- Fantasy Basho
Kyushu 2022 Day One
Public League Leaderboard
Scores from Fantasizr.
Kiribayama out-tricked Ura with a katasukashi, or under-arm swing down, after the smaller man tried for a leg grab.
Match of the Day
Sekiwake #1 East Wakatakakage versus Maegashira #1 East Takayasu
These two basically seemed destined to have fun matches. Takayasu had the upper hand for most of it, although never a dominant hand. As usual, Wakatakakage never let his opponent get the best grip or overwhelm him. Takayasu knows how to scrap, too, and kept up the pushing pressure. Although Wakatakakage attempted to maneuver at the edge, Takayasu was too much. (And worryingly Wakatakakage came up limping just a little bit.)
With Terunofuji out and an even Sanyaku and upper Maegashira, the Kyushu tournament is wide open. That has quite a few effects, including placing Ozeki Takakeisho and Shodai in the main event slots for the basho. There will also be no kinboshi throughout the basho, since there is no Yokozuna to defeat. Most importantly, every day will have consequential matches.
Takakeisho is in pole position, and he took care of Daieisho with a better pushing strategy. Shodai fell in his quest to once again avoid kadoban, but based on history an opening day loss to Tobizaru doesn't mean he's destined for a losing record. Wakatakakage and Takayasu had a bout reminiscent of their playoff excitement in May. Tamawashi and Ichinojo had a bruising battle of the two most recent yusho winners. Hoshoryu and Kotonowaka had a match that showed they'll be a fun matchup for the next few years, with Hoshoryu levitating on the edge just well enough to beat the stronger Kotonowaka. Kiribayama and Tobizaru certainly look game, which could make for other interesting scenarios.
That just covers the Sanyaku. Right now in Makuuchi, there's a clutch of aging rikishi keeping hold of Makuuchi slots. That includes to varying degrees Myogiryu, Okinoumi, Tochinoshin, Takarafuji, Chiyotairyu, and Aoiyama. Alongside them in mid-to-lower Maegashira are younger rikishi like Nishikifuji, Oho, Kotoshoho, Atamifuji, and Hiradoumi. They all will be fighting for each match, because kachi-koshi and make-koshi are so important in keeping rank. Lookout for some intense matches among these wrestlers.
Yet the ones to watch in lower Maegashira are the Maegashira #9 combo of Takanosho and Abi. Both men have been in Sanyaku relatively recently and are capable of dominating Maegashira. They both need to be on form, but they looked it on Day One. Abi just overwhelmed Aoiyama, while Takanosho didn't allow Tochinoshin to turn him once the Big Georgian had a grip. That could be a preview of how they'll perform.
They are also guaranteed to see each other very soon, since they share a rank. Similarly, those game Sanyaku wrestlers will be seeing all the other tough opponents in Sanyaku and upper Maegashira. A zensho yusho is always unlikely, and a dominating performance seems even more difficult in this environment. Just remember that each day will have multiple intriguing matchups and every match will have an impact.