It’s nearly time! The torikumi (match schedule) for days one and two of the next basho will be published soon. Can we predict it in advance, though?
Firstly, we need to know who’s actually participating. If someone announces kyujo before the torikumi is published, they’re not scheduled for any bouts on the first two days. This involves a bit of guesswork: I’m going to assume that Kisenosato will take more time to recover and train – because if he shows up and doesn’t put on a Yokozuna level performance, he’s toast – but that everyone else in Makuuchi will be participating. Kakuryu is under pressure to show up and go the full 15 days. Terunofuji should not participate, but that was true for the last two bashos as well, and we all saw what happened then. Takayasu might take this basho off – since he’s not currently kadoban, he can afford to skip a basho without being demoted straight away, but I don’t think he’ll go kyujo from the start. He’ll turn up for the first day and see how it goes.
Assuming this prediction is correct – and if it’s not, I’ll update this post as and when kyujo announcements happen – we have eight San’yaku from eight different heya. This means they can all fight each other, so that’s 28 possible match-ups. At a wild guess, the San’yaku schedule will be 1 bout per day for the first three days, then two per day for eleven days, then three on senshuraku.
On day one, the musubi-no-ichiban is generally the lowest ranked San’yaku against the highest. We work backwards to fill out the previous seven bouts with upper Maegashira against San’yaku opponents, in order of ranking.
Y1e Hakuho – K1w Onosho: The red mawashi is powerful, but I’m not sure it will be enough.
Y2e Kakuryu – M1e Hokutofuji: Normally I feel sorry for the M1e guy who gets the roughest schedule in the banzuke, but after seeing Hokutofuji’s performance last basho, and knowing he’s probably pissed at missing out on the San’yaku spot, it might by the Yokozuna who needs my sympathy.
O1e Goeido – M1w Ichinojo: If they both want to do good sumo, this could be a great bout. But often, these two don’t really feel like doing good sumo. Goeido is prone to retreating and looking for slap-downs rather than employing his actually very powerful forward-moving sumo, while Ichinojo often gives up the moment his heels touch the tawara (which may be fear of injury; not irrational when you’re the heaviest man in Makuuchi).
M2e Yoshikaze – O1w Takayasu: A real test of the structural integrity of the dohyo as they slam into each other like a pair of angry trains.
S1e Mitakeumi – M2w Kotoshogiku: Mitakeumi has a 6-3 advantage in their history, and is currently on a four-win streak. Kotoshogiku was unconvincing last basho, and if Mitakeumi’s foot has healed, I know who the favourite is.
M3e Chiyotairyu – S1w Tamawashi: Again, there’s a clear advantage in winning history: 6-2 in Chiyotairyu’s favour. That said, Tamawashi did win their last two bouts (and looked like the much stronger rikishi last basho), so maybe he’s figuring it out now.
K1e Takakeisho – M3w Tochinoshin: We’re all eager to see if the big Georgian is healed up enough to cut it in the Joi, but Takakeisho is not what I’d call a typical San’yaku (no disrespect to him intended; just that his bouncy-ball sumo is very different from that of the rikishi around him). I’ll be cheering Takakeisho here, but I know Tochinoshin has a lot of fans.
Below that, everyone just faces their partner at the same rank:
M4e Shodai – M4w Arawashi
M5e Okinoumi – M5w Endo: The “startling recovery” squad match up. I’m really looking forward to this one, they were both great last basho.
M6e Takarafuji – M6w Ikioi
M7e Chiyoshoma – M8e Tochiozan: Little swap because Chiyoshoma and Chiyonokuni are from the same heya.
M7w Chiyonokuni – M8w Kaisei
M9e Shohozan – M9w Chiyomaru
M10e Terunofuji – M11e Kotoyuki: And another.
M10w Aminishiki – M11w Daishomaru
M12e Sokokurai – M12w Kagayaki
M13e Takekaze – M13w Daieisho
M14e Abi – M14w Yutakayama
M15e Ishiura – M15w Nishikigi
M16e Ryuden – M16w Asanoyama
M17e Daiamami – J1e Myogiryu
The day two torikumi is, as always, less predictable. Onosho got a San’yaku opponent on day one, so it’s Takakeisho’s turn. Assuming I’m correct about absences, he’ll face Kakuryu. Also, the rikishi within each San’yaku rank “cycle” in the torikumi order, to give everyone a slot in the more prestigious matches later in the day.
I’m not sure it’s always possible to predict with certainty which upper-Maegashira get matched against which San’yaku on day two.
Y2e Kakuryu – K1e Takakeisho
Y1e Hakuho – M1e Hokutofuji
M1w Ichinojo – O1w Takayasu
O1e Goeido – M2e Yoshikaze
M2w Kotoshogiku – S1w Tamawashi
S1e Mitakeumi – M3e Chiyotairyu
M3w Tochinoshin – K1w Onosho
Then everyone in lower Maegashira faces the nearest person that they haven’t fought yet, but today, the west rikishi get the later matches. Many thanks to Sakura for pointing this out in the comments.
M5e Okinoumi – M4w Arawashi
M4e Shodai – M5w Endo
M7e Chiyoshoma – M6w Ikioi
M6e Takarafuji – M7w Chiyonokuni
M8e Tochiozan – M8w Kaisei: This pairing didn’t happen on day one because of the need to avoid matching Chiyoshoma against Chiyonokuni.
M10e Terunofuji – M9w Chiyomaru
M9e Shohozan – M10w Aminishiki
M11e Kotoyuki – M11w Daishomaru
M13e Takekaze – M12w Kagayaki
M12e Sokokurai – M13w Daieisho
M15e Ishiura – M14w Yutakayama
M14e Abi – M15w Nishikigi
M17e Daiamami – M16w Asanoyama
M16e Ryuden – J1w Kyokutaisei