Five Quick Thoughts on Day 3


Asanoyama

 

With day 3 done and dusted, and day 4 on the horizon, here are a few quick thoughts on some of the lower Makuuchi matches that I wanted to give a little extra time and attention to.

1. Mr. Happy and the Day 3 Blues

Let’s start with one of my favorite rikishi, Mr. Happy himself, Asanoyama. Today he went head to head with Kagayaki, who not only defeated Asanoyama but also beat his own archenemy, gravity. In September, Asanoyama remarked that he felt jinxed by the east entrance early on in the basho, as his first two losses came from that side of the dohyo. He doesn’t seem to be jinxed in Kyushu so far, as he has now lost on the east and the west side, marking the first time Asanoyama has had consecutive losses in the top division. This is not the start he or his fans had hoped for. It is still very early in the tournament though, and it will be interesting to see how Asanoyama handles this setback.

2. Shodai Comes Alive

Now where has this Shodai been!? After two lackluster basho, Shodai appears to have found a bit of the fighting spirit that had carried him to such great success in 2016. His match with Endo began with a shocking turn of events, as Shodai actually looked like he took a step forward at the tachiai! From there, the two young mawashi-grapplers fought with some uncharacteristic otsu-sumo thrusts. Despite Endo putting up most of the offense early in the bout, once he strayed into Shodai’s grip he was done for, and quickly found himself on the wrong side of the tawara. Shodai showed some much-needed passion today, and I hope this is the beginning of an upward trend for him.

3. What is Up With Chiyomaru?

On the opposite side of the passion spectrum, was Chiyomaru. The rotund rikishi looked deflated (not physically of course), and put up no resistance against Daishomaru. This has led me to speculate that he may be dealing with an as of yet undisclosed injury. Considering his physique, it would not be a surprise if he is dealing with back or knee issues. Chiyomaru could benefit from following Kaisei’s example and shedding a bit of mass to improve his health and sumo. I’d hate to see sumo lose its most kawaii rikishi because of injury.

4. The Great Wall of Ichinojo

There are only three certainties in life: death, taxes, and a genki Ichinojo is nearly impossible to push around. Today it was Hokutofuji’s turn to take on the immovable object, but he was not up to the task and immediately fell to the clay after making contact with Ichinojo’s mighty frame. The giant Mongolian is undefeated thus far and could be a major force in the yusho race. With Terunofuji a shell of his former self, Ichinojo could one day find himself taking on the mantle of sumo’s resident Kaiju.

5. A Look on the Bright Side

With the shadow of the Harumafuji scandal cast on this basho, it is important to recognize that there are still many positive stories coming out of Fukuoka. For starters, the young crop of rikishi continue to make their mark in the Makuuchi division and their matches remain competitive and enjoyable. Kisenosato and Takayasu seem up to the task of competing this basho, with the later of the two looking like an early contender for the yusho. Finally, Hakuho appears focused and determined to make more history this November, and become the first man to ever to win forty yusho. With so much to look forward to, let’s remember that there is still some great sumo to come.

 

Day 3 – Katasukashi Galore


Elephant Crosses Dohyo
What Yokozuna Incident?

So… let’s start with a couple of Juryo bouts. First, if there are any Ishiura fans out there, take a look:

Finally, Ishiura gets a win, against the hapless Homarefuji. He plants his head and keeps his feet in order, and manages to take the Isegahama man out. Of course, this black star is probably the last worry on Isegahama Oyakata’s mind this day. But they keep piling on.

Now take a look at Yutakayama vs. Tokushoryu:

A couple of days ago I said that there’s a level of difference between Yutakayama and Asanoyama. But as it turns out, the larger man is already in possession of three wins, while Asanoyama is not doing as well.

Up into Makuuchi we go, and Daiamami gets his first win today! Admittedly, Kyokushuho is just a Juryo rival, but any white star is a gold star at this point for the newcomer. It starts with a matta, but in the second round, Daiamami just cannons into Kyokushuho and gaburi’s him out. The fans enjoy his interview face:

Kotoyuki also grabbed his first win today, in a bit of a confused battle. Myogiryu throws Kotoyuki down, but falls a split second before the huge meatball. Air resistance?

