Welcome to nakabi! It’s the middle day of the July basho being held in Tokyo, and we are still on track to see the three leaders of the yusho race possibly get their kachi-koshi today. But before we dive into the creamy goodness that the scheduling team has cooked up for the middle Sunday, a few thoughts on day 7…
It seems that others are starting to wonder if Shodai is actually some kind of cartoon character who has escaped from toon town. He seems to at least have some built in chaos generator that he engages when he’s not sure what to try next, and unlike most rikishi who end up with some horrible, mangled loss, his opponents end up falling over, stepping out, or otherwise ending the match with a black star. I am not sure what kind of trans-dimensional conduit he is using to generate an improbability field, but don’t be surprised if two disheveled looking fellows pop out of the air on a Chesterfield sofa in the middle of today’s match.
Abi kyujo? For being a gibbering moron? You don’t say… Did you see Mitakeumi’s face? A combination of puzzle and disappointment, as I honestly think he was looking forward to stuffing Abi into the salt basket today.
With the arrival of nakabi, it’s time for us to take our first serious look at the leader board
Tokyo July Leaderboard
Leaders – Hakuho, Asanoyama, Mitakeumi
Chasers – Shodai, Myogiryu, Kotoshoho, Terunofuji
Hunt Group – Takakeisho, Tamawashi, Kotoshogiku, Kotoeko
8 Matches Remain
What We Are Watching Day 8
Nishikigi vs Terunofuji – Oh sure, Nishikigi won their only prior match, but does anyone doubt that Terunofuji is going to carry around Nishikigi like a toddler in a grocery store? Terunofuji seems to be a man on a mission right now, and that mission one I am enjoying.
Takayasu vs Kotoeko – If Kotoeko follows form, he is going to put a portion of his focus on trying to re-injure that left elbow. I keep being annoyed and disappointed by this, but I know that’s part of sumo. Right now I am just hoping that Takayasu is going to find a path to 8 wins. Oddly enough this is their first ever match, and I have to worry it’s going to be Kotoeko with the advantage.
Sadanoumi vs Kotoshoho – Another of the 4 first time match ups that grace day 8, and it’s 6-1 Kotoshoho getting a shot at Sadanoumi. I know Sadanoumi is going to try to control the form of the match by getting the first offensive move in at the tachiai. He’s surprisingly fast of the shikiri-sen, and I think the first move will be his to make. Kotoshoho has never had a make-koshi tournament, which I am sure will change, but for his debut in the top division, he seems to be unstoppable.
Wakatakakage vs Shohozan – Another first time match, fading brawler Shohozan vs the leading Onami brother, Wakatakakage. Both of them currently have losing records, and I am expecting Shohozan to finish the tournament with a make-koshi. Time to find out if Wakatakakage’s sumo can stay focused while Shohozan bats him around.
Kotonowaka vs Tochinoshin – Both of them have matching 4-3 records coming into day 8. Tochinoshin needs to focus on keeping Kotonowaka’s mobility down, and getting his offense established. Kotonowaka will try to evade Tochinoshin’s left hand seeking his mawashi.
Kaisei vs Kotoyuki – Kotoyuki’s basho is horrific and grim right now. He’s almost as bad as Onosho and Yutakayama, but not quite. No word from the tsukebito crew searching for his lost sumo, and until it turns up somewhere (did you check the soba shop at the Ryugoku station?), he’s going to struggle. For Kaisei it means that he gets to once again enjoy being huge, and with an 8-4 career advantage over Kotoyuki, it may be win 4 for Kaisei.
Chiyomaru vs Myogiryu – Challenging Kotoyuki for the “have you seen my sumo?” award for July is Chiyomaru, who had not managed a single win until day 7. This is a mirror of Myogiryu, who has only suffered a single loss. While it would be nice to see Chiyomaru rally from a 0-6 start, its more likely he is headed for double digit losses and a early berth on the barge of the damned headed slowly for Juryo.
Ishiura vs Shimanoumi – This match really is likely to require fumigation, as both of these rikishi come in with 2-5 records, and are headed for make-koshi. I am going to count Ishiura among the rikishi who really are suffering this tournament due to lack of sumo practice matches against rikishi of his own calibre. It’s clear his body is not moving well, and his sumo instincts are all but missing. Hopefully in the run up to September the sumo association will be more permissive of training between stables. That is unless Abi does something stupid to ruin it for everyone.
