Aki State of Play, Day 10

Kakuryu and Hakuho both remained undefeated and on track for a final-day showdown for all the marbles. Their bouts against Mitakeumi and Ichinojo, respectively, went about how you’d expect Yokozuna vs. Sekiwake matchups to go—good entertaining sumo, but with the outcome never really in doubt. Tomorrow, they both face Ozeki challengers. Kakuryu takes on Tochinoshin, who needs every win he can get. The lifetime record favors the Yokozuna 22-2, although they’ve split their last two bouts. Hakuho will battle the lone 9-1 chaser, Takayasu, who is 2-16 against the Dai-Yokozuna.

Kisenosato got his all-important 8th victory against the shadow of Endo, and lives to fight another day. Tomorrow, he will attempt to get closer to the “Yokozuna kachi-koshi” of 10 wins against Ichinojo. Interestingly, their record only favors the Yokozuna by 8-5, with Ichinojo winning the last two, but those bouts both took place during recent tournaments that Kisenosato was not able to complete.

Goeido lost his Ozeki clash with Takayasu, and falls two off the pace in the yusho race. He will attempt to bounce back against 5-5 Shodai, who is very much in the hunt for san’yaku promotion. Their record is quite even at 6-4, and Shodai has claimed two of this year’s three prior meetings.

Mitakeumi could not pull off an upset against Kakuryu, and his Ozeki run hangs by a thread. His attempt to run the table starts tomorrow against Kaisei, who’d won all of their prior matches until the Sekiwake finally prevailed during his breakthrough yusho-winning July campaign. If he fails to get the 11 wins he likely needs for promotion this time, Mitakeumi will want to carry as many wins as possible into Kyushu for a chance to try again there.

Forecast for the remaining upper-rank bouts

Day 11: Mitakeumi vs. Kaisei, Goeido vs. Shodai, Kakuryu vs. Tochinoshin, Kisenosato vs. Ichinojo, Hakuho vs. Takayasu.

Day 12: Mitakeumi vs. Kisenosato, Tochinoshin vs. Hakuho, Takayasu vs. Kakuryu

Day 13: Goeido vs. Kakuryu, Kisenosato vs. Hakuho

Day 14: Mitakeumi vs. Takayasu, Goeido vs. Hakuho, Kisenosato vs. Kakuryu

Day 15: Tochinoshin vs. Takayasu, Goeido vs. Kisenosato, Hakuho vs. Kakuryu

In the final four days, Mitakeumi will also face 2 maegashira opponents (Yutakayama and Endo?), as will Tochinoshin (Shodai and Endo?), while Takayasu and Goeido will face one apiece (Endo for both?). Given Endo’s 1-9 record and obvious lack of fighting shape, perhaps the schedulers will take pity on him and bring up some better-performing rikishi from just outside the joi (Abi, Myogiryu, Asanoyama) to face the upper ranks instead.

In tomorrow’s post, I’ll take a closer look at the san’yaku promotion race and the fight to stay out of Juryo.

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