Up we go to take a look at everybody’s favorite uncle. Whatever is happening around him in his heya, and the fact that he is going to do his dohyo-iri in his own kesho-mawashi from now on, do not seem to affect him. Nishikigi tried to do the smart thing – to press the kneeless man against the tawara. But Aminishiki just tiptoed aside like a ballerina, and handed Nishikigi the first Katasukashi of the day.

Aminishiki’s comment on the Isegahama website: “The heya has met with a serious situation, but the remaining rikishi must do their best. As the eldest I will strive to lead everybody forward”.

Takekaze seems to be headed to Juryo (if he doesn’t decide to retire). Okinoumi exchanges some thrusts with him until he gets a nice hold of his neck and ends it with a hatakikomi (if anybody can explain to me why this is not a tokkurinage… sigh).

The Asanoyama vs. Kagayaki bout was different than I expected. I’m used to seeing Kagayaki flailing wildly with his arms and his… additional appendages… This time he basically got his hands on Asanoyama’s body and managed to beat the Yotsu man at his own game.

Daiesho gets a first win today as well, when, after some attempts to slap and defend on Ikioi‘s side, he finally sidesteps and lets the big man hit the clay.

Endo decides to use thrusts vs. Shodai, and doesn’t make any use of his tachiai advantage. Shodai withstands the tsuppari attack, and manages to get a grip on Endo’s upper body. That’s the end for the recovering man in the golden mawashi, as Shodai has more than enough power to get him out even without a mawashi grip.

Not much can be said about the battle of the Marus. Again, Chiyomaru seems to have come to the dohyo without his usual genki. Daishomaru easily pushes him out.

Arawashi takes Tochinoshin to the bales and executes a beautiful sukui-nage. As Tochinoshin tries to resist the fall, Arawashi uses his right leg against Tochinoshin’s left and “helps” him complete the roll. Very nice!

Takarafuji earns his first win today vs. Chiyoshoma. It was Chiyoshoma’s initial initiative, but Takarafuji rallied, didn’t let Chiyoshoma get any grip on him for a throw (come on, Chiyoshoma, don’t try neck grips with Takarafuji, those are futile!) – and then throws the thrower in a nice uwatenage.

The second Katasukashi of the day came from Ichinojo. But this one was rather weird. Hokutofuji came at him low at the tachiai, and Ichinojo grabbed him under his arms, and then just let him drop. Not sure if slippiotoshi or sloppy tachiai on Hokutofuji’s part.

Chiyonokuni‘s match with Shohozan was less of a slapfest than I thought it would be, and ended pretty quickly with the Kokonoe man slapping his opponent down. All-important first win for Chiyonokuni.

Kotoshogiku nearly succeeds in his game plan today, and starts pumping his hips. However, Mitakeumi makes sure to be loose on one side, and concentrates his power on his grip on the pump-man’s arm for a well-executed sukuinage. Still bothered by his toe, but as long as he can execute throws like that, I’m sure the sekiwake is happy. Kotoshogiku is not getting the comeback he was hoping for, now 0-3.

Terunofuji‘s ghost continues to float over the dohyo without ever being able to latch its feet to it. Yet another loss for the former kaiju, this time against Yoshikaze who picks up his first win.

I wonder when Onosho is going to switch back to his fiery red mawashi. Rikishi are usually quick to blame their mawashi for their troubles, and the tadpole clearly suffers some bad lack, with his second slippiotoshi in a row against Takayasu. Unlike yesterday, when the Yokozuna really could take no credit for anything in the bout, Takayasu can be commended for managing to keep his footing first against a sidestep and then when pushed to the tawara. Excellent footwork from someone who tore a major leg muscle less than two months ago.

Goeido diversifies. In the two previous matches he hugged his opponent and swept him all the way to the other edge. Today he heard it was Katasukashi day, so he showed Tochiozan that he has waza as well as brute force.

