2019 Kyushu Basho: Day 6
We’ve reached Day 6 of the Kyushu Basho and the leaderboard is returning to something closer to normal. With M16 Wakatakakage going kyujo [absent due to injury] and M10 Shodai losing, we now have eight rikishi tied for the lead with 4–1 records. Of course, crazy stuff is still happening in the daily matches.
• It was another terrible day for the top rankers with yokozuna Hakuho and komusubi Asanoyama being the only two sanyaku-level rikishi registering wins. The sumo world is going to remain in a state of unpredictable flux until we get a group of ozeki who reliably perform well and vie for the yusho [tournament championship] every tournament. Right now, they mostly seem to be taking turns being kadoban [threatened with ozeki demotion] and scrambling just to get kachi-koshi [majority of wins] to solidify their ranks. It’s almost difficult to remember that just a few years ago we had three yokozuna—Hakuho, Harumafuji, and Kakuryu—plus three ozeki—Kisenosato, Kotoshogiku, and Goeido—most of whom would stay in the yusho hunt deep into Week 2 every single basho.
• One of the big disappointments for me so far has been komusubi Endo. He’s a fan favorite who for years has struggled everytime his ranking rises near the top of the banzuke, but in September for the first time he managed to get kachi-koshi at the rank of komusubi AND stayed in contention for the yusho late into Week 2. Because of the traffic jam at sekiwake, he was only able to get a “lateral promotion” to the #1 komusubi slot, but there was every reason to hope that he’d gotten over his “curse” and might repeat his September performance here in Kyushu. Unfortunately, that hasn’t been the case. Endo comes into today with a 1–4 record and has looked lackluster getting there. It’s not surprising for a komusubi to have a tough start in a tournament (they have what is widely regarded as the most difficult schedule of any rank), but HOW a komusubi looks in early losses says a lot about how they are likely to perform in Week 2, and Endo has looked completely out of sorts. I still hope he can turn it around and, with some luck during the middle weekend, manage to get his second-ever kachi-koshi at a sanyaku rank.
• On the other hand, I’ve been delighted by how well M6 Enho has been doing at his highest rank ever. From the start of the tournament I’ve been commenting on how I expected him to be overpowered in his first crack at the upper-ranks of the division, but Enho finished the first third of the tournament with a 4–1 record and wins over the likes of Aoiyama and Ryuden. I still don’t think it’s likely, but wouldn’t it be great if the little guy could nab a kachi-koshi and get himself promoted up to just below the sanyaku ranks so we could see him fighting ozeki and sekiwake in January?