My thanks to reader “Angelus” who let me know that day 2 coincided with the end of mandatory mask wearing in Japan. This explains why there were an increasing number of people in the crowd who were unmasked. I hope that the lifting of this restriction heralds the return of rowdy, screaming sumo fans that I for one have sorely missed. The quiet, ghostly bashos of the past were alien to me, as I have had the privilege of being in person for a few tournament days, and was thrilled by the raw energy of the crowd, and how much the rikishi drew spirit and drive from their fans shouting out from the stands. That is how sumo should be, a raucous sport that is one part battle Royale, one part traditional ceremony, and one part celebration.
What We Are Watching Day 3
Mitoryu vs Tsurugisho – I am starting to think that 0-2 Mitoryu at Maegashira 17e is in serious peril this March. He has lost both of his first matches, and does not seem to have a lot of power at the moment. Demotion for him would be a simple losing record, barring any strange circumstance. He has a 6-11 record against 2-0 Tsurugisho, so not likely to be a good day for him.
Chiyoshoma vs Tochinoshin – Our Juryo visitor today is none other than former Ozeki Tochinoshin (0-2). Like so many rikishi before him who faded out after injuries, he’s struggling for his first win, and his prospects are not too bright right now. He gets to try his luck against 1-1 Chiyoshoma today, who has a 5-4 narrow advantage over him to date.
Oho vs Bushozan – The good news is that one of these guys will get their first win today. Which one is not worth guessing, as both of them need a good swift kick in the mawashi and motivation to bring their best sumo onto the dohyo. Both are 0-2, and performing well below their abilities at the moment. They share a 3-3 career record, so an absolute toss up.
Kinbozan vs Hokuseiho – Yet another opponent for Hokuseiho who has never won a battle against him. Today it’s phenom Kinbozan, who looks like he has the seeds of greatness in him. But then, having to fight Hokuseiho is another matter entirely. Both have 2-0 scores to start the day, so one of them will get their first loss.
Kotoeko vs Takarafuji – A pair of long serving veterans, both of whom bring 1-1 scores to the ring today. Takarafuji, in healthier days, had a habit of beating Kotoeko, but it’s clear that he is not nearly as strong and resilient as he was even a year ago. They have both won one in the past year, but I give advantage to Kotoeko today.
Kagayaki vs Daishoho – Kagayaki starts today 0-2, and I think he’s a good candidate for a first win today. He’s up against 2-0 Daishoho, who has only won one match in five attempts against Kagayaki, back on day 12 of Natsu 2019.
Takanosho vs Nishikifuji – Both men start the day 2-0 records, and this match is a big test for TAkanosho. In their prior two matches, Nishikifuji has been the winner for both. Both of the prior fights were in 2022, so I expect Takanosho to struggle today.
Myogiryu vs Azumaryu – As the theme for today, we are getting a lot of lossless rikishi fighting each other, and winless rikishi fighting each other. This pair are both 0-2, and fortunately one of them will get their first win. I personally want it to be Azumaryu, but I suspect that Myogiryu will prevail, as he has a 4-1 career record against Azumaryu.
Hiradoumi vs Ura – First ever match between these two, and I think that right now we are getting some of the best sumo from Ura we have had in a while. He’s in front of his home town fans, and he’s in condition that is good enough to support some of his crazy moves. Hiradoumi at 1-1 is likely going to be highly bamboozled by whatever stunt Ura pulls in the opening moments of this match.
Ichiyamamoto vs Aoiyama – I had expected better scores to start day 3 from these two. Ichiyamamoto is a 0-2, and Aoiyama is 1-1, after taking a loss to Ura on day 2. Both of them like to fight it out with oshi-zumo, but if Big Dan can get the V-Twin going, I doubt that Ichiyamamoto is going to be able to keep his feet.
Takayasu vs Sadanoumi – Takayasu comes into day 3 with a 2-0 record, and a 7-0 career record against Sadanoumi (1-1). I think that as long as Takayasu does not resort to wild-man sumo, he should be able to overpower Sadanoumi, and shut down his agility and speed.
Endo vs Hokutofuji – Something seems missing from 0-2 Hokutofuji, and I would like it to come back / be resolved before he loses his day three match to 1-1 Endo. The two share a 10-11 career record, but a less than healthy Hokutofuji is not much an opponent. Hopefully it’s just ring rust and he will be in fighting form shortly.
Midorifuji vs Meisei – Meisei has a 1-1 record to start the day, and he’s usually dominant in his matches against 2-0 Midorifuji. They share a 4 match history with Meisei leading 3-1, and him winning the last 2 in a row. Meisei looks good on day 1 against Kotoshoho, but used that rather smelly henka to win day 2 against Onosho.
