POST HARU 2020
The second basho of 2020 is in the books and it was a strange one to say the least. We didn't know if the basho would continue until the end and no crowd in the arena felt really weird for many, but the basho did continue until the end and given the circumstances it was a success to me. Sumo vs Coronavirus, Sumo 1-0 Virus.
I was very sceptical at first after terrible first few days but the quality of sumo gradually improved and although I missed the crowd a lot, it was actually quite nice to hear things you don't usually hear well like the yobidashi and gyoji's voice, the breath of the guys in the ring... The basho was decided on musubi, senshuraku between two mongolian guys (Hak and Kak I think they are called) One is 35, the other 34 but the two Yokozuna are not done yet and when healthy they are still dominating the game. Still, many veterans their age are continuing to stuggle quite a bit while many many members of the young generation did quite well again. The new generation even produced a second Ozeki, 26 years old Asanoyama, who also takes the first place of that list as the new face of the young wave.
Asanoyama Hideki (26) - Takasago-beya
Highest Rank: Ozeki 1 Yusho, 1 Jun-Yusho, 6 special prizes ( 2 Shukun-Sho, 1 Gino-sho 3 Kanto-sho) 1 kinboshi
188 cm 177 kg Favourite style : Migi yotsu-yori
S1E 11-4 Asanoyama ideally needed 12 wins to meet the unofficial 33 wins criteria for promotion to ozeki. With two losses by day 8, things didn't look too good for him, but he persevered and went on to win four straight before facing the two yokozuna and sole Ozeki Takakeisho on the last three days. He lost to Hakuho in a rather one sided manner and lost to Kakuryu as well but this one was really close to the point we can argue torinashi could have been the call... With 10 wins entering Senshûraku, Asanoyama persevered again and secured his promotion by defeating struggling rival Takakeisho in a very important bout for both parties. "Only" 11 wins ( 32 total) in the end, but it was actually Asanoyama fourth straight double digit KK ranked in the jo-i/sanyaku zone (42 over four basho). He's been Mr. Consistency lately and has established himself as the new face of his generation, taking over Takakeisho's spot, and currently leads the race to become the first one to reach Yokozuna. Will he make it ? Only time will tell but he sure does have the body and the talent to get the white rope.
Takakeisho Mitsunobu (23) - Chiganoura beya
Highest rank : Ozeki 1 Yusho, 3 Jun Yusho , 8 special prizes (3 Gino-sho, 3 Shukun-sho , 2 Kanto-sho) 3 kinboshi
175 cm 169 kg Favourite style : Tsuki-Oshi
O1E 7-8 A basho to forget for the 23 y-o, not only did he lose his spot as the face of his generation in a direct showdown against rival Asanoyama, but the defeat was his 8th loss, making him Kadoban again next tournament. The young Ozeki didn't look like himself, even when winning, and, despite him pretending otherwise, he likely was fighting injured. Old injury ? New Injury ? Nothing his clear at this point but hopefully Takakeisho won't become yet another Ozeki fighting while struggling to say healthy (Terunofuji, Tochinoshin, Takayasu...). With the spring tour canceled and uncertainty over when the next basho will take place, he should get some well needed rest and I expect him to bounce back next time and same his rank.
Mitakeumi Hisashi (27) - Dewanoumi-beya
Highest rank: Sekiwake 2 Yusho, 8 Special prizes (2 Gino-sho, 5 Shukun-sho ,1 Kanto-sho) 2 kinboshi
180 cm, 175 kg Favourite style : Tsuki-Oshi
M3W 10-5 Mitakeumi was looking to bounce back after two straight losing records and did exactly that this basho, securing 10 wins and a return to San'yaku where he truly belongs. I am far from being a banzuke specialist but I expect him to be Sekiwake W next time. I thought he looked really solid and healthier, which is encouraging, but he still found ways to disappoint losing 3 of his last 4 bouts... Mitakeumi is the only member of his generation to win more than one tournament, yet two of his rivals had the time to become Ozeki before him... Hopefully Asanoyama's promotion will motivate him to actually start a serious run this time.
Shodai Naoya (28) Tokitsukaze-beya
Highest rank: Sekiwake 2Jun-yusho 4 Kanto-sho 1 Kinboshi
S1W 8-7 183 cm 171 kg Style : Migi Yotsu yori
No double digit this time for Shodai, but clear signs of improvements from him. Back in San'yaku for the first time in two years, he secured his first KK at this rank (also his 3rd straight KK since Kyushu last year) and was one of the two rikishi able to defeat the GOAT this tournament ! With Asanoyama's promotion Shodai will move to Sekiwake East and hopefully will continue his resurgence next time.
Daieisho Hayato (26) Oitekaze-beya
Highest rank Komusubi 1 Shukun-Sho 2 kinboshi
182 cm 165 Kg Style : Oshi-tsuki
M1E 8-7 Another solid basho from Daieisho. Despite losing his first 3 bouts and 4 of his last 5, he had an incredible 7 win-streak mid way trough and it was enough for him to secure a winning record and a ticket back San'yaku (probably to Koumusubi E). Who would have thought a couple of years ago that he would be where he is now ?
