An interesting Senshuraku to close out the Hatsu basho. There is only a single Darwin match, and two visitors from Juryo. In Juryo, there are just two rikishi with 7-7 records. Rather than have them face off Darwin style (they had already faced each other), 7-7 Takagenji has to take on 10-4 Ura, and 7-7 Yago draws Makushita promotion hopeful Tochimaru.
For the yusho, I am expecting Daieisho to walk away with the hardware. He has shown no signs of slowing down into week 2, and if he is feeling any pressure, it’s not effecting his sumo. Shodai’s road to a playoff is as tough as possible now, and I just don’t see a high chance that it would play out that way. Frankly, I was looking for Terunofuji to play spoiler in week 2, but I was surprised it was against Shodai rather than Asanoyama. Speaking of the kaiju, he has a really strong chance of finishing Hatsu at 11-4, which would make his magic number 10 for March. Entirely plausible. Plus I note that chairman Hakkaku has been complimenting Terunofuji’s sumo in the past few months.
Daieisho controls the yusho race, if he wins today, he takes the cup. If he loses today, its incumbent on Shodai to beat Asanoyama and force a playoff.
Leader – Daieisho
1 Match Remains
What We Are Watching Day 15
Akua vs Hidenoumi – I am going to guess this is an exchange bout, literally. Akua is likely headed for Juryo, and Hidenoumi possibly returning to Makuuchi for the first time in 3 years. They have an even 2-2 record.
Yutakayama vs Myogiryu – The lone Darwin match of the basho. For Yutakayama a win he stays in the top division for certain. They have an even 2-2 career record, so this should be a hell of a fight.
Tokushoryu vs Daishomaru – Another possible “exchange” match, I would be a bit surprised if Tokushoryu dropped to Juryo from Maegashira 8, but with a 3-11 or maybe 3-12 record, I guess its a concern. Daishomaru at 10-4 or maybe 11-4 from Juryo 8 may not quite have the mojo to break back into the top division, but again, maybe that’s what this match is all about. Daishomaru holds a 7-3 career advantage.
Midorifuji vs Tobizaru – A couple of busy little guys who are likely to smack each other around at double time. I expect a lot of motion, a lot of hitting and maybe a throw or two (yes, or two). Midorifuji is already kachi-koshi and Tobizaru already make-koshi, so this is more or less to watch to compact battle bros slug it out.
Akiseyama vs Kagayaki – Kagayaki (5-9) need to regroup. He runs a real risk of a double digit make-koshi, and he’s a more capable rikishi than that. Injury? Illness? No clue, but I hope he can get back on track in March.
Ryuden vs Aoiyama – I think the scheduling committee is opening the door for both of them to finish at 5-10, which would require a Ryuden win. Neither have fought well in January, and I think they will be happy just to finish the basho.
Endo vs Kotonowaka – First time match, and I am guessing Kotonowaka may find his hands full with Endo today. While Kotonowaka will try to dictate an oshi-zumo battle, watch for Endo’s shallow right hand grip before the second step.
Kotoeko vs Tamawashi – A pair of brawlers who need some time in dry dock. Tamawashi holds a 4-0 advantage, and a win today would mean both end the basho with 6-9 make-koshi records. Much as I have loved Tamwashi’s sumo over the years, he is headed down the same road is Ikioi and Shohozan, as age and injury degrade his sumo.
Tochinoshin vs Terutsuyoshi – A man with one good leg takes on a man with one good arm. Both are make-koshi, so this is an ugly little battle. Given Terutsuyoshi comparatively light (112kg) size, we may see one more sky-crane from Tochinoshin for good measure.
Hoshoryu vs Onosho – Another first time match, and it should be a good one. Can Hoshoryu finish 10-0 after starting 0-5? If so, it will be quite the turn around. Onosho’s got mass and power on his side, Hoshoryu has agility and a broader catalog of kimarite. I am looking forward to this fight.
Kotoshoho vs Sadanoumi – Yeah, I can’t watch this one. I am guessing Kotoshoho finishes 1-14.
Takarafuji vs Shimanoumi – Takarafuji finishing double-digits in the joi-jin? Strong chance of it as Shimanoumi does struggle to overcome Takarafuji’s defensive sumo style. Both rikishi are kachi-koshi, so this is just fighting for rank at this point. Though withe the San’yaku all kachi-koshi, there are not many slots to move up for March.
Okinoumi vs Daieisho – THE match, the big match. Journeyman veteran Okinoumi holds a narrow 10-8 career advantage over Daieisho. But Daieisho has won 5 of the last 6. I thikn that unless Okinoumi finds some reserve of genki, it’s going to be an explosive tachiai from Daieisho, and 4 steps to the win, followed by hoisting the fish, a giant macaron, and too much sake.
Hokutofuji vs Ichinojo – Can he do it? Can Hokutofuji get his 7th win to complete “The Most Powerful Make-Koshi In All Of Sumo?” He has to overcome a rock-steady Ichinojo and find a way to move the boulder. If the big Mongolian can stay stable and stay upright, Hokutofuji has his work cut out for him.
Kiribayama vs Mitakeumi – Both kachi-koshi, so this is to see who can get win number 9. Mitakeumi has never beaten Kiribayama in 3 tries, so maybe this will be his day.
Takayasu vs Takanosho – I look at this match, and wonder how many Sekiwake will appear on the Haru banzuke. I don’t think that 10 from Takayasu would force them to grant him a slot. As Takanosho got his 8th win on Saturday, the only likely change will be a slot created for Daieisho.
Terunofuji vs Meisei – I am looking for Terunofuji to hit 11 today, literally and figuratively. He holds a 2-0 advantage over Meisei, and I think he will dispatch him within the first 15 seconds.
Asanoyama vs Shodai – The two highest ranking survivors in the final match of the basho. Should the unlikely happen, and Daieisho lost his match to Okinoumi, this would be Shodai’s only opportunity to force a playoff. He has split his 8 prior matches with Asanoyama, so this is going to be a big fight either way.