If anybody hoped for another pedagogic bout between Hakuho and Takakeisho, this was not to be. Takakeisho exhibited welcome fearlessness in this bout, and even attempted to throw the dai-yokozuna. And if he had managed to do that I would really be worried that we’re seeing the decline of the One True King. But of course, Hakuho maintained his footing, got his other arm on Takakeisho and quickly swept him off the dohyo.

Finally, in the musubi of the day, Kisenosato manages to overwhelm Chiyotairyu in a way that he can feel happier about than yesterday’s silly bout vs. Onosho. He almost dances back to his position on the east to take his prize money.


Some more lower-ranks action:

Osunaarashi – Takagenji:

For followers of Shunba:

Win for Shunba of Isegahama Beya. #sumo #fukuoka #九州場所 #相撲 #kyushubasho #kyushu #福岡

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Day 2 – Slip Slidin’ Away


aminishiki-2017-11-day-02
The Battle of the Tsuyuharai

Before we turn to Aminishiki, who is still carrying Isegahama beya on his shoulders all alone (well, Homarefuji also won today), let’s drop and visit one of our favorites down in Makushita.

Yes. Unfortunately, Tokoryu was not letting the boy wonder outdo him. Hakuho’s pretty uchi-deshi tastes his first defeat.

In my personal watch list of Naruto beya – Torakio wins, Sumidagawa lost yesterday to Ezuka, who is a third of his size. Gap starts to open?


So, back up to Makuuchi. Nishikigi shows good fighting spirit and pushes Ishiura’s face with his lower arm several times. Ishiura, on the other hand, shows why he is in Juryo. Something is not working there.

Takekaze gets Kotoyuki down, stumbles over him, and both fall awkwardly below the dohyo. Takekaze seems to be OK, but Kotoyuki limping. Unfortunately, it’s not the worst injury of the day. Following the Aminishiki-Kagayaki bout, we have Aoiyama vs. Okinoumi. Aoiyama somehow damages his foot against the tawara, and ends up in the dreaded giant wheelchair. Following the doctor’s check, his stablemaster says that he hurt his heel, and that there was a “snapping sound”. This does not bode well for the Bulgarian.

This is not basho-related, but if we’re in the hospital already, the NSK finally released the reason for Takanoiwa’s kyujo, and it sounds very unpleasant: Concussion, ear canal inflammation, skull fracture, and a suspicion of cranial fluid leakage. For some unfathomable reason, the press says the expected recovery time is two weeks. From a skull fracture? Hmmm. Wishes of health go out to Kotoyuki, Aoiyama and Takanoiwa.

So, rewind a bit to the battle of the Tsuyuharai. That is, Kagayaki is Kisenosato’s tsuyuharai, whereas Aminishiki continues to serve as Harumafuji’s tsuyuharai, despite the fact that it strains his knees and ankles, and that it leaves him precious little time to get ready for his bouts. An honor is an honor. And anyway, he doesn’t seem to be affected by it too much, and might be running out of Yokozuna pretty soon the way things look up the banzuke. The torikumi itself was pretty short: Uncle chose to rise high at the tachiai to match Kagayaki’s height, and already had a grip in preparation whilst rising. Then it was left, down, and 2-0.

Endo and Kaisei take some time to fight over their mawashi grips, when Endo decides he has had enough, pulls on the one side of Kaisei’s mawashi he has a firm grip on, and twists him down. Shitatehineri. Nice!

Chiyomaru seems to have had a good night sleep, and came back with his usual genki today. Slap-slappity-slap, grab, push, and out with Daieisho.

Chiyoshoma on the other hand, makes the mistake of retreating after a good tachiai vs. Shodai, tries to grab something for one of his throws, but runs out of dohyo doing so.

Chiyonokuni loses by slippiotoshi – not the last one of the day – to Arawashi. Today was not a very good day for Kokonoe, either. But really, their fare is better than Isegahama…

What mode did Ichinojo boot up in for this basho? What a lovely bout against Takarafuji. Shoulder blast at the tachiai, a combination of oshi and yotsu zumo, some patience, and a couple of gaburi to put the Isegahama man out. As a general Isegahama fan this makes me a bit sad, but on the other hand, I really like Ichinojo. Especially when he’s wide awake.

