- Fantasy Basho
Kyushu 2019 Day Five Recap
Kyushu has proven to be full of surprises and odd occurrences. Kyujo announcements have come at a pace of one per day (Day Four had none, but Day Five had two to make up for it). Ozeki look battered, some surprising rikishi are doing well, and each Torikumi has some result that looks totally wild.
We're one third of the way through, so let's try to make sense of all this.
That's right, an 8-way tie for the yusho lead after five days. No one is undefeated and still competing, after Wakatakakage had to withdraw. Shodai could have been, but lost to the previously winless Kotoshogiku on Day Five. Hakuho is still the favorite, of course, but things have been so wild that firm predictions seem like a fool's errand. He also hasn't been dominating.
Two things worth noting: 1) Asanoyama has already faced Hakuho, Takakeisho, and Hokutofuji, meaning he has built up some numbers against a tough slate. 2) This is silly, but Enho will not be able to face Hakuho, even though he is doing well and there are injuries above him. The two are stablemates.
Hakuho and Meisei see each other on Day Six. Yutakayama and Sadanoumi have already squared off. Otherwise we might see these gentlemen face one another just to thin the leaderboard.
Of course, despite the 8-way tie for first, no one should discount those rikishi on three wins. The real issue with everyone here is that no one has looked consistently impressive. Hokutofuji has had his moments, but was manhandled by Asanoyama on Day Five. Daieisho has the tournament's one kinboshi and should see his schedule get much easier going forward, but he hasn't looked like a yusho winner.
Otherwise, you have a lot of up and down performances, with Takakeisho and Chiyotairyu being symbolic at opposite ends of the Banzuke. The newest Ozeki still seems to be finding his rhythm after not being able to practice between tournaments. Chiyotairyu, meanwhile, is trying to establish himself after a disappointing basho in September and a subsequent drop way down below his usual level. He's on a three match winning streak after dropping his first two.
The round robin nature of sumo means that the rikishi in similar sections of the rankings can beat up on each other to no one's benefit. That's the case for most everyone on two wins. The real concerns come from the top. Takayasu is definitely still not comfortable using his left arm for anything sumo-related. Mitakeumi is clearly out of sorts. Tochinoshin is now out with a rib injury. Abi is much too wild to consistently do anything.
Yet the simple logic of sumo is that one guy will always have to win in a match. All any rikishi needs to do on their day is find the secret to winning by even a toe. And everyone on two wins is under .500 but also just two off the lead, so focusing on winning each match isn't just a cliche. It's a way to get back in the race.
Sadogatake-beya mates Kotoeko and Kotoshogiku won on Day Five to make it so no competing rikishi has 0 losses in Makuuchi. That might be the best thing to say about anyone here. All five of these men are having a tournament from hell through five days and need to quickly figure out how to right the ship.
Everyone in this final group has withdrawn from the tournament due to injury. For Kakuryu and Goeido, they appear to be niggling injuries they hope they can get healed by January. Ichinojo is on the get-healthy-and-dominate-juryo plan for future success. The truly sad case is Tomokaze, whose knee injury looks to put him out of commission for a year or so.