Kyushu Day 2 Preview

I was satisfied with the action day 1, and if I am being honest, I think the match ups for day 2 are a notch better than we had for shonichi. Today may be contrasts day, as I see more than a couple clashes of sumo styles and approaches on the torikumi. Highlights for me are

  • Chiyoshoma vs Abi – forward power vs hit and shift
  • Wakamotoharu vs Hokutofuji – patient, stead sumo vs big opening move and rapid dispatch of any opponent
  • Ura vs Daieisho – Grab-n-tug sumo vs all power forward mega-thrust attacks
  • Wakatakakage vs Kiribayama – rising stars battle for dominance
  • Takayasu vs Shodai – wild man sumo vs the wall of daikon

What We Are Watching Day 2

Chiyomaru vs Hiradoumi – Today’s Juryo visitor is none other than his mighty roundness, Chiyomaru. He won his opening day match against Churanoumi. Ranked at Juryo 1 West, a simple kachi-koshi should be enough to return him to the top division in January. Hiradoumi took their only prior match, during Aki. Both start the day 1-0.

Kagayaki vs Terutsuyoshi – Terutsuyoshi really needs to rally soon. To me he looks like he is still hurt, and as such will be easy meat for Kagayaki, who holds a 7-3 career record, and has 50 kg in bulk, and 30 cm in height on Terutsuyoshi. Ranked at just Maegashira 16E, a make-koshi would likely send him back to Juryo for Hatsu.

Ichiyamamoto vs Atamifuji – After an opening day loss, Atamifuji will look for his first win in his first ever match against Ichiyamamoto. The challenge being that Ichiyamamoto puts a lot of power into his double arm thrusting attack, and tends to be at maximum range when he starts his run. This robs anyone who needs a hand hold to fight of even the smallest chance to get into the battle. Atamifuji does has a 30 kg size advantage, maybe it will come in handy today.

Azumaryu vs Oho – Both men start the day 0-1, and are looking for their first win. Oho continues to struggle with consistency in his sumo, and so it’s tough to know if he will be dialed into his sumo today or not. They have four prior career matches, that have split evenly 2-2.

Kotoeko vs Chiyotairyu – Its Sadogatake vs Kokonoe on the clay! To me, Chiyotairyu did not look sharp day one. I worry he’s going to continue the poor performance that has been plaguing him since mid 2021. I suspect an injury is to blame. The two are nearly even at 8-7 career wins.

Okinoumi vs Kotoshoho – Also in the ranks of “looking not very genki”, is Okinoumi. Not that I fault him. At 37 years old, he’s close to the point where his body may be telling him it’s time to consider hanging up the mawashi and putting that kabu to use. Kotoshoho had an opening day win, but is still tuning up to full honbasho power.

Aoiyama vs Onosho – Two rikishi with large amounts of forward power going head to head, this could be fast and ugly. It will come down to if Onosho is in a mood to keep his balance under control, and his feet in a workable position. Aoiyama did not show much power on day one, and may still be nursing his injury from this summer.

Chiyoshoma vs Abi – I admit I want to see Abi wreck the lower / middle ranks this November. I think he got the rank he got by missing September, but a brutal hammering will do the most to put him back near the named ranks, where I think he belongs. Today might be a good day for Chiyoshoma to employ liberal amounts of lateral sumo.

Takarafuji vs Takanosho – The news for Takarafuji is not good. After an opening day loss where it looked to me like his feet got out of cadence, he gets to face Takanosho, who he has only beaten twice in 9 attempts. Now in his mid-thirties, I add him into the group of rikishi who are really suffering the effects of accumulated injuries.

Tochinoshin vs Myogiryu – Tochinoshin is also in this age group, but seems to have found a way to maintain some level of sumo power, in spite of a knee that is little more than gristle, curry and scraps of old newspapers. He and Myogiryu had a 32 match career record, with Myogiryu leading 18-14.

Nishikigi vs Endo – Both men start the day 0-1, and Endo could really use a win to keep his score closer to the midline. The good news is that Nishikigi has never beaten Endo (0-7), so this might be a good pickup for Endo.

Ryuden vs Nishikifuji – This has my attention as potentially a big fight to start the second half of action. Both won their opening day fights, and look fairly genki on shonichi. The only prior match was May while both were ranked in Juryo, and it went to Nishikifuji.

