Tough day for the Ozeki today, as three of the four take a black star home for their efforts. Could this be another basho where the parity between the ranks means that nearly anyone might take home the cup? I have had sumo fans ask me about the “next” Yokozuna, and I tend to remark that we may go some time without one. We have been in a largely post-yokozuna era for about a year now, and none of the current rikishi have been able to put together 2 wins – except Terunofuji.
Not that we have bad rikishi competing at the top of sumo today, they just don’t have the consistency to put up the wins in a predictable manner. With only 2 days in the books for Natsu, it will be a long 2 weeks to the cup, and it promises to be full of sumo action.
Ishiura defeats Chiyomaru – Brilliant tachiai from Ishiura, he’s into his second step before Chiyomaru makes contact, with Ishiura taking that second step to his left and getting beside Chiyomaru. Before Chiyomaru can respond, Ishiura has left hand outside / right hand inside and is on the attack. Chiyomaru tries to rotate, but Ishiura just ends up behind him and drives him out. Both end the day with 1-1.
Chiyotairyu defeats Akua – Akua was impressed enough with Ishiura’s execution of that mini-henka that he tries one himself. It goes precisely nowhere as sumo’s thunder demon tracks that move expertly, and 2 steps later puts Akua’s face into the clay. Chiyotairyu improves to 2-0.
Daiamami defeats Kaisei – Third time must be a charm, as Daiamami tries the exact same move, albeit at about 30% of Ishiura’s velocity. But at Kaisei’s size, it worked anyhow, and the giant Brazilian found himself pushed out from behind.
Akiseyama defeats Kotoeko – Kotoeko had a solid opening combo, and managed to get Akiseyama to the tawara, but could not find the power to finish him. Akiseyama rallied and pushed Kotoeko back to the center of the dohyo before consolidating his grip and grinding forward for a win.
Okinoumi defeats Kotonowaka – Okinoumi went left hand inside at the tachiai, giving Kotonowaka zero chance to mount any real offense. With a deep right hand outside, Okinoumi pivoted into a throw and rolled Kotonowaka. Okinoumi starts Natsu 2-0.
Chiyoshoma defeats Terutsuyoshi – Terutsuyoshi put everything into the tachiai, hoping to get the inside route to attack Chiyoshoma. For a brief moment his hands were inside and next to Chiyoshoma’s chest, but Chiyoshoma’s thrusting attack disrupted whatever Terutsuyoshi had in mind. With a right hand slap to the face, Terutsuyoshi lost balance and found himself on the receiving end of a shove into the west side cushions.
Tamawashi defeats Shimanoumi – Shimanoumi got the first step at the tachiai, but Tamawashi had his hands center-mass, and caught Shimanoumi in the chest. At that point there was little that Shimanoumi could do but give ground. By the time Shimanoumi tried to rally, he found himself exiting the dohyo with a shove to his face. Tamawashi improves to 2-0.
Endo defeats Kagayaki – Endo is seriously under-ranked this basho, and he’s cleaning up against everyone down here who is struggling. This could be useful in week 2 to bring him up the banzuke to spoil someone’s record as they shape the yusho race. I like that Kagayaki was able to rally and move Endo back, but Kagayaki was in too much of a rush to finish him, and missed the side step that let Endo send him out. Oh, the gumbai went to Kagayaki, but was reversed. Maybe that crane camera is starting to grow on me.
Tochinoshin defeats Tsurugisho – Tsurugisho boldly goes for the battle-hug at the tachiai, and finds that Tochinoshin still has plenty of stamina, even if that bum right knee is questionable on any given day. He can’t quite manage a sky-crane against someone of Tsurugisho’s size, but he manages to lift-and-shift him over the bales for his first win of the basho.
