Welcome to the end of act 2. For those of you not familiar with the term, we tend to divide the basho into three 5 day “acts”, each that seem to have their own purpose and goals. Act 2 is where we narrow the field to find out who has what it takes to compete for the yusho, and to start sorting the survivors from the damned. A few rikishi are starting to stand out from the crowd, with a surprising number of competitors continuing to turn in middling performances. Launching into day 10, we are one against presented with a delightful Ekiben for our journey onward to the Emperors cup. Let’s see what’s in store!
Chasers: Asanoyama, Kagayaki
Hunt Group: Takakeisho, Shohozan. Sadanoumi, Shodai, Chiyomaru
6 Matches Remain
What We Are Watching Day 10
Yago vs Nishikigi – Yay, Yago is back! Boo! He’s already make-koshi in Juryo! What’s eating Yago? We want that big bullet head back up here soon, not wallowing in the petting zoo that is Juryo. If he wins today, he can welcome Nishikigi to the make-koshi club as well.
Terutsuyoshi vs Kagayaki – Kagayaki could pick up win number 8 today, if he can best compact powerhouse Terutsuyoshi. The good news: He holds a 4-0 advantage over sumo’s current Sodium Chloride King. The bad news: Terutsuyoshi seems to be back to his Juryo-yusho-winning form, and may finally rack his first win against “Mr Fundamentals”.
Shimanoumi vs Daishoho – Is this a life-line to Daishoho? He holds a 9-2 career advantage over Shimanoumi, but his next loss will be his 8th, and he may take his spot on that Juryo barge. Shimanoumi is not far behind him, which is a shame as he seems to be having an off tournament this November.
Daishomaru vs Yutakayama – I was surprised by Yutakayama’s day 9 loss to Takanosho. He seemed to lose the plot shortly after the tachiai. He needs to bounce back against the struggling Daishomaru, who seems to be eyeing a seat on that Juryo barge as well.
Shohozan vs Chiyotairyu – I am going to ignore the career record, Shohozan is fighting like a wild monster this basho, and frankly I am thankful I am not up there taking the pounding he is dishing out, even on days where he does not win. What kind of brawl is he going to start with Chiyotairyu?
Takanosho vs Sadanoumi – Sadanoumi’s sumo seems to be peaking going into day 10, and that may help him. Takanosho surprised Yutakayama, and I am going to guess comes into day 10 feeling especially genki. This could be a big fight during the first half.
Tsurugisho vs Ishiura – There seems to be a big guy / small guy theme today, and 2nd of that list is this one pitting a struggling Ishiura against the surprisingly wine Tsurugisho. I know I had stated that Ishiura had used up his henka good-will, but that triple attack win may have given him space for one more, especially if it’s fun.
Shodai vs Kotoeko – Shodai is still on track for a good record for Kyushu, but he is about 1 win behind where I had expected him to be, given his low ranking and the general malaise in the rest of the mid and lower Makuuchi ranks. Kotoeko is on a bit of a hot streak, having won his last 3, and finally napped out of his doldrums at the start of the basho. It’s going to be speed vs bulk in this match.
Onosho vs Kotoshogiku – Not quite sure what to make of this match. You have two rikishi that are at their best with strong forward motion. Both have a tendency to put their balance forward and hope for the best. I would normally expect Kotoshogiku to dictate the match, but he’s been much weaker than I recall ever seeing him before.
Chiyomaru vs Enho – 3rd in the big man / little man theme of day 10, we have Enho taking his ultra-busy sumo against the globular cluster known as Chiyomaru. Hopefully Enho remembers he can’t go under that enormous flesh overhang of Chiyomaru’s, and he attacks more to the side this time.
Daieisho vs Tamawashi – Tamawashi has lost his last 3, and is struggling even though he is ranked down at Maegashira 4. We seldom get to know if it’s injury, some illness like the flu that swept through Hatsu last year, or something else that is robbing these rikishi of their power. This should be a straight up slam-fest with Daieisho having a slight edge.
Takarafuji vs Okinoumi – I am looking for a protracted yotsu-battle, with Takarafuji aiming to wear Okinoumi down, and Okinoumi looking for strong combo moves to break Takarafuji’s blocking sumo. They are fairly even over their career at 11-8.
Meisei vs Asanoyama – Asanoyama seems to be focused on staying in the yusho hunt, and has already overcome at least one rikishi he had not beaten before. But as we get into day 10 and beyond, endurance will play a role. Yes, the man has a yusho to his name, so we have hopes he can “hang tough” and stay 1 behind Hakuho.
Abi vs Hokutofuji – It’s time for maximum thrust! Both of these guys will push for all they can in today’s match. All of the Komusubi are doing well this tournament, so I am starting to wonder if we will see two ranks again for January. These two are perfectly split at 2-2 in the past, with Hokutofuji taking the last 2 of them.
Myogiryu vs Endo – I think the past 2 tournaments have been the most consistent I have seen Endo’s sumo in years, maybe ever. I am very happy that he’s gotten comfortable with his sumo and with his body, and seems to be able to do more or less whatever he wants now. The two have traded wins over the past few basho, with neither of them clearly dominant.
Mitakeumi vs Ryuden – Another rikishi that Mitakeumi tends to struggle against, he has only won a single match in their prior 4. Mitakeumi is starting to look closer to his normal form, but he’s still not quite right. Will Ryuden employ his strategic matta today?
Takakeisho vs Kotoyuki – First time ever match. I am expected Takakeisho to trade shoves with Kotoyuki, and deliver about 1.5x the thrust per cycle over whatever Kotoyuki can produce. Takakeisho needs 2 more to hit his kachi-koshi. I compliment him on staying in the tournament, in spite of some challenges I assume he faces daily. As the last Ozeki standing this November, it’s a lot of pressure.
Aoiyama vs Hakuho – It shows you what kind of shape the banzuke is in, as we have Aoiyama facing off against Hakuho today. Although Hakuho has a 20-1 career advantage, I know Big Dan is going to mount the East side of the dohyo and give it everything he has. But I do recall that he was much more fun against dear old Harumafuji. I can see in my minds eye the bout where Harumafuji shows a wave of resignation cross his face, as he dives in and grabs a double handful of pasty white breast meat and delivered a Tokyo … well… twister of some manner. Aoiyama’s reaction was immediate and debilitating. With any luck, Hakuho will go for some manner of uwatenage instead.