It’s the middle weekend of the first Nagoya basho in 2 years, and we have a lot of high interest sumo coming our way. We have the potential of two rikishi hitting kachi-koshi on the middle day (Hakuho and Terunofuji), and a team of rikishi battling it out to stay on a kachi-koshi path. For day 7, we have a couple of long running rivalries and a couple of first ever match ups. The big focus is on the two undefeated leaders, with the question of staying perfect very much top of our minds. One of them is going to lose a match first, and that’s when the drama really gets started.
If it will be Hakuho, there will be a chorus of people from the sumo press to declare him ready for the barber right away. There seems to be a fair amount of anti Hakuho sentiment in some corners of the sumo press, and I think there are people who are ready to declare him done at the first sign of anything less than superior performance. Watching Hakuho fight on day 6, its clear that he is “gutting it out” in spite of what appears to be mounting pain. His skill remains far above anyone else in sumo, but it’s going to come down to how far he can push his body to continue. The goal is, of course, to make it through 15 days with 10 wins or more – participate in the Olympics opening ceremonies, and the decide what he might do.
If it will be Terunofuji, there will be many (and perhaps the same group that awaits Hakuho’s demise) who will proclaim that Terunofuji has failed his attempt to attain sumo’s top rank. As Team Tachiai has discussed, Terunofuji has been turning in Yokozuna grade sumo for the past year: 3 yusho, 2 Jun-Yusho and one Yusho playoff loss. The NSK may find themselves wanting another Yokozuna soon, and in spite of Terunofuji’s physical issues, he is the only man to make a reasonable case for promotion since Kisenosato took the rope in 2017.
What We Are Watching Day 7
Chiyonokuni vs Kyokutaisei – It is Kyokutaisei’s turn to visit the top division to fill the banzuke gap left by Endo withdrawing from the touranment. Kyokutaisei comes in a 3-3, with a kachi-koshi and a high chance of re-promotion to the top division still very much a possibility. But he’s got to get past Chiyonokuni, who comes into today at 4-2, and fighting quite well, in spite of losing to Tochinoshin on day 6.
Daiamami vs Ichiyamamoto – Ichiyamamoto is also part of the group that picked up their second loss on day 6, and are looking to pick up the pace. He has Daiamami today, who has quite a bit of a mass advantage. Their career record is 1-1, but they last fought in 2019, and both of them have made more than a couple of changes to their sumo.
Tsurugisho vs Ura – Ura, at 3-3, is very much on the narrow path between make and kachi-koshi. He’s not fighting poorly, but he’s also not quite dominating his matches. Like other rikishi who have suffered horrible lower body injuries, he will have good tournaments and bad tournaments, and it will come down to how his knees are doing. Tsurugisho has a 5-1 career advantage, and a 60 kg weight advantage, so this could be a tough match for the man in pink.
Tokushoryu vs Kagayaki – Both men have 3-3 records, and today’s match will place one on a winning track, and one on a losing track. Veteran Tokushoryu has won 6 of the 8 matches he has had with Kagayaki, and looks like the better choice for the win.
Kaisei vs Ishiura – Another 3-3 pairing, with the sumo favorite of big man vs little man sumo mixed into the chanko for these two today. Kaisei has won 2 of the last 3 against Ishiura, with an overall 4-2 record. Ishiura’s primary hope is to get a frontal grip and try for some kind of throw, or simply keep Kaisei chasing him and hope to wear him down.
Chiyomaru vs Terutsuyoshi – Another even score match, with both men being at 2-4, along with the big man / little man mechanics. The 5-2 career advantage that Terutsuyoshi brings to this match may not matter much, as he seems to really be struggling this basho, and we can credit some undisclosed injury, I would suspect.
Tamawashi vs Chiyonoo – First time match between these two, and I hope that we can see the rough and rowdy version of Tamawashi at least one time during this tournament. He is coming in with a 4-2 record, against Chiyonoo’s 2-4. If he can get the first hit in, he will likely control the match.
Tochinoshin vs Shimanoumi – Tochinoshin has manage to limp his way to 2 wins, and I wonder how many more he is going to be able to squeeze out. Shimanoumi at Maegashira 9 should be cleaning up, but instead is at a middling 3-3 record instead. Is it an injury? That’s the most reasonable explanation.
