With Asanoyama out, there is an epic sumo storm brewing for January. You will have two Yokozuna who will be forced to compete, and to win somewhere between 8 and 10 matches. You will have a kadoban Ozeki who will need to get 8 as well. It will be a veritable thunder-dome in the Kokugikan for the Hatsu basho, and I am guessing only one or two may survive, at best. Honestly, it may come down to who is in the joi-jin, and mathematically, the spoiler in all of this may come down to none other than Terunofuji.
Have you noticed the difference in this version of Terunofuji and the prior? The original one was a hulking brute who just overpowered everyone and everything. His power, size, and sheer aggression carried him to win match after match. He got hurt, and spent a long, ugly time getting his body back to working order, then grinding through his injuries to re-enter sumo. The man has been humbled, as no other journey may humble someone. But he has come back with a fair amount of skill. I see subtle elements of the detailed majesty of Harumafuji’s style in there now. Something has changed, and I think he’s more potent now, than the first time.
What We Are Watching Day 4
Shimanoumi vs Akua – With Asanoyama’s kyujo, the banzuke gap is gone, and we won’t see any more Juryo visitors until and unless someone else drops out. So the first match of the day pits undefeated Shimanoumi vs Akua. They are 3-4 over their career, but right now Shimanoumi is fighting much better than Akua is. Shimanoumi is likely to try and set up a throw, while Akua will try to stay mobile and keep pushing.
Chiyoshoma vs Kotonowaka – Its about time for another Chiyoshoma henka or matta string. He has 0 wins in 2 tries against Kotonowaka, so I guess it’s time to try something other than straight ahead sumo.
Hoshoryu vs Chiyotairyu – Is Chiyotairyu trying a new approach to his sumo, or is he operating in a slower setting because he is hurt? I know he was fairly one dimensional, but some times you just want to see a giant man with sideburns just run some other fellow over. Hoshoryu has yet to hit the dirt in a match, so I will go with momentum and assume he will defeat Chiyotairyu today.
Chiyonokuni vs Kaisei – Chiyonokuni has a losing record against Kaisei, but both of them seem to be in good form and fighting well this month. Chiyonokuni seems to have a lot of fire right now, so I would like to see him put a dent in Kaisei’s 7-3 career lead.
Sadanoumi vs Ichinojo – A battle of sadness. Both of them are 0-3 right now. So the good news is that one of them is going to get a win today.
Ryuden vs Yutakayama – I think Herouth summed it up:
Enho vs Meisei – One of these days Enho is going to win a match. It just kills me to see him completely overwhelmed day after day. But I am going to guess that he may struggle against Meisei on day 4.
Tokushoryu vs Kotoeko – I really like Kotoeko’s chances today. He’s looking very sharp, focused and aggressive as you could want. He also has a comfortable 6-3 career record over Tokushoryu.
Tochinoshin vs Terutsuyoshi – Tochinoshin struggles with Terutsuyoshi’s high maneuver hit and shift sumo style. Its clear that Tochinoshin’s right leg is still an issue, so I expect this to be another tough day for the Georgian.
Takarafuji vs Aoiyama – Finally some good news for Aoiyama, he has an 21-3 advantage over Takarafuji, and he may be able to pick up his first win of the tournament.
Endo vs Tamawashi – I really don’t want to jinx Endo by complimenting his sumo in the opening days of this tournament. So I will say that I expect him to bring a lot of effort and fighting spirit to his match with Tamawashi. But Tamawashi’s has a 13-9 career advantage.
Myogiryu vs Kotoshoho – Myogiryu has yet to find his first win, and he’s got a bit of an opportunity today against Kotoshoho, who is also struggling right now.
Kagayaki vs Tobizaru – Wow, first time match between these two. Goth mode is not working for Kagayaki, and he should just ditch that black mawashi right now. Tobizaru picked up his first win on day 3, so maybe he can start a run now.
Terunofuji vs Okinoumi – Oh my. Master technician Okinoumi against the newly born again kaiju. Their 10-3 records is from a prior era for both of them. I think today’s match is a bit of a blank page, and I am eager to see what will happen. I am looking for Okinoumi to start the match in a “defend and extend” mode, and wait Terunofuji out. This could be the highlight match of the day.
Hokutofuji vs Takayasu – Ole Stompey goes up against Takayasu, who as all over the place on day 3 against Shodai, and was ultimately defeated by classic Shodai technique. I know Andy picked Takayasu to win, but he need so rally today if he wants to give that a shot.
Mitakeumi vs Kiribayama – Kiribayama has yet to score a win in November, and that’s a worry. But he has a 2-0 career advantage over Mitakeumi, both by yorikiri. So I will look for Mitakeumi to defend from letting Kiribayama get his hands inside, and I will expect Kiribayama to put it all up front with a grab for the belt at the tachiai.
Wakatakakage vs Takanosho – Both of these risking stars are 1-2, and looking for a way to rally and stay close to the 50-50 line. Takanosho has a 3-1 career advantage.
Shodai vs Daieisho – I have to favor Shodai for this match, and given Asanoyama’s kyujo, he has to be considered among the favorites for the cup. Daieisho has a slight 5-4 career advantage, but Ozeki Shodai’s sumo continues to improve almost daily.
Takakeisho vs Onosho – When the Grand Tadpole, and the Lesser Tadpole face off, you know there is going to be a lot of pushing and open palms smashing into faces, arms, shoulders and just about any exposed piece of flesh. I have to favor Takakeisho in this one, sorry Onosho.