- Fantasy Basho
Natsu 2019 Day Five Recap
One-third of the Natsu basho has taken place, which means it's a fair time to assess the race for the Yusho. We can also see how everyone's doing overall.
If anyone was asked before the tournament to name the three undefeated rikishi after five matches, this would likely not have been the answer. Kakuryu is a fair enough pick as the only Yokozuna, but it's the other two that are more surprising. Tochinoshin has been hobbled for about six months, but the super-strong, crane-lifting version is back and dominating. Asanoyama has finally found a new gear and real consistency this basho, going forward and deploying his excellent left hand grip.
Maybe this quartet sitting at 1 loss is even more surprising. Partly, it's who isn't here, as no Sanyaku wrestlers are just 1 back at this stage. Yet all four 1-loss rikishi are also wrestlers with mixed recent histories. Abi and Shodai are very talented, but have serious flaws in their styles. Perhaps they're sorting that out. Kotoeko has been just good enough to hang on to a Makuuchi slot, but might finally shoot up the banzuke. Enho has already made a mark in his Makuuchi debut by doing all sorts of unusual techniques.
While it's preferable to be here than anywhere below on this chart, none of the 3 win rikishi should be thrilled. In particular, the three Ozeki all sit at 3-2, with Takakeisho's injury keeping him at 3 wins all tournament. Everyone else has had a real mixed bag of a Natsu basho. Maybe the only one who could be happy is Mitakeumi, who faced the opening meat grinder typical for a Komusubi and had a winning record.
Everyone in this patch has looked decidedly shaky at times in Natsu, although they have also all had their moments. Ichinojo, Kotoshogiku, and Tamawashi would all prefer better records at this point, but can recover. The rikishi ranked Maegashira 12 and below need to be on alert. They are staring down the barrel of demotion to Juryo, and a losing record will be a real issue.
The sad-sack group, the rikishi with one solitary win have had disappointing tournaments so far. Of course, 10 matches are enough to right the ship. The problem they all nearly uniformly face is that their sumo has been off (with the possible exception of Hokutofuji, who has had a rough slate.) A sekitori can absolutely transform their sumo mid-basho if necessary, but you'd rather it not be necessary.
It's the dai-Yokozuna bringing up the rear thanks to his kyujo. More interestingly, he will be the only one here all basho, as every rikishi has at least one win.