Natsu Day 10 – Ones To Watch

Natsu Day 10 – Wakaichiro Fights Takataisho

Just a short preview of what matches we have in the lower divisions for our “Ones to Watch” cohort, with any luck Herouth will post one of her enjoyable video highlight posts. I will note that both Amakaze and Naya won on day 9, and are now 5-0, and continuing to bid for their division yusho. Kitanowaka also won, and through some odd numbers may still be able to contest for the Jonokuchi yusho.

Wakatakamoto vs Kizenryu – The loser of this match is kachi-koshi, and demoted further down the Makushita banzuke for Nagoya. After battling back from demotion down to Makushita 40 for Hatsu, we are certain that Wakatakamoto is motivated to “win out”. Kizenryu won their prior match, so it’s going to be a battle.

Akua vs Kaisho – The winner of this match is kachi-koshi, and will advance in rank for July. The pair have split their 2 prior matches, and they are quite even in terms of sumo. Battles like this are what make the top of Makushita the home of fantastic sumo action.

Musashikuni vs Genkaiho – Musashikuni is really looking non-genki right now. His matches have mostly come down to small mistakes that his opponents exploit to great effect. A loss today relegates him to make-koshi, and possibly demotion out of Makushita ranks.

Terunofuji vs Fujitaisei – The smaller and lighter Fujitaisei will have his hands full on day 10 against the former Ozeki. Terunofuji knocked himself out of the Sandanme yusho race with a poorly placed step, and I would guess his frustration will be focused in his sumo. We created the tag “Terunofuji’s Angry Yorikiri” a few years ago, with good reason.

Shoji vs Sumanoumi – Back in mid-Sandanment, Musashitgawa rikishi Shoji continues to plug away, in this 2-2 bracket match he’s up against Takadagawa heya’s Sumanoumi, who has been ranked as high as Sandanme 3.

Wakaichiro vs Takataisho – Our favorite Texan sumotori returns to the dohyo in Tokyo today for his 5th match. This 2-2 bracket fight is the next stepping stone to 4 wins for both me. Takataisho is a former Takanohana rikishi who moved under Chiganoura recently, and is about the same size as Wakaichiro, so an even fight.

Natsu Day 7 – Ones To Watch

Day 7 is loaded down with action for our “Ones to Watch”; it’s the middle weekend, and some of our favorites will be 4-0 by Sunday. Day 6 saw Musashikuni finally get his first win of the Basho to improve to 1-2, and hopefully put himself on the road to kachi-koshi. Elsewhere in Makushita, Wakatakamoto picked up his first win as well against Ayanoumi, while Akua lost his first to drop to 2-1. In Sandanme, Roga won to improve to 2-1, as did Shoji. Amakaze won against Hikarifuji to improve to 3-0.

Day 7 matches

Wakamotoharu vs Tamaki – Wakamotoharu finds himself in the 1-2 bracket going into the middle weekend, needing 3 more wins out of 4 matches to make kachi-koshi and likely punch his ticket back to Juryo. The problem with that plan is that out of the 3 prior matches with Tamaki, Wakamotoharu has won only one.

Kotokamatani vs Takanofuji – This 3-0 bracket match will determine who goes into the yusho playoff ladder, and it features both Makushita 2 rikishi, both of which have yet to lose. Kotokamatani has really been impressive thus far, and looks to be a good candidate for promotion, which the winner of this bout likely clinches -lksumo.

Ichiyamamoto vs Kizakiumi – What a difference a win makes, as Ichiyamamoto has 2 wins and only needs 2 more out of 4 to get to kachi-koshi. His Juryo promotion is not as certain, due to him being ranked Makushita 3, but his first goal has to be that 4th win. Okinawan Kizakiumi has rocketed up the banzuke after joining Kise heya from Nihon University’s sumo program. Ichiyamamoto is going to have his hands full.

Wakatakamoto vs Takakento – It’s an Onami brothers day of sumo, with all 3 on the dohyo during the afternoon. Wakatakamoto won the previous match against Takakento, which took place a year ago.

Akua vs Kototebakari – Kototebakari has been on a rocket ride up the banzuke since he joined Sadogatake in 2017. He is fighting at his personal highest rank ever, and could present a lot of fight to Akua, who I am convinced is still not completely recovered from his September 2018 injuries that caused him to withdraw from the Aki Basho on day 12.

Roga vs Wagurayama – After taking the first loss of his professional sumo career, Roga is back to dominating every match. Perhaps some of the pressure was relieved, and he can focus more on each match as it comes? This 2-1 bracket match means that Roga is most likely not going to contest for the Sandanme yusho, which may have also relieved some worries.

