Welcome to the end of act 1 of the November basho, held this time in Tokyo. We divide the 15 day basho into 3 acts, each lasting 5 days. Act one’s goal is to remove any ring rust, and figure out who is hot, and who is not. There has been a surprising lack of ring rust this tournament, and most rikishi turned up ready to fight. In terms of who is hot – I have to call out Takakeisho and Terunofuji at the top of that list. Both are 4-0 to start, and are looking strong. Close behind is Hokutofuji, Endo, a surprisingly genki Kotoeko, Chiyonokuni and all the way at the rump end of the banzuke, Shimanoumi!
The not list, well, it’s rather sad. We have Onosho, Aoiyama, Enho, and Ichinojo. All of them are capable, but I am sure that Enho fans around the world (and they are legion!) cry out in despair at his winless start to November.
What We Are Watching Day 5
Shimanoumi vs Kotonowaka – It’s another day to put Shimanoumi’s hot streak to the test. He has yet to win a match (0-2) against Kotonowaka, so this will be a good test. Both of them come in with solid winning records, and are fighting well for the start of the basho.
Akua vs Ichinojo – A first time match, and both of them are suffering cold starts to the November basho. I would give an edge to Ichinojo simply on dry bulk tonnage and turning radius. But lord knows which one of these two is going to have a worse day.
Hoshoryu vs Chiyoshoma – Come on Chiyoshoma, give us your best henka! I want to see if Hoshoryu’s reflexes are up to the challenge of staying in the match when you do it. Hoshoryu lost their only prior encounter which was (I am pretty sure) a henka.
Chiyotairyu vs Kaisei – Kaisei holds a 15-4 career advantage over Chiyotairyu. I think because Chiyotairyu normal stampedes off the shikiri-sen at maximum power, and quickly splats against the edifice that is Kaisei. But Chiyotairyu has been using a low velocity tachiai thus far, and I want to see if to causes the dynamic of their matches to change.
Sadanoumi vs Chiyonokuni – Chiyonokuni is on a hot run, he’s fighting well and shown excellent versatility. I want to see him cope with Sadanoumi speed. I know Chiyonokuni is fast on the attack, but Sadanoumi is almost in his own class in his ability to move safely around the dohyo. Chiyonokuni holds a 5-3 advantage in career matches.
Yutakayama vs Meisei – Yutakayama needs to find a winning formula. His sumo mechanics are still working, but he seems to be about 25% below where he should be on power output. He trains daily with Shodai, but that is maybe not enough for him. Meisei holds a 4-1 career advantage.
Ryuden vs Enho – Will Enho be entranced by Ryuden’s pelvic display? Will anthropologists now swarm the Kokugikan trying to catch a glimpse of this human exhibition? I keep thinking that today will be the day that Enho will get his first win. I am going to hope day 5 will be that day.
Kotoeko vs Terutsuyoshi – Both are compact power rikishi, but Kotoeko is currently rated genki+ in my list, so I think he will have a strong advantage against Terutsuyoshi today, whose sumo seems to have been figured out by everyone he is facing thus far.
Tochinoshin vs Tokushoryu – Tokushoryu is too bulk for a sky-crane, even in the best of times for Tochinoshin’s knees. In its current state, the big Georgian’s right leg is going to struggle to relay much power to ground. May I suggest an early slap down, sir?
Aoiyama vs Tamawashi – A number of readers have been commenting that Tamawashi had his “arm breaker” kotenage set up for day 4 against Endo, and chose not to unleash it, and took the loss instead. This is not the first time this has happened, and I think Tamawashi is not willing to think of hurting another rikishi. Big Dan Aoiyama needs to find something to give him a win. Maybe he needs a big plate of pierogis to get his engine running.
Takarafuji vs Endo – These two have a career 8-9 record – 17 total matches. They are excellent counters for each other’s sumo. Endo is always looking at multiple ways to attack. Takarafuji has multiple ways to shut down any attack you might deliver, all the while draining your stamina. They are both fighting well, and this has a high potential to be the match of the day.
Kotoshoho vs Tobizaru – Both of these bright new faces are at 1-3 for this basho, and really need to turn things around. At least one of them will get their second win today, and we can take some happiness in that. They have split (2-2) their 4 career matches.
Kagayaki vs Myogiryu – Both picked up their first wins of the basho on day 4, and immediately get to face each other on day 4. One of them will leave the dohyo improved to 2-3. I give an edge to Kagayaki, who hopefully is over his typical slow start.
Okinoumi vs Takayasu – Takayasu has a 15-3 career lead over Okinoumi, so I am going to think he stands a good chance of scoring his second win of November. Takayasu is back to being a bit wild with his sumo, and that creates a fair number of openings for a skilled opponent like Okinoumi to attack.
Terunofuji vs Hokutofuji – A pair of 4-0 Fujis, and I don’t care that Hokutofuji holds a 3-1 career lead over the kaiju. Since is 2020 rebound, there has been 1 match, and it was all Terunofuji.
Kiribayama vs Takanosho – Looking for Takanosho to dominate this match, and to likely get his 3rd win. He has a 4-1 career lead over Kiribayama, who had to face (and loose to) all 3 Ozeki.
Mitakeumi vs Wakatakakage – I think this is a great opportunity for Wakatakakage to pick up a much needed second win. Mitakeumi is a big, round, strong opponent, but we know Wakatakakage has enough skill and agility to overcome that deficit.
Takakeisho vs Daieisho – I sincerely hope that Takakeisho can safely make it to 8 wins and stay out of the “Thunder Dome” contest that is shaping up at the top of banzuke for January. He is fighting well right now, and I want him to stay that way. Daieisho is not an easy mark for him, they have split their 11 career matches. Both will be blasting away in tsuki/oshi mode from the start.
Shodai vs Onosho – The big ugly question mark – can Shodai must enough to overcome the pain of that injured ankle or leg and keep fighting. Onosho has been having balance problems since day 1, so he may not be too big of a challenge if Shodai can get to the side. But Onosho, in spite of his losses, has kept himself square against each of his opponents thus far.