Aki State of Play, Day 12

Let’s take things from the top.

Hakuho scored a quick (and to my eyes, uncontroversial) victory over Tochinoshin when the Yokozuna took advantage of a momentary lack of balance by the Georgian and threw him down. No epic belt battle this time. Hakuho is the only undefeated rikishi, and now leads the yusho race by two over an elite 10-2 chase group of Yokozuna Kakuryu and Ozeki Goeido and Takayasu. This group will be further reduced tomorrow when Kakuryu faces Goeido. Tochinoshin’s next chance to clinch his kachi-koshi and erase his kadoban status comes tomorrow against Shodai.

Kakuryu looked somewhat overmatched against a lower-ranked opponent for the second day in a row, losing to Takayasu by a hearty uwatenage. He will look to rebound against Goeido, against whom the Yokozuna is 27-12, including victories in their last three meetings.

Kisenosato scored an impressive, hard-fought win over Mitakeumi, putting the nail in the coffin of the Sekiwake’s Ozeki campaign. Nine wins looked like a very optimistic scenario for the Yokozuna at the start of the basho, and he can hold his head high heading into Kyushu. Tomorrow, he faces Hakuho, who can clinch at least a yusho playoff spot with a victory. Mitakeumi (6-6) now needs to focus on getting his kachi-koshi, and with Takayasu still on his fight card (probably on Day 14), his bout tomorrow against Myogiryu (who is taking over Yutakayama’s spot in the joi rotation) looks like a must-win.

Goeido stayed in the chase by patiently waiting for Abi to overcommit before dropping him to the clay. Abi has been rotated in for Endo, and tomorrow takes on Takayasu, who rebounded strongly from yesterday’s loss.

Ichinojo defeated Kaisei today in exactly the kind of prolonged mawashi battle Tachiai predicted, although the finishing move was an uwatenage throw rather than a yorikiri forceout. With his record now at 5-7, and only maegashira opponents left on his fight card, Ichinojo may have woken up just in time to save his Sekiwake rank, or at least a position in San’yaku.

Takakeisho is faring well in his late defense of his Komusubi rank, squaring his record at 6-6 with an easy victory against Shodai, who showed little interest in staying in the San’yaku promotion race. Tomorrow, the West Komusubi clashes with the East Komusubi, Tamawashi, who dropped to 3-9 against his nemesis Chiyotairyu today.

The number of available San’yaku slots could still be anywhere from 1 to 4, although I’m guessing it’ll be on the lower end of the range. If I’m wrong, the banzuke makers will have trouble scraping together replacement candidates, as everyone in contention lost today with the exception of Myogiryu (8-4), the only maegashira in the upper half of the rank-and-file to clinch his kachi-koshi. Among the other leading contenders, Kaisei and Shodai have losing 5-7 records, and need to win out to even be eligible for promotion, Asanoyama is both outranked by Myogiryu and trails him by a win, and Abi is 6-6 and probably looking at a final three-day slate of Takayasu-Tochinoshin-Mitakeumi.

At the other end of the banzuke, Ishiura and Kyokutaisei further cemented their trips to Juryo with a loss and an absence, respectively. Kotoyuki is now one loss away from joining them, and will try to avoid picking it up tomorrow against Tochiozan. Chiyomaru won the battle of the ‘marus today against Daishomaru, but remains on the bubble, needing at least one win and possibly two for safety. Tomorrow, he takes on Juryo visitor and top promotion candidate YagoAoiyama is the only other Makuuchi man still at risk of demotion, and he faces newcomer Takonosho, who locked down his stay in the top-division with his victory today.

Among the Juryo promotion candidates, Meisei and Yago won and only need one more win apiece to move up to the top division. Daiamami also won, but probably needs two more because of his lower rank. Arawashi lost, but remains in good shape because he is fighting from the top J1e slot, and should be back in the top division with another victory. The other contenders are Aminishiki, who needs two victories, and Takagenji, who needs three.

What of the Juryo yusho picture, you ask? There was some separation today, with 4 men now in the lead at 8-4, followed by 8 at 7-5, and 7 more at 6-6. If you’re counting, that’s 19 of 28 rikishi in the division still in contention (as Herouth notes, the five 5-7 rikishi are also mathematically still in it), so we can continue to hope for a senshuraku barnyard brawl. Oh, and Tachiai favorite Enho won today against ex-Makuuchi and current Makushita joi Toyohibiki, whose loss will probably keep him from rejoining the sekitori ranks. Enho’s win places him in the 7-5 octet and should ensure that he will stay in Juryo for the next basho. Video below:

13 thoughts on “Aki State of Play, Day 12

  1. Technically, with three days to go, even the 5-7 wrestlers in Juryo can still get 3 wins and tie with the ones currently 8-4. So only four wrestlers are completely out of the yusho race – the ones who are make-koshi.

    • Yes, I thought about mentioning them, but it seemed slightly far-fetched—not sure if the matchups going forward allow everyone to end up with only eight wins. Crazy that we’re even talking about it though!

      • Thanks to the sumodb, I was looking into the possibilities. 11-win yusho in Juryo seem pretty common, with Sadanoumi’s yusho in May over Akiseyama the most recent example. It’s happened 23 times since 2000. A 10-win yusho is obviously more rare, but Myogiryu did that just last year. And three household names did it in 2017: Abi, Nishikigi, and Toyohibiki. Before that, we go all the way back to 2009.

        Where it gets really interesting is the 9-win yusho. In 2001 there was just such a clusterf***, only resolved after an 8-man playoff. Before that, we have to go back to the rather “pre-modern” sumo era of 1949. Edit Back then, it looks like there were only 10 bouts per tournament so for all intents and purposes, the 2001 instance is the only real one. Will it happen again? Unlikely, but damn, it would be awesome! It does seem like Juryo is where the real competition happens, so I think I’m going to start paying more attention to the battles down there. Edit


  2. I can’t believe I’m writing this, but after watching how Goeido handled Abi’s behavior before their match today, I think Hakuho can take some lessons in patience and behavior from Goeido. Mind games are part of the game, as Hakuho should know, and Goeido looked calm and collected during his win today. Also, after Takayasu’s win over Kakuryu today, his bout yesterday with Hakuho is doubly disappointing. However, that might have been half the point of the way Hakuho behaved in the first place. An opponent can’t beat you if you hit them earlier and so hard that they’re knocked off of their feet.

  3. If only Kisenosato could beat Hakuho tomorrow! How exciting wouldn’t that be? Oh, well. A man can dream …

    • He originally hasn’t been a belt man. He has significantly improved, but still lags way behind Kisenosato in skill and especially experience. Dunno why he didn’t employ an oshi attack. Kisenosato has been rather week against that this basho.

    • No keiko, no stamina. Seriously, that attitude is coming back to bite his ass so hard that it probably looks like Apple’s logo by now.

  4. At the bottom of Makushita Hoshoryu is matched against Naya tomorrow. One of the two will pick up his first makekoshi, This will put a big gap between them for the first time. Too bad they cant continue to march together.

    • These two have had contrasting trajectories this basho: Hoshoryu began well but then started to struggle whereas Naya seems to have recovered from a bad start. Very interesting match.

  5. Is Yutakayama starting from high enough up the banzuke to be safe in Makuuchi even with only one win so far? I hope so, I’ve been feeling bad for him.

    • At M2, I believe so. Endo is slightly more precarious at M3, but should also be safe, especially since there shouldn’t be a lot of strong promotion records in Juryo.


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