We’ve just ended the first third of the tournament and already have a clear favorite for the Cup in Terunofuji. He’s been dominant while his fellow Ozeki have struggled to prove their mettle at the rank. It’s far too early to crown any champions yet but at this point the competition appears tarnished and dull. Kaiju, however, has yet to fall.
Tokushoryu (Juryo 4-1) vs Chiyomaru (3-2): Both of these big men lost competitive bouts yesterday. Tokushoryu’s was a tawara-dancing switcheroo against Yutakayama. Tokushoryu is highly motivated to get back into Makuuchi, while Chiyomaru only needs 5 of 10 wins to stay, so I’m giving Tokushoryu a slight motivational edge in spite of Chiyomaru’s historical edge. Either way, it will be a fun oshi-brawl.
Kaisei (3-2) vs Akua (1-4): Akua had a disappointing loss to an injured Enho today. It looked like he was trying to develop a belt game rather than focusing on pushing the smaller guy down. I would not advise going into a bout with Kaisei in the same way. Don’t go for the belt with weak belt game or he’ll win. Keep him off the belt if you want to turn things around.
Ishiura (3-2) vs Daiamami (3-2): Both men are having a good start to the tournament but definitely have work to do to ensure they stay in the top division. Both men also have preferences for migi-yotsu sumo and Ishiura holds a slim 2-1 lead in their rivalry. I don’t think Ishiura will need a henka to pull this off. He can hit Daiamami head on and act quick at the tachiai. If the bout drags out, Ishiura will slip away and rely on an off-balance Daiamami to give chase.
Kotonowaka (3-2) vs Chiyotairyu (3-2): Kotonowaka will want to get a belt-grip against Chiyotairyu. The key here will be whether Chiyotairyu allows it. If not, this bout goes full-on bar brawl.
Akiseyama (1-4) vs Chiyoshoma (2-3): Kaisei handed Akiseyama his fourth loss while Chiyoshoma is happy his arm is not broken. Neither has had a particularly impressive first week so far.
Tamawashi (4-1) vs Kotoeko (3-2): On the flip side, Tamawashi and Kotoeko are doing quite well. A few more wins for Tamawashi and he’ll be able to coast to kachi-koshi. Kotoeko is still outsized and often outmatched at this rank. He’ll need to capitalize on any opportunities afforded by Tamawashi but there won’t be many against this veteran.
Okinoumi (3-2) vs Terutsuyoshi (1-4): Okinoumi is under-ranked here while Terutsuyoshi has been “solved” by most of his opponents. These two have split their previous meetings but my gut gives Okinoumi the confidence and experience edge against Terutsuyoshi “on tilt.”
Tochinoshin (1-4) vs Kagayaki (2-3): Tochinoshin has a fraction of the power he had previously. This may turn into a brawl, rather than his standard belt battles but I think Kagayaki will pick up his second win against the former Ozeki.
Shimanoumi (2-3) vs Takarafuji (2-3): These two gentlemen have been chewed up and spit out in their visits in the Makuuchi joi. Takarafuji probably has the experience and technique advantage here. Takarafuji will rope in Shimanoumi and win this one on the belt.
Hidenoumi (4-1) vs Tsurugisho (1-4): These two men are fighting strength-to-strength and have a long history of bouts in the lower divisions with Tsurugisho having the slight 10-9 edge. The nod goes to the lady’s man in this bout.
Endo (4-1) vs Ichinojo (3-2): Endo had a very impressive, adaptive win today against the smaller Terutsuyoshi but he has trouble with the size of Ichinojo on the belt. Will he avoid the belt and try to win in a slapfest? This is Endo, so I doubt it but I think that gives him the best chance.
Wakatakakage (3-2) vs Onosho (4-1): Onosho is in the chase group but Wakatakakage has collected quite the scalp collection this tournament, winning 50% of his bouts against Ozeki as well as a thumper against Takayasu. After his loss to Kaiju, he’ll be punching below his weight (not literally) against Onosho. If he hopes to advance and pick up more hardware, he’ll need to win all the bouts in which he’s favored.
Meisei (1-4) vs Hokutofuji (0-5): Both of these guys have been through the ringer this week. Neither get much headway with sanyaku, though they’re certainly capable of the occasional upset. They’ve been lacking consistency at this high level but one must win. With a narrow 2-1 head-to-head going the way of Hokutofuji, I still think Meisei’s the least likely to go 5-10 or worse among these two.
Takayasu (4-1) vs Mitakeumi (4-1): These two share roots in the Philippines and a desire to take advantage of the froth in the sanyaku ranks. However, Mitakeumi has proven that he knows how to win while Takayasu crumbled in historic fashion in the last tournament. They have stated goals of double-digit wins with Takayasu one-leg in an ozeki run. Mitakeumi will need a miracle but both will duke it out in spectacular fashion. The edge goes to Takayasu since the yusho is not on the line.
Daieisho (2-3) vs Takanosho (3-2): This will be the bout to get up and get a beer.
Asanoyama (3-2) vs Kiribayama (1-4): Stay in the kitchen a bit, choose another beer and avoid the disappointment. I want both of these guys to be in the hunt and I’m sad that neither are performing anywhere near that level.
Hoshoryu (2-3) vs Terunofuji (5-0): Hoshoryu’s surprise win against Ichinojo will have prepared him well for his bout with…oh. The Kaiju? Not the Kaiju. Say your prayers, young dragon.
Shodai (4-1) vs Myogiryu (1-4): Shodai needs wins. Myogiryu enjoys handing them out.
Tobizaru (1-4) vs Takakeisho (4-1): The wave action should find Tobizaru three or four rows deep in the stands. Maybe he can help his brother out while he’s there by getting the Posture Princess’ phone number.