Welcome to nakabi! For those who don’t know the term, it’s the middle day of a 15 day tournament. It’s the earliest possible day a rikishi in the top division can reach kachi-koshi (or make-koshi, as well). There is one soul who has the chance to reach 8 today, and that yusho race leader Daieisho. Right now I expect him to keep fighting well, at least into week 2, when the distraction of “hey, I could this thing” starts to distract some people from their sumo. Though it is possible, I don’t think we are likely to see Daieisho go 15-0, in spite of the fact that he has beaten all named rank rikishi.
Sadly, there is one rikishi, Kotoshoho, who is now 0-7, and is quite possibly going to hit make-koshi in the minimal amount of time possible. Kotoshoho is not short of skill, strength or energy in normal circumstances. His last three tournaments have been 8-7, 10-5 and 8-7. Prior to this basho, he has only had a single make-koshi out of 19 tournaments since he started sumo. I hope whatever is damaged can be healed, as he has a bright future ahead of him.
Abbreviated preview today, as Bruce is in a bit of a time crunch.
What We Are Watching Day 8
Daiamami vs Kotonowaka – Kotonowaka is putting together a solid kachi-koshi for January, and today he gets to take on Juryo visitor Daiamami, whom he holds a 3-1 career advantage against.
Ichinojo vs Yutakayama – Yutakayama has been fairly strong, not quite at his former levels, but strong. Not going to matter against Ichinojo, who is going to give him the “bad pony” treatment today, I predict.
Sadanoumi vs Terutsuyoshi – Both of them are fighting better than their matching 3-4 scores would indicate. Thankfully one of them will advance to 4-4, and frankly this tournament Terutsuyoshi has been fighting better.
Shimanoumi vs Midorifuji – First time match, and I want to see another Midorifuji under-shoulder swing down. Maybe Shimanoumi can oblige.
Hoshoryu vs Aoiyama – Big Dan and the V-Twin attack against a man nearly 100kg lighter. Will Hoshoryu get airborne on the second blow?
Akua vs Myogiryu – First time meeting between these two. I saw some fan suggest that possibly Akua is suffering from long running effects of a COVID-19 infection in December. As Andy can attest, the plague can leave you at reduced capacity months after the last signs of the virus are clear. It could explain much.
Kotoeko vs Kiribayama – Even though Kotoeko fights like a wild creature, it’s going to be Kiribayama’s match today. Just a hunch.
Meisei vs Akiseyama – That unsightly crease in the middle of Akiseyama’s vast and horrific belly fat. If you come in contact with that, he sucks the sumo force right out of you, and claims it for his own. Hopefully Meisei can steer clear before it leaves him a tired, confused husk.
Tokushoryu vs Tobizaru – With the amount of active motion in a typical Tobizaru match, Tokushoryu must feel like he’s got it far too easy. As Tobizaru rushes in, Tokushoryu tosses him about. In fact he holds a 6-0 record over Tobizaru, who has never won a match against Tokushoryu in 6 attempts.
Takarafuji vs Onosho – A good match with both men at 4-3 indicates that this is going to be one to pay attention to. Onosho has gotten his balance in better shape, though he still tends to get too far forward. These are the kinds of habits that Takarafuji excels in exploiting. Their career record of 5-6 favors Onosho.
Hokutofuji vs Ryuden – The loser of today’s match will have the lead in earning the coveted title of “Most powerful make-koshi of the Hatsu basho”. Normally Hokutofuji has the inside track on this prestigious award (that comes with no extra money, and a demotion in rank), but Ryuden decided that his funky butt needed some of that action. Hokutofuji leads the series 7-4.
Kagayaki vs Daieisho – I like Kagayaki’s sumo most days. Its simple, its strictly fundamental, and it gets the job down. But I expect that Daieisho going to thump him today, possibly with the same explosive right hand thrust that sent Takanosho flying.
Takayasu vs Kotoshoho – I am expecting Kotoshoho make-koshi today. I take no joy in that, but at least Takayasu is going to get a step closer to his 8. Maybe Kotoshoho can go kyujo following.
Terunofuji vs Okinoumi – Okinoumi is a solid journey man rikishi. Terunofuji is clearly struggling with his injured body this January. I would not be surprised if the cold, damp weather of Tokyo in the winter is not hell on his knees. But given the 11-3 career advantage Terunofuji holds over Okinoumi, I am guessing its a win for Terunofuji.
Tochinoshin vs Takanosho – What do do with this match. Maybe Takanosho will take Tochinoshin’s invitation to a mawashi fight, and they will grapple early. If that happens, maybe we can see a bit of Tochinoshin sumo.
Takakeisho vs Tamawashi – Honestly, I don’t want to watch this one. Every time Takakeisho mounts the dohyo this January, I am worried. He’s not all there.
Asanoyama vs Endo – I honestly think Asanoyama is only at about 80% of normal genki power. Is that enough to dispatch Endo? It will come down to grip. I know both of them are going to go yotsu from the start, and if Endo gets his shallow / frontal grip, I can see Asanoyama having a lot of trouble today.
Mitakeumi vs Shodai – It would be very interesting of Mitakeumi could rally to defeat all 3 Ozeki this January, and basically lose every other match. He has the skill and the heft to take down Shodai, but Shodai is looking very good and using a lot of nice defensive sumo. A Shodai loss would certainly make the yusho race a puzzler.