With Takayasu dropping his day 11 match to Shodai, the yusho race opens up quite a bit (stats below). Again going into the “What will the winning record be?”, we can now say it will be no better than 13-2. At that mark, only Takayasu has a chance to take home the cup. But I think 12-3 is far more likely. At that score, we have a chance that at least one of the list of Takayasu, Asanoyama, Terunofuji (whom I picked pre-basho), and plucky Tobizaru! Tobizaru is the name of great interest. He has yet to face Takayasu, and in their only prior match, Tobizaru won. I would not be surprised to see a day 13 or 14 match against the flying monkey.
The next big question is Terunofuji. He has yet to face the Ozeki, and faces Tamawashi on day 12, leaving him to rotate through Asanoyama, Takakeisho and Shodai on days 13, 14, 15. In what can’t be good news for Asanoyama, he has yet to beat Terunofuji in any of their 4 prior matches. The news is not much better for Shodai, who seems to serve as fair practice ballast for the kaiju, having only won 4 against Terunofuji’s 6, and only once since Terunofuji’s return to the top division. Terunofuji fares poorly against the Grand Tadpole, with Takakeisho holding a 3-1 career advantage. That wave-action tsuppari really take their toll on the kaiju, it seems. Terunofuji with 10 wins to finish Haru seem to be a good bet right now, and both Asanoyama and Terunofuji’s route to 12 wins is really rocky at this point – the would both have to win out, and at some point they face each other. So once again, my attention returns to Tobizaru. I am sure the schedulers area going to give him some very hard matches soon, but he has shown an ability to surprise. What a great final 4 days!
Chasers: Asanoyama, Terunofuji, Tobizaru
Hunt Group: Takakeisho, Hokutofuji, Wakatakakage, Meisei, Chiyonokuni, Hoshoryu, Aoiyama ,Hidenoumi
4 Matches Remain
What We Are Watching Day 12
Kotoeko vs Kaisei – The vast mass difference in these two means that Kaisei, if he can plan his feet and keep Kotoeko centered, will pick up his 4th win in a row over the Sadogatake rikishi. Kaisei is just 2 wins away from a kachi-koshi, and while is sumo is fairly stationary, sometimes being enormous is a valid strategy.
Chiyonoo vs Tsurugisho – Chiyonoo comes to visit from Juryo, facing off against Tsurugisho for the 12th time in his career. Chiyonoo, ranked at Juryo 3, has a chance at a promotion to the top division in May. This would be 4+ years since his last top division banzuke. Good luck guys!
Daiamami vs Aoiyama – Big Dan Aoiyama is one win away from kachi-koshi, and given how strongly he has been fighting (3 wins in a row), I think he’s going to have a distinct advantage over Daiamami. Aoiyama, who has a 4-2 career advantage, tends to us a “stand him up, slap him down” technique against Daiamami.
Chiyotairyu vs Hidenoumi – Long time sumo fans around the world are eager to see if Hidenoumi can finally have his first ever career kachi-koshi in the top division. At 31 years old, and 53 basho, the former Nihon University athlete will achieve a welcome milestone with a win over thunder-god Chiyotairyu today.
Terutsuyoshi vs Kotoshoho – For reasons no one at Tachiai can fathom, Kotoshoho is back from kyujo to face Terutsuyoshi. Seriously, Kotoshoho, your sumo was a wreck before you went kyujo. Unless you have found some magic potion to get your body in working order, it’s not going to pan out for you.
Yutakayama vs Ryuden – Ryuden can deliver a make-koshi loss for Yutakayama today, should he prevail. Both of these rikishi are fighting well below their career median, and I hope that should Yutakayama return to Juryo, he use the return to the junior division to get his body in condition.
Akiseyama vs Hoshoryu – A win today gives Hoshoryu a kachi-koshi at his highest ever rank (M9w). I personally see Hoshoryu having a lot of growth to do in terms of his sumo, but I note with some interest that since entering the top division last September at Maegashira 16, he has managed to stay in spite of a make-koshi in the middle of that run.
