Closing Out The Second Act.
Hard to believe, but we are about to complete the middle ⅓ of Natsu. Hakuho and Harumafuji are the leaders, with no one really able to even give either of them a decent fight so far. There is a lot of interest in Takayasu vs Hakuho, which is the final match of the day. Frankly I don’t think it will be much of a contest, and I say this as a hard core Takayasu fan. Right now Hakuho is back to his old amazing ways, and the only people who could possibly challenge him are Harumafuji, or a healthy Kisenosato. Sadly no chance for a healthy Kisenosato.
Harumafuji appears to have at least mildly injured his right knee in his dive off the dohyo defeating Tamawashi. If this is something the trainers can work, or another performance limiting injury, we should be able to tell tomorrow when Harumafuji faces a surprisingly resurgent Tochiozan. Tochiozan made very easy work of Kisenosato on day 9, and it brings up a really tricky question.
If Kisenosato, is having a sub-par (for him) basho, everyone knows it’s because he is more or less a one armed Yokozuna. Everyone gets it, and frankly we are all amazed that he is still competitive in this condition. But given that the press and the YDC are very critical of Yokozuna with sub-par performance, are they going to make a point of admonishing him? Are they just going to keep quiet because he is the Japanese golden boy? This is very ugly territory. Don’t be surprised if at some point this week, Kisenosato goes Kyujo. No one in their right mind would blame him. In my opinion he should be recovering from surgery right now, but he is too dedicated to sumo, and the dignity of his Yokozuna rank.
Natsu Leader board
Leaders – Harumafuji, Hakuho
Hunt Group – Takayasu
Chasers – Terunofuji, Shodai, Tochinoshin, Ura
6 Matches Remain
Apologies, but the match previews will be brief, jet-lag is crushing me today.
Matches We Like
Tochinoshin vs Daishomaru – Both of these rikishi are exceeding their baseline for the last 3 basho. Daishomaru is coming in with 6-3, and Tochinoshin has an outstanding 7-2, and if he wins would clinch his kachi-koshi. In their 3 prior bouts, Tochinoshin won them all.
Kaisei vs Ura – The fans love a big vs little bout. It will be really interesting to see if Ura’s gymnastics work against the meat mountain that is Kaisei. This is their first match ever.
Okinoumi vs Daieisho – both of these men are 1-8. This is the saddest match in sumo. Both are already make-koshi. Both are facing significant demotion.
Terunofuji vs Yoshikaze – While I love me some Yoshikaze, Terunofuji is clearly Kaiju positive right now, and if he gets frustrated using his technique to defeat you, he just picks you up and carries you to the curb like this week’s non-burnable trash. I am going to be curious to see what if anything Yoshikaze does to try and counter this. Career record of 6-5 in favor of Terunofuji, so they are, at times, evenly matched.
Harumafuji vs Tochiozan – Previewed above, the prior 32 matches have been mostly won by Harumafuji (24-8), but Harumafuji may have hurt himself day 9, and Tochiozan is looking surprisingly good, especially coming off of his kinboshi against Kisenosato day 9.
Kisenosato vs Kotoshogiku – This should be a Kisenosato win. I expect that Kisenosato will go kyujo as soon as he secures his kachi-koshi, which could come day 11. But interestingly enough, Kotoshogiku holds a slight 33-31 career edge over Kisenosato. Both of them are operating at a fraction of their typical capabilities, so who knows where this one is going.
Takayasu vs Hakuho – This one has everyone excited, but I am calling my bet for Hakuho. Their career record is 14-2 in favor of the Michael Jordan of sumo. Takayasu is a man on a mission, and is looking good, but Hakuho is more or less his old self right now, and that means beating him requires speed, strength and a large amount of luck.
3 thoughts on “Natsu Day 10 Preview”
Some interesting stuff going on here
First of all, we could very well end up looking at Sekiwake Yoshikaze next time out, given that Takayasu is going up and Kotoshogiku is going WAY down. I think Goeido will just about squeeze out an 8-7, leaving a spot to fill that probably won’t get filled by Mitakeumi.
Tochinoshin is proving he belongs at the upper end of the banzuke in Daieisho or Aoiyama’s place. He is just dominant this far down and putting the injury that has ravaged the last half a year for him to one side, it looks clear that he has the power to compete at a higher level and I bet we will see him back in san’yaku sooner than later.
Tochinoshin comes down to his health. He had been suffering a number of mechanical injuries in the past year or two which have robbed him of a competitive ranking. If he can improve on his knee problems, he could be successful much higher up the banzuke.
I think that with both Harumafuji and Hakuho healthy and fighting well, it’s going to be a blood bath in the upper Sanyaku and Maegashira. At the moment, I am wondering if Takayasu is going to be able to pull out at least 2 more wins. In the final 5 days, he is going to fight 2 Yokozuna and the Kaiju Terunofuji. The other 2 fights should be upper Maegashira, so hopefully he can bank those.
Kotoshogiku might still pull out a Kachi-koshi, as bizarre as that might sound. He has faced all of the Yokozuna, Ozeki and Sekiwake opponents. He has yet to fight Mitakeumi, but right now Mitakeumi is kind of dispirited. Nobody moves up the banzuke until Kotoshogiku is out at Sekiwake.
I agree the knee is really the crux of the whole Tochinoshin experience. I don’t even know how it would feel now to watch him without that enormous brace! For me he’s someone who should normally be bouncing between M5 and M1. I don’t know that he has the quality to really challenge sanyaku even when healthy but I also think he’s more than a match for any of the rank & filers on his day and when somewhat healthy should be in a position to pick up the odd kinboshi.
I am a big Kotoshogiku fan (have not seen day 10 highlights yet!) and would love to see him have a great turnaround in week 2 but being realistic I think his best case scenario in July is Komusubi which I don’t think would do him any favours at all. I put a lot in facial expressions but he hasn’t looked particularly confident for me either.
I know Takayasu is prone to befuddlement when he loses his mojo but I don’t think it’s happening this time, I think he is fighting like an Ozeki and will be an Ozeki.