Welcome to the middle day of the basho, know as nakabi. This is the point where the tone of the tournament starts to shift, and it’s the point where rikishi begin to reach their 8th win, and the safety of kachi-koshi. There is a fair chance that tournament leader, Terunofuji, will hit his 8 today, and be the first man to secure his spot on the July banzuke.
He is followed by Takakeisho, one win behind. We are not yet to the stage where the Ozeki will focus on fighting each other, but that day is fast approaching. There are a few lower ranked rikishi who have to take their turns being ripped up by the Ozeki first, and we have a spread of those matches today. Thus far all of the Ozeki seem to be on course for a successful 8 with finish, with Asanoyama the closest to the make-koshi trend at 4-3, and looking somewhat iffy on some days. Maybe that heavily taped left ankle is in worse shape that we know.
What We Are Watching Day 8
Kaisei vs Ura – Welcome back to the top division, oh man in pink! We are hopeful that you can score 2 more wins and return to your home in Makuuchi. There are plenty of rikishi who have never had the pleasure of facing against your quantum sumo, and I hope that your reality bending moves are ready for a big opponent today. They fought once before, 4 years ago. Ura was the winner.
Akiseyama vs Akua – I expected this match was coming, and here it is…. Two of the worst performers of this touranment facing off to see who is more banged up and damaged. Their career record is tied up at 4-4, they are roughly the same weight and somewhat the same size. Best to get this out of the way now.
Kotoeko vs Daiamami – A pair of 4-3 rikishi working to see who will edge closer to their 8th win. I really like Daiamami’s chances today, he’s won 3 of his last 4, and seems to be getting into his sumo.
Chiyomaru vs Okinoumi – We see symmetry once more with both rikishi having 5-2 records, and both of them are likely headed for at least a kachi-koshi. I also think both of them are under-ranked if they are healthy. It will be a clash of sumo styles as Chiyomaru will work to keep it a thrusting babble, and Okinoumi will want to grab a handful of silk and muscle Chiyomaru around. Chiyomaru holds a narrow 5-3 career lead.
Ishiura vs Terutsuyoshi – Terutsuyoshi seems to be accumulating aches and pains at an alarming rate. As someone I hope to be a mainstay of the top division for a few years to come, I am looking for him to withdraw as soon as he has enough wins to ensure he can stay in the top division. He won’t likely find it today, as Ishiura has a well mapped history of putting him on the clay.
Chiyotairyu vs Kagayaki – the easy road would be for this to be a quick oshi-zumo battle. Some thrusting, some sloppy foot work, and someone tumbles off the dohyo. But we saw some solid mawashi sumo from Chiyomaru on day 7, and I am really hopeful that Chiyotairyu surprises us, and uses that approach once more.
Tsurugisho vs Kotonowaka – Back to the battle of the disappointments. I really want Kotonowaka to have a strong. basho, but it almost seems to not be in the cards this time. If it helps at all, Tsurugisho is doing even worse. I am looking to see if he has some enormous bandage on his head where he had a bleeding gash from his day 7 face plant courtesy of Tamawashi.
Tochinoshin vs Chiyoshoma – Tochinoshin, sadly, continues to fade. It’s not something he can control, in my opinion. He pushed what was left of his lower body past the limit to achieve the rank of Ozeki, and to hold it for a time. He’s going to need to work to get a left hand outside on Chiyoshoma, and remove his mobility advantage.
Tamawashi vs Takarafuji – 25 career matches between these two, and they are 12-13, essentially even. The big factor today is that for Natsu 2021, Tamawashi is fighting well, and Takarafuji is not dialed into “his brand of sumo”. As such, it’s going to be Tamawashi’s match to lose.
Hidenoumi vs Endo – I am looking for to bottle up Hidenoumi early, and to have him out of the ring in fewer than 6 steps. If Hidenoumi can find a way to extend the match, his chances of winning his first ever from Endo go up.
Shimanoumi vs Ichinojo – While Ichinojo is fighting well this May, to my eye Shimanoumi seems to have finally clicked into the honbasho groove. So if there is not a lot of kensho on this match, we may see Shimanoumi pick up his 5th win today.
Meisei vs Onosho – I continue to be amazed that so few rikishi are able to exploit Onosho’s biggest gap – his balance. He is getting better at keeping his feet, but he’s still wide open to a side step once Onosho starts hi mega-push. Meisei holds a 5-2 career record over Onosho, and I think he is one rikishi who knows exactly what to do.
Tobizaru vs Hokutofuji – As Hokutofuji continues his march toward “The most powerful make-koshi in all of sumo”, he comes up against Tobizaru today. Tobizaru came into Natsu with a lot of hope, and a double-wide attitude of can-do. Now that he’s been bashed about and had his head shoved to the chikara-mizu bucket a few times, he probably knows he needs to tune up a bit more to survive at that rank. I have zero doubt he’s going to do just that. But not today.
Takayasu vs Kiribayama – Takayasu probably has a thick layer of frustration to peel back, after winless Hokutofuji scored his first win against the former Ozeki on day 7. With his 3-0 career record against Kiribayama, he’s likely to get some satisfaction from putting this fellow into the dirt.
Wakatakakage vs Takanosho – Takanosho holds a 5-1 career lead over Wakatakakage, but this may not be indicative of how things are going to go today. Wakatakakage is fighting surprisingly well for someone at Maegashira 1, and I expect he may actually hit 8 wins at this rank. So i look for a fast fight, with Wakatakakage trying to get inside Takanosho’s thrusting range and remove his primary weapon.
Shodai vs Mitakeumi – While we are not into the Ozeki vs Ozeki matches, this one comes close in terms of interest. They have 23 career matches, and they are 11-12. Mitakeumi has taken 5 of the last 7 so I am interested to see if he can get amped up enough to dispatch the human daikon on the clay today.
Myogiryu vs Takakeisho – Twelve times Myogiryu has tried to beat Takakeisho, and 12 time he has either left the dohyo at speed or hit the clay. I see no reason for any of that to change today.
Asanoyama vs Hoshoryu – First ever match between these two, and it would be a good result for Hoshoryu to take an Ozeki scalp. Hoshoryu has some skill on the mawashi, and if he can keep Asanoyama’s left hand busy or wide of his body, he’s got a real chance to upset the man I thought would be in the lead for the cup.
Daieisho vs Terunofuji – The career score says 3-2 in favor of Terunofuji. But right now Terunofuji is just looking unstoppable. I do think that Daieisho has about a 1 in 5 chance to pull out an upset, but only if he can keep his thrusting attack strong enough to prevent the Kaiju from getting a hold of any part of his body.