Nagoya 2019 Day Five Recap
A basho lasts 15 days. You can divide that to get three different sections to each basho. Day Five is the first marker of who's looking like a possible champion and who's looking like they need to look forward to Aki. Here's the Yusho Arasoi, or championship leaderboard.
As though Nagoya seems determined to prove the Three Divisions of Makuuchi theory, the basho has four leaders from three different spots of the Banzuke. Kakuryu and Hakuho should be dominating as Yokozuna, although the performance of the Ozeki show that the top of the Banzuke's dominance isn't guaranteed. Better than their record is that both look strong.
Tomokaze might be having his breakout basho. Not only has he managed to win every match, but he's looked like a legitimate future Sanyaku wrestler. He could easily remain competitive all tournament, and he is well-spotted to get a Special Prize right now. His rather unbelievable streak of never having a losing record as a professional will continue with just three more victories.
Terutsuyoshi is undefeated from the last place on the Banzuke. After consecutive 6-9 records, this is the most surprising result so far. Terutsuyoshi is shorter than most rikishi, but he isn't slight. He's turned his Makuuchi fortunes around by being straightforward and aggressive. That style also makes his tricks actually surprising. Now his sumo is almost as fun as his salt throw when he takes the Dohyo. (Maybe not...)
If anyone wanted to say Takayasu should be above this tier, because he beat Ryuden but the judges gave a rematch, that's fair. He also had two shots at Endo before beating him. Takayasu is probably best positioned to threaten for a yusho from this group, because he is definitely seeing the Yokozuna.
Ichinojo and Kotoshogiku will probably get tougher slates in the second week thanks to their winning records so far. Additionally, neither rikishi has been so overwhelming that they seem destined to go undefeated from here on out. Of course, 4-1 is only achievable if you have performed well. No opponents are going to be glad when they get either one on the Torikumi.
Takagenji is looking strong in his Makuuchi debut, and perhaps more importantly he looks like a veteran. He certainly was never going to be at an athletic disadvantage here, so being on his sumo will take him places. Enho has also been on his sumo, which was also true the first week of last basho. He needs a much better second week in Nagoya.
You'd rather be here than the grouping below, of course, although it's still more middling. That also describes the performances of most everyone in this bracket.
The chief exceptions are Goeido, who should probably have more than 3 wins after 5 days, and Kotoyuki, who should probably be thrilled with anything that leads to 8 wins and remaining in Makuuchi.
For everybody else, being on track for a bare kachi-koshi is certainly good.
For the top four wrestlers here, this is not a terrible place to be. Ryuden, Asanoyama, Hokutofuji, and Endo were guaranteed to have their toughest matchups in the first few days. They aren't out of it yet, but sitting at 2-3 is actually a solid place if you have to start your basho with the Yokozuna and Ozeki.
For everyone else, they're on the wrong side of .500. Some are seeing mediocre performances translate into a mediocre record, but others are simply not performing well.
Maybe Abi should feel okay about his performance, as he has beaten the one rikishi he faced ranked below him. Of course, he'd like to have taken a win from an Ozeki or Yokozuna, but he has performed well enough to have hope for the second week.
Everyone else at 1 win has looked terrible. Takarafuji has had little offensive firepower. Onosho keeps going so far forward he falls on his face. Toyonoshima appears to be completely over-matched in Makuuchi. Kaisei is definitely struggling with injuries and ring rust.
The disappointing group. Takakeisho and Yoshikaze withdrew with an injury before the tournament began. And yet Tochinoshin, Tamawashi, and Meisei are on the same win total as those two.
Tochinoshin is definitely injured. His right knee is heavily bandaged, which doesn't help him generate any lower body strength or balance well when he has to put his weight on it. Tamawashi might well be injured himself. He has had problems with his footwork, and both feet are bandaged. Whatever is happening, he can't get any offense started and has been thrown off balance repeatedly.
Meisei has simply been more unfortunate. He is at his highest rank ever and has been overwhelmed repeatedly.