Yutakayama Ryota (26) Tokitsukaze Beya
Highest rank M2e 1 Jun Yusho, 1 Kanto-sho
184 cm 179 kg Style: Tsuki oshi
M3E 8-7 "Only" a 8-7 KK barely obtained on day 15 after a very close bout against Chiyomaru, but it was Yutakayama's 6th straight KK starting in Juryo and he was ranked in the jo-i zone this time. Yutakayama continued to show some very good and clever sumo this basho. Even when listening to him talk you can tell he's matured a lot. He seems way more calm and focussed than he used to be, and probably healthier too which helps. His rough sumo and manners are starting to get more and more polished and it pays. Yutakayama most impressive whin this basho was probably the one against his long time rival Asanoyama. It didn't stop the later to be promoted to the second highest rank on the banzuke though. Will Yutakayama continue to improve to the point where he can join him there ? For now he is yet to reach san'yaku and his record this time isn't good enough to get him promoted over Okinoumi or Takanosho. Maybe next time ?
Onosho Fumiya (23) Oonomatsu- Beya
Highest rank : Komusubi 4 Sansho ( 1 Shukun-Sho 3 Kanto-sho )2 kinboshi
177cm 157 kg Style : Tsuki oshi
M5W 9-6S It's been a long journey for the 23 y-o since his injury and fall from san'yaku. It took Onosho two long years to come back to the top, but he finally starting to look like himself again which is very nice to see. There are still area to improve of course, but his balance looks much better, his sumo way sharper. His good performance this basho and impressive victory against yusho winner Hakuho earned him his first ever Shukun-sho and second kinboshi. The next step for him is to get back to san'yaku.
Takanosho Nobuaki (25) Chiganoura
Highest rank M9e 1 Jun-yusho 1 Kanto sho
183 cm 163 kg Oshi
M9E 12-3 JK Unforgettable basho for Takakeisho's heyamate and Tsukebito. Great sumo, 12 wins, a jun-yusho and a kanto-sho at his highest rank. Onigiri-kun even has a chance to be promoted to Komusubi although Okinoumi seems like the more likely choice. One thing is certain, it'll be a lot harder for him next time, will he be up to it ?
Kagayaki Taishi (25 )Takadagawa
Highest rank M4w
192 cm 166 kg
M6W 8-7 No double digit this time but third straight solid basho from Kagayaki. Third straight KK, can he make it 4 next time ?
Enho Akira (25) Miyagino beya
Highest rank M4E 1 Gino-sho
M4E 6-9 168 cm 99 kg Style : Acrobatic ninja ( hidari yotsu, shitatenage...)
Difficult basho for the little man at his highest rank. Enho couldn't count on the energy boost he usually gets from the crowd and it took him a lot of energy to climb to that high rank, Mainoumi hinted that fatigue could explain his performance this basho. Still 6-9 at this high rank with this such a light and small body is not bad at all.
Terutsuyoshi Shoki (25) Isegahama
Highest rank M9e 1Jun yusho 1 Kanto-Sho
169 cm 116 kg Style : acrobatic ninja ( migi-maemitsu/nage )
M11W 9-6 Really good basho from Terutsuyoshi, it looked like he injured his arm at some point but it didn't stop him to finish the basho with a respectable 9-6 winning record.
Kotonowaka Masahiro ( 22 ) Sadogatake Beya
Highest rank : M18E
188cm, 173kg migi-yotsu/yori, oshi
M18E 9-6 The 22 y-o is the newest addition to this list and I thought he did incredibly well in his makuuchi debut. His sumo looks quite polished and well rounded for such a young rikishi and he has great sice and weight. This Kotonowaka is not just the son of and the grand-son of, I think he has a lot of talent, enough to make a name for himself. His heyamate Kotonosho also looks very promising and will probably join him in makuuchi and on this list next basho.
Hokutofuji Daiki (27) Hakkaku-Beya
Highest rank : Komusubi 1 Jun-Yusho 2 Gino-sho 7 kinboshi
183cm 162 kg favourite style : Oshi
K1E 4-11 Hokutofuji is one of my favourite rikishi and I was rooting for him to build upon his great performance from last basho, and things started quite well with a win against Kakuryu on day 2, but we all saw what happened next. He fnished the basho 11 losses total including 8 straight. Even changing mawashi didn't save him this time. I thought he looked quite weak this basho, his legs in particular were not moving well. Injured maybe ? As much as I like him and want him to achieve great things Hokutofuji is yet to achieve a KK when ranked in San'yaku and consistency is a big issue with him. Despite his incredible talent I put him on that part of the list this time because if he doesn't improve, I don't see him becoming a serious ozeki candidate. Hopefully do better next time.
Abi Masatora (25)- Shikoroyama beya
Highest rank: Komusubi 2 kanto-sho 2 kinboshi
185 cm 155 kg favourite style : Tsuki/oshi
M4W 7-8 Another frustrating basho from Abi, second straight Makekoshi, his leg has been bothering him for a while maybe it still affected him this basho. He can do better.
Meisei Chikara (24) Tatsunami beya
Highest rank M2w
179 cm 150 kg Style: Hidari yotsu-yori
M17E 7-8 Painful basho for returning from injury but clearly far from healthy Meisei, only 7 wins (including a fusen) at such a low rank is uncaracteristic of him. He will probably fall down to juryo next basho.