With the start of day 11, we have the opening of the third and final act of this Nagoya basho. In act 3 we are going to sort everyone into make-koshi and kachi-koshi, and we are going to crown a yusho winner. As a bonus, we may also get to mint the first Yokozuna in about 4 years if everything plays out well. Unless something very strange indeed takes place, we are going to see the challenge for the yusho come down to Terunofuji and Hakuho in the final days of this basho. Both are fighting at Yokozuna level right now, and its possible that the yusho winner might finish with a perfect 15-0. Neither one shows any sign of letting up until they clash in the last match of the tournament.
On the other side of ledger, we already have 5 competing rikishi make-koshi, with a few more possible today. I might have thought this portends a pretty decent Makuuchi to Juryo rotation, but apart from Yutakayama, no one in the top latitudes of Juryo is really making a strong promotion case yet. With any luck, our resident ace prognosticator may look into the t a bit later this week.
Only Kotonowaka remains within the most unlikely cases to compete against the leaders now.
Leaders: Hakuho, Terunofuji
5 matches remain
What We Are Watching Day 11
Daiamami vs Shohozan – A match of great sadness to start day 11, we have Shohozan (3-7) who is working hard to avoid a make-koshi up against an already make-koshi Daiamami (2-8). Neither one of them have fought well this July, and both of them are probably hoping to pick up a few more wins before Sunday. They split their 2 prior matches, so it’s anyone’s guess which one is going to be more terrible today.
Tochinoshin vs Tokushoryu – It seems day 11 is going to be an ugly day indeed. This match between two grizzled veterans, each who have a yusho, is to see which one goes make-koshi first. They have matching 3-7 records, so the loser faces demotion, and in the case of Tokushoryu likely return to Juryo. If Tokushoryu is paying attention, he will attack to his left and focus everything into making Tochinoshin protect that right knee.
Kaisei vs Tsurugisho – A pair of bigs going into today’s 3rd match, with a chance for Tsurugisho (6-4) to escape the funnel if he can win against Kaisei (5-5). With both of them close to 200kg, that almost half a ton of sumotori on the clay at one time.
Ishiura vs Terutsuyoshi – Again, the schedulers are having some fun, a pair of mega the a pair of mini. A win today by Ishiura (7-3) would give him his 8th win and kachi-koshi for July. Terutsuyoshi (5-5) had a cold start with a string of straight losses, but has won the last 4 out of 5, and seems to be back in control of his sumo.
Tamawashi vs Ichiyamamoto – A first time match between two solid rikishi. Both come in 7-3, and both are fighting well in Nagoya. Experience favors Tamawashi, agility favors Ichiyamamoto. Looking forward to this one!
Kotonowaka vs Shimanoumi – The lone man on the leaderboard behind to unbeaten pair, Kotonowaka (8-2) has a chance to press to double digits. He has 4-1 career advantage over Shimanoumi (5-5), and given that Shimanoumi is not fighting well, I like his chances to pick up his 9th win.
Hidenoumi vs Chiyonokuni – Both men are at 5-5, and are squarely in the middle of the funnel on day 11. No matter who wins this one, both of them have a tough road now to 8 wins, requiring them to win 3 of the last 5. Chiyonokuni seems to have lost some of his fighting spirit in the last few days, and I hope he can bounce back against Hidenoumi today.
Kagayaki vs Chiyoshoma – A win today, and Chiyoshoma (6-4) is out of the funnel. He has a 7-10 career deficit against Kagayaki (4-6). But given how well Chiyoshoma’s sumo is working right now, I would say he likely has a slight edge if he can stay mobile.
Myogiryu vs Chiyonoo – Another match between two rikishi with dismal and trending worse records. This is Myogiryu’s (2-8) third consecutive make-koshi, and signals a real problem for him. He has had some incredible banzuke luck the last two ranking sessions, and I have to wonder how far he might drop. He has a 3-1 career advantage over Chiyonoo (4-6), who needs to win 4 of the last 5 to reach his 8.
