Natsu Day 4 Preview

Day 4 is about to start, and there are some key matches waiting for us overnight US time. As I have a hunch that Asanoyama is going to be part of the yusho race given his low ranking and somewhat “easy” schedule, I want too see if he can bounce back from that loss to Oho last basho. I am also looking to see if Kiribayama will let his day 3 loss to Abi break his winning rhythm. Of course the battle of the san’yaku 3-0 rikishi: Kotonowaka and Wakamotoharu. Last and quite importantly, possible the first real test for Terunofuji’s condition as he takes on Tobizaru. Lots of great action in store for sumo fans today!

What We Are Watching Day 4

Mitoryu (2-1) vs Azumaryu (0-3) – With the banzuke gap persisting thanks to Takayasu’s kyujo, today we get Azumaryu up for a visit. He was clearly hurt in Osaka, ending that basho with a terrible 4-11 score. He’s not in any better form now, starting Natsu 0-3. I think this will be a 3rd win for Mitoryu.

Ichiyamamoto (1-2) vs Kagayaki (1-2) – Both start the day with 1-2 scores, and both of them have struggled to keep their footing so far this May. Kagayaki has had two consecutive make-koshi tournaments, and is struggling in the opening act of Natsu. I regarded his remaining in the top division as remarkable banzuke luck, but as the last man on the roster, a losing record will send him to Juryo as sure as the sun rises.

Asanoyama (3-0) vs Oho (1-2) – Asanoyama has fought Oho once before, on day 12 in Osaka where Asanoyama lost by yorikiri. I wonder if we will see Oho rally today, and give Asanoyama his first loss of the tournament. Probably not, no. As long as Asanoyama can prevent underestimating any given day’s match, he has an easy route to a leading position in the yusho race next week. One day at a time.

Tsurugisho (1-2) vs Myogiryu (2-1) – Myogiryu looks to be in much better form than he did in March, and if his health problems are behind him, he is sure to run up the score at this rank. He struggles to win against Tsurugisho, because there is just so darn much of him. Tsurugisho has a narrow 3-2 career record, winning the last 3 matches against Myogiryu, including both prior matches this year.

Aoiyama (2-1) vs Chiyoshoma (0-3) – I think Chiyoshoma should have saved his henka for this fight. Not that he could not do it again today, but I am sure Aoiyama is watching for it. Chiyoshoma will win this match if he can establish a belt hold. If Aoiyama can keep him in range of the V-Twin, Chiyoshoma is just ballast today.

Kotoeko (1-2) vs Daishoho (1-2) – Much as I liked that Asanoyama picked up a day 3 win to be 3-0, I think Kotoeko got robbed. I do defer to the judges sitting with a perfect view of the action. He has a chance to put up his second win today if he can overcome Daishoho’s sumo.

Ryuden (2-1) vs Hokuseiho (2-1) – Readers may have guess that I am perplexed by Hokuseiho. I get that his enormity has given him a basic sumo tool kit, and he seems to handle that well. Well enough to be kachi-koshi in a top division tournament. But I am still wondering as I watch him fight how the former Hakuho has not been able to impart the fundamentals on this guy. Ryuden won their only prior match, on day 13 of Nagoya last year. Maybe he will yet again get a hold and walk this big fellow out.

Takarafuji (2-1) vs Hiradoumi (2-1) – First ever match, both start the day 2-1. I have hopes that Takarafuji’s mess of a match on day 3 against Daishoho was a one time event, and we see more solid sumo from him today.

Sadanoumi (2-1) vs Onosho (1-2) – Onosho comes into this match with a 6-2 career advantage, but he really is not yet fighting well this basho. He does go through hot and cold streaks, and this one looks fairly chilly. Sadanoumi, in contrast, does look dialed into his fighting form.

Takanosho (0-3) vs Tamawashi (1-2) – Takanosho still has yet to score his first win, and that’s a big worry. He is up against Tamawashi, who is likewise underperforming this month. Takanosho holds a 5-2 career advantage, but with both of them in the sumo doldrums, it’s anyone’s guess if there will be an advantage at all.

Meisei (3-0) vs Hokutofuji (1-2) – Meisei has a flawless 3-0 start, and he’s up against the man with the most powerful make-koshi in all of sumo today. That means that even if he loses, I expect Hokutofuji to really give him a challenge. This is underscored by their even 4-4 career record, though the last 2 have been won by Meisei.

