2019 Kyushu Basho: Day 2
Aaaand we’re off! The Kyushu Basho is underway and we had some interesting results on Day 1. It’s a little early to form any kind of opinions, but there are still details to consider and some bits of drama that I didn’t mention in yesterday’s post.
• Let’s start with ozeki Goeido, who lost his Day 1 match to komusubi Endo and twisted his ankle in the process. He has gone kyujo [absent due to injury] though they say he may return in a few days if it turns out to be a minor strain. With yokozuna kakuryu already having withdrawn, that leaves us with just one yokozuna and two ozeki . . . and all three of them are recovering from recent injuries. There really is no telling how many of them will make it through to Week 2, let alone remain healthy enough to contend for the yusho.
• Speaking of Endo, he’s looking strong and confident. In September as komusubi he had his first kachi-koshi while holding a sanyaku rank, but with the traffic jam up around sekiwake he wasn’t able to get a promotion. In fact, this tournament we have the very strange situation of having FOUR rikishi ranked at komusubi (I’ve never seen that before, though I’m told it does occasionally happen).
• Some members of the Kyokai [Sumo Association] made some interesting commentary about sekiwake Mitakeumi, who is hoping to get promoted to ozeki in the near future. If he wins twelve or more matches this tournament, he’ll have 33 wins in the last three basho (the measuring stick that is usually used when it comes to ozeki promotion). But the Kyokai yesterday said that thirty-three wins isn’t a hard and fast rule. If he puts in a strong performance and fights well against the top-ranked opponents, he might get a promotion even if he falls a little short. It’s unusual to hear them say such things, but I think that the Kyokai is keen to get both Mitakeumi and Takakeisho up to sumo’s second-highest rank as they are poised to be the superstars of the next few years.
• Everyone loves mighty mite Enho, who is ranked at M6 in Kyushu. That’s his highest rank ever by far and he’s going to get at least a few matches against big name opponents. All rikishi struggle the first time they fight near the top of the banzuke [ranking sheet], but it’s going to be even tougher for a tiny guy like Enho. Chances are he’s going to have a terrible record this tournament, but you can hear the whole stadium rooting for him everytime he steps up on the dohyo.
• Yokozuna Hakuho looked strong on Day 1 and even used his old favorite elbow-smash at the tachiai against komusubi Hokutofuji (perhaps as payback for having beaten him in September). Word is that none of his chronic problems are bothering him at the moment, and that means trouble for EVERYONE who has to face him.
• Finally, sekiwake Tochinoshin lost on Day 1, immediately making his quest to regain his ozeki rank that much harder. He needs 10 wins to do so, and now he can only afford 4 more losses over the whole of the next two weeks. I’m rooting hard for him to make it, but already I’m having doubts. Hopefully he’ll come out strong today and allay my fears.