Welcome to the start of act 3! In the final 5 days of the basho, we crown the yusho winner, and sort the winners from the losers. The race is under Daieisho’s control, and as long as he wins each day, he takes home the cup. If he goes down once, he’s fair game for Shodai, if he loses twice, well it gets a bit more interesting. The chance of that are not good, however. Daieisho is fighting very well, and looks completely comfortable in his sumo. This will maybe crack a bit on days 13/14/15, but Daieisho may run short of credible and challenging opponents.
Leader – Daieisho
Chaser – Shodai
Hunt Group – Asanoyama, Meisei, Yutakayama
5 Matches Remain
What We Are Watching Day 11
Akua vs Sadanoumi – Akua is already make-koshi, but he needs to rack up a few more wins to make sure he stays in the top division. Given how diminished he looks right now, I am fairly sure that 5-5 Sadanoumi will have the upper hand.
Akiseyama vs Kotoeko – Akiseyama has lost the last 4 in a row after opening 6-0. I am going to put a wager on injury day 6 or 7, and he’s got to find a way to come up with 2 more wins, or get on the barge back to Juryo. Kotoeko at 4-6 should be in better shape in staying in the top division from Maegashira 11. Akiseyama holds a 6-4 career advantage, so maybe things will go his way today.
Yutakayama vs Aoiyama – Yutakayama seems to be clicking along quite well going into act 3, so I think he will have the edge against “Big Dan” today. The two have a 3-3 match history, but Aoiyama has been a bit below par this January. He needs 3 more wins to reach the safety of kachi-koshi.
Shimanoumi vs Kotonowaka – A pair from the 6-4 pack, and it should be a good one. Both of them are young, strong and oshi-zumo specialists. if Kotonowaka gets the first hit, I would expect him to quickly work to set up a throw, vs Kotonowaka moving to thrust and push his way to a win.
Ichinojo vs Myogiryu – So, Myogiryu, do you want to go into a belt battle with Ichinojo? Make it a perfect trifecta of smaller, high output rikishi who try to grapple with the Boulder? He holds a 9-4 advantage over Ichinojo, so there is some real concern that he can get it done where Midorifuji could not.
Hoshoryu vs Kiribayama – First time match, and it’s time to check out how well Hoshoryu’s bounce back from his 0-5 start when he comes up against Kiribayama. Both come from the Mongolian school of sumo, so with any luck they may try to leg trip each other.
Tokushoryu vs Midorifuji – Tokushoryu, at 8 losses, has to have a focus on racking up enough wins to not be demoted from M14 East. Maybe, lksumo will post some information on that later in the basho. This is another first time match, and I am hoping we get to find out of Midorifuji can employ his under shoulder swing down on such a massive opponent.
Ryuden vs Terutsuyoshi – Both at 4-6, and I am favoring Ryuden, mostly due to Terutsuyoshi’s injured arm. With any luck he can somehow find 4 more wins before day 15 with only his right arm.
Kotoshoho vs Tobizaru – Why does Kotoshoho keep fighting? Well, he’s going to donate another white star today. This time to Tobizaru, who at 4-6, could certainly use a few.
Takarafuji vs Meisei – A Meisei win today would be kachi-koshi, but Takarafuji is an arch-spoiler. Meisei needs to act before Takarafuji can set up his defense, or it may be quite the long fight.
Onosho vs Daieisho – Onosho has an 8-5 career record over Daieisho, and for today – that matters. Clearly Onosho has the recipe to win over Daieisho, and this January he seems strong and healthy enough to actually take the fight to the Yusho race leader. A loss today would open the door for Shodai.
Hokutofuji vs Kagayaki – Now that Hokutofuji has a 2-8 make-koshi, maybe he will start winning matches. This would not be the first time this has happened to Ol’Stompy. He holds an 8-2 career advantage over Mr. Fundamentals, Kagayaki, and I think we just may see him use the handshake tachiai today, and get Kagayaki on the run.
Tochinoshin vs Mitakeumi – A Tochinoshin loss today would be make-koshi for him, so I expect him to throw everything he can into this match. Mitakeumi needs 3 more wins for kachi-koshi, but given how hit or miss his sumo has been, its tough to know what he is going to bring to todays match.
Takayasu vs Endo – Takayasu will bring wild energy to this match, and Endo will be efficient and precise. A great conflict of sumo styles, and it could be the kind of battle that deserves watching in slow motion a dozen times or so. It will be shoulder blast vs battle crouch, and if Endo gets that frontal grip, it will be Endo on the attack.
Terunofuji vs Tamawashi – Terunofuji needs to win 4 of his last 5 matches to hit double digits, which he wants to stoke a run to return to Ozeki. Tamawashi has been fightings surprisingly well for a man of 35, and he hold just a slim 5-7 minority against Terunofuji. Could be a solid match.
Asanoyama vs Takanosho – Asanoyama can clear kadoban with a win today, and I expect him to dispatch Takanosho with little trouble.
Okinoumi vs Shodai – The big if – can Shodai continue to win? He has a 4-5 record against Okinoumi, and needs to stay focused because Okinoumi has a vast library of sumo to use to counter anything Shodai might try. Will it be time for more cartoon sumo? I certainly hope so.