With the rest of the Ozeki benched, a rampaging kaiju and a lone grumpy badger tied up for the lead going into the middle weekend, we could see a major slug-fest brewing. There are 3 undefeated (6-0) tied for the lead, 3 one win behind at 5-1, and a broad pack at 4-2. This is a fine shape for our first look at the yusho race tomorrow. Out of the six that are in the top group, only Terunofuji and Takakeisho have prior yusho experience. It does indeed make a difference in some tournaments, as the mental pressure can become a rising distraction into the latter half of the second week.
If I had to pick my favorite match of the day, it would be Hoshoryu vs Chiyonokuni, which may not be as awesome as it might sound, mostly because Hoshoryu is not fighting up to his potential in most of his matches right now. Maybe he can rally and give the Grump Badger a good fight.
What We Are Watching Day 7
Ishiura vs Kotonowaka – We get another look at Ishiura today, who was booted down to Juryo after being injured and finishing Aki with a 4-11 record. He won the single prior match with Kotonowaka in March. They both have 3-3 records going into day 7.
Hoshoryu vs Chiyonokuni – This is a great match, and the only discouraging aspect of this is that it’s clear that Hoshoryu is hurt, and we won’t get to see the full throttle battle between these two that might have been. This is their first ever match (yes, really). Chiyonokuni is fighting like a man possessed, and I would give the advantage to him.
Shimanoumi vs Kaisei – Shimanoumi took his first loss on day 6, and hopefully it did not dent his fighting spirit too much. They have split their 4 prior matches, and I am looking to Kaisei to leverage his tremendous size advantage in the early moments of this match.
Yutakayama vs Chiyotairyu – In better days, this would be a bash-a-thon to look forward to. But Yutakayama is no better than 80% of his genki form, and I expect Chiyotairyu will dominate this match. His new low-velocity tachiai seems to be working fairly well, as he is at 4-2 heading into the middle weekend.
Sadanoumi vs Chiyoshoma – Sadanoumi’s damaged knees are his story this basho. He’s not finding himself able to generate much forward power, and it has greatly restricted his maneuverability. Without his speed on the dohyo, Sadanoumi is a fairly easy mark, and his 1-5 record shows this.
Ichinojo vs Meisei – On day 6 we finally got to see Ichinojo really stick with and push through a tough match. I hope that he’s going to carry that into today. Some good news is that Meisei’s not quite right this tournament, so Ichinojo should have a bit of an advantage today.
Ryuden vs Akua – Will Akua be distracted by Ryuden’s new bounce? How much longer is he going to do this? Should his opponents bring ¥500 notes to stuff in his mawashi? There are just so many questions now.
Enho vs Kotoeko – Will Enho be able to get any wins this tournament? An ugly question, but its becoming a bigger worry every day he mounts the dohyo and cannot produce even token offense. Kotoeko is fighting quite well right now, and I doubt an injured Enho is going to be able to offer much resistance. ouch.
Tochinoshin vs Endo – Their career 7-6 record cannot tell the story of the technician (Endo) vs the strong man (Tochinoshin). We know Tochinoshin lacks a working right knee, and that is all you really need to know. Endo just needs to be patient and pick his moment to strike.
Terutsuyoshi vs Tamawashi – Tamawashi is bigger, stronger and at least as fast as Terutsuyoshi is. So this match is quite possibly going to be one sided, unless Tamawashi decides he won’t use a kotenage today.
Takarafuji vs Tokushoryu – Their matches feature a lot of careful work to place hands and bodies in their desired position, then a contest of strength and guile. They are pretty evenly matched in terms of career records (7-6) and scores 5-1 vs 4-2, so this one will come down to if Takarafuji can get into his defensive mode before Tokushoryu can get him off balance.
Aoiyama vs Kotoshoho – With only one win thus far, its a cinch that Aoiyama is not his normal burly, brawling self. So instead he is going to have to try and endure the remaining matches of this November tournament, and pick up what wins he can. The bad news is that if he drops too far down the banzuke, this opponents at Hatsu are going to get a tough introduction to his brand of sumo.
Myogiryu vs Daieisho – I add Myogiryu to the list of “Underperforming, likely due to undisclosed injury”. Daieisho comes in with a 7-2 career advantage, and I think he is going to dominate this match, or just rapidly dispatch Myogiryu with little trouble.
Onosho vs Tobizaru – Its pretty clear that Tobizaru is going to follow a typical pattern for folks in their first trip to the joi-jin. A lot of matches where they are out-gunned, a boot down the banzuke, and a chance to regroup. I am not quite so certain that Onosho is going to be able to add to that trend. He has taken in 4 losses in the first 6 days, and really needs to start finding white stars.
Kiribayama vs Takayasu – Today is Takayasu’s chance to work closer to the kachi-koshi trend line, and he needs to temper his habit of engaging in wild and untamed sumo. IF he can keep his feet heavy, and keep his body movements strong and under control, this is an easy match for him.
Terunofuji vs Wakatakakage – Although they have met before, and Wakatakakage even one a match (Juryo, March), this version of Terunofuji is on a mission from the Great Sumo Cat itself. The question is what kimarite….
Kagayaki vs Takanosho – Kagayaki, hang up the black mawashi. It’s obviously haunted, and I am not talking manga style “spirit of the ancient world here to give you unstoppable power”. More of a “ghost of a confused granny trying to find her way to the pachinko parlor” effect.
Mitakeumi vs Hokutofuji – This is one I have been looking forward to – both of them are going to blast off the shikiri-sen and crash into each other like run-away freight trains. They have matching 4-2 scores, and they have a 9-7 career record. So it should be quite the battle.
Takakeisho vs Okinoumi – If Okinoumi can get a grip on Takakeisho’s mawashi, he has a win and can knock the lone surviving Ozeki out of the lead slot he shares with Chiyonokuni and Terunofuji. I expect a big opening tsuppari blast in an attempt to keep Okinoumi far enough away to prevent any attempt at yotsu-zumo.