OK, we’re up in the sanyaku. Hokutofuji looks convincing vs. Mitakeumi. Or is it that Mitakeumi is all… fishy…? Sorry, but that man’s face…

The ghost of Terunofuji tries to do all sorts of things with Shohozan, but, quite expectedly, fails. Shohozan is kind enough not to push the ailing Kaiju off the dohyo.

Chiyotairyu drops the lid on Yoshikaze‘s hopes to make an Ozeki run.

Goeido. Well, Goeido. That is, Goeido. He does to Kotoshogiku exactly what Harumafuji did to him in the playoff match in Aki. Simply prevents the henka and pushes the local man out so quickly he doesn’t know what hit him. Well, it was Goeido, Giku-zeki. He studied the monitor well and probably watched that match dozens of times since. The way Goeido looks right now, Hakhuo can start worrying.

Takayasu is back. Blast, push, and Tochiozan learns the pain of the joi. So, you’re saying the man from Tagonoura was injured? When was that?

And now we’re into the Yokozuna. And… when was the last time Harumafuji had two black stars from day one? The answer is Natsu 2010. Never as a Yokozuna, of course. He tried to tackle Takakeisho. Once. Didn’t work. Twice. Didn’t work. Third time… and he ran out of clay. Takakeisho was benevolent enough to pull him in so he will not roll off the dohyo (this is the real meaning of karma, by the way). The Yokozuna has as much chance of becoming a dai-yokozuna as I have of becoming a Japanese…

The bout between Kisenosato and Onosho was, in Onosho’s words, “Not what I thought it would be”. It looked a bit like a cartoon character starting to run, with feet shuffling but no forward motion. Big, big, slippiotoshi, and all Kisenosato had to do was let him fall in a way that could be called a kimarite.

kisenosato-2017-11-day-02
Slippiotoshi, reverse angle

The Japanese broadcaster said he did a “left ottsuke”. Anybody see an ottsuke there? Because I don’t. I see a man falling down.

Finally, Hakuho back in the musubi-no-ichiban. Slips in his usual face slap. Disengages for a second, and before Tamawashi can think of anything, shows him the way out.

hakuho-2017-11-day-02
Get out, trespasser!

So, two days go by. Maybe we’ll see a yusho playoff between Hakuho, Goeido, and, er… Aminishiki? Nah, I’m just jinxing him talking like that. Seriously, though, Hakuho, Goeido and Takayasu are currently the only dominant-looking rikishi on the clay.

 

Jungyo Newsreel – October 7th


🌐 Location: Saitama

Kakuryu keeps his foot on the accelerator

The recovering Yokozuna engaged Shodai in san-ban to the tune of 10 wins, 0 losses.

surprised-kakuryu

Kakuryu entertained the audience with a variety of techniques, including his specialty morozashi and various dashinage.

“I keep testing my foot’s responsiveness as I go. I aim to increase the number of bouts gradually, as my body re-habituates”. He is a bit unhappy with the fact that his skin turns red very quickly after practice. “You can tell a rikishi who regularly practices from one who doesn’t by the way the skin reddens quickly”.

Be that as it may, he did pretty well in the musubi of the day:

Another angle:

Kisenosato skips keiko to do a dohyo-iri at a local shrine

Because of the rain, the ceremony, which, when performed in a shrine, usually takes place in its yard, was done under the eaves in front of the main hall.

kisenosato-under-eaves

This was his first of two dohyo-iri of the day, as he had to return to the venue in time for the basho and perform one there as well.

Later, before the above bout with Kakuryu, he was spotted massaging his left upper arm again. So skipping keiko may have been intentional.

Endo withdraws from Jungyo

The old ankle troubles have reasserted themselves, and he will need three weeks of rest to get it fully healed.

Unconfirmed tweet also mentioned Ikioi as absent (did not participate in the Makuuchi dohyo iri nor in the torikumi).

