We find ourselves happily in the middle weekend of this Natsu basho. It’s clear that the man to beat is once again Terunofuji. In fact he has been the man to beat in 4 of the last 5 touranments. That record goes – yusho, kachi-kosih kyujo (knee), jun-yusho, jun-yusho and yusho. The scores have been 13-2, 8-5-2, 13-2, 11-4, 12-3. That is Yokozuna grade sumo, dear readers. I think this is due to a combination of factors. Firstly that Terunofuji has been, from the start of his career, a gifted rikishi. He rose quickly on that natural talent, and excellent work ethic. Then came injury, illness and a fall down the banzuke. He battled back, and he returned to sumo with his skills greatly improved. Since then, he as been dominating every division as he rose up the banzuke. As I always say with someone in Terunofuji’s condition – I have no idea how long that knee can keep up. But wow, is he ever running away with it right now. I have a soft spot for plenty of other rikishi, but even his detractors must respect what he has accomplished in fact. The scores speak for themselves.
Do I expect him to get the rope? It’s looking more like we could see him take a run for it before the end of the year. I just have to wonder if he will get a chance to face Hakuho one more time (9-4 favoring The Boss), their last match was in May of 2017 – exactly 4 years ago. Video from Jason’s channel here
Note the punk ass dame-oshi from the Yokozuna
Here is a video from March of 2015 – Osaka. An ascendant Terunofuji bests Y1e Hakuho
What We Are Watching Day 7
Ishiura vs Chiyonoo – Chiyonoo up from Juryo to fill the Chiyonokuni banzuke gap. At J1w, Chiyonoo is on a kachi-koshi path at the moment, and stands a fair chance of returning to the top division for the first time since 2017. His attempt for win #5 today won’t be easy, as Ishiura holds a 7-3 career advantage.
Akiseyama vs Chiyomaru – Akiseyama needs to really, pretty much right now. He can afford a small make-koshi, but at Maegashira 13, he could certainly find himself in the queue for the Juryo barge later next week. To add to the bad news Chiyomaru is genki, and has a 4-2 career advantage. Good luck big stuff!
Kaisei vs Okinoumi – More of that over-sized 4-2 crowd: we get the every enormous Kaisei against grizzled veteran Okinoumi. I expect that Kaisei will attempt to limit mobility in this match, and resort to being huge. This works as both an offensive and defensive strategy, it seems. In fact I sort of assume that if Kaisei just assumed a defensive crouch at the shikiri-sen, his opponent might genuinely wear themselves into a frazzle trying to attack him, and eventually fall away exhausted. Of course, it would be fun to watch, but it might be boring for Kaisei.
Kotoeko vs Chiyotairyu – Clearly the scheduling committee is trying hard to winnow the 14 or so rikishi at 4-2 down by pairing them up to fight each other. Now we have pocket powerhouse Kotoeko and the sumo thunder-demon Chiyotairyu. If Kotoeko can keep his feet for the first 10 seconds, I am going to guess he can take this match.
Akua vs Chiyoshoma – A break for the 4-2 derby, we revert to “Grizzled heavy vets struggling at Natsu”, as Akua (1-5) takes on Chiyoshoma (3-3). I have to confess, much as I do love Akua, I am really keen to see Chiyoshoma continue to win doing more or less straight ahead sumo. Chiyoshoma holds a 4-2 career advantage.
Kotonowaka vs Daiamami – Staying with the 3-3 theme, we have Kotonowaka (3-3) against Daiamami (3-3), with a career record of 3-3. No word on if they will bend scheduling guidelines and have this match in the middle of Juryo at 3:30, or maybe hold it at the beginning of SAN-yaku. Sorry, the puns work better in Japanese, so I will just say 39 and leave it at that. (三九)
Shimanoumi vs Terutsuyoshi – No, not more bloody threes. Ok, just one more. It’s 3-3 Shimanoumi against 1-5 Terutsuyoshi. It’s a shame about Terutsuyoshi, who seems to have lost about 20% of his sumo power. Maybe they grafted some of his life force into Terunofuji’s knees for the basho. I hear those Isegahama guys are pretty tight like that.
