Natsu Day 4 – Ones To Watch

After a fairly light schedule on day 3, we are back in the thick of things for day 4. Sadly Wakaichiro lost his second match after a shaky tachiai led to problems with balance and foot placement. He starts Natsu with 0-2, which I am sure is frustrating the daylights out of him. In Jonokuchi, Kitanowaka improved to 2-0 over Tokisakae. Watching Kitanowaka fight, you can see there is a great deal of potential in need of refinement. The good news is that the Hakkaku heya has a strong program, and he will have every chance to make the most out of his sumo years.

Ichiyamamoto dispatched Fujiazuma to improve to 1-1, Hoshoryu took Jokoryu apart with a yoritaoshi, and improved to 2-0 as well. In the battle of the “Ones to Watch”, Akua forced out Midorifuji to take the white start and join the 2-0 cohort, joined by Naya, who slapped down Koba. There is a lot of potential for the “Ones to Watch” to face each other even before they cross the kachi-koshi line, and the next few days may see so very exciting action in Makushita. Many of these young men may be the stars of the near future, and we could be witnessing the beginning of rivalries.

Day 4 Matches

Wakatakamoto vs Nogami – Midorifuji defeated Nogami on day 2, and now he faces another of our cohort. Nogami is close to his highest ever rank, and I am sure he is going to be a chew-toy for all of the budding sumo monsters that are stomping around the top echelon of Makushita this basho.

Musashikuni vs Higonojo – Musashikuni still looks really rough, which is a huge disappointment of his fans. Higonojo is a 34 year old former Juryo man, who is fairly far down the banzuke after taking a 7-0 Makushita yusho at Osaka 2018. Good luck Mama!

Roga vs Yamaguchi – I know a number of fans have Roga fever, and there are good reasons why. But his first ever professional sumo loss came on day 2, and hopefully it has helped re-focus the young man on the match at hand. Today he faces on of my favorites in former Maegashira and Nihon University man, Yamaguchi. Yamaguchi’s rank has been falling since he went kyujo at Hatsu 2018, and it’s likely he is fighting hurt. Good luck Roga, you may be in for a rough ride.

Terunofuji vs Kasugaryu – Terunofuji looks less pasty, flabby and worried than he did in Osaka. He seems to have some of his ring sense back, and a good measure of his aggressive fighting spirit. Kasugaryu’s highest ever rank was near the bottom of Makushita, so this may be one-sided.

Shoji vs Tokimaru – A bright spot for Mushashigawa heya is that Shoji seems to be in good health and fighting well. He faces another young, hard charging rikishi in Tokimaru, who hails from Miyagino heya, where Hakuho practices.

Amakaze vs Daishoki – I should also mention that Amakaze continues to look solid. The Oitekaze heya returnee seems to be over his physical issues, and is fighting well. He’s on a shallower climb back up the banzuke than Terunofuji, but I am liking what I see thus far.

Hattorizakura vs Yamamoto – Hattorizakura did in fact state he was going to try to achieve kachi-koshi during the Reiwa era. These eras can last a few decades, so don’t try to set your calendar by Hattorizakura’s prediction.

Hatsu Day 5 – Lower Division Ones To Watch

We close out act 1 with a tight group of our “ones to watch”. The Makushita Waka* brothers are in action today, and that includes a throw down between Akua and Wakamotoharu! Act 1 is where we found out who is hot, and who is not, and try to figure out who might have a chance at the yusho. The first 5 days of action has been full of fun matches in the lower divisions, and we can expect an exciting ride for the next 10 days.

Naya vs Kirinofuji – A 2-0 bracket match, Naya has been very dominant so far, and shown some great sumo. His match against Kirinofuji has him against a rikishi who seems more comfortable in Sandanme rather than Makushita, so I give Naya a moderate edge.

Wakatakamoto vs Masutoo – In the 1-1 bracket, Wakatakamoto takes on 32 year old veteran Masutoo from Chiganoura heya. Masutoo has struggled with injuries, but is a dependable mid to upper Makushita rikishi. This is a good even match.

Midorifuji vs Tenkaiho – Midorifuji finds himself 0-2 to start Hatsu, and is up against winless Tenkaiho. Tenkaiho may sound familiar, because he is a former Maegashira and Juryo rikishi who has been fighting much lower down the banzuke since mid 2016. Could be a rough match.

Hoshoryu vs Higonojo – After a rough first match, Hoshoryu came back with energy and fighting spirit on day 4, and elevated himself to the 1-1 bracket. Today he faces 34 year old Kise heya veteran Higonojo. It’s going to be a wild match.

Akua vs Wakamotoharu – The “Ones to Watch” match of the night, Near the top of the 2-0 bracket, and likely slugging it out for a possibility to move to Juryo for March are these two. Who is more likely to win? No clue, but can’t wait to see them battle it out.