Time to close out act 2 of the Aki basho. In act 2, we try to get the yusho race formed up, and we try to sort those who are likely to have winning records from the rikishi who are clearly in trouble. With this version of Aki, all of that has gone out the window. A look at the leader board below shows just how open things are right now. After a single “tough” match for Okinoumi on day 9, they are back to giving him lower ranked opponents. Maybe they are saving the big fights for act 3? Although Okinoumi came away with his first black star, he fought well, and the more I look at his match, his loss came mostly from slipping and falling rather than any offense from Ryuden.
I would hope that we see the leaders rotate through folks like Asanoyama, Endo, Hokutofuji, Mitakeumi and Takakeisho. With any luck, that will be the step that takes us to the real yusho race. I can see a field of 4 or so with ending scores of 11-4 fighting on senshuraku for the cup.
With Okinoumi’s first loss, the leader board goes “double wide”, and we await the chances of a still broader race.
Leaders: Okinoumi, Meisei
Chasers: Mitakeumi, Takakeisho, Asanoyama
Hunt Group: Goeido, Endo, Takarafuji, Shohozan, Tsurugisho, Ishiura
6 Matches Remain
What We Are Watching Day 10
Takagenji vs Daiamami – Daiamami comes up from Juryo, to put his miserable record to the test against a rikishi squarely on the bubble – 3-6 Takagenji. I feel for both these guys, they are not bad sumotori, but they are having a miserable basho.
Tochiozan vs Azumaryu – Tochiozan showed some signs of life day 10, and he goes into this first-time match with veteran Azumaryu (how did that happen?) hoping to find 4 more wins in the next 6 matches to stave off a trip to Juryo. Azumaryu only needs 3, but could be in equal peril.
Toyonoshima vs Nishikigi – Toyonoshima is already make-koshi, and Nishikigi has a long hard road to get to 8. I would assume he is no risk of demotion, but he’s not looking especially sharp this basho. Nishikigi likely needs 2 more victories to avoid a trip to Juryo. -lksumo
Yutakayama vs Daishoho – Yutakayama has a 2-0 career advantage, and I think is a good candidate for kachi-koshi, needing 3 of the next 6 to secure his position in the top division. Yutakayama’s sumo still looks rather rough, but he’s working on recovery from injury that sent him to Juryo. I expect good things from Yutakayama in 2020.
Tsurugisho vs Meisei – Co leader Meisei gets a cream puff match with lower ranked Tsurugisho. However Tsurugisho holds a 5-1 career advantage. I am going to assume that won’t matter much, as Meisei is fighting better than I can recall ever seeing before.
Terutsuyoshi vs Kagayaki – Kagayaki holds a 3-0 career advantage over Terutsuyoshi, and a loss by Terutsuyoshi on day 10 would cement a make-koshi for September. Kagayaki has looked really rough this basho, and has yet to find his “groove” in any real way.
Ishiura vs Kotoyuki – Ishiura just needs 2 more wins for kachi-koshi, but Kotoyuki is back to “Fierce” mode. In addition, Ishiura has had 2 consecutive days of poor sumo.
Okinoumi vs Sadanoumi – The other co-leader is back to bottom feeding, taking on the lower ranked Sadanoumi, against whom he holds a 10-4 career advantage. I am a bit frustrated that the torikumi committee is not yet focused on pairing competitors in the yusho race. Is this kind of match normal for this time of the basho? Of course! But I am eager to see the multi-way brawl for the hardware commence.
Shohozan vs Takarafuji – Both are 6-3 going into this match, and I am going to assume they both end Aki with kachi-koshi. For this match I would give a clear advantage to Shohozan, even though his sumo has looked less powerful this basho that his historical average.
Kotoshogiku vs Onosho – Battle of the damaged patellas, it’s bad knees all around, and we will see who has the weakest lower body. Kotoshogiku has a 6-1 career advantage.
Enho vs Kotoeko – I think it’s time for Enho to rally. He typically starts running low on genki about now, so I am hoping that we see him push hard for 3 more wins. Kotoeko does seem to have dialed in the ways to dominate Enho, so this will be a great test.
Ryuden vs Tomokaze – Both of these men are right at the 50% line with their day 9 records. Tomokaze has been frustrating to watch because of what I am going to assume is some core-body injury that has robbed him of forward attack modes. Ryuden is likewise frustrating, as his balance seems to be poor right now, and his footing uncertain.
Shimanoumi vs Asanoyama – First time match, and I am backing Asanoyama all the way. In fact I think that in the last 5 days he’s going to campaign effectively for the yusho. His “hard” matches are behind him, and he’s 7-2.
Daieisho vs Aoiyama – I am not sure in what back cupboard of keiko Aoiyama found his original thrusting attack sumo, but I am glad he is using it again. He has also rallied and is winning matches. Today he gets to flex his 6-2 career advantage over Daieisho.
Hokutofuji vs Endo – Endo probably has a fair amount of sumo frustration from his day 9 match with Tochinoshin, and I think Hokutofuji is going to be the recipient of some of it. I had occasion to go back and watch about a dozen past matches with Hokutofuji, and I have to say the man is a matta master. Many of his matches have up to 3 matta, as it seems he jumps the tachiai at least once in high level fights.
Mitakeumi vs Tamawashi – These two have a 20 match history, and it’s 18-2 in favor of Mitakeumi. I expect he too will be a player in the yusho race.
Shodai vs Takakeisho – Takakeisho has to be very careful here, as Shodai is the master of the unexpected and chaos sumo. That first step will make all the difference, just make sure you keep an eye on his center-mass. Although Takakeisho holds a 6-2 career advantage, Shodai has been known to pull out some crazy sumo when make-koshi is on the line.
Abi vs Goeido – I think once again we will see the all powerful opening gambit from the Ozeki, and it will come down to if Abi can derail Goeido’s plan. His day 9 match with Asanoyama was like watching a spider monkey fight a warthog, and I think Goeido may be in for a rough ride.
Tochinoshin vs Chiyotairyu – Well, we can guess that Chiyotairyu will be looking for a henka. If he fails the charge headlong with his giant body, Tochinoshin will need to find some way to get Chiyotairyu to supply the kinetic energy needed to win. 4 more to go for the kadoban Ozeki, everyone has their fingers crossed.