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SUMO: 2018 Aki Basho (Day 3)

It’s Day 3 of the Aki Basho, and it’s looking like it’s going to be a real classic of a tournament. All the yokozuna and ozeki won yesterday, meaning that Goeido is the only one whose record isn’t perfect (after his Day 1 loss to M1 Kaisei). Also as yet unblemished is the winner of the previous tournament, sekiwake Mitakeumi. 

We had an unusual pairing yesterday, when ozeki Takayasu was matched against sekiwake Ichinojo. Usually, the sekiwake don’t have to “fight up” until Week 2 in order to help ensure that there are marquee matches for all the top-rankers in the tournament’s final days. But with a combined six yokozuna and ozeki fighting this basho, that’s not looking to be a problem. So we may have some big-name bouts cropping up even in this early stage of the tournament. 

Yokozuna Kisenosato really gave us a good taste of how he’s feeling in his win over komusubi Takakeisho yesterday. He was pushed to the edge of the ring by his young opponent, and then reversed all the way to the opposite ring, holding Takakeisho off with one arm and one foot on the tawara [straw bales that make up the ring’s edge]. But he was able to dig deep, gather his strength, and muscle his opponent over and to the clay for an impressive win. He really did look like the Kisenosato of old. 

The yokozuna’s stablemate, ozeki Takayasu, also gave a good accounting of himself and put aside rumors that his bad back was going to hamper him. As I mentioned above, he faced sekiwake Ichinojo (who now weighs in at 227 kg/500 lb) and was able to not only hold him off, but run him off the dohyo. So far, Takayasu’s back seems to be in good shape.

Looking further down the banzuke, someone to keep an eye on this basho is former-ozeki Kotoshogiku, who after having a disappointing showing in July is currently ranked at M8. It’s been clear for a while that Kotoshogiku has lost a step or two (or three) since his ozeki days, but the fact is that he still has what it takes to be competitive at the top of the banzuke. So it only goes to reason that he should be able to dominate against mid-level competitors, and that’s just how things have gone on Days 1 and 2. I’d say there’s a very good chance that Kotoshogiku will have a VERY good tournament, and may even be in the yusho hunt all the way until the final weekend. 

On the other hand, M6 Onosho, who should also be dominating at his relatively low ranking, has so far been struggling. He’s 0–2 going into today, and just looks listless, despite having been one of the shining stars during the summer jungyo [exhibition tour]. Did he injure himself? Has he come down with a cold? No one is saying anything about it yet . . . but it really is very strange.

Enough of my rambling, though . . . let’s look at today’s matches.

M10 Aoiyama (0–2) vs. M11 Sadanoumi (1–1)—A tough bout between two rikishi who are off to a slow start. Aoiyama still hasn’t been able to recapture the magic that let him be runner-up in this year’s January tournament. (3:45)
Sekiwake Mitakeumi (2–0) vs. komusubi Tamawashi (0–2)—Mitakeumi really needs to run the table here in Week 1 if he has any real hope of getting a promotion to ozeki. That task gets harder when he has to face opponents like Tamawashi, but no on ever said sumo was easy. (10:20)
Komusubi Takakeisho (0–2) vs. ozeki Tochinoshin (2–0)—Tochinoshin has been looking pretty solid so far. He’s kadoban [threatened with ozeki demotion] so his first goal is to get eight quick wins and secure his kachi-koshi [majority of wins]. Takakeisho has had a rough first two days having to face a pair of yokozuna, but that’s usually how things go when you’re a komusubi. He’s still a very genki and dangerous opponent. (13:05)
M1 Kaisei (1–1) vs. Yokozuna Hakuho—Kaisei A showed up on Monday when he beat Goeido, but yesterday it was clearly Kaisei B who got spun around by Kakuryu yesterday . . . which one will show up to face Hakuho? And does it really matter? (14:05)
Yokuzuna Kisenosato (2–0) vs. M2 Yutakayama (0–2)—Kisenosato has been winning and looking reasonably healthy all around. But he hasn’t been dominant. In fact, if he wasn’t healthy, he’d probably have lost one or both of his first matches. This is his first time ever facing Yutakayama. Let’s see if he can put the upstart in his place. (15:35)

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