The yusho is down to a two-horse race, Hakuho and Terunofuji. Both face 6-5 opponents tonight, so that sets up all we need for massive upsets to create more drama heading into the final weekend.
Chiyonokuni (6-5) vs Akua (Juryo, 6-5): Chiyonokuni will face Juryo visitor, Akua. Both wrestlers are well positioned to get their kachi-koshi. If Akua gets does well, he’ll be on the short list for a return to makuuchi. Chiyonokuni’s natural level is likely mid-maegashira, barring aggravation of his knee injury. Akua will likely pose little trouble to Chiyonokuni, who has won both previous meetings.
Chiyomaru (4-7) vs Tokushoryu (3-8): Chiyomaru and Tokushoryu are both having rather poor showings this basho. Chiyomaru is up against the wall, and with a loss will go make-koshi. Tokushoryu has been overpowered this tournament and is already make-koshi. Though Chiyomaru leads 9-4 in their head-to-head, Tokushoryu’s won three of the last four. Don’t expect a belt battle, but if I were Tokushoryu, that may be a good way to disrupt Chiyomaru. However, I do think a quick brawl is in the cards here.
Tochinoshin (4-7) vs Ura (7-4): Can Tochinoshin catch Ura and lock him up? If he fails, he’s make-koshi and staring into the abyss. The question is, how far will he drop from here? Ura, on the other hand, can pick up his kachi-koshi. He’s already done enough to secure another tournament in the top division.
Daiamami (3-8) vs Kagayaki (4-7): Daiamami and Kagayaki have not had a fun time this basho. Kagayaki, well, as our friends at GSB noted, likely didn’t appreciate having his head called into service as Kaisei’s zabuton. A loss tonight will add to his misery.
Kaisei (5-6) vs Kotonowaka (8-3): Kaisei will be fighting hard to get that kachi-koshi while Kotonowaka is already safe. Kaisei leads a tight rivalry 3-2 and I see him putting in the extra effort to get it done tonight.
Tamawashi (8-3) vs Ishiura (7-4): Tamawashi, like Ikioi, is always in the fray. Always in it to win it. He will batter Ishiura, though the latter has been known to throw in a henka now and then. The flying henka has already caught out Tamawashi this tournament. Will Ishiura pull it off to get his kachi-koshi?
Tsurugisho (7-4) vs Shimanoumi (6-5): Shimanoumi surprised me last night, dropping Kotonowaka and leads a tight rivalry with Tsurugisho. I think Shimanoumi will get his head too far out in front of his feet and leave himself open for a slapdown.
Takarafuji (7-4) vs Ichiyamamoto (7-4): It has been a while since Takarafuji faced Abi and he has not ever met Ichiyamamoto. Takarafuji had been doing well against Abi before the big demotion so he’s prepared for the attack of the clone.
Chiyonoo (5-6) vs Aoiyama (4-7): Chiyonoo and Aoiyama have split their two previous meetings but Aoiyama is not having a good time this tournament. I want to see more belt action from Big Dan. Why not mix things up tonight?
Terutsuyoshi (6-5) vs Chiyoshoma (7-4): Double henka.
Hidenoumi (5-6) vs Hoshoryu (8-3): Hidenoumi got beat up yesterday. Hoshoryu won’t be quite as brutal but he’s definitely more skilled, ambitious, and looking for a special prize. I think he’ll handle Hidenoumi quickly.
Myogiryu (2-9) vs Chiyotairyu (2-9): Myogiryu and Chiyotairyu have been having a dreadful basho. Chiyotairyu’s has been worse, though, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up kyujo in the closing days. If he shows up, Myogiryu will pick up win #3.
Takanosho (5-6) vs Tobizaru (3-8): The novelty of Tobizaru is wearing off. His style, if it can be called a style, needs refinement. Takanosho will want to get back into sanyaku and will need to fight hard to get back.
Hokutofuji (6-5) vs Ichinojo (8-3): Ichinojo has his kachi-koshi. Time for cruise control. Go Hokutofuji!!!
Kotoeko (2-9) vs Daieisho (2-9): Daieisho. Kotoeko is out of his depth.
Wakatakakage (3-8) vs Onosho (4-7): Onosho is performing as if he were the one in sanyaku. He’s taken a beating and it won’t end today. Wakatakakage needs to pick up as many easy wins this week as possible.
Takayasu (7-2-2) vs Kiribayama (7-4): Takayasu is on a tear. He’s looking better than at any point during the year. Kiribayama has shown cracks here and there. Both looking to go kachi-koshi but Takayasu needs to be spoiler in this yusho race.
Shodai (6-5) vs Okinoumi (5-6): Perhaps this is the time to go to the fridge and refill whatever you’re drinking. For me, it will be coffee.
Terunofuji (11-0) vs Meisei (6-5): Terunofuji has a one of those “once-in-a-lifetime” goals dangling there, just out of reach. Poor Meisei stands between him and another double-dose of celebratory sea bream.
Hakuho (11-0) vs Mitakeumi (6-5): Despite Kitanofuji’s stated disappointment in this tournament, Hakuho has proven he’s got the skills to continue to win. Mitakeumi, though, is in prime position for an upset. He’s got no real ambitions at this point, he’s got room to give and is under no pressure to get kachi-koshi. With his size and skills, he could be the sleeper who beats Hakuho.