Onosho vs Kotoshoho – Speaking of those two, they are our next match. Onosho at 1-1 holds a 5-1 career margin over Kotoshoho, who has yet to find his first win. I would really prefer to see these two fight it out toe to toe, but I would not be surprised to see Kotoshoho follow Midorifuji’s lead and pull some kind of non-contact move at the tachiai.
Wakamotoharu vs Mitakeumi – 0-2 Mitakeumi and 2-0 Wakamotoharu have only fought three times, but Mitakeumi has never won a match against him. With whatever malady that cost him the Ozeki rank still seeming to be active, we get to witness him continue to struggle today. Given how well he is fighting, don’t be surprised to see Wakamotoharu’s name on the leader board this coming weekend.
Nishikigi vs Tobizaru – I think Nishikigi is back in his “magical mystery tour” mode, where he’s pretty far up the banzuke, and that might be accomplishment enough for this basho. So far he has had two straight losses to bring him to today at 0-2. He has as his opponent, red-hot Tobizaru who comes in with a 2-0 record, and the scalps of a current and a former Ozeki.
Daieisho vs Ryuden – It’s 2-0 Daieisho against 0-2 Ryuden, with Daieisho looking more “in the groove” with his sumo than he has in several tournaments. He holds an 8-5 career lead over Ryuden, and has taken 3 of the last 4 from him.
Kotonowaka vs Hoshoryu – A big battle of the up and coming new generation, with 2-0 Kotonowaka at real risk of picking up his first loss from winless 0-2 Hoshoryu. Hoshoryu got crushed by Shodai’s “Wall of Daikon” on day 1, and then narrowly lost to Abi-zumo on day 2. He’s still fierce and ready to go, and he has an 8-3 career advantage over Kotonowaka.
Wakatakakage vs Abi – A part of me wants to see Wakatakakage live up to his potential, and rack up basho after basho of double digit wins for the next 4 years or more. But then I watch this guy struggle with an 0-2 record at the start of a basho like this one, and I wonder if maybe he’s got too many accumulated injuries to really do that any more. He’s going to have his hands full with 1-1 Abi today, who will be focusing on breaking his stance and making him dance.
Kiribayama vs Tamawashi – Both men start the day at 1-1, and it’s Tamawashi’s iron will against Kiribayama’s youth and agility. He has won 6 of their 8 career matches, and I think it all comes down to Tamawashi being able to land his opening salvo with good effect. If he does connect, he will have a chance at winning the match.
Shodai vs Takakeisho – I personally think this is a much more pivotal match than it would seem to be on the surface. Shodai is looking good, like peak performance Ozeki Shodai. Like the Shodai from the mirror universe where he has a long standing rivalry with Yokozuna Takayasu. We all know that Takakeisho is out to win the yusho, his second, before Terunofuji can get his body on side and return to clean house. For the Grand Tadpole, its more or less now or never. Takakeisho holds a 13-6 advantage on the clay, but I am going to suspect Shodai is more than up to the challenge.
4 thoughts on “Osaka Day 3 Preview”
if Shodai trashes Takakeisho’s shot at a rope run by knocking him off…i am going to be pissed…
Looking forward for Kotonowaka vs Hoshoryu
Mitoryu might already have his Barge Captain’s Hat on based on his current performance. The only reason he’s still in the top division is a couple of “do or die” wins at the end of the last basho. With his current performances, I’m not even sure he’ll stick around in Juryo based on how competitive it is there these days.
I’m wondering if one reason that Takayasu is so much calmer is because the noisy crowd has returned. That’s familiar and comfortable for him and it might make him think less before his matches.
I’ll pick Big Dan to win again because his loss happened against Ura. Which is all I really need to say, honestly.
I’ll agree with you, Bruce, that the Banzuke Committee wants to know if Takakeisho is really going to make a run for the Cup or not with their decision for him to face Shodai this early. It’s definitely obvious they want him to “earn” the rope.
If that’s the case, I’m incredibly curious how they’re going to handle Hokuseiho for the rest of the basho. They’ve only given him opponents he’s already fought so far and I’m wondering when the gloves will come off for his scheduling. That might happen as early as Thursday depending on how he does. I’m quite sure that no one who schedules the banzuke wants to have another “upstart” from the low ranks of the top division to be making a Cup run if they can prevent it.
As I’ve said in the past, the scheduling pretty much 100% follows a rank-based formula for the first week or so. With Terunofuji out, Takakeisho’s schedule was always going to be K2w, M1e, M1w (most likely followed by M2e, M2w, M3e, M3w, M4e, M4w, K2e, K1w, K1e, S2e, S1w, S1e in that exact order unless someone’s record is so bad that they get swapped out, or they need to swap in a lower-ranked yusho challenger in the last few days). Similarly for Hokuseiho, who will face guys right around his rank for the first week. If he’s on the leaderboard after day 8 (actually more like day 10), he’ll start to get higher-ranked opponents. You can see what they did with Kotoshoho last basho or Oho the one before to get an idea for how it would go.