Day 6 – It Left A Mark
Day six was a seismic shift in sumo. Although Endo defeated Hakuho, the biggest match, in my opinion, had to be Goeido’s loss to Tamawashi. With Goeido pushing for a promotion to Yokozuna this tournament, this loss was possibly decisive. In his defeat, he was left bloodied, and literally had his face covered in dirt. The symbolism was not lost on him, or on the fans.
The question now – what does Goeido do about it? Does he revert to bad Goeido, and resume flailing and failing? Or is it time for him to Gamberize? (my money is on Gamberize!)
Hakuho maintained a potent illusion for 5 days, and that is worthy of praise. But Endo sniffed him out and revealed he is not quite fully dangerous yet. This leads to an entirely new branch of thinking in the basho; with the most potent Yokozuna in recent memory present but not at full power, options of who can win, and with what kind of record become broader. Goeido may be beaten, but not prevented from winning the tournament.
After spending most of the year injured and incapable, Yokozuna Kakuryu is the leader going into the middle weekend of this basho – as unlikely as that sounds. He struggled a bit today with Yoshikaze, but he won.
- Undefeated: Kakuryu
- Chasers: Harumafuji, Hakuho, Goeido, Kisenosato, Ikioi, Chiyoshoma, Sokokurai, Ishiura
- Hunt Group: Terunofuji, Tamawashi, Endo, Shodai, Arawashi, Chiyootori
9 matches remain
Heading into day 7 – Here’s what seems to be the hot matches for Saturday
Sokokurai vs Gagamaru – Gagamaru has continued a pathetic run that started at Aki in Tokyo. I am sure that somewhere he has some great sumo, or he would not be in Makuuchi. I don’t know if he’s hurt, but he needs to really step it up. Sokokurai is 5-1, he is 1 back from Kakuryu. This should be fast.
Chiyoshoma vs Ishiura – Both rikishi are also at 5-1, with Ishiura showing us fast, aggressive sumo during the first week. Chiyoshoma has been chewing up opponents too, so this could be a real battle early in the upper division day.
Ikioi vs Tochinoshin – Ikioi has gotten into his grove, and his opponents have been letting him do “his sumo”. The big Georgian – Tochinoshin – is more than a match for him. With Ikioi a pusher / thruster, he must watch out for Tochinoshin’s great reach, and impressive upper body strength. Dare I say slugfest?
Shodai vs Kisenosato – Two big, traditional rikishi. They both like to fight using strong belt grips with throws and force outs. Kisenosato will work to make sure they fall into that mode at the tachiai, as it favors him. Shodai needs to do something drastic and unexpected. Maybe a henka?
Goeido vs Kaisei – With a tremendous loss of face on day 6, Goeido is looking for someone to take out his frustrations. This is his weakness, as winless Kaisei needs a scalp, and Goeido’s is perfect. Day 5 and day 6 saw Goeido rushing, and it was very sloppy. Goeido’s formula during Aki was to pick a battle plan, and execute with super-human commitment and determination. Not to rush into it, let the match evolve and dominate. He may have lost that plot.
Aoiyama vs Terunofuji – Terunofuji is still banged up, but he has powered through the injuries to get to 4-2. I still expect him to go kyujo as soon as he hits 8 wins. Aoiyama blew up Takayasu’s Ozeki promotion bid on day 6, and he should be rightfully confident that he can overcome whatever the kadoban Ozeki can throw at him. If Aoiyama can keep the match mobile, and keep pushing Terunofuji, I suggest he wins.
Hakuho vs Yoshikaze – There is two ways this can go. Hakuho is going to crumple Yoshikaze the Berserker in a swift and unstoppable opening move. Or Yoshikaze has calculated the Boss is slow on his feet, and is going to bring a street fight to the Yokozuna. Yoshikaze is far more talented than his current 1-5 record indicates, and he must be ready to throw caution to the wind and attack like the Yoshikaze of old.
Endo vs Kakuryu – It’s not the final match of the day, but possibly the most important. Endo is on fire, he already has one Yokozuna win, and he now faces the last undefeated rikishi in the tournament in the form of Yokozuna Kakuryu. Kakuryu is looking good enough to win it all, but I get the impression that Endo is really motivated, and frankly – having a lot of fun right now. Always dangerous to compete against a man like that.