if Chiyomaru can rally going into act 2. He fought well the first 5 days, but only had 1 white star to show for it, in spite of some high energy sumo.
Takanosho vs Chiyotairyu – Chiyotairyu is really looking at only about 75% of genki right now, and I think he is going to struggle to do much against Takanosho.
Kagayaki vs Yutakayama – Oh yes yes yes! This is the match to watch in the first half. It’s going to be Yutakayama’s strength and mobility up against Kagayaki’s fundamentals and stability. This could produce sparks visible from the US.
Sadanoumi vs Ryuden – Both of these rikishi are high-maneuver fighters, and either one of them will rapidly exploit any mistake in the other. I would expect Ryuden to attempt at least one matta to try and slow down / throw off the timing of Sadanoumi.
Takarafuji vs Aoiyama – I am looking for Big Dan to stand up, and knock down Takarafuji, simultaneously defeating his doppleganger, Takarafuhi.
Meisei vs Shohozan – “Big Guns” Shohozan lost traction against Enho on day 5, and took a face full of Tokyo clay. He gets a rebound match against floundering (1-4) Meisei. Maybe Shohozan can work out his frustrations by bludgeoning Meisei. A lot.
Onosho vs Enho – I kind of don’t want to watch this match, as Onosho is going to be like some kind of super bouncy ball for Enho to enjoy. I expect it will be over quickly, and I just hope Onosho does not complicate any ongoing problems with that reconstructed knee.
Tochinoshin vs Shodai – At some point Shodai is going to take his first loss, and that’s when we get to see if he really has turned a corner and taken his sumo to another level. His outstanding performance in the first 5 days of Hatsu 2020 just make it clear he really does have a lot of potential, if he can just keep his mind in the fight. Will that first Shodai loss come today? Tochinoshin is looking very fragile, so perhaps not.
Abi vs Hokutofuji – Oh this match is another gem. They are both going to go for each other’s throat at the tachiai and push with gusto. Whose neck will stand up to the torture?
Okinoumi vs Daieisho – Should be win #4 for Okinoumi today, as he seems to really be dialed into his sumo right now. He holds a 9-4 career advantage over Daieisho.
Asanoyama vs Myogiryu – Asanoyama has dropped the last two matches, and really needs to rally. He has made a couple of mistakes in the prior two matches that cost him a win, and it may be that most of the upper ranks have figured out this flaw. Let’s see what Myogiryu can do today.
Endo vs Takayasu – Another dread match, as I am sure that Endo is going to inch Takayasu closer to permanent loss of Ozeki rank. Endo is on a tear right now, and the fans in Tokyo can’t get enough of his sumo.
Takakeisho vs Mitakeumi – Its time for a tadpole battle, and may the roundest man win! I want to see some wave-action before I leave Tokyo, maybe today is the day.
Tamawashi vs Goeido – I am expecting Tamawashi to disrupt and dismantle Goeido today. Our relic Ozeki is just too banged up to fight too strongly against someone like Tamawashi. I am sure Goeido is going to give it all he can, but that ankle is close to losing structural integrity.