Harumafuji still not doing torikumi, only dohyo-iri.

Hatsu Day 11 Preview


day-11

The Final Act Begins

The front ⅔ of Hatsu basho is complete. Now we enter the final act where heros are crowned and dreams get crushed.

Everyone is thinking it, but no one wants to say it. Kisenosato stands a good chance of winning this one, but he is expected to find a way to choke out and fumble what may be his best chance ever to finally claim a tournament championship. The most spectacular form this could take would be to lose to Hakuho sometime in the next few days, creating a tie (possibly a multi-way tie) for the lead. Nearly every sumo fan world wide would love to see that happen almost as much as they would feel satisfied that Kisenosato finally won a yusho. Hey, if it can happen for the Chicago Cubs, it can happen for Kisenosato.

Meanwhile today is the day that Kotoshogiku can get his make-koshi and finally end all of the drama around his perpetual kadoban status. I really enjoy watching Kotoshogiku fight, but if Ozeki is not a standard, it’s just a meaningless fancy name. There is big talk about him mounting a campaign in March for a 10 win return to Ozeki, but I am going to assume that he takes retirement with honor and dignity. All of that hinges on Kakuryu actually being up to the task of beating him. Which is far from certain.

Notable Matches

Osunaarashi vs Ichinojo – broken and battered Osunaarashi likely to get his make-koshi today at the hands of the giant Mongolian. I dearly hope he immediately withdraws from the tournament and checks into a hospital or physical therapy center to get repaired. He has top-flight rikishi spirit in a broken down body.

Hokutofuji vs Chiyotairyu – I am expecting Hokutofuji to get his kachi-koshi today. Hokutofuji is looking very solid this basho, and I hope it’s the way he will be from here on out.

Takekaze vs Mitakeumi – Oh yes, this could be a fun fun bout. You have fired up youngster Mitakeumi against henka champ and all around unpredictable Takekaze. Definitely one to watch

Takayasu vs Shodai – Takayasu is on a mission to get 10 wins or more. Doing so will likely re-start his Ozeki campaign, which is his total focus. Shodai needs to learn to overcome Takayasu’s sumo, which I think is fairly tough to do given that he has the stamina of a bull elephant. One shame with Takayasu and Kiseonsato being from the same stable is that we never get to see them fight. I would bet that Takayasu takes a fair share of their in-house matches.

Ikioi vs Goeido – Winner gets his kachi-koshi. Ikioi seems to have a driving hunger this basho that he was previously not able to transmit to action. Goeido seems to be back in his grove, and will be tough to beat. This is also a really good match to watch.

Kisenosato vs Endo – This could be the match that brings the Kisenosato train to a sputtering close. Endo is just the guy to do it, too.

Kakuryu vs Kotoshogiku – Kakuryu is in trouble, a Yokozuna being 5-5 at this stage means he is probably hurt again, which is a terrible shame because I really like the fierce one from Kyushu.

Hatsu Day 9 Preview


arawashi-kenso-heist

Arawashi’s Spoils of Battle

The second half of Hatsu opened with some great sumo, and some surprising outcomes. In the middle of all of this, I am keeping a watch on Kotoshogiku. Mathematically, I don’t see any way he cannot be demoted. The question comes: what does he do after that? Right now his legs are trashed, he has no pushing power. Kotoshogiku’s sumo is all about locking up a rikishi and applying those tree-trunk legs to move forward against any rikishi, no matter how big. With his knees out of operation, his sumo is no longer winning matches. Does Kotoshogiku remain in Makuuchi and try to make a come-back? It would require him to get very effective intervention on his knees. He would then have to fight his way back to Ozeki. More likely still, he might retire (intai) and transition to coaching or running the association or a heya.

There is also the question of Harumafuji. The reports from the press state that he is out for a month with a torn ligament in his right thigh. Prior to this, there were vocal threats to push him towards retirement coming form YDC head Moriya. Sumo fans can only wonder if privately, there is a renewed call for him to step down. Frankly, I think Harumafuji, at a workable physical condition, is necessary for the sport. Within 3 years there are likely to be viable Japanese Yokozuna hopefuls, and having the ever inventive Harumafuji to train and match against is crucial to producing the next generation of top quality Yokozuna.

