Welcome to the start of act 2 of this wonderful Aki 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. With both Yokozuna out, and no clearly dominant rikishi group, there’s a lot of sorting to do. Act 2 includes the middle weekend, when we will start to watch the yusho race and publish the leader board. Though Onosho exited Act 1 as the sole man at the top, I don’t expect that to hold for too long. There are a cadre of 7 rikishi trailing at 4-1, including Ozeki Takakeisho, Ur-Sekiwake Shodai and.. Ichinojo?
What We Are Watching Day 6
Shimanoumi vs Ichinojo – Ichinojo starts act 2 with a surprising 4-1 record, really one of his best starts in the top division in a long time. If he can stay in this groove, and can continue to use his size and strength to his advantage, he could be a contender in act 3. Today he’s up against Shimanoumi, who lost their only prior match. I am going to look for “The Boulder” to continue to over preform.
Tobizaru vs Hoshoryu – I know I have been waiting for this one! Now that Tobizaru has picked up his first loss, he can dodge any odd feelings of pressure about being on top of the leaderboard. He has a 3-1 career record over Hoshoryu, and I expect a lot of rapid action as these two strong, fast young rikishi engage in a battle of the flying hands.
Kotoshoho vs Shohozan – Shohozan has no real defensive power, I have to wonder if he has some back or leg problem that has robbed him of his sumo. So I am guessing that Kotoshoho takes him to the dirt in short order.
Meisei vs Kaisei – It seems like Kaisei’s enormity is not enough to get him him to even a 50% win record right now. So he’s going to have to try some offensive sumo. Forward sir! Meisei is a fraction of your size, make him feel like roadkill today.
Sadanoumi vs Kotoeko – Kotoeko looked really good against Tobizaru day 5, and I think he can try a similar approach with the speedy Sadanoumi. Sadanoumi will present lower mobility, but higher thrust force, in my opinion. Their career record (5-4) show them equally matched. Could be some raging action, or over in a flash.
Chiyotairyu vs Onosho – I love this match. Both are going to rip hard into the tachiai, and given that this is Chiyotairyu’s forte, I am looking for him to have an advantage in the first 2 steps. If he can’t overpower Onosho by that time, I think we will see a massive counter-attack. As the only undefeated rikishi remaining in the basho, everyone will want a piece of him now. For Onosho, its just 3 more wins to his 8.
Ryuden vs Wakatakakage – Question 1 – will Ryuden step onto the dohyo with comically large pieces of bandage tape arranged in an “X” over his crotch? This is a first time meeting between these two, so I would not be surprised to see a few Ryuden matta to try and smoke Wakatakakage out.
Takayasu vs Tokushoryu – It’s clear from his day 5 loss to Tochinoshin that Takayasu is not quite as genki as I had hoped. His 3-3 career record against Tokushoryu is a bit misleading, their last head to head match was in 2016!
Enho vs Kagayaki – I could make Enho vs Ryuden jokes here, but good manners are restraining me. I will say that Kagayaki’s normal post-tachiai stance tends to preclude Enho’s preferred under and to the left attack strategy. I would love to see Enho continue to get high-energy wins. Let’s hope he’s got a new plan for day 6.
Aoiyama vs Takarafuji – Takarafuji, by his nature, will want to try to dodge Aoiyama’s double arm bludgeoning attack. For 20 out of 23 times, it has failed and Takarafuji tosses the man with no neck around before he hits the clay.
Kiribayama vs Tamawashi – Tamawashi missed hard with his opening gambit on day 5, and he lost to Kiribayama in their only prior match. I give good odds he is going to apply maximum sumo offense today against Kiribayama, and it might be glorious to watch.
Hokutofuji vs Takanosho – Another match with huge potential. I am sure Takanosho will want to bounce back from his day 5 loss to Yutakayama, and its been a couple of years since the last time that he faced Hokutofuji. Hokutofuji seems to once again working hard towards the most powerful make-koshi in all of sumo, which is a huge disappointment to his fans (1-4).
Okinoumi vs Terunofuji – Terunofuji is done with the “difficult” portion of his schedule, with both Yokozuna out, and one Ozeki scalp. Now he is going to work through the Komusubi, and it’s a question on his endurance and how much his knees can take. While Terunofuji has the brute power to win, he is more or less equal to height and wight to Okinoumi, who has proven himself a master sumo technician again this basho. Strength against encyclopedic skill, great potential! Terunofuji holds a 9-3 career record, but those are from before Terunofuji dropped rank and fought his way back up.
Endo vs Mitakeumi – Day 5 saw Mitakeumi go from quite sloppy to “cool move!”. That was perfect to Terutsuyoshi, but someone like Endo is going to laugh that one off like some kind of amped up kabuki villain. He has a 9-5 career advantage over Endo, and it seems to be that is Mitakeumi can get a thrusting attack going, it tends to disrupt Endo’s offense.
Shodai vs Tochinoshin – Tochinoshin got a nice, welcome win on day 5 against fellow busted and battered Ozeki Takayasu. But Aki 2020 Shodai is another matter entirely. Something happened to cuddly, ridiculous Shodai with his teddy-bear tachiai and his limp offense. Now we get this fellow who seems driven to win.
Daieisho vs Yutakayama – Daieisho may have been over-promoted to a 3rd Sekiwake slot, or he may be having a cold start, or some of each. But Yutakayama is not a credible match for him this September. I am not sure what Yutakayama’s challenge is, but it was clear from practice against Shodai prior to the basho that he was struggling. They have a 5-5 career record, but I am not predicting a good day for the Tokitsukaze man.
Asanoyama vs Myogiryu – Asanoyama seems to have found some version of his sumo. I am not sure it’s the Ozeki grade sumo yet, but at least it’s better than that Juryo version he seems to have restored from backup prior to day 1. He holds a 6-2 career lead over Myogiryu, so with luck, the Ozeki can find his 3rd white star.
Terutsuyoshi vs Takakeisho – Checked, and yes – first time match. I like Terutsuyoshi, I think he’s great. I just wonder what the Grand Tadpole is going to do with this guy. Will he go for some small man sumo? A henka? Some tug-n-shove? I don’t think Takakeisho has a clear advantage today, and I am going to be watching with great interest.