We Love Sumo Thiiis Much!
With just a few days remaining, the Nagoya yusho race came back to life with Mitakeumi’s surprise upset of Yokozuna Hakuho. Some Hakuho fans, like myself, had hoped that he could rack up at least one last back-to-back zensho run, but it’s clear that the new crop of rikishi are too competitive for that kind of dominance this year. The two rikishi who could challenge are both at least 2 tiers of skill below Hakuho on a bad day, so it’s clear that it’s still his yusho to lose.
A dominant Hakuho creates several effects on the upper ranks of sumo. For starters, it makes it practically impossible for anyone else to get close to a Yokozuna promotion. In order to even be considered, you have to beat the yokozuna with the most wins ever, who on an average day is unassailable and on a good day can find your sumo boring and uninspired. This has a knock on effect for Ozeki and San’yaku promotion slots too.
Watching Ura’s performance today, it’s evident that his injuries are limiting his performance now, and his ability to endure that damage for the remaining 4 bouts will determine a lot about the next 4 months for his sumo career. If he can win half his bouts, he will come away with a kachi-koshi, and likely be in one of the top 4 Maegashira slots in September. If we use Iksumo’s wonderful forecast, Ura is likely to face Kotoshogiku, Tamawashi, Yoshikaze, and Ichinojo. This would be a tall order if he was fully healthy, so my original prediction of make-koshi for him is looking like a reasonable outcome.
For Mitakeumi to get to 10 wins, and kick of a chance at an Ozeki bid, he needs two more wins out of a roster of Harumafuji, Tochinoshin, Ikioi, and Chiyoshoma. Not trivial but possible if he can stay focused and uninjured. Kotoshogiku is at the bottom of a deep hole now, and needs to win all 4 against a predicted schedule of Shodai, Ura, Tochinoshin, and Hokutofuji. While it is possible, his next defeat and he is out of san’yaku.
Heading to Aki, we already know that Terunofuji is kadoban, and if he is healed by September, he will easily shed that burden within the first 10 days. Goeido however is at real risk of being kadoban himself, in spite of some fairly good sumo this basho. He faces a predicted schedule of Tochiozan, Hakuho, Harumafuji, and Takayasu. He needs to win 2 of those to keep out of kadoban.
Nagoya Leader board
Leader – Hakuho
Chasers – Onosho, Aoiyama
Hunt Group – Harumafuji, Takayasu, Mitakeumi, Tochiozan, Takarafuji
4 Matches Remain
What We Are Watching Day 12
Chiyomaru vs Daishomaru – Chiyomaru trying again for his kachi-koshi, which would also make Daishomaru make-koshi at the same time. This is their first match up ever, so it’s going to be interesting too see how this goes.
Aoiyama vs Takarafuji – Both having winning records secure, so this is more of a sparring match. Aoiyama looked off form on day 11, can he bounce back?
Nishikigi vs Ishiura – Both rikishi are struggling with a middling record right now, but Nishikigi will be on the fast train back to Juryo if he cannot lock down his winning record. Ishiura has a 6-1 advantage in their career match ups.
Chiyotairyu vs Onosho – Onosho is gunning for a second consecutive special prize, and Chiyotairyu needs one more win for kachi-koshi. Right now momentum favors Onosho, and he holds a 2-1 advantage in their 3 career bouts.
Ura vs Ichinojo – Traditional big man / little man sumo contest. Sadly Ura is looking hurt, but given the schedule above, it may his best chance to pick up a badly needed win.
Hokutofuji vs Takakeisho – Hokutofuji is working hard to avoid his second ever tournament losing record. He has to defeat the explosive Takakeisho to reverse course. Takakeisho is already in a majority loss record, but he’s still fighting hard. He has also won both of their prior matches.
Yoshikaze vs Tochinoshin – Winner gets kachi-koshi, with Tochinoshin leading their career match ups 14-7. Tochinoshin has Yoshikaze out gunning in height, weight, strength and reach. But don’t count out the superior athletics of Yoshikaze.
Shodai vs Kotoshogiku – A Kotoshogiku loss would mark him make-koshi, and ensure a demotion out of san’yaku for September. The good news for Ojisan is that Shodai has been horrifically inconsistent this basho.
Kagayaki vs Goeido – The last of the “easy” bouts for Goeido, he needs to pick up this win if he wants to avoid kadoban status for September. I expect Goeido will go for the lighting charge out of the tachiai. Kagayaki, ever consider a henka?
Takayasu vs Tochiozan – You would think the Ozeki would have the advantage here, but Tochiozan leads their career match ups 18-6! In addition, Tochiozan has been fighting well this basho, and will likely give Takayasu a hard fight.
Hakuho vs Tamawashi – Tamawashi has never beaten Hakuho, and I don’t expect Hakuho’s day 11 loss to Mitakeumi to have any carry-over effect for today. This is likely the day that Hakuho ties Kaio.
Mitakeumi vs Harumafuji – I really want Harumafuji to win this one, but he is clearly suffering with problems in multiple joints. So I am going to say that Mitakeumi has a decent chance here. Their career record favors Harumafuji 3-2.