Welcome to the start of act 2 of the mock basho. As with any basho, 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. To everyone’s surprise, the man to beat right now is Miyagino rikishi, and Hakuho’s dew sweeper, Maegashira 8E Ishiura. Let that sink in – he’s the sole leader at the start of act 2. I have no illusion that this is likely to be the case into the middle weekend, so I hope he is enjoying it now.
At the other end of the spectrum, we have Terunofuji and Okinoumi. Both of them are injured, and probably incapable of Makuuchi grade sumo right now. They stay in in the hopes of picking up any wins that might lessen their upcoming demotions. For Terunofuji, anything less than a kachi-koshi likely means an immediate return to Juryo.
Day 6 Matches
Nishikigi (4-1) vs Terunofuji (0-5) – Terunofuji is still winless, and I have to wonder if he’s going to continue in the basho for much longer. Clearly he is not in fighting condition, and the sooner he accepts that he needs to get his health under control the better. Nishikigi won their only prior match.
Wakatakakage (3-2) vs Chiyomaru (1-4) – Chiyomaru needs to start scoring wins, and he has a great chance on day 6 as he is 3-0 against Wakatakakage.
Takayasu (4-1) vs Kotoeko (2-3) – I checked and checked, and believe it or not, this is the first time that Takayasu has fought Kotoeko. The former Ozeki has been a pleasant surprise this basho, and I hope he continues to put together winning days.
Sadanoumi (3-2) vs Kotoshogiku (4-1) – Another former Ozeki with a 4-1 record, who is surprising me with his strength. Maybe the long period without training matches helped these injured rikishi get their bodies into better condition. He and Sadanoumi are evenly matched at 5-4 over their career. I am expecting Sadanoumi to get the better at the tachiai, but for Kotoshogiku to have the advantage if the match goes longer than 20 seconds.
Kotoyuki (3-2) vs Shohozan (2-3) – I expect a lot of hitting in this match, in fact I think Shohozan is far below his per-basho quota of blows to his opponents upper body. Speaking of quota, only one jog into the zabuton so far for Kotoyuki….
Shimanoumi (4-1) vs Kotonowaka (2-3) – Kotonowaka is struggling a bit at his highest ever rank, and he’s going against hot-streak Shimanoumi, who has only lost to Tamawashi on day 5. Kotonowaka won their only prior match, which was a fairly low energy affair – a far cry from the kind of sumo Shimanoumi has been executing this tournament.
Kotoshoho (2-3) vs Tochinoshin (1-4) – I really get uncomfortable watching Tochinoshin struggle, but at least he has a win. They have no prior matches, but I am going to guess that once again that the former Ozeki’s lower body is going to prevent him from being much more than training ballast for the shin-maku rikishi.
Tamawashi (2-3) vs Kaisei (2-3) – The two have 19 career matches, with Tamawashi holding a thin 10-9 lead. Kaisei has been even less mobile than usual, and this plays to Tamawashi’s strengths. But then again Tamawashi has only been operating at about 70% of the power he could muster even a year ago.
Myogiryu (2-3) vs Ikioi (1-4) – Sure Ikioi is in the hole 1-4 going into day 6, but this guy simply never quits. I fully expect he is going to finish the basho fairly close to kachi-koshi. But today may not be his day, as Myogiryu seems to be less banged up, and holds a 7-5 career advantage.
Chiyotairyu (3-2) vs Tokushoryu (4-1) – Tokushoryu seems to have found a comfortable rank for himself, and it’s about 4 rungs higher on the banzuke than I thought it would be. I expect him to give Chiyotairyu a tough match, in spite of the 7-4 career advantage for Chiyotairyu.
Abi (3-2) vs Ishiura (5-0) – When someone asks, “what is the part of this basho that makes you scratch your head” – who would not reply “Ishiura as the sole leader going into day 6!”. Undefeated Ishiura. With only one henka. Doing genki sumo. And winning. A lot. Pass the sake, please! Ok, today he’s got Abi, and I have to figure that now that Abi sumo is dialed in, he is going to use that incredible reach to push him around the dohyo. But hey, maybe Ishiura has cracked the Abi-zumo puzzle too, he has a 5-3 career advantage over Abi.
Ryuden (2-3) vs Hokutofuji (2-3) – Both men are vying for my award of the “Most Powerful Make-Koshi” prize and day 15. Rather than prize money it comes with a mop bucket full of dirty water from cleaning up the kitchen. Battle on guys – one of you could take the whole thing home.
Kagayaki (4-1) vs Terutsuyoshi (2-3) – Dare I hope that Maegashira 4 Kagayaki finally has a good balance in his sumo, and can become a joi-jin mainstay? He may pick up win #5 today, as Terutsuyoshi has only beaten him once.
Enho (1-4) vs Aoiyama (3-2) – An injured Enho makes the world sad. An injured Enho being slapped around by a giant man the size of a mountain makes the world very sad. All of nature weeps that Enho is going to take one of Aoiyama’s meaty hands to the face. I would say that he stands a good chance of delivering one his patented crotch based attacks, but I get the feeling he is in no condition for such gymnastics.
Yutakayama (1-4) vs Okinoumi (0-5) – Also on the injury list is Okinoumi, as that’s the only way I can explain his 0-5 score at the end of act 1. He has the moves, but he just does not have the power. If Yutakayama beats him today, it will be the first time ever.
Shodai (3-2) vs Takanosho (4-1) – Can Shodai’s sumo put another speed bump in Takanosho’s outstanding run? If we hope to see Shodai evolve into a San’yaku regular, he needs to become expert at playing the spoiler. He has won 2 of their 3 former matches, but this version of Takanosho is not bound by such history. Keep mobile today, Shodai!
Endo (1-4) vs Mitakeumi (4-1) – Endo’s sumo mechanics still seem sound, but I am guessing his fighting spirt is not in the battle right now. Was it the Hakuho match? Some minor injury we don’t know about? Its tough to see him at 1-4, and struggling. I fear Mitakeumi is going to turn him into mush today.
Takakeisho (2-3) vs Daieisho (3-2) – I am really starting to worry that Takakeisho won’t clear kadoban this tournament, and we will be back 1 Ozeki again. I think the crux of his problems are injuries that are not healed before he returns to action, and he is not wearing his increased mass well. He has put on a lot of bulk since he became Ozeki, and I suspect it’s limiting his sumo quite a bit.
Kiribayama (2-3) vs Asanoyama (3-2) – First time meeting for the shin-Ozeki, who is not looking dominant at all this tournament. It’s sad when a freshly minted Ozeki struggles, but it is surprisingly common. If Asanoyama can land his grip early, he can pick up his 4th win.
Hakuho (4-1) vs Takarafuji (2-3) – With a 14-2 career record, there is zero reason for Hakuho to do anything more than quickly deliver his traditional Uwatenage against Mr “Defend and Extend”. I worry that if he plays around, he may find himself surprised.
Onosho (2-3) vs Kakuryu (3-2) – With two losses already in the first week (where the Yokozuna have the “easy” schedule), Kakuryu needs to be careful here. He can probably count on Onosho to have his traditional balance issues, but a 3rd loss and we may hear the noises from the Japanese sumo press start once more that it’s time for him to step down.