Hatsu Leader Board

  • LeaderKisenosato
  • Hunt Group – Hakuho, Takanoiwa, Sokokurai
  • Chasers – Ikioi, Takekaze, Hokutofuji, Ichinojo, Sadanoumi

7 Matches Remain

Torikumi We Are Following

Ichinojo vs Sokokurai – As stated earlier, not sure who put the correct fuel into battle-bot Ichinojo, but he seems to be working again. The day 8 match with Chiyonokuni was an eye opener, as Chiyonokuni is no slouch, but to Ichinojo, it may as well have been an overly busy fly. I am beginning to worry that Inchinojo sneaks away to train with Shin-Godzilla (who is really robo-Hakuho in a suit, after all). Sokokurai is turning in a great performance, and is part of the hunt group. A win today would give Sokokurai his kachi-koshi, and a nice boost in rank for Osaka. Ichinojo has won both of their prior matches.

Takanoiwa vs Aoiyama – Another member of the hunt group faces Bulgarian Aoiyama, who seems to be more focused, more aggressive and more confident this basho than the prior several. He has massive size and unnatural strength. We just have to pray he does not follow Mitakeumi’s example and blend the pusher / thruster oshi-zumō approach with solid yotsu-zumō. A win here would give Takanoiwa his kachi-koshi. These two have split their prior two matches.

Hokutofuji vs Endo – Make no mistake, Endo is in this match today to test Hokutofuji. Endo has been struggling this basho, but he is still part of the “next generation” rikishi, and the NSK is grooming him carefully. At the same time, there seems to be a blossoming crop of youngsters this basho, all of whom need tested and measured against upper level Maegashira. This is the first time these rikishi have met.

Takarafuji vs Shodai – Competition for the lower 4 san’yaku spots in Osaka is fierce. This match will continue the training for Shodai, hopefully Takarafuji can tune him up a notch. They have had 4 prior matches, with an even 2-2 split.

Tamawashi vs Mitakeumi – Battle of the 5-3’s, both men are doing well and delivering some great sumo. Mitakeumi has won all 4 of their prior matches, but Tamawashi is going to be ready to break that record.

Kisenosato vs Kotoshogiku – A heartbreak match if there ever was one. Last year’s Hatsu basho champion Kotoshogiku, who is more or less doomed, faces undefeated Kisenosato. Kisenosato wants a yusho, so he does not dare give Kotoshogiku a “gift” – Hakuho will not give Kisenosato any second chances. Kotoshogiku actually leads the series 32-30.

Takayasu vs Hakuho – Well Takayasu, if you want to be an Ozeki, you need to win against Hakuho about half the time. Good luck with that, even though I am rooting for you to make it happen. Takayasu has only one once against Hakuho, with a hatakikomi at Kyushu in 2014.

Kakuryu vs Ikioi – Crowd favorite Ikioi faces a struggling Yokozuna Kakuryu. If I think back to Nagoya’s Hakuho vs Ikioi bout (where Hakuho became injured), Ikioi was terrified of facing Hakuho. Now I am pretty sure he has more confidence in his sumo. The real check for me to watch how he reacts when Kakuryu moves to his defensive entrapment mode against Ikioi’s over eager pushing and slapping attacks. Kakuryu holds the 7-2 advantage in this series.

Note: Wakaichirio will fight again on day 9, as opposed to his “even only” days thus far. On day 9 he is facing Michinoku heya’s Ryuki, who is a former Sandanme rikishi who missed 3 tournaments and is back in Jonokuchi.