Wakamotoharu vs Hokutofuji – I would love to see Wakamotoharu have another match where he is careful, patient and calmly puts together a winning yorikiri. Of course, this is nearly the opposite of the way that Hokutofuji fights. I expect him to come in with a fast combo attack and an early nodowa. If he can get his favorite combo to pay off, Wakamotoharu is going to have his hands full. Hokutofuji leads the series 2-1.

Sadanoumi vs Midorifuji – Sadanoumi surprised Hokutofuji on day one, and I give him even chances of doing it again today against Midorifuji. The trick for Sadanoumi is to get his hands on Midorifuji before the Isegahama man can get his feet set and begin his offense. They have split their 2 prior matches.

Tobizaru vs Meisei – Sumo’s flying monkey moves from winning against Shodai to fighting Meisei. Meisei lost his opening day match, but has a 6-2 career record against Tobizaru. The reason why that may not matter much is that Tobizaru has improved quite a bit over the past few months, and will be tough for Meisei to maintain any kind of hold.

Ura vs Daieisho – Both lost on day 1, but Ura seemed to already be into his sumo in his loss against Kiribayama, while Daieisho looked ill prepared for this fight with Takakeisho. These two are evenly balanced across their careers with Daieisho having a narrow 5-4 lead. Daieisho will look to open up his mega-thrust attack path, and Ura will be looking for an errant body part to grab and tug.

Wakatakakage vs Kiribayama – I am eager to see at what point Wakatakakage breaks out of his “cold start” routine and settles down to some powerful sumo. I note with amusement they have him fighting Kiribayama on day two, and he holds a 7-4 career advantage. A great fight of two of sumo’s rising stars.

Ichinojo vs Mitakeumi – Mitakeumi loves to fight Ichinojo most days. He holds a 15-7 career advantage over the Boulder, and has won 3 of their 4 matches so far this year. Mitakeumi needs the win to continue his drive to return to Ozeki, but Ichinojo looked really sharp in his day 1 win against Tamawashi.

Tamawashi vs Hoshoryu – If I had to guess, Tamawashi may have some frustrations from his day 1 match with Ichinojo to work out. Probably against Hoshoryu’s face, or neck. Hoshoryu is no easy mark right now, and in fact has a narrow 4-3 career lead against Tamawashi. This could be a big, quick match.

Takakeisho vs Kotonowaka – I harbor hopes that Takakeisho, the Grand Tadpole, will eject Kotonowaka like a damaged cassette tape stuck in an ancient Toyota Celica for 20 years. It’s been a while since we saw some solid wave-action, so here’s to hoping he can deliver that today.

Takayasu vs Shodai – I really don’t want to see Shodai as an Ozekiwake in January, so I hope he can find and reactivate his good sumo mode. He’s got a fairly fresh copy of Takayasu as challenger today, and that won’t be easy for him. He does hold a 17-9 career advantage, so it may come down to Takayasu keeping his balance and his feet during his habitual big opening forearm strike.

Aki Day 1 Highlights

I am very pleased with day 1. A solid day of sumo with some great finishing moves, good sumo from some of the Ozeki corps and solid effort overall. Nobody seemed to “phone it in” and there were no howlers from the gyoji. What more could one ask for?

I want to call specific attention to Kotonowaka, who was probably robbed in Nagoya. He had a 7-3 record at the end of day 10, when his stable was declared COVID-kyujo. Now note that Ichinojo won the cup with 3 losses. I am not saying Kotonowaka would have taken the Emperor’s cup, but we did not get to see him vie for the yusho in the final act of Nagoya. Given that he picked up right where he left off today with strong, witty and aggressive sumo, I think he would have played an important role in the final weekend. If he can stay healthy, I predict he will be in the mix this September.

Highlight Matches

Hiradoumi defeats Shimanoumi – Shimanoumi kept himself compact, and all of his energy forward. He looked strong for the first few moments, but Hiradoumi made sure to shift the pressure to Shimanoumi’s right knee. From there, there was a big opening, Hiradoumi took it and won the match after he broke Shimanoumi’s stance. Intelligent, if brutal, sumo for Hiradoumi to start 1-0.

Mitoryu defeats Tsurugisho – A new battle of the mega-fauna, with each man around 200kg. The were even into the tachiai and the initial exchange. It looked to me that Tsurugisho attempted to pivot left, but lost his right hand grip. With his body turned, Mitoryu drove forward against minimal defense and walked Tsurugisho out. Mitoryu starts 1-0.

