Day two action at Aki is going to feature some matches I am really keen to watch. I think chief among these will be Takayasu vs Ura, as it will tell us if Takayasu is coming into Aki strong and rested, or kind of rusty and getting by. Both outcomes are possible, but as most of you know, I would love to see Takayasu have a strong performance this month.
I think the other big match for me is Ichinojo vs Mitakeumi. I am going to assume for now that Mitakeumi is in good condition, and if so it’s high time to give the Snorlax a clay facial to test his resolve to contend once again for the cup. A healthy Mitakeumi is up to that task, so consider his day 2 match a test.
Also, after wonder if the “Sumo Prime Time” YouTube channel would produce daily videos during the basho, we seem to have our answer. Hiro Morita and the crew from the Japan Sumo Association are off to a fine start, and if you have not take the chance to watch some of their content, please do so soon. You can find them here – Sumo Prime Time YouTube
What We Are Watching Day 2
Mitoryu vs Chiyomaru – With Abi’s vacancy unbalanced, its time for another visitor from Juryo, and who do we get? Beloved spheroid of sumo, Chiyomaru! He has never lost to Mitoryu, and I would certainly appreciate the bulbous on delivering a day 2 loss to Mitoryu, as a way of saying “Don’t get to comfortable up here”.
Hiradoumi vs Tsurugisho – A drastic mis-match in size, but it was Hiradoumi who won their only prior match. I am not sure that establishes any kind of dominant record. Tsurugisho showed a fair amount of ring rust on day 1, and I hope he will come in today with better organized sumo.
Chiyoshoma vs Terutsuyoshi – Both rikishi have a lot of agility, and good sumo mechanics. This has the making for a high energy match, as I am sure that Chiyoshoma is disappointed after his hair lost his day 1 contest against Oho. Chiyoshoma leads 7-5 across their thirteen career matches.
Yutakayama vs Oho – Two big, bulky men who can hit with power, this could be a force on force struggle, or it might just feature Oho dropping Yutakayama like a sack of sweet potatoes. Oho does hold a 4-1 career advantage, and looked in good fighting form day 1 against Chiyoshoma.
Okinoumi vs Ichiyamamoto – Grizzled veteran against rowdy new talent, this match will come down to Okinoumi getting working hand placement within the first 2 steps. As we saw day 1, if Ichiyamamoto can get a thrust cadence running, with good contact to center mass, its difficult for his opponents to keep their feet.
Ryuden vs Chiyotairyu – I am not sure if it was ring rust or his chronic lower body injuries, but Ryuden was completely off his sumo on day 1. Going up against Chiyotairyu today, his balance will have to be in top form, as it seems sumo’s thunder-god is back to his “stand them up and slap them down” mode. They have an even 4-4 career record, last having fought in Osaka 2021.
Nishikifuji vs Kotoshoho – Kotoshoho has shown quite a bit of promise in the past. He has 2 Juryo yusho to his name, but each time he is in the top division, he seems to struggle. He was in the middle of the funnel at 5-5 when his stable went COVID kyujo on day 11 in Nagoya. I suspect that if Kotoshoho is nursing an injury, this will be a rough tournament for him. Nishikifuji has a narrow 3-2 advatage across their careers.
Takanosho vs Kotoeko – Speaking of Takanosho, he is severely under ranked this time around. At Maegashira 10, he’s going to be cracking a lot of heads and taking a lot of white stars. He’s this far down the banzuke because of his single win in Nagoya, followed by a day 7 kyujo. I am going to guess he is in better condition. He’s more or less a san’yaku class rikishi, and so he’s going be bring a lot of power to his matches. Kotoeko has beaten him twice in their 5 match career history, but the last time Kotoeko won a head to match fight on the clay was May of 2018.
Tochinoshin vs Myogiryu – 31 career matches, with Myogiryu having a distinct advantage at 17-14. Tochinoshin looked good enough on day 1, but given what we have seen over the past 2 years, he tends to start well, then his knee starts to act up, then he suffers. He is still in the “Good enough” stage right now, so I am looking for him to give Myogiryu a stiff fight.
