The basho comes roaring out of the middle weekend with the yusho contest still anyone’s to take – as long as someone can manage to get dirt on Hakuho. Tachiai’s own lksumo spells it out as no one else can in this post: Haru Storylines, Day 8, so feel free to take a look.
Entering the second week, the named ranks will begin to fight each other, and the Maegashira will compete to see who gets the coveted 8th win, and who is headed lower in May. Only one hapless rikishi (Shodai) already holds his 8th loss, but Kaisei, Nishikigi, Tochiozan and Ikioi are at 7 losses. None of them are at serious risk of being dropped to Juryo [though I wouldn’t be too sure about Ikioi –lksumo]. But there are some fans (myself) who are dying to see if the final week will bring us a match between old rivals Kotoshogiku and Toyonoshima. With Toyonoshima likely headed back to Juryo, it’s pretty much now or never.
But with the 9th day, its finally time to take a serious look at the Haru leaderboard!
Chasers: Kakuryu, Takayasu, Goeido, Ichinojo, Aoiyama
Hunt Group: Takakeisho, Kotoshogiku, Ryuden, Kotoeko
7 Matches Remain
What We Are Watching Day 9
Shimanoumi vs Yutakayama – The Juryo yusho leader comes to Makuuchi for day 9 to face a poor injured fellow who looks like he may be vacating a Maegashira slot for him in May. This is their first ever match.
Chiyoshoma vs Yoshikaze – Both are at 5-3, both are highly mobile and will happily put any number of sumo moves into play over the course of a single match. I am sure Yoshikaze is ready for a Chiyoshoma henka attempt.
Ryuden vs Ishiura – I am going to go with the notion that Ryuden will get a chance to get a mawashi grip on Ishiura, and we will see some Ishiura chest to chest, or chest to forehead sumo.
Terutsuyoshi vs Yago – Both are at an appalling 2-6, with Terutsuyoshi in real danger of vacating his Maegashira rank in May. They are evenly matched during their history in the lower ranks, and both of them have been underperforming their trend lines for Haru.
Shohozan vs Kagayaki – Kagayaki has now won 4 in a row, and seems to have overcome his ring rust. Unfortunately for his day 9 match, his preference for an oshi-zumo match will play straight into Shohozan’s strengths. Does Kagayaki go for the mawashi, or just take a pounding from the “big guns”?
Aoiyama vs Ikioi – 7-1 Aoiyama faces 1-7 Ikioi in someone’s twisted idea of a mathematical joke. Ikioi is in no condition to be no the dohyo, let alone to face a wrecking machine like Aoiyama.
Kotoshogiku vs Abi – A joke so nice, they did it twice! 6-2 Kotoshogiku will take on 2-6 Abi. We know Abi will go for a double arm thrust to the neck and shoulders, and Kotoshogiku will try to close in and take him for a ride on the hug-n-chug train.
Asanoyama vs Onosho – Yotsu-zumo Asanoyama vs Oshi-zumo Onosho. Both of them are known to get off balance a bit at times, so we will see whose sumo sets the tone of this clash of styles.
Daieisho vs Nishikigi – Nishikigi needs to “win out” to not end up with a make-koshi for March, and the next stop on that grind is Daieisho, who has shown excellent sumo far superior to his middling 4-4 record. Nishikigi needs a right hand grip early to take control of this match and set the tone.
Kaisei vs Hokutofuji – Kaisei is also up against the make-koshi wall, and his match with Hokutofuji will be a contrast of the Komusubi going for a fierce nodowa, and Kaisei looking to pin him down with a mawashi grip.
Takakeisho vs Chiyotairyu – This one is all about balance, as Takakeisho will need to endure Chiyotairyu’s canon ball tachiai followed by a pull down gambit. If he clears those, the modifications to his wave-action tsuppari will get full play, and we may see Chiyotairyu in the zabuton.
Ichinojo vs Goeido – Ichinojo is precisely the kind of massive, immobile rikishi that can frustrate Goeido and lead him to his “bad” sumo habits, such as pulling attempts and moving backward. This will be a big tests to see if Goeido can stay in the yusho race. Winner is kachi-koshi.
Takayasu vs Tamawashi – these two used to be dependable East / West Sekiwake for a time, but Takayasu move up to Ozeki, leaving Tamawashi behind. The brutal oshi-style of Tamawashi might provoke the Ozeki to bring his shoulder blast back, and in this case it’s entirely warranted.
Tochinoshin vs Shodai – Believe it or not, the record favors Shodai on this match. He could certainly use the win to boost his fighting spirit, and the Ozeki is still an injured mess.
Tochiozan vs Kakuryu – An evenly split 21-23 career record for these two, and Tochiozan has a lot of drive given the oddball loss to Hakuho day 8. Tochiozan is good at limiting his opponents’ options, and that is a bane for Kakuryu. This could be a good match indeed.
Hakuho vs Mitakeumi – Mitakeumi is hurt, but fighting on. Can he rally in his match against “The Boss” on day 9? Right now Hakuho looks almost unbeatable, and usually does until someone can pierce his illusion of invulnerability.