Normally at this point, I would be posting the yusho leaderboard. But for today, at least, there really is only Daieisho sitting at 8 wins, with 4 rikishi, including Shodai 2 wins behind, with 12 rikishi at 5-3. Until someone puts dirt on Daieisho at least twice, there is no real competition for the yusho. It’s an odd state of affairs, and I would expect that he will take at least once loss between now and senshuraku. During week 2, the pressure of being the presumptive yusho winner will start to eat at the mental state of most rikishi, doubly so if they have never won a yusho before.
In a much worse position was the first real Yokozuna candidate we have seen in 3 years, Takakeisho. Forget his rope run, I fear there is something genuinely wrong with him. I myself have guessed he is having some kind of metabolic / pulmonary problems related to his weight, but it’s really impossible to know at the moment what has taken the lead Ozeki and put him in such weak condition. I do hope he can bounce back in March.
What We Are Watching Day 9
Yutakayama vs Shohozan – Welcome dear Shohozan, we were sad to see you leave the top division, but like so many battle scared veterans in the last couple of years, you seem to be on the exit ramp now. Thanks for all the wonderful sumo. If you can’ please give Yutakayama one last “Big Guns” battle.
Hoshoryu vs Terutsuyoshi – Now that Hoshoryu has a couple of wins in his favor, I would like to see him rally and take 5 out of the last 7 for a kachi-koshi. It would show massive amounts of fighting spirit and drive. He won his only prior match against Terutsuyoshi.
Midorifuji vs Kotoeko – In spite of fighting well, with mountains of energy on display each day, Kotoeko is getting terribly close to a make-koshi now at 2-6. Could he turn things around? Of course, but for whatever reason, he seems to be a bit under powered this tournament. Maybe we will get another Midorifuji special today?
Akiseyama vs Aoiyama – Once again Akiseyama is in a battle of the mega-fauna. Aoiyama is struggling to get his opponents in the right spot for him to apply “his brand of sumo”. Which involves hitting people, quite a lot. I will look for him to try a quick stand them up / slap them down opening gambit.
Shimanoumi vs Sadanoumi – Sadanoumi holds a 5-0 career record vs Shimanoumi, and he could really use a win. I worry his knees and associated undercarriage are too banged up now for him to do much better than where he is right now.
Kotonowaka vs Myogiryu – This one has a lot of potential, and they are both solid oshi-zumo men who are part of the massive herd of a dozen rikishi with 5-3 records starting day 9. Myogiryu will have a slight edge, as he is naturally a bit lower due to his shorter legs.
Ichinojo vs Kiribayama – First time match, and we have to wonder which Ichinojo is going to mount the dohyo today. He out weighs Kiribayama by almost 100 kg, and frankly if Ichinojo decides to move forward against Kiribayama, there is nothing Kiribayama can easily do to stop him.
Akua vs Tobizaru – The more I considering Akua suffering from lingering COVID symptoms, the more I think that is probably what has happened to him. It’s a real shame because I was delighted to see that he would be returning to the top division. Maybe he can pick up his second win if Tobizaru gets too energetic and out of contol.
Tokushoryu vs Okinoumi – Their eight prior matches favor Okinoumi 5-3. Tokushoryu has not shown much good sumo this January. He has other sekitori at Kise heya to train against, so I am surprised that he is struggling.
Tochinoshin vs Meisei – Tochinoshin is banged up enough that Meisei should have this one if he can stay focused and keep his feet heavy. Even if Tochinoshin should manage a mawashi grip, it may not really turn into a Tochinoshin advantage, such is the state of the former Ozeki’s body.
Kotoshoho vs Onosho – Well, this certainly looks like an Onosho pick up. His opponent, Kotoshoho, is already make-koshi, and has struggled since the opening day. In addition, Onosho has won both of their prior matches.
Takarafuji vs Daieisho – It’s easy to say “Daieisho is on a hot streak, he will take this match”. But Daieisho’s matches have largely been him overwhelming his opponent with his oshi-zumo. Takarafuji is a master of defense, and if he can extend the match, we will see how well Daieisho can hold up. They have 13 prior matches, with the 7-6 advantage belonging to Takarafuji, who has won the last 3 in a row.
Hokutofuji vs Mitakeumi – Both of these guys seem to be gunning for a big, grand make-koshi full of glorious sumo defeats. It would be fitting if after dispatching his 3rd Ozeki of the tournament, Mitakeumi takes a loss from Hokutofuji.
Kagayaki vs Takanosho – Takanosho, another member of massive 5-3 crowd, gets to show some Sekiwake sumo to Kagayaki. Normally I am a Kagayaki booster, but he is not fighting well, and many of his good sumo habits seem to have been left in the akeni. I hope in March we see him return to fundamentals based sumo. I recommend 2 hours of Kisenosato match videos a day for 30 days.
Terunofuji vs Ryuden – Ryuden seems to have gotten is sumo locked in at last, and I would not be surprised to see him give a challenge to Terunofuji today. Terunofuji is still mathematically headed toward double digits, if he wins 5 of his last 7.
Tamawashi vs Shodai – Tamawashi does tend to apply a decent amount of doom to Shodai given his 9-5 career advantage. Most of this was pre-Ozeki, but I think the mechanics may still apply on day 9 of Hatsu 2021. Shodai’s defensive form is now consistently good, where in prior years it would come and go, sometimes in just a single match. Tamawashi will have his work for the day.
Takakeisho vs Endo – Endo’s likely to get his frontal mawashi grab, and roll Takakeisho around before he bounces back out into the zabuton section of the Kokugikan stands. He’s only take 2 of their prior 9 matches, but I have not seen Takakeisho this poorly since he went kyujo in July.
Asanoyama vs Takayasu – Way to pick a big battle to end the day. Asanoyama is still day to day in my book, and both of these rikishi are part of the 5-3 herd. Only one of them will join whatever group remains at 6-3 at the end of the day. If Takayasu can dial back the roaring shoulder blast tachiai, he can probably take this one from the Ozeki. But what are the chances of that?