2019 Kyushu Basho: Day 5
It’s Day 5 of the Kyushu Basho and we’re still recovering from the crazy first few days of the tournament. There are just two undefeated rikishi remaining atop the leaderboard—M10 Shodai and M16 Wakatakakage. Unfortunately, Wakatakakage hurt his ankle in yesterday’s bout and has withdrawn from the basho, so effectively Shodai is the sole leader going into today’s action.
• Sekiwake Tochinoshin also went kyujo [absent due to injury] citing a costal cartilage fracture (an injury to the rib cage). He likely suffered this yesterday when he reversed a weak position against M3 Takarafuji, twisting and forcing his opponent to the ground for his second win. It was a strong move, but an ungainly one and it seems to have ended all hope of Tochinoshin regaining his ozeki status. Let’s hope it isn’t too serious and we’ll see him back in action in January because at his age (32), having already suffered and come back from two major injuries, and slipping from his career-high ranking (which he’s unlikely to achieve again) retirement has to at least be on the table for consideration.
• Four sanyaku-level rikishi are in the pack of 3–1 rikishi—yokozuna Hakuho, ozeki Takakeisho, komusubi Hokutofuji, and komusubi Asanoyama. They all appear to have steadied themselves and are ready to soldier on in the race for the yusho [tournament championship]. However, as always, the komusubi will continue to be pitted against top-ranked opponents here in Week 1, so they’re pretty likely to fall back over the next few days.
• Ozeki Takayasu looked lackluster again yesterday, going off balance and letting Hokutofuji get a relatively easy victory over him. Takayasu is kadoban [threatened with ozeki demotion] this basho and must get at least 8 wins to overcome that situation. Starting 2–2 is not a great way to do that since, as we know, an ozeki’s schedule gets tougher as the basho progresses. Still, he doesn’t look unfit, just unsteady, and I don’t think he’ll ultimately have much trouble getting kachi-koshi [majority of wins].
• After suffering a gash above his eye thanks to a Day 2 head-butt at the tachi-ai [initial charge], sekiwake Mitakeumi climbed onto the dohyo with a large bandage on his brow yesterday. He was understandably hesitant at the tachi-ia, and that cost him the match against M1 Daieisho. Now with a 2–2 record, Mitakeumi needs to win 10 of his remaining eleven matches in order to get the 33 wins in three tournaments that is recommended for the promotion to ozeki he so desperately seeks.
• I thought that at M6, tiny Enho was going to be completely overpowered this tournament. But he’s right up there at 3–1 (the same record as his stablemate Hakuho) and holding his own against opponents from the top section of the banzuke [ranking sheet]. I still think that it’s going to be tough for him to notch a kachi-koshi at this level, but I’m beginning to think that it’s not a complete impossibility.