With the middle day fading behind us, it’s time to accelerate this basho into the finish next Sunday. Also, Abi, get your head together sir. You are starting to make a nuisance of yourself.
Also, I missed seeing Kimura Konosuke read the torikumi? Arrrggghhh!
Tokyo July Leaderboard
Leaders – Hakuho, Asanoyama
Chasers – Shodai, Mitakeumi, Terunofuji
Hunt Group – Myogiryu, Kotoshoho, Tamawashi, Kotoshogiku, Kotoeko
7 Matches Remain
What We Are Watching Day 9
Daiamami vs Kotoyuki – With Abi and Kotonowaka out, we are back to an unbalanced torikumi, so bring forth the Juryo vistors! Today its former top division rikishi, Daiamami. He may in fact be on track to return in September, depending on how he finishes in Juryo. With a 4-4 record, it’s not out of the realm of possibility. Its possible he may swap places with Kotoyuki, who is nothing close to his performance levels a year ago (11-4 at Maegashira 16).
Takayasu vs Chiyomaru – I am starting to really lose hope that Takayasu can stage any kind of rally and attempt to claw his way back to even the middle of Makuuchi. Every single opponent seems to want to try some kind of jerk-move to put strain on that left elbow. I do get sick of watching what appears to me to be attempts to intentionally injure him. But then there is that limp at the end of day 8. That knee that blew up in Osaka, as the cameras kept running, showing him groaning in pain on the dohyo. Yeah, sumo can be brutal. I don’t know what he is going to be able to muster against Chiyomaru. I just hope nobody leaves the dohyo in the wheelchair.
Nishikigi vs Shohozan – Both of these guys are not able to really produce much in the way of offense this July, and for Nishikigi that would mean a likely trip to Juryo. He has a 4-5 record against Shohozan, who is not looking at all healthy or strong right now.
Sadanoumi vs Terunofuji – A win today could be kachi-koshi for Terunofuji. What a great mark that would be for a man who has devoted countless hours to battle back from injury and disease and regain a place in the top division. His sumo looks more conservative than his first tenure in the top division, and I think that is probably for the best. But his strength is thus far unmatched by the bottom half of Makuuchi. I wonder if we will see him get higher ranking opponents in the third act.
Shimanoumi vs Wakatakakage – If Shimanoumi can take any solace from this match, its that Wakatakakage has never beaten him in 3 tries. But right now I would say that Shimanoumi is with Nishikigi and Shohozan (and many others) whose sumo is not close to normal due to lack of training during the isolation period. Wakatakakage needs to come up with 4 wins in the next 7 matches, and he has to be careful to avoid a path that leads to a day 15 Darwin match.
Kotoeko vs Myogiryu – Kotoeko has been a puzzle for the past few years. He seems to shift from compact powerhouse with heaps of fighting spirit to a tentative rikishi with below average mass and a bucket full of doubt. Right now we have the genki Kotoeko attending this basho, and I am very happy for him. Myogiryu has won 3 of their 4 matches, so look for two strong, quick rikishi to really deliver hell by the gallon for what may be a quick match today.
Kotoshoho vs Ikioi – The March Juryo winner Kotoshoho has not missed a stride in the intervening 4 months. Coming into day 9 with 6-2, he’s going to have his first ever match with Ikioi. Ikioi is not visibly wounded like many times in the past, but he is certainly not fighting well. Already 2 losses from make-koshi, he could end up with a double-digit loss record without increased effort to rack up more white stars for the remaining 7 days.
Tamawashi vs Kotoshogiku – Both of these verterans of the top ranks of sumo are part of the group of 5 who are 2 losses behind the yusho race leaders. Smart move to have them face off and narrow the field. Frankly, Kotoshogiku is performing well above expectations, much as he did in the mock Natsu basho in May. It will come down to the first step in this match. If Tamawashi can get moving after the tachiai, it’s his match to lose. If Kotoshogiku can land a hand on Tamawashi’s belt, it will be a brawl.
Ishiura vs Tochinoshin – Tochinoshin benefited hugely from Kotonowaka’s withdrawal on day 8, and I think the former Ozeki has a sound chance of getting to 8 wins by next Sunday. Ishiura finally showed some quality sumo on day 8 when he took a white star from Shimanoumi with a… get this.. susoharai. Yes, a very nice leg sweep that made me cheer. Please, lets have more of this!
