The Nihon Sumo Kyokai released the Day 1 & Day 2 schedule for the top division, as well as the Day 1 schedule for Juryo, and in-so-doing confirmed that Yokozuna Terunofuji would be absent. Unfortunately, this has become rather normal but we are heartened that at least some of the No-Zeki drama has been put to rest as Takakeisho will participate and he is joined by two fellow Ozeki. Both he and Kirishima aim to clear their kadoban status (must have winning records or will be demoted to Sekiwake) but shin-Ozeki Hoshoryu will be eager to follow up his yusho with a strong performance in Tokyo.
Despite Terunofuji’s kyujo, there will be night full of interesting match-ups, culminating in Kirishima vs Tobizaru for the musubi-no-ichiban. There looks to be a lot of risk for upsets so many fans will probably be relieved if the three Ozeki start out strong. However, I have circled the Nishikigi/Tamawashi bout as a potential highlight. We will quickly learn how ready Nishikigi is after the injury suffered during last week’s open practice.
Asanoyama can potentially start his own Ozeki run with an exceptionally strong tournament from Maegashira 2. I know many of his fans are eager to see if he can quickly reclaim his former rank. Injuries are certainly taking their toll, though. But if we are realistic, this is the first opportunity he has to start making moves for Ozeki. There have been rare promotions where Ozeki runs begin from, or near, the top of the rank-and-file. He’ll face Wakamotoharu in his opener, whose own promotion hopes withered in the heat of Nagoya. Daieisho will also be starting from zero this tournament as he faces Meisei. Kotonowaka will face Shodai, who seems to be more reliable as a spoiler than anything. Will one of these four men be the next Ozeki? Will any be promoted by Osaka, or much later?