Ichinojo defeats Takarafuji – Takarafuji went for a deep right hand grip, and managed to latch himself firmly to the boulder. Not sure what the plan was after that, but this seems to have given Ichinojo more or less what he was looking for. True to form, Takarafuji defended well, but it seems we have a somewhat genki boulder this tournament, with Ichinojo consolidating his grip and then joining Takarafuji in the endurance contest. With this silent basho in full effect, you can hear Takarafuji’s labored breathing as he loses stamina. After a good, long time, Ichinojo decides Takarafuji’s tired enough, and he hurls him down with a shitatedashinage. Ichinojo starts 2-0.
Hidenoumi defeats Hoshoryu – Hidenoumi shows he’s got a game plan to best Hoshoryu, as he wins for the second consecutive match. Hoshoryu put all of his hopes on a nodowa neck attack, but Hidenoumi broke Hoshoryu’s grip and found the inside route wide open. Five steps later, Hidenoumi had Hoshoryu across the bales for his first win of Natsu.
Onosho defeats Myogiryu – Myogiryu came in fast at the tachiai, but Onosho was able to keep lower. He caught Myogiryu, and dialed up the pressure, standing him upright, then stepping to the side while pulling Myogiryu down. Onosho starts Natsu 2-0.
Daieisho defeats Kiribayama – Kiribayama worked hard to keep this match from going into a thrusting mode, which he assumed would favor Daieisho, I suspect. His gambit worked, and the two went chest to chest, with no real grip from either man. Clearly not sure what he can do with his position at this point, Kiribayama first tries a leg trip, then a throw. But Daieisho collapses his attack and Kiribayama ends up flat on his back next to the salt box. Daieisho finds his first win of May.
Takayasu defeats Chiyonokuni – With the Kokugikan as quiet as a morgue, you can really hear Takayasu roar into the tachiai. He makes a big show of it, but finds Chiyonokuni’s opening thrusting combo standing him up and moving him back. The two of them then proceed to throw the kitchen sink at each other. Both of them are frantically blasting away, with haphazard balance and no regard to any manner of defense at all. With the match reduced to a simple contest of brute strength, it was Takayasu’s match to win, which he eventually managed to do. He starts Natsu 2-0.
Tobizaru defeats Takanosho – The reason why we see Tobizaru at this rank, and able to best a rikishi like Takanosho is evident today. He focuses on attacking center-mass to the exclusion of almost everything else. It does not always work, but against an opponent with no yotsu-zumo to speak of (such as today), it will likely pay off if he can get inside. Takanosho is able to defend for a short time, but Tobizaru opens him up and then put him over the bales. Both end the day at 1-1.
Meisei defeats Asanoyama – Asanoyama thought he had that match won on the second step, I assume. He rushed forward to finish Meisei before he consolidated his position. It might have worked, but Meisei did a brilliant job of disrupting the Ozeki’s balance. Asanoyama almost rescued himself at the edge, but Meisei followed up with a masterful shove to send Asanoyama to his first loss. Great performance from Meisei.
Terunofuji defeats Hokutofuji – Hokutofuji is far too predictable to be a reasonable threat at this rank. I am sure Terunofuji knew that right hand was going to try for a nodowa, and indeed Hokutofuji left his chest wide open, allowing Terunofuji to take control of the match. It is great to see Hokutofuji use his “floppy carp” defense against to kaiju, and it works for a time. But to my eye, it just fires up Terunofuji. Hokutofuji’s escape move at the tawara went the wrong way, and Terunofuji found himself behind his opponent, and sent him off the dohyo with a mighty shove.
Wakatakakage defeats Shodai – That was an impressive effort from Wakatakakage. He keeps his focus exclusively on Shodai’s chest, and just keeps putting the pressure where it counts. Shodai attempts multiple outside attacks to change the pace and form of the match, but Wakatakakage was locked in. There was a mono-ii, but I am guessing they just want to check the footage from that boom-cam, as you can really see what is going on with that thing. It’s like you are looking over the rikishi’s shoulder at times.
Mitakeumi defeats Takakeisho – An epic tadpole battle royale! They both stayed focused and in form, but it was Mitakeumi whose sumo reigned supreme today. He almost blew it with a pulling attempt against the Ozeki, but was able to reset and drive forward for his eventual win. Mitakeumi starts 2-0.