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SUMO: Natsu Basho 2017 (Day 2)

Well, the Natsu Basho is off to an interesting start. Here we are on Day 2 and already half of the yokozuna and ozeki have lost . . . and the other half aren’t looking all that strong. In fact, the only one among the top rankers who actually looked GOOD on Day 1 was yokozuna Harumafuji, who disposed of sekiwake Kotoshogiku in a strong and decisive manner. Yokozuna Hakuho won his match, but not before getting himself into a spot of trouble, and ozeki Goeido had to pirouette on the tawara [straw bales at the edge of the dohyo] to avoid being pushed out.

Meanwhile, yokozuna Kisenosato, yokozuna Kakuryu, and ozeki Terunofuji all lost to their Day 1 opponents. The latter two made the kind of tactical errors that they’re occasionally prone to, but Kisenosato is the one in real trouble, I think. His shoulder is not fully healed from the dislocation he suffered on Day 13 of the March tournament, and it looks like he’s still not capable of making strong maneuvers from that side. If that’s the case, then ALL of the sanyaku ranked rikishi are going to use that against him, and he’s much more apt to re-injure the shoulder in the struggle. I’m going to go on record right now saying that he really should go kyujo [absent for injury] and withdraw from the tournament right away. After everything he did in winning the Osaka tournament, there’s no shame in taking a little extra time to heal up. Otherwise he’s going to have a ridiculously short reign as yokozuna.

Sekiwake Takayasu looked good in his Day 1 win, and now needs only 9 more wins to secure a promotion to ozeki. That’s still a pretty tall order, but word is that before the tournament Takayasu was predicting that he’d go zensho [perfect record], and if he’s going to be THAT cocky about it, I’m going to set the bar high for him, too. He really has has an amazing last twelve months of sumo. Except for a 7–8 make-koshi [majority of losses] in November’s Kyushu Basho, he’s averaged 11 wins per tournament for nearly a year.

And all of that was just on Day 1. Let’s see how things panned out here on Day 2.

M12 Kotoyuki (0–1) vs. M11 Ishiura (1–0)—After being up in sanyaku for a while, Kotoyuki has settled down to the mid-Maegashira ranks and is probably destined to spend most of his time there unless he figures out a second strategy other than slap and move forward. Ishiura, on the other hand, is still getting his feet wet in the upper division and trying to figure out how to beat opponents who are twice or more his size. It’s a good match between two rikishi who are probably going to be on the scene for years to come. (2:20)

M4 Tochiozan (1–0) vs. M4 Takarafuji (1–0)—Two rikishi who have spent a lot of time up in the sanyaku ranks, but have struggled in recent basho. They’ve got the goods . . . the question each day is whether or not they’ll bring it. (7:42)

Ozeki Terunofuji (0–1) vs. sekiwake Tamawashi (1–0)—Terunofuji looked slow and sloppy yesterday. Rumor is that he may have reinjured one of his ankles, so he may be incapable of putting on the dominant performance he did in March. Meanwhile, Tamawashi continues to be very impressive as a sekiwake,. In point of fact, though, the most notable thing about this match is what happens AFTER it’s decided. Ouch! (10:21)

Sekiwake Takayasu (1–0) vs. ozeki Goeido (1–0)—A match that could be seen as prophetic, since Takayasu is trying to get promoted to the rank of ozeki (he needs ten wins over the course of the basho) and Goeido is trying to hold onto that rank (he must avoid make-koshi [majority of losses] or he’ll be demoted). (11:07)

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