Welcome to the 2020 September Grand Sumo Tournament, AKA Aki Basho or Kugatsu Basho! As in July, competition is being held in a limited capacity Tokyo Ryogoku Kokugikan. Unlike last time though, no Yokozuna will be with us from the very start of the basho. Hakuho is recovering from knee surgery, and Kakuryu is still not in good condition.
This puts the two Ozeki at the top of the ladder, Asanoyama in the East slot, and Takakeisho in the West. Well aware of this prime opportunity to put on a grand champion quality show, Yokozuna hopeful Asanoyama said, “I’m in position to lead this time, so I’m going to try my best to do that.”
On the morning of day 1, Asanoyama shared some thoughts on what he’d like to visualize and focus on throughout the tournament. “I have regrets from last basho,” he said, “so without forgetting that, I’m going to impose my own sumo on the next 15 days.”
Some confident words for a man immediately facing an opponent who has the edge in their rivalry. Komusubi Endo, that is, was up 6-4 in their previous matches leading up to this basho. Unfortunately for the Ozeki, this day followed that trend.
|East||Tale of the Tape||West|
|E. Ozeki||Rank||W. Komusubi|
|(Migi) yotsu-zumo||Style||(Hidari) yotsu-zumo|
|4 wins||Past Meetings (10)||6 wins|
|0-0||Record this Basho||0-0|
A good tachiai and some strategic pulling moves allowed Endo to get the better of the grip fight, keeping his arms inside for most of the fight. But Asanoyama kept moving forward, pressuring the Komusubi against the West, then the East tawara.
The turning point of the fight was when Asanoyama tried for an ill-advised left uwate-nage. Failing that he reached his right hand for an inside grip, but Endo read the makikae attempt and now asserted his own forward pressure with the double inside.
Asanoyama’s balance was way back against the ropes, but some lateral movement (and possibly superior strength) put him in position for another left uwatenage. Still with the morozashi though, Endo read the attempt once again and landed a beautiful right sukuinage, leg lift and all!
“I set him up with a speedy attack,” said Endo after the match. This is his fifth basho at Komusubi West, never having gone higher in rank.
Even considering past results, the new Ozeki’s defeat came as somewhat of a surprise and was considered by some to be an upset. When asked if the extra pressures of being the top ranked active wrestler might be the culprit, Asanoyama denied it. “Nothing has changed from last basho. I’ll do my best to turn things around tomorrow,” he said.