The 7-1 chase trio all get what on paper look like easy opponents. M12 Okinoumi faces M14 Kotoyuki, who at 3-5 looks Juryo-bound. Okinoumi holds an 8-1 career edge. Arawashi takes on winless Tochiozan. And Ichinojo gets a break from the joi when he faces struggling 2-6 Daishomaru. I fully expect to see Ichinojo matched up against Hakuho on Day 10 in what could be the bout of the basho (although if Kisenosato withdraws, the schedule could get scrambled).
We’ll see if Asanoyama can continue to regain his form when he takes on Nishikigi, who at M15 and 4-4 needs every win he can get to stay out of Juryo. Aoiyama has a chance to pick up a much-needed win against 2-6 Takekaze, whose days in Makuuchi look numbered.
Aminishiki learned today that when you try the same move every day and don’t sell it especially hard, you eventually get found out. We’ll see what adjustments he makes tomorrow against Daieisho.
Endo vs. Tochinoshin pits two of my favorites against each other. Both are having a good basho at 5-3, and both belong higher up the banzuke when healthy. Both are mawashi men. The smaller Endo relies on skill and leverage, while Tochinoshin is all strength. This could be a good one. Endo leads their series 2-1.
Chiyoshoma vs. Hokutofuji also has high entertainment potential. Both fight hard, with Chiyoshoma relying on a deep bag of wrestling tricks (I don’t think I’ve seen a kirikaeshi kimarite before today), while Hokutofuji brings strength and persistence to the dohyo. At 6-2, Hokutofuji is making a serious San’yaku bid. Chiyoshoma prevailed in their only previous meeting.
Chiyotairyu and Shohozan are two strong tough dudes who have fought better than their 3-5 records indicate, but that’s life in the joi. These two whaling on each other should make for a great bout. I though Shohozan got robbed today in what should have been a monoii and a torinaoshi.
The NHK preview show had a segment on the friendship between Takakeisho and Onosho, and how they want to push each other to get better. Tomorrow, the pushing will take place on the dohyo. The Onosho we remember from Aki was back today, down to the red mawashi, but he has left himself very little room for error if he wants to maintain his rank. Takakeisho overcame a game but limping Mitakeumi today, is riding a 5-match winning streak, and won his only previous bout against Onosho.
I don’t expect the rampaging Tamawashi to have much trouble with the struggling Kotoshogiku, unless he gets careless. Tamawashi would love to move Kotoshogiku to one loss away from vacating the Komusubi slot he has his eye on regaining.
Mitakeumi and Takayasu both need 8 wins to maintain their Sekiwake and Ozeki ranks, respectively. Each brings a 5-3 record into this bout, and with the meat of their schedules yet to come, a win here could be pivotal. Both men have struggled in recent days after strong starts to the basho.
The Goeido 2.0 combat model was on full display today against the overmatched Chiyonokuni. As was the Yoshikaze berserker mode. If both come out fighting tomorrow, this could be fun. At 4-4, Yoshikaze needs a winning record over the last 7 days to defend his Sekiwake rank. He matches up well with the Ozeki, holding a 12-10 career edge.
Hakuho should get an easy day at the office on Day 9 against Chiyonokuni before facing a likely lineup of Ichinojo, Yoshikaze, Mitakeumi, Takayasu, Goeido and Kisenosato over the final six days. That is, assuming…
…Kisenosato is still in the tournament tomorrow, much less on senshuraku. If the issue is undertraining and ring rust, rather than a worsening injury, he could take his chances tomorrow against Takarafuji, who has struggled and should be an easy out for the Yokozuna under all but the most dire circumstances. Kisenosato holds an overwhelming 16-1 career edge.
Evening update: Day 10 torikumi just dropped, and Hakuho will indeed face Ichinojo. Also, Kisenosato is up against hapless Chiyonokuni, so it may be worth it for him to stick it out for at least the next two days.