Concluding the 2nd Act.
Time to start the second week of sumo, and it’s clear that short of some kind of major intervention, the yusho race is Hakuho and Harumafuji. Both of them are in fantastic form this tournament, and seem to have been able to put aside whatever healthy issues they might have had. It’s quite dramatic to see these two champions work, especially given that they have been performing below their historical averages for a few months or a year.
The yusho contenders can only change if someone can put both Hakuho and Harumafuji down, and right now both of them look untouchable except against maybe each other. But should that happen, there is still a broad group of competent rikishi 2 wins off the pace, including Kisenosato and Terunofuji.
As mentioned before, Juryo is a hot, sticky mess this basho, and it has not gotten any better. Everyone in Juryo has at least 2 losses at the end of day 8, and Juryo 1 (and pre-basho favorite) Osunaarashi has only 1 win. The only rikishi in Juryo ranks 1-4 who have a winning record right now are Kyokushuho, Nishikigi and Gagamaru – all at 5-3. That means that the promotion picture into Makuuchi is rather troubled for Nagoya unless someone(s) do a lot of winning in the next week.
It’s clear that Ojisan Kotoshogiku is going to be make-koshi, possibly horrifically so. Will he take a drop down to Maegashira? Will he retire? It’s actually painful to watch now, knowing that 18 months ago, he was the first man to break the Mongolian stranglehold on the yusho. He paved the way for Goeido and Kisenosato, and the fans in Japan still love him.
I think it’s due time to give a shout out to both Kaisei and Tochinoshin, who after many consecutive tournaments of lackluster sumo, seem to have it dialed back in and are fighting well. I am not sure if they have overcome their injuries, or if they have fallen far enough down the banzuke that they are now competitive at their ranks.
Natsu Leader board
Leaders – Harumafuji, Hakuho
Hunt Group – Takayasu
Chasers – Kisenosato, Terunofuji, Tamawashi, Shodai, Hokutofuji, Kagayaki, Tochinoshin, Ura, Daishomaru
7 Matches Remain
Matches We Like
Kyokushuho vs Chiyotairyu – Kyokushuho visits Makuuchi to fill in the gap left by Kakuryu’s kyujo. These two have faced off 9 times before, with Chiyotairyu winning 9. Usually their matches are slapping and pushing, so fast and violent is the forecast.
Tokushoryu vs Yutakayama – Yutakayama faces a chance at make-koshi today in his match against Tokushoryu. Yutakayama has been on a meteoric rise up to this point, but appears to have been complete change of pace for him. Tokushoryu has been up and down between Juryo and Makuuchi a few times, but seems to have really hit is stride. These two have only one prior match, which Yutakayama won.
Daishomaru vs Ishiura – Daishomaru is part of the chase group, and Ishiura is facing a real chance of another make-koshi. Thankfully (as described above) there is not a strong crop of Juryo rikishi who look ripe for promotion. I am going to have to assume that some injury is plaguing him, and keeping him from showing us the sumo that was so impressive in January.
Onosho vs Kagayaki – Possibly a highlight match, this will be their 4th career bout, with Kagayaki leading 2-1. Both are tuned up and competing well this basho, and I would not be surprised to see a hard battle to set up and execute a spectacular throw from both of them.
Ura vs Shohozan – Time for Plasticman to give us another entry in the encyclopedia of hard to classify kimarite. This time it’s against Shohozan, who is really starting to show his years on the dohyo. This is their first meeting. I expect Shohozan to come out with a thrusting attack, and Ura to give us his best Fred Astaire.
Hokutofuji vs Shodai – But are large, young, up-and-coming rikishi, currently tied with 6-2 records, and part of the chase group. Slight edge would be to Hokutofuji, in my opinion because his sumo technicals are superior to Shodai’s. Make no doubt, these two are evenly matched and this bout has great potential for fantastic action. This is the first meeting.
Takanoiwa vs Ikioi – Should be a grappling match, with a definite edge to Ikioi. In their 4 prior meetings, they have all gone Ikioi’s way. But I would watch for some surprises for Takanoiwa.
Chiyonokuni vs Takayasu – Takayasu is now just 3 wins from getting his 33 over the 3 tournaments, the threshold to be considered for promotion to Ozeki. Takayasu certainly looks to be fighting at or near Ozeki levels thus far this tournament. Chiyonokuni has been putting forth a lot of effort and looks much improved from last year, but he has been matched with the top men of sumo, and his record thus far has suffered. He will be back, as I think he has a lot of potential, and the work ethic to train himself to higher performance.
Terunofuji vs Goeido – This is either the highlight match of the day, or a complete dud. Terunofuji has settled into his Kaiju style sumo, and it was devastating against Mitakeumi on Sunday. If we can get Goeido 2.0 booted up, it’s going to be a battle royal. If we get Goiedo 1.0, its going to be Scooby Doo vs Frankenstine. Goeido holds a 10-4 lifetime advantage over Terunofuji, but Terunofuji looks hungry this time.
Harumafuji vs Tamawashi – There is a chance this could be competitive. Tamawashi is fighting well, and he might be able to get inside Harumafuji’s blistering attacks to deploy some offensive sumo of his own. Surprisingly enough, Harumafuji holds only a slight edge, 5-4, over Tamawashi.