Terutsuyoshi defeats Yutakayama – Yutakayama had a clear advantage in size and strength, but I loved watching Terutsuyoshi stay mobile, and keep Yutakayama from squaring his hips and driving forward. Terutsuyoshi ended up breaking Yutakayama’s right hand inside, and Yutakayama knew he was at risk. Terutsuyoshi proceeded to take control of the match, setting up a twist down. The kainahineri took the match, looked great and delighted fans around the world. Good start for Terutsuyoshi now at 1-0.

Oho defeats Chiyoshoma – Oho showed a lot of power to try and counter Chiyoshoma’s superior sumo technique. The match ended with a mutual throw that saw Oho hit the clay, and Chiyoshoma get the gumbai. But a monoii was called, and it seems Chiyoshoma’s top knot hit first, losing him the match. Tough break for him, but that was sharp sumo from Chiyoshoma. Oho improves to 1-0.

Ichiyamamoto defeats Ryuden – Returnee Ryuden did not look strong today, as Ichiyamamoto got his hands inside, and proceeded to unload volley after volley on Ryuden’s upper body. Unable to set his feet or lower his hips, Ryuden was pushed back and eventually out on the east side for an Ichiyamamoto win. He starts Aki 1-0.

Chiyotairyu defeats Okinoumi – Classic Chiyotairyu sumo – stand them up then slap them down. He does this so very well that even when experience rikishi like Okinoumi face him, and know it’s coming, there is not much you can do about it. Chiyotairyu starts with a win at 1-0.

Takanosho defeats Kotoshoho – A healthy Takanosho at this rank should turn in double-digit wins. On opening day, he completely dominated Kotoshoho, taking an inside hand position and dialing up the pressure. Takanosho wins day one, to start 1-0.

Nishikifuji defeats Kotoeko – Nishikifuji had his body all over the dohyo in this match, and while he did not look like he was in control, he was imparting most of that chaos into Kotoeko, who had no answer to any of it. Tossed like a cork in the sea, Kotoeko was quickly tossed off the dohyo as Nishikifuji advances to 1-0.

Hokutofuji defeats Myogiryu – Myogiryu dominated the start of this match but could not finish Hokutofuji on the opening combo. Hokutofuji managed to break Myogiryu’s right hand grip, and it was a his turn to attack. I liked that we saw a bit of gaburi-yori in there. I would love to see a healthy Hokutofuji turn in a good tournament this September. He’s 1-0.

Tochinoshin defeats Onosho – Onosho, come on man. Classic balance problems from Onosho, coupled with strong performance from Tochinoshin means Onosho takes a tumble and roll. Who didn’t see this one coming? Tochinoshin 1-0.

Endo defeats Aoiyama – Big Dan had his match plan disrupted by Endo’s opening combo. He tried to recover with a kotenage, but Endo’s balance was excellent, and he was not giving Aoiyama one centimeter of space to recover. Endo starts 1-0.

Wakamotoharu defeats Sadanoumi – Day one award for best improvisational sumo goes to Wakamotoharu. Sadanoumi expertly dismantled Wakamotoharu’s defense, had his hips low and his body chest to chest against Wakamotoharu. But Wakamotoharu found a grip, lifted and turned. It worked, and we got to see an utchari today! I do love Wakamotoharu’s expression of satisfaction following the win. I see that from my cat when she does something crazy that actually works. Wakamotoharu 1-0.

Takayasu defeats Takarafuji – Man, another chance to appreciate the sumo technique of Takarafuji, which was just fantastic for the first moments of today’s match. He would not let Takayasu get his lower body in any kind of working position. But Takarafuji did not wait him out, and attempted a pull down. This was a risky move, and he handed the match to Takayasu as a result.

Nishikigi defeats Ura – Ura got captured immediately by Nishikigi, and really seemed to have no workable “Plan B”. As Nishikigi drove forward, Ura tried anything he could, which was pulling on Nishikigi’s head. He may have gotten a handful of hair, but it really did not matter as Nishikigi cleanly drove him off the dohyo to win his first match.

