Day 8 was a day of surprises and the unusual. While I am sad that Takayasu went kyujo, I am happy to see that there is still great sumo to be enjoyed. That extends to day 9, where the scheduling team is doing their best to bring us fantastic matches every day.
The late kyujo from Takayasu caused all manner of shuffling in the fight card, forcing them to re-build the match list after it had already been announced. This extended down the banzuke as suddenly talent was needed to move higher to fill the imbalance.
A number of rikishi took the exit ramp from the leaderboard on day 8, but Asanoyama stays in the hunt. Though Hakuho has beaten him already, he has the size and the sumo to challenge the Yokozuna, should it ever get to that. But first someone else has to get Hakuho dirty.
Chasers: Asanoyama, Kagayaki
Hunt Group: Takakeisho, Daieisho, Tsurugisho, Shohozan, Sadanoumi, Yutakayama, Shodai ,Chiyotairyu, Chiyomaru
7 Matches Remain
What We Are Watching Day 9
Daishomaru vs Tochiozan – Welcome back Tochiozan! He returns to the top division to provide an opponent for the first match in day 9, and we get a peek at how he’s faring. Given that he Tochiozan seems to be on a kachi-koshi path, it’s quite possible he may return to the top division (hopefully with Ikioi) in January.
Ishiura vs Terutsuyoshi – Looking for this to be a great match. Both are quite handy with a henka, but I would love to see them both go at it full-throttle. After Ishiura’s wonderful winning move day 8, I have to re-assess what he is capable of. Simply put, I have hope that he’s got upside potential.
Daishoho vs Shodai – First match ever between these two, and I am looking for Shodai to run up the score. With any luck he can be mid-Maegashira for January, which I think is a better rank for him than M10W. Daishoho seems to not have his body or his sumo in order, and is having a miserable tournament.
Shimanoumi vs Kagayaki – Demon Kaka’s favorite, Kagayaki, holds on to a slot 1 behind The Boss in the race for the cup. He’s going up against the compact and powerful Shimanoumi on day 9, and we will see if Kagayaki’s solid sumo fundamentals can keep him in the hunt.
Takanosho vs Yutakayama – I know there were some fans who complained about Yutakayama’s handling of his day 8 Enho match, but I loved it. Coming up against Takanosho, he’s instead facing a strong, straight ahead sumo practitioner. So I doubt we will see him trying to keep his distance at the tachiai. I am still looking for Yutakayama to get his 8, but no likely to go to 9. He’s a favorite for the lower edge of the joi-jin for January.
Chiyotairyu vs Sadanoumi – These two are evenly matched, despite their vast difference in size. Sadanoumi likes to wrap and contain his opponents, and it’s been working well this tournament. But recently, Chiyotairyu has re-discovered his chest to chest sumo, and has been using it to win. This match does indeed have potential.
Nishikigi vs Kotoeko – Nishikigi has lacked the force needed to go from fighting well to winning. This was true for Kotoeko for the first 4 days of the basho, but he has won 3 of the last 4, and I think he’s finally dialed-in to his sumo.
Tsurugisho vs Chiyomaru – A pair of 5-3 rikishi meet to knock one out of the hunt group. I strongly favor big Tsurugisho in this one over even bigger Chiyomaru. Tsurugisho seems to be in fighting shape now, and moving very well. Tsurugisho also has a 6-1 career advantage.
Kotoshogiku vs Enho – Total clash of styles, and it’s going to be a shame to see the power-pixie completely disrupt and defeat former Ozeki Kotoshogiku. This November, he’s looking more damaged and degraded than ever. It’s a bit of a heartbreak for some sumo fans.
Onosho vs Shohozan – Shohozan is in good form, and seems unworried about engaging anyone in a slapping match. This is probably going to be quite effective against Onosho, as he continues to show poor balance.
Takarafuji vs Aoiyama – Takarafuji tends to operate by closing in on his opponent and tangling them up. This is contrary to Aoiyama’s preferred approach of beating his opponents into submission from about one giant meaty arm’s length. Hence he holds an 18-3 career record over the Isegahama man.
Myogiryu vs Meisei – With these two, it will come down to inside position at the tachiai. Whomever can claim it and get in the first volley, should win the match. Possibly even on the first volley. Both of these rikishi are compact and strong, and one of them usually goes flying in the first couple of seconds.
Daieisho vs Asanoyama – Daieisho is Asanoyama’s foil. Holding a 7-1 career advantage over the Natsu yusho winner, he seems to be able to deliver a beat down on Asanoyama any time they meet. This is a big deal because a loss today would likely punt him out of the group 1 behind Hakuho.
Okinoumi vs Endo – Two high skill, technique-rich rikishi facing off. I suspect that Okinoumi is once again plagued by a recurring injury that knocks about 20% off of his sumo. But we may see some great moves and counter moves in this match. As always, watch for Endo’s shallow grip straight out of the tachiai. His technique for this is fantastic.
Abi vs Ryuden – I am going to look for Ryuden to generate 1-2 matta today, in order to try and disrupt Abi’s launch sequence. This is really his best hope, as once Abi connects with those long arms, you have just a few seconds to disrupt him. Ryuden has shown in the past that he can do this, but he has to get there before the second volley or its too late.
Mitakeumi vs Tamawashi – In his discombobulated state, I don’t give Mitakeumi too much bias over his long time Sekiwake rival, Tamawashi. Although he holds a 19-2 career record, Mitakeumi has been fighting poorly since he took a blow to the head on day 3. Stay safe guys!
Takakeisho vs Hokutofuji – For me, this is the big match of the day. We know that Hokutofuji will try to set up a nodowa or an armpit grip against the Tadpole Ozeki, but he’s got to hold on once the waves hit. Hokutofuji has almost uncanny balance at times, so he can in fact whether a few of these blasts. Should be fun to watch.
Kotoyuki vs Hakuho – Hakuho will be sending the Penguin air express back to the east side in short order, I expect. Although Kotoyuki is fighting better than he has in years, I think he’s not quite up to beating The Boss.