I’m mixing things up today because I want to start with a treat. The first match of nakabi (Day 8, the middle day) was a great, wild one featuring Byakuen vs Daitensho. This bout was not one of consequence in the yusho race but it speaks to one of the great things about Jonokuchi. If you’d listened to our recent podcast, you’ve heard Josh talk about three qualities of sumo wrestlers, their heart, technique, and the body. Down here, there are often guys with lots of heart but little in the way of technique and they’ve not bulked up yet. Byakuen has a lot of heart and that’s on display in this fight. I hope you enjoy.
The Yusho Race
Heading into Match Day four, there’s an odd number of leaders with 3-0 records. As he’s the lowest ranked leader on the banzuke, Kiryuko gets a bit of torikumi luck with a match up against 2-1 Arikawa. It’s the second bout in the video. Kiryuko dominates.
Next up, Taniguchi faced Mogamizakura. Both of these guys have sumo bodies but Mogamizakura powered through Taniguchi for a yorikiri win. Lastly, we head back a night to Totsuka native Abe against Shunrai. After a solid tachiai and a tussle for belt grips, Shunrai came out on top, quickly driving through Abe and sending him over the bales.
Still undefeated and kachi-koshi:
These three wrestlers have punched their tickets to Jonidan. Now, though, the race gets complicated. With two brothers who can only fight in a playoff, the wrestlers with one loss are back in the picture. Starting at the top of the banzuke,
Given Kiryuko’s bout against a 2-1 opponent today, I would not be surprised if he faces Mogamizakura and then Shunrai could face Tamatensho or Miyagi. The Shunrai/Miyagi bout could derail the playoff between brothers.
At the other end of the yusho chase, Kato, Higohikari, and Shonanzakura are make-koshi and will likely remain in Jonokuchi in September. Kato had his first tournament in May where he racked up 1 win against Sano, who is kyujo this tournament. Frankly, Shonanzakura demonstrated more heart and technique in his bout against Kyonosato than we have seen yet from Kato. I would not be surprised if the two are paired off tomorrow. This bout would present the highest potential for Shonanzakura to end his streak and I wonder if the days of 70, 80, 90, 100 bout losing streaks are over.