Where we hope it won’t get any weirder.
Bizzaro-world day 9 is in the history books, with a tremendous impact for the yusho race at Hatsu. With day 10, we close out the middle act of the basho, and prepare to launch headlong into the final 5 days, where dreams get crushed and champions are made.
Clearly Hakuho is off his game now. I don’t think it’s injury or physical, I think it started with Arawashi. Clearly whatever happened at the tachiai took a direction that the Yokozuna did not expect, and moved to counter. But before he could do anything, Arawashi had him out. As stated prior, Hakuho is about 80% offense 20% defense, and he almost always starts with a strong battle plan. That is why when Takayasu stood him up with a big tachiai on day 10, he was in trouble. Honestly I don’t recall seeing Takayasu move with that kind of speed ever before. Takayasu gave quick shoulder blast at the tachiai, and then he had a hand inside pushing against Hakuho’s chest. This time The Boss was quick to implement his defensive plan, but his much vaunted ring sense failed him as he stepped out. I would look for him to get back in his sumo today, as he has Ikioi.
On the subject of Kotoshogiku, if he wins over Goeido I am going to suspect some coordinated effort to rescue the injured Ozeki. Frankly one of the great appeals of sumo is the appearance of meritocracy. I am sure Kotoshogiku is a lovely human being, but the time has come for someone to show his kadoban ass the door. He is perpetually injured, which is a crying shame as he has had brought some great sumo to the sport.
One the subject of Ozeki who should be moving forward, Kisenosato has a lot to make up for after his disappointing loss to Kotoshogiku. Kise – you had one job to do, and you had most of this handed to you on a plate by Harumafuji and Hakuho. Some corners of the sumo world jokingly call him “Choke-o-zuna”, which I thought was cruel. But today I think it might be accurate. Day 10 he faces Terunofuji, who is also a great sumotori who has chronic injuries and has little left until he is healed.
Kakuryu is back to stinking after a really excellent Kyushu. As of today he is in serious risk of going make-koshi, which would rain down doom from the Japan Sumo Association on the most recent Yokozuna. On day 10 he faces Tamawashi, who is seriously looking like he might survive as Sekiwake.
Sadanoumi vs Ichinojo – Ichinojo can go kachi-koshi with a win here. He is tied for second place! SECOND PLACE! Ichinojo leads the series 4-2.
Takanoiwa vs Chiyotairyu – Co-Leader Takanoiwa takes on a struggling Chiyotairyu. Maybe day 11 the can put him against Hakuho? Chiyotairyu leads the series 3-1, so maybe Takanoiwa will be knocked back from his co-leader status.
Osunaarashi vs Sokokurai – Also tied for second place, Sokokurai draws an easy match against the Egyptian, who is really too hurt to be on the dohyo. Osunaarashi has won all 4 of their prior bouts.
Takekaze vs Hokutofuji – Henka master Takekaze takes on Hokutofuji, who is also tied for second place. I love me some Hokutofuji, but this is crazy. This will be the first time these two have faced off
Mitakeumi vs Shodai – A magical battle of the up-and-coming. With Shodai largely 1 step behind Mitakeumi on the learning curve, we shall see if Shodai is firming up and getting over his san’yaku jitters. Shodai has won 4 of their prior 5 matches.