Hidenoumi vs Kotonowaka – Going into day 7, Kotonowaka is just 1 win behind Hakuho and Terunofuji. I don’t think the young Sadogatake man is ready to contest for a yusho just yet, but his sumo is finally starting to get traction, and he is starting to show his potential for the future. I would guess that Hidenoumi will have his hands full.
Aoiyama vs Kiribayama – Aoiyama surprised a lot of fans day 6 by engaging in a yotsu battle, and frankly doing quite well. I think he prefers to hit his opponents around until they fall down in a heap, but sometimes you just want to give the other guy a big squishy battle hug. With Aoiyama bringing in a 50 kg weight advantage, I sure hope Kiribayama is feeling cuddly.
Onosho vs Chiyoshoma – Much as I am a Onosho fan, I think I would like to see how far Chiyoshoma can take his “clean” sumo approach. For recent fans who wonder what I am describing, Chiyoshoma of the past was a notorious henka artist. Henka and any kind of shady sumo move you might think to see. But since entering the top division a few months ago, he has been fighting using quality, straight ahead sumo. So i would love to see where it can take him. Plus Onosho’s balance is screwed up again this July.
Takarafuji vs Hoshoryu – The second first time match, and this one is a real fire-starter. We have offensively focused Hoshoryu against the king of defend and extend Takarafuji. Both have 4-2 records, and both are fighting well this July. I can’t wait to see if Takarafuji can shut down Hoshoryu, or if Hoshoryu’s offense is strong enough to overwhelm the veteran’s sumo.
Okinoumi vs Myogiryu – 28 matches between these two, and its split right down the middle at 14 and 14. Okinoumi (3-3) is fighting moderately better this July than Myogiryu, who comes in at a terrible 1-5 record. They tend to go chest to chest and then just power it out like god intended. Hopefully Myogiryu can rally for this one.
Hokutofuji vs Chiyotairyu – I sort of want to see these two collide at their maximum force, and see if maybe they end up merging into a single compound creature. The resulting Chiyotofuji would he highly unstable, and quickly decay into a 2 small Hokuryus, a Fujitairyu, and one each of primal Chiyo and a Hoku particle that has nearly infinite mass. What happens after that is a matter of pure conjecture, and nobody knows how they would score that, or what the kimarite would be. Maybe Kabubunretsu
Wakatakakage vs Meisei – I do hope that Wakatakakage (2-4) can reach 8 wins and stick in the san’yaku at his first try. I am sure later he is going to get banged up, injured and have to drop down the banzuke. But for now I really would like to see him shine. He has a 1-1 record against Meisei (3-3).
Daieisho vs Mitakeumi – Another long running rivalry out for a test drive in the middle weekend. Mitakeumi (4-2) leads the series with 9 wins vs Daieisho (1-5) who as 7 wins. The numbers are not the whole story, as Daieisho has won 4 of the last 5. Sadly, Daieisho is fighting poorly right now, and may not be able to offer more than token competition to home town favorite Mitakeumi.
Takayasu vs Takanosho – You would think that big, burly Takayasu (3-3) would routinely trounce Takanosho (2-4), but in fact Takayasu struggles against him most of the time. Onigiri-kun leads the series 3-1, and maybe he can use this match to rally and reverse his fortunes with a word over Takayasu.
Terunofuji vs Kotoeko – Terunofuji (6-0) has fought Kotoeko (2-4) three times before, but lost 2 of them. Both of those losses were in Juryo, and probably don’t really matter in this context, so I am expecting Terunofuji to dispatch this wonderful compact rikishi in short order, and advance to 7-0.
Shodai vs Ichinojo – Ichinojo and Shodai share a 3-3 record, but Ichinojo has a 8-3 career advantage over the Ozeki. I am just hoping that Shodai can get to 8, and spare us all the drama of two kadoban Ozeki during Aki.
Hakuho vs Tobizaru – First time the boss will fight sumo’s flying monkey. While it would be normal to just write this match off, Tobizaru’s high energy, highly lateral sumo style is really tough to overcome if you only have one working knee. I am going to look to Hakuho to get a tight hold of Tobizaru at the tachiai, and steer him into the dumpster before Tobizaru can get too spun up.