- Fantasy Basho
Aki 2022 Day One
PUBLIC LEAGUE LEADERBOARD
Kainehineri. Terutsuyoshi looked like he had gotten lower than Yutakayama and that was about it. Then he put both hands on Yutakayama's mawashi and pulled off a beautiful "two-handed arm twist-down."
MATCH OF THE DAY
Yokozuna East Terunofuji versus Komusubi #10 West Kiribayama
Terunofuji has spent most of 2022 fighting extremely hard and having challenging matches, but mostly winning. Kiribayama has always been as comfortable as any rikishi from odd positions. At the start, neither man had a great grip from the tachiai, but Kiribayama was standing with his torso parallel to the dohyo. This at least meant Terunofuji never really had a chance to put him away for the opening stretch. As soon as Kiribayama tried to really make a change on the Yokozuna, he had an opening. Terunofuji closed it quickly and had an efficient yorikiri from there.
Even by sumo standards, most matches on Day One of Aki 2022 were blink-and-you'll-miss-it affairs. The Musubi no Ichiban (see above) was a good sort of back-and-forth, but otherwise the winners won fairly quickly. Even Oho's dramatic simultaneous throw win over Chiyoshoma that came after the gyoji's decision was reversed was the only real action of the match. Otherwise, Day One seemed to be full of one guy getting the advantage and winning quickly.
Reading too much into the results of Day One is a great sumo tradition, because one match can't really say that much. Unless a rikishi gets wheeled out, they could come back tomorrow and look completely different. Ichinojo's oshidashi defeat of Takakeisho could mean Ichinojo is still on form and Takakeisho will soon see kadoban status again. Tamawashi's upset of Hoshoryu could mean the youngster will struggle with his Sekiwake debut. Nishikigi's simple win versus Ura could mean the man in pink is about to crash down the Banzuke. Or more likely, the three Day One losers were surprised in their matches and can easily figure it all out. A quick win is not always a sign of dominance.
There were some signs of genuine dominance, however. Kotonowaka didn't just beat Wakatakakage, but bottled him up from the start and showed him the way to the edge of the dohyo with no trouble. Wakatakakage has been one of the better rikishi in 2022, and Kotonowaka made him look like a lower-level rikishi in a practice match. Shodai also had no trouble with whatever tricks Tobizaru was trying to pull, although that may be a sign of Tobizaru getting outginned at this rank as much as anything. Hokutofuji beat Myogiryu in a forceful enough way to suggest that he belongs higher up the rankings.
Another intriguing element of Day One was that both Makuuchi debutants won with strong sumo. Hiradoumi did have a matta against Juryo visitor Shimanoumi, but then he got inside and under on the veteran. That gave him a simple yorikiri in the end. Mitoryu took on Tsurugisho's best effort and handled it smoothly. He, too, got a simple yorikiri. By contrast, returning Makuuchi promotee Ryuden was made to stand straight up and go backwards by Ichiyamamoto's thrusting.
All three men could look very different on Day Two, as could every other rikishi. On a day with few significant upsets you won't learn too much. Everyone gets a new challenge tomorrow, then a different one for each of the following thirteen days. Even if we can't say too much about Aki Day One, sumo is back and we are closer to seeing who will get the yusho.