At last, we come to the end of it. I consider this basho to be a healthy preview of the post Hakuho era, as “The Boss” did not even cast a shadow over this May’s proceedings. Its all be up to the Ozeki, and for some of them, they are just fine in that esteemed role. With luck, we will get to see the greatest Yokozuna of the recorded history of sumo mount the dohyo in competition at least one more time before we fully embrace the new age of sumo.
There is, sadly, only one Darwin match. It seems the rikishi corps recognized the funnel, and decided to own their fates, took their losses, and exited the march toward the 7-7 single elimination format. There is always July…
Of course all eyes are on the final two matches of this final day of Natsu. Ideally Shodai would take Endo apart as an Ozeki should to a Maegashira 8. But Endo is under ranked this basho, and Shodai is not anywhere close to his Ozeki form. And Endo win would stage him to challenge for the yusho, if…
The final match, Terunofuji has to defeat Takakeisho to take the cup. Should he lose, he either faces Takakeisho again, or Takakeisho and Endo. History describes Terunofuji having a poor record in yusho playoffs, the playoff against an injured Kisenosato in Osaka comes immediately to mind. To me, this is a test to see if he really has gone beyond his mark reached during his first tenure as Ozeki, his sumo is better, he is more focused, but did he also gain the mental toughness to be the best on the dohyo? We will get to see in just about 12 hours.
What We Are Watching Day 15
Kotonowaka vs Ishiura – I am looking for Ishiura to win this one, and both to finish at 7-8. Our ace prognosticator, lksumo, sees a high likelihood for Ishiura to stay in the top division for July, in part because there are not enough promotable scores at the top of Juryo for a big swap.
Daiamami vs Kagayaki – Both exited the funnel on day 14, and get to compete for a possible 7-8 finishing record.
Shimanoumi vs Chiyoshoma – The lone Darwin match, with both men having a 2-2 career record. I like Chiyoshoma in this one, because I know he is an expert at some janky sumo when he needs it, and today he needs it.
Chiyomaru vs Takarafuji – Takarafuji should pick up a final win today to finish 7-8, mostly because he has a well earned reputation for being able to be Chiyomaru (8-1 career).
Tochinoshin vs Kaisei – Tochinoshin is bound to take a solid slide down the ranks for July, even if he picks up a final win today to close out at 6-9. Fortunately for him, the rest of the banzuke is likely to be a scrambled mess.
Hidenoumi vs Akua – Two more looking at substantial drops, and I am pretty sure they will send Akua down to the middle of Juryo, even if he picks up a final win today against 5-9 Hidenoumi.
Chiyotairyu vs Onosho – Onosho needs one more win to finish with kachi-koshi, and he drew a tough opponent to overcome to reach the safety of 8. True there are 9 ranks between them, but Chiyotairyu has been fighting well all month, where Onosho is very much day by day. They have a 5-5 career record.
Kiribayama vs Tsurugisho – Two more with big drops in their near future, we Tsurugisho at 4-10 against Kiribayama at 5-9. I am sure who wins this one matters in the banzuke room, but both men are going to want to re-set following this May’s results.
Aoiyama vs Terutsuyoshi – Even if he loses today, it looks like Aoiyama’s mid-basho return likely helped him. He picked up at least 4 wins, and kept his move down the ranks in some degree of check. It would be good to see Terutsuyoshi pick up a final win and finish 7-8.
Hoshoryu vs Tobizaru – A little sad for Hoshoryu, who came away with a make-koshi for his first trip to the joi-jin. Such results are common, and I have no doubt that he will be back. He will sharpen his sumo, gain a bit of mass and hit a bit harder next time. If he ends up around M8 or so for July, he should be able to turn in a fairly solid score.
Meisei vs Okinoumi – Both are kachi-koshi, but 10 ranks separate them – wow! That being said, right now Okinoumi is more than a match for Meisei, and we should see him continue his 6-0 dominance of the Tatsunami man.
Tamawashi vs Hokutofuji – To be honest, they both fought well this tournament, but Tamawashi maybe fought a bit better. It’s a bit sad to watch him age out of the sport, much as our dear departed Yoshikaze did. They have an even 6-6 career record, so this one is a complete toss up.
Wakatakakage vs Kotoeko – I would love to see Wakatakakage hit double digits, and if he does, I would not be surprised to see him holding a sansho trophy and grinning at the end of the day. He has a career deficit of 4-1 against Kotoeko, so he needs to really gamberize today.
Myogiryu vs Daieisho – Daieisho needs to go back and get a sumo tune up. He is quite distant from his unstoppable oshi-zumo that gave him the Hatsu yusho. The truth is, these guys get hurt in practice, and their performance suffers. Whatever has robbed him of his sumo, I hope he can make repairs and return strong in July.
Mitakeumi vs Ichinojo – Matching 9-5 records, and we get to see which man can take it to double digits. The career record favors Mitakeumi 10-4, but that is no reason to not look for Ichinojo to pay the size card. For him, its a very large card indeed.
Takayasu vs Takanosho – The Sekiwake finally battle it out, and their records are mirror images: Takayasu at 10-4 and Takanosho at 4-10. This is more than just a filler match, Takayasu may be on the verge of piecing together an Ozeki run, and the 11th win in May would actually make things a bit more practical for him in July.
Shodai vs Endo – The first of the big matches. Shodai holds a 7-3 career record against Endo, and I would love to think that he can finally unpack some of his acme sumo from that cartoon bag and use it to drop an anvil on an opponent. But who are we kidding? Shodai has been limp all May, and Endo is really genki right now.
Terunofuji vs Takakeisho – This one is likely for the rights to lift a big fish, and I expect both of them to attempt do blow the other one off the dohyo. Takakeisho with an earth shattering shove, Terunofuji dumping him over the edge like a toxic bag of week old shellfish. They have a 2-2 career record since 2020, so look for a brawl to end it all.