Its great to be back to writing, and I have to thank Andy for filling in while work took priority for a couple of days. A lot happened, including Terunofuji picking up his first loss. To me, it’s not really that much of an issue, as he is still well on track to get his hoped for 10 wins. But this is a great test in the “new” Terunofuji. His first incarnation, a loss like what happened day 5 would erode his focus, and sap his fighting spirit. I am looking to see if he has turned a corner on that bad habit from the past.
I also feel the need to call out Hokutofuji, whom I sometimes parody as having “The most powerful make-koshi in all of sumo”. It’s certainly true that once he finds his sumo, he can be an arch competitor, and he seems to have dialed it in, even if just for a short time. I do enjoy his finishing flourish as he shoves his opponents out of the ring; an upward push as if to say “Begone with thee, oh lumpy baggage!” Frequently followed with a jubilant hop.
With the advent of day 6, we are into the second act of Haru already. Act 1 is to remove ring rust, see who is hot and who is not. Act 2 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. There are some areas of concern already: Ozeki Takakeisho, and to a lesser extend, Ozeki Shodai. A basho with no Hakuho or Kakuryu to rough them up should leave them the kings of the ring, but these two are struggling already, and it’s almost certainly down to injury.
What We Are Watching Day 6
Yutakayama vs Hidenoumi – I am not sure what is hurt or broken in Yutakayama’s body, but it’s unlikely to improve on day 6. He faces Hidenoumi, who holds a 5-0 career advantage over Yutakayama. Sure, their last match was July of 2019, but Yutakayama has looked crummy in each match in act 1. It would be a shame if he had to take a trip to Juryo, but that looks like where he is headed.
Kotoeko vs Tokushoryu – Tokushoryu is back for a second top division visit, this time to use his bulbous bow against compact powerhouse Kotoeko. Kotoeko has lost 2 of the last 3, so he needs to rally. Tokushoryu, on the other hand, is just not in touch with his sumo this March.
Terutsuyoshi vs Tsurugisho – I would list Tsurugisho in the category of “not hot”, which is a shame given he took the Juryo yusho in January. His body in general, and his knee specifically are always hit or miss, so this may explain quite a bit about his sub-par performance in March. Terutsuyoshi still has a clear road to a kachi-koshi, and has won the last 3 matches in a row.
Daiamami vs Chiyoshoma – Chiyoshoma made handy work of the incredibly flabby Akiseyama, and I am starting to think that he is looking to do powerful, direct sumo this March. This may be a great development, as we know he is capable of Harumafuji style sumo at times. He has a 4-4 career record against Daiamami.
Akiseyama vs Kaisei – With this much mass on the dohyo, we are certain to see new cracks and cervices at the end of the day. Akiseyama has only had 2 matches against Kaisei, and lost them both. Worse yet for Akiseyama, Kaisei seems to be strong, healthy and in full command of his sumo.
Aoiyama vs Ryuden – Speaking of giant foreigners showing powerful sumo, this “Green Giant” version of Aoiyama is a powerful opponent. In fact, maybe a bit scary in some ways. Ryuden is struggling at 1-4, and I am sure it’s down to chronic injuries plaguing him. So I hope Big Dan does not take too much time beating Ryuden into submission.
Chiyotairyu vs Hoshoryu – Chiyotairyu without his sumo-Elvis sideburns? It seems to not be working out. I had previously suggested that some minor kami resided in the sideburns, and with their removal, some of Chiyotairyu’s power would be removed. This so far seems to be the case, and the only remedy would be to quickly re-grow them. But there is not enough days in this basho left for it to make a difference. Please note, this kami may have previously given sumo legend Takamiyama his power as well. Oh, Hoshoryu? Yeah, he’s struggling this tournament.
