So we come to the final day. The yusho will be decided in the final three matches. The first one pits M10W Myogiryu against S1W Meisei. Should Meisei win, Terunofuji has the yusho outright. Should Myogiryu win, he waits to see the results of Terunofuji vs Shodai, the final match of the tournament. A win by Yokozuna Terunofuji, and he takes home the cup for the 3rd time in the past year. In fact, every basho since we went kyujo on day 13 last September (with an 8-4 record), he has won the yusho or the jun-yusho. Should the unlikely happen, with Terunofuji losing against Shodai and Myogiryu winning against Meisei, I don’t think that Myogiryu stands a chance.
Earlier in the torikumi, we have four Darwin matches. A pair of 7-7 rikishi face off, and only the winner survives with a winning record. During an early, pre-COVID time, attending matches on the final day had a festive atmosphere. Most rikishi already had sorted themselves into winning or losing records, and many of the matches were for interest or amusement purposes. Folks were happy, relaxed and in good spirits.
While lksumo has been doing an expert job forecasting the promotion and demotion picture, the fact that there are three rikishi with at least 10 loss records at the bottom of the banzuke portends a big churn in the ranks for November. It could make for a wild and wonderful 15 days in Kyushu.
What We Are Watching Day 15
Kaisei vs Daiamami – Daiamami comes up from Juryo with a 7-7 record, needing one more win for kachi-koshi, to add his name to the promotion hopefuls. Kaisei at 5-9 needs one more win to avoid joining the crowd at the the bottom of the banzuke with double digit losses. I predict maximum sumo here.
Shohozan vs Tsurugisho – Hey, as long as we have the tram running between Makuuchi and Juryo, lets stick dear old “Big Guns” Shohozan on there, and have him see if he can pound a return promotion out of Tsurugisho. As we have seen this basho, Tsurugisho has been suffering with painful cellulitis that has turned him into a door stop. A loss today would add him to the double-digit crew in the bottom third of the banzuke.
Chiyotairyu vs Yutakayama – After the bloody ravages of the first two matches, what to have next? Yes, it’s time for our first Darwin match! Both are about the same size and weight. Both are tsuki/oshi fighters, and only one of them will exit the dohyo with a winning record.
Aoiyama vs Kotoeko – Why stop with just one? Its big man vs little man sumo. With Aoiyama perfectly capable of knocking Kotoeko into next Tuesday if he can get the V-Twin attack humming. I am sure Kotoeko is going to go low and try for a grab-and-tug attack to shut down Aoiyama’s primary offense. Another Darwin match, and the winner takes it all.
Chiyonoo vs Tobizaru – Somebody decided to send Chiyonoo back to Juryo with a tough match. He has never beaten Tobizaru in 4 attempts. Granted Tobizaru is not fighting well right now,, but it’s still a brutal thing to do to 4-10 rikishi. Both are make-koshi, so this is just to see how far down the banzuke Chiyonoo will fall.
Okinoumi vs Endo – Turn that frown upside down! Its a pair of 10-4 rikishi in a consolation match, with each having a 10 win record against the other. Both of them high skill, and ready to bring their lexicon of sumo to the dohyo today. This match should be fun to watch.
Kagayaki vs Terutsuyoshi – Terutsuyoshi has this one chance to avoid double digit losses by taking out the man I used to call “Mr Fundamentals”. Well, Kagayaki’s sumo is not quite as sharp as it was when I gave him that name, and I have to wonder if its ever coming back. At M13, his make-koshi does not put him at risk of joining the Juryo barge, but his last kachi-koshi was a 8-7 last September.
Ura vs Ichiyamamoto – In another “Bring the pain” match, we have spritely and agile Ura against an injured Ichiyamamoto. This one should be pretty easy for Ura, and that could mean a 4-11 final score for Ichiyamamoto. I hear he is already in the engine room warming up the boilers for the moment Tokushoryu gives the order to begin the slow steam down the Sumida river back to Juryo land.
