Day one was a bit of a surprise, as it featured very little ring rust. I was happy to see both Terunofuji and Takakeisho win their openers, as they both need to hit at least 8 this basho. I especially liked Kiribayama’s win over Midorifuji, as he used Midorifuji’s favorite technique, the katasukashi, to do it. As long as we are talking Ozeki, how about a few more. Asanoyama is likely to not have too tough a time with any opponents the first week. He’s not really less potent than when he got into trouble, so expect a big, burly Ozeki presence in each day’s match. Lastly, with Takayasu out, we will have daily visitors from Juryo to fill the banzuke gap. At least until someone else goes kyujo, or Takayasu returns.
There are several sumo “superfans” in Tokyo for this tournament, or at least part of it. I salute you all for making that trip, and hope you have an absolutely wonderful time at the Kokugikan and the surrounding Tokyo area.
What We Are Watching Day 2
Kagayaki (0-1) vs Gonoyama (0-0 (1-0)) – Juryo visitor Gonoyama faces Kagayaki for the first time ever. I think this one will come down to Kagayaki getting his balance dialed in, as he was not stable enough of his feet on day 1 to withstand a tsukiotoshi. At M17E, I would expect him to finally head back to Juryo for July if he fails to make his 8.
Mitoryu (0-1) vs Oho (1-0) – Oho managed to win his opening day match against the off balance Kagayaki, but it’s too soon to determine if he has returned to good form. He has never beaten Mitoryu in 7 attempts, so an Oho win today would be a surprise.
Ichiyamamoto (0-1) vs Tsurugisho (1-0) – Like Kagayaki, Ichiyamamoto showed us some balance problems in his day 1 match. If those problems persist today, the trouble will be amplified by Tsurugisho’s massive 60kg weight advantage. Ichiyamamoto has a perfect 7-0 record against Tsurugisho, so I am looking for “Abi-junior” to pick up his first win of the basho today.
Asanoyama (1-0) vs Myogiryu (1-0) – These two have an 11 match career record, with a 9-2 advantage to the former Ozeki. They last fought 2 years ago on day 7 of 2021’s Natsu, where Asanoyama earned a win by sukuinage. In fact, Asanoyama has won the last 7 matches in a row against Myogiryu, going all the way back to 2018.
Chiyoshoma (0-1) vs Kotoeko (0-1) – These two have a 19 match career record, with Kotoeko having a 12-7 lead over Chiyoshoma. I see folks on Twitter are starting to try and handicap which day will see the first Chiyoshoma henka. I think this is a very good candidate day.
Aoiyama (1-0) vs Daishoho (0-1) – Aoiyama won their only prior match, which was an incredible 5 years ago when they were both in Juryo during Hatsu-basho 2018. We got to see Aoiyama fire up the V-Twin on day 1, and I hope he is healthy enough to ride that hawg all the way to a double digit finish this May.
Hokuseiho (1-0) vs Takarafuji (1-0) – Hokuseiho’s slow, plodding sumo style does not mix well with a healthy Takarafuji. Takarafuji tends to be very mobile, tends to focus first and foremost on keeping his opponents reactive, and seldom gets into protracted leaning matches. Both are starting today 1-0, but I think that Takarafuji has the edge.
Ryuden (0-1) vs Hiradoumi (1-0) – It’s hard to tell if Ryuden’s chronic hip injuries are bothering him once more, but I certainly hope that is not the case. After a dreadful 2-13 result in March, he could certainly benefit from at least a kachi-koshi this May. He has won all 4 prior matches against Hiradoumi, so quite possibly he will make it a 2-0 start to Natsu today.
Onosho (0-1) vs Takanosho (0-1) – Onosho was one of the few examples of ring rust we saw on day 1, and hopefully he has gotten his balance and stance to align for today. I think Takanosho underestimated Sadanoumi, and got a face full of clay as a result. Their career record stands at 6-7.
Sadanoumi (1-0) vs Tamawashi (0-1) – Sadanoumi has had two 6-9 make-koshi so far this year, and it’s high time for him to have a winning tournament. Tamawashi did even worse at Osaka, ending with 3-12, and was clearly hurt. It’s hard to tell if he is still hurt, but if he is, it could indicate the beginning of the end of the 37 year old “iron man of sumo’s” career.
Hokutofuji (1-0) vs Mitakeumi (0-1) – To me, Mitakeumi looks like he lost weight. His big round “umi” belly looks a bit slack, and he is not as puffy as he had been. I would imagine a lighter Mitakeumi may be a better Mitakeumi, bu so far that has not panned out. Mitakeumi holds a 14-11 career match advantage over Hokutofuji.
Meisei (1-0) vs Kotoshoho (1-0) – Both come into today’s match with a win on day 1, and I think that this is a solid head to head fight regardless of Meisei’s 4-1 career advantage. Kotoshoho has been indicating for some time that he is ready to make a step change improvement to his sumo, and this may be the basho where that all comes about.
Kinbozan (0-1) vs Nishikigi (0-1) – Both of these rikishi took a loss on opening day, in spite of them being excellent fighters. This is their first ever match, but I give Kinbozan a slight edge as I think Nishikigi will be denied his “battle hug” that gives him a path to a win.
Shodai (0-1) vs Nishikifuji (0-1) – I was very happy to see the “Wall of Daikon” deployed straight away on day 1. Gives me a lot of hope that we can see “good” Shodai this tournament as he follows up his 10-5 strong finish in Osaka. Nishikifuji lost his opening day match, and I have to wonder if he is still less than optimum due to lingering injuries. Shodai won their only prior match in January on day 12.
Kiribayama (1-0) vs Endo (0-1) – Kiribayama is shooting for double digits in a bid to become sumo’s next Ozeki. He’s going to need to be more consistent than his average day to day this May to make it happen. He has an even 3-3 record against Endo, who’s sumo is strong, but predictable. I suspect Kiribayama may get a surprise, as Endo seems to bring out his best sumo for the “big” matches.
Tobizaru (0-1) vs Wakamotoharu (1-0) – Tobizaru lost opening day, and I have to wonder if maybe his high mobility monkey sumo may have run its course for now. I am fairly confident that if Wakamotoharu can get a hand hold, he can shut down Tobizaru and use his superior yotsu-zumo skills to finish him off. However, Tobizaru has a 7-5 career edge over Wakamotoharu.
Daieisho (1-0) vs Ura (1-0) – Much as I love Ura, this one is likely no contest. Daieisho’s mega-thrust sumo is usually more than sufficient to get even the new bulked up Ura airborne. Ura’s one chance is to execute some of his grab-and-tug sumo when Daieisho’s arms are extended, and hurl him out of the ring. He was able to do that in their last match, on day 2 of November’s Kyushu basho.
Midorifuji (0-1) vs Hoshoryu (1-0) – Hoshoryu will have his first match of the basho today, after getting a surprise fusensho against Takayasu on day 1. Midorifuji has a 6-2 career history, and he tends to dominate the future Ozeki hopeful, favoring the use of watashikomi: a thigh grabbing push down.
Kotonowaka (1-0) vs Takakeisho (1-0) – Kotonowaka won their last match, during Hatsu of day 11, where he employed an oshitaoshi to take the Ozeki down. He was one of only 3 people to beat Takakeisho that tournament, as the Ozeki finished 12-3 with his 3rd yusho. Looking forward to this match.
Terunofuji (1-0) vs Abi (0-1) – They have split their prior matches 2-2, with Abi winning the most recent on on day 1 of Nagoya 2022. There are still a lot of questions around Terunofuji’s condition, and we can only hope he’s healthy enough to make it through this basho. No matter what, you can bet this one ends with an oshidashi.