Day one landed with a wet thud in my book. There was some fine intensity, but as a whole the matches had a lot of pulling kimarite. Nothing wrong with making your opponent lose when they are off balance, but why are so many rikishi off balance? You can add to that the spate of losses between Yokozuna Terunofuji and 2 of the 3 Ozeki, and it’s kind of a poor excuse for day 1. Hopefully they can tune up quickly and be closer to their expected fighting form. As for Terunofuji, I expect that his knees are not well right now, and we may see him kyujo before the middle weekend. I know he wants to tough it out, and that’s a great way to lose a Yokozuna. Of course on one of the Ozeki could step up and take the rope… oh wait.
But for day 2 – we get to see Asanoyama fight for the first time in a year. He is ranked Sandanme 22w, and he’s going to be going up against Goshimaru, who has been as high as Makushita 28 in 2020. He’s from Musashigawa stable, so I wonder if the former Wakaichiro knows much about him. Hope he spent the morning working on his safe falling techniques.
With an apology to the readers of Tachiai, my coverage may be a handed off to others in the team during this basho. There has been (no other way to describe this) and absolute tragedy visited upon my family, and there will be times I have to attend to that. I am thankful to the rest of the contributors to the blog, and I hope you will enjoy the times that they step in for me.
What We Are Watching Day 2
Nishikifuji vs Hidenoumi – Today’s Juryo visitor is Hidenoumi, who was last ranked in the top division in January, but was kyujo for the Hatsu basho and swiftly punted back to Juryo. He has never lost to Nishikifuji, so this will be an interesting one to watch. Many times rikishi who are in their debut top division tournament some how tap some hidden reserve of energy and turn in “best ever” scores.
Chiyomaru vs Daiamami – Chiyomaru not catching any breaks on day 2 as he goes up against Daiamami, who has completely dominated their 13 prior matches, holding an 11-2 record against the oblate spheroid of sumo. Daiamami usually ends up with a yorikiri win, and Chiyomaru struggles with him due to a combination of low center of gravity and excellent strength.
Onosho vs Yutakayama – Speaking of wet thuds, one of the larger ones was Onosho getting too far forward and taking a face full of clay on day 1. He needs to be carful this far down the banzuke, or he could end up helping to row the Juryo barge of the damned in 2 weeks time. For Onosho, it’s all down to balance, and keeping his weight centered while pressing ahead.
Oho vs Tsurugisho – Oho would do well to put a couple of wins together for act 1, before winning becomes imperative. I think he has a good chance against Tsurugisho, whom he last fought in March and won with a solid oshitaoshi. Tsurugisho is coming off of a day 1 win, and may have a bit of a bonus from that energy.
Myogiryu vs Chiyoshoma – Both won their day 1 matches, so one of the two will get their first loss today. Both are surprisingly far down the banzuke given their history, their skill and their strengths. I would expect that Myogiryu has a bit of an edge, just because Chiyoshoma tends to be eager to attack, and Myogiryu may wait him out and let him over commit.
Ichiyamamoto vs Takarafuji – At Maegashira 12, Takarafuji should be cleaning up. We should be able to tell what kind of condition he is in by the end of act 1, but right now I am worried that the trouble he had with injury in May is still plaguing his sumo. He has never lost to Ichiyamamoto, so today’s match could be a solid indication of which way his sumo is headed this month.
Kotoshoho vs Terutsuyoshi – Both lost their day 1 matches with some clumsy sumo, so today one of them will get their first win. I think that this is a very even match, but I personally would prefer to see Kotoshoho get the white star today.
Midorifuji vs Meisei – Meisei won his day 1 match against Kotoshoho, and looked very much dominant and in charge. I think he will give 0-1 Midorifuji a strong fight today, and I would not be surprised to see Meisei end the day at 2-0.
Shimanoumi vs Chiyotairyu – Another match up between rikishi who lost their opening fight. The fact that Chiyotairyu move from forward sumo to pulling on the second step tells me that he’s not in good physical order, and we are going to see him hobble through this tournament.
