We find ourselves at the end of act 2, with the middle third of the tournament almost spent. Act 2 is where we narrow the field to find out who has what it takes to compete for the yusho, and to start sorting the survivors from the damned. its now crystal clear that Terunofuji has the potential to run away with the yusho, and may even have a shot at a perfect 15-0 result. He has the toughest part of the schedule yet to complete, but as of today, nobody can approach his level of competition.
With Takakeisho’s loss day 9, nobody is close to Terunofuji now. He could just walk away with this thing.
Hunt Group (2 wins behind): Takakeisho, Mitakeumi, Ichinojo, Endo, Chiyotairyu
6 matches remain
What We Are Watching Day 10
Akua vs Azumaryu – Today it’s Azumaryu’s turn to visit the top division, but he is not in any position to be considered for return to his former Maegashira rank. He has a 4-0 career record with Akua, and the two of them have matching 3-6 records. So very much a scratch-n-dent match to open day 10’s top division bouts.
Ishiura vs Okinoumi – These two have not fought since September of 2018, so it’s going to be a lot like fresh ground for both of them. The past couple of days, we have seen improving sumo from Ishiura, and we have seen Okinoumi drop a match to Ichinojo. So I am expecting them both to come in at full power and ready to win.
Chiyomaru vs Terutsuyoshi – I am looking for Terutsuyoshi to put a lot of energy into getting Chiyomaru off balance, and maybe bouncing like an errant weather balloon. All he needs to do is start that guy rolling, and he may make it all the way to the Sumida river.
Shimanoumi vs Kaisei – Both of these guys are on course for a mild make-koshi, but Kaisei needs to try to dodge that outcome given his M15e rank. True, there are rikishi in worse shape who may muscle themselves in line ahead of him on the Juryo barge of the damned, but why tempt fate? Shimanoumi has lost his last 2, so he may have picked up a problem in week 1,
Kotoeko vs Kagayaki – Kagayaki holds a 10-3 career record over the muscular Kotoeko, but he’s been fighting quite poorly this basho, and that may not indicate much going into this day 10 match. I would love to see Kagayaki return to form, but right now that does not seem to be probable.
Tsurugisho vs Chiyotairyu – Both of them are big, round fellows, and both of them have been able to bring a hefty pile of explosive energy into the early moments of their matches. But I am going to eagerly see if yet again Chiyotairyu chooses to fight via the mawashi rather than his prior normal of tsuki/oshi sumo. Chiyotairyu comes in with a 7-2 record, where as Tsurugisho is at a humble 2-7, and faces the real possibility of make-koshi today.
Kotonowaka vs Endo – It’s school time on the dohyo as youngster Kotonowaka gets to take a short class with a master sumo tactician. Kotonowaka has never won a match against Endo, and there is little chance that this will change today.
Tochinoshin vs Daiamami – This first time match runs the real risk of being a last-time match as well. Tochinoshin really seemed to have significantly re-injured his damaged knee on day 9, and I would not be surprised to see him withdraw from the tournament prior to today’s match. His next loss would send him to make-koshi. He’s ranked M7e, so the chances of him dropping out of the top division are minimal. The worry is that once Tochinoshin’s knee gives out, there may be no route back for him to fighting form.
Hidenoumi vs Tamawashi – A surprisingly well balanced match, these two are roughly equivalent size and strength. Tamawashi tends towards higher intensity, and Hidenoumi toward higher endurance. Their prior matches are split 1-1, so it’s going to be a solid clash of styles.
Chiyoshoma vs Ichinojo – Chiyoshoma holds a 5-3 career record over Ichinojo, but has lost the last 3 in a row. So let’s see if Chiyoshoma’s new no-nonsense sumo baffles Ichinojo and carries the day.
Aoiyama vs Takarafuji – This one is going stink, and I am sure we will be able to feel it all the way in Dallas. Takarafuji is not fighting well, he’s 2 losses away from make-koshi. Aoiyama just came back from a first half kyujo. He’s rested, and ready, and can bludgeon just about anyone into tapioca pudding on a given day. He also has a 21-4 career record over Takarafuji. Ouch…
Myogiryu vs Tobizaru – Now that Tobizaru is safely make-koshi, will his sumo improve? If it does, it would not be the first time that this has happened. If it helps at all, Myogiryu has been fighting poorly as well, and may not be able to offer too much offense.
Hoshoryu vs Hokutofuji – I am excited to see if Hoshoryu can keep his win streak rolling. Hokutofuji is making some kind of move to NOT end up with the “Most Powerful Make-Koshi In All of Sumo”, and that simply will not do. So please, Hoshoryu, help that fellow reach his destiny.
Wakatakakage vs Daieisho – Wakatakakage needs to win 3 of the last 5 to hit kachi-koshi for May, which would be quite an achievement for his first visit to the top of the rank and file. But today he draws Daieisho, who is fresh from putting his friend Ozeki Takakeisho into the dirt on day 9. They have 2 prior matches, which they split 1-1.
Meisei vs Takanosho – Fans on social media are starting to wonder (on Tachiai as well): “What happened to Takanosho?”. It’s a fair question, his performance has taken a measurable dip, and he’s now 3-6, and sailing for a removal from the Sekiwake slot he has held for almost a year. Meisei holds a 6-0 career record over this Takanosho, so it could get ugly today.
Asanoyama vs Mitakeumi – It’s time for the spicy meatball sandwich at the end of the top division, where the Ozeki are facing increasingly potent opponents. Let’s start with this saucy morsel, where struggling Ozeki Asanoyama has to overcome perpetual spoiler Mitakeumi. Coming in with a 7-2 score for Natsu, and a 6-4 career match lead, it’s going to be a bit of a hill to climb for Asanoyama today.
Kiribayama vs Terunofuji – Well, to be honest, I don’t expect Kiribayama to offer much of a fight today, unless he has one of those flashes of brilliance we know he is capable of. Stand by, Kiribayama, the Kaiju is a’commin through.
Shodai vs Takayasu – Back to the next spicy number for our supper on day 10, it’s this box-car of sumo doom. Normally Shodai uses some of his best cartoon sumo against wild and crazy Takayasu. But his sumo mechanics are so off normal right now, it’s tough to know what he can muster. Shodai does have a 12-8 career record against the hairy one, but I think I give an edge to Takayasu today.
Onosho vs Takakeisho – What better way to end the day with a good old tadpole battle. It’s the Grand Tadpole vs the Mega-thrust, and it’s going to come down to the tachiai. I am looking for Takakeisho to hit and deflect early, and try not to let Onosho square his shoulders against Takakeisho’s body. May the best bull frog win!