Your humble blog author is feeling the effects of the crud, so on to the matches in hopes that “fun with sumo” can help clear the COVID brain fog. Before anyone worries, it seems to be Omicron, I am on the back side of it, and things are improving. Just a rough day today.
What We Are Watching Day 3
Kotoeko vs Kaisei – I think I am a sucker for a guy who won’t quit. That’s why I keep hoping that Kotoeko is going to get it together and find a way to make his 8 this January. Reality is, he is still looking quite shaky in his daily matches, even though he is near the bottom of the banzuke at M17e. He faces 200kg Kaisei today, so he’s not going to have a roaring opportunity for a second win. But still – I keep hoping.
Oho vs Tsurugisho – Also in the ranks for “man, I hope he gets his sumo going” is Tsurugisho. He’s big, he’s strong, he has the skill, but right now he’s just too massive (also in the near 200kg mega-fauna class), and his body just does not seem to be able to support that much flesh. He won the only prior match with Oho last basho, so maybe Tsurugisho can pick his first win of January today.
Wakamotoharu vs Tochinoshin – First ever match for these two. Wakamotoharu seems to be a straight ahead, no-nonsense rikishi, with solid fundamentals. That, at least to me, means he has to tools to be a mainstay if he can find ways to win his matches. Tochinoshin is a day by day, hit or miss opponent now. It comes down to how bad that knee is, and if he can get a lucky break and make his opponent switch to defense. I am going to guess Wakamotoharu will guard his left side.
Aoiyama vs Ichiyamamoto – Another first time meet up, between a new rising star and a long serving (and suffering) top division mainstay. I worry Aoiyama’s body has finally declared itself “too old for this crap”, and he’s just finding a way to limit his slide down the banzuke as much as possible. Aoiyama’s big threat had been huge forward pressure connected to a brutal two arm thrusting / bludgeoning attack. All of that seems to be at a fraction of expected power now. I think if Ichiyamamoto can survive the obligatory pull attempt from Aoiyama, he should be able to win this one.
Kotonowaka vs Yutakayama – Yutakayama has yet to take a single match from Kotonowaka, and there really is not reason for that to change today. I worry that Yutakayama had decided a life as Shodai’s training partner is good enough for his legacy in sumo. What a sad waste that would be. I do recall him scoring an 8-7 kachi-koshi at Maegashira 3 in 2020. The man has sumo skills that can in fact pay the bills. But where his fighting spirit has gone, is the ugly mystery of the day.
Ishiura vs Chiyomaru – Oh good, most sumo fans love a competitive big man / small man match up. With a 20 career match history split at 10-10, this is the match to watch for a clash of sumo styles. Ishiura wants to get low in the tachiai, and with an opponent like Chiyomaru, he needs to watch out for a slap down. Many of Ishiura’s wins come from getting behind Chiyomaru, and running him out, pushing from the rear, so we will be watching for a fast shift at the tachiai.
Sadanoumi vs Chiyotairyu – Another veteran rivalry, they have a 15 match history, with a narrow edge going to Sadanoumi. Worse yet for Chiyotairyu, he still seems to be operating at a lower intensity than his fans and his opponents are expecting. I sort of want the old sumo thunder god back.
Myogiryu vs Terutsuyoshi – Myogiryu has had a nice 2-0 start, and has looked completely different than his pitiful form we last saw in Kyushu. During the entire basho, he only managed to win 2 matches, and I seriously wondered if he was permanently injured. No, the 35 year old veteran was having a crappy basho, may have been hurt, but seems in fighting form now. This far down the banzuke, he can really cause a lot of havoc if he can stay healthy.
Akua vs Shimanoumi – The good news on this match is that one of these men will exit the dohyo today with their first win of the January tournament. Both have had poor performance in the first 2 days, and both could really use a change. I am guessing make-koshi for both of them, but to my eye, Shimanoumi has looked uniquely underwhelming so far.
Chiyonokuni vs Takarafuji – Ah, Chiyonokuni – can you get it in gear? Probably not today. Your high energy, frantic hit and shift sumo does not work well against Takarafuji’s defenses. The career record is 2-9, with the nine portion being Takarafuji’s. So you may see Chiyonokuni end the day 0-3.
Tobizaru vs Abi – Well, two guys without a loss, and one of them is going to eat dirt for the first time this tournament. While I think the hype and momentum favors Abi, I am quite certain the Tobizaru could care less, and will be pushing to put Abi on the deck in short order. There could be some excellent or at least brutal sumo out of this.
Hoshoryu vs Hokutofuji – Hoshoryu has won both of their prior matches, and I am looking for him to take this one today as well. I think Hokutofuji is suffering from a fair amount of ring rust right now, and is not yet at full fighting form. Hoshoryu’s wins were okuridashi and hitakikomi, so I am going to say “anything goes” for this one.
Okinoumi vs Chiyoshoma – Again, the theme of pairing rikishi with matching records continue. Both men have yet to score their first win, and frankly I put the advantage squarely on Okinoumi’s side of the shikiri-sen. Not that I don’t want Chiyoshoma to do well and end up with 8 wins, but I think that Okinoumi has the deeper catalog of sumo to employ.
Onosho vs Endo – Time for Endo to put a dent in that perfect 2-0 start that the junior tadpole has going into day 3. Endo is an even 1-1, but has a 6-2 career advantage over Onosho. If Onosho gets an early connect with a bight right hand thrust out of the tachiai, look for Endo to circle away and use his superior balance to re-engage.
Meisei vs Ichinojo – Back to the matching record theme, both are 1-1, and both are looking to stay on track for 8 wins. Ichinojo did not look as sharp day 2 as he had on the opener, so I am going to expect him to renew his focus today. Any time you have that much Boulder looking stable and emitting powerful sumo, there is going to be trouble.
Tamawashi vs Takanosho – Although Tamawashi has a 1-3 career defecit against Takanosho, the veteran looks pitch perfect right now. I know Takanosho is really well situated in the Sekiwake slot, but I think this is going to be Tamawashi’s day. We have not seen him attempt a throw against Takanosho in any of their prior matches, so maybe that is on tap for today.
Mitakeumi vs Wakatakakage – Mitakeumi knows he has a tough task ahead of him. Team Tachiai have been covering everything about this guy, and how he really should be Ozeki, for several years. As he starts to “age out”, he may find fewer chances to credibly rack up 33 wins. Today is his best chance, and it looks like he’s pushing hard to take it. Wakatakakage has yet to score his first win, and he will be hard pressed to find an opening to attack Mitakeumi before the original Tadpole takes him out of the ring.
Daieisho vs Shodai – Daieisho needs his first win, and who better to face on a day like this than Shodai. Daieisho holds a 9-7 career advantage, and we have yet to see Shodai really be too dominant in his sumo. His 2-0 record is perfect thus far, but I think he is ripe for his first loss.
Takakeisho vs Ura – I do not want to see this match happen. Ura had his bell rung, and needs to sit out at least a couple of days while he gets checked for brain damage.
Terunofuji vs Kiribayama – Will Terunofuji have another wild, off balance start today? He has been very lose at the tachiai, and gradually tightens up as the match progresses. He typically wins with a powerful, overwhelming attack that completely disrupts his opponent, dashing their hopes have they had started off so well. Kiribayama has not won a single match against Terunofuji in 5 attempts.