We have two solid days of quality sumo ahead of us before we can find out who will take home the cup. I love that Shodai is going to face Hakuho and Terunofuji before day 15, and I am going to guess that both he and Takayasu will enter day 15 at 7-7. That would be a most impressive Darwin match indeed. But there is also a good chance they will give them both a bit softer opponents on the final day to give them an opportunity to hit 8 without having to eliminate each other.
Of course all eyes will be on the final two matches as the leaders rotate through the highest ranked opponents that still remain. The lack of Takakeisho and Asanoyama are now keenly felt, as they both held a special threat to our two leaders. But as we always say – You can only fight who shows up.
We may get to see a few kachi-koshi scores achieved today, and some rikishi heading home happy. But there are still a fair number of rikishi that are in the Darwin funnel, and run the risk of facing an elimination match on the final day. I am looking forward to day 15, it should be a stomping good time!
What We Are Watching Day 13
Kyokutaisei vs Tokushoryu – Kyokutaisei (7-5) is visiting today from Juryo, and a win today over Tokushoryu (4-8) would give him 8 wins, and render him promotable back to the top division in September. Kyokutaisei has a 6-3 career advantage, so a win today is not a long shot at all.
Tochinoshin vs Tsurugisho – Tochinoshin (4-8) has already hit 8 losses, and the question is how low he might fall in the September banzuke. He certainly might take a dip, but given the lack of promotable scores from Juryo, he’s probably safe in the top division for now. Tsurugisho (7-5) has one more win to reach his 8, and he will be fighting hard today.
Kaisei vs Ura – Ura (8-4) has been improving into week 2, and he is currently on a 4 match winning streak. With a 2-0 career lead over Kaisei, it may be 5 in a row before the day is done. Should Kaisei (5-7) lose today, it would be make-koshi for him.
Ichiyamamoto vs Terutsuyoshi – The winner today gets kachi-koshi, and its the first time that Ichiyamamoto (7-5) and Terutsuyoshi (7-5) have ever fought. Terutsuyoshi is on a 5 match winning streak, and Ichiyamamoto on a 3 match losing streak, so the advantage may be to Terutsuyoshi today. Both of them are mobile, aggressive and fit to fight.
Ishiura vs Shimanoumi – Another promotion match, where the winner gets kachi-koshi and the loser remains in the funnel for now. Shimanoumi (7-5) has a 5-2 career lead, I would give him an advantage over Ishiura (7-5) today, as he seems to have shaken off the week 1 ring rust.
Hidenoumi vs Chiyonoo – Both are square in the middle of the funnel with 6-6 scores, and the winner of today’s match has a chance to reach kachi-koshi. I think that Hidenoumi has been hitting harder this week, and I like his chances over Chiyonoo. They have a 14 match career record going back to 2015, with Hidenoumi having a narrow 8-6 lead. This is their first ever match in the top division.
Chiyonokuni vs Aoiyama – A win today would give Chiyonokuni (7-5) his kachi-koshi. Chiyonokuni has a healthy career lead (9-5), and would have the advantage in today’s match, even before we take into account that Aoiyama (4-8) is fighting like he is hurt. Big Dan has not really been able to fire up the V-Twin this July, and I hope he can bounce back strong and ready in September.
Takarafuji vs Tamawashi – Two long serving top division vets face off, with 26 career matches going back to 2011. Both are already kachi-koshi, healthy and fighting well. Will it be Tamawashi (9-3) dominating on attack, or Takarafuji’s (8-4) masterful defense blunting every move?
Kotonowaka vs Chiyoshoma – Chiyoshoma needs one more win to get to 8, but he’s never won in 5 tries against Kotonowaka (7-5). While I do enjoy a Chiyoshoma henka, I don’t think today is the day to let one fly. I would much rather see him use his agility and guile to put Kotonowaka (9-3) on the clay, in spite of his 30 kg disadvantage.
Myogiryu vs Chiyomaru – A battle of the damned, both are make-koshi and going to face demotion for September. I would guess Chiyomaru (4-8) is safe in the top division for now, as is Myogiryu (3-9). So this fight is all about rank at Aki.
Daiamami vs Chiyotairyu – Another pair the probably wish they could just get on the Shinkansen today and head home. Instead we get 3-9 Daiamami trying to overcome Chiyotairyu 2-10. I would guess both are hurt, and are hoping to muster a few wins before the end of day 15. For Daiamami, there is a real risk that he would get a score that would send him back to Juryo, unless he can rack up a few more wins.
Kagayaki vs Tobizaru – I don’t know what happened to Tobizaru (3-9). He was long on attitude and short on sumo, to be sure. But he should not be nursing a 3-9 record going into the final weekend. Likewise Kagayaki (5-7) has been make-koshi for 4 straight tournaments, and needs to get his sumo back from the cleaners. I think he left it stuffed in that bronze mawashi, which had better make a comeback in September.
Hoshoryu vs Ichinojo – Both are kachi-koshi, both are looking forward to promotion higher into the joi-jin on the next banzuke, both have 8-4 records to start the day, and both are from Mongolia. Thus the stage is set an interesting head to head match. Will Ichinojo matta at the start? Will Hoshoryu use a fancy leg trip? We can find out in just a few hours.
Takanosho vs Hokutofuji – Takanosho (6-6) is, sadly, part of the funnel group right now. He needs to win 2 of his last 3 to reach kachi-koshi, and one of his opponents is a fairly genki Hokutofuji (7-5) who wants his 8th win today. With a 4-2 career advantage, I fear Takanosho will remain in the funnel, and might be part of the Darwin group on Sunday.
Onosho vs Daieisho – Onosho needs to win all 3 of his remaining matches to reach kachi-koshi, a tall order to be certain. His day 13 opponent is Hatsu yusho winner Daieisho, who is suffering from a severe case of make-koshi. Onosho has a 10-6 career advantage, and I am fairly certain he will be heavily favored today, as Daieisho is clearly only at about 70% of his normal strength.
Kiribayama vs Meisei – Meisei (6-6) is also part of the funnel group, and needs to win 2 of the last 3 to reach the safety of 8 wins. Kiribayama (8-4) is already kachi-koshi, and I am curious if he is going to ease up at all, or keep blasting ahead and hoping for a steep promotion in September.
Wakatakakage vs Kotoeko – One last contest of the damned, both of these rikishi are likely to finish with deep, double digit make-koshi. Both of Wakatakakage (3-9) and Kotoeko (2-10) have had a string of unanswered losses this July. Kotoeko losing 9 in a row.
Okinoumi vs Mitakeumi – I would call this a funnel fight, as both of them are in the range for a day 15 Darwin match. A Mitakeumi (6-6) win today would make Okinoumi (5-7) make-koshi for July, sending the veteran to the middle of Maegashira for September.
Terunofuji vs Shodai – Surprisingly, Shodai (7-5) has a workable formula for beating Terunofuji (12-0). While the Kaiju holds a 7-4 career advantage on the clay, it’s still possible we may see Shodai’s cartoon sumo come into play. Shodai just needs a single win in the last 3 days to avoid kadoban for the 3rd time in his 5 tournament career as an Ozeki. Of course Terunofuji is looking for win 13 in his march to day 15, and a bid to assume sumo’s highest rank.
Hakuho vs Takayasu – Takayasu (7-5) fights bravely against Hakuho (12-0), but out of 22 fights, Takayasu has only won 2. I would guess the Boss is going to send Takayasu to his 6th loss, and set the stage for day 15.