Daieisho defeats Meisei – Daieisho seems to be lacking some of his speed an power of last year. Rumor is he hurt his lower back, and that has sapped some of his performance. Today, he saw a mistake from Meisei, and instantly switched attack to slap him down, and take his day 1 match. Daieisho is now 1-0.

Tamawashi defeats Hoshoryu – This match went somewhat like I thought it might. Hoshoryu, always earnest, wants to use his best technique and overcome Tamawashi. Tamawashi, a long serving veteran of the top division, just says, “Hey kid, what’s that on our chin?”, then proceeds to lay about 100kg of iron will right on Hoshoryu’s face. Hoshoryu’s completely disrupted, and gets tugged, pushed, crumpled and pushed out from an oblique angle. Hopefully he is ok. Tamawashi starts 1-0.

Kotonowaka defeats Wakatakakage – Kotonowaka picks up where he left off in Nagoya: strong confident sumo. He takes the fight to Wakatakakage and leaves him off balance at the initial merge. At no point does he allow Wakatakakage to regain any kind of foot placement, useful body position or execute any strong sumo. With the Ozeki hopeful boxed up and contained, he drives forward and Wakatakakage is unable to stop him. Nice work, Kotonowaka 1-0.

Mitakeumi defeats Midorifuji – This is the kind of sumo I want to see from Mitakeumi. A lot of power, relentless drive forward, and not giving Midorifuji a single moment when he is not off balance and struggling to stay in the match. Mitakeumi 1-0.

Shodai defeats Tobizaru – Oddly enough, Shodai won his first match and looked like “good” Shodai int he process. We did not get to see the “Wall of Daikon”, but Shodai made sure that Tobizaru’s only attempt at offense did not take him off his feet. Points to Tobizaru for improvising that last-ditch counter attack. Shodai 1-0.

Ichinojo defeats Takakeisho – Friggen Snorlax gets his yusho picture hung from the rafters, and dispatches an Ozeki. What a day! I am somewhat concerned that Takakeisho’s opening volley really seemed to lack any strength, and he quickly tried to switch gears while Ichinojo was running him down. Better luck tomorrow, tadpole! Ichinojo 1-0.

Terunofuji defeats Kiribayama – I know this is going to seem so very odd, but I find Terunofuji’s patient Yokozuna sumo kind of calming. I give a lot of credit to Kiribayama for bringing a vigorous attack to Terunofuji, but at least for now he’s looking healthy enough to do the sumo he wants to do. Terunofuji 1-0.

Haru Day 8 Preview – Nakabi!

Welcome to the middle day of the Osaka Haru basho. So far it’s been a bit of an odd little tournament, and we find ourselves half way between shonichi and the awarding of the Emperor’s Cup with no Yokozuna, one Ozeki facing almost certain demotion, and a leaderboard populated with names that will soon be out of the running.

If you are the kind to be awake in the middle of the night (at least US time) you can catch live streaming of the last hour (or so) of the today’s action on NHK World Japan, starting at around 4 AM Eastern US time, 1 AM Pacific. Before I had a young child in my life, I would typically make a point to watch at least a couple of days live, and Nakabi is a fine choice for that.

But with day 8 upon us, it’s time for Tachiai’s leaderboard

Haru Leaderboard

In my mind, the yusho race will not really get started until someone manages to put dirt on Takayasu. Be aware, I am a fan of his, but I think the chances of him going 15-0 are quite slim, and I am quite sure that if we get to act three, and he is 10-0, he will face some fierce opponents. The one to watch right now is Mitakeumi, he sometimes struggles into week 2, but if he can stay strong, he is my favorite to pick up a second consecutive Emperor’s cup. Before anyone starts talking about a rope run, the answer is “not yet”.

Leader: Takayasu
Hunt Group: Mitakeumi, Wakatakakage, Kotonowaka
Chasers: Takakeisho, Abi, Kiribayama, Endo, Wakamotoharu, Nishikigi

8 matches remain

What We Are Watching Day 8

Azumaryu vs Kotokuzan – With the torikumi out of balance, we are back to having visitors from Juryo. Today its Azumaryu, who stands a fair chance of kachi-koshi with at 5-2 recored to start day 8. A winning record will at least start the notion that he could return to the top division for May, provided enough promotion slots open up in Makuuchi.

Tochinoshin vs Yutakayama – The one thing to know about this match? Yutakayama: 4 consecutive losses. I am not a huge fan of Tochinoshin’s new street-fighter sumo, but I have to admit, it has left his opponents cautions and bit more pliable then normal. Should he hit his 8 this time out, it would be a welcome change of pace for the former Ozeki.

