It’s been a wild ride up to now, but we are on the cusp of the final weekend now. The Friday / Day 13 matches will set the stage for the close of the yusho race, and once again it’s Terunofuji in the lead, with the only credible challenger being Ozeki Takakeisho. Looking across the torikumi, you can once again see the intent of the schedulers in driving a pool of rikishi closer to a 7-7 score at the end of day 14, setting up a cohort to face single elimination matches, or as I call them, “Darwin matches”.
Due to Asanoyama’s withdrawal from the tournament, we are not seeing Ozeki on Ozeki fights just yet, as the Ozeki are facing their last rank and file opponents today. None of them are particularly high threat matches, but each of their opponents does have the potential to pull in an upset.
Two more wins for Terunofuji, and its fish time…
Hunter (2 wins behind): Endo
3 matches remain
What We Are Watching Day 13
Kaisei vs Chiyoshoma – Well, the schedulers are back to having fun with numbers. Both rikishi come in with matching 6-6 records, and they have a career tie at 4-4. So why not have them battle it out? We know the goal is for both of them to be 7-7 at the end of day 14, so lets go. I like Kaisei’s chances a bit better on this one.
Kotonowaka vs Chiyomaru – Matching 7-5 records for these two. The winner gets kachi-koshi and avoids the day 15 drama. Chiyomaru is on a bit of a week 2 fade right now, so I am going to say he has a small disadvantage for this match.
Akua vs Terutsuyoshi – Akua is already make-koshi, and headed back to Juryo at 4-8. Terutsuyoshi is at 5-7, but is at no risk of Juryo demotion. I am sure he would very much want to somehow win his last 3 matches and steal a kachi-koshi on day 15. He has a healthy 6-2 career advantage.
Tamawashi vs Chiyotairyu – Chiyotairyu is kachi-koshi at 8-4, elbow injury included. Tamawashi is 6-6, and can escape the day 15 festivities by winning his next 2. I am kind of curious to see how much longer Chiyotairyu stays in if that arm continues to be sore.
Ishiura vs Kagayaki – Fun with numbers day 3 continues with this pair at 5-7. The loser will get a plum make-koshi and avoid the senshuraku rush. I give Ishiura an advantage today, as I think he is fighting better. It would be a shame to see him take a make-koshi and return to Juryo with Enho.
Shimanoumi vs Okinoumi – kachi-koshi Okinoumi up against 6-6 Shimanoumi in a battle that is chock full of umi. In fact, there is so much umi around that we are likely to see a flock of seagulls perched on the Kokugikan. I would be surprised to see Shimanoumi win this one, but maybe Okinoumi will back off the throttle a bit given his safe score.
Kiribayama vs Kotoeko – A howler of a match here! Kiribayama has been having a terrible basho up at M4e, and now he has a chance to fight someone lower down the banzuke. But who does he get? Kotoeko! Well, Kotoeko has never won against Kiribayama, but Kotoeko is at 7-5, and could really use the win today.
Aoiyama vs Daiamami – Daiamami at 6-6 is also caught in the funnel leading him to day 15 Darwin drama. He has a 2-5 career deficit against Aoiyama, but can take some comfort in the fact that Aoiyama is far from 100% right now.
Tochinoshin vs Tobizaru – Both are make-koshi, and this match is probably just to see who drops farther down the banzuke in July. I give a slight edge to Tobizaru because I think he can keep Tochinoshin off of his belt.
Meisei vs Tsurugisho – Meisei is another 6-6 rikishi who is most assuredly “in the funnel” and would need some solid sumo over the next 2 days to avoid the fate the scheduling committee has planned for him. His opponent, Tsurugisho, is already make-koshi, but he has a 6-2 career advantage over Meisei.
Wakatakakage vs Hokutofuji – A battle of great interest to me, If Wakatakakage, he is make-koshi will delivering the long expected 8th loss to Hokutofuji. But i could see this going the other way, keeping them in the funnel to day 15’s Darwin roster. Wakatakakage won their only prior match, but they have both fought well thus far, and will bring a lot of power to this match.
Hidenoumi vs Daieisho – Hidenoumi is one loss away from make-koshi himself, his best hope is to win the next 2 matches and stay in the funnel. Daieisho already has 8 losses, and has been fighting poorly this month. I hope whatever has robbed him of his sumo can be addressed before July.
Mitakeumi vs Onosho – Oh good! A tadpole fight. Onosho is very much in the funnel at 6-6, and headed straight for a day 15 Darwin match. I am predicting that Mitakeumi picks up win number 8 today and is safely kachi-koshi. There is a respectable chance that Onosho will catch Mitakeumi with a big thrust and send him out in a hurry. I expect this one to be over in 6 steps or less.
Hoshoryu vs Takanosho – Takanosho is sadly make-koshi at 4-8, and needs to win out to ensure he does not abandon san’yaku all together. Meanwhile, should Hoshoryu lose today, he will also be make-koshi. A win, and he stays in the Darwin funnel. This is their first ever match.
Takayasu vs Myogiryu – Myogiryu has a distinct career advantage (13-9) over Takayasu, who has to be thinking about getting 10 wins at this point and maintaining a shot as hatching an Ozeki run soon. A loss today would make Myogiryu make-koshi, and a win today would keep him in the funnel.
Ichinojo vs Terunofuji – A delightful pairing, this one will likely be all Terunofuji. But it will be fun to see him power through the Boulder. Both are kachi-koshi, so I expect Terunofuji just has to get a commanding hold on Ichinojo and he will go soft. On the other hand, I expect a big stack of kensho on this match, so Ichinojo might be rather fired up….
Shodai vs Takarafuji – Shodai has a 13-3 career advantage over Takarafuji. If he does not put him away today, clearing kadoban and reaching kachi-koshi, I am just going to give up hope on the human daikon. Takarafuji comes in 6-6, and is squarely in the middle of the day 15 funnel, win or lose today.
Endo vs Takakeisho – A fun match to finish the day. Endo will want some kind of a mawashi hold, and Takakeisho will try to boost him to relativistic speed using overwhelming oshi-zumo. I can’t wait to see who is going to win this one. A loss today by Takakeisho could knock him out of the chase for the yusho, so lots on the line. He has a 7-3 career advantage over Endo.