The March tournament has reached the end of the second act, and what a ride so far! Act 2 narrows the field to find out who has what it takes to compete for the yusho, and to start sorting the survivors from the damned. I say – “Mission accomplished!” We have a working yusho race, and a growing number of rikishi sorting themselves to either side of the make/kachi-koshi line. With act 2 coming to a close, the scheduling committee tends to start loosening up the torikumi, and we get matches meant to drive the yusho race, or to pit interesting competitors together. We see some of that today, and there is a lot of potential for sparks to fly in today’s matches.
Takayasu remains in sole possesion of the lead, with Terunofuji and Chiyonokuni just one win behind. I fully expect Takayasu to take at least one loss between day 10 and senshuraku, so do look for there to be another shuffle of the leaderboard or two before the chairman hands someone the Emperor’s cup.
Chasers: Terunofuji, Chiyonokuni
Hunt Group: Asanoyama, Takakeisho, Takanosho, Hokutofuji, Tobizaru, Terutsuyoshi
6 Matches Remain
What We Are Watching Day 10
Yutakayama vs Ishiura – For most sumo fans, the Juryo guys fly under the radar anyhow. With little coverage save the YouTube channels, it’s tough to know what is going on in the next division down. But Ishiura has been fighting well, and is pretty good form this March. He comes to visit and take on the struggling Yutakayama, and I think there quite be quite a battle at hand for the first match of Makuuchi.
Terutsuyoshi vs Daiamami – Terutsuyoshi is part of the 6-3 cohort, and I think has a fair chance to make double digits in March. He has an even 3-3 record against the struggling Daiamami, who has lost the last 3 in a row to Terutsuyoshi. Daiamami has at least 50 kg on Terutsuyoshi, but the littler guy has a way to yorikiri Daiamami when he needs to.
Kotoeko vs Aoiyama – Ooh, how did both of these guys start strong, but are now at 5-4? No matter, I think it’s going to be a real toss up, and their career record of 2-2 does not help in the least in figuring out whose sumo will carry the day.
Midorifuji vs Hidenoumi – We have only seen one kainahineri from Midorifuji, on day 9 against Daiamami. This might have something to do with his 4-5 record. I would hate to see him relegated to a “Darwin” match on day 15, but these guys straddling the make / kachi koshi line need to get it in gear!
Tsurugisho vs Ryuden – The scheduling team prove once again they can be complete bastards. Both of these guys had cold starts, and are in the midst of 2 match rallies. So sure, lets have them go head to head! Ryuden holds a 7-0 career lead over Tsurugisho, but both of them look less than genki this March.
Kaisei vs Hoshoryu – As seems to be the theme today, both men are at 5-4 coming into day 10. I think that Kaisei will have a clear advantage as long as Hoshoryu does not get him moving around. A steady and strong Kaisei carries this match.
Chiyoshoma vs Tobizaru – Oh good, both are highly mobile and have shown they are ready to dial up the offense to win a match. Tobizaru holds a 4-0 career advantage, and tends to pick off Chiyoshoma when he is on the move.
Tochinoshin vs Akiseyama – Both of them are going to go straight for the mawashi, and it will come down to who gets their favorite grip. This March, everyone has been able to find a way to frustrate Tochinoshin and shut down his left hand outside grip. A skilled operator like Akiseyama will likely do the same.
Chiyotairyu vs Kagayaki – Why is Kagayaki at 3-6? I think because everyone has figured out that he will be coming in with solid fundamentals, and have ways to stop is opening gambit now. As a result, a lot of rikishi have raised their games, and sumo is better for it. But it’s time for Kagayaki to evolve.
Kotonowaka vs Ichinojo – This match is a great test of how shambolic Kotonowaka really is this March. He comes in at 3-6 with a 3-0 career advantage over Ichinojo. But the difference is: Kotonowaka is fighting poorly right now, and Ichinojo is looking better than he has a a fair amount of time.
Chiyonokuni vs Okinoumi – Chiyonokuni, with his banged up right hand, remains tenaciously locked into the cohort 1 win behind Takayasu. He has a 5-5 career record against Okinoumi, but the difference in their sumo this Haru is stark. I would love to see Chiyonokuni hang in until Takayasu hits the clay again. A win today is kachi-koshi for Chiyonokuni.
Kiribayama vs Tamawashi – Kiribayama seems to struggle any time he is ranked above Maegashira 8, and maybe its a question of him evolving to the next level of sumo. I know that Tamawashi has never lost to him, and I don’t expect that to change today.
Meisei vs Endo – The theme for day 10 continuses, as both men are 5-4 heading into this match. Endo has a 1-4 career advantage, but I think more importantly, Endo has won the last 3 in a row, and may be in the middle of a solid rally.
Takarafuji vs Wakatakakage – Wow, Takarafuji is having a miserable basho. This happens to him from time to time, and I just hope he can squeeze out a few more wins so the demotion velocity is not too terrible. Like some others, Wakatakakage is in a bit of a mid-way rally, having won the last 3 in a row.
Hokutofuji vs Daieisho – Daieisho looks charged up and ready to dominate the dohyo. Hokutofuji has been putting in good sumo for every match, and is looking to keep in a winning groove (5 of the last 6). But i have to think that a genki Daieisho may blast Hokutofuji from the ring before Ol’Stompy can muster a working offense.
Onosho vs Mitakeumi – I think this may be the last of our tadpole battles. I know I will be happy to see Onosho start to regroup, but it won’t be with this match. While Mitakeumi only has a 4-5 record starting today, he is fighting better than Onosho is.
Terunofuji vs Shimanoumi – How do these guys have a 2-2 record? Ah, Juryo. Yeah, well Kaiju is on a mission, and that means that the under-performing Shimanoumi may find himself down or out in the fewest possible steps. A win today would be kachi-koshi for Terunofuji, and leave him just 2 wins from the Ozeki target.
Takakeisho vs Takayasu – I think this is going to be a big match. I like that Takayasu has remembered just how effective he can be chest to chest with his opponents. I think this is his path to success, and have for years. This is also the route of doom for Takakeisho. I expect the Grand Tadpole will work to stay mobile, and use his thrusting attacks to keep Takayasu reactive and away from his belt.
Takanosho vs Asanoyama – What a great match. Asanoyama has been fighting well, but not quite as well as everyone has expected him to fight. But as we have been writing about since the start of the basho, Takanosho tends to just quietly and consistently go about his brand of sumo. Out of their 4 career matches, Asanoyama has won 3, but i want to see the sparks fly with this one! Both are part of the hunt group 2 wins behind Takayasu.
Shodai vs Myogiryu – I think fans are starting to wonder if Shodai is headed for kadoban. In fact, I think the chances are pretty good that is the case, and it’s possible it might come in some kind of day 15 doom match. He is an even match with Myogiryu, who has won 3 of their last 4 matches.