Normally by this point in a basho, the yusho is decided, or down to two rikishi. Today, we get an army of sweaty, large fellows who each want to take their shot. And it’s a wide roster of fresh faces and old favorites than we are used to, and to be honest, any one of them could end up with the goods. With the three top men in sumo all sitting it out, we were bound to get a result that was out of the ordinary. But none of Team Tachiai saw this coming, but now we finally come to the closing brawl to end it all, as you can tell I am delighted.
This isn’t a leaderboard, it’s a roll call! Target yusho winning record will either be 11-4 or 12-3, depending on who loses which matches this weekend. Hoo boy!
Leaders: Mitakeumi, Takakeisho, Okinoumi, Tsurugisho
Chasers: Goeido, Asanoyama, Takarafuji, Meisei, Yutakayama
2 Matches Remain
Please consult the excellent write up on the madness from Tachiai’s own lksumo, who is second to none at these things, which is just down the page.
What We Are Watching Day 14
Ishiura vs Wakatakakage – Winner kachi-koshi. I think Ishiura deserves a henka today.
Shohozan vs Azumaryu – First time match up between these two, with Azumaryu still needing 2 more wins to lock in kachi-koshi. It looks like yet again there is some manner of log-jam for Juryo demotion, and we will get far more denotable rikishi than there will be promotable rikishi out of Juryo.
Onosho vs Yutakayama – A win today for Onosho and he’s made his 8, but we saw the “wall of hands” from Yutakayama on day 13, and that might just be a formula now for him. Luckily Onosho does not hesitate to take a few blows to his face.
Tochiozan vs Enho – As with the last basho, Enho has stalled in the second week a bit, and needs just one more win to get his kachi-koshi. Should that happen, he would also give Tochiozan his make-koshi, and add his venerable name to the log-jam that is eligible for Juryo.
Terutsuyoshi vs Takagenji – How is it these two are 3-10? That’s just so miserable. I don’t really care which one wins right now, as both of them will need to regroup for November. I suggest they forget this match and visit the Ueno Zoo instead.
Tsurugisho vs Kotoyuki – Tsurugisho holds a 2-0 career advantage over Kotoyuki, but I might look for the “Fierce” Kotoyuki to make a dent in that small lead on day 14.
Kagayaki vs Kotoeko – With Kagayaki already make-koshi, will Kotoeko get the win and head into day 15 ready for a Darwin match? You know they are coming, the schedulers love that stuff. I would encourage Kagayaki to tune up his tachiai a bit more. He’s got the pieces in his box of toys, but he’s not quite assembling in the best possible way. He strikes me as being somewhat in the mold of Kisenosato, so maybe he should seek out the Oyakata’s guidance.
Shimanoumi vs Sadanoumi – Sadanoumi has won 3 of his last 4 matches, and looks really dialed into his sumo right now. Given that Shimanoumi is struggling, and likely hurt, I would say we may see the Sakaigawa man get his 8th today.
Chiyotairyu vs Daishoho – Guys! Yeah, you – scheduling committee! These are some miserable blinking matches. Truth be told, some well loved sumotori are in shambles this tournament, and Chiyotairyu is probably one of the ones that comes to mind.
Nishikigi vs Shodai – But if not, I am sure Shodai comes to mind instead. Shodai is capable and competent, but he has been the washroom attendant’s soiled cleaning rag this September. But his 4-2 career record over Nishikigi should give some hope that maybe he can pull a few more wins together.
Daieisho vs Meisei – I would guess they want to “weed out” Meisei from contention by putting him up against Daieisho, from whom he has never taken a match. But Daieisho is one loss from make-koshi, and Meisei has been defying expectations since shonichi.
Tomokaze vs Asanoyama – Oh, here’s some red meat! We get yusho-capable Asanoyama going up against “never had a make-koshi” pull-man Tomokaze. Sorry, Tomokaze, but your next loss is a new experience. Take heart in knowing that it’s part of being in the big leagues, and you are in the thick of it.
Hokutofuji vs Tamawashi – You could just say “pusher-thruster match” here, but that would miss the glory of this bout. Both men bring a unique take to maneuver – attack sumo, and this is a fantastic clash of styles. 5-3 advantage for Tamawashi, but Hokutofuji is on a mission to pick up win number 8. The winner is kachi-koshi.
Kotoshogiku vs Aoiyama – As bad as Kotoshogiku’s knees are, I think he’s going to end up winning this match. Something is really wrong with Aoiyama, and I think that he will succumb to the Kyushu Bulldozer.
Abi vs Takarafuji – Well, Takarafuji is coming in with his smooth, under-control sumo, and Abi-zumo is this wild, chaotic maelstrom of flying arms and legs. They are tied 3-3 over their career, so this could be a wild match. Takarafuji, at 9-4, is performing well above his recent average.
Okinoumi vs Endo – At long last, they stop bottom-feeding Okinoumi, putting him up against Endo when right now Endo is quite genki. I like this Endo, because if anyone knows what kimarite Ozeki Sakaigawa Namiemon used on day 4 of Haru in 1872, it’s Endo, and he can and will replicate it. Of course Okinoumi is the ultimate everyman / Cinderella story, and I still think we may see him on the “brawl to end it all” after the final match on Sunday.
Ryuden vs Takakeisho – Takakeisho has yet to lose to Ryuden, but I can’t help but wonder if Takakeisho is going to bide his time. I am not saying throw the match, but he just came off injury, he has reached 10 wins to take back Ozeki, does he need another yusho right now? Maybe not….
Mitakeumi vs Goeido – These last two matches are complete barn-burners, dripping with meaning at the surface and in deeper thought. Goeido and Mitakeumi have been more that competitors, they have spoiled each other’s basho for a few years now. They will compete with that legacy of “I owe you one” on day 14, and it literally may decide who is in the playoff on day 15.
Tochinoshin vs Myogiryu – You could look at the 12-9 career record and assume they wanted to give wounded Ozeki Tochinoshin a chance to stake his final claim on day 15 against Goeido. But nothing is easy for Tochinoshin right now. He’s too hurt, too banged up, but he’s going to get up there on Saturday and he’s going to put it all on the line. It’s going to hurt, and its going to be more than anyone should ever go through, but he’s going to fight Myogiryu with all the strength he can muster. Good luck big man.