Kinbozan (1-2) vs Mitakeumi (2-1) – First ever match against Mitakeumi for fast rising start Kinbozan, who has yet to have a losing record in any pro tournament. After a long period of pathetic sumo, Mitakeumi is looking a bit more ready to fight this May, and I sincerely hope we can get him back as a steady competitor.

Kotoshoho (1-2) vs Nishikigi (0-3) – A fine “scratch and dent bin” match. Both of them have losing records right now, and Nishikigi would love to find his first win of May. He has a fairly even (5-6) record against Kotoshoho, who has been out classed the last two days.

Ura (2-1) vs Midorifuji (0-3) – Likewise, I continue to wonder when Midorifuji is going to find his first win. He has split the 2 prior matches with Ura, who gave us a remarkable demonstration of his ability in his day 3 win over Kotoshoho. I am guessing both will go low at the tachiai, and may spend most of the fight trying to get under their opponent.

Daieisho (3-0) vs Shodai (1-2) – Daieisho has a 16-8 career record against Shodai, and comes into today 3-0. He is looking strong, capable and ready to defeat everyone on the banzuke. Shodai is back to his mode where he is lost, confused and his body looks to be operating on its own non-sumo plan. Should be win #4 for Daieisho.

Abi (1-2) vs Hoshoryu (2-1) – Hoshoryu caught a surprise on day 3 with his loss to Tobizaru. This has not derailed his Ozeki march, but it may have given him a chance to consider his match strategies. He has taken to dialing up the speed of his tachiai as of late, and that gives him little room for any “plan b” should his opponent not do what Hoshoryu expects. Abi, however, is fairly predictable, and will double arm blast out of the tachiai. Hoshoryu holds a 5-2 career advantage.

Kiribayama (2-1) vs Nishikifuji (0-3) – Likewise Kiribayama took his first loss on day 3, but I don’t think it should have the same effect for him. Kiribayama’s approach is good enough, he just got beaten. He should put that aside and continue his march toward double digits. He won the only prior match against Nishikifuji, but that was (get this) at Kyushu in 2017 when both were at the bottom of Makushita.

Kotonowaka (3-0) vs Wakamotoharu (3-0) – One of these two will score their first loss today. Both have been fighting exceptionally well, but to my eye I can’t find anything wrong with Wakamotoharu’s sumo. Some of the best yotsu favored sumo in many years. I hope he can keep this up. Kotonowaka does come into today with a 6-2 career lead against Wakamotoharu.

Endo (0-3) vs Takakeisho (2-1) – Endo has yet to score a single win, and I still can’t figure out what he was doing against Terunofuji on day 3. Maybe it comes down to this – he hates interviews, and he suddenly realized that as a rank and file rikishi, a kinboshi win would require him to stand in front of the NHK cameras to talk about it. I am interested to see how he fares against the injured Takakeisho, who is still somehow managing to pull wins out of his mawashi.

Terunofuji (3-0) vs Tobizaru (1-2) – Is today the day we finally get to see if Terunofuji can put up a solid fight? Yes, he was won the past 3 days, but none of them have been much of a battle. With Tobizaru’s high agility and remarkable balance, he can cause a lot of trouble for a many with limited knee endurance. Terunofuji does had a 5-2 career advantage, but Tobizaru won their last match during Aki 2022.

2 thoughts on “Natsu Day 4 Preview

  1. I can’t find the actual quote anywhere, unfortunately, but previously Hakuho stated something similar to “His first makekoshi will be the first step on his path” about Hokuseiho. It sounds like “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” to me. I also wonder how long Hokuseiho will be happy with middling records instead of dominating people. We’ll see, I guess.

    Your description of Ura versus Midorifuji sounds like an odd limbo contest! “How low can you go?”

  2. I think Hokuseiho needs to improve his Tachiai, he looks hesitant to go on full force.
    But once he is locked with the opponent he looks confidant and he has great stamina for long fights.
    The only thing that puzzled me was during his fight with Takarafuji, how did Takarafuji moved him out of the Tawara so quickly, while Hokueiho was resisting with his full strength. Normally Takarafuji prefers defensive and wait for the opportunity to tackle the opponent.


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