Hello dear readers and fans of Tachiai. Wow, so glad I can be here for the January tournament with all of you, and I am very excited for the 15 days of sumo that are about to unfold. What a time it’s been since I last took to the pages of my favorite blog – from illness to loss of internet services to “off the charts” demand at work. I am well ready for some sumo!
First, apologies for lack of video leading up to this basho. There simply was not time this past few weeks to pull it off. We will try to make it up to you in the gap between now and March. But there is so much great content out there between Sumo Kaboom, Grand Sumo Breakdown, and the master himself, Jason’s YouTube Channel, I am sure most of you had no shortage of sumo content to enjoy.
Where am I focused this basho? Frankly, on the health of the rikishi. I can tell all of you first hand that the Omicron variant, while not as damaging as our old pal Delta, spreads like wildfire. Frankly, more than any time since March of 2020, I am worried that this basho may get shut down by an outbreak. I am full of hope that the NSK’s protocols can keep the athletes, the officials and the fans safe, but this Omicron variant is a fast spreader.
But let’s assume that the NSK gets it right – both the Ozeki had winning records last time out, so no kadoban – that’s great news. Terunofuji has to be a favorite to dominate the ranks into week 2, and if he is healthy at day 10, he has to be the favorite to take the cup. I have seen some fans wondering about long suffering hopeful, Mitakeumi this time out. his last two were 9-6 and 11-4. Would they give him the nod with 12 wins this time? Not sure… but Mitakeumi with 12 wins? Every time he has broken above 11, he has taken the cup (Nagoya 2018, Aki 2019). The man has the tools and the skill, and we all hope he can put together a solid run. But it might be more reasonable for March.
I am thrilled that Oho and Wakamotoharu are making their top division debut. I think we are going to see some fun sumo from the two of them, and I hope that they can pull of the tradition debut performance spike that we see folks coming in from Juryo for the first time.
Sadly, my favorite Takayasu and long suffering stalwart Hidenoumi are sitting out this basho, for entirely different reasons. Takayasu due to COVID-kyujo, and Hidenoumi for what could be deep legal troubles.
But to my eye, the fire will be hottest at Maegashira 6, with Hoshoryu and Abi holding East and West at that rank. Just outside the joi-jin, they are going to be dealing a lot of damage down the banzuke, and spoiling matches for the top end of the rank and file. Dare we hope for Mitakeumi vs Abi?
Thank you again Tachiai readers for joining us and sharing our love of sumo. Onward to the tournament!