Back in Tokyo for this May sumo tournament. We're coming off of a great tournament with an epic finish that was huge for Kisenosato and the sport with him being challenged by one of the Ozeki that historically has struggled a lot. Hopefully we come right down to the wire again this time, but we'll see. Let's start off with a look at the rankings: Newcomers: Two guys will be making their debuts this tournament, and we'll start by looking at Yutakayama. He's coming from a strong amateur sumo background (maybe college sumo?) and is the first ever Sandanme tsukedashi to make his debut in the top division. The tsukedashi designation allows wrestlers with national titles in amateur sumo to bypass the lowest divisions and start their professional career in either Makushita or Sandanme. The top division will be tough for him, but he's only had winning records in the top division, so I see him as a Makuuchi staple if not now, in the near future. Onosho is also making his debut in the top division at only 20 years old. He's a big guy, and is coming off a 9-6 tournament at Juryo 2 which is solid but not stellar. I think this will be a tough tournament for him too but because he's so young and has come up the ranks slowly but with consistency I would expect him to be a Makuuchi regular as well. Maegashira: It's disappointing to see both Myogiryu and Kaisei so low, all the way down at M15. Although I'm much more of a fan of Myogiryu, they're both much better than that but they've been struggling a lot lately and hopefully they can turn things around. After a winning record in his debut tournament, fan favorite Ura is moving up the ranks slowly and he'll be getting a lot of support this tournament as well. My man Sokokurai wasn't able to propel himself into the sanyaku last tournament with a 4-11 tournament at M2, but that was no surprise. He was able to get a kinboshi though, and the tournament will have been a great experience for him. I hope he can work his way back up there. Endo is once again at M1, with a chance to break into the sanyaku ranks here, and it would obviously be a big deal if he were able to do it. He stumbles at the final hurdle often though, and I expect him to struggle here. Finally, Chiyonokuni has looked really good recently and he's at a career high M1 rank. Komosubi and Sekiwake: Both Yoshikaze and Mitakeumi at Komosubi can cause problems for the guys at the top and can get big wins this tournament. Of the two of them, Mitakeumi is in a better position in his career to start making a big run at the highest ranks, and he'll be aiming for a big promotion with this tournament. Poor Kotoshogiku was unable to regain his Ozeki rank last tournament but still ended up with a winning record. I don't really know where he'll go with his career at this point. I don't see him getting an Ozeki promotion again, but he may be happy to just keep going and continue on at a lower rank for the rest of his career. Conversely, Takayasu is without question on the rise, and this is a huge tournament for him. With a good enough record he has the opportunity to be promoted to the sport's second highest rank. He can definitely do it, and I'll be rooting for him for sure. Tamawashi is also, unaccountably, on the rise at this late stage of his career but he may have hit his ceiling at Sekiwake. I think he can get winning records at this rank, but I don't see him putting together an Ozeki run. Ozeki: On the back of a tournament where he had to drop out halfway through, Goeido will need a good performance here to avoid demotion. Not so long after his unbeaten tournament victory, he'll be kadoban this tournament and I think he'll struggle to get his 8 wins. Terunofuji looked to have regained his old power last tournament, and after coming so close to his second championship hopefully he'll be in the yusho race up to the very end again. Yokozuna: We're not used to seeing Hakuho ranked as the lowest Yokozuna, and I think he'll actually struggle to regain his top spot. His career has taken a big shift, and actually the last tournament he won was the 2016 May tournament. Since then he's dropped out of two tournaments (one in the middle of the tournament), and not gotten more than 12 wins. I think he can certainly surpass some of the other Yokozuna, but I don't think he'll be sitting solidly at the top anymore. Moving up, Harumafuji had some good matches last tournament but ultimately ended with a disappointing 10-5 record. Seeing a 12-3 record at least this time would be great, but we'll see. Kakuryu is in a similar position, also ending with a 10-5 record in March. He has a more recent tournament victory than Harumafuji, so he's in a slightly better position, but they're both in need of some good tournaments. Firmly at the top of the sumo world, Kisenosato is in a good spot to go for another yusho. His dramatic win in March was huge for him and the sport, and hopefully the injury he sustained at the end of the last tournament isn't still affecting him. ----------------------------- So there you go! Stay tuned to Kintamayama's YouTube Channel for daily highlights of the top division, and the taka sumo YouTube Channel for possible daily posts of the NHK digest of the top day's action (in Japanese). Also check out Robert Mensing's YouTube Channel for English versions of the NHK digest episodes (although I don't think they include all of the top division matches). Or go straight to the source, on NHK World's Sumo website. There's also a good blog at tachiai.org with news and information. And as usual, for anyone who'll be watching the sport for the first time, please feel free to ask any questions you might have here and someone will try to answer them. Also be sure to check out my Introduction to SUMO thread for a brief (although quite outdated at this point) overview of the sport. Hakke-yoi!