Onward into day 1, as we dive into the first act of the Kyushu basho. Team Tachiai tracks the 15 days of a sumo tournament as 3 five day “acts”, that each seem to have their own purpose and their own goals. Act 1 – Remove ring rust, see who is hot and who is not. With just one day in the books, it’s too early to see who is really going to shine this time. But we can watch a few people who may be gravely under-ranked. I think a great example of this is Hokutofuji.
Some internet fans complained about a 10 rank drop down the banzuke after a finishing Aki with a 2-13 score thanks to a day 5 kyujo. A healthy Hokutofuji at this rank can pretty much run the table, although I think that both Chiyonokuni and Ura are going to be tough matches for him. I can easily seem him with 11+ wins this tournament, and if he is rolling strong into the final 5 days, we can expect them to play up a potential match with the Yokozuna (unlikely, but that won’t stop them)
Let’s look at day two!
What We Are Watching Day 2
Tsurugisho vs Shohozan – With Tochinoshin out with a bad back, it’s time for daily Juryo visitors. Today is Tsurugisho, who would love to bounce back from his Juryo 1E slot into the top division with a simple kachi-koshi. He has a 3-1 career advantage over Shohozan, so the chances are pretty good that he might pick up his second win on day 2.
Kaisei vs Sadanoumi – Two long serving rikishi coming in with a 20 year (tied 10-10) career match history. Both of them won their day 1 matches, and I would like to see Sadanoumi find some way to use his speed against the enormity that is Kaisei.
Chiyomaru vs Akua – Chiyomaru gave us a peek at a bit of ring rust on day 1 when he got slapped about by Abi. I think that given a moment to set up his match, which he should get with Akua, he is likely to be a lot more competitive. He holds a 4-1 career advantage over Akua, so a good chance he can pick up his first win today.
Abi vs Chiyonokuni – Hoo boy, this is one has a lot of potential. Both of them are offense heavy, both of them are tsuki/oshi fighters, and both of them are cranked up to 11 on most days. I know Abi has a 3-1 career lead, but when these two are on the dohyo, you can expect heaps of action.
Yutakayama vs Kagayaki – I really want to see Kagayaki get back into good form, and I want him to be able to turn in a good basho for a change. Not just 8 wins and done, I want to see him dominate with strong fundamentals and solid sumo. I expect Yutakayama will be move and strike, working to disrupt his balance and send him down, but I think Kagayaki can take this one. They share a 6-6, 12 match career record.
Kotonowaka vs Hokutofuji – First ever match, and I don’t think that Kotonowaka has too much of a chance to do anything here. Like Hokutofuji, he received a big punt down the banzuke from his M3w rank in Aki. Like Hokutofuji, he was kyujo and turned in a deep make-koshi. I think this one strongly favors Hokutofuji.
Ishiura vs Terutsuyoshi – Battle of the smaller rikishi, and this one may be our first “real” look at both of them. Both of them somewhat clumsy day 1 matches that really did not show them at their best. Today is the day to bounce back, and I am looking for a fast, sharp and exciting match.
Aoiyama vs Hidenoumi – If Aoiyama, and into his sumo this November, he can also do quite a bit of damage at Maegashira 9. I am going to guess that he will have an opening chance to bat Hidenoumi, and he needs to defend against Hidenoumi getting inside and going chest to chest. V-Twin for the win, Big Dan…
Chiyotairyu vs Tobizaru – Tobizaru is likely planning on speed an maneuver to carry him through his day 2 match. There is a chance it will, but he needs to survive the first 6 seconds, which is where Chiyotairyu wins his matches. A huge blast of sumo in a short period of time, and if Tobizaru can keep his feet, he will have his chance.
Ura vs Kotoeko – I am really looking forward to see what Kotoeko does at the tachiai. They have fought twice before, but the last time was 4 years ago. Both have changed quite a bit since then, and I think this is going to be a very interesting match indeed.
Shimanoumi vs Chiyoshoma – I really liked Chiyoshoma’s day 1 opening gambit. Brilliant use of the hit-and-shift approach, and a brutal toss out of Kotoeko. I think that the much larger Shimanoumi may require a different approach, and I am keen to see what Chiyoshoma employs. I would guess something quick and frontal, as the day 1 fight will make Shimanoumi defensive at the start.
Tamawashi vs Hoshoryu – I am hoping that Tamawashi did not hurt his knee in his day 1 fight against Ura where we saw the ashitori crumple that left leg. This is going to be a grapple and toss contest, unless Tamawashi can dictate a running tsuki battle, which will favor him.
Takarafuji vs Takayasu – Both of these guys have mountains of stamina, and tend to grab a hold and grind the other guy down a piece at a time. So I guess they are going to go into their favorite grips, and hug it out in the middle of the ring. Who is going to wear out first?
Endo vs Myogiryu – Endo could not piece together a coherent offense on day 1, and resorted to working to counter whatever Takayasu tried. I expect that to be in the past, and Endo will come out sharp and aggressive today. Myogiryu has a slight career edge (8-6), so Endo has his work cut out for him, as the last 3 in a row have gone to Myogiryu.
Okinoumi vs Kiribayama – Fresh off of a loss to the Yokozuna, I think Kiribayama will go chest to chest with Okinoumi from the start. I think one of the reasons that Kiribayama may be able to achieve higher rank is that he has a competent yotsu form, and a huge amount of fighting spirit. Given the encyclopedic sumo catalog that Okinoumi can employ, this has potential for a good match.
Mitakeumi vs Takanosho – Two big-bodied brutes bouncing bellies? Send them in! This one has potential to be quite the battle, as I would love to see Takanosho back in the named ranks. But he’s got to chew his way through some tough, no slack folks in the san’yaku this November. Mitakeumi has won the last 3 in a row, so advice to Takanosho is gamberize as hard as you can.
Wakatakakage vs Meisei – Wakatakakage is in a tough spot. He is about as high as he can go without racking up a lot of wins in the named ranks. He’s got the (in my opinion) most vulnerable member of the san’yaku today, and I don’t think Meisei is going to give him a pass. They have a 2-2 career record, so it will be who comes to the clay ready to dominate.
Shodai vs Ichinojo – Well, no easy run for Shodai for act 1. He’s going up against the Boulder, and he’s only got 3 wins against Ichinojo’s 10 in their career match history. If day 1 is any indication, the Kyushu Ichinojo is focused, aggressive and ready to win. Is it his new wife? I don’t care who’s got him motivated, this version of Ichinojo is awesome.
Onosho vs Takakeisho – Two days… two tadpole fights! Bruce is happy. I think that Onosho has a better chance today, as his style is more competitive against Takakeisho than it is against Mitakeumi. It will come down to Onosho picking his spot, and pouring on the pressure. I expect if Onosho gets in the driver’s seat, Takakeisho will try for a pull, so be ready Onosho!
Terunofuji vs Daieisho – Daieisho will open strong and dial up the oshi-zumo as high and he can. Terunofuji will work to grapple and hold, and then carefully grind Daieisho’s offense down, until he can dispatch whatever remains. I give a clear advantage to the Yokozuna, but Daieisho may surprise.