Chiyomaru vs Kagayaki – Kagayaki reverted to his vague and less powerful form on day 7, and I have to hope he can rally for today’s fight against the bulbous Chiyomaru. Both of these guys are riding the make/kachi-koshi line, and are ripe to be fed into Darwin’s funnel, should the schedulers decide to run one. They share an 8=8 career record, perfect for day 8. Man, these scheduler guys are having far too much fun with numbers.

Kotoeko vs Nishikigi – Kotoeko should take this one, giving Nishikigi his 3rd loss. Kotoeko holds a 4-0 career advantage over Nishikigi, so I think that Kotoeko’s size, strength and speed are a potent combination against Nishikigi’s deliberate, sturdy sumo.

Ichiyamamoto vs Chiyotairyu – Oh, great sumo cat, I beseech thee. Let Chiyotairyu unleash his thunder-god sumo again today. I would dearly love to see Ichiyamamoto receive a right proper crumpling in the lap of Dr. Takasu. Amen.

Myogiryu vs Akua – I am guessing Akua is hurt again, because he’s fighting like crap. That’s why we don’t have Akua every tournament, he struggles to maintain consistency. Myogiryu holds a 2-0 career advantage over him, and I am going to guess he may rack up so many losses, that he is named captain of the Juryo barge.

Kotoshoho vs Terutsuyoshi – Terutsuyoshi fusensho over the kyujo Chiyonokuni means he got a day of rest, nearly in the middle of the tournament. I hope it energized him, as I think this match was designed to be an even battle. Both are 4-3, they have a 2-2 career record, and I think we will see some nice sumo from Terutsuyoshi today.

Chiyoshoma vs Aoiyama – Chiyoshoma is having a tough tournament. I don’t know if its injury, loss of stamina, or he just can’t manage sumo at this rank right now. He has a 5-3 career advantage over “Big Dan” Aoiyama. Aoiyama, at 3-4, is also a prime funnel candidate, should the choose to run one this March.

Shimanoumi vs Sadanoumi – This is the point where some may choose to go relieve themselves, or grab an additional beer. I have enjoyed Sadanoumi’s sumo when he has been fighting well in prior tournaments, and I just have to hope that maybe he can get something organized here starting today. Yea, I am an optimist.

Takayasu vs Wakamotoharu – I look at this match and kind of wonder why. Sure Wakamotoharu has been fighting well, and has some great sumo this March. But this is a first time match against yusho early leader Takayasu. I would bet a donut that Wakamotoharu is going to go chest to chest, Takayasu will accept, and he will just stand there and wear him to a frazzle. Well, it has been a while since we have seen Takayasu just grind someone down for 3 minutes or so until they are begging for him to finish the match.

Hokutofuji vs Tobizaru – Hokutofuji has little time for the simian antics of Tobizaru. I predict handshake tachiai, nodowa to keep him from hopping about, and a rapid removal from the field of play. He has a 4-0 career advantage over Tobizaru, and this is normally how it goes.

Takarafuji vs Okinoumi – A match of great sadness. Both wonderful rikishi, both with crummy 1-6 records. At least we know one of them will be 2-6 after today. They have 27 matches over their career, but Takarafuji’s 16-11 advantage matters little when both of them are probably injured, and fighting this poorly.

Kotonowaka vs Endo – You know, I had no idea how much I wanted to see this match until I read the torikumi for day 8. What a delight. Endo has a chance to go 4-0 against Kotonowaka, and Kotonowaka has a chance to show the world just how much his sumo has improved since the last time they fought in May of 2021.

Meisei vs Tamawashi – Right now, Meisei can’t buy a win. I don’t think he will last more than a few second against Tamawashi, who is not at his career best, but good enough to rough up a likely injured, smaller rikishi.

Takanosho vs Ichinojo – I would like to think that Takanosho can soften his fall down the banzuke by picking up more wins, but then I see he’s fighting Ichinojo today, and I have to think again. Ichinojo, while not quite in his best form, is good enough that he’s causing all kinds of damage in the joi-jin. He beat both kadoban Ozeki, and even trashed Endo pretty effectively.