Kotoshogiku vs Chiyotairyu – Two massive bodies are going to impact some time around 4:45 AM Central US time, and it’s possible it may be detected via LIGO, and as such would be the first detection this close to the earth. Now, for it to really work out that way, one of the two would need to complete absorb the other in a flash of radiation, but we can always hope for something unexpected. The resulting Chiyoshogiku would likely continue to absorb most of greater Tokyo, to the horror of the world, at least until he collapsed into a pinpoint and exited the known universe in a dazzling flash of blue light. Kotoshogiku holds a 16-3 career lead.
Terutsuyoshi vs Ikioi – The word I was looking for was “amiuchi”. A rough translating into the barbaric English tough is “What just happened?” I will be looking to see if any other rare words appear on screen following Terutsuyoshi’s day 8 match with Ikioi. Such as “ちくしょう”, “すごい”, “うそ!”, or even “おっと”
Tamawashi vs Tokushoryu – I think Maegashira 7 is a great rank for Tokushoryu, and I would not be surprised to see him finish 8-7 or 7-8 this July. The Hatsu yusho winner still has enough sumo to be a challenge to many of his opponents. Today’s fight is a fairly even match against a somewhat bloated Tamawashi, who is already up to 5 wins.
Takarafuji vs Ryuden – I count Takarafuji as another in the cadre of rikishi who seem to have little or no fighting edge this tournament, and I would peg that on the oft mentioned lack of join training in the days leading up to the first day of competition. Ryuden has also looked vague and uninspired. Lack of a big crowd? Lack of joint training?
Enho vs Kiribayama – The final first time match up of the day, and I would really like to see Enho fold Kiribayama neatly and store him in a clean dry place.
Takanosho vs Yutakayama – Like Onosho in the match following this one, I am fearing a day 8 make-koshi for Yutakayama. I cheered when his hard work to recover from injury and demotion returned him to the joi-jin, but now he is doing so poorly, I wonder if he is hurt again. If not, he has to be one of the most frustrated people in all of sumo right now.
Daieisho vs Onosho – A loss today and that’s make-koshi for Onosho, who really has not found his groove at all this July. He’s far enough up the banzuke that he’s not really in any kind of danger of ending up in Juryo. One has to wonder if he got injured in the first 7 days, or if he has just fallen into some kind of sumo-doldrum. He holds a 7-4 career advantage over Daieisho, but I am not expecting that to make a difference.
Endo vs Okinoumi – I don’t think I have seen Endo get his frontal grip set once this entire tournament. That may be the key to his crummy score (2-5). The other rikishi are watching for it, and can shut it down before he can use it to gain any kind of offensive advantage. Endo has, in the past, been very good with plan b/c/d type sumo, but that seems to not be working for him right now.
Shodai vs Mitakeumi – I think THE match of the day, this one is just too ripe to resist. Its the Sekiwake showdown, and it’s Shodai’s cartoon sumo versus the original tadpole. Mitakeumi looks hard, focused and intense right now, and Shodai seems to be having some sort of reality dysfunction. Their career record is 10-10, so this one is going to be worth staying up for. Bonus points if Shodai gets a delivery from ACME moments before the match.
Takakeisho vs Hokutofuji – I know Takakeisho is on a solid track to get his 8 with and clear kadoban. But given how many Ozekis have been through the grinder in the past 2 years, i get worried. Hokutofuji typically has a solid, wide stance that is resistant to Takakeisho’s oshi zumo, and I predict if Takakeisho is going to get a win, he is going to have to find a way to pull. Dangerous territory for a man with very short arms.
Aoiyama vs Asanoyama – Big Dan Aoiyama seems about a half step slow right now. Against Asanoyama this means he may not be able to initiate his preferred attack mode, which a pushing style I call “V Twin”. Aoiyama has yet to really dial in his sumo this basho, but should be able to make his 8 once he finishes his tour of the named ranks.
Hakuho vs Kagayaki – Hakuho is happy to have these matches with the likes of Kagayaki. He was concerned about the lack of degeiko leading up to the start of this basho, and while his first 8 matches don’t quite make up for not having days of bouts against less rikishi, it’s better than nothing. Now much as I love Kagayaki and his sumo, its going to be a quick and ugly bit of sumo, and we are probably going to get Kagayaki face down in the clay. I am predicting the boss gets his kachi-koshi today while he continues to wait for Mitakeumi and Asanoyama.