It’s the start of the final weekend of the basho, and we are at the cusp of resolving some story lines around this tournament, including some new ones that have presented themselves as the past 12 days of competition were written into history. I like Terunofuji’s chances of beating an Ozeki in the last three days, and that would give him 10. I like Takayasu’s chances of going 12-3 or 13-2 to take the yusho, and that would not just hand him a cup, but give him a solid start to re-taking his former Ozeki rank. Of the three contestants for the cup, Takayasu has the easier route. He faces Wakatakakage today, and two rikishi ranked below Ozeki for day 14 and 15. I think those may be Tobizaru and Chiyonokuni, both of which will give him a good battle.
Chasers: Asanoyama, Terunofuji, Tobizaru
Hunt Group: Takakeisho, Wakatakakage, Meisei, Tobizaru, Chiyonokuni, Aoiyama, Hidenoumi
3 Matches Remain
What We Are Watching Day 13
Kotoeko vs Chiyomaru – Hey! Chiyomaru is today’s Juryo visitor. With 9-3 at Juryo 3, there is a fair chance this supremely round fellow will re-join the elite ranks of the top division for May. He faces Kotoeko, who has to be less than thrilled. Kotoeko needs 2 wins out of the last 3 to avoid make-koshi, and he has a 3-5 career deficit against Chiyomaru.
Akiseyama vs Yutakayama – Likewise Akiseyama needs to win 2 of his last 3 to avoid make-koshi, and he’s against already Juryo-bound Yutakayama today. Yutakayama is really looking unwell, and I think that for his last 3 matches, he will be hard pressed to find any more wins.
Hidenoumi vs Kotoshoho – I can’t wait to see if Kotoshoho can win 2 in a row after coming back from 8 days kyujo. This guy really can show some great sumo, and was completely off his form for the first 3 days of the basho. Maybe he was able to fix whatever the problem was, and he’s back to good form?
Chiyotairyu vs Daiamami – Surprisingly, a first ever match between these two rikishi. Chiyotairyu needs to win all of his last 3 to avoid make-koshi, and Daiamami needs 2. I expect this mathematical impossibility to result in some hard hitting action today.
Chiyoshoma vs Ryuden – Likewise, both of these guys are in dire need of wins in the remaining 3 days, with Chiyoshoma needing 3 and Ryuden needing 2. Both of them will likely remain in the top division if the expected make-koshi should happen. But you can maybe look for some kind of full-throttle henka action from Chiyoshoma today.
Midorifuji vs Kaisei – What kind of cruel oyakata would put an injured Midorifuji up against nearly 200 kg of Kaisei? There is literally 100kg different between these guys. Kaisei, please be gentle on this guy. First ever match.
Chiyonokuni vs Tsurugisho – Tsurugisho needs one more to complete his 8, but he’s going to really have a challenge against Chiyonokuni. Chiyonokuni holds a 3-1 career advantage, and he is been fighting really well.
Aoiyama vs Tobizaru – Both are fighting well, both are kachi-koshi already, and I expect some sparks out of this match today. Will it be Big Dan’s V-Twin crushing attack, or will we see Tobizaru’s hit and move sumo carry the day? Bring it on!
Kotonowaka vs Terutsuyoshi – Terutsuyoshi still has a chance to rescue his score and achieve his 8th win, but he will need to win 2 more. He’s got Kotonowaka, who has been struggling since day 1, and has not been able to put together back to back wins this March.
Hoshoryu vs Kagayaki – A Hoshoryu win today is kachi-koshi for him and make-koshi for Kagayaki. But I don’t think it’s quite that cut and dried. I think we may see some solid fundamentals overcome at least some of Hoshoryu’s defenses. Hoshoryu won their only prior match, but Kagayaki is motivated by being one loss away from his 8th defeat.
Kiribayama vs Tochinoshin – Sort of a pre-Darwin match. The loser is make-koshi today, and the other gets to struggle on and hope to win 2 more. Simply put, both of them are a bit too banged up to really achieve kachi-koshi in this tournament, so I hope they are plotting their strong return in May.
Okinoumi vs Shimanoumi – Good grief! Both of them have terrible 3-9 records starting the match today. One of them will exit with a staggering 10 losses on the dohyo. Move over Onosho, you may have competition for the worst record of Haru.
Hokutofuji vs Ichinojo – Did you know you wanted to see this match? I know I did. You have Ol’Stompy going up against the Mongolian Boulder, and the winner gets kachi-koshi. You could note that Hokutofuji holds a 6-4 career record, but Ichinojo is fighting quite well right now, and will be tough for Hokutofuji to beat.
Takarafuji vs Onosho – Oh wait, it CAN get worse than the Okinoumi vs Shimanoumi match. Both of them are 2-10! Is it possible for either of the Maegashira 1’s have such a bad record that they could fall completely out of the top division? I sure hope not. No matter who wins this match, it’s a sore subject.
Meisei vs Daieisho – Daieisho has never lost to Meisei, so I am expecting him to power this thing across the bales with a flurry of thrusting attacks. Daieisho needs 2 more wins for kachi-koshi, and that would be a remarkable recovery from his 1-5 start.
Tamawashi vs Mitakeumi – The loser of today’s mini-Darwin match gets a make-koshi for March, and the winner gets to struggle on. Both of them are likely headed for 8 losses, we are just working to see which day they hit that number. Mitakeumi holds a 22-7 career record, so it’s not good news for the cookie-baker.
Takayasu vs Wakatakakage – Going into the final 3 days, the pressure really starts to mount. I personally think that Takayasu has the upper hand in this match, even though Wakatakakage has a narrow 2-1 career advantage. He’s been close to winning the cup, with 4 jun-yusho in his career. But long suffering fans wonder if this is the time he can actually take home the hardware.
Myogiryu vs Takanosho – Takanosho needs 2 of his last 3 to hit kachi-koshi, and keep his Sekiwake slot. Given the number of wins Takayasu may end up with, and a likely Ozeki re-promotion for Terunofuji, there could be a rather interesting shuffle in the san’yaku. A loss today puts Myogiryu make-koshi for Haru.
Takakeisho vs Asanoyama – It’s time for the Ozeki battles! And first up is Takakeisho and Asanoyama. Who gets the first hit, and will it be a yotsu-zumo fight that favors Asanoyama, or will Takakeisho open a gap in Asanoyama’s defenses and attack with his tsuppari? Both are kachi-koshi, so this is just battling for wins right now.
Shodai vs Terunofuji – Terunofuji just needs to beat one of these guys, and I like his chances best against Shodai. Since Terunofuji’s return to the top division, he has a 2-1 record against Shodai, winning the last two. Clearly he knows how to do it, and I am hoping that we get to see some full bore kaiju action today to seal the deal on promotion.