Key Day 9 Matches

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Headliner, musubi no ichiban: Takakeisho (7-1) vs. Tochinoshin (4-4). At stake, among other things, are Takakeisho’s lead in the yusho race and a chance to move his record into winning territory for the Ozeki. Surprisingly the young Komusubi has owned Tochinoshin, winning 4 of their 5 meetings, including the last two.

Both of the other Ozeki, if they are to keep pace in the yusho race, must overcome rank-and-file opponents who are far from pushovers. Takayasu (6-2) takes on Yoshikaze (4-4), with the career series even at 10-10. Likewise, Chiyotairyu (5-3) has given Goeido (5-3) all he can handle, taking 6 of their 12 previous bouts.

In the rest of the sanyaku bouts, Mitakeumi (5-3) faces Ryuden (2-6) for the first time, and would do well to keep him away from his mawashi. Ichinojo (2-6) badly needs a victory against Shodai (4-4), whom he’s beaten in 6 of their 8 prior meetings, including 4 in a row (fun fact: the two have met in every basho this year). Finally, Tochiozan (6-2) takes on on Kaisei (2-4-2), whom he’s dominated to the tune of an 11-4 record.

In other matches that have implications for the yusho race, the two M1’s face off when Myogiryu (4-4) battles Hokutofuji (5-3); the winner of this bout will also improve his position in the sanyaku promotion queue. Abi (6-2) is matched with Ikioi (3-5), who prevailed in their only previous meeting but is far from 100%. Endo (5-3) will look to best struggling Takarafuji (3-5). Daiesho (6-2) can keep pace by sending Arawashi (1-7) back down to Juryo. And toward the bottom of the torikumi, we have Okinoumi (5-3) going against Daishomaru (4-4), two contenders facing off in Aoiyama (6-2) and Meisei (5-3), and Onosho (6-2) taking on Daiamami (4-4). Yes, this is an unusually wide-open tourney going into the final week!

14 thoughts on “Key Day 9 Matches

  1. I really love Tochinoshin, but I love watching Takakeisho fight him even more. I feel like for Tochinoshin it would be like trying to catch a greased pig: should be doable, but just can’t get a grip on it!

    • No-one is better than Takakeisho at keeping opponents off the belt, and with Tochi struggling to execute his best sumo it doesn’t look promising for my hero.

        • I kinda feel it’s mental. He doesn’t appear to be injured (aside from the persistent giant brace on his knee, but he doesn’t seem to favor it), but he’s definitely lost his mojo. It’s like his timing is fractionally off; he’s reacting an instant too slow, keeping him on the defensive rather than his usual aggressive offense.

          Whatever it is, I wish he’d get a handle on it. I hate seeing my guy struggling.

          • My guess is the problem is those heavily wrapped toes. When he grabs the mawashi and lifts his opponents, his toes serve as braces to help him stay balanced. His suboptimal tootsies may be hindering his favorite move.

      • There are only a few rikishi who can reliably dismantle the “wave action” attack. One of them is Hakuho, and the great battle dragon is on dry dock at least until New Years. Regardless of the yusho outcome, I am really eager to see those two face off in January. I am sure “the boss” is eager to put young Takakeisho to the test. Note that during Aki, Hakuho almost succumbed to Takakeisho’s sumo.

        • That looked a lot like the Mitakeumi bout this basho—Takakeisho almost had the opponent going out, but was too far from them to finish the job.

          • It does, but in the Mitakeumi bout it was a desperation move and Takakeisho needed time to find his balance. To me the Hakuho match looks more like the dodge+haymaker that he deployed against Kisenosato.

            Takakeisho has been winning a lot of matches this basho with a slip to and slap from the left, and the slap hasn’t always been a haymaker. His win against Ichinojo is an example where he used the tactic offensively with less than maximal force and got the advantageous position he was looking for.

    • I disagree. Based on the video I’ve seen Wakatakakage’s foot hits the bales, but never goes over them to touch the outside of the ring.

    • Yes, absolutely. I can’t fathom why Goeido would do such a thing other than to pad his record to make sure he gets his katchi-koshi.

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