To start day 4, there are seven rikishi with perfect 3-0 score, that number will be no higher than 6, as Tamawashi and Hoshoryu face off today in the second half of top division matches. I continue to be amazed and impressed that Tamawashi can best some of the top men in sumo day after day with almost 20 years of accumulated damage from training and competition. The man is a testament to what the human body can endure.
I think my favorite match prior to the start of action is Onosho vs Endo. Mostly because I am counting on Endo to use some clever sumo that does not employ trying to pull an onrushing Onosho down in the first three steps. In spite of his 3-0 score, Onosho is eminently beatable. But it seems that his balance is quite good at the moment, and his opponents should stop trying to pull him down.
What We Are Watching Day 4
Takarafuji vs Mitoryu – A win today, and 3-0 Takarafuji will surpass his dismal 3 wins in November. As long as he can keep from getting hurt or aggravating whatever had him doing poorly in Kyushu, he’s going to probably tear things up being on the bottom rung of the banzuke. He’s never fought a match against 1-2 Mitoryu, who is in for quite the experience today.
Chiyomaru vs Azumaryu – So far, Chiyomaru (0-3) has not had his first win. It looks like his right ankle or foot is giving him problems, and without a firm connection to earth, it’s tough for any rikishi to execute winning sumo. So I expect that the 14-4 career advantage he has over 2-1 Azumaryu is not going to account for anything today.
Tsurugisho vs Kotoeko – With any luck, Kotoeko (1-2) will be in better form on day 4, as in his day 3 match he was little more than blast for Mitoryu to toss about. He has an 8-8 history against 2-1 Tsurugisho, and a big man vs little man match always has a good level of interest from fans.
Ichiyamamoto vs Okinoumi – Given 0-3 Okinoumi’s age and long sumo career, he has tournaments where he really can’t produce much sumo offense. This is starting to look like just such a basho. The cumlative result of a career full of minor and major injuries that sometimes never completely heal can degrade an athlete’s performance. He’s against 1-2 Ichiyamamoto today, who really would benefit from the win.
Kotoshoho vs Tochinoshin – Kotoshoho has a hot 3-0 start to January, and this is a great test match against 2-1 Tochinoshin. Tochinoshin has never lost to Kotoshoho (5-0), and should Kotoshoho win today, it would be an indication that his sumo has take a step forward to a higher level of performance. It hinge on Tochinoshin’s ability to work a left hand outside grip.
Aoiyama vs Kagayaki – I expect Big Dan Aoiyama (3-0) to have the edge in this match. Kagayaki (2-1) is fighting well enough, but there is a whole lot of Aoiyama to move around. Kagayaki will need to get him off balance, if possible at the first step. There last match was in September of 2020, and Aoiyama holds a 6-4 career lead.
Chiyoshoma vs Hiradoumi – I am surprised that Chiyoshoma is still looking for his first win at 0-3. His sumo is not terrible, but he just seems to be lacking a bit of power or a bit of balance each day to close the deal. He will try again today against 1-2 Hiradoumi, who lost their only prior match in September of last year.
Onosho vs Endo – I do hope that Endo (2-1) does not immediately try to pull Onosho down. This has been the undoing of his last 3 opponents, and has given the junior tadpole a 3-0 start to Hatsu. With a lexicon of sumo combinations and techniques at the ready, I am looking for Endo to try something different today. Maybe a nice left hand front grip into an uwatenage?
Takanosho vs Oho – We find ourselves in yet another basho wondering where 1-2 Takanosho’s sumo has disappeared to. It does not seem to be making it to the Kokugikan each day. Maybe one of his tsukibeto left it back at the stable? We may see him get his second win today, as hapless 0-3 Oho looks like he too has lost mastery of his craft.
Ryuden vs Ura – I was surprise to learn that they have only one prior match, on day 4 of Hatsu 2016. So let’s have them meet on day 4 again now 7 years later. I am starting to hope that Ura is back in some better fighting form, given his 2-1 record, with both of his wins looking very well orchestrated. 1-2 Ryuden looks like he is still suffering from a heavy encrusting of ring rust.
Nishikifuji vs Myogiryu – Both men start the day 1-2, and whomever wins this one will get to go to 2-2, which is a good working score. The loser will be 1-3, which is likely putting them on the road to make-koshi. Myogiryu has won all three of their prior matches, all of which took place in 2022.