Terutsuyoshi vs Kaisei – Kaisei is listing to port, and drifting into the shipping lanes again. He had been enjoying some fine Newtonian sumo for a few days, but now he’s at 5 losses, and has resumed his lumbering, stumbling format. Terutsuyoshi may lack the mass needed to shift an iceberg like Kaisei, so this will be a nice test of strength and stamina for Terutsuyoshi.
Chiyotairyu vs Ryuden – Chiyotairyu failed to form the much anticipated Chiyoshogiku singularity form, so it’s 7 more days of fine sumo. Really though, Chiyotairyu… what the hell was that day 8? Yes, I read that he thought it was a matta, but you should have just give Kotoshogiku the full measure anyhow. Both he and Ryuden share worrisome 3-5 records, so they may just want to limp through the rest of July and hope for better training leading up to September.
Takarafuji vs Tokushoryu – Takarafuji is fairly predictable in that he will tend to get a decent 9 win kachi-koshi, then proceed to have losing records for the next few basho. I don’t know if its because he consciously wants to hold a mid-Maegashira slot, or if that’s just how it works out. Although their career record has them dead even, I would give an edge to Takarafuji today, because his ability to defend and extend is sometimes a problem for Tokushoryu.
Onosho vs Yutakayama – Someone has a sick sense of humor. Both of these sad-sack favorites of mine are make-koshi on day 8, and have yet to find a single win. Well, good news, that changes today as one of these damaged athletes is going to walk away with their first white star. History would indicate that Onosho would have a slight edge, but neither of them has fought up to their abilities this basho. Hopefully neither of them finish 0-15.
Endo vs Takanosho – Somewhere in a closet in Oitekaze heya, there is some kind of cybernetic module that plugs into Endo while he sleeps, and loads him up with genki energy that gets harvested from a shrine in Nara. But since COVID, none of his tsukebito have been able to make the trip to reload it. What we are left with a shambling hulk that looks like Endo, but is missing up to 25% of his normal sumo energy.
Daieisho vs Hokutofuji – Matching 5-3 records, a 4-4 career balance and an easier path to kachi-koshi for the winner. Hokutofuji has been a bit underpowered this tournament, and seems to be lacking some of his “big” sumo moves so far. I think this basho is a “best effort” project for most, and hope to keep some workable rank for the net basho, and hope that training conditions will improved. I would give a slight edge to Daieisho today, as he seems to be closer to his typical fighting state.
Kiribayama vs Mitakeumi – Mark me disappointed that Mitakeumi dropped out of the leader group. But heading into week 2, there is plenty that can happen to make him a viable contestant for the yusho, if he can keep winning. Mitakeumi has a tradition of a week 2 fade, which is why he has not made Ozeki. I sincerely hope he can keep pushing into act 3, and get to at least 10 wins. This a first ever match for Kiribayama, so please give him a warm welcome, Mitakeumi.
Shodai vs Kagayaki – Please, don’t joke about a Shodai yusho. If he lifts the cup, I will congratulate him, but I will also finally have confirmation that the whole of 2020 has been nothing more than a horrific fever dream brought on by eating that container of 2 week old chanko I found in the fridge at the end of the January basho. Now if I can just find a way to wake myself up and clear that questionable mix from my gullet….
Okinoumi vs Asanoyama – Asanoyama looks more Ozeki than anyone I have seen in the rank for a few years. My only hope would be to see him smile as he mounts the dohyo like he used to when he was first promoted to sekitori. I know, hinkaku and all that. The fellow may make Yokozuna in the next year or two, and he has to dial up his stoic energy. But I know inside each time he grabs for the kensho stack, that big schoolboy grin is still in there trying to break out.
Takakeisho vs Enho – Back in the struggling Ozeki segment of the basho, Takakeisho needs to win 3 of the last 7 to clear kadoban. Should be doable, right? but that includes Asanoyama, Hakuho, Shodai and Daieisho. Pre-injury Takakeisho, I would be eager to see him shove at least half of these worthy opponents into next week. But now it’s a worry for each and every one. Enho tends to suffer terribly against Takakeisho, so maybe he can add one of those 3 wins today.
Hakuho vs Aoiyama – Aoiyama has beaten The Boss exactly once in 23 tries. So i am looking for another quick dispatch for Hakuho, who has yet to look like he really has had much of a challenge. He seems to be working his way through the crowd until he faces Asanoyama later in week 2.