The start of day 6 brings us to the second act of the Nagoya basho. 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. While most fans are tracking Hakuho and Terunofuji, a broad team of rikishi start day 6 with impressive 4-1 records. This includes 2 former yusho winners. I am starting to hope that the second week may see a strong chase group nipping at the heels of whomever holds the yusho lead coming out of the middle weekend.
At the other end, there is a matching set with 1-4 records to start day 6 that have a tough climb to attempt a kachi-koshi at this point. I suspect most of them will finish with losing records, and face demotion for September. Of special interest is former Ozeki Tochinoshin, whose body seems to have finally lost the ability to support any real sumo competition grade matches. While it’s sad for his fans to watch a great competitor fade, I can’t even being to imagine the amount of pain and discomfort this man faces at this point.
With Endo out, we once again have a banzuke imbalance, and we will see Juryo visitors daily to fill the gap.
What We Are Watching Day 6
Shohozan vs Ishiura – Shohozan continues to fade, sadly, as he has a 0-5 start to Nagoya from Juryo 1. For a seasoned veteran like Shohozan, all he needs to do is win 8 and he’s back in the top division form that rank. But it seems time and injury have taken their toll, and right now he can’t buy a win. He has a 5-1 career advantage over Ishiura (2-3), so maybe he can start to turn things around.
Chiyomaru vs Daiamami – Daiamami racked up his first win on day 3 against Chiyonoo, and has nothing since. He has a proven track record of winning against Chiyomaru (9-2), and I am sure he is looking to get his second white star today.
Ichiyamamoto vs Ura – Ura looks to have a bit less attack power than he did in May, at least to me. He seems less aggressive, and his diving attack strategy is failing to find its mark most of the time. Ichiyamamoto, on the other hand, is fighting well and his sumo seems to be working pretty well at this rank. While they have a 1-1 career history, I would give the edge on day 6 to Ichiyamamoto.
Tochinoshin vs Chiyonokuni – Hapless Tochinoshin’s only win is a henka against Terutsuyoshi. I would hope that Chiyonokuni keeps his eye on his opponent at the tachiai today. Should he manage to do that, I would look for the big Georgian to take quite a few powerful blows to the face and neck, as seems to be Chiyonokuni’s custom now. Tochinoshin has a 7-1 career advantage, but let’s face it – that was more or less a different person than the one who will mount the dohyo today.
Tsurugisho vs Kagayaki – Readers may have figured out that I am a fan of Kagayaki’s fundamentals focused sumo style. I am thrilled that he seems to have at least a marginal winning record right now, and I have high hopes that he will be able to reach 8 and achieve his first winning tournament since Aki in 2020. He has a 3-0 career record over Tsurugisho, who seems susceptible to Kagayaki’s preferred attack.
Tokushoryu vs Kotonowaka – This may seem harsh, but Kotonowaka has been underperforming since January. He has a lot of potential, and the makings of a real mainstay of the top division. Today’s match against Tokushoryu is an excellent test to see if he has gotten his sumo together enough to overcome a fairly predictable, but skilled rikishi with a lot of experience.
Tamawashi vs Terutsuyoshi – Tamawashi is not quite ready to exit the top division this year, I would say. His performance thus far has been quite solid, and I am going to look for him to dominate this match over Terutsuyoshi, who still seems to be hampered by injury. Tamawashi picked up his first loss on day 5, so he is no longer with the undefeated group at the top, but a 4-1 starting act 2 is a great score.
Hidenoumi vs Kaisei – I expect both of these rikishi to dance the make/kachi-koshi line all the way to act 3, and for them to struggle to reach 8 wins in the final weekend. The competition in the top division is very tough, and both of them are good, but not dominating this July.
Chiyonoo vs Shimanoumi – There us a significant rank difference between these two. Normally you don’t see spreads like this until act 3, but they do have a 8 match history, with Shimanoumi having 5 wins on the clay in that series. At 2-3, Shimanoumi should really try to put together at least 3 wins over the next 5 days for a good chance at a kachi-koshi. His matches start well, but he seems to be coming up about 10% short most days.
Myogiryu vs Aoiyama – For the rest of July, I am just going to assume that Myogiryu is hurt. I have no other reason that he would be 1-4 at this point, and seemingly unable to turn in par performance with his rank. He and Aoiyama have a 23 match history, with a nearly even 11-12 split. But given realities on the clay this month, the advantage is clearly for Aoiyama today.
Onosho vs Takarafuji – Oh good, this match was in my list of encounters to wait for. Onosho (2-3) is very good at preventing Takarafuji (3-2) from setting up his middle of the ring defense, and he does this through overwhelming applications of forward power. I expect more of this today, as it seems just maybe Onosho has broken free of his ring rust in the past day.
Chiyoshoma vs Hoshoryu – There is no doubt that Hoshoryu (4-1) is on a hot streak right now. He has never won against Chiyoshoma (2-3), so I look at today’s contest between them as a sort of test match. Has Hoshoryu made a step change improvement to his sumo? I would say the answer is probably, yes.
Kiribayama vs Chiyotairyu – Chiyotairyu has reverted to the cannon-ball tachiai, followed by the fast and flimsy pull. Everyone knows its coming, each day’s opponent works in the morning with his stable mates to defeat it, and come the evening’s match, it’s falling flat. I know that Chiyotairyu has a much wider range of sumo than that, but maybe he’s hurt and unable to do much more. Any way you slice it, Kiribayama has an advantage for a win today.
Okinoumi vs Tobizaru – Tobizaru’s mobility and constant motion provides a bit of a foil to Okinoumi’s preferred attack plan, capture, contain and remove. But in terms of this month on the dohyo, Okinoumi is fighting better than Tobizaru, and I think he has a clear advantage today.
Wakatakakage vs Takanosho – I am starting to foster hope that Wakatakakage (2-3) might be able to just barely make kachi-koshi his first time in san’yaku, and that would be quite the notable achievement. His sumo looks a bit faster and a bit harder even between now and May, which was an excellent 9-6 from Maegashira 1. Whatever problems Takanosho (1-4) suffered in May during his miserable Natsu basho seem to still be impacting his sumo, and he really has a significant risk for make-koshi at this point.
Takayasu vs Daieisho – There have been no apparent signs of lingering back issues with Takayasu since his return on day 3, and he has a solid 2-1 record on the dohyo this month. He holds a 9-3 career record over Daieisho (1-4), who just picked up his first win yesterday.
Meisei vs Mitakeumi – Mitakeumi (4-1), seems to be soaking up the home town love, even if the fans are forbidden to cheer while in Dolphins arena due to COVID protocols. Mitakeumi almost always does well in Nagoya, and it would be great to see him pressuring Hakuho and Terunofuji going into the final weekend. But today he’s got Meisei (2-3), who will try to keep away from Mitakeumi’s front quarter.
Shodai vs Kotoeko – Shodai, you really should win this one. You have a 2-0 record over Kotoeko, and your fans are starting to wonder what happened to your good sumo from last year.
Terunofuji vs Ichinojo – High probability (8-2) of Kaiju win #6 coming up today.
Hakuho vs Hokutofuji – This match could be a challenge for Hakuho (5-0). At least on day 5, he did anything he could to keep pressure off of his right knee. This is not too hard given that Ichinojo does not typically go side to side. This is not true of Hokutofuji (3-2), who can shift around the dohyo rapidly and with great effect. Although chances of anyone beating The Boss are narrow, I think there is a specific risk given Hokutofuji’s sumo style. I would hope he foregoes the opening nodowa and goes for as much lateral motion has he can withstand, starting from the tachiai.