Hokutofuji vs Onosho – Two men with poor balance and over-active sumo. This is actually a great match up, and their 7-7 career record underscores that each will try to overcome their weaknesses as best they can in this “all in” battle of the power-thrusting sumotori. The question will be which one falls down first.
Wakamotoharu vs Aoiyama – Wakamotoharu’s sumo is very efficent. I don’t see much in the way of movement from his body that is not connected to an intentional sumo action. As such, he can prove challenging for an opponent like Aoiyama, as Big Dan tens tends to come into a match ready to flail his big meaty arms about, delivering maximum punishment to his opponent. As long as Wakamotoharu can keep his balance, it should be his match to lose.
Endo vs Sadanoumi – This match is very much “who get there first”. There being a grip of some kind. We know Endo will try to land something during the tachiai, but more times than not will miss. He will then need to contend with Sadanoumi’s massive speed advantage. I think this is probably why they have a 6-5 career record, it’s down to who gets the first advantage. I am guessing this one is over before anyone takes a 5th step.
Nishikigi vs Takarafuji – Nishikigi will go for the belt straight away, and I am going to guess this will suit Takarafuji just fine. He seems to be in good enough condition that he can keep his defensive sumo up for a long period of time right now. He has a 5-2 career advantage over Nishikigi, but the bulk of their matches are pre-covid. It has been some time since Nishikigi was this far up the banzuke (2018 or so).
Takayasu vs Ura – If Takayasu brings his “wild man sumo” to the dohyo today, Ura is likely to make him pay for it. If instead Takayasu executes a match like his day one win over Takarafuji, I see him starting Aki with a 2-0.
Wakatakakage vs Meisei – Both of these rikishi lost their day one matches, and I have to think that Wakatakakage is facing a “gut check”. He is a solid san’yaku rikishi, and I think headed for higher rank. But his big challenges now are all in his head. He needs focus, and crisp execution. He has a 5-2 career record against Meisei, so perhaps today he can get a recovery win to pull up to 1-1 for Aki.
Daieisho vs Tamawashi – Two very aggressive rikishi who are going to do their best to get their hands inside and around the other one’s neck. They have met 4 times in 2022, and Tamawashi has taken 3 of those matches. Both one their day 1 contests, and both are looking good. Could be sparks flying in this one.
Kotonowaka vs Hoshoryu – Having dispatched Wakatakakage, it’s time for Kotonowaka to take on the next Sekiwake in the rotation in the form of Hoshoryu. He has beaten Hoshoryu 5 times out of their 8 career matches, and I am hoping to see some more of Kotonowaka’s “witty and aggressive sumo” today. I think that after the loss to Tamawashi, he may sharpen his resolve.
Takakeisho vs Midorifuji – I am hoping to see some power and balance out of Takakeisho. He looked terrible day one, and not at all in fighting form. Maybe he was just not quite ready to start a tournament, and he will tune up over the next day or two. Luckily he is not kadoban, so he can take a few losses. He has never face Midorifuji before.
Ichinojo vs Mitakeumi – I hope that Mitakeumi puts on more of a battle than Takakeisho did when he faced the Boulder on day 1. Granted Ichinojo is mighty large, but Mitakeumi has a reliable formula for getting the big man down. He holds a 14-7 career advantage, winning mostly by oshidashi. So get him off balance, get him moving, and never let his set is feet.
Kiribayama vs Shodai – I would love for Shodai to have a good tournament. A solid double digit, competing for the cup, strong Ozeki sumo kind of fortnight. Fans of Kiribayama please take note, he’s a chew-toy for the upper ranks for most of this week, so he may rack up quite a few losses. If he can keep his fighting spirit intact, he can more than make up for it in week 2.
Terunofuji vs Tobizaru – Terunofuji has not lost to Tobizaru since he returned to the paid ranks in 2020. Although we can never quite tell what condition the Yokozuna’s lower body is in on any given day, I expect him to continue to deliver strong, patient sumo. If Terunofuji makes today “capture and squeeze” contest against the flying monkey – so be it.