At last we come to it, the final day of the Nagoya basho. Due to clever work by the schedulers, and a bit of luck, we are about to try to stuff 20 pounds of sumo into a 5 pound bag. If you wanted high stakes, high impact matches, this will be the day for you. I recommend you start by reading lksumo’s excellent write up that explains the promotion / demotion mechanics in play, and who is headed for the Juryo barge of the damed for the slow trip back to Tokyo.
On the menu for the final day:
- The Brawl to end it all: A Zensho show down for the cup. It’s two men with useless knees at the top of the sumo ranks who are going to fight with everything they have.
- Four (4!) Darwin matches, including the final one between an Ozeki and a Sekiwake
- Hoshoryu and Hokutofuji fighting to see who gets to pick up any san’yaku slot that might open up behind Ichinojo, once the dust settles.
What We Are Watching Day 15
Akua vs Ishiura – Both are kachi-koshi, and they needed someone to fill the banzuke gap left by Endo. So lets bring Akua up so he and Ishiura can stomp around the clay for 30 seconds and end up in a heap somewhere. Hell, I would cheer for that.
Ichiyamamoto vs Chiyonoo – Darwin match #1 – If Ichiyamamoto hits he dirt, he’s headed back to Juryo. He won their only prior meeting.
Tsurugisho vs Kotonowaka – The question here, can Kotonowaka rack 12 wins in this basho? For some tournaments, that’s a yusho score! Special prize to be awarded, I think. Maybe even if he can’t beat Tsurugisho (but, in fact he can).
Hidenoumi vs Chiyomaru – Does the 7th win matter if you are already make-koshi? I guess this match can help us find out. They have matching 6-8 records, and a 5-5 career history. Chiyomaru has a size advantage, Hidenoumi has a power advantage.
Kaisei vs Aoiyama – The last battle of the mega-fauna, it’s a pair of 200kg monsters with matching 6-8 scores fighting for that 7th win and a bit of banzuke cushioning. Aoiyama’s sumo has been sloppy and disorganized, while Kaisei fights like bison; he’s too big to really move, but you don’t want to get him excited.
Ura vs Chiyoshoma – High interest match, both are kachi-koshi, both are known for high agility sumo, both can disappear before you can land that migi-yotsu you had your heart set on. Will they mutually henka? I would be willing to offer ¥100,000 if someone would broker that between the two of them. They can even make it a matta so it won’t count. Chiyoshoma has never won against Ura, and a win today by the man in the pink mawashi would take him to 10 wins in his return to the top division.
Myogiryu vs Daiamami – My advice to these guys. Hit the bar before, during and after the match. It won’t chance things very much in terms of your sumo, but you might enjoy it more. Both are 4-10 and are going to visit the lower rungs of the September banzuke.
Shimanoumi vs Kiribayama – Again, matching records for this match, with the number being 8-6. I think Kiribayama is a bit hungrier than Shimanoumi. Maybe that will count for something here. With the senshuraku parties still on hold thanks to COVID, you can’t even bask in the adoration of your fans after your kachi-koshi. Bummer.
Onosho vs Terutsuyoshi – I know that Onosho holds a 2-1 career lead over Terutsuyoshi, but I think that Terutsuyoshi is going to command this match more or less from the second volley. Sure Onosho is going to open big, but he has thus far been so out of alignment that his front end wobble is uncontrollable. So I am looking for Terutsuyoshi to try something big and fun to finish what must be a satisfying tournament for him, including that thunderous streak of 6 wins that started on day 8.
Tokushoryu vs Chiyotairyu – Tokushoryu (6-8), ranked at M15 faces off against M4 Chiyotairyu. Chiyotairyu’s hideous 4-10 score may punt him toward the bottom of the banzuke, but a Tokushoryu loss today may add his name to the roster of souls rowing the Juryo barge back to Tokyo.
Kotoeko vs Tochinoshin – If Tochinoshin can squeeze out an 7-8 make-koshi, after starting the basho with 4 straight losses, I think it will be a most remarkable feat. He has to rack one more white star, against hapless Kotoeko (2-12). Given Tochinoshin’s 45kg weight advantage, that should not be too tough of a goal.
Tamawashi vs Tobizaru – I think the schedulers ran out of people for Tamawashi to compete against, so they saw his 11-3 master piece of a score and decided Tobizaru’s mirror image 3-11 score constituted a worthy reason to have them fight on day 15. This is also their first ever match, so lord knows what’s going to happen. Maybe in some bizzaro world, what really happened in Saturday’s final match what that Hakuho used an ancient Jomon shamanistic spell to swap sumo with Hakuho, and he’s going to rock up into this match and turf Tamawashi with overwhelming force. (Editor’s note, I intend to be on my 3rd beer by this time, so in fact this will make perfect sense by that time)
Hokutofuji vs Hoshoryu – One of you two gets to be first in line to be disappointed when there is no Komusubi slot for you. A hell of a prize for a match like this, but sumo is a brutal sport. Hoshoryu, at 9-5, won their only prior match, but I think 8-6 Hokutofuji has an edge today, as he has been really dialed into his sumo during week 2.
Takarafuji vs Ichinojo – This theme really seems to work, let’s try it again! 8-6 Takarafuji vs 9-5 Ichinojo, as the Boulder tries for double digits for the first time since March of 2019. Takarafuji has a 3-13 career deficit against this enormous fellow, so it may be time to open that 4th beer.
Takanosho vs Chiyonokuni – I can’t believe we have to wait this long for the second Darwin match, but it’s high time that someone face the music. Chiyonokuni has yet to win one against Takanosho, and I am going to guess today may not be his day. Winner kachi-koshi, the loser gets to clean out the chikara-mizu spittoon.
Okinoumi vs Daieisho – In the final battle of the “They really should have done better”, it’s 5-9 Okinoumi facing off against 4-10 Daieisho, to see if they both end up with double digit losses. 19 prior matches, no definitive advantage for either. Both are likely fighting hurt, both need to recover and return strong for September.
Kagayaki vs Meisei – The third Darwin match, with a unlikely 12 rank banzuke spread between the two of them. Suffice to say Kagayaki is the underdog here, and I would expect that Meisei will get his 8th and shut down the promotion lanes.
Wakatakakage vs Mitakeumi – The match exists to allow fans without a DVR (who can pause the action) to visit the toilet. While I loves me some Wakatakakage sumo, this is a very one sided match given the parameters of this basho. The one thing that I am really looking forward to for this one is the hope that the day 15 announcer is Raja Pradhan, and we can listen to him fire off Wakatakakage about 20 times before the lead Onami brother gets a face full of clay.
Shodai vs Takayasu – The final, and most grand of the Darwin matches of recent memory. The human daikon up against the hairy beast of Ibaraki. I am going to guess that Shodai is going to be highly pissed off after day 14 against the boss, and he is going to try to lay the doom on Takayasu. It’s not that far fetch given that Shodai has a 12-9 career advantage over the former Ozeki. This Darwin match has a bonus gooey toping, if Shodai loses, it’s kadoban time for him.
Hakuho vs Terunofuji – Here it is, we talked about it before the basho even started, the “Brawl to end it all”. We hoped, we made tuna offerings to the Great Sumo Cat of the Kokugikan, and prayed to all forces of heaven to bring this about. Both 14-0, both ready to hoist the cup. I could cite the 9-4 career advantage that Hakuho has, but who cares. The last time these two fought was May of 2017, and both are radically different men now. As Team Tachiai has been proclaiming, Terunofuji has been delivering Yokozuna level results for most of this year, but this July he took it up yet another notch. I think Hakuho will finally have his hands full.