Wakatakakage vs Ura – Speaking of Ura…. At 1-6 he’s going to take a trip south on the banzuke way come May. But I think he can still cook up a couple of nice surprise wins. But he had better start soon, his only victory was against the covid depleted husk of Shodai. Will Wakatakakage try another flying genital attack? No, dear readers, those spectacular moment come once every 15 years or so.

Daieisho vs Abi – Still waiting to see if Daieisho shows up with massive taping over his crotch from that throw by Wakatakakage on day 7. Even if his man-bits survived intact, his pride may have taken significant damage. He will now live with the fact that he may be immortalized on preview “B-roll” footage for sumo shows for years to come. He has a 6-6 record against Abi, who will be hard pressed to overcome Daieisho’s more powerful, more focused oshi-zumo style.

Shodai vs Kiribayama – (sigh), ah.. Shodai. 2-5, you should go home and prep for Ozeki-wake. Its looking more certain each day. Not your fault sir, but there is still time to recover.

Hoshoryu vs Mitakeumi – Back to the fun side of sumo, it’s time for Mitakeumi to either crank up the power or start his week 2 fade. Frankly, I want him and Takayasu bashing it out in act 3 for sole leader position with just a day or two to go before senshuraku. Hoshoryu has not beaten Mitakeumi in 2 attempts, so this will be a tough match for him.

Onosho vs Takakeisho – Another fine tadpole battle, this time the junior tadpole against the grand tadpole. Onosho has actually won 3 times out of the 12 matches he has had against Takakeisho, so it won’t be completely one sided. However, I think that Takakeisho is done with the unexplainable sumo experiments, and is just going for double arm wave action tsuppari from here on out.

Natsu Day 2 Preview

I am trying to not think about the creepy silence during this basho, but instead look forward to the new camera angles that give me new ways to appreciate the mechanics of sumo. I talked about getting a new view of how some of the better rikishi of the day conduct their matches in the day 1 highlights, and to me its a big deal. I am sure for sumo fans in Japan and specifically in Tokyo, watching practice at the heya would provide some of the same insights. But for a yank watching from afar, it’s really quite engaging.

It was almost a clean sweep for the named ranks on day 1, with Daieisho being the only one of the clan to hit the clay. But even he looked sharp, and nearly gave the lead Ozeki a loss on opening day. At least one of the named ranks will take a loss again today, as Takakeisho faces off against the original tadpole himself, Mitakeumi. Expectations are low on Mitakeumi this tournament, so I think the pressure is off and we may see some really solid sumo from him. At least during week 1.

What We Are Watching Day 2

Ishiura vs Chiyomaru – Ishiura can struggle with much larger opponents – with his day 1 loss to Kaisei being a great example. He does have a solid formula for winning against the bulbous Chiyomaru, with a near even 8-9 career record. A word of caution, he has not beaten the spheroid man in the last 5 attempts.

Akua vs Chiyotairyu – Oddly enough, these two veterans have never had a match before. Let’s fix that at once! Akua has a bit of a rusty start day 1, but he will break into fighting form within the first act. Chiyotairyu’s day 1 fight with Daiamami was near perfect form for him, and I doubt that we will see Akua give him the same opportunity.

Kaisei vs Daiamami – This really comes down to what kind of condition Kaisei’s body is in this May. If he’s reasonably healthy, I can see him using his enormity and power, this far down the banzuke, to dominate most of his matches. There are actually several high-skill vets clogging up the bottom ranks, and it will start to get brutal, I predict, some time in week 2.

Kotoeko vs Akiseyama – Akiseyama’s sheer bulk tends to be a foil for Kotoeko speed and compact strength. Kotoeko has taken both prior matches this year, for an overall 4-5 record. I Akiseyama, to my eye, did look a bit rusty day 1 in his loss to Okinoumi.

Kotonowaka vs Okinoumi – Speaking of high-skill veterans, Okinoumi might possibly be able to pretzel Kotonowaka within the first 5 seconds of a match, provided that the surprisingly low ranked Sadogatake heyagashira continues to look like he did day 1 against Terutsuyoshi. I don’t think Okinoumi will use the same level of maneuver and evasion, so maybe this match may be more to Kotonowaka’s liking.

Chiyoshoma vs Terutsuyoshi – Two fast, nimble rikishi who are willing to pull slippery moves out of the bag and deploy them from the tachiai? Why, yes please! They have a 3-3 career record, and this match offers a slim chance of the elusive double-henka.

