I am hugely excited for the kick off of act 3 of this basho tonight. Act 3, we are going to sort everyone in make and kachi-koshi, and crown a tournament champion. Right now, the safe money is all on Terunofuji, who continues to exceed any realistic expectation of a man who a few years ago was ejected from his Ozeki rank due to crippling effects of diabetes and having no knees to speak of. Yet here he is; the toughest man in the tournament again, more or less putting up Yokozuna class results and tossing all challengers out with a hearty shove. Starting day 12, we are likely to see the Ozeki being to face each other round-robin style, and this will be some of the toughest matches of the tournament for them. If we are going to see someone put dirt on Terunofuji, this will be the time it could happen.
But realistically, the talk right now is not about if Terunofuji can win the cup, it is can he do it with a perfect 15-0 zensho.
Terunofuji would need to lost twice in his final 5 matches for anyone to have a chance to take the yusho from him. I am sure Isegahama oyakata is going to be planning a big party soon.
Hunt Group (2 wins behind): Takakeisho, Endo
5 matches remain
What We Are Watching Day 11
Enho vs Chiyomaru – Welcome back to the top division Enho. I am very sad that there is a fair chance this is the day you are going to be make-koshi, but at least the global fans will get to see it happen. The bulbous Chiyomaru holds a 4-2 career lead, and is fighting well this May. So I am guessing it will another Enho crumple zone.
Kotonowaka vs Kaisei – Matching 5-5 records up today, with a small advantage to Kaisei. If he decides he is going to be mobile, I am sure Kotonowaka will have no means to escape him. But Kaisei sometimes just fights be being huge.
Tamawashi vs Okinoumi – Two long serving, battle scared vets? Yes please! there are 24 matches between them, split right down the middle. Both of them are well on their way to kachi-koshi, neither one of them in the midst of a losing streak, so I am expecting some fun sumo from them today.
Chiyoshoma vs Kagayaki – Chiyoshoma, given his current state and the state of his opponent, is likely to shove Kagayaki around the dohyo for a while and then send him back to dressing room in a heap. I love solid Kagayaki sumo. Does anyone know where I might find some today?
Shimanoumi vs Ishiura – Shimanoumi / Shamble-no-umi… 3 losses in a row, on the road to make-koshi or a Darwin match. Pull yourself together man! I think Ishiura can win 2 of his last 5 and hit the safety of 8, but should he succumb to the shambles today, it will be almost impossible for him to escape the Juryo barge.
Chiyotairyu vs Endo – It gives me the giggles that the scheduling crew made it so Chiyotairyu had to win against Endo to get his kachi-koshi. If they are hitting the sake in that room where they draw it up, please make sure they have as much as they want. This is the kind of match-making that lets the fans know you care. Chiyotairyu’s damaged elbow seems to have been funneling him towards yotsu-zumo, which against Endo is suicidal.
Tsurugisho vs Akua – Akua needs to win 4 of his last 5 to ensure he remains in the top division for July. That’s a tall order, and its made even taller that one of those wins should probably come today against the massive Tsurugisho. Tsurugisho will have extra motivation as a loss today sends him make-koshi for May.
Daiamami vs Takarafuji – Daiamami is struggling, having lost 3 of his last 5, and looks to be headed straight for Darwin on day 15. He will get no comfort from Takarafuji, who can only hope he fares well enough to face off against another 7-7 rikishi on the final day.
Kotoeko vs Ichinojo – Much as I love Kotoeko’s sumo, it’s high time for Ichinojo to get his 8th win. He has won all 4 prior bouts against Kotoeko, and as long as he can keep his shoulder lined up against Kotoeko, he won’t be beat today.
Hidenoumi vs Terutsuyoshi – Two more find candidate for Darwin in a few days, they are both struggling to even get to even, and whomever loses today will be one step away from make-koshi. they have matching 4-6 records, but I would give a slight edge to Terutsuyoshi today as he seems to have re-connected with his spirit guide – an angry gnome spirit that picks fights with the other ghosts.
Kiribayama vs Tochinoshin – Kiribayama is already make-koshi, and a win today would give Tochinoshin the same outcome. The former Ozeki really is a day by day case, as we have no idea what kind of function he will be able to get out of his right knee over the course of any match.
Aoiyama vs Tobizaru – If there is one rikishi in this tournament that can really send Tobizaru out to visit the fans, its going to be Aoiyama. Bit Dan’s V-Twin attack packs a lot of thrust, and with Tobizaru ready to fly at any moment, we could see record setting air time out of sumo’s flying monkey.
Wakatakakage vs Hoshoryu – We highlighted these two as rising stars a few days ago, and now the drinking club that passes for a scheduling team have decided to have them battle out. We could not agree more. True Wakatakakage holds a 2-0 career record against クラーク・ケント, but both of them should be at about peak genki right now, so expecting great things….
Meisei vs Daieisho – Two more I am watching for signs of Darwin, they both have that magical 4-6 record that makes me want to start cooking chanko and putting a big as bottle of Dassai otter festival sake in the fridge for Saturday night. Sure, Meisei has never won against Daieisho. But these guys need to strive to even qualify for Darwin now.
Mitakeumi vs Hokutofuji – Come on, Mitakeumi, you can do it. Send that guy with the comically huge bandage over his eye to where you know he belongs, (say it with me now…) “The most powerful make-koshi in all of sumo”. I am talking about a make-koshi that can move mountains, a losing record so strong that the mae-zumo kids wish they could have one too. Mitakeumi, oh lofty original Tadpole, please make it so.
Takayasu vs Takakeisho – Wait, wait, don’t tell me. Takayasu, having reverted to his ancient, more potent form on day 10, goes right back to his spazzo, all over the map, flailing sumo, and gets clocked by a well timed shove from Takakeisho? Well, lets see. The other outcome is that he stays with the day 10 plan, grabs the grand tadpole with that vice-like left hand and pitches him like a bale of rice straw all the way back to his lily pad Hyogo in one long, graceful arc.
Asanoyama vs Takanosho – Well, Asanoyama, what is it going to be? will you show us your real Ozeki form a few more times before the last day? We are all hoping you will. I worry that you psyche yourself out some days, and you sell yourself short. You are the rikishi with the most upside potential on the dohyo today (yes, more than the great Terunofuji, too), if you will just put it to work.
Myogiryu vs Terunofuji – Is Myogiryu even really ready for this match? No, nobody is quite ready to face the kaiju right now. But someone has to get in the ring with him and put on the best possible fight. Right now Terunofuji really just needs 3 more wins to force a playoff. But I doubt either Endo or Takakeisho can finish with a 13-2 record this May. So realistically, 2 wins. Try to leave at least a few of his bones for his family to enshrine, please, sir!
Shodai vs Onosho – If Shodai can’t take down Mr Mega-thrust junior tadpole, then he’s going to have a sewage sandwich to eat the last 4 days. He needs 3 wins to clear kadoban.