Team Tachiai are watching news sources for what we think might be more than one kyujo announcement. But then again, both kyujo candidates are stubborn enough that they will show up for the final day of Act 2 and try to get another win. Well, it is a combat sport.
Act 2 was all about knocking the yusho race into shape, and in fact that is the case now. We have Kakuryu as the sole leader with a several injured people hobbling behind. It’s frankly Kakuryu’s to lose now, and thus far he looks healthy enough to keep everyone else at bay. But there are a number of really fun potential outcomes at this point – Hakuho goes kyujo and Kakuryu loses at least once and the madness will be on. Of course with so many high-ranking rikishi watching the matches on TV, there are few people left for Kakuryu to face that offer a credible challenge. With the exception of his day 10 opponent, Ichinojo.
Hunt Group: Mitakeumi, Myogiryu, Tomokaze, Terutsuyoshi
6 Matches Remain
What We Are Watching Day 10
Chiyomaru vs Terutsuyoshi – His roundness, Chiyomaru, will present all manner of complications for Terutsuyoshi today, who is seeking his 8th win and an all-important 1st kachi-koshi in the top division.
Tochiozan vs Kaisei – In a battle of the wounded vs the exhausted, I am betting on Tochiozan. This is the match of eternal sadness.
Toyonoshima vs Kagayaki – Toyonoshima also fills me with bother, as I was so excited to see the veteran make another run at the top division. But it has been a very rough and difficult run for him. It’s still mathematically possible for him to end with 8 wins, but he would need to suddenly have some kind of sumo revival.
Enho vs Nishikigi – This first-time match poses some interesting questions. Enho tends to fight by getting rather close to his opponents and then harassing them to defeat. Nishikigi’s eyesight limits him to grappling techniques for most matches. Will Nishikigi be able to grab Enho and turn off his perpetual-motion sumo?
Kotoyuki vs Daishoho – Their prior history shows a 3-1 advantage for Daishoho, but right now Kotoyuki is fighting better than I have seen him in maybe a year or two. So what happens here is anyone’s guess.
Onosho vs Sadanoumi – Slippery dohyo? Check! Tadpole with balance issues? Check! Onosho likely to end up with a face full of clay? Check!
Myogiryu vs Shohozan – Shohozan seems to be just a shade of his typical self, so I am not expecting much from him on day 10, especially not against Myogiryu, who is doing quite well indeed.
Takagenji vs Tomokaze – Tomokaze could pick up #8 today if he can keep Takagenji from getting his favored grip. Right now Tomokaze is 2 behind Kakuryu, and I could imagine a Tomokaze vs Mitakeumi fight in the next few days.
Chiyotairyu vs Kotoeko – Will we see more surprising agility from Chiyotairyu on day 10, or will Kotoeko’s relentless drive carry the day? I think it comes down to (as it usually does with Chiyotairyu) the first 10 seconds.
Yago vs Shimanoumi – Shimanoumi has never taken a match from Yago, but in truth Yago looks terrible this tournament. I am sure lksumo will tell us how many wins Yago needs to avoid a return to Juryo, but I don’t think he will find one today in Shimanoumi’s mawashi. Yago needs to win 4 out of 6 to ensure a stay in Makuuchi, though there’s a chance he could scrape by with 3 if there are not enough promotion candidates in Juryo. -lksumo
Okinoumi vs Takarafuji – Takarafuji is on the cusp of yet another make-koshi. He has been solidly producing 8-7 or 7-8 scores for the last 18 months, and just does not seem to have much mojo left.
Aoiyama vs Shodai – I would think Shodai has this. He seems to have found his sumo and is as dangerous as ever. Sadly, if we let Aoiyama take this to an oshi-battle, we are going to suffer slow motion replays of those round-house hits. Much respect to Big Dan, but after what happened to Endo, I am going to require counseling.
Kotoshogiku vs Endo – Speaking of the motor-boating man in the gold mawashi, he goes from a face full of chest meat to the purveyor of hip pumps, Kotoshogiku. Kotoshogiku seems to have adapted to the slick dohyo, so it may come down to whether Endo can get that mae-mitzu grip in the opening moments of the match.
Abi vs Asanoyama – Oh heavenly joy! This should be sight to behold. Will we see another field-test of Abi-zumo 2.0? Or will Asanoyama’s really smooth sumo so overwhelm Abi that he just goes along for the ride? I think this might be a really fun match to watch.
Hokutofuji vs Ryuden – Wham-bam! This match would make a great template for a 1960’s batman comic, as the combatants are going to execute sumo with speed and vigor. Although Hokutofuji has not used the handshake-tachiai in a while, it may come back today to pin Ryuden down and keep him from getting into an offensive groove.
Mitakeumi vs Daieisho – I can only imagine how bothered Mitakeumi was after Abi used him as a test subject for the new weapon. He had a look of sheer disappointment and surprise. Perhaps downright annoyance that he had been taken for a ride. Any frustration will likely spill into his day 10 match against Daieisho, who needs 4 wins out of the remaining 6 to post a winning score.
Meisei vs Takayasu – He still needs just 1 win to be safe for 4 months, and some fans are starting to speculate that his left elbow / arm injury might be serious enough that it would require lengthy recuperation. Meisei has been struggling this entire tournament, but is a one-armed Ozeki strong enough to finish him off?
Kakuryu vs Ichinojo – Yokozuna Kakuryu needs to be careful today. We have just seen Ichinojo dispatch “The Boss” with a smooth combination of size, strength and efficient sumo. Kakuryu takes a more reactive approach, and I would expect him to intentionally keep some distance to The Boulder, waiting for him to be even slightly off balance.
Tamawashi vs Hakuho – Yokozuna with damaged elbows meets the rikishi who tends to injure his opponents’ elbows. This is a match made in hell. Can Hakuho even summon enough mojo to fight this with any kind of vigor? Tamawashi has looked like wet newsprint this whole basho, so it’s fair to ask – what might he do differently today?