We’re now a fifth of the way through the November basho, which means it is time for MyDohyo’s first 3-Day review: Throughout the course of this tournament, we are striving to provide you with as much meaningful content as possible and aim to provide you with a series of 3-Day reviews to help get your head around the latest happenings within the world of professional Sumo.
Ichinojo off to a poor start in November
In the September basho, Ichinojo won 2 out of his 3 opening matches, bringing down the likes of Kyokutaisei and Shohozan, but losing to Hoshoryu in his opening bout. Like Ichinojo, Hoshoryu finished the tournament with an 8-7 kachi-koshi record and was promoted from Maegashira #16 to Maegashira #13 – the same rank as Ichinojo, albeit East Maegashira for Hoshoryu.
Unfortunately, November has not been so kind for the Mongolian rikishi, who is now suffering from a 3-Day losing streak against: Chiyonokuni, Kotonowaka and Chiyotairyu. Ichinojo faces a tough opponent in Sadanoumi on Day 4, however, both men have lost all of their opening bouts, so there is not much momentum behind either wrestler.
In complete contrast to Ichinojo, Hoshoryu has won all of his opening bouts this tournament, beating: Kaisei, Yutakayama and Enho. He faces Chiyotairyu on Day 4
And then there were two…Ozeki: Asanoyama pulls out with a deltoid injury.
Asanoyama’s tournament was brought to an abrupt end after suffering from a right shoulder (deltoid) injury. His stable master told reporters that Asanoyama had “hurt himself when he was struck in the (right) arm in his first bout (against rank-and-filer Kiribayama),” and that “He competed yesterday but he’s in pain and in no condition to wrestle. He needs to heal fully,” (source: Mainichi).
Asanoyama’s fellow Ozeki peers, Shodai and Takakeisho, have opened this tournament well with 3-0 perfect records apiece. Shodai had a close fight against former Ozeki Takayasu on Day 3, with both men on the tawada (straw bales marking the ring around the dohyo). A late twist by Shodai afforded him the opportunity to thrust down Takayasu, thereby winning him the match by tsukiotoshi (thrust down).
Yusho contention: 10 rikishi with perfect scores!
Now, it’s still far too early to call the yusho race since we are only on Day 3 out of 15, however, we can attempt to draw some knowledge from the current standings when cross-referencing with previous tournaments.
Currently, the 10 rikishi with perfect 3-0 records are as follows: Shimanoumi, Chiyonokuni, Hoshoryu, Kotoeko, Endo, Hokutofuji, Terunofuji, Okinoumi, Takakeisho and Shodai.
We’ve already mentioned Hoshoryu with regards to his contrasting performances when compared with Ichinojo, so we shall go no deeper with this rikishi for now then to say: “keep you eye on Hoshoryu”!
Endo, Terunofuji and the Ozeki pairing (Takakeisho and Shodai), from a technical and “recent performances” point of view are the most likely grouping within these 10 rikishi to continue in the yusho race until the final days of the November tournament.
Endo has had a mixed year, being bandied back and forth between Maegashira and Komusubi rankings since November 2019. In September 2020, he had to withdraw after 10 bouts, citing issues with “fluid building up in his right knee” (linked to a previous injury). Despite this see-sawing between ranks, he earned kinboshi (gold star award given to record a Maegashira’s win over a Yokozuna) back to back in the January tournament beating both Hakuho and Kakuryu. Additionally, his start to this November basho has been positive, overcoming the likes of January winner Tokushoryu, Terutsuyoshi and Aoiyama already, so don’t write the Maegashira #7 off the yusho race just yet!
For Terunofuji, Takakeisho and Shodai, not much introduction is needed. All of these rikishi have been Ozeki at somepoint in time (Takakeisho and Shodai still are) and all of them are in decent fighting spirits. It is worthy to note that Shodai had a close match against Takayasu on Day 3, where he appeared to have hurt his leg and was seen hobbling slightly on his way back to the dressing room. Hopefully this is nothing serious and that he comes back on Day 4 as strong as ever!
For the other rikishi with 3-0 wins, their paths going forward are much less certain as of yet and it will remain to be seen whether any one of them can carry their momentum forward to the latter stages of the basho. However, if the 2020 season has taught us anything, having no Yokozuna present and already having lost an Ozeki (possibly 2 if Shodai turns out to be injured), can cause quite a stir within the Sumo rankings with rank-and-filers being full of belief that the tournaments are theirs to win.
So it all remains open as of the end of play on Day 3 in this November basho. Only time will tell who will take the finale to this year of surprises in the top-tier of professional sumo!
We hope you’ve enjoyed reading this article and that you will join us again on Day 6 for the second in our series of 3-Day reviews.