We are about to start day 4, and I am happy to see that some of my favorites have a 3-0 start to Aki. That includes Onosho, Tobizaru and Chiyonokuni. Of course there is the shin-Yokozuna, Terunofuji, who is chewing his way through the joi-jin with relentless sumo, as a Yokozuna should. With Hakuho he is favored to contend in week 2 for the cup, and looking down the torikumi, it’s tough to see anyone who is in good enough fighting form to really give him a solid competition for the yusho. That may fall to Shodai and Mitakeumi in week 2, but only if they can stay focused and out-perform their most recent basho scores to stay in the hunt.
What We Are Watching Day 4
Kyokutaisei vs Chiyonoo – Kyokutaisei visits from Juryo to fill the banzuke gap left by kyujo rikishi. Kyokutaisei is suffering a malady that has been seen frequently in the past year: Juryo rikishi at a promotable rank suffering losing records. He comes to today’s match with a 0-3 start. Not beyond repair, but it indicates a he will not be rejoining the top division in November.
Kaisei vs Tokushoryu – A pair of super-heavies, and these two have 16 career matches between them. It’s a slight advantage (10-6) to Kaisei, but both of them are looking hit or miss after the first 3 days of Aki.
Ichiyamamoto vs Yutakayama – There is going to be a lot of overpowered oshi-sumo in this match. I don’t think its likely to result in more than a couple of exchanges, as both men are prone to over-committing to their own forward pressure. But I would not be surprised to see Ichiyamamoto try a pull down after Yutakayama gets rolling.
Chiyonokuni vs Tsurugisho – About a 50 kg weight difference here, but I do think that Chiyonokuni has most of the advantages on his side. As long as he can stay mobile, it’s going to be tough for Tsurugisho to keep his balance and stay on offense. Chiyonokuni holds a 4-1 career advantage, with his only loss in the series coming in 2016.
Endo vs Kagayaki – Great clash of styles in this match. Kagayaki will try to keep Endo away from his belt, which is not easily done. Endo of course will leave himself open for an initial Kagayaki thrusting attack in order to keep his hands low and try for that right hand frontal grip he prefers coming out of the tachiai. 9-5 career advantage in the series for Endo.
Chiyomaru vs Kotoeko – Chiyomaru is on a roll, which when you are more or less a human fighting sphere, can be a hazardous situation. Much as I would love to see Kotoeko put together back to back wins for the first time since May, the 4-7 career record would seem to indicate that is going to be a long shot.
Tochinoshin vs Myogiryu – These two vets have faced off a total of 27 times, going back to 2012. What surprises me is that Tochinoshin manages to piece together enough wins every basho to stick around at lower Maegashira ranks, in spite of him having little use of that right knee on many days. A testament to that man’s tenacity. He faces Myogiryu, who is off to a 3-0 start, and is on the plus side of the 15-12 career record.
Aoiyama vs Chiyotairyu – I am still waiting to see if Aoiyama can still fight with his characteristic strength and power. He has not been able to bring any of his normal mobility or his thrusting attack to any of his first 3 matches, and may be nursing an injury. Likewise Chiyotairyu is looking like only a fraction of his normal self.
Okinoumi vs Hidenoumi – Oddly enough, first ever match for these veterans! In first matches against Okinoumi, the advantage has to go to Okinoumi in almost all cases. The man is a lexicon of sumo technique, and will certainly find ways to confound any opponent.
Shimanoumi vs Tobizaru – Now that Tobizaru has gotten into his sumo once more, I really want to see him continue to roll with it. I would love to see him pick up win number 4 today against Shimanoumi, whom he has not beaten at all this year.
Terutsuyoshi vs Onosho – Being a fan of Onosho can be very frustrating, as he is either hot or cold. If his balance is dialed in, he is quite the sumo machine, but that seems to happen for about 1 in 3 basho, and goes in streaks. So far at Aki he is on plan. If I were Terutsuyoshi, it might be a fine day for a henka.
Chiyoshoma vs Ura – Hey, Ura, are you hurt sir? You have never dropped a match to Chiyoshoma. But both of you are winless going into day 4. I guess the good news is that one of you will get your first white star.
Takarafuji vs Daieisho – I am watching to see if Daieisho can apply ample power for a second consecutive day. He has been able to bring intensity to his tsuppari, but has not really been able to transmit force well, save for day 3. He’s going to have a solid defender in Takarafuji to fight, who will work to slow the match down.
Wakatakakage vs Tamawashi – Wakatakakage lost patience on day 3 against Meisei, and picked up his first loss. He faces a similar situation with Tamawashi. He is well advised to focus on maintaining his footing and center of gravity, then waiting for his chance to attack.
Kiribayama vs Ichinojo – Kiribayama is on a legitimate hot streak to start Aki, having dropped an Ozeki, as Sekiwake and a Komusubi in his first three days. He has never beaten the massive Ichinojo, so a win today would be a sign that maybe he’s going to turn in a good record this fall.
Mitakeumi vs Takayasu – 25 career matches between these two. I look at Takayasu’s 0-3 record, and note that he has been more or less executing “his brand of sumo”, but coming up short each time. It’s frustrating as can be as a Takayasu fan, but there is nothing between him and his first win but air and opportunity. Oh, and Mitakeumi. That might count for something too.
Kotonowaka vs Meisei – Another test match here, where its high time for Kotonowaka to beat Meisei for the first time.
Shodai vs Takanosho – Its time to rally around Shodai and cheer him on. I don’t want to consider having just one Ozeki in November, and have that Ozeki kadoban too. Acme sumo time there, human daikon. Win them all by any route that works, if you can.
Hoshoryu vs Takakeisho – I don’t want to watch this match. It breaking my heart that the Grand Tadpole is hurt and about to hit Ozekiwake again. Seek medical attention, you knob!
Hokutofuji vs Terunofuji – I am eager for Hokutofuji to bring his best sumo up against the shin-Yokozuna. The last time he was able to score a win against Terunofuji was in 2017, and since then its been a solid kaiju white star run. But I know Hokutofuji has it in him to best Terunofuji, if he can just stay mobile and attack from range.