Get Ready for July: Likely Opening-Day Bouts

As I’ve written before, the scheduling early in the tournament largely follows a formula based on rank. Let’s take a look at what the math spits out for Day 1 and Day 2 fight cards barring withdrawals.

Day 1

With eight men in the named ranks, and 28 available bouts between them, the tournament will start with one intra-san’yaku bout per day. Traditionally, the highest-ranked rikishi’s schedule starts with the lowest-ranked Komusubi, so Terunofuji will open his title defense against Abi, who defeated the Yokozuna in January but lost their November and May meetings. After that, we move on to the next-highest san’yaku rikishi and assign him the highest available rank-and-file opponent. So the rest of the san’yaku bouts should be as follows:

  • Takakeisho vs. Kiribayama
  • Mitakeumi vs. Takanosho
  • Shodai vs. Kotonowaka
  • Wakatakakage vs. Ichinojo
  • Daieisho vs. Tamawashi
  • Hoshoryu vs. Ura

Some exciting matchups to kick things off! Having taken care of the top 14, we simply pair up the remaining rikishi in rank order, taking into account any withdrawals (Takayasu) and avoiding same-heya pairings (like the 3 consecutive Isegahama rikishi at M11w, M12e, and M12w).

Day 2

The principle here is the same, with a few wrinkles. The Yokozuna gets his next available opponent by rank, in this case M1e Kiribayama. The second-highest ranked rikishi (Takakeisho) faces Hoshoryu—the Komusubi who didn’t have a san’yaku opponent on Day 1. In terms of the order of the bouts, the Ozeki rotate each day, as do East-West rikishi. So the san’yaku bouts should look like this:

  • Terunofuji vs. Kiribayama
  • Mitakeumi vs. Kotonowaka
  • Shodai vs. Takanosho
  • Takakeisho vs. Hoshoryu
  • Daieisho vs. Ichinojo
  • Wakatakakage vs. Tamawashi
  • Abi vs. Ura

A lot to look forward to, and that’s just the final seven bouts of the top division on the first two days of the basho! Please leave any thoughts and questions you may have in the comments.

11 thoughts on “Get Ready for July: Likely Opening-Day Bouts

  1. Honestly the joi matchups are looking so good, since the start of the year. I just hope Takakeisho is genki, because I want to see explosive sumo.

  2. Really looking forward to this basho – the first two days are looking FANTASTIC!!!

    I CAN’T WAIT!!!

  3. The first two days will set the tone for the yusho. There are no excuses for losses…but it will be very difficult to avoid them. It’s hard to pick just one upset to look out for but I have eyes on Kotonowaka.

    • Hard to call those upsets with those two ōzeki. But Kotonowaka has looked as good as any maejuhshira rikishi besides Kiribayama of late. He’s certainly an exciting talent.

      I don’t see him collecting a gold star yet though. I’ll actually be surprised if Terunofuji beats Tamawashi.

  4. Not that I am too much of a fan but I have my eyes on ichinojo. He was showing some fighting spirit early this year. Now after some covid forced rest, he could show up strong… assuming he will be awake. As for our beloved top dog, I have heard he is concentrating on muscle training rather than real fight. Looks like he is preserving what little knees he has left for the basho. For the first time, I was dubious if picking him up for the contest, then I just looked at the ozeki pack… I am so eager for this basho to start and for your usual excellent coverage!

  5. I suspect that Hakuho watching the sanyaku at the last basho secretly
    thought “even if my knees are completely shot — I could have got another yusho”

  6. Looks like Isegahama beya is doing really good.
    5 Rikishis in top division, including Yokozuna.

  7. hopeful that Takakeisho foot and neck is in good shape so he can push ppl out in the first five seconds and make a run for Yokozuna

  8. Very much hoping the current heat wave breaks soon; that’s not the sort of thing anyone wants to prove a factor.


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