 

Hatsu Day 4 Preview


harumafuji-shohozan

Shohozan Can End Kisenosato’s Boredom

Sumo fans are now clear on some of the questions and stories unfolding during the New Years tournament. Harumafuji is clearly having ankle and foot problems, and has a fraction of his normal power. His second straight loss, to Shohozan, was stunning. Harumafuji was easily pushed around and once again forced to the edge of the dohyo, where he could find no way to maneuver. In his healthy state, he would have taken the radical forward position of Shohozan and used it to launch him towards the spectators. I am hoping that he decides to bow out and seek immediate treatment for his chronic problems Day 4 he faces a winless Arawashi, which had better be an easy mark.

Hakuho is back, or at least back enough to be interesting and dominant. His match against Mitakeumi was classic Hakuho, where Hakuho improvised in the blink of an eye and left Mitakeumi baffled, off balance and lost. Day 4 he faces a winless Tochinoshin, which should prove no challenge.

Shodai is good, but green. If he can stay healthy he is probably going to be a solid Maegashira, or possibly Ozeki. His youth and inexperience are fairly easy to exploit by the veterans, and he leaves many avenues for attack wide open. It may be a few years of work before he matures into his better form. Day 4 he faces Kotoshogiku, who is a shadow of the Ozeki who won Hatsu last year.

Mitakeumi is where we all hope Shodai will be in 2 years. He has transformed from a pure push and slap rikishi into a healthy blend with mawashi technique, which is improving quickly. Day 4 he fights the highly reactive Yokozuna Kakuryu, which will be highly instructive. Mitakeumi has shown some impressive reactions himself mid bout.

Notable Matches

Osunaarashi vs Sadanoumi – Both of these sumotori come into this with 3-0, and both of them are quite capable men who are slumming at the bottom end of the banzuke this tournament. Osunaarashi is clearly hurting a bit more each day, but the only way he is giving up is on a stretcher. Osunaarashi comes in with a strong career 3-1 advantage over Sadanoumi.

Kagayaki vs Ishiura – Ishiura is facing a rather embarrassing start to Hatsu. At this point I think he has probably been humbled, and I would like to see him re-assemble his sumo and win a few. But his sumo seems vague and frantic right now, and everyone knows you can slap him down. Ishiura has won all 4 of his prior matches with Kagayaki.

Takanoiwa vs Chiyonokuni – After having a string of mediocre to poor tournaments, Chiyonokuni seems to have finally adapted to his bulkier form. Takanoiwa has been doing very well, with a 3-0 record to date. Chiyonokuni will likely go for another thrust down (tsukiotoshi) in this pusher battle. Chiyonokuni has a career record of 6-3 over Takanoiwa.

Yoshikaze vs Endo – Battle of fan favorites today. Yoshikaze has added a nice blend of yotsu-zumō to his normal regimen of oshi-zumō. As a result it’s harder to guess what he is going to bring to any given bout. With Endo almost exclusively pushing, I would not be surprised to see Yoshikaze repeat his day 3 attack plan. It’s 4-4 between Yoshikaze and the younger rikishi, Endo

Tamawashi vs Takayasu – Takayasu skillfully dismantled a struggling Goeido on day 3. This is more of the form that had been present through much of 2016. Strong with the endurance to wait for his opponent to make a mistake, and the speed of mind and body to make them suffer. Tamawashi positively dismantled Shodai on day 3, and is looking strong. Their series is tied at 5-5.

Kisenosato vs Shohozan – Kisenosato has been bored. You can see his boredom clearly on day 2, where his match was clearly disappointing. The man looks like he is working out how to paint his house and for a moment remembered to Tamawashi aside. Shohozan has been bringing a lot of muscle and fierce energy to his bouts thus far. I am hoping that finally, Kisenosato has something to look forward to. Kisenosato has a career 9-2 advantage over Shohozan.

Kakuryu vs Mitakeumi – With Harumafuji hurt, Kakuryu is a clear contender for the yusho this early on. Today he will instruct Mitakeumi on assumptions. Mitakeumi will assume Kakuryu’s battle plan, and likely be mistaken. Or we could see a mighty zabuton snowstorm once again. Clear advantage to Kakuryu.
Note: Second match for Wakaichiro in the early hours of Wednesday in Tokyo. Again, if we can get video we will post it here.