Shimanoumi vs Tamawashi – Shimanoumi has not lost to Tamawashi, ever. He holds a 2-0 advantage, but looked really shabby day 1 against Endo. By contrast, Tamawashi seems to have shown up dialed in and ready to dominate. This could be the day their career record flips to 2-1.

Kagayaki vs Endo – Long time readers know I do enjoy Kagayaki’s sumo when he’s fighting well. Which as not been since January of 2020. How he has managed to end up as Maegashira 9 after going 5-10, 6-9 and 6-9 from M3e, I will never know. But today he’s going to get spanked by Endo, I think.

Tochinoshin vs Tsurugisho – First time match between to big, big guys. Both of them lost day 1, and both of them are certainly focused on turning that around. It’s kind of early to pair up the zero loss crowd, but hey – why not.

Takarafuji vs Ichinojo – This is always a fun match, because Takarafuji usually tries to wear Ichinojo out. Which only happens once in a while. So instead you get Ichinojo accepting the defend and extend match format, and going all boulder against the man with no neck. Suddenly forced to cope with nearly half a ton of Mongolian granite, even the mighty Takarafuji will begin to question is choices. Then, Ichinojo wakes up and the match ends. He holds a 12-3 advantage over Takarafuji.

Hoshoryu vs Hidenoumi – This one has some nice potential, though I think due to the banzuke train wreck coming out of March, both men are a bit over ranked. They have matched twice before, and split the two. Hidenoumi took the match last tournament, and may have a slight edge on day 2.

Onosho vs Myogiryu – For Myogiryu to come out of this match the winner, he needs to not let Onosho bracket him, or allow him to lean in. We all know that Onosho has basically one fight plan, and by golly he is going to run it no matter what. When it works, is hard to stop him, but the trick is to make sure he never gets that far. Onosho holds a 6-3 career lead.

Kiribayama vs Daieisho – I kind of think that Daieisho should have put the doom on Asanoyama day 1, so I am looking for him to make it up against Kiribayama on day 2. Kiribayama has taken their last 2 matches to hold a 3-1 career record against the Hatsu yusho winner. II expect that Daieisho will open strong as is his custom, so Kiribayama will need to steady his balance at the tachiai.

Takayasu vs Chiyonokuni – I would guess Takayasu is healthy enough he is back to his wild-man sumo. This is a perfect match for Chiyonokuni’s brand of sumo. The career record reads 5-1, but these two have not fought since 2018, and a lot has happened since then. I look forward to seeing what Chiyonokuni can do today.

Tobizaru vs Takanosho – It’s flying monkey vs onigiri-kun. Takanosho looked brutally focused day 1 against Chiyonokuni, and Tobizaru may get run down and tossed away without ceremony. Takanosho holds a 5-2 career advantage.

Asanoyama vs Meisei – Asanoyama did look a bit rusty as Daieisho nearly took him out on day 1. Hopefully he has dialed up his intensity quite a bit, and is ready for what Meisei is going to unleash on him day 2. True, Meisei has only taken 1 of their prior 6 matches, but if Asanoyama wants to remain the top Ozeki, he needs to dominate these week 1 fights.

Hokutofuji vs Terunofuji – It’s early to say it, but each tournament I look for signs that Hokutofuji is hot on the trail of achieving “The Most Powerful Make-Koshi In All Of Sumo”, which seems to be his forte. Today we get to see what he can do against a kaiju with no knees. All joking aside, Terunofuji did look a bit creaky on day 1, and I am just looking for him to get his 8.

Shodai vs Wakatakakage – Wakatakakage is good enough, and fast enough that he can help Shodai taste-test this tournament’s dohyo. He just needs to remove any chances that Shodai can reach into his Acme bag of cartoon sumo and deploy the unexpected or the unlikely counter-move to a well crafted attack. Shodai needs 7 more to remove kadoban and retain Ozeki.

Mitakeumi vs Takakeisho – This first big tadpole fight of the tournament, pits two rotund examples of the amphibian sumo in the final match of the day. They come in with a 9-10 career record, but I am going to give a slight edge to Takakeisho today. He has clearly lost a good amount of flab since last year, and I think it’s been at least that long since he has been able to show as much power as he did day 1 when he sent Wakatakakage down to visit the shimpan in a heap.