Today we start act 3 of the Haru Basho. Act 3 is sorting everyone in to make and kachi kochi, and finding the yusho winner. This tournament has been brutal to the top Maegashira ranks, and we find that the top 3 have a combined record of 16 – 44. Ouch! At Maegashira 4 we have a super-genki Ichinojo at 9-1, who balances out the 1-9 wreck of the SS Kaisei.
The leaderboard saw Kakuryu and Takayasu both drop to 2 wins behind Hakuho, and its increasingly looking like Hakuho may have a lock on the cup. Day 11’s chaser battle between Aoiyama and Ichinojo will leave us with a single rikishi in striking range of The Boss, unless Takakeisho can manage to send Hakuho to the clay.
Chasers: Ichinojo, Aoiyama
Hunt Group: Goeido, Takakeisho, Kotoshogiku, Kakuryu, Takayasu
5 Matches Remain
What We Are Watching Day 11
Terutsuyoshi vs Chiyoshoma – The question now: Can Terutsuyoshi scrape together enough wins to keep a rank in the top division? With only 2 wins following day 10, he’s in a tough spot for demotion, as lksumo pointed out. Chiyoshoma is fighting well, and has not even been using henkas in most matches.
Toyonoshima vs Kagayaki – Also in demotion risk is veteran Toyonoshima, who faces a resurgent Kagayaki on day 11. Kagayaki never matched against Toyonoshima as he rose through the ranks, and this will be their first contest.
Yutakayama vs Yago – Loser gets make-koshi, and Yutakayama finds himself in a must-win scenario, nursing a number of injuries and not in good form. Yago has faltered this basho as well, but we expect the solidly-built Oguruma rikishi to recover for May.
Ishiura vs Kotoshogiku – Ishiura should dust off the attack profile he tried day 10 and bring it to Kotoshogiku, I think it has a good chance of paying off. Kotoshogiku is already at 8 wins, and everything from here on out will dial up the amount of promotion boost he ends up with for May.
Asanoyama vs Ryuden – Winner here will get their kachi-koshi. Ryuden will go for a mawashi grip, and I am going to guess that Asanoyama will start oshi-style, and Ryuden will go for the mawashi. In the past, Asanoyama has proven to be faster, but Ryuden has shown greater endurance. Could be an excellent clashes of styles.
Shohozan vs Abi – A loss today will be Abi’s 8th. He’s at no risk for dropping out of Makuuchi, but its looking more like Abi will need to improve his sumo, or at least come up with variations along the lines that Takakeisho has done to make him a less predictable opponent.
Okinoumi vs Ikioi – Under normal conditions, I would be talking about how these two veteran competitors would be bringing a bristling array of sumo skill to the dohyo. But Ikioi is requiring daily medical intervention to continue competing, and is in no condition to fight. The big question now is can he find a way to win a few more, and hold on to his Makuuchi rank?
Yoshikaze vs Onosho – Onosho is still struggling with balance issues following his knee surgery last year, and each of his losses can be chalked up to poor balance, or missed foot placement. Yoshikaze is on the cusp of his 8th win, after a dismal start.
Aoiyama vs Ichinojo – Both men are 1 behind Hakuho, and at the end of this match, only one will remain. Both are enormous, both are strong. Ichinojo has been grabbing mawashi this tournament, and Aoiyama always likes to pommel his opponents into submission. This will be close to half a ton of rikishi in battle on the clay. Possibly the highlight match of the day.
Shodai vs Myogiryu – Could Shodai turn it around now and “win out”? That would be quite an achievement, and it’s not beyond his abilities. Myogiryu has not been able to take many wins from his named-ranked opponents in Osaka, and he will need 4 out of the next 5 to hit a minimal kachi-koshi.
Endo vs Hokutofuji – Loser of this match make-koshi, and both rikishi have struggled in Osaka. Hokutofuji specifically seems to be losing stamina as his daily matches feature a lot of mobility, and a lot of frantic oshi-zumo.
Mitakeumi vs Daieisho – It’s not out of the question that Mitakeumi could still finish kachi-koshi. But it will take 4 wins out of the next 5 to get there. Daieisho has the mobility to counter the injured Komusubi’s offense, but Mitakeumi has a great habit of keeping his opponents in front of him.
Takayasu vs Tochinoshin – Takayasu is probably out of the yusho race, but his sumo tune up is still paying dividends. Tochinoshin’s road to 8 requires that he take a win from someone in the Ozeki / Yokozuna ranks, and this basho that is a tall order. Tochinoshin is really up against the wall now, and I expect him to do everything he can, including sacrificing his body, to get his 8.
Chiyotairyu vs Goeido – Goeido struggles with Chiyotairyu, mostly because the big Kokonoe rikishi employs a variation of Goeido’s own sumo strategy. Attack up front with everything you have, leave nothing for a second chance. But Goeido is in solid form, he is kachi-koshi already, and in front of his home town crowd. You read it here first – I would applaud a Goeido henka for this match.
Tamawashi vs Kakuryu – Kakuryu is likely displeased with his day 10 loss to Ozeki hopeful Takakeisho. Facing another oshi/tsuppari specialist, I would expect him to be more mobile, and not engage Tamawashi at close range. Tamawashi will need to contend with the Yokozuna’s ability to switch offense in the blink of an eye.
Hakuho vs Takakeisho – A win today would not give Takakeisho his 10, and a loss won’t disqualify him from an Ozeki bid. But I can assure you that Takakeisho has been counting off the days to this match. Hakuho is in rare form, as seen by his reality defying wins this tournament. But Takakeisho will mount the dohyo with a solid battle plan, and absolute confidence in his ability to be the first man in Osaka to put dirt on The Boss.