Haru 2020 Day Nine Recap
Word is Chiyomaru is being tested for Coronavirus ASAP, and if it comes back positive, this whole basho is shut down. Fingers crossed he is negative for the virus, and not just because it would be nice if the basho went all fifteen days. Still, the yusho race is what needs to be focused on, because everything could be cut off tomorrow.
Perhaps the simplest answer to "Who would succeed without fans present?" was always "The Greatest of All Time." It's always best not to overthink these things.
Of course, this pair was probably on no one's mind as potential favorites coming into Haru. Takanosho at least looked like a relatively young (25) rikishi becoming a makuuchi mainstay. Aoiyama is a long-term makuuchi man who has drifted to a surprisingly low spot on the banzuke. Neither seemed poise to be in the yusho race.
Kakuryu and Asanoyama are unsurprising, although both men probably will be disappointed in two losses. Miatkeumi has rebounded splendidly from recent issues, and he can boast his two losses did come to both yokozuna. Ishiura is in a form he hasn't been in for a long time, which could be tied to being adaptable to the strange environment. Kotonowaka has been the prototypical successful debutante, using his mix of skills and athleticism to make a mark in his first makuuchi basho.
The good, not great, crowd for this basho is relatively small. These four rikishi have all done a nice job, but never really been overwhelming. A very notable name here is Chiyotairyu, who was increasingly struggling to make his straight-ahead power work as well as it used to. This basho he's used more reactive, clever sumo, and it's been a blessing for him.
5-4 is better than 4-5, but that might be the best you can say about everyone here. Takakeisho has had no ability to produce any kind of effective power and looks like a shell of himself. Endo has been his typical up-and-down. Onosho looked like he was turning a corner, but is back to his off-kilter way of recent vintage.
Ikioi, Kotoshogiku, and Kaisei make a nice grouping as veterans doing enough to keep their position in the lower Maegashira ranks. Shimanoumi can be glad for any win above even, because he's in the relegation zone. Chiyomaru will sadly finish with 5 wins no matter how long it goes, and let's hope he's not got COVID-19 and the basho does keep going.
Here's the slightly disappointing group. Shodai's outside chance at Ozeki has disappeared. Okinoumi, Yutakayama, Abi, and Ryuden could have gotten a Sanyaku bump, which will now take lots of work. Kiribayama is struggling to adapt as well to much harder competition. Terutsuyoshi continues his strange inconsistentcy. Azumaryu and Daiamami are on relegation watch.
All four of these wrestlers have been slightly sad to watch in Haru. Enho's bouts against Sanyaku wrestlers involve alot of him getting swallowed up by bigger men. Tochinoshin has no ability to generate any power or strength with his right knee. Sadanoumi can't maneuver out of trouble like usual. Meisei is getting completely overwhelmed in nearly every match.
2-7 is just ugly. Even a nice run to finish the basho simply makes the final record okay. Hokutofuji has done that before, and he does get the easier week two. Tokushoryu had the most incredible run in the last basho, but that wrestler didn't make it to Osaka, apparently. Myogiryu, Tamawashi, and Shohozan all appear to have aged in a hurry this basho. Nishikigi has had very little ability to do anything beside offer only token opposition in most matches.
Tsurugisho will only manage one win after going kyujo. He is likely in Juryo to start the Natsu basho.
One of the most memorable moments of this basho, unfortunately, might be Takayasu writhing in pain, with his screams echoing around the empty arena. It's the sort of injury that might lead to retirement. Tochiozan's winless performance suggests he might soon be in line for a haircut as well.