We hope you are enjoying the basho. For those of you wonder, the team at Grand Sumo Breakdown compute the results of the matches, some parameters around the winning move, and some of the longer mechanics of what happened to each rikishi. They pass those over to Tachiai, and we weave them into the narrative we usually produce. We do that using our love and knowledge of rikishi fighting styles, preferred attack and defend strategies, and general feel for the story lines. The result is, we hope, and enjoyable run through a basho that could have been, and a chance to glimpse some of the rikishi using some of their favorite techniques.
On to the preview!
What We Are Watching Day 3
Kotoeko (2-1) vs Chiyomaru (1-2) – Its a question of speed vs size. Chiyomaru tends to use his massive body to blunt anyone’s attack below his ribs. If you can’t distract him with offense, you can expect Chiyomaru to hit you with waves of left-right push combos, backed up by nearly 200 kg of mass behind them. For the smaller Kotoeko, it could be a wild ride. Chiyomaru holds a 5-3 career advantage.
Kotoshoho (0-2) vs Terunofuji (0-2) – I personally want to steal Elon Musk’s private jet and spirit Terunofuji to an orthopedic clinic in Dallas. This would, of course, end his sumo career, but that poor guy needs proper medical attention. While his knees are a concern, the real reason for his flagging performance may be problems with diabetes or cellulitis. It’s clear that he is is struggling each time he mounts the dohyo. Terunofuji has won both prior matches, but he looks to be in terrible shape right now.
Kotoyuki (2-0) vs Wakatakakage (1-1) – Nearly as wide as he is high, Kotoyuki was a bit of a parody rikishi for a time. He started in the sport as a serious opponent, and now it looks like he is back in that form. His first two matches were fierce affairs that saw him win decisively. Wakatakakage has won only a single match against him, so I would give the advantage to “Mr 5 by 5”.
Kotoshogiku (2-0) vs Nishikigi (1-1) – The restrictions on training leading up to the basho have really hampered Nishikigi’s sumo. He has very poor eyesight and only fights effectively when he is close in to his opponent. Thankfully for day 3, he’s against Kotoshogiku, who will battle hug any man who can’t move out of his way. 2-1 career record favors Nishikigi.
Takayasu (2-0) vs Shohozan (1-1) – Takayasu is looking better than I could have hoped for. Neither that left elbow or that injured knee seem to be giving him much trouble, and he is moving quite well. He’s up against brawler Shohozan, who seems to be struggling a bit at the start of the basho. They have a 14 match career record, with Takayasu holding a narrow 8-6 advantage.
Sadanoumi (1-1) vs Kotonowaka (0-2) – First ever match between these two. Sadanoumi has a lot of speed, and I always find myself under appreciting Kotonowaka, possibly because he is just a big, buttery dumpling of a man. I know he has done very well in Juryo, but I just have to wonder. I am looking for Sadanoumi to set up his attack plan early and run the match.
Shimanoumi (2-0) vs Myogiryu (1-1) – Veteran Myogiryu has taken both of the prior matches, but Shimanoumi has looked more focused than most of the rest of the rikishi corps in this unusual basho. True, Osaka had no crowd either, but at least there was normal practice prior to the start of the tournament. Some rikishi are going to fare better than others, and it seems that Shimanoumi’s sumo is less impacted.
Kaisei (1-1) vs Tochinoshin (0-2) – Can we please buy Tochinoshin a win? Or maybe there is an enormous pair of robotic knees some mad scientist or wacky grad student has built somewhere in the enchanted technological wonderland that is Japan. It pains me to watch this guy struggle. We are unlikely to see any attempts at a sky crane given Kaisei’s mass. Tochinoshin leads the series 12-7.
Tamawashi (1-1) vs Chiyotairyu (1-1) – Sumo’s thunder god, Chiyotairyu, takes on arm breaker Tamawashi. I know that some fans really dislike Tamawashi, possibly because he’s been a part of more than a couple of matches that resulted in injuries. But all reports he’s a decent human being off the dohyo. They have met 17 times and it’s a 10-7 advantage for Chiyotairyu.
Ishiura (2-0) vs Ikioi (0-2) – As is too often the case in the past year, Ikioi has resumed being a walking injury case. We know that right arm is more gristle and determination than bone and muscle now. But lord knows what else is hurting in there. At least he’s not sporting the comically large bandage on his head from a few months ago. He’s facing off against red-hot Ishiura, who I am going to guess may find the injured Ikioi easy pickings. Ishiura narrowly leads 4-3 over their career.
