Preview of North American Sumo Wrestlers in the Hatsu Basho 2020 – Wakaichirō

It is another basho already!?  Just when I was going to write more posts after the holidays, I unfortunately had a family member pass away.  I had to spend some time away from my hobbies and focus on the family (and work, of course).  Nevertheless, the Hatsu Basho 2020 is well timed.  It will improve my frame of mind, and it will help me get back into the normal swing of things.

I am quite looking forward to all the storylines in the Hatsu Basho.  Everyone wants to see whether Hakuho will continue his dominance into the 20s, especially after a dominating performance to close out the 10s.  Everyone also wants to see whether Takakeisho, Asanoyama, Abi, Daieisho, and many others will continue their high standards of improvement. . .and maybe show early signs of a march towards yokozuna?  Personally, I am also excited to see how well Enho performs at his highest rank as well as how well Tochinoshin performs at his lowest rank in quite awhile.  I think at this rank, we will see Tochinoshin pick up quite a few rikishi – something he struggled with at the upper ranks while injured.

Juryo is just as exciting, though.  Three rising stars are Kotonowaka, Kizakiumi, and Mitoryu.  Each of them could reach makuuchi with a decent performance in the Hatsu Basho, which would be impressive given their youth.  Of course, I am also excited to see the dynamic Hoshoryu, who will be fighting to stay in juryo.  He stayed in the division by the skin of his teeth.  Can he do it again?  The most exciting in juryo, though, may be the former top-tier behemoths, Ichinojo and Terunofuji.  They probably won’t return to makuuchi after this basho, even with a great performance, but can they get a good start on their mission?

As for North American rikishi, we only have Wakaichirō. . .but that is all we need!  Wakaichirō has been showing great improvements, and he has the heart of a champion.  Last basho, he was ranked at his highest rank ever – by far!  Although he went 2-5, he is now at his second-highest rank ever – sandanme 64 east.  What does Wakaichiro need to do to continue moving upwards?  Let’s take a look.

Ranking Progression of North American Rikishi - Hatsu Basho 2020

In the Kyushu Basho 2019, Wakaichirō looked strong, as evidenced in the match below:

Kyushu Basho 2019 - Wakaichiro Match 7

I think this shows that Wakaichirō has the skill and size for this level of competition.  At the same time, though, several matches just didn’t fall his way.  Here is an example:

Kyushu Basho 2019 - Wakaichiro Match 6

I think this match shows a current weakness of Wakaichirō.  If he doesn’t immediately win by thrusts, he doesn’t seem to have a backup plan.  For instance, he isn’t able transition to a belt battle, and he isn’t able to reposition himself for a second round of thrusting attacks.  Instead, he just goes with his first plan until it either wins or gets him into bad positioning.  For Wakaichirō to make it out of sandanme, he may be able to stick with his current gameplan; however, to make it further into makushita, he needs to develop a more diverse set of attacks. . .unless he is able to grow into the size and style of Abi!

In the Hatsu Basho 2020, we’ll be cheering on our lonely American warrior – Wakaichirō!  Let’s go Wakaichirō!  And don’t forget to follow real-time updates about Wakaichirō on our Twitter page: https://twitter.com/NorthAmericanS5 .

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