Myogiryu Becomes Surprise Sole Leader

Two leaders at 4 wins and 0 losses each entered day 5 of the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament in Tokyo. On one side was Sekiwake Terunofuji, who seeks a return to his highest rank of Ozeki, a feat demanding just 6 more wins. On the other side stood a seasoned but inauspicious rank-and-filer, Myogiryu. Myogiryu defeated his day 5 opponent Ichinojo with a frontal force-out. However, Terunofuji found himself once again at the mercy of arch nemesis Onosho’s relentless shoves, dropping to 4-1.

Myogiryu vs. Ichinojo is the second match in this video, Subscribe to Jason!
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Myogiryu now finds himself alone at the top of the leaderboard, followed by Terunofuji, Ozeki Asanoyama, and five others at 1 loss each. It’s somewhat rare to have just one undefeated leader so early on in a tournament, although it has happened twice in the past four years. Onosho broke away with 5 wins 0 losses at both Aki Basho 2020 and Aki Basho 2017.

“I feel like my sumo’s flowing pretty well,” said Myogiryu. Today he was able to read his giant opponent’s movement before seizing an opportunity to drive forward with both arms inside. When asked if he had any superstitions that he attributes to his early-basho luck, “I don’t know if anything like that has helped. But I’m just steadily pressing forward,” he said with the calmness of a sumo veteran.

This isn’t the first time Myogiryu (Sakaigawa-beya) has found himself in the lead on day 5. July of last year he lead with 5 straight but shared the position with four others. Similar to the current situation, Terunofuji (Isegahama-beya) took his first loss on day 5. That basho ended with Terunofuji’s historical top division comeback yusho, and a respectable 10-5 finish for Myogiryu.

Will history repeat itself this month? Or will Myogiryu continue to lead the pack and win his first top division title? Despite his current position, a clear cut yusho race has yet to form. So maybe it’s a bit early to predict where Myogiryu will be on Senshuraku. But what we can do with some degree of accuracy is predict where he’ll be after tomorrow by looking at past matches between those currently leading and their scheduled opponents for day 6.

Current RecordHead to HeadCurrent Record
3-2Hokutofuji6-5Myogiryu5-0
3-2Akiseyama0-2Kaisei4-1
4-1Aoiyama7-4Ryuden1-4
4-1Chiyonokuni4-3Kagayaki2-3
4-1Takayasu16-6Mitakeumi3-2
2-3Onosho3-4Takanosho4-1
4-1Terunofuji1-0Kiribayama2-3
2-3Wakatakakage0-0*Asanoyama4-1

*Wakatakakage has received a forfeited win from Asanoyama

Myogiryu faces Hokutofuji tomorrow, a rivalry in which Hokutofuji has a slight upper hand. As for chasers, all of them except for Asanoyama have the edge against their opponents, especially Takayasu. In Asanoyama’s case, he has never actually faced Wakatakakage.

From this, it’s safe to assume Myogiryu will not have an easy time holding onto the lead. He also has much tougher opponents to face going forward. Don’t count him out completely though. The 34 year old former Sekiwake is not terribly far removed from several big victories even against Hakuho and Kakuryu. Plus, stranger things have happened in the absence of Yokozuna.

Sources:
Nikkan Sports
Sumo DB

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