First Act Ends As Action Intensifies
At the end of day 5, Kyushu will be ⅓ complete. Andy and I laid out some of the story lines that would be unfolding during Kyushu, and many of them are unfolding in amazing ways. Before we look at the pivotal matches on Thursday, let’s see how things are developing
Endo is clearly in the running for a Sanyaku spot. Short of a complete, Okinoumi style week 2 collapse, he is actually thriving at Maegashira 3. As of Thursday they are pairing him against Yokozuna, as he has already overwhelmed the Ozeki ranks. This is his audition, with week 2 likely to be other Maegashira rank and file sumotori. A kachi-koshi would place him in consideration for the top slot of sumo for the new year basho (which I am going to try to attend)
Takayasu’s Ozeki run is in trouble. But wait, you say – he is on a winning streak with only one loss. Let’s look at the math – firstly, he lost to Goeido. I am still troubled by that match. But to make Ozeki, he needs 13 wins, in part because he lost a few easy matches at the end of Aki. That means he can only lose 2 bouts. One is already lost to Goeido. This means that he has to win everything, beat the other 2 Ozeki (not a tall order, as they are flagging), and only lose to 1 Yokozuna. Unless Harumafuji goes kyujo with that ankle, he faces 3 fairly amped up Yokozuna, all tuned up and ready for battle. That slippi-toshi against Goiedo is probably a deciding factor in his promotion.
Speaking of Goeido – he’s got trouble, because of that really smelly bout with Takayasu, and the one that followed with Yoshikaze. If he wants his rope, he has to overcome the same obstacles. He has to find a way to beat at least Hakuho and Kakuryu. He is certainly capable, but the first act of Kyushu is really to warm up the top talent, and give the lower ranked Makuuchi a chance to shine. If the top talent gets easy / fall-down matches, they are not really ready for the rigors of the closing 10 days. Goeido needs challenges, but his brethren Ozeki are playing wounded, except for Kisenosato.
Terunofuji looks doomed, really. He may get some mercy wins from scheduling, but as Andy has correctly pointed out, he needs medical treatment and recovery. I personally want the really scary good, nobody’s safe Terunofuji back.
Aoiyama has the best 0-4 record in sumo. He has taking a beating from the top ranks, and he gives it everything he’s got. That was especially on display day 4 where he made Harumafuji work, and work more to defeat him. I worry that his massive size is making is joints fail. Clearly the man has talent, but like any arms race, he may have gone too far. (also Kaisei)
Harumafuji is damaged, at least his ankle, maybe his knee as well. If you recall, he was hurt in Nagoya, and that injury limited him during Aki – which opened the door for Goeido. The ankle took damage on his loss day one to Tamawashi during that awkward exit from the dohyo. Depending on how well they can manage his damage, don’t be surprised if he goes kyujo.
Day 5 Notable Matches
Ishiura vs Ichinojo – It’s muscle man vs sumo robot time!
Ikioi vs Takarafuji – This could be mighty fine. Let’s see who wants it more, as both are 3-1
Takayasu vs Tamawashi – Sekiwake vs Komusubi, this could be fun too!
Kotoshogiku vs Yoshikaze – The berserker can’t seem to buy a win right now. This will be an indicator on how degraded Ku is, and how rough the match up with Goeido will be
Goeido vs Aoiyama – Aoiyama is going to give it everything, but right now Goeido is still in super attack mode.
Harumafuji vs Endo – This is probably the highlight match of the day. How hurt is Harumafuji? How ready is Endo? Time to find out!