Of course, the scheudlers will try to push the yusho decision to late on the final day, if possible. For that to work out, we need to have Takayasu and Terunofuji either both win or both lose today. We now know, entering the final weekend, that Takakeisho does in fact clear kadoban in March, and that Terunofuji is likely to resume his Ozeki rank, completing one of the most astounding recoveries in the history of sports. While I doubt that it will get much coverage outside of sumo fandom, a note to our readers – you are watching rarefied history unfolding before our eyes.
The last story line – the yusho, is very much in question now. Both Takayasu and Terunofuji enter day 14 with 10 wins. This means the yusho winner will have a score no better than 12-3, and that’s not overly strong. But hey, it’s a transition period. We have a group of 5 rikishi, including Takakiesho and Asanoyama one win behind. Should the unexpected take place, and both leaders lose on day 14, the final day could be a multi-way barnyard brawl for the Emperor’s cup. Tachiai readers know how much I love a good doom-battle between giant men, each competing for a styrofoam macaron. I know it’s hard on fans of Takayasu and Terunofuji, but as always the strongest man with the best sumo will rise to the top. I have absolute certainty that the best rikishi will carry the day, and hoist the hardware at the end of day 15.
Aoiyama yusho, anyone?
Leaders: Takayasu, Terunofuji
Chasers: Asanoyama, Takakeisho, Wakatakakage, Aoiyama, Hidenoumi
2 Matches Remain
What We Are Watching Day 14
Akiseyama vs Kotoeko – The winner of this match flat out gets their kachi-koshi, the loser gets to be a candidate for a Darwin match on Sunday. Good luck guys, you have both competed well this march.
Chiyotairyu vs Kaisei – A Kaisei win today, and he reaches the safety of 8. A loss to make-koshi Chiyotairyu, and it’s Darwin time for the big Brazilian. Kaisei holds a 15-5 career advantage.
Chiyoshoma vs Kotoshoho – Sucks to be Chiyoshoma today. If you win, you get to join a rather generous group of Darwin candidates, if you lose you are make-kosh, from a guy who was kyujo for most of the basho.
Midorifuji vs Tsurugisho – Man, Midorifuji, will you please just go kyujo and get that back worked on before you end up face down on the clay while they spend time declaring Tsurugisho the winner, then figuring out what to do?
Daiamami vs Hoshoryu – I think we know the theme for today, Daiamami is next in the breech. He either wins against a really genki Hoshoryu, or joins the group headed for Darwin matches.
Kotonowaka vs Yutakayama – This one is likely being used to determine just how far down the banzuke they are going to punt Yutakayama for May. It makes me sad as when he’s healthy he’s a solid rikishi. He could end the day 4-10.
Tochinoshin vs Hidenoumi – Sure, lets throw in a first time match where a couple of older rikishi face off. Its Tochinoshin’s turn in the breech, and he either takes him make-koshi at the hands of a rikishi who has failed to get a winning record in the top division for 52 basho (congrats to Hidenoumi for not making it 53), or he qualifies for a day 15 Darwin match.
Terutsuyoshi vs Kagayaki – Terutsuyoshi’s turn in the breech, a win today over already make-koshi Kagayaki will qualify for a Darwin match on day 15.
Meisei vs Tamawashi – In a break from the theme, we get to see if Meisei can extend his record to 9 wins this March in a match against Tamawashi, who is already make-koshi, and won their only prior contest.
Hokutofuji vs Ryuden – Ryuden looks hurt, and has been struggling all March. He fights a genki, kachi-koshi man 8 ranks higher in the banzuke (Hokutofuji) for a chance to qualify into the Darwin group on day 15.
Aoiyama vs Wakatakakage – This match is to narrow the group 1 win behind the leaders. I would normally pick Aoiyama with ease, but given Wakatakakage’s day 13 performance, I am sure he is still pumped up from beating yusho race leader Takayasu.
Takarafuji vs Okinoumi – Oh man, that an ominous match. Two long serving vets, each with disastrous make-koshi records. I don’t really care who wins this one, I just want them to come back in May in far better form.
Shimanoumi vs Onosho – Almost as grim are these two younger rikishi with disastrous records from the joi-jin. With 19 losses between them before day 14, you know they are in for some serious downward pressure in their Natsu rank.
Takayasu vs Tobizaru – Dear Takayasu, pull it together man. You looked hurt on day 13, and you looked like you were a bit worn out. Two more matches, and you can take your first yusho. Do not underestimate Tobizaru. He seems to have absorbed some Yoshikaze like sumo, and that means he can beat anyone on the right day.
Kiribayama vs Daieisho – At this point, we all want to know if Daieisho is going to be able to rally from that horrible 1-5 start and finish March with a kachi-koshi. A loss today to Kiribayama today means that he too would join the Darwin group.
Myogiryu vs Mitakeumi – Two men in the breech at once! The loser is make-koshi, the winner joins the Darwin group.
Ichinojo vs Takanosho – Great sorting match, with two men in the breech again. It’s either Ichinojo with a kachi-koshi and Takanosho make-koshi, or both men join the Darwin group.
Shodai vs Takakeisho – Shodai in the breech next, if he loses today to Takakeisho (who holds a 7-5 career advantage), he’s in the Darwin group as well. If he wins, he’s safe with 8.
Terunofuji vs Asanoyama – Asanoyama has never beaten Terunofuji. But should he manage to do so today, it would blow the yusho race wide open should Takayasu also lose. A lot hinges on the final bout of today, and the pressure is going to be amazing.