Welcome to the end of act 2! Act 2 was where we sorted the survivors from the damned, and we started to see who was going to contest for the cup. As Josh pointed out in our weekend podcast, the old guard has decided they were going to make a stand, and re-assert their dominance over sumo. The result has been a return to form that we saw at Aki 2018, where the named ranks devastate the upper 3 Maegashira, and the final week is dominated by the greats of sumo blasting each other around the dohyo. From all appearances, everyone remains genki and in increasingly good fighting condition each day right now. It portends a tumultuous and entertaining finish to the tournament.
Chasers: Kakuryu, Takayasu, Ichinojo, Aoiyama
Hunt Group: Goeido, Takakeisho, Kotoshogiku
6 Matches Remain
What We Are Watching Day 10
Daishoho vs Chiyomaru – Beloved Chiyomaru returns to the top division in his new “safety” mawashi, which may or may not have been picked up from Akua when he had to return to Makushita. With a 6-3 record, Chiyomaru is just 2 wins away from securing a bid to return to the top division.
Tomokaze vs Chiyoshoma – First time meeting between these two, with Chiyoshoma having a distinct advantage in speed over Tomokaze. It’s been a few matches since we have seen a Chiyoshoma henka, so be ready…
Terutsuyoshi vs Kagayaki – A loss today would give Terutsuyoshi a make-koshi and put him at risk to return to Juryo. Kagayaki has shown that he is effective against a fast rikishi (he beat Ishiura), so Terutsuyoshi has his work cut out for him. We know his sumo is up to the task if he can get a good position at the tachiai.
Ryuden vs Kotoeko – Shin-Ikioi will take on micro-hulk today. Kotoeko had nothing but problems with Meisei’s “speed sumo” on day 9, and we can expect that Ryuden learned from that match. Ryuden is not always known for rapid offense, so it’s likely he will leave an opening for Kotoeko to employ his superior strength to weight ratio with great effect.
Yutakayama vs Meisei – Yutakayama is already close to the Maku-Juryo line, and he is clearly struggling for wins. Normally he would have no problems overcoming Meisei, but in his injured state, there is no telling how this will go.
Toyonoshima vs Yago – Experience vs youth, and both are in dire need of wins. Toyonoshima especially must be worried about his lack of wins headed into the heard of week 2. Toyonoshima looks just a touch too slow right now. Something happened between Hatsu and Haru. Chances are we will never find out what.
Yoshikaze vs Ikioi – Oh come on! Ikioi will put on a brave, limping fight. Yoshikaze will get his his 7th win, and may exit the dohyo with blood on his face (a Yoshikaze specialty).
Asanoyama vs Ishiura – Both have matching 6-3 records, but their 4 prior matches all went to Asanoyama. Frankly, Asanoyama seems to have consolidated his sumo in the last couple of months, and everything seems to be connecting more smoothly. Ishiura is fighting well, and even winning matches without having to resort to cheap moves. This could be a solid match.
Aoiyama vs Shohozan – Oh goodie, I have been waiting for this one. Two sluggers ready to trade heavy fire at medium range. If Shohozan can get close, it’s going to be tough for Aoiyama, who seems to receive less well than he gives.
Sadanoumi vs Abi – I am sure that Sadanoumi knows by now how to shut down Abi-zumo. Will this be the day that Abi decides to try something else?
Chiyotairyu vs Takarafuji – Chiyotairyu put a lot into his day 9 match against Takakeisho, and I think that he might be a bit depleted when he faces off against the highly technical Takarafuji. If Takarafuji can dodge the initial Chiyotairyu gambits, he likely has a win.
Kotoshogiku vs Onosho – Onosho’s balance is still off due to his lengthy recovery from knee surgery, so I am going to suggest that Kotoshogiku has the upper hand. A win today would secure a kachi-koshi for the Kyushu bulldozer.
Tochiozan vs Okinoumi – Another great match for day 10. Both are high stamina, high skill sumo technicians who will put a lot of thought into their day 10 match. We may see some rare sumo today.
Nishikigi vs Shodai – Shodai holds a 3-1 career advantage over sumo’s Cinderella Man. Already into make-koshi land, a win today would hand Nishikigi his maki-koshi, too. Shodai holds a 3-1 career advantage – is day 10 the magic day for Shodai?
Kaisei vs Myogiryu – Speed vs size today, and I am going with speed. Myogiryu has a terrible record for the basho, but his tour through the named ranks is done now, and he has a real chance to exit with a winning record.
Mitakeumi vs Endo – This could also be a fun match. Mitakeumi’s injured knee is keeping him from showing us his “good” sumo, but he is still quite formidable. Their career record is a balanced 3-3.
Daieisho vs Hokutofuji – Hokutofuji seems to be improving into week 2, and I expect he will disrupt and overcome Daieisho’s offense. Hokutofuji will go for an early nodowa courtesy of his “handshake tachiai”.
Tochinoshin vs Goeido – Ozeki fight! If it goes longer than 8 seconds, I would expect Tochinoshin to win. Goeido is going to go for an immediate kill – blasting off the big Georgian from the Osaka dohyo.
Takayasu vs Ichinojo – I am positively giddy about this one. Ichinojo is looking his toughest in a long time, and Takayasu has been tuning up his sumo. Both men are in the chaser group, and the winner will remain 1 behind Hakuho.
Hakuho vs Tamawashi – Tamawashi gets a Hakuho flying lesson. We love you cookie-man, but The Boss is genki and you are today’s practice ballast.
Takakeisho vs Kakuryu – Takakeisho has never beaten Kakuryu, whose sumo is tailor made to disrupt and defeat someone like Takakeisho. A win today by the Sekiwake would put a very bold stroke on his potential Ozeki bid, and give him his kachi-koshi. Great final match for the final day of act 2!