- Fantasy Basho
Natsu 2023 Day Two
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Scores from Fantasizr.
Kakenage. Kotoeko's hooking inner thigh throw had a little more excitement because he got in one of those matches where he and Chiyoshoma were sideways for pretty much all of it.
Match of the Day
22 Maegashira #7 East Hokutofuji versus 21 Maegashira #6 West Mitakeumi
These two had a redo after their first match ended inconclusively. Hokutofuji pushed Mitakeumi back, but Mitakeumi held himself up at the edge as Hokutofuji was falling. Shimpan said they went out together, and their second match was similarly as chaotic but they stayed in. Hokutofuji got the shoving match he wanted, but Mitakeumi kept going to the side. Mitakeumi finally grabbed an awkward hold and began working on Hokutofuji. Hokutofuji still offered some resistance, but Mitakeumi used his leveraged position to get the win.
Takakeisho fell off the early pace with a loss to Kotonowaka on Day Two. Maybe it will just be his blip, or maybe it shows he is in a real fight to make 8 wins to keep his Ozeki status. The other Sanyaku all won, so while it was a small upset the Komusubi beat the Ozeki, there were no big shocks with Maegashira victories over Sanyaku wrestlers. The highest ranked men are doing what they should be doing, by and large.
Based on the eye test, there are some standouts among the 2 win Sanyaku rikishi. Kiribayama had a similar forcefulness on Day Two against Endo that he showed on Day One, but this time he went forward from the jump. Hoshoryu actually competed for the first time this basho after a Day One fusensho, and he took Midorifuji's best shot before turning it around with his power and skill. Kotonowaka fully grabbed hold of Takakeisho to not allow the tsuppari master to get any shoving in at all.
This is not to say Daieisho and Wakamotoharu have been bad. They just don't have the standout moments on Day Two. Day Three could easily bring those for each man. The real feature of a basho that starts with wins among the Sanyaku is that the margins become narrower with each day. If everybody who was a yusho contender coming in is winning, and even if almost everybody keeps winning, one loss matters. Takakeisho might have been the one who felt that on Day Two.
Terunofuji is in a special place in this conversation. He has won his opening two matches, largely through his exceptional strength and skill. Someone, at some point, will make him move sideways in a way that will challenge his knees. So far he has survived. Worth mentioning as another rikishi whose real test is yet to come is Asanoyama. The returning former Ozeki has looked good, but the real proof will be when he faces Sanyaku wrestlers. That's only going to come if he keeps winning against Maegashira.
Two days is not very much for a sumo basho, but the way the basho will unfold is based on what happens in everyone's first two matches. Right now, Sanyaku wrestlers are dominating. If they keep it up, the natural rhythm of sumo will return after a year or more where it seemed the upper Maegashira and lower Sanyaku were the real contenders. We just have one Yokozuna and one Ozeki right now, but Kiribayama and Hoshoryu are poised for Ozeki promotions and many others aren't far back. If Natsu keeps this up, the normal pattern for a basho may be back.