Nishikigi vs Sadanoumi – This match is a great contest of contrasts. Nishikigi (2-1) is not really high mobility. His poor eyesight has led him to adopt a reliance on yotsu that involves him surviving any oshi/tsuki attacks long enough to latch on to his opponent. Sadanoumi (1-2) is fast, maneuvers very well, and will fight either on the belt or by pushing. They have 22 prior matches, and are split 11-11.
Hokutofuji vs Midorifuji – Both come into this match 2-1, and I am expecting a lot of oshi-zumo from this fight. They have only met once before, in the just recently completed Kyushu basho, where Midorifuji was the winner. Hokutofuji will likely want to set up a nodowa or upper torso attack early, and I am still hoping for another katasukashi from Midorifuji.
Kiribayama vs Kotonowaka – At some point, Kotonowaka (0-3) is going to win a match or two. His first time in the named ranks, and he is getting the stuffing knocked out of him right now on a day to day basis. This is actually typical for any rikishi’s posting to san’yaku, so all part of process. I expect that Kiribayama (2-1) will expand upon his 5-2 career lead, and continue to add to Kotonowaka’s trials.
Meisei vs Wakamotoharu – This match brings good news. One of these men will get his first win today. Both come into day 4 with dismal 0-3 records, and both of them put a lot of effort into their 3 prior matches to walk ways with nothing. Like Kotonowaka, Wakamotoharu is enjoying a traditional first run as Komusubi, and I think he will be deeply make-koshi by the end of day 15. Not to worry, he will be back stronger than before soon enough.
Takayasu vs Tobizaru – As a Takayasu fan, I can like him to the Chicago Bears. Bears fans are true believers. The team can be so bad that any Texas High School squad could best them, but the fans would still back the Bears. Takayasu right now is in rough shape. He starts the day 0-3, and I am going to guess that somewhere between November and the start of Hatsu, he hurt himself while training. Tobizaru, at 1-2, is doing only slightly better, but seems to not be injured right now.
Tamawashi vs Hoshoryu – With both of these guys fighting well in act 1, it seemed only natural to put them head to head. Both are 3-0, both are really kicking the daylights out of their daily opponents, and both of them are from Mongolia. Hoshoryu comes in with a 5-3 career advantage, and I do want to see him win this match today.
Wakatakakage vs Daieisho – With any luck, Wakatakakage is over his ring rust and is ready to slug it out for a shot at the cup. He’s beaten Daieisho in 6 out of their 10 prior matches, and I give him an edge to continue that dominance today. Both are 2-1.
Abi vs Shodai – Shodai (1-2) has, in the past, been able to overcome Abi-zumo without too much trouble. His big body and his “Wall of Daikon” technique can shut down Abi’s (3-0) double arm thrusting technique. This has given him an 8-4 career advantage, concluding winning the last 4 consecutive matches. It’s still possible for Shodai to rally and get to 10, just highly unlikely.
Mitakeumi vs Takakeisho – A tadpole battle to end day 4, how wonderful. Both of them start the day 2-1, and both of them have been fighting quite well. I was surprised that Hoshoryu was able to use an ottsuke to shut down Mitakeumi’s offense. But maybe Mitakeumi though he had a bit more time to switch to plan B. He will have his hands full with Takakeisho fresh from victory of Daieisho, and fighting like he means to take the cup. They have 22 prior matches.
2 thoughts on “Hatsu Day 4 Preview”
It was wonderful to see Takarafuji move forward and attack his opponent in his last match. More of that, please!
Aoyiama seems more focused on the dohyo and interested in winning based on whatever opportunities his opponent provides him. That’s quite different from his previous behavior and I’m glad to see it’s working well for him.
I suspect that Takayasu is still dealing with aftereffects from his concussion in the last basho. We still don’t fully understand head injuries and they impact people differently. I’m betting that banging into other people repeatedly during practice sessions hasn’t helped him much there either. Fingers crossed that he can find some wins soon.
Hoshoryu has started off hot, but he has to maintain this level of performance for another 12 days in a row. Also, if he loses (which he probably will) he has to mentally bounce back and reset to keep winning. That’s a lot to ask of anyone, so we’ll see how he does. I think he definitely has potential, and is showing it, but he’s gotta do what he’s doing now for multiple basho in a row for me to be convinced that he’s actually made as large of a jump forward as he’s showing right now.
I have a feeling we know exactly when Takayasu got injured, and it wasn’t after November (though picking up additional knocks in training is always a possibility).