Aki State of Play, Day 9

Today’s post will focus on the rikishi in the named ranks, setting up the storylines for the final six days of the basho. Both of the Day 9 highlight matches exceeded expectations. First, Dai-Yokozuna Hakuho used all of his skill and experience to best promotion-seeking Sekiwake Mitakeumi. Then, in what can justifiably be described as a career-saving victory, back-to-the-wall Yokozuna Kisenosato prevailed in a titanic struggle with kadoban Ozeki Tochinoshin, himself badly in need of a victory. Judging by today, and with the matches among the upper ranks just starting, we should be in for a treat!

Kakuryu (9-0) has had an easy stroll through lower-ranked opponents so far. His degree of difficulty goes up tomorrow against Mitakeumi, and should be followed in order by bouts against Tochinoshin, Takayasu, Goeido, Kisenosato, and Hakuho.

Hakuho (9-0) has had to work harder for his undefeated record, but co-leads the yusho race nevertheless. He faces Ichinojo tomorrow, to be followed by the three Ozeki and the other two Yokozuna.

Kisenosato (7-2) has looked shaky at times, but beating obviously struggling Endo tomorrow would give him the all-important eighth win. If his record stands at 8-2 after Day 10, which would still put him in yusho contention, I don’t think we’ll hear renewed calls for his retirement even if he fades hard down the stretch against a lineup of Ichinojo, Mitakeumi, Goeido, and the other two Yokozuna, and after today I wouldn’t be surprised to see him pick up a couple of wins in those five bouts.

Goeido and Takayasu sport identical 8-1 records, and have both looked consistently strong this basho. Tomorrow’s highlight match pits them against each other for a chance to challenge the two undefeated Yokozuna for the yusho and a leg up in the jun-yusho race. Oh, and having clinched their kachi-koshi, they don’t have to worry about being kadoban in Kyushu.

Tochinoshin (5-4) needs to at least split his remaining 6 matches to clear kadoban and remain Ozeki. With Kakuryu, Hakuho, and Takayasu still on his fight card, tomorrow’s bout against Kaisei looks like a must-win, and their career 9-7 record only narrowly favors the Ozeki. Tochinoshin will also need to collect victories against his other two remaining maegashira opponents, most likely Shodai and Endo.

Mitakeumi (6-3) probably needs a 5-1 finish to earn promotion to the second-highest rank. After his extended battle against Hakuho today, he gets the other co-leader tomorrow. Perhaps surprisingly, Mitakeumi has defeated Kakuryu 3 times in their 7 prior bouts. After that, he still has to face Kisenosato and Takayasu, along with 3 maegashira opponents (probably Kaisei, Yutakayama, and Endo). A tough road, but not impossible.

Ichinojo (3-6) showed some life today, and will be done with the hard part of his schedule after facing Hakuho and Kisenosato. A kachi-koshi might be out of reach at this point, but he can aim for a 4-2 finish to cushion his demotion only down to Komusubi and remain in san’yaku.

Tamawashi (1-8) will face easier opponents from here on, but it comes too late for him to avoid a fall back into the rank-and file. Takakeisho (3-6) still has a chance to save his rank with a very strong finish. Neither man will feature further in the high-stakes games to be played by those above them on the banzuke.

 

2 thoughts on “Aki State of Play, Day 9

  1. I hope Tochinoshin makes his eight. As long as he doesn’t slip up against his three remaining maegashira opponents, he should be fine; but that’s no guaranteed thing. My concern is that instead of Endo he gets given someone much more in contention or in better form.

    • I’m definitely pulling for him. How likely they are to switch out Endo probably depends on which day he’d be in line to face him. There’s not an overwhelming list of guys to pull up: Abi? Ryuden if he remains at one loss?

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