I am impressed that we have gotten to day 7 with no additional kyujo, though I suspect that there are a few rikishi who would be eligible. I am sure that with so many already sidelined, the remaining athletes feel they need to compete at all costs to make sure the fans get a solid tournament. I think this weighed most heavily on Takakeisho, who I think may have an over active sense of responsibility at times. He’s hanging in, probably until he gets 8 losses, which may come as soon as this Monday. It’s tough to see him struggle, but for whatever reason, he is still with us.
I am also impressed that at the start of the middle weekend of the tournament, we have Daieisho and Akiseyama undefeated. I am not sure if these two are going to be at the head of the yusho race at the start of act 3, but it’s fun to think that we could have another Maegashira yusho in 2021 as well. While Akiseyama is not the last man on the banzuke, he is just 1 slot ahead of Sadanoumi.
What We Are Watching Day 7
Sadanoumi vs Churanoumi – Speaking of the last man on the banzuke, he’s up against a Juryo visitor on day 7, and this is their first ever match. While Sadanoumi is not doing exceptionally well, he is still in a position to finish with a kachi-koshi. 7 wins or less would certainly relegate him to Juryo after 3 years in the top division. Both have 3-3 records.
Kotonowaka vs Midorifuji – Kotonowaka won the only prior match, and is fighting quite well at 5-1. Midorifuji is likely to find a home, at least for a time, in the top division. I am curious if he will get a tradition double digit debut that nets him a special prize. This happens a fair amount of the time, and it’s certainly within reach for Midorifuji.
Yutakayama vs Terutsuyoshi – I am very happy to see that Yutakayama seems to be back in good-enough form. He’s big, and surprisingly agile, which will come in handy against the highly maneuverable Terutsuyoshi, who in spite of his 2-4 score, can easily dispatch Yutakayama if he gets to dictate the form the match takes.
Ichinojo vs Akiseyama – At 6-0, Akiseyama brings momentum into this match against “The Boulder”. Ichinojo dropped yesterday’s match to Kotonowaka, and I think he will be looking to bounce back. While Ichinojo is much taller, these two each carry a significant amount of bulk.
Hoshoryu vs Kotoeko – From a battle of the mega-fauna to a battle of the nimble. Hoshoryu won his first match on day 6, though he did look a bit hurt following to my eye. Should he completely dud out the rest of Hatsu, he could find himself in Juryo for March. He won the only prior match with Kotoeko, but I will be watching to see if Hoshoryu has gotten his sumo together enough to make a stand.
Shimanoumi vs Akua – Akua is giving Hokutofuji a run for the title of “Most powerful make-koshi in all of sumo” this Hatsu. He is putting a lot of power and energy into his sumo each day, but he’s only had one win. Shimanoumi had a hot start to the basho, but has dropped 3 of his last 4. They have split their prior fights at 4-4, so lets see who can take the win today.
Aoiyama vs Kiribayama – Both have 4 wins, and both are headed toward kachi-koshi if they keep their form going for another 9 days. Even though Kiribayama won their only prior match, I favor Big Dan Aoiyama in this match. He’s got his V-Twin form up and running, and it’s tough to take an offensive position when he starts slapping you around.
Myogiryu vs Kagayaki – Both are 3-3, both are struggling a bit, I give an advantage to Myogiryu, as Kagayaki is not looking quite right. He’s high in the tachiai, he’s not keeping his feet low and heavy.
Ryuden vs Tokushoryu – Ugh, another pair of struggling rikishi facing off. They have had 4 prior matches, which they have split 2-2. I think that if Ryuden can stay mobile he has a good chance of picking up a much needed second win. I think if they grapple, it will be advantage Tokushoryu.
Tobizaru vs Okinoumi – Is Tobizaru too small and light to survive competition in the top division? I am starting to wonder. Something has him loosing the bulk of his matches, and it’s not lack of effort. I have noticed that he runs out of stamina, and his opponents tend to wait him out until his intensity drops, then turn on the attack and usually win.
Endo vs Meisei – Meisei is in the elite 1 loss group going into the final weekend, and I would love to see him stay in the running into act 3. Although Endo comes in at only 3-3, he’s always capable of surprising any opponent with exceptional skill and cunning. Endo will go for a grip early, and if he gets it, he will likely end up controlling the match.
Takarafuji vs Tamawashi – Twenty Four (24) career matches between these two, and they have split it right down the middle at 12 and 12. Tamawashi has shown some great power surges in his matches this tournament, and it’s kind of neat to watch him suddenly overflow with strength and just dispatch his opponent. Takarafuji will try to stay away from whatever blast effect Tamawashi will come up with, and wait for his chance to turn the tables.
Takayasu vs Hokutofuji – Takayasu’s gotten very loud in his matches. He tends to start with a big bellowing roar, and it seems to my eye the louder he roars, the less power connects at the tachiai. We have not seen much of Hokutofuji’s handshake tachiai this tournament, so maybe he will bring it back for today. The two are evenly matched, so this has potential to be a good fight.
Daieisho vs Takanosho – Daieisho finishes his tour of the named ranks today with Takanosho, and to be honest, Takanosho may be fighting the best out of all of them. Should Daieisho win, he will have dropped all 7 named ranked rikishi. Quite the accomplishment.
Terunofuji vs Mitakeumi – Now with a 3-3 record, Terunofuji is struggling a bit compared to prior tournaments. While he had thoughts of double digit records and Ozeki runs dancing in his head, I think he now is focused on getting to 8, and that’s the right approach for now. Mitakeumi also had such dreams, but by now he needs to know that it’s not going to happen until he and spend more time practicing against rikishi his own rank.
Asanoyama vs Kotoshoho – I do want to see Asanoyama clear kadoban, but going into the middle weekend with a 3-3 record does not inspire a lot of confidence in that outcome. Luckily he’s got more or less a freebie with a first time match against Kotoshoho, who starts day 7 with a 0-6 record.
Onosho vs Shodai – Onosho has shown a fair amount of explosive sumo this basho. He starts off fast and comes in strong at the start. An all-or-nothing proposition that underscores that he puts everything on the line each day. Shodai is doing the best out of all the Ozeki, and I think his superior balance will allow him to completely disrupt Onosho, removing his primary attack form.
Takakeisho vs Tochinoshin – Takakeisho, are you even genki enough to keep the big Georgian from grabbing your mawashi and rolling you off the dohyo like the dumpling you are? I want you to be strong and healthy, and I know there was a rare chance to be promoted to Yokozuna, but that’s all gone now. Good luck against Tochinoshin, I wonder who is more banged up.