Its a day to dust off and re-ignite long time rivalries. The scheduling comittee decided that they wanted to add to career tallies for arch competitors, and the torikumi is thick with history going back all the way to 2012. My only regret is we can’t get Yoshikaze and Harumafuji to suit up and try to kill each other one more time just to top it off.
I find myself puzzled about Asanoyama today. He seems to either be suffering some level of ring rust, or may be one of the rikishi who find the empty hall unsettling. Both his day 1 win against Daieisho and his day 2 loss against Meisei were not Ozeki level sumo to me. I hope that he is able to get it together and be in the running for the cup come week 2. I fear that all of the Ozeki are missing at least one more thing to drive them to higher levels of performance. In the case of Terunofuji it would be a working set of knees. For Takakeisho it would be about 6 more inches of reach, and for Shodai? Well, maybe a better tachiai. This is one reason I think we may not see another Yokozuna any time soon.
What We Are Watching Day 3
Ishiura vs Akua – I am sure that Akua is going to be looking for a hit-and-shift today from Ishiura, after he employed it with great success against Chiyomaru on day 2. These two fought for the first time in March, with the match going to Akua. With a 50 kg mass advantage for Akua, Ishiura is going to need to use speed and guile to get anywhere today.
Kaisei vs Chiyomaru – A battle of mega-fauna for day 3. I expect Chiyomaru to come in with slapping and pushing, and for Kaisei to attempt to be massive and immobile. This could work out for him, as Chiyomaru is only good for about 10 seconds of fighting. So as long as Kaisei can keep stable and in the ring, he will have a tired out Chiyomaru to defeat.
Akiseyama vs Chiyotairyu – The lower third of the bazuke has a host of rikishi who are normally mid to upper Maegashira, who for various reasons find themselves much lower ranked. This may spell trouble for for folks like Akiseyama, who are solid at the lower end of the top division, but against a roster of upper Maegashira “slumming it” down the banzuke, they may have demotion worthy scores come day 15.
Daiamami vs Okinoumi – To reinforce the point, there is this match. Okinoumi, if he is healthy, can defeat Daiamami with not much fuss. He has a 3-0 career record against Daiamami, and I think day 3 will make that 4-0.
Kotonowaka vs Chiyoshoma – Kotonowaka is still looking for his first win, and in spite of his 4-0 career history over Chiyoshoma, I think he will struggle today. Chiyoshoma is looking unusually genki, and has set aside most of his crummy sumo gags for straight ahead man to man combat. It turns out he actually is a pretty solid rikishi.
Kotoeko vs Terutsuyoshi – A battle of compact power rikishi now, and this one has a lot of potential. They have a 19 match career record that favors Terutsuyoshi 12-7. This rivalry goes back to 2015 when both were in Makushita. Looking for sparks from these two today.
Shimanoumi vs Kagayaki – Well, the good news is that one of these hard-luck rikishi will come out of today’s match with their first win. The bad news is that both of them are not looking genki at all right now. Maybe it’s ring rust, or maybe some undisclosed injury. Kagayaki holds a 4-1 career record lead.
Tamawashi vs Endo – Another long-standing rivalry for day 3, with 25 career matches between these two. Tamawashi holds a narrow 14-11 advantage, and both came into Natsu looking healthy, strong and sharp. This match has potential, sumo fans.
Tochinoshin vs Takarafuji – the last in the long time rivals series, this one will favor Takarafuji today, I think. The bulk of Tochinoshin’s 13-9 career lead comes from the days when he had a healthier right knee. These two first fought in May of 2012, 9 years ago!
Tsurugisho vs Ichinojo – The first time that Tsurugisho gets to fight the Boulder. What gives this match additional interest is that bulky Tsurugisho is not at a huge mass disadvantage to Ichinojo, but I am not sure Tsurugisho has a good formula for fighting someone as massive as Ichinojo. Hint, just get him backing up and he tends to go soft.
Hoshoryu vs Onosho – Oh, its another high-interest match! We get a rebounding Onosho up against young Hoshoryu, who seems to be working hard to up his skill level. In contrast, Onosho just seems to try and get his hands inside and push with overwhelming strength. If Hoshoryu can keep from being bracketed by Onosho, this will be a winnable match for him. Stay mobile!
Hidenoumi vs Myogiryu – Hidenoumi has never taken a match from Myogiryu, and I have no expectation that day 3 will change that in any way. Myogiryu comes in with a winless 0-2 record, but I think today he will pick up his shonichi.
Mitakeumi vs Chiyonokuni – Chiyonokuni may be ranked a bit too high (M3w) given his current health, and I think he is going to struggle against the far more massive Mitakeumi today. Mitakeumi is looking really genki right now, and may end up in the leader pack going into the middle weekend. I like how he is moving, and I like the fact that he seems to be getting his attacks in early and hard.
Kiribayama vs Takanosho – One of the great things about this May’s San’yaku battle-fleet is the entire crowd is in good fighting shape this basho. I think Takanosho, who holds a 6-1 career record over Kiribayama, has an excellent shot of bouncing back from his day 2 loss to Tobizaru today.
Takayasu vs Meisei – I give up trying to handicap Takayasu’s sumo right now. He is back to his wild / chaos mode, and when he’s doing that you may as well just flip a coin. To my eye he just launches out of the tachiai with a roaring grunt, and starts flailing away with everything he has. So far its gotten him to 2-0, and it may yet carry him to 3-0 today. But I know he can fight with skill and cunning, I just wish he would bring it out most of the time instead.
Hokutofuji vs Takakeisho – I must know, will Hokutofuji take another step on the road to “The most powerful make-koshi in all of sumo” today? Takakeisho looking solid in his day 2 match against Mitakeumi, until the original tadpole overpowered him and sent the Ozeki crashing over the edge of the dohyo. The two have a 19 match history, with Takakeisho having a slim 11-8 majority over Hokutofuji. Could be a good fight.
Asanoyama vs Wakatakakage – Asanoyama needs to take care today. He seems to not be quite focused yet, racking up a day 2 loss to Meisei, and a narrow win against Daieisho. Wakatakakage has a nearly unbreakable focus, demonstrated day 2 against Shodai, and Asanoyama will do well to make sure that Wakatakakage does not start dictating the form of this match.
Tobizaru vs Terunofuji – Tobizaru maneuverability is a genuine risk for Terunofuji. Not just for racking up his first loss, but lateral motion and pivots are tough on what gristle and chewing gum remain holding up his knees. Tobizaru is going to want to stay out of the Ozeki’s grasp, and stay mobile.
Shodai vs Daieisho – Kadoban Ozeki Shodai has a tough match today. He has a 4-8 career deficit against Daieisho, and it’s pretty clear given his 1-1 record that he is not quite up to full honbasho energy yet. As always, if he gets in trouble there is a fair chance of some “Cartoon Sumo” he may deploy to rescue the match.