It’s time to draw an end to the second act of this 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, and I would have to say mission accomplished. There are now 5 rikishi who are either make-koshi, or about to be. The 2 leaders are kachi-koshi, and another 2 that could reach their 8th win today. I layer that in with now fewer than 17 rikishi that are currently in “The Funnel” headed for a possible day 15 Darwin match. Granted, not all of them will end up 7-7 at the end of day 14, but I think a fair number of them will.
Hakuho and Terunofuji are still 2 ahead of everyone else, and with Tamawashi falling to a glorious Chiyoshoma henka on day 9, there are just two young rikishi with no top division yusho experience that are 2 wins behind. This is down to Hakuho and Terunofuji, and how they fight over the remaining 6 days of the basho. A lot can happen in that space of time, as neither man is completely healthy.
Leaders: Hakuho, Terunofuji
Hunt Group: Kotonowaka, Ichiyamamoto
6 matches remain
What We Are Watching Day 10
Yutakayama vs Chiyonoo – Welcome to Yutakayama (8-1), who visits the top division for a preview of his return in September. Yutakayama has been struggling since his dismal 5-10 performance a year ago at Maegashira 1, which saw him being spindled and mutilated by the named ranks for their sport. I am pretty sure there was at least one injury in there too, but he seems to have gotten his sumo back in working order, and I am looking forward to him returning to the televised ranks. He is already kachi-koshi, and faces Chiyonoo (4-5), who holds a 2-0 career advantage.
Chiyonokuni vs Ura – Oh goodie, this should be worth its weight in fine katsu curry. We have Chiyonokuni (5-4) with his big blows to the head against the Captain of Japan’s Olympic grab and tug team, Ura (5-4). I can almost see Chiyonokuni winding up a big swing, Ura grabs the arm and pretzels Chiyonokuni into submission. Of course it could just as easily result in Ura getting his bell run and having to ask the yobidashi which tournament this is. I expect fireworks.
Tochinoshin vs Ishiura – Ishiura (6-3) has now won six in a row, and I have to think he is going to take a page from everyone else who has defeated Tochinoshin (3-6) this July, attack from the left and keep pressure on his damaged knee. It’s cruel and brutal, but that’s how sumo can be at times.
Kaisei vs Kagayaki – Someone on the scheduling crew decided it would be fun to have two rikishi with 4-5 scores, who have a 4-4 career record, and whose names both start with “Ka” (か) to fight on the 4th match of the day. So Kaisei gets to take on Kagayaki. Both are in the funnel, both are on the make-koshi side of the line.
Ichiyamamoto vs Kotonowaka – We can’t have 2 of the young crowd holding 2 wins behind the yusho leaders! So lets make them fight it out so there is just the one. Both are 7-2, and have split the 4 prior matches. Winner gets kachi-koshi, loser gets to try again tomorrow.
Tamawashi vs Tokushoryu – Tamawashi (6-3) had a bit of a non-event on day 9 as he succumbed to Chiyoshoma’s henka, and hit the clay without a single offensive move. I hope he has a lot of pent up energy to delivery against Tokushoryu (3-6), who is just a couple of black stars away from make-koshi. Tamawashi leads the series 11-8.
Daiamami vs Terutsuyoshi – Terutsuyoshi (4-5) has won the last 3 out of 4 matches, and I suspect he is probably going to hand Daiamami (2-7) his make-koshi today. Daiamami comes in with a 5-3 career advantage, but he is fighting poorly this July, where as Terutsuyoshi seems to have finally gotten his sumo in working order and is proceeding a march toward 8.
Takarafuji vs Tsurugisho – I do want to see Tsurugisho (6-3) try to brute out a victory over Takarafuji (5-4), whose defensive brand of sumo seems to be engaged in Nagoya. True, Ura tossed him like a bag of clams on day 9, but I think Takarafuji can make this work on day 10.
Chiyomaru vs Aoiyama – A highly expected battle of the mega-fauna, day 10. With both of these men on the dohyo, the local curvature of space time may get a small indentation. Both Aoiyama (4-5) and Chiyomaru (3-6) are struggling right now, seemingly with balance and performance in attack mode, and need to find a few more wins to repair their records.
Myogiryu vs Hidenoumi – Myogiryu (2-7) has a 5-1 career advantage against Hidenoumi (4-5), but seems to be suffering some kind of injury or other problem that has left him one loss away from make-koshi. So I am guessing that Hidenoumi may pick up win number 5 today.
Shimanoumi vs Chiyoshoma – Both come in at 5-4, and are squarely in the funnel right now. I don’t think we will see another leaping Chiyoshoma henka again soon, but it sure was fun to watch on day 9. Their first match against each other was Aki of 2015 in Makushita, so while they don’t have a deep history, it goes back 6 years or so.
Kotoeko vs Kiribayama – Its clear the schedulers are trying to doom Kotoeko (2-7). He hits make-koshi with one more loss, and he has never beaten Kiribayama (6-3). So I am guessing its a perfunctory sort of match that results in an 8th loss for Kotoeko. It seems that at least this time out, he’s not quite up to par for Maegashira 4.
Hokutofuji vs Onosho – The two balance kings of the top division square off for a teeter-totter match of over-pushing and under performing. Hokutofuji (4-5) seems like the marginal favorite over Onosho (3-6), but either one of them could end up flat on their face today. But an Onosho win would have the amusing effect of knocking Hokutofuji out of the funnel.
Hoshoryu vs Tobizaru – High interest match here, we will get to see if Tobizaru (3-6) can dial back the frantic brownian motion and unleash some focused sumo. He has a 5-3 career advantage over Hoshoryu (6-3), so we know he has a way to win if he can get his attack running.
Ichinojo vs Daieisho – Daieisho (terrible) is already make-koshi, and still hurt from May, so I am going to predict that he can’t really push Ichinojo around at all, and gets gingerly taken over the bales by the Boulder (6-3).
Takanosho vs Meisei – A right proper funnel-fight, as a Takanosho (5-4) loss would toss them both to 5-5 and keep them on course for day 15. Meisei (4-5) holds a 6-1 career advantage, so that outcome is not far-fetched at all.
Takayasu vs Wakatakakage – Takayasu (5-4) can deliver some powerful sumo, and for most opponents, he tends to bash them, trash them and then wear them out. But for some reason he has a 1-4 career record against newcomer Wakatakakage (3-6). Wakatakakage wins tend to be high mobility jab, slap and thrust affairs, so maybe Takayasu will grab a hold and wear him down today instead.
Shodai vs Mitakeumi – A lovely 24 match career history here, with Mitakeumi (6-3) leading the series 13-11. Shodai (5-4) has won his last 2, but still looks well below his prior Ozeki form. Will we see Mitakeumi start his traditional week 2 fade?
Terunofuji vs Chiyotairyu – Seven years ago, Chiyotairyu (2-7) won a match against Terunofuji (9-0). Today he gets to try again, and I dare say he may find the reception a bit hostile. In fact, I am going to assume that Terunofuji picks up his 10th win, sending Chiyotairyu to make-koshi.
Hakuho vs Okinoumi – Hakuho has a 23-1 career advantage over Okinoumi. Nothing else matters about this match.