In spite of both Yokozuna being kyujo, and a whole raft of popular sekitori sidelined, the scheduling crew and the atheletes are once again providing some great matches each and every day. It seems that there was a wave of video take downs early today US time from notable contributors such as Jason and Natto Sumo. I hope everyone can still get their daily sumo fix if there is tighter control of footage. I will point out that NHK World Japan now has all matches in their highlight show, and for the truly die hard, the Japan Sumo Association has their own app, with video of each match in the top division. Sadly the app is not free, but on many occasions when I wake at 5:30 AM to start writing the highlights for Tachiai, its my saving move.
What We Are Watching Day 3
Sadanoumi vs Akiseyama – Akiseyama has yet to take his first loss, and todays match against 1-1 Sadanoumi will put his winning streak to the test. Sadanoumi has a distinct speed advantage, and a 7-3 career record against Akiseyama, including 6 of the last 7 matches. I do note that their last pairing was the Juryo finals in Osaka 2018, that ended with a hearty yorikiri.
Churanoumi vs Kotonowaka – Juryo visitor Churanoumi comes to the top division to fill the banzuke imbalance. I think it’s going to be down to which of these two oshi-zumo rikishi can get the inside hand placement and apply pressure first. Kotonowaka is still looking a bit vague, even in his day two win. Both are 1-1.
Hoshoryu vs Midorifuji – Hoshoryu has yet to find his first win, and after his day 2 pancake job from Ichinojo, we have to wonder if he’s still in one piece. Meanwhile Midorifuji has had 2 straight days of wins to start Hatsu, and I think there is a good chance he can make it 3. Hoshoryu is in a tough spot. He’s not quite genki enough to climb too much higher up the banzuke, but he’s a bit overpowered for Juryo when he’s healthy. Hopefully he can gamberize.
Akua vs Yutakayama – First time match between these two, and it’s a good match. Both started January 1-1, and both of them are not quite as potent as their potential right now. I would venture a guess that Yutakayama is not quite over his health problems right now, so I give a slight edge to Akua.
Terutsuyoshi vs Kotoeko – A pair of hard core small brawlers? Yes please! These two have 17 matches over their career, with a 10-7 advantage to Terutsuyoshi. But this January, Kotoeko has been fighting better than anything Terutsuyoshi has shown us thus far. I suspect he is going to rally at some point, so this could be a really high excitement match.
Ichinojo vs Aoiyama – The showdown of the super-heavies, and it’s not doubt that Ichinojo has an advantage this time. Not only is he enjoying a 9-3 career lead, he seems to be in genki form. When Ichinojo is fighting well, the laws of physics due tend to support his win. I don’t expect Aoiyama to go quietly or peacefully, so I predict a lot of hitting and bludgeoning.
Shimanoumi vs Kiribayama – Where did this fast, aggressive form of Shimanoumi come from? Really it seems he is just carrying on from his 11-4 run in November, and each day he looks strong, capable and ready for all comers. He’s never won against Kiribayama (0-2), so this is a good test match to see what kind of form Shimanoumi is in.
Tokushoryu vs Myogiryu – A pair of vets, with a career record of 6-6, so this could be a solid match. This January Myogiryu has not been able to bring much of his “A” level sumo, and maybe that’s down to some kind of undisclosed injury. I don’t give anyone an advantage in tis one, but I have a high level of interest in seeing it played out on the clay.
Meisei vs Tobizaru – I want to see Tobizaru continue and expand on the hit and shift sumo we saw on day 2, which brought him his first victory. He comes up against the 3-1 career advantage that Meisei holds. But there is one really interesting twist – that single win was the only time these two matched in the top division.
Kagayaki vs Okinoumi – Kagayaki’s day 2 sumo was all over the place, and it was a far cry from his normal fundamentals based approach. Goth Kagayaki is not my favorite. Okinoumi, if he proceeds in his normal pattern, will fade in the second week, and score 7 or 8 wins, keeping himself mor or less in the middle of Makuuchi.
Endo vs Ryuden – At some point, Ryuden is going to click into his sumo groove, and he will win a match. But I am not going to say that today is that day. He has met Endo 4 times, and has lost them all. I want to know, will we get to see oshi-Endo for a second day in a row?
Kotoshoho vs Tamawashi – Both of these rikishi come into day 3 with zero wins. Both of them are capable, so we should take some comfort that one of them will have a win at the end of this match. Which one? Well, depends on who is the least hurt (as I think both of them are injured).
Takayasu vs Takarafuji – Good news for Takayasu fans (myself included), he has a 17-9 career record over Takarafuji. Bad news for Takayasu fans, the difference in genki power between Takayasu and Takarafuji this January is probably huge. I am not sure how or why Takayasu can’t seem to get into “his brand of sumo” right now, but he’s not been able to produce a consistent and effective offense. Who knows, today could be the day that he gets it together.
Onosho vs Takanosho – I am so very happy the schedulers up this match up for day 3. It answers an important question among two undefeated mebmers of the joi-jin. I have Takanosho with a clear edge, but Onosho’s range from crummy to “wow” is quite large, and he is up for an overpowering win without warning.
Terunofuji vs Tochinoshin – A battle of injure former Ozeki. Word came after day 2 that Terunofuji broke a tooth in his match against Onosho, and I am guessing he’s going to be hurting or fresh from a dentist by the time he mounts the dohyo. Both of these rikishi have huge upper body strength, but damaged knees. Maybe they will both lean on each other and grunt for a couple of minutes and then head off for okonomiyaki. Terunofuji holds a 10-2 career advantage, but now that neither one of them have a proper pair of working legs, who knows…
Daieisho vs Shodai – This is a great match, with both of them undefeated. My bet is on Daieisho, as he has scalped both of the other Ozeki, and I am sure he is eager to have a complete set. There is speculation now in sumo fandom that Shodai is still hurt, and I think there is evidence for that. The career record (6-4) favors Daieisho.
Takakeisho vs Hokutofuji – I think Hokutofuji is once again striving to achieve “The most powerful make-koshi in all of sumo”. A routine he has perfect and executes with great flair. Meanwhile, with his Yokozuna bid halted before it could even start, Takakeisho needs to regroup and get his 8. If he is hurt, or just not quite all there… Well, it would be so 2020 / 2021 for him to go from Yokozuna bid to kadoban.
Asanoyama vs Mitakeumi – Mitakeumi has a 5-3 career advantage over the kadoban Asanoyama, and he can turn the screws on yet another Ozeki, after soundly defeating Takakeisho on day 1. Asanoyama is probably not back to 100%, so he is most likely focusing on getting his 8.