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SUMO: 2018 Hatsu Basho (Day 5)

Day 5 of the Hatsu Basho brings us our first big twist—yokozuna Hakuho has joined the kyujo [absent due to injury] list. He jammed his left big toe in yesterday’s loss to M2 Yoshikaze and photos from the locker room afterward showed that it was already swelling and deeply bruised. This goes along with the nagging problem he’s had with his right big toe over the past year results in him pulling out of the tournament. Doctors say this will take at least two weeks to heal, so we for sure won’t see him back this basho.

That leaves only two yokozuna, but that seems unlikely to continue for long. Kisenosato is looking terrible with his 1–3 loss, including falling to his longtime rival M2 Kotoshogiku yesterday. I know that the Kyokai [Sumo Association] has threatened to force Kisenosato to retire if he doesn’t start competing for complete tournaments, but they FOR CERTAIN will do so if stays and turns in a final record that’s barely kachi-koshi [majority of wins].

Another upset yesterday was ozeki Takayasu suffering his first loss of the basho at the hands of M3 Tochinoshin. This, however, is at least understandable. Tochinoshin is fighting with healthy legs for the first time in a very great while, and when he’s in that condition he generally can be counted on to be competitive with ozeki-level opponents. This is, in fact, the first time ever that Tochinoshin has started a tournament 4–0, so he could be a dark horse competitor for the yusho [tournament championship].

Tochinoshin’s opponent today is the other ozeki, who also remains undefeated, Goeido. Goeido has looked very sharp this basho, similar to how he did in the 2016 Kyushu tournament when he shocked us all by going zensho [perfect record] and winning the yusho. If Tochinoshin can pull out another upset, though, he’ll at the very least make me look like I know what I’m talking about.

Yokozuna Kakuryu also remains undefeated, but it’s a testament to how skeptical I am that he can keep his focus for the whole basho that I only begin to mention him here. That’s actually pretty unfair of me. Kakuryu definitely has what it takes to win the yusho, and he tends to thrive when the other yokozuna all go kyujo and it’s up to him alone to uphold the rank’s honor.

M5 Okinoumi (1–3) vs. M5 Endo (3–1)—Two of the most popular rikishi facing off. It’s early in the tournament, but so far Endo seems to be on a roll while Okinoumi is struggling. But anything could happen today. (8:10)
Sekiwake Mitakeumi (4–0) vs. sekiwake Tamawashi (2–2)—Carrying over from yesterday, here’s another match-up between two of the up-and comers. Oh, and it’s also a head-to-head match of this tournament’s two sekiwake. Should be a very good bout. (11:15)
M1 Hokutofuji (1–3) vs. ozeki Takayasu (3–1)—Takayasu lost to a strong opponent in M3 Tochinoshin yesterday, but he’s got to shake it off and get back in a winning way. He’s got another strong opponent in Hokutofuji today. (11:55)
Ozeki Goeido (4–0) vs. M3 Tochinoshin (4–0)—Tochinoshin is having his best start to a basho ever, and beat an ozeki yesterday. He’s got the other ozeki today, and Goeido is looking as stong as he has since his yusho-winning tournament a year ago. This could be the match of the day. (13:10)
Yokozuna Kakuryu (4–0) vs. M3 Chiyotairyu (0–4)—Kakuryu is still undefeated and setting the pace for the yokozuna. He shouldn’t have any trouble with Chiyotairyu. (15:40)
M2 Yoshikaze (1–3) vs. yokozuna Kisenosato (1–3)—Yoshikaze got a kinboshi [gold star award] for his win over Hakuho yesterday, and he’d surely love to get another from Kisenosato today. Given how wobbly the yokozuna has been so far this tournament, I’m not sure I wouldn’t actually give the edge to Yoshikaze. But Kisenosato KNOWS that he MUST get a win or his entire career is in jeopardy. (16:15)

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