Here we go! Final act of the November Tokyo basho is ready to start. In the final five days, we sort the make-kosh from the kachi-koshi, and we crown a yusho winner. Right now the race for the Emperor’s Cup is between the top, and the bottom man on the banzuke. Ozeki 1 East Takakeisho, and Maegashira 17 East Shimanoumi. As odd as that may read, it’s not atypical for sumo this past 18 months, as we see the Yokozuna slowly fade away, and it seems that nearly anyone can credibly compete for the yusho right now. Given the spate of wins from the bottom recently, I do expect the scheduling committee to gradually turn up the intensity on Shimanoumi’s schedule if he continues to win. Frankly, I am hoping he draws Terunofuji soon.
On that subject, as act 3 wears on we will see increasingly large rank gaps in the torikumi, as they pair rikishi with similar records, or with interesting history up to round out the schedule. Let’s take a look at the leaderboard!
Unlike Aki, the leader group is fairly narrow, and well formed going into act 3. There is a chance of a big brawl at the end of both Takakeisho and Shimanoumi hit the clay between now and the final day.
Leaders – Takakeisho, Shimanoumi
Chasers – Terunofuji, Takarafuji, Ryuden
Hunt Group – Chiyonokuni
5 Matches Remain
What We Are Watching Day 11
Chiyotairyu vs Ishiura – Ishiura comes back from Juryo for a one-day visit. If he can keep the winning record, he just might find himself back in the top division just in time to be part of Hakuho’s dohyo-iri troupe. Chiyotairyu has been doing a tremendous job of creating off-speed (for him) sumo this basho, and I suspect this could be a fun match.
Hoshoryu vs Shimanoumi – Co-leader Shimanoumi goes up against Hoshoryu, who has only fought him once before, and lost. Hoshoryu has been fighting better since the start of act 2, and I am hoping he can give Shimanoumi a hard fight today.
Akua vs Kaisei – First time ever match, and I hope that Kaisei can get a proper tachiai in today. The matta-tachiai from day 10 is a clear and obvious dud. Both are 5-5, and I suspect at least one fo them may end up in danger of a day 15 “Darwin” match.
Yutakayama vs Ichinojo – Can you sense a theme here yet? They have matching dismal 3-7 records, and the loser is going to get a fresh, new make-koshi to take home at the end of the day. I am not sure who I favor here, as both men are fighting well below the abilities.
Sadanoumi vs Enho – Again matching records at 2-8, so both are make-koshi. I would defer to lksumo for any forecast on if either of them are at risk for demotion, but I think they need every win they can manage right now. I am hoping for a continued Enho resurgence.
Chiyonokuni vs Meisei – Chiyonokuni has absorbed 3 losses thus far, but he’s not completely out of the yusho hunt. He has to continue to win, and today’s match against Meisei would be kachi-koshi should he prevail.
Tokushoryu vs Chiyoshoma – Chiyoshoma holds a 8-2 career advantage over Tokushoryu, who showed on day 10 how once you get him off balance, he’s falls to pieces. We have not had a Chiyoshoma henka in a few days, maybe today is the day…
Kotonowaka vs Terutsuyoshi – Terutsuyoshi is now make-koshi, but now he needs to rack up wins to prevent too large of a drop down the banzuke. Kotonowaka lost their only prior match, and it may be a good day for some spicy, small-man sumo.
Aoiyama vs Kotoeko – Big Dan is one loss away from a make-koshi. He’s looked a bit flustered and helpless for many of his matches this November. I think that he is ripe for another loss if compact powerhouse Kotoeko can keep outside of Aoiyama’s bludgeon zone.
Takarafuji vs Ryuden – Both are just one win behind the leaders, and both are kachi-koshi. But only one of them will still be in striking range for the yusho at the end of this match. Takarafuji holds a 6-1 career lead, but this was all before Ryuden unleashed his shiri-zumo. Will Takarafuji be able to defend against Ryuden’s “four way hips”?
Hokutofuji vs Endo – Back to the today’s theme – matching scores. We have both rikishi at 6-4, and both of them are going to at it with gusto. I have a new appreciation for Hokutofuji’s stamina following his day 10 double header against Takarafuji. The career record of 8-6 slightly favors Endo.
Tamawashi vs Daieisho – Daieisho is one win away from a kachi-koshi, and even though his opponent Tamawashi is nowhere near his former power, he is still a tough opponent. Tamawashi holds a 8-5 lead in the series, and I think we may see both rikishi end the day at 7-4.
Onosho vs Okinoumi – Onosho has battled back from a cold 0-4 start to have a shot at a kaich-koshi, if he an win 4 of his last 5 matches. Okinoumi only needs 3 of his last 5, but he’s still going to need to push to get there. He is on a cold streak, losing 4 of his last 5 after a strong start.
Kagayaki vs Wakatakakage – Wakatakakage is already make-koshi, and I think there may be a chance for him to make a point about being a serious contender for the future if he can put Kagayaki on the clay today. Wakatakakage will need to overcome Kagayaki’s excellent defensive footwork, but for attack power, Wakatakakage has an advantage.
Kiribayama vs Tochinoshin – Kiribayama is at a horrible 1-9 right now, and he’s ripe for a big, potent boot down the banzuke. Tochinoshin can still make it to 8, if he wins 3 out of his last 5. The two have split their prior matches (1-1).
Terunofuji vs Myogiryu – Terunofuji can hand Myogiryu his make-koshi today with a win, and I think it’s a pretty likely outcome. The Kaiju holds a 10-3 career record over Myogiryu, and Terunofuji is in his best fighting form in years.
Tobizaru vs Takanosho – Tobizaru came into the November basho, full of bravado and lofty goals. I think the first 10 days have been quite the reality shock for the flying monkey, and he is now at the doorstep of a make-koshi. Takanosho holds a 5-1 career record over Tobizaru, so I wish him a good first step, and an opportunity to strike.
Mitakeumi vs Takayasu – What to make of this match.. Ugh. Both of them are under-performing, and I think that I slightly favor Takayasu, but neither one of them are fighting particularly well this November. Takayasu leads their career series 14-6.
Takakeisho vs Kotoshoho – First time match between these two, and I am going to guess that it will be Takakeisho’s to control. I urge him to be patient and cautious and pick up his 10th win.