One Last Chance To Stop Hakuho
The Dai-Yokozuna is running away with Natsu, and I am delighted. I had feared that we were in the slow fade of the Hakuho era, and that we might never see him genki again. His day 14 match is against our favorite kaiju, none other than Terunofuji. Now Terunofuji is clearly banged up, and his problematic knee or knees are once again bothering him. But I am quite sure he wants to deliver some solid sumo on Saturday. If Hakuho wins, he wins the tournament. If he loses, there is one glimmer of hope for Harumafuji in the final match of the final day.
As it’s now Saturday morning in Japan, I expect to start seeing reports on Takaysu hit the sumo / sports press in Japan. We won’t know about his Ozeki promotion for a bit, but I am sure they are speculating like mad about it. I was a bit bemused to see that his parents had to sit in the Kokugikan rafters today. Did no one affiliated with Tagonoura beya not have a pair of tickets they could give up for Big T’s folks? Did I mention he gets to play with Shodai on day 14? Maegashira 5w is a lot tougher than it normally is this time.
The basho has not lost it’s interest, as there is still the Juryo jumble, and a number of solid rikishi (including both Komusubi) fighting it out for a kachi-koshi. This makes me think about Yoshikaze. I am sure it would be a fun bragging point to make it back to Sekiwake at 35, but at this point he’s got to be wondering about the wear and tear on his berserker frame.
Natsu Leader board
Leader – Hakuho
Chasers – Harumafuji, Terunofuji, Takayasu
2 Matches Remain
What We Are Watching Day 14
Ichinojo vs Daishomaru – Ichinojo can get his kachi-koshi today, believe it or not. He has not been really bold this basho, and one has to wonder if he is once again suffering his chronic back problems that have sapped his performance. The good news – there is no Jungyo tour after Natsu. So everyone has a chance to rest, get medical attention or go see mom and dad. Maybe Ichinojo can get his back fixed and return to being Kaiju-Jr.
Tokushoryu vs Kagayaki – Tokushoryu also pressing to close out his kachi-koshi, while Kagayaki wants to run up the score. While Kagayaki has shown some great sumo this past two weeks, he got rolled like crepe on day 13.
Shohozan vs Kaisei – Dangling by his fingertips at the sharp and rocky edge of Makuuchi, Kaisei has a shot today to cement himself as a July Maegashira rank by beating Shohozan. This won’t be too easy, as Shohozan probably bench presses more the Keisei weighs.
Ura vs Takakeisho – After a pride obliterating slap down from Ikioi on day 13, Ura tries to recover and bid for a special prize against Takakeisho. A win for Takakeisho would take him to double digits, and give him a healthy shove up the banzuke. Did I mention the dread I am feeling when I think about trying to put this chaos into my spreadsheet? I will beg our readers to only laugh a little.
Hokutofuji vs Endo – Well, Endo has a make-koshi now, and Hokotofuji will be eager to see if his improved sumo is enough to defeat a Maegashira 1. Depending on the final win tally on Sunday, we may see Hokotofuji in the dreaded upper 4 Maegashira slots for Nagoya. Personally, I am eager to see how he does against the San’yaku. Endo on the other hand will need to regroup and fight his way back up the banzuke.
Mitakeumi vs Ikioi – Will Ikioi shut down Mitakeumi’s bid for a winning record? Ikioi looked very solid, very powerful in his day 13 match against Ura, and I am hoping he brings that sumo back out for day 14. Mitakeumi is a great power sumo rikishi, and it would be great to see a strength battle between these two.
Tochiozan vs Yoshikaze – Tochiozan had a great start and then ran into trouble. I do suspect that some injury started closing in, and he reverted to his prior form. Yoshikaze is also trying to clinch his 8th win, and hold onto San’yaku. This will be an exciting match between sumo’s senior class.
Tamawashi vs Tochinoshin – Lumberjack Tochinoshin goes against Tamawashi, who really knew how to get Hakuho enraged on day 13. This time it’s going to be speed vs brute strength. Tochinoshin’s match against Shodai was incredible in the amount of force that was being exchanged back and forth between the two rikishi. Tamawashi will, I predict, stay away from that kind of match, and keep it on his terms.
Shodai vs Takayasu – Shodai gets to train with the pre-Ozeki on day 14. As some have pointed out, this might be win #12 for Takayasu, further putting a punctuation on his Ozeki bid. Then again, Shodai has a chance at bringing Takayasu back to earth for a moment, and should take every advantage of this match.
Terunofuji vs Hakuho – The Boss against Kaiju. I predict this one is over in seconds. Terunofuji is hurt. He knows it, Hakuho knows it, the fans know it. A win here would clinch the yusho for Hakuho, and maybe there is no valor to be won for Terunofuji this time. Not to imply, but he might need a favor later if his knees continue to bother him.
Harumafuji vs Goeido – I would imagine that Harumafuji is rather frustrated after his day 13 loss. I would not be surprised if he give Goeido a right proper launch into the 3rd row, and I just hope that Goeido is not injured. He and Harumafuji have a 40 match history, with Harumafuji winning 30-10. So, it’s going to be ugly. Up side, mighty fine pile of kensho should come out of this match.