Wakaichiro vs Harimanada – After a cold 0-2 start, Wakaichiro looked like a completely different rikishi for his 3rd match, confidently launching Amamidake across the tawara and into the zabuton. With any luck we will see that kind of sumo again on day 7 as Wakaichiro goes up against Onoe heya’s Harimanada. Harimanada has never been ranked higher than Jonidan, and in fact was banzuke gai for about a year.

Kitanowaka vs Ito – Mr Fabulous takes on Ito in this Jonokuchi 3-0 match, where we will watch a former high school Yokozuna battle Saitama native Ito, a graduate of the Tokyo University of Agriculture. Will this one be less lopsided than the prior 3?

Hattorizakura vs Garyu – Good news for Garyu! He finally gets to pick up his first win. Perpetual soft sumo pro Hattorizakura shows no sign of getting fierce any time soon. It’s ok, the fans adore him.

Natsu Day 5 – Ones To Watch

Welcome to the end of act 1 – In the lower divisions, it has less of an effect than it does for sekitori, but we can already see how the lower division “Ones to Watch” are setting up for the remainder of the Natsu basho. In day 4 action, we had a large number of our cohort in action, with many of them in Sandanme. Amakaze, Terunofuji and Roga all won, while Musashikuni and Shoji lost, further lowering the overall Musashigawa heya’s record.

On to the matches!

Wakamotoharu vs Fujiazuma – A 0-2 bracket match, both of these rikishi share the Makushita 1 rank, and as is typical for the bloody battlefield at the top of sumo’s 3rd division, there is carnage everywhere. For these two, it’s about survival now. Both of them need 4 wins to get their ticket stamped to Juryo, but that looks like a long, steep climb from here.

Ichiyamamoto vs Tobizaru – It’s Ichiyamamoto’s turn to head to Juryo, this time to face the flying monkey; Tobizaru. Ichiyamamoto has tied his highest ever rank this basho, and with both Makushita 1’s in a tight spot, the Juryo promotion lanes my be a bit more open than usual. Time to step on the gas, guys.

Hoshoryu vs Kotokamatani – Two early favorites for the front of any promotion queue, the only two rikishi at the top of Makushita who are unbeaten face each other tonight for sole possession of the overtaking lane. Both are sharp, capable and healthy. Furthermore, both of them show considerable amount of planning in each match, and I think this could be a highlight bout of the day.

Midorifuji vs Kototebakari – A 1-1 bracket match, Midorifuji is still in great shape working towards 4 wins. He has faced Kototebakari once before, for a loss.

Terunofuji vs Komakiryu – For these two it’s 2-0 head to head on day 5, but it’s an odd match up to be certain. Komakiryu is a 34 year old veteran from Kise heya, and spent a good amount of time in Makushita before drifting back down to Sandanme. Terunofuji is still not even close to his real capabilities, but is improved from Osaka. Winner advances to the 3-0 bracket.

Wakaichiro vs Amamidake – For Wakaichiro fans, the numbers are grim. Currently at 0-2, both matches featured frustrating surprises that has left Wakaichiro without a win. The good news is that there is still a path to kachi-koshi, and Wakaichiro has recovered from this situation in the past.

Kitanowaka vs Yabugasaki – The young Jonokuchi sensation will face another newcomer who is a height and weight match for him. As always, its tough to rank new recruits straight from Maezumo, and we expect the Nagoya banzuke to have a better sort order. If anything, Kitanowaka may be under-ranked right now.

Natsu Day 3 – Ones To Watch

On day 2 the lower division did not disappoint, with some fantastic and interesting matches. I will note that Wakaichiro lost his first match of the Natsu basho. In a surprising tactic, he went chest to chest with Miyakogawa, which is the format that Miyakogawa prefers. To his credit, Wakaichiro showed a lot of fighting spirit, and some impressive strength, lifting and swinging Miyakogawa multiple times. But Miyakogawa was very stable, and was able to keep on his feet, eventually finding and exploiting an opening to take the match.

In Sandanme, Terunofuji won his first match, and looks to be in somewhat improved physical condition from Osaka. He made quick and easy work of Daishomune, and will move on to the 1-0 bracket. Roga did not fare as well, and suffered his first ever loss as a professional rikishi, dropping his match to Hokutotsubasa.

In Makushita, Midorifuji showed Nogami some really fabulous sumo to win his first match, Naya racked up his first win, and Hoshoryu prevailed against Tamaki.

Day 3 Matches

Ichiyamamoto vs Fujiazuma – After his day 2 loss, Ichiyamamoto will look for his first win against former Maegashira Fujiazuma. While some may wonder how Ichiyamamoto is drawing such tough opponents, the upper brackets of Makushita are thick with former top division rikishi who are seeking a way back to the salaried ranks.

