The Final Drive To The Finish
The last weekend of sumo for 2016 is upon us now. While we now seem to have good indicators of who will with the championship for both Juryo and Makuuchi, I am sure that there are a few surprised, and several great matches left to enjoy.
The popularity of sumo seems to once again be on the upswing in Japan. Tickets are becoming harder to get, and venues outside of Tokyo are selling out more frequently. World wide, there are more opportunities today than at any other time in history for people do start following and enjoying sumo. Enough opportunities for me to suggest, short of some hideous scandal, that sumo is on the cusp of a broader global following.
There are distant rumors that NHK plans to expand sumo coverage as part of their world service, and frankly – I can’t wait. In fact, I have personally offered NHK heaps of my money on demand to let me stream the full Juryo and Makuuchi program at will. I have to imagine that I am not the only one.
Before we can close out Kyushu, we get to see the rest of the Yokozuna head-to-head matches, and watch the rikishi with marginal records scrap for the final wins, hoping to stave off demotion.
Myogiryu vs Arawashi – Myogiryu only needs to defeat Arawashi to secure his rank.
Takekaze vs Daishomaru – Can the veteran seal his winning record and deal a losing record to Daishomaru at the same time? Historically, the two are evenly matched.
Shohozan vs Sokokurai – Local sumotori Shohozan goes up against to try and finish with a winning record. These two are separated 9 slots in the banzuke, so it should be an easy win for Shohozan.
Ishiura vs Shodai – An even bigger mis-match than the previous bout, it’s time for rising star Ishiura to test his performance against Shodai, who has done very well this tournament. The mini-henka is not working against the upper Maegashira, so I am hoping that Ishiura deploys some real sumo today. Shodai already has a strong winning record, and will likely be san’yaku come January, so I am hoping for a really fun upset.
Tochiozan vs Endo – Tochiozan received a dirty henka on day 13 to deal him a make-koshi. Now it’s Endo’s turn to try and lock up a winning record, and a promotion towards the top of January’s banzuke. Historically, Tochiozan beats him up and steals his lunch money. So we will look for Endo to do something new and useful here.
Harumafuji vs Hakuho – Hakuho faded fast once he started his matches against the great San’yaku Battle Fleet. Now he faces his nemesis, Harumafuji. I am hoping the The Boss can escape without any further damage to his undercarriage. Under normal, healthy conditions – this is a Hakuho win. But for day 14, the edge goes to Harumafuji.
Goeido vs Kakuryu – The only thing to consider here is Goeido’s pride, and the yusho. If Goeido wins, there is a strong chance that the yusho will come down to the final day match between Harumafuji and Kakuryu. There is a great deal of rivalry between Goeido and Harumafuji, so it may worth considering that a loss by Goeido could put Harumafuji out of the running for the yusho. Ah, decisions decisions… My money is on Goeido taking his sumo to the Yokozuna. In the long game, Goeido must perceive that this is simply a warm up for his next Yokozuna run. However the career records strongly favor Kakuryu