Kotoeko vs Nishikigi – I think this could be a fun match, Kotoeko has a 5-1 career advantage over Nishikigi, and will likely dominate this fight. But I can’t help but think about Nishikigi’s 40 kg size advantage, and thank that if Nishikigi can get a solid hand hold, he might find a path to victory today. I note that Kotoeko had a 5-0 win streak going until they fought at Natsu, where Nishikigi was able to deliver a winning uwatenage. Can he do it again?
Okinoumi vs Tochinoshin – Battle of the injured grizzled veterans, they have a 20 match history that favors Tochinoshin 11-9. Okinoumi’s day 1 loss to Tobizaru looked a bit off his normal sumo, and I think that maybe he was just being careful, and got in a bad spot he could not remedy before Tobizaru put him on the deck. If Tochinoshin gets his favorite grip, you may not be in the ring for long.
Hokutofuji vs Tobizaru – I joke about Hokutofuji having “The most powerful make-koshi in all of sumo”, but its about time for him to rally and actually have a good tournament. He had a loss on day one against Tochinoshin, but I would love to see him even up with a win today over Tobizaru. In fact, Hokutofuji has a 5-0 record over the flying monkey.
Endo vs Aoiyama – Its “Big Dan” Aoiyama vs Endo in the “Pants off dance off” today near the middle of the torikumi. I am still working to process how a man of that size could be so agile, amazing. Hopefully Endo gets a front grip and keeps him from employing a sudden “brisé” that leaves the crowd gasping.
Wakamotoharu vs Sadanoumi – Both of these capable rikishi lost their day 1 matches. Sadanoumi was left stunned as Aoiyama leaped away from the bales, and Wakamotoharu was just plain out hustled by Endo. Hopefully ring-rust for both of them, and I personally would rather see Wakamotoharu take the win today. I am hoping he continues his careful, methodical grind up the banzuke. Sadanoumi has a dominant 5-0 record over Wakamotoharu.
Ura vs Abi – Fresh from giving the Yokozuna a hearty shove off of the western edge of the dohyo, he comes to call on Ura. Abi has a 3-1 career record over Ura, but I am looking for Ura to get a hold of one of those comically long arms and give it a solid tug forward.
Wakatakakage vs Tamawashi – Wakatakakage fans had the word “Ozeki” on their mind in the days leading up to the basho. But Ichinojo gave him a sniff of just where his sumo is right now, and it probably is not quite up to the smell test yet. He can try to bounce back against Tamawashi, whom he holds a 5-1 career advantage over. All Tamawashi needs is one big, meaty hand in the right place, and Wakatakakage will be in trouble.
Ichinojo vs Daieisho – The boulder is looking genki, and everyone except Terunofuji should be concerned. What normally slows the boulder down are chronic back problems, but if he was able to improve that during his COVID kyujo in May, he’s going to possibly contend for the yusho. Daieisho’s best hope would be to get him tangled up and push like mad while he’s off balance.
Takakeisho vs Hoshoryu – Takakeisho will need to do a much better job of guarding his mawashi than he did against Kiribayama on day 1. We know Hoshoryu is quite competent in yotsu-zumo, so I expect him to make at least a couple of grabs for the Ozeki’s bet. I hope Takakeisho makes him pay. Takakeisho holds a 4-1 career advantage.
Takanosho vs Shodai – Shodai… come on man.
Kotonowaka vs Mitakeumi – Both won their day 1 matches, and I think I would give Kotonowaka a slight edge today given Mitakeumi’s injury status and lack of training in the lead up to the Nagoya basho. Kotonowaka is about 1 or two improvements away from his first attempt at an Ozeki run himself, so this is excellent training for him.
Terunofuji vs Kiribayama – Terunofuji did not look dominant on day 1. I hope it was just a poorly placed step or some minor problem with his day 1 fight plan. But I do expect him to rest that knee before the end of the middle weekend. I would guess that Terunofuji intimidates Kiribayama just by being Terunofuji. He has never beaten the Yokozuna in 7 attempts.