Let The Third Act Begin!
With the advent of day 11, the third and closing act of the Aki basho is upon us. This is where we crown the champion, and dreams get crushed. Already the dreams of many an eager tadpole who had yusho stars in their eyes have had a trip down reality lane. High performance is very difficult to maintain over the course of 15 days, and while some of the genki youngsters have had a jolly good time of it, Goeido seems to have this one under his command. There are a few chances to still derail his yusho march, but with each passing day the odds are growing longer. Even with a single loss, only Chiyotairyu has enough wins to challenge him. Goeido beat him on day 5….
The real story now for many rikishi is survival, there is a a growing make-koshi list, and some well recognized names may end up with double digit losses, and a handful will disappear from Makuuchi for the November tournament. On the subject of November, there are a large number of questions that have been pushed to the side, in order to focus all of sumo-dom on the basho. We have 3 Yokozuna out, one left who is at maybe 75%, and he competes through sheer force of will. We have one Ozeki demoted to Ozekiwake, and another (fairly new) Ozeki who may have corked up one of his enormous legs. While starting in the second act of Aki, the old guard battled back, it’s clear the sunset days for many well know and respected rikishi is now approaching. While young rikishi like Onosho have taken themselves out of the yusho race for now, their day is coming.
Should this come to pass, we will go through an amazing period where there is a Ozeki and Yokozuna replacement cycle. Once the top end retires from the sumo pyramid, there will be a mad scramble for promotion. This will make for some absolutely amazing and bonkers sumo for a good period of time.
Aki Leader board
Goeido’s yusho is becoming mathematically more likely. Only Chiyotairyu presents an effective challenge, provided someone can hand the lone surviving Ozeki a loss.
Leader – Goeido
Chasers – Chiyotairyu
Hunt Group – Onosho, Takarafuji, Takanoiwa, Arawashi, Daishomaru, Asanoyama
5 Matches Remain
What We Are Watching Day 11
Asanoyama vs. Kaisei – Asanoyama claims his kachi-koshi with a win here today. I would note that Kaisei is not doing poorly at all the basho. Granted he’s at the bottom of Makuuchi, but I have hope that he can continue to decrease mass and increase strength before Kyushu. Their only prior match was won by Kaisei
Daieisho vs. Tokushoryu – Daieisho has dropped well back of the leader group now, but he’s still got to work on his 8 wins. Tokushoryu has shown some signs of life in the past two matches, so maybe he is ready to stage a comeback and limit his demotion level. Historically, Daieisho holds a 6-3 advantage.
Endo vs. Arawashi – Arawashi looking for win #8 to secure his kachi-koshi on day 11, but he’s got to best Endo to get it. Endo was impressive on day 10, putting weight on his injured ankle during his match with Tokushoryu. Arawashi has a 1-3 career record disadvantage against Endo, but with Arawashi looking genki, and Endo recovering, this is wide open.
Takanoiwa vs. Daishomaru – Winner gets their kachi-koshi. Both rikishi are having a great tournament thus far, and their 3-2 career record shows that they are evenly matched. I would give Takanoiwa a slight edge in this one, as he seems to be very aggressive this basho, and looking to win at all costs.
Takarafuji vs. Takakeisho – Takakeisho won their only prior match, but Takarafuji is really got his sumo together this basho. I continue to be impressed at his methodical and calculated approach to each match, and how he goes about winning by executing his battle plan. Of course Takakeisho is fresh off of a kinboshi, and is likely feeling quite genki indeed.
Shohozan vs. Ikioi – This one has huge potential. Both of them are brawlers, both are big and both are looking to get 3 more wins with only 5 matches left. Ikioi tends to win their match ups, but this one might be a battle to behold.
Hokutofuji vs. Kotoshogiku – Hokutofuji has been looking shattered the last two days, and I am guessing he is nursing that injured hand. Kotoshogiku, on the other hand, is looking more dialed into his sumo than he has in a good long while. While the risk of the much feared “Kotoshogiku Day” is not longer keeping the Tachiai crew awake at night, I can see him getting to 8 wins in Aki. Hokutofuji has a much tougher road, and needs 4 of his final 5 matches to be in his win column.
Onosho vs. Tochiozan – A Tochiozan loss puts him at make-koshi, and an Onosho win secures kachi-koshi for him. Onosho won their only prior meeting, and Tochiozan is very much day by day in terms of power this basho. Like many long term veterans of the upper division, he has many injuries known and unpublished that can impact his performance on any given day.
Tamawashi vs. Chiyotairyu – The lone viable challenger faces the rather aggressive Tamawashi on day 11. Chiyotairyu’s bulked up frame has genuinely benefited him this tournament, and his blistering tachiai is tough to endure. He holds a 6-2 advantage over Tamawashi, but there is the background distraction to Chiyotairyu of his second place position. It’s either over in 3 seconds or most likely Chiyotairyu gets defeat #3.
Aoiyama vs. Yoshikaze – Given Aoiyama’s preference to attack with a rain of tsuppari, I am guessing Yoshikaze’s face wound is open within the first few seconds. If Yoshikaze can get inside and get a hold of the man-mountain, he’s likely going to prevail. But Aoiyama can stop a wildebeest with one of those blows, so we shall see.
Mitakeumi vs. Goeido – We would all like to think that Future Ozeki Mitakeumi could put a stop to the Goeido train, but Mitakeumi is not looking at all genki right now. So my guess is that Goeido puts him away with some relative ease. But it would be wonderful too see Mitakeumi rally and apply some Toyo University love to Goeido.
Ichinojo vs. Harumafuji – Much like spotting a parrot at the North Pole, this rare encounter was first predicted by our very on lksumo. This match up is going to be an interesting one, as Ichinojo’s primary weapon, his giant body, will force Yokozuna Harumafuji to take a more frontal attack. Ichinojo has been randomly hot and cold, so the interest level in this match comes down to which form of Ichinojo shows up.