Our First Look At The Leaderboard
After the awesome that constituted day 6, the schedulers have a tough time given the injuries and some key rikishi being kyujo. The challenge is to keep the schedule interesting, and the matches compelling. At the moment the basho is in the hands of Kisenosato, and to a lesser degree his stable mate Takayasu. While Tochiozan’s matching flawless record is impressive, the schedulers will take care of him in the next few days.
Haru Leader board
Leaders – Kisenosato, Takayasu, Tochiozan
Hunt Group – Terunofuji, Takarafuji, Chiyoshoma
Chasers – Kakuryu, Harumafuji, Tamawashi, Kotoshogiku, Chiyonokuni, Okinoumi, Daishomaru, Tokushoryu
9 Matches Remain
As noted earlier, the lower San’yaku ranks continue to out-perform their historic trends. It is the job of the Ozeki and the Yokozuna to defeat them daily for the first week, and it has not really happened to the extent it normally does. Now with one Ozeki and one Yokozuna out, the chances of this trend reversing are small. In my opinion, this signals that these lower San’yaku rikishi are competitive with the upper San’yaku, and that means promotions this year. It may also mean retirements soon.
Matches We Like
Tokushoryu vs Daishomaru – Meeting of what I am calling the “Smash Bros”, these two are likely to throw a lot of slaps, jabs and thrusts. Tokushoryu has yet to defeat Daishomaru, but there is always a first time…
Takakeisho vs Ura – Ura is still struggling to deal with the size, speed and strength of Makuuchi class rikishi. It was always going to be a learning experience for him, and a challenge to boot. Takakeisho came up from Juryo in January, and seems to have settled in quite well. Ura has never won against Takakeisho (formerly Sato in Juryo).
Tochiozan vs Okinoumi – Not sure what has enlivened Tochiozan this basho, but I am really enjoying it. Okinoumi seems to have his painful medical problems contained for the moment, and is fighting quite well. This will probably be a very good match, with a slight edge to Okinoumi. Their career record is 11-10, so very evenly matched.
Endo vs Chiyoshoma – Chiyoshoma has only one loss, and is fighting well this basho. Endo seems to be struggling, but has shown moments of excellence. It will be up to Endo to keep Chiyoshoma from establishing a throwing hold, which Chiyoshoma will try for right at the tachiai.
Yoshikaze vs Chiyonokuni – A pair of high-intensity rikishi means this may be a fast moving battle of jabs and thrusts. Both of them are small, strong and maneuverable. Yoshikaze has the edge on experience, and leads their career match set 6-1.
Aoiyama vs Takarafuji – Aoiyama leads the series 13-2, believe it or not. Takarafuji has been doing great this basho, so it will be interesting to see if he can overcome the giant Belgian’s punishing reach. Look for Aoiyama to keep thrusting Takarafuji away.
Kotoshogiku vs Shohozan – Shohozan is fresh off of a very nice gold star win against Yokozuna Kakuryu. Kotoshogiku refuses to give in until he regains his Ozeki title. Shohozan needs to stay mobile and don’t let Kotoshogiku get his inside grip.
Sokokurai vs Takayasu – Interestingly enough, Takayasu is 3-2 against Sokokurai, so this is not a sure thing. Takayasu has been presenting the best sumo of his career, but he has also had persistence problems in past basho. Namely that by the second half his vigor and energy start to fade. Sokokurai is no slouch, having taken both the Jun-Yusho and Gino-sho in January.
Mitakeumi vs Kisenosato – On day 6, Mitakeumi made a huge mistake of thinking if he went chest-to-chest with Kotoshogiku, he could show the washed up Ozeki it was time to move on. Give ‘ku his chest meant a fast hug-n-chug parade across the tawara. Let’s hope that Mitakeumi’s hubris is contained, and he takes his bout with Kisenosato seriously.