Most of our readers are eager to know about Tochinoshin. Earlier today we reported that he had come up injured following his day 6 match against Tamawashi. From contributor Herouth (via her twitter feed), it appears that he has an injury to the big toe of his right foot, and possibly of a strain or pull to his damaged right knee. He is 3 wins from kachi-koshi, and it’s a good bet he will be on the dohyo day 7 looking to roll Shodai for win #6.
The yusho race is on, and it’s more or less anyone’s guess who will take the Emperor’s cup this time. With the Yokozuna team on the bench, the Ozeki crew banged up, and only one rikishi undefeated it’s an all out race to the end of act 2. While it’s mathematically Mitakeumi’s to lose, as the only remaining undefeated rikishi, the path to victory is fraught with peril. Going into the middle weekend, here is who I am keeping an eye on:
Mitakeumi – Even before the Yokozunae went home, he was looking more dialed in and genki then we have seen him in many tournaments. With the only undefeated record going into day 6, he is the man to catch.
Endo – At Maegashira 6, he is not typically within the joi, but as of today the joi has been blown to the moon anyhow, and I expect Endo is going to face at least one Ozeki, and I think he is going to face Mitakeumi sooner rather than later.
Tochinoshin – He’s banged up, but a yusho now would start rumblings of a rope in his future. At risk is his long-term viability in sumo. Back out of the tournament and protect his damaged right leg, or persist and strive for higher rank?
Chiyotairyu – Also at Maegashira 6, he’s fairly one-dimensional in his sumo so I would consider him a long shot. He faces another 5-1 rikishi, Myogiryu, on day 7.
What We Are Watching Day 7
Kotoeko vs Hokutofuji – Maybe, just maybe Hokutofuji has his sumo straightened out. He has a 2-0 career lead over Kotoeko, so if he picks this one up on Saturday, he may be back on the trail to improvement.
Meisei vs Asanoyama – Asanoyama, the happy rikishi, is one off the yusho pace. In his first ever match against Meisei, he gets to try to stay in the hunt.
Arawashi vs Nishikigi – Nishikigi has gone a bit soft in the past few days, and he has lost his last two matches. Arawashi only has one win to his name, and he is looking quite broken at the moment.
Onosho vs Yutakayama – We had not really seen the brutal speed of Onosho before in Nagoya until day 6. The fact that he unleashed some fierce sumo against Sadanoumi may signal that he is back in his groove. But Yutakayama has a 3-1 record over him, and has been fighting quite well in his new, bulkier form.
Myogiryu vs Chiyotairyu – Two of the remaining 5-1 rikishi meet head to head, and only one will survive. Though the record favors Myogiryu 6-4, the physics of a rampaging Chiyotairyu must count for quite a lot. So I will look for Myogiryu to disrupt from the tachiai. Possibly a henka?
Endo vs Kyokutaisei – The schedulers pitch Endo a softball. Seriously, he’s genki enough he can clobber tougher foes. Kyokutaisei is having a miserable basho with only 1 win so far. This may also be his “light” day before they sacrifice Endo to the san’yaku. Hopefully someone tells the surviving san’yaku so they can prepare.
Takarafuji vs Kagayaki – Two rikishi who focus on fundamentals and careful sumo. I think this will be an excellent demonstration of the technical nature of highly trained, talented rikishi. Maybe it will also be good sumo. Sadly I am a bit of a sumo bio-mechanics nerd, so your milage may vary.
Kaisei vs Chiyonokuni – The grumpy badger has picked up 2 default wins so far this basho, and now he’s going against Kaisei. Fighting Kaisei is like battling a glacier. He’s bigger than you can imagine, and he’s moving slow with immense power. Chiyonokuni run and gun sumo may have a tough time with Kaisei, as he may not move fast enough for Chiyonokuni to be effective.
Tamawashi vs Shohozan – Shohozan must be highly frustrated. He’s now through the toughest part of his schedule, and he needs to get 6 wins out of the remaining 9 to get kachi-koshi. Tamawashi is capable of much higher performance than he has produced thus far, but he’s still well within kachi-koshi range. Shohozan holds a 13-2 career record over Tamawashi. You can bet this is going to be two strong men beating the tar out of each other.
Kotoshogiku vs Mitakeumi – Pivotal match for day 7. Mitakeumi is working to protect that zero loss record. In Kotoshogiku he has a fairly one dimensional opponent. As we have seen even as recently as this week, if you can keep Kotoshogiku from squaring his hips and applying the two-legged pushing attack, he’s a skilled rikishi, but his lateral power is poor. Mitakeumi will likely focus on oshi, and hopefully stick to center mass.
Ichinojo vs Ikioi – If Ichinojo does not just give up, he can and should win this one. But Ikioi has been fierce and fearless thus far, and Ichinojo seems to not be ready for a fight.
Shodai vs Tochinoshin – Tochinoshin is going to compete hurt. For fans who do not know, he is likely in daily pain anyhow given the nature of his chronic injuries. Today he has what should be considered (for him) a creampuff opponent in Shodai. They are evenly matched in their career record, but Tochinoshin can easily lift and shift Shodai, who has not been impressive thus far.
Abi vs Takayasu – Takayasu seems to be struggling now, possibly his new injury, possibly his old injury, maybe some of each. He needs 3 wins to get to safety. Watching Abi the last couple of matches against the upper ranks, he tends to uncork a series of wild, “try anything”, moves to gain initiative in the match. Sometimes it works (Kakuryu) sometimes it does not (Goeido). I am looking for Abi to be disrupted completely by Takayasu’s tachiai.
Goeido vs Takakeisho – Which Goeido will we get? Which Takakeisho will we get? If both of these guys show up genki, pumped up and aggro that we could have a tachiai collision that might trigger a tsunami warning. Interestingly enough, Takakeisho did beat Goeido once – last year at Aki.