Hoshoryu vs Jokoryu – Yes, that Jokoryu, who has lost his paid rank and is now down in Makushita battling 12 other high energy rikishi looking to climb the ladder back to Sekitori status. As some are starting to think about how Hoshoryu might fare in juryo, this will be an excellent test.

Midorifuji vs Akua – Oh yes, two of our “Ones to Watch” competing head to head! We expect that this will be a solid match, as Midorifuji probably holds a speed and energy advantage, and Akua has the edge in size and experience.

Wakaichiro vs Taketsukasa – After a hard fought day 2 opening match, Wakaichiro gets his next shot at his first win of Natsu against young Taketsukasa, from Irumagawa heya. Taketsukasa is only in his 7th basho as a professional rikishi, and has been as high as Sandanme 93.

Kitanowaka vs Tokisakae – Kitanowaka’s first match (day 1) was a completely lopsided event, and I am going to guess we will see more of that on day 3, as 120kg Tokisakae has the misfortune of drawing a match with Kitanowaka.

Natsu Day 2 – Ones To Watch

Wakaichiro On Deck!

The day 2 roster of our “Ones to Watch” is loaded to the brim with our lower division favorites, and we are banking that we can get a video stream up in time to enjoy it. From day 1, I can share that Kitanowaka completely outclassed Garyu for a commanding win of his first ever sumo match in the professional ranks.

Who is on day 2? Well, everyone!

Wakamotoharu vs Seiro – Wakamotoharu lost his day 1 match, but thanks to the banzuke imbalance created by Hakuho going kyujo, there is an upper Makushita rikishi tasked to fill in a Juryo slot each day. For day 2, we see Wakamotoharu return to Juryo and face off against Seiro. Might we see Hoshoryu at some point?

Ichiyamamoto vs Takanofuji – For the final match in Makushita (which will happen after the Juryo dohyo-iri), we get this high-voltage clash. Ichiyamamoto is taking his second run at the ceiling of Makushita against the former Takayoshitoshi, who was dropped from Juryo last basho due to poor performance.

Hoshoryu vs Tamaki – First match for Hoshoryu, who is attracting a lot of attention the closer he gets to the salaried ranks. His opponent today is no slouch – Tamaki bounced off the top of the Makushita wall as a Ms3 East rikishi in Kyushu, and is taking his second run at the top.

Midorifuji vs Nogami – Fighting at his highest ever rank, Midorifuji has his first match against veteran Aomori-ken rikishi, Nogami, who fights under his given name. Nogami has been splashing about at this rank for a while, and is probably near his theoretical peak. But this is the kind of Rikishi that Midorifuji will need to master to break into the top echelon.

Naya vs Sagatsukasa – As if day 2 were not yet stuffed full enough of sumo awesome, here we go. Naya is finally starting to catch up to his rival Hoshoryu, but he is entering the thick of Makushita’s under-ranks. Sagatsukasa is a former Maegashira on the downward slope of his career, but he will bring an arsenal of technique and experience to the dohyo to measure against Naya’s youth and vigor.

Musashikuni vs Higoarashi – Musashikuni is coming off a two basho make-koshi streak, and really needs to turn things around. His day 2 match against Higoarashi is their third meeting, with Higoarashi holding a 2-1 edge. Come on Mamu! You can get it done!

Roga vs Hokutotsubasa – I am sure Hokutotsubasa looked at the torikumi Sunday evening and said, “Oh crap”. While that is not normally the reaction that a former Makushita rikishi would give when finding out they were facing who was about to have their first Sandanme match, but this is Roga. He wants your lunch money… and your chanko. We get to see how Roga handles himself against a well skilled and tough opponent.

Must… find.. way… to connect… to… Japan….

Terunofuji vs Daishomune – The Great Sumo Cat of the Kokugikan laughs at me, trying to find a way to watch sumo from the land of the big hats and broad cattle. Sure, the wolf’s match (above) needs even more goodness. Let’s throw in the Kaiju as well. Everyone is curious if Daishomune will face a Terunofuji that looks just as terrible as he did in Osaka, or if Terunofuji is getting his health under control. We all want him in fine shape and fighting well.

Shoji vs Asanojo – Another fast rising rikishi, Shoji, will face off against Asanojo, a 32 year old veteran who has never ranked higher than Sandanme. If Shoji has his health back in line, this should be an easy match. Let’s hope he’s finally back to fighting form.

Wakaichiro vs Miyakogawa – I make no bones that I am a die-hard Wakaichiro booster. Today he’s facing a rematch with Miyakogawa, who he holds a career 2-1 advantage against. We hope America’s finest rikishi can apply some of that newly developed muscle against his rival and start Natsu out with a white star.

Hattorizakura vs Kitajima – Sadly, unless we can get a stream running, we will miss sumo’s perpetual loser – Hattorizakura. Free win day for Kitajima.