Tochinoshin vs Takarafuji – Its time for MOAR DARRWIN! This time its one time Ozeki Tochinoshin taking on defensive master Takarafuji. Takarafuji has lost 3 of the last 4, and certainly seems to be fading out. Not sure who has the advantage here, I just hope nobody gets injured.
Chiyoshoma vs Tokushoryu – The match that punctuates the roster of terrible scores in the bottom half of the banzuke, its a pair of 4-10 rikishi seeing who can get a 5th win. If I were Chiyoshoma, I would just henka the captain of the Juryo barge, Tokushoryu and be done with it. But I think the new Chiyoshoma is going to fight it out. Chiyoshoma holds a 8-3 career advantage.
Tamawashi vs Onosho – I am sure at this point, the schedulers were wondering what to do with Onosho. He had yet to fight former san’yaku mainstay Tamawashi, so lets tee that one up. Onosho took a fast route to the clay on day 14, and hopefully will have a bit better control of his center of gravity today, or Tamawashi will surely put him right back down on the deck.
Wakatakakage vs Chiyonokuni – First time match, and a chance for the last man of the banzuke to finish out with double digit wins. I tell you, the November ranking sheet is going to be NUTS! I like how Wakatakakage has been fighting this basho, but whatever plan he has to win this match will suffer greatly the first time Chiyonokuni lands a big blow to his face.
Chiyomaru vs Kiribayama – I suspect this match is to see if Kiribayama gets to be front of the line for a san’yaku slot. He has beaten Chiyomaru their only 2 prior matches, and I think that he has broken through whatever had him on that 3 match losing streak this week. Both are kachi-koshi, so this is all about figuring out rank.
Shimanoumi vs Takanosho – Our final Darwin match of the day. Both of them are quality rikishi, but both have been fighting well below their best this September. Winner exits with a promotion, loser with a demotion.
Hoshoryu vs Hidenoumi – As with a few other matches on today’s torikumi, I think this one is geared to help gauge how far down the banzuke to push Hoshoryu. Should he win today, I would call it a “soft” make-koshi for him, finishing with 6 wins, 7 losses, and 2 days kyujo. I think he will be back at the top of the rank and file soon, so they may not want him too far down the banzuke for November.
Daieisho vs Ichinojo – Speed and forceful attack at the tachiai vs large immovable boulder-like creature who has been known to toss ponies and eat ice cream by the truck full. Both are kachi-koshi, so I think this is to help sort our rank in November. Ichinojo has a distinct 6-2 career advantage.
Myogiryu vs Meisei – Meisei comes into today at 7-7, and a win would not only affirm his stay at Sekiwake, but would shut down any hopes Myogiryu might have for a first ever Emperor’s cup. He holds a 4-2 career advantage over Myogiryu, and I think he will be able to get the job done, in spite of Myogiryu showing us some of the best sumo of his career. A Myogiryu loss hands Terunofuji the yusho outright.
Mitakeumi vs Takakeisho – Somebody in the Japan Sumo Association loves team Tachiai. In spite of the fact that neither one can challenge for the cup, we get a final tadpole battle to tide us over until November. Unlike the last couple of days, I don’t expect either one of these battle-spheres to have any pretense of going chest to chest. Rather its going to be an oshi/tsuppari hell-storm. Both are kachi-koshi, so maybe they won’t “whip it one” at full power. But I do hope. The have a balanced 10-10 career record.
Shodai vs Terunofuji – The final match of the basho, it’s Shodai’s “Wall of Daikon” defensive sumo against Terunofuji’s slow, crushing attack. The only time Shodai has beaten him in teh current era was when Terunofuji was on his debut return to the top division, when he was Sekiwake 1E fighting the lowest ranked man on the banzuke. Since then it’s been 4 straight losses. I am looking for Terunofuji to pop him like a squeeze toy and then heave the remains into the zabuton zone.