The Great Sumo cat of the Kokugikan started act 2 in terrific style on Friday. Act 2 is usually when chaos and discord are at their most potent in any basho. You think you know who has started well, and you can start to hope that your favorite among the leaders may find a way to win the Emperor’s cup. Dear readers, it’s not over for many days to come. Hopes will be smashed, dreams will be crushed, and only the truly durable will take home the yusho banner.
Heading into the middle weekend of Aki, there are interesting and exiting match ups spread across the sumo day. With a full slate of top rank rikishi still competing, we are in store for some fantastic sumo.
What We Are Watching Day 7
Yoshikaze vs Takanosho – Now that Yoshikaze has his first loss, some of the pressure is off. At the very bottom of the banzuke, he does not need to do anything too extreme, a solid kachi-koshi will suffice. But he’s not the kind of person who will throttle back. Takanosho is keeping his head above water in his first ever Makuuchi tournament, and he has never faced Yoshikaze before. I think this one will be a good amount of fun.
Ishiura vs Takanoiwa – Ishiura is treading ever closer to the express route to Juryo. I feel for the guy; he’s got talent, strength and speed, but he’s small and he has yet to come up with a good sumo cookbook for himself. In a case like this, I have to wonder if being in the same stable as Hakuho may be holding him back. Takanoiwa, on the other hand, looks like he is doing well. I am going to guess he is on a kachi-koshi path.
Ryuden vs Chiyoshoma – Ryuden has yet to win one from Chiyoshoma, but this could be his day. Ryuden’s matches have been pretty bland so far, but he is winning. Chiyoshoma seems to be suffering from undercarriage problems again, and his sumo has been chaotic.
Okinoumi vs Kotoyuki – Okinoumi is quite the survivor. He enters his day 7 match with a 8-3 career advantage over Kotoyuki, who seems to have found his sumo again. But with 4 losses already, he has to cook up a solid winning streak to keep himself in the top division.
Aoiyama vs Chiyomaru – Aoiyama finally racked up his first win on Friday, and today he faces Chiyomaru, who has never beaten him. At 1-5, Aoiyama is in grave shape. But at 2-4, Chiyomaru is closer to danger. Only ranked Maegashira 14, a significant losing record could remove him from the top division.
Hokutofuji vs Sadanoumi – The only undefeated Maegashira gets what should be a fairly straightforward contest for day 7. Their only prior match went to Hokutofuji. Sadanoumi comes in 4-2, but Hokutofuji is currently out-performing his Maegashira 9 rank.
Kagayaki vs Takarafuji – Both rikishi come in with 2-4 records, and both of them seem to be struggling. For Takarafuji there are injuries that have been reported in the press. Kagayaki seems to be just a bit lethargic, and his sumo is having problems producing the same level of power it has earlier in the year.
Tochiozan vs Asanoyama – Tochiozan can be counted on for composed, efficient and calculated sumo each time on the dohyo. Asanoyama seems to be at the height of his form right now, and keeps finding ways to win, even when he’s taking a pounding. With a 2-1 career record, this is probably a fairly even match.
Onosho vs Abi – We saw on day 6 that Abi can improvise when the need strikes, but against Onosho it’s probably going to be a straight slug-fest. Advantage for Abi – his reach. Advantage for Onosho – low center of gravity and speed.
Ikioi vs Kaisei – Both rikishi must view day 7 with great relief. They have completed their tour of the upper ranks for now, and can transition to working on their 8 wins. Ikioi took an especially hard beating during Act 1, and will need to put together a solid winning streak to stay at rank. Today’s match should be a lot of fun, as we get Kaisei’s bulk up against Ikioi’s strength.
Mitakeumi vs Takakeisho – The Ozeki hopeful absorbed his first loss on day 6, and on day 7 he gets to fight his fellow tadpole, Takakeisho. Takakeisho is no easy match, in spite of his 2-4 record heading into the middle weekend. Mitakeumi’s magic number is still probably 11, so he needs this match as a buffer against the Ozeki and Yokozuna on tap for week 2.
Ichinojo vs Tochinoshin – Even though Ichinojo is back to his bad habit of giving up, he still stands a chance against Tochinoshin on day 7. Tochinoshin is wisely not trying to use brute strength so much this tournament. A primary reason is likely his injured foot, but he also needs to diversify his sumo.
Tamawashi vs Takayasu – Tamawashi has a habit of beating Takayasu, so this is going to be a test match to see if the Ozeki can remain unbeaten. Tamawashi is in a deep hole at 0-6, so his motivation will be all the stronger.
Goeido vs Chiyotairyu – Chiyotairyu surprised everyone by disrupting and then defeating Kisenosato on day 6. But his day 7 match against Goeido is going to be a contest of rapid brutality writ large. There is a small chance that their tachiai collision might form new exotic particles of interest to science, and teams are standing by to clean up the debris if the worst should happen.
Kisenosato vs Chiyonokuni – Kisenosato gets a chance to recover against Chiyonokuni, who is struggling to keep his sumo on track. After the surprising loss to Chiyotairyu, fans will hopefully have a more realistic expectation of Kisenosato for the remainder of Aki. I seriously think that if he can get to 8 wins, everyone calls it success and nobody cares until November. He is 3 wins away from that goal, but is nearly to the part of the basho where he fights the upper ranks.
Endo vs Hakuho – Endo’s a shell of his normal self. Hakuho’s going to dismantle him and play with the pieces.
Kakuryu vs Shodai – I am keen to see what kind of cruel sumo feedback loop Kakuryu employs against Shodai. Not that he does not have it coming, just that sometimes it’s fun to try and guess.