Natsu Day 15 Preview

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.

14 thoughts on “Natsu Day 15 Preview

  1. Part of me honestly wants to root for Endo to steal the whole thing. That part of me which is housed entirely within the realm of chaos.

  2. But that 2-2 record does not include Takakeisho’s play-off victory over Terunofuji, right? So it is really 3-2 to the tadpole King – plus the psychological edge of having prevailed in their previous play-off.

    I agree with Steven X that an Endo win would just be so superbly unexpected that it would be the most awesome outcome.

    • I am pro-bazuke-chaos. I’m not a fan of chaos in real life but I love it on the dohyo. Endo has sated my need this tournament. Anything more is just candy.

  3. Endo has never been the most mentally stable guy, but i really want to root for him. I like him since a long time, but he has always underachieved for his talent (health, mental whatsoever). The other part of me wants Teru to win it, if only to make it to Yokozuna with a win next basho.
    Then again, if Takakeisho were to win, he would be on a Yokozuna run himself. With Asanoyama out for the foreseeable future if not ever this doesn’t look like to far of a stretch either.

    I hope Teru can mentally reset. He really looked pissed today after the bout. But if he wants to become a Yokozuna I guess this kind of adversity is exactly what he has to overcome.

    The sumo fan inside me just wants a playoff, preferably a 3 way.

    • If it’s not too untactful to ask, what is the backstory with Endo’s troubles? I know I’ve seen references that he had a difficult childhood, and that overcoming this is one of the reasons (to some extent, and among many others) why he is so very popular.

      Less fraught question, are there any guesses as to who may be in line for the special prizes?

      • The backstory for Endo’s troubles is the Osaka basho 2015 where he ruptured his ACL and decided to treat it conservatively, in other words not have a surgery and just let it naturally heal. After that he became a complete pushover for anyone using trusting attacks. It probably took him till somewhere around 2019 to fully trust his body again or for whatever other reason fix that problem.
        Endo entered sumo in 2013 as a Yokozuna in amateur sumo and there were high hopes for him to become the first japanese to win a tournament in ages and probably a Yokozuna. On top of that he apparently is considered quite attractive by japanese women. He used to have among the ost kensho in his bouts for years. probably a reason why he didn’t opt for surgery.
        Endo is not the most extrovert person and famous here on tachiai for his interviews. I don’t know what his ceiling would have been without that injury or with proper treatment of it. I think he would have been a sanyaku stable, but I also feel that he ultimately may lack a bit of that killer instinct/unbendable will that you need to get to the absolute top.

          • Those scores were from J6, M15 and M14. And he still wasn’t able to properly defend vs oshi attacks. He still had some decent tournaments, but no where near to the promise he showed before. Also he injured his ankle a few times overcompensating for the knee …

  4. When Endo first crept into view of the Cup, I joked to my partner, “What if Endo wins the yusho? He’s a snake in the grass…” If he won, that would be The Spoiler to the spoiler. As much as I enjoy the idea, I don’t think Takakeisho will force a playoff. I thank them for providing a much needed daydream chuckle.

  5. Part of me wonders whether we will enter July with TWO rope runs if Takakeisho wins his match (and the subsequent playoff) Terunofuji has been passing the eye test for yokozuna the past two basho now and I can see a 12-3 jun-yusho being enough to get him there after July if, and only if, he wins that yusho with a great score. It’d also go without saying that Takakeisho winning the yusho this basho as an ozeki would put him under yokozuna consideration as well, though he would likely be in the same boat as Teru and need to win it all in July to get it.

    If Terunofuji wins this yusho my gut tells me he will be on a rope run for July but it would be a more generous “get 12+ and contend” type of challenge. Performance as an ozeki is what really counts (which is why he was never going to get it before July no matter what he did) but it’s not like the YDC are just going to forget about the sekiwake yusho and the fact that he has been in contention for the past 4 or so basho now.

    Maybe I am just trying to convince myself to root for Takakeisho but I don’t think the possibility of getting to enjoy a double rope run basho is all that crazy. Thoughts?

    • This is an interesting point. As the day played out, Takakeisho lost the playoff…but as you said, is that enough to start a rope run of his own? I doubt it but if Takakeisho is running away with things in July, I would not be surprised if it’s on the table.

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