We are kicking off the final 3 days of the Kyushu basho. It looks almost certain that Hakuho will pick up the Emperor’s cup for the 43rd time, and he will need yet another warehouse in Chiba to store all of that beef he has coming his way. While we wait for “The Boss” to once again face limp condemnation from the YDC over even the slightest breech of protocol, the schedulers are showing us that with so many middling records, it’s Darwin matches for everyone. Coming out of today, we will have at least 3 new make-koshi rikishi, and possibly a few new cremates for the rikishi already aboard the slow, smelly barge back to Juryo.
On the subject of Hakuho, its true that I am a fan. But I have a secret hope, in that Hakuho lingers a while longer past his 2020 Olympics goal. Just long enough to have one of the new generation beat him straight up for a yusho. Bonus points if it’s Takakeisho or Asanoyama. Why? He’s the greatest rikishi of our time, and possibly any time. But some of his stuff just seems to beg for a “comeuppance”. The passing of the torch basho have been punctuations to end of dominant Yokozuna careers since I became a fan of sumo before Chiyonofuji faded from dominance. May “The Boss” face a fitting and noble close to his the career, going out guns blazing, but no longer able to dominate the new generation.
Shodai??? Shodai!!! Shodai…
Hunt Group: Asanoyama, Shodai
3 Matches Remain
What We Are Watching Day 13
Daishomaru vs Azumaryu – Azumaryu has a kachi-koshi at the top of Juryo, and a healthy number of Makuuchi rikishi eligible for demotion. I would guess “Mr A” is coming back for January. He faces the bosun of the Juryo barge, Daishomaru, who holds a 3-1 career advantage. May not help him today.
Shimanoumi vs Nishikigi – More of “Club Make-Koshi” fight it out in this first ever match between a flagging Nishikigi and a surprisingly low-scoring Shimanoumi. Shimanoumi has had a few very good fights in those 4 wins, but it seems he’s headed downward as well.
Daishoho vs Yutakayama – The captain of the Juryo barge meets a man on the hunt for his 8th win. Daishoho is 0-3 against Yutakayama, so I am going to guess this is a “gimme” match, it’s also a Maegashira 15 facing off against a Maegashira 9. Hoo boy. I am looking forward to lksumo’s assessment in a few weeks of where a few of these pivotal rikishi of the new era are going to rank for Hatsu.
Kotoshogiku vs Ishiura – Ishiura is operating at a new level of sumo, one not seen since his Makuuchi debut 3 years ago in Kyushu. The relic of Kotoshogiku will do his best to blunt Ishiura’s superior agility with strength, bulk and forward power. Let’s hope the Kyushu bulldozer has a few more big matches in him.
Kagayaki vs Sadanoumi – Is it just me, or do you hear Kagayaki grumbling all the way from Kyushu. He seemed genuinely cranky following his day 12 loss to Ishiura, and I expect that he has frustrations he needs to express. Via hitting Sadanoumi. Sadanoumi, for his part, still needs 2 wins, and seems very focused and orderly about the process. I think this comes down to who’s head is in the match.
Shohozan vs Chiyomaru – One more win needed by hometown brawler “Big Guns” Shohozan to pick up his kachi-koshi, and it may come today against Chiyomaru. Big Maru may have good cause to not push things too hard, he is already kachi-koshi, and needs to make sure he stays healthy for January.
Terutsuyoshi vs Kotoeko – Terutsuyoshi is also in the “needs one more win” club, and although he and Kotoeko are evenly matched on paper, Kotoeko is having a terrible tournament. If Terutsuyoshi fights like he has during week 2, this should be kachi-koshi interview for him.
Tsurugisho vs Chiyotairyu – A Tsurugisho loss here would sort him into the make-koshi bin, and he comes in with a 4 bout losing streak. Chiyotairyu, however, is my candidate for a day 15 Darwin match.
Shodai vs Enho – These two have never fought before, and I am eager to see how Enho’s busy “grab anything and tug” technique works against Shodai’s cartoon sumo. Shodai has the size, and some kind of other-worldly luck, but Enho has speed, agility and a solid belief that he can win against anyone. Guess if you practice against the dai-Yokozuna and beat him once in a while, everyone else seems like a bag of Showa-era rice.
Onosho vs Takanosho – Onosho gets my second nomination for day 7 Darwin match, and I think he’s got quite the hill to climb to get to 8 wins, but I think he can do it. Today’s fight against Takanosho is going to be tough for him, as Takanosho has much better footwork and balance. Onosho holds the power and speed advantage, and they are tied 1-1 from their 2 prior matches.
Aoiyama vs Ryuden – Hey, Big Dan, do us a favor and knock Ryuden around a bit before you give him a clay facial. I love Ryuden / Shin-Ikioi’s sumo, but yesterday’s henka feels like we need a penalty round for him. Please do oblige.
Meisei vs Okinoumi – Loser of this match is make-koshi, and Meisei is 0-3 against Okinoumi over his career. The winner of this bout is another good candidate for a Darwin match on day 15.
Daieisho vs Myogiryu – More Darwin appointees ahoy! I think that this one favors Daieisho due to his superior osha-attack form, so it will come down to if Daieisho can get the inside position at the tachiai, or if Myogiryu can disrupt him and get a mawashi hold.
Kotoyuki vs Asanoyama – Asanoyama has fallen out of the yusho hunt, but the possibility of him stamping his card for his first ever Ozeki bid is still very much in play. Informed prognosticators (like Tachiai’s very own lksumo) tend to think he needs to be at least 11-4 at Kyushu, so the man is on the hunt fo 2 more wins. Today he goes up against “The Penguin” Kotoyuki, who has upped the power of his flipper attacks. Regardless of the outcome, he is another strong candidate for a Darwin match on day 15.
Hokutofuji vs Tamawashi – The scheduler decide that one of these men is make-koshi today, call it a “Mini Darwin” if you would. Both of them are big, strong and pack a lot of power in their thrusts. I give stability advantage to Tamawashi, and speed advantage and “willing to try anything twice” advantage to Hokutofuji.
Takarafuji vs Endo – Our second “Mini Darwin” of the day, as the schedulers telegraph in big, ultra-blobby Kanji that day 15 is going to be survival of the fittest. Loser is make-koshi, and we get to see if that day 12 upper-cut left Endo dazed or stunned. If Takarafuji can shut down his opening gambit, it’s going to be a tough day for the Golden One.
Takakeisho vs Mitakeumi – Mitakeumi surprised me on day 12, and maybe he’s doing a bit better after that day 3 knock to the head. I am sure Takakeisho’s ego is smarting from that day 12 Ryuden henka, and I hope we see a big battle of frustration and angst played out between these two. Mitakeumi needs 2 more wins to hold Sekiwake, and I am sure that having his 3rd bid for Ozeki slip away from him is not bothering him at all…
Abi vs Hakuho – Abi has beaten Hakuho once in their 2 matches. Can he catch lightning in a bottle today? I would not count on it, as Hakuho knows how to win no matter what. I would suppose it comes down to the tachiai face slap coming from “The Boss”. If that fails to find its mark, it might be just the chance Abi needs to apply his sumo. Kintamayama has been including comments on Abi’s “one dimensional” style, and there are many who cite that as a limit to his sumo. But I recall that the same was true of Kotoshogiku. Regardless of todays outcome, Abi is part of the future of sumo, and Hakuho is increasingly part of sumo history.