Welcome to act 3, the final five days of the Kyushu Basho. Act 3 is where we sort the winners from the losers, and crown a tournament champion. Give how we start act 3 with the bulk of rikishi in the 4-6 to 6-4 range, I predict a torrent of Darwin matches for the final weekend. These hideous contests see two 7-7 rikishi face off on the final day of the tournament. The loser is make-koshi, and the winner kachi-koshi. It punctuates the fact that Sumo, unlike life, is a zero-sum game.
We can tell that unless something odd happens, Hakuho is going to head home with the hardware for the 43rd time in his career, a mark I doubt I will live to see equaled. In the unlikely event that anyone can hand the ida-yokozuna another loss, Natsu yusho winner Asanoyama is the only chance anyone has of holding a score that might end up requiring a playoff. Hakuho has already beaten Asanoyama, so short of Hakuho going kyujo, its time for Miyagino Oyakata to buy another big ass fish.
Hunt Group: Takakeisho, Shodai, Chiyomaru, Kagayaki
5 Matches Remain
What We Are Watching Day 11
Terutsuyoshi vs Ikioi – Good golly, Ikioi is back in the top division, even if it’s for a day. I am sure the crowd is going to go wild when the Iron Daimyo mounts the Kyushu dohyo at the start of Makuuchi. He is still 1 win away from kachi-koshi, but a return to the top division is very much a possibility for January. But first he has to overcome a fairly genki Terutsuyoshi
Shimanoumi vs Daishomaru – Daishomaru’s make-koshi is on the line, and he seems almost ready to join the barge headed back to Juryo. These two have only fought once before, and it was Shimanoumi who was the winner.
Chiyomaru vs Yutakayama – Very excited for this match. Yutakayama seems to be running low on stamina right now, and he will need all he can muster against the massive Chiyomaru on day 11. Chiyomaru needs one more white start for his kachi-koshi, and confirming his return to the top division from his brief return to Juryo.
Kotoshogiku vs Chiyotairyu – Already make-koshi, I really want to see Kotoshogiku hold to a 7-8 line, for fear that he will wind up on that barge to Juryo. Chiyotairyu has looked better in the past 2 days that I have seen him fight in months, so I am worried about this one.
Shodai vs Sadanoumi – Shodai needs one more win for kachi-koshi, which should be easy for him at this rank. Frankly if he is not in double digits at the end of day 15, he needs to examine his sumo. Sadanoumi has been fighting very well, and out performing much stronger and larger rikishi. So I don’t think this is automatic for Shodai today.
Shohozan vs Takanosho – Both men come in at 6-4, and we have not seen a good Shohozan beat-down for a few days. No, don’t tell me those big arms are tired, I think he’s just pining for the fjords.
Ishiura vs Kotoeko – Dare I say that Ishiura has shown flashes of brilliance in act 2? Please do continue, sir! We find our interest in your sumo renewed, and our hopes that you can be more than an obligatory henka dispenser assuaged.
Tsurugisho vs Kagayaki – First time match has Mr Fundaments Kagayaki up against Cruiser Class Tsurugisho. He looked most ineffective in his day 10 loss against Ishiura, so lets see if he can break his 2 day losing streak. A Kagayaki win would secure kachi-koshi. Frankly I think Kagayaki needs to finish 9-6 or 10-5 this time.
Daishoho vs Enho – Has the Makuuchi regulars decoded Enho’s attack plan? Could that explain the odd tachiai coming from sumo’s power pixie? I am fairly sure he’s creative enough that he’s going to bring out some cunning variation today and give the make-koshi Daishoho another black star.
Nishikigi vs Kotoyuki – with his visit to the upper ranks complete, Kotoyuki “The Penguin” needs to work on getting to his 8, and first up is a chance to deliver the make-koshi loss to Nishikigi. Kotoyuki has been fighting very well compared to the last 2 years, and I would not be surprised to see him finish the tournament 4-1.
Tamawashi vs Onosho – Two big thrust jockeys coming in head to head at 5-5, and there is a slight career edge to Onosho. Like Ishiura and Chiyotairyu, Onosho has seems to recover his “good” sumo from the cleaners, and is using it with great effect. If Onosho can finish Kyushu 3-2, we may get to see him face off against a slate of high-rankers for January.
Daieisho vs Meisei – Another 5-5 score match up,. This time I think we are going to see Daieisho burn Meisei down shortly after the tachiai. Meisei has the sumo chops, but seems to have a tough time overcoming “all or nothing” Oshi attacks.
Abi vs Okinoumi – Abi has 2 wins to go for his 8, and I think that he’s looking to give Asanoyama a run for the Sekiwake slot that Tochinoshin will be vacating in January. Not that Okinoumi is helpless, in fact I think he was an early tinkerer in dismantling Abi’s trademark thrusting attack.
Takarafuji vs Asanoyama – Its safe to say that Asanoyama’s slot as the second man in yusho arasoi is at risk each day for the rest of the basho. Already kachi-koshi, he could coast the rest of the way if he wanted to. But given he’s the kind of guy who will press ahead no matter what, I am hoping he can reach double digits. Takarafuji will, as always, stalemate and wait.
Hokutofuji vs Myogiryu – Hokutofuji comes into day 11 with a 4 match losing streak. It’s not that he isn’t fighting well, it’s just that he can’t quite seem to finish his opponents. Myogiryu is capable of beating just about anyone on the right day, so I am hoping we don’t see Hokutofuji go down. Both men come into the match with 4-6 records, and each are 2 losses away from make-koshi.
Mitakeumi vs Endo – Normally I would look for this to be a clash of technique vs brawn, but Mitakeumi is struggling right now, and he has to hope that he can pick up 3 more wins any way he can to survive vacating the Sekiwake rank he has maintained for of the 10 last 15 basho.
Takakeisho vs Aoiyama – A win today for Takakeisho and he’s got his 8, and secures his Ozeki rank for at least 2 more tournaments. He holds a 4-1 lead in the career series, and I think he’s going to get the better of “Big Dan” today.
Ryuden vs Hakuho – The chances of Ryuden putting dirt on Hakuho are quite small, but I hope that he can give “The Boss” a few seconds of challenging sumo anyhow.