Terutsuyoshi (1-1) vs Ryuden (1-1) – Shobushi’s sagari could not save Ryuden from his day 2 loss against Hatsu yusho winner Tokushoryu, but lets see if salt monster Terutsuyoshi is more susceptible. They are evenly matched (3-4) over their career. We are overdue for a Ryuden matta fest, and I can see him trying to throw off Terutsuyoshi’s tachiai to gain an advantage.
Enho (0-2) vs Tokushoryu (2-0) – Maegashira 7 seems to be a good rank for Tokushoryu. He has yet to lose a match, and with the pressure off from his yusho, he really seems to be enjoying himself and winning with “his brand of sumo”. Against him is Enho, who I am certain is nursing some manner of injury. Of course, as is almost always the case, we are never going to hear what it is or how he picked it up. Out of their 6 prior matches, Enho has taken 4 of them.
Abi (1-1) vs Aoiyama (1-1) – Both men have long arms, both men are able to smack you around from across the room, so this looks to be a contest made to order. They both have 1-1 records coming into today, and an evenly tied 3-3 career history. So I am going to say it comes down to who gets the first blow in.
Kagayaki (2-0) vs Hokutofuji (1-1) – Mr Fundamentals is going to have his hands full today. He has only ever taken 1 match form Hokutofuji over their past 8. In spite of his excellent defensive foot work, Kagayaki struggles with Hokutofuji’s wild, chaotic sumo. Will we see the Hokutofuji handshake tachiai today?
Daieisho (1-1) vs Takarafuji (1-1) – This match will come down to patience. I don’t frequently see too much patience from Daieisho, so he may be a toy for Takarafuji to play with for a time on day 3. I am looking for Takarafuji to blunt and deflect everything that Daieisho throws into the mix for at least 30 seconds. Daieisho’s advantage is raw power, and excellent sumo instincts. Takarafuji will need to be on top of his game today.
Onosho (0-2) vs Mitakeumi (1-1) – Onosho is prone to hot / cold streaks, and savage levels of ring rust. I would say he is fairly encrusting with performance limiting oxides right now, and I don’t see him shaking it off against a very focused and aggressive Mitakeumi. As always, Onosho’s balance is going to be the first question as he tries to improve his 2-4 career record against Mitakeumi.
Shodai (1-1) vs Kiribayama (1-1) – I expect Kiribayama to struggle at this level of the banzuke, it’s a rank he will see again, and over time come to dominate in my opinion. Shodai on the other hand, seems to have gotten his mental game together, and I credit Yokozuna Kakuryu for at least some of that. I give Shodai a hard time for some weakness in his sumo, but at the moment it all seems to be working in concept remarkably well. Like Onosho he is prone to hot / cold streaks, so fans of Shodai, hope that he keeps his fighting spirit up.
Endo (0-2) vs Asanoyama (1-1) – Endo is likely steaming from his brutal defeat day 2 by Hakuho, and he can try to recover some of his dignity by putting shin-Ozeki Asanoyama on the clay. Endo is skilled enough to have a series of attack and defense moves for whatever Asanoyama might attempt. While Asanoyama’s sumo is strong, its still fairly narrow, which makes it easier for a master technician like Endo to plan his attacks.
Takakeisho (1-1) vs Okinoumi (0-2) – I worry Okinoumi will continue to struggle, as he does not seem to be moving well. He has a chronic injury that sometimes flairs up during a tournament, and limits his sumo tremendously. More worrisome is the fact that most of the rikishi Takakeisho is facing now seem to have figured out how to shut him down. I think Takakeisho’s nagging pectoral injury has reduced his primary weapon, and that is leaving him a less threatening opponent than last year at this time. Their 6-2 career record favors Takakeisho.
Takanosho (2-0) vs Kakuryu (2-0) – First time match between young rising star Takanosho and the master of reactive sumo, Yokozuna Kakuryu. I expect this is going to be quite the classroom for young Takanosho.
Hakuho (2-0) vs Yutakayama (1-1) – Big Unit Yutakayama has faced Hakuho 3 times, and lost each time in glorious fashion. Hakuho tends to give Yutakayama a bit of air time as he goes hurtling towards either the clay or a nearby zabuton. We hope he enjoys today’s final match, and thank you for flying Hakuho air.