Welcome to an abbreviated “Ones to Watch”, has Herouth has done her marvelous job of providing sumo fans with a feast of video goodies from the lower divisions. Day 3 features bounts from Wakaichiro, Amakaze, Musashikuni and Hoshoryu.
Hoshoryu vs Seiro – Hoshoryu certainly punched his card for “Serious Contender” on day 2, and now he faces the highest ranked rikishi in Makshita: Former Makuuchi rikishi – Seiro. As both me have 1 wins, this will help form the field of promotion contenders for September. Time to shine little dragon!
Wakatakamoto vs Terao – Another 1-0 bracket match, this rematch of an Osaka 2017 bout will give Wakatakamoto a chance to even the score.
Roga vs Fujita – Roga got a close look at the Nagoya clay in his day 2 loss, and looked quite out-classed. This was always a possibility once he crossed into Makushita, but I expect he will bounce back and fight hard for 4 wins.
Musashikuni vs Kaizen – I don’t know what kind of physical problems Musashikuni is still nursing, but he continues to struggle, even at a greatly reduced rank. His fans can only hope he can pull it together.
Amakaze vs Baraki – I continue to think that Amakaze is probably under-ranked right now, so I expect him to dominate the majority of his matches. Baraki spent two tournaments in Makushita, and has been largely in Sandanme for his 40 basho career.
Wakaichiro vs Kamitani – This will be an interesting match for Wakaichiro. Kamitani is a 17 year old rikishi in his 9th tournament, and he has had a largely upward path leading to this, his first ever Sandanme posting.
It was a great day 1 in the lower divisions, jammed full of fantastic sumo action. From our list, I can report that Kitanowaka, Amakaze, Shoji, Wakatakamoto, Midorifuji and Wakamotoharu all won – opening the Nagoya swamp tournament 1-0. But day 1 was nearly the delicate appetizer to the double wide, muck encrusted battle Royale that is day 2. With many of our most eagerly anticipated rikishi on the dohyo day 2, it’s time to stay up late and follow the results any way you can. Will I be tired and bedraggled at work tomorrow? Sure! But it will be completely worth it.
How does this roster of awesome strike you…
Hoshoryu vs Irodori – This match is a run-away beer truck, careening down hill. It cannot be stopped, it will not be stopped! I would rather they both won, but this is one hell of a Makushita joi-jin this July, and it’s time to start stacking up the bodies beside the dohyo.
Akua vs Naya – Oh hell yes! Both of them are strong, low and heavy. Akua really wants to build a path back to Juryo, but it’s time for Naya to test his sumo against the elite.
Keitenkai vs Roga – Keitenkai had made it all the way to Juryo before injury saw him sit out almost a full year, and end up back in Jonokuchi by the time he returned. Back to back 7-0 yusho for both Jonidan and Jonokuchi put him on the path back, but his injuries have never quite healed, and he has had 5 consecutive make-koshi tournaments. Now he battles a hit rising star in Roga. This will be a great benchmark on how far Roga’s natural strength and energy can take him.
Terunofuji vs Aoi – Aoi is flighting close to his highest ever rank, and as a prize for this effort, he gets to face a well motivated former Ozeki looking to climb back into the paid ranks. Terunofuji looked greatly improved during Natsu, but his knees are still a shambles. Nobody knows how he is going to fare in Makushita, but it’s going to be worth watching.
Asakishin vs Musashikuni – I am quite sure Musashikuni is quite frustrated to find himself back in Sandanme, but after 3 consecutive make-koshi tournaments, there was no room left to drop further down the Makushita banzuke. If it helps, his opponent, Asakishin, has fared no better, and in fact lost their only prior match.
Wakaichiro vs Kotootomo – Wakaichiro has stated that he will accept nothing short of a kachi-koshi in Sandanme this time. He managed 4 wins at Sandanme 94 West in Nagoya last year, but struggled following a set of mechanical injuries. He looks stronger, bigger and healthier now. His sumo technique has also greatly improved. Perhaps the hot, swampy conditions of Nagoya will remind him of his native Texas, and give him the extra edge.
Hattorizakura vs Kotoyamato – With the earthquakes in California, many are looking for further signs and portents of impending doom. We are keeping a close eye on sumo’s perpetual loss leader, Hattorizakura, for any sign of actual sumo. If it should happen, it may only be seconds before everyone needs to duck and cover. We will keep you posted.
*It should be noted that Chiyonokuni is not on the torikumi for day 2, and may in fact not participate in Nagoya. We hope our favorite “Grumpy Badger” can heal up and return soon.
It’s almost all done for the lower ranks, with a handful of rikishi left to face their 7th opponent today or Sunday. Day 13 saw wins by Wakamotoharu, Ichiyamamoto, Wakatakamoto (that means all 3 Onami brothers won on day 13), Naya, Terunofuji, Shoji and Kitanowaka. That’s almost a complete sweep for our list!
For day 14, the roster is lighter, but there are still some great matches yet to come.
Hoshoryu vs Kizenryu – It’s time for a Darwin match with only one exiting the dohyo with a winning record. Hoshoryu won their only prior match, during Hatsu this year. Two high-skill rikishi with everything on the line in a single match. One will be promoted, the other demoted for July. This is what sumo is all about.
Midorifuji vs Sakigake – Another winner take all match. This time it is the challenger, Sakigake, who has won the prior match. The winner gets promoted, the loser gets demoted. At stake is likely a slot in the Makushita joi-jin, with a chance at promotion to Juryo up for grabs July.
Akua vs Nogami – Akua is already kachi-koshi, but he needs a bit more juice to put him into the top of Makushita for July if he wants to make a bid to return to Juryo. These matches on day 14 are going to be fast, hard and brutal.
Roga vs Kaizen – Roga is already kachi-koshi as well, but a 5th win might just break him out of Sandanme if the stars align. Kaizen has already spent a few basho in Makushita, and will bring that experience to bare in today’s match vs Roga’s raw power.
Wakaichiro vs Goshinryu – Our favorite Jonidan rikishi looks to hit escape velocity and return to Sandanme today against Goshinryu, who is fighting at his highest ever rank. Wakaichiro’s sumo seems to have gotten much more efficient this basho, so I am looking for a high energy oshi-battle between these two.
Kenho vs Sasaki – We have not followed Kenho this tournament, but he also faces a Darwin match on day 14, and could find himself with a winning record if he can overcome youngster and light weight Sasaki. Good luck Kenho!
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.