Tsurugisho vs Tamawashi – And now we flip over into the mirror universe, and we see the anti-Tsurugisho (at 2-4) taking on Tamawashi at 4-2. Did I mention that some folks in Japan like to tell jokes with numbers? I think I can 四 how they might do that through the torikumi. This is their first time meeting, so if Tsurugisho really is from the mirror universe, that means that right now OUR Tsurugisho is leading some kind of yusho race in bizzaro Japan.
Kagayaki vs Takarafuji – Two other refugees from the mirror universe, the face off with matching 2-4 records. Kagayaki, well, I am just about to write him off for now. Takarafuji, I am guessing he also donated some of his life force to Terunofuji to keep him whole for the entire 15 days. Even bizzaro Isegahama rikishi are in for the cause.
Tochinoshin vs Endo – Rounding out our 4 transplants from the mirror universe, bizzaro Tochinoshin at 2-4 faces off against Endo at 4-2. I have a strong idea that Endo is going to be able to take bizzaro Tochinoshin apart today, and send him back through the portal with clay all over him.
Hidenoumi vs Ichinojo – But wait, there is more! Another 4-2 pairing, just to make it fun. We are going to have Hidenoumi take on the Boulder. If there is a lot of kensho, Ichinojo will beat him like a tent peg at a yellowstone camp site. If not, it’s time for Hidenoumi to adjust that 1-5 career deficit.
Onosho vs Tobizaru – Of course Onosho is with the rest of the 4-2 crowd, but rather than give him 4-2 Mitakeumi, they let him try his mega-push against the hapless flying monkey. Before you take too much pity on Tobizaru, he holds a 2-0 career advantage over Onosho, so maybe he can start that rally today.
Wakatakakage vs Meisei – We are still playing with numbers and opposites, even this far up the torikumi. It seems to me that maybe the oyakata hit the pub early and just decided to have some fun with it. I don’t blame them one bit, as they need to do something to make the leaderboard tomorrow manageable. I am looking at Wakatakakage, and thinking that if one of the san’yaku stumble this time, he may actually fit in at the top for a bit.
Mitakeumi vs Daieisho – Now we just jumble everything up. It’s 三四, and if they can get this match to happen at 4:30, it will be even funnier. The two share a 8-7 career record, so they are equally likely to knock the stuffing out of each other. Maybe Mitakeumi can vent some of that day 6 post-match frustration into giving Daieisho an ultra-wedgie for a win.
Takayasu vs Hokutofuji – With Takayasu coming in at 5-1, we can congratulate him on one hand for being tied for second place behind Terunofuji on one hand. We can also jeer at him for messing up the number jokes. But this match was going to be an oddball anyhow as Takayasu’s up against winless Hokutofuji. They are fairly evenly balanced over their careers, but once Hokutofuji gets locked into that make-koshi run, it’s hard to get him to change his mind.
Hoshoryu vs Takakeisho – This is a magical time in a rikishi’s career. Their first ranking in the joi-jin. They get to see the top men in sumo up close, and get tossed about and sent packing. I am sure that Hoshoryu will be back some day, but first I expect Takakeisho to put some dirt on him today. This is their first ever fight.
Asanoyama vs Myogiryu – Asanoyama, you had better win this one.
Takanosho vs Terunofuji – You think, “Hey, it’s the Kaiju, he will make fast work of Onigiri-kun”. But in fact Takanosho holds a 4-1 career advantage over Terunofuji. Sadly I don’t have some terrible Japanese number joke to throw in with this one, just a hope to see Takanosho put up at least a decent struggle.
Shodai vs Kiribayama – I can’t stop thinking about Kiribayama slamming Asanoyama to the dohyo on day 6. He does not seem to be able to do that every day, but it was most interesting to see yesterday. Shodai holds a 3-0 career lead over Kiribayama, so I am going to guess that Shodai will survive to be 5-2 on Sunday.