- Fantasy Basho
Goodbye Natsu, Hello Nagoya
It's been one week since Asanoyama was officially crowned the Grand Sumo champion for the Natsu basho. In doing so, he set a number of historical precedents. Asanoyama is the first rikishi to win a yusho without Sanyaku experience since Sadanoyama (the eventual 50th Yokozuna) in 1961, the lowest ranked riksihi to win since Takatoriki won as a Maegashira 14 at Haru 2001, and the first wrestler from his Takasago stable to win it all since former Yokozuna Asashoryu retired in scandal in 2010. Oh, and he also is the first champion of the Reiwa era, as well as the first sumotori to ever receive the President's Cup from a President of the United States.
Despite his accolades, that last bit is one of the many reasons Asanoyama's yusho will be overshadowed. As he always does, Donald Trump sucked the oxygen out of the room when he saw the last five matches at the Kokugikan on Day 15. Lines were extremely long for security and seats were removed to accommodate his presence. It didn't matter that much, because Day 15 was after the climax of the tournament. With 12 wins in 14 matches, Asanoyama had the yusho sown up before anyone took the dohyo on Day 15.
And those 12 wins probably will always get a mental asterisk. Most yusho require more than 12 wins, and Ichinojo got 14 wins in the previous tournament and didn't even win it all. Asanoyama had a win over Tochinoshin on Day 13 after a mono-ii review that most sumo watchers thought really should have gone to Tochinoshin. The whole basho was less than a classic.
The beauty of sumo is that it will be just a few weeks until the next tournament starts. Sumo is grueling. Even playing and following a fantasy version from halfway around the globe can be wearing, just from following a full slate of matches for 15 days straight. Imagine slamming yourself into a 350 pound man for each of those days. Now there is time for a bit of a refresher, which everyone will probably need because Nagoya is always a bit funny.
The banzuke for Nagoya will come down on June 23rd for those of us in America. In the three weeks between now and then, there will be some information on this website. In particular, there will probably be something on historical trends and bigger picture ideas. After all, what else should the time between basho be for?