Kotonowaka vs Chiyoshoma – Kotonowaka holds a 3-0 career advantage over Chiyoshoma, but I think Haru day 12 may be the day that Chiyoshoma puts up his first win in that record. Kotonowaka, like his stable-mate Kotoshoho, is fighting poorly, and needs to regroup.
Midorifuji vs Ichinojo – The schedulers always love putting the little guys up against Ichinojo. Its like when the new guy at work has to do the really ugly work for a while. Midorifuji has lost both previous attempts, and a loss today would be a make-koshi for Haru.
Chiyonokuni vs Myogiryu – Chiyonokuni only needs 1 more win to reach his 8, but i don’t think fans should pin their hopes on day 12. He has a 3-5 career deficit against Myogiryu, coupled with a distinct fade in Chiyonokuni’s sumo since he injured his right thumb in week 1.
Meisei vs Tobizaru – Meisei needs one more win for kachi-koshi, but if prior tournaments are any indicator, Tobizaru won’t back off the intensity even though he has reached kachi-koshi. Meisei also holds a 4-1 career advantage, so I am expecting a basho and smash battle between these two today.
Kagayaki vs Shimanoumi – Shimanoumi, who seems to have lost to everyone except Terunofuji, can deliver make-koshi to Kagayaki with a win today. But I very much doubt that Shimanoumi will be able to summon enough genki power to make it happen. Both of these guys seem to be suffering from some kind of crummy sumo malfunction this March.
Takarafuji vs Tochinoshin – Takarafuji’s defend and extend defense works about half of the time against Tochinoshin. The former Ozeki is one loss away from his own make-koshi, so he should be fighting with a touch more urgency today.
Kiribayama vs Onosho – Onosho has a chance to deliver make-koshi to Kiribayama today. Onosho has not lost to Kiribayama, ever. So maybe he can keep his balance centered and just pound Kiribayama into the clay. With a miserable 2-9 record going into day 12, what does he have to lose?
Takayasu vs Hokutofuji – One of the big matches of the day, it’s puts Takayasu’s 1 win yusho lead on the line against Hokutofuji, whom Takayasu trades wins with every couple of months (7-7 career). I want to see Takayasu prevail today, but he’s going to have to be very careful with Hokutofuji’s nodowa. Should he manage to land that thing, it may be tough to keep in the fight. A Hokutofuji win today would be kachi-koshi for him.
Wakatakakage vs Daieisho – I really like this match, although it is likely overshadowed by some of the higher profile contests today. This pits a born-again genki Daieisho against a rikishi who seems to be ramping up his sumo into the second week, Wakatakakage. This is only their second ever match, with Daieisho blowing Wakatakakage off the dohyo in November. I almost expect a repeat ejection ceremony, but I have a suspicion that Wakatakakage may make it a bit more of a challenge this month. A Wakatakakage win today would be kachi-koshi.
Terunofuji vs Tamawashi – Since Terunofuji’s return to the top division, he has not lost to Tamawashi, and I don’t expect that to change on day 12. This would take Terunofuji to one win away from justifying an Ozeki bid, and push Tamawashi to one loss from make-koshi.
Mitakeumi vs Asanoyama – I know Asanoyama wants to vie for the yusho, but he has perhaps the toughest road of all of the candidates. Today he begins his final 4 days with Mitakeumi, who in spite of being hit or miss this March, tends to always be genki and ready for Asanoyama. Although Mitakeumi has a 5-3 career advantage, they have been trading wins since January 2020.
Shodai vs Takanosho – Shodai needs 2 more wins in 4 days to avoid kadoban. I think he should be able to do this without too many problems. He holds a distinct 4-2 advantage over Takanosho, taking the last two in a row. I am a bit sad this match is happening on day 12, as I think there is a clear path where both of these guys could end up in a position for a Darwin match on day 15.
Takakeisho vs Okinoumi – Takakeisho knows well that he must keep Okinoumi away from his belt, and provided he succeeds, he will clear kadoban today. He holds a 8-4 career advantage over Okinoumi, and the man from Simane-ken has been fighting poorly, possibly due to a chronic injury.