Good golly! Its the end of act 2 already! We certainly have a yusho race on our hands, and we are starting to sort the survivors from the damned, so that’s act 2. On the final day, we a number of head scratcher matches. Some of them have the chance to be “energetic”. Going into act 3, the conventions of how close in rank the contestants are are relaxed, and we will see some fun match ups. At times they will just be because they are interesting, and sometimes to test two rikishi against each others. Sadly, we can’t get a Wakatakakage vs Hoshoryu rematch until November. Frankly they could schedule those one per day, and we would all be happy.
I am starting to have hope that Takakeisho might be able to pull this one out. He has 6 matches left, and needs 3. He’s got to be as solid as he can manage given he may still be less than 100%, and that means defense for him, a tall order. Takakeisho is all about attacking with overwhelming power. But that power is not where it should be, and he needs to stay in the match longer than what he is used to in order to get his openings to win. In the long run, this may be beneficial for him, as a solid defense is a good thing for an Ozeki to have.
With Terunofuji’s day 9 loss to Daieisho, the race is a bit more open. But Terunofuji is still heavily favored to win.
Hunt Group: Onosho, Okinoumi, Myogiryu, Endo, Chiyonokuni
Chasers: Shodai, Mitakeumi, Kiribayama, Daieisho, Chiyomaru
7 matches remain
What We Are Watching Day 10
Kaisei vs Ichiyamamoto – Oh dear, both of these guys are on the straight road to make-koshi. Both of them are in demotable range, so caution is urged. Kaisei is kind of fading out at this point, and Ichiyamamoto is nursing a banged up knee. If anything, I will give Kaisei a small edge for being enormous.
Chiyomaru vs Yutakayama – I do want to see Yutakayama apply a mighty push squarely in Chiyomaru’s “Chubstance”, and send him to 6-4. Right now Yutakayama is still in good shape to reach 8 wins, and I would like to see him secure a spot in the top division for a few more basho.
Chiyonoo vs Tsurugisho – Chiyonoo has been trying his utmost the past 10 days, but he’s seriously coming up short at the bottom end of Makuuchi. He was make-koshi last tournament, and I worry that another 8 losses (or higher) will send him back to Juryo. Tsurugisho is in slightly off with a 4-5 score today, and is likely to not be at any risk of demotion for November.
Chiyotairyu vs Kagayaki – Both men come into day 10 with matching 5-4 scores, and Chiyotairyu has a solid 7-4 career advantage over Mr. Fundamentals. Chiyotairyu has taken 6 of the last 7m so I think we can guess which way this one will go.
Aoiyama vs Tokushoryu – Man, this first set of matches is a veritable parade of the damned! Both of these rikishi are having a miserable basho, with Tokushoryu likely to captain the Juryo barge unless something magical can happen.
Chiyonokuni vs Hidenoumi – Chiyonokuni could reach kachi-koshi with a win today, and I expect him to dominate Hidenoumi from the start. As the bottom man on the banzuke, he was predicted to cause a lot of damage, and he played a part in the wide spread of poor scores among the bottom half of the banzuke.
Okinoumi vs Myogiryu – A battle for kachi-koshi! Both men are 7-2 to start today, the winner will reach the magic 8th win and stay in the yusho race, the loser will have to try again tomorrow, and likely fall out of the run for the cup. They have a 29 match history, with a 15-14 split.
Tochinoshin vs Tobizaru – I will take the flying monkey over the battered former Ozeki today. Tobizaru’s high agility sumo prevents Tochinoshin from setting his feet and using his strength.
Kotoeko vs Terutsuyoshi – Two smaller rikishi, both with poor (3-6) records for Aki. Both of them are likely to end up make-koshi, and that’s really a shame given that both of them have fought pretty fiercely this fall. Neither one is at any risk of dropping to Juryo, so hopefully they can recover for November.
Endo vs Onosho – Back to the plus side of the ledger, another elimination match. The winner is kachi-koshi, and stays in the group hunting for a shot at the yusho. The loser will drop back to the chase group, and have to try on day 11 for their 8th win. Endo holds a 6-1 career lead.
Chiyoshoma vs Shimanoumi – Chiyoshoma is already make-koshi, and frankly I would love to know what happened to his sumo. His offensive power is nowhere to be found, and it’s kind of sad. He holds a 4-2 career record over Shimanoumi, but given his 1-8 record so far at Aki, I am going to guess it won’t matter.
Hoshoryu vs Kiribayama – Another battle of the up-and-coming rikishi. Hoshoryu is at 3-6, Kiribayama at 6-3. I expect Hoshoryu to be make-koshi at the end of Aki, but he has delivered some great sumo. Kiribayama should be headed for higher rank, and I think has a solid chance to premier in san’yaku soon.
Takarafuji vs Takanosho – Both are at middling 5-4 records, and both have been straddling the make/kachi-koshi line for the last several days. Takanosho has been able to overcome Takarafuji’s defense in 4 of their 5 career matches, so I am going to look for him to prevent the Isegahama man from setting up a solid footing.
Takayasu vs Kotonowaka – Takayasu, what happened? At 3-6, this is a really bad tournament for you. Kotonowaka at 3-6 is a bit more understandable, given he is new to the upper echelon of sumo, and is going to need to learn how to consistently produce results like his day 8 win over Shodai. One of these guys is going to end the day 7-3… ooof.
Tamawashi vs Ichinojo – Another 6-3 pairing of rikishi from the joi-jin who have taken a beating this September. Both had early wins over Takakeisho, so not without achievement. The loser will inch closer to a make-koshi, needing to “win out” over the final five days of Aki to avoid demotion.
Mitakeumi vs Wakatakakage – Wakatakakage needs to win this one to keep hopes of a kachi-koshi at Maegashira 1 within a reasonable range of effort. He has only beaten Mitakeumi once in 5 attempts, so this is going to be difficult.
Shodai vs Daieisho – Daieisho, coming from a kinboshi against Terunofuji (third career kinboshi), is going to be hyped for his match against Shodai. Shodai is in no position to challenge for the cup, but he can plod around the dohyo with great effect. Daieisho holds a narrow 8-6 career lead over the “Wall of Daikon”, and may be able to pull off two upsets in a row.
Meisei vs Takakeisho – Meisei will need to stay mobile, and not let the Ozeki connect with both hands in a thrusting volley. If he can get into a working hit-move-hit pattern, he can overwhelm Takakeisho’s limited balance.
Ura vs Terunofuji – Today’s glowing WTF match: the musubi-no-ichiban. Its their first ever match, and frankly I only want one outcome for this match, both men to exit with their knees in no worse condition than when it started. This has to be some kind of twisted “kneeless wonder” match up. Ah, never change, sumo… never change.