Kotonowaka vs Midorifuji – I confess, I accidentally cursed Kotonowaka when during the world famous Tachiai podcast, I foolishly said “I am looking for him to have a break-out basho!”. We don’t call them regrettable predictions for nothing, folks! Its been a few days since we have seen some real gob-smacking sumo from Midorifuji, so do please consider a katasukashi today, good sir!
Tochinoshin vs Tobizaru – One of the things I like about Tobizaru is that wry smile we see on his face when he wins. This first time match pits high agility Tobizaru against Tochinoshin’s world beating strength. It has been said that he has the strength of a bear, that has the strength of two bears. Against all odds, Tochinoshin seems to have enough of his health in place to execute sumo. I am impressed that he has been working hard to become right side dominant now that his left leg is useless, and everyone blocks his favorite weapon – the left hand outside grip.
Chiyonokuni vs Kagayaki – I like how Chiyonokuni is just calmly going about winning matches with overwhelming sumo. Its like every push to the front, every step forward has about 15% more energy than you could ever expect someone to have. I know that Kagayaki will come into his match with excellent fundamentals, and keep his feet heavy and hips low, but I think for day 6, Chiyonokuni is going to have an advantage.
Tamawashi vs Ichinojo – Ichinojo has lost the last 2 in a row, after a strong start. Sadly this is not uncommon for “The Boulder”, who tends to get into losing habits, and stay there. Can he rally against Tamawashi?
Endo vs Okinoumi – Two wily veterans with 19 career matches (10-9), and both of them struggling a bit this Haru basho. After an 0-3 start, Endo has won his last two, while Okinoumi only managed a single white star, which was against Tamawashi day 1, and was not even counted as a winning move.
Hokutofuji vs Myogiryu – I love it when the schedulers have some fun with their chores. We get thus undefeated 5-0 Myogiryu up against a man I previewed in the commentary section. Who doesn’t want to see Hokutofuji give that little victory hop as Myogiryu tumbles across the west-side bales?
Takayasu vs Mitakeumi – 22 career matches, favoring Takayasu 16-6. This tournament, I could almost state that Takayasu seems to have nicked Shodai’s escape tricks. He’s 4-1 and stands a fair chance of picking up another win from Mitakeumi today.
Takarafuji vs Daieisho – One of the few rikishi suffering more than Daieisho (1-4) would be Takarafuji at a dismal 0-5. He share the same score as Yokozuna Kakuryu and Kotoshoho, both of whom are kyujo. Who is favored in this match? Neither of them! I just hope nobody accidentally tears off their own head in the tachiai.
Terunofuji vs Kiribayama – I an looking for this to be a bounce back match for Terunofuji, and proof that he has steeled himself mentally, and can plow through a disappointing loss and continue to win. He won their only prior match against Kiribayama, which was November.
Onosho vs Takanosho – Takanosho has shown some qualities highly prized in the sumo world. He quietly goes about winning matches with strong solid sumo. He comes into day 6 with a 4-1 score which is remarkable because is the same score he had going into day 6 of Hatsu. The guy has a tendency toward being consistent, and that is another highly prized sumo trait. I give Takanosho an edge over Onosho today, as Onosho seems to be back to having balance problems.
Wakatakakage vs Asanoyama – These two have never actually faced on the dohyo before. The one win that is credited to Wakatakakage is actually a fusensho from day 3 of November, where Asanoyama withdrew. I have a lot of questions about how this will play out, as I did see Wakatakakage put in a massive effort to take down Ozeki Shodai, and I think he has a chance to surprise Asanoyama as well.
Shodai vs Meisei – Shodai, get it together man! I am guessing he is hurt and just soldiering on. If he loses this one, I am going to think it might be somewhat serious.
Takakeisho vs Shimanoumi – Takakeisho needs 5 more wins to clear kadoban, and he faces Shimanoumi who has not managed to beat the Ozeki in two prior tries. To my eye, Takakeisho looks at only about 80% of full power, and I think is 2-3 score is borderline poor for an Ozeki at this point of a tournament. I hope he can rally and pull down his 8.