We have a short report today. Most matches in the lower divisions are Darwin matches, between rikishi hanging in the 3-3 zone, but we have a few others as well.
So here is one of those Darwin matches in Jonokuchi. On the left, Sekizukayama, Tagonoura beya. On the right, Nishikiryu, Asahiyama beya. They are 3-3.
Nishikiryu knows his fundamentals, and responds to the morozashi with a double kime hold. This prevents Sekizukayama from getting any leverage with that hold, but eventually, he gets by with a yoritaoshi. Nice bout for Jonokuchi!
Last time I have covered Chiyotaiyo, I lamented that he was not himself this basho. He looked weak, and I saw a drop back to Jonokuchi on the horizon. But here we are on day 14, and Chiyotaiyo, the stick insect, on the right, is 3-3! So is his opponent, Hokutoizumi, from Hakkaku beya. So, who gets the kachi-koshi, and who the make-koshi?
Stick insect with a kachi-koshi. What a lovely leg-assisted shitatenage! That’s the Chiyotaiyo I want to see.
In Sandanme, we have Wakaichiro’s last bout. He is 1-5, and stands on the left. On the right, Hibikiryu is also with the same score. Both want to pad their banzuke drop with this last win.
And it’s the Texan who gets it. He finishes 2-5, and we can only hope he will do better in Tokyo. Feet, Ichiro, Feet!
Both Masutoo, Chiganoura’s foreigner, and Seiro, who is Shikoroyama’s, are make-koshi. I’m not sure if Seiro is still suffering any after-effect of the meningitis that cost him his place in Juryo, but this make-koshi is not getting him back there, for sure. Anyway, here, too, the opponents are looking to pad their drop somewhat. Masutoo is on the left.
It’s the Mongolian who finishes with a minimal make-koshi. Too bad for Masutoo, he made such progress recently. He seems to have genuinely gotten along with the offensive Taka twin, and probably received some good practice, which he now misses.
Another man who had a bad drop from Juryo is Ryuko, who is now ranked at Ms43. He faces Asakishin, from Takasago beya, for a Darwin match, as both are 3-3. I have only partial footage, so Ryuko is with his back to us.
Ryuko is kachi-koshi, and will hope to get back in shape for another attempt at his sekitori belt within a basho or two.
Our next bout is between two 5-1 rikishi. No need to fight for kachi-koshi here, but they do want their promotions to be more generous. On the left, Hokutokawa, Hakkaku beya, and on the right, Shiraishi, whom we have followed through this basho.
At least it’s not a henka, but I’m not happy about Shiraishi’s sumo, and I feel that this 6-1 score will probably catapult him to a position where pulling sumo just doesn’t cut it.
The next pair is in the same score bracket. On the left we have Hiradoumi, who was just taken off the yusho list. He is going against Kotodairyu, a Sadogatake man. Both 5-1.
Hiradoumi can’t extend his success, and ends up 5-2.
The digest has not been made available today, so let’s look at a few key matches.
The first match of the day was an “exchange” match. Chiyonokuni ended up 3-3 so far, and needs the win for a kachi-koshi. Irodori was 6-7, and needs to avoid a make-koshi.
Note yobidashi Kunio’s announcement of the wrestlers. He is nicknamed “Kuniopera”.
The match itself is quick and painful. Chiyonokuni takes a make-koshi, on the heels of that Makushita yusho last basho. It just goes to show you how difficult these comeback challenges are, and how much work Terunofuji had to put into securing that return.
Sokokurai has been matched with Hoshoryu. Both happen to be 6-7, which means neither can afford to lose this bout.
“First”, advises the future oyakata, “put some weight on, sonny. Now, get off my lawn!”. At least, that’s what this bout looked like. Sokokurai dangles the flailing nephew over the tawara, then dumps him over the edge, with a fresh serving of humble pie.
Tomorrow Hoshoryu has an exchange match with Sakigake. Sakigake will be trying to extend his kachi-koshi to 5-2 to get a ticket to Juryo, at the expense of that same Hoshoryu, who will want to keep his make-koshi at the minimum and hope for a drop to the edge of Juryo rather than the top of Makushita again.
At one point Ikioi has been leading the group and looked like he was going to win a second Juryo yusho in a row. But Kaisei has made a strong claim to the same title this basho, and they were matched against each other today.
And it’s Kaisei’s win, tying him up with Ikioi, and several others as we’ll see. Next up, veteran Tochiozan vs. another strong yusho contender, Kotonowaka:
Experience wins over youth.
The result of this day in Juryo is no less than six men with identical results of 10-4, in the yusho arasoi. These include Azumaryu, Tochiozan, Ikioi, Kaisei, Kiribayama (with a flagrant henka), and Kotonowaka.
There’s a whole troop of 9-5 as well, but the match plan for tomorrow reveals that there is a match between Kotonowaka and Kaisei. This automatically eliminates the 9-5 bracket, as at least one man is certain to end tomorrow with 11 wins.
In fact, it could be anywhere between a single yusho winner at the end of the “wari” matches (the scheduled matches), if all the other four lose, or five playoff participants, if all the other four win. I’m sure everybody (except the organizers) is dying for a five-way playoff.
Just in case, here is how a five-way playoff goes. The rikishi draw straws, and one of them is “maru” – sits out the first round. The other two are randomly matched into two pairs and do respective bouts, ending up with two winners. At this stage, the “maru” joins them in a three-way playoff.
A four-way playoff is a straightforward tournament-style elimination match.
A three-way playoff puts two on the dohyo and one waiting (“maru”). He replaces the loser of the first match for another bout, and it continues this way until one of the wrestlers wins two in a row. In Japanese this is called “tomoe-sen”.