Ura vs Kiribayama – Another first time match, with Kiribayama (7-3) needing just one more win to reach kachi-koshi. He’s up against Ura (6-4), who’s grab and tug sumo has been paying off either in direct action, or by so disrupting his opponents that more than a couple of them have more or less refused to engage Ura in a fight. How Kiribayama is going to handle this is a subject of great interest today.
Onosho vs Chiyomaru – I think today may be the day that Onosho (3-7) picks up his 8th loss. Not that Chiyomaru (4-6) is overwhelmingly formidable on Wednesdays, but Onosho has continued to struggle with his balance. I vaguely recall he suffered some injury in early 2021, and has struggled to fight since. Should he lose today, it would be his 3rd consecutive make-koshi.
Okinoumi vs Takarafuji – A 24 career match history between them, with a narrow 14-10 margin favoring Takarafuji (6-4). Both of them need a to find a couple more wins, with Okinoumi (5-5) needs to win 3 of his last 5 to reach the safety of 8.
Hokutofuji vs Aoiyama – Aoiyama (4-6) is maybe suffering from another back injury that saw him sidelined for part of May. It’s one way I can try to explain why he is fighting poorly from the middle of the banzuke. Both he and Hokutofuji (5-5) are currently in the funnel, and have a very difficult path to escape. The 11-2 career advantage heavily favors Hokutofuji.
Takanosho vs Ichinojo – Takanosho (5-5) is part of that massive group of 10 rikishi in the middle of Darwin’s funnel, and he’s going to have to massive gamberize if he wants to beat a fairly genki Ichinojo (7-3), who has won the last 4 in a row, and seems to be using his enormous body to good effect this tournament.
Chiyotairyu vs Daieisho – A battle of two make-koshi wrestlers who really are performing well below their capabilities. So let’s chalk them both up to injuries. I guess this battle is to see if Chiyotairyu (2-8) or Daieisho (1-9) have worse scores. Chiyotairyu leads 9-3 across a 6 year history between their matches.
Kotoeko vs Meisei – Kotoeko is doomed to make-koshi at 2-8 at the start of day 11, and Meisei (5-5) finds himself in that group lodged in the middle of Darwin’s funnel. Kotoeko comes in to today with a 9-5 career advantage, but is his fighting spirit so demoralized by losing so many matches that it may not matter?
Takayasu vs Tobizaru – A Tobizaru (3-7) loss today sends him to a well deserved make-koshi, and would move Takayasu (6-4) a white star closer to 8 wins. While it is still possible for Takayasu to end the tournament with 10 wins, and keep hopes of an eventual Ozeki run alive, he would need to win 4 of his last 5. Tough, but not impossible.
Terunofuji vs Mitakeumi – Normally, this would be a fairly interesting match. But given that Mitakeumi (6-4) has lost 2 of his last 3, it’s clear he is fading into week 2, and Terunofuji (10-0) is about at maximum kaiju. So I am thinking Mitakeumi may be able to get some good moves in, but it’s likely win 11 for Terunofuji. Terunofuji holds a 9-3 career record on the dohyo.
Shodai vs Hoshoryu – Oh, now this IS a high interest match. Shodai just might have a handle on his sumo now, he has won the last 3 in a row, and seems to at least be able to hopefully make his 8. Hoshoryu is fighting a bit above his rank, and a white star today would make kachi-koshi for him. As a bonus, Hoshoryu won their only prior match, which was in May.
Hakuho vs Wakatakakage – A first ever match between the dai-Yokozuna, and a fellow who may one day take the rope himself. This is valuable experience for Wakatakakage (3-7), who has been learning a lot in his first posting to the named ranks. The expected loss today to Hakuho (10-0) would mark him make-koshi with at least 8 losses for July, but this is not unusual for a rising star’s first time at the top.