We come to the final day of act 2 of the Kyushu basho, and its time to review what the goals were. Act 2 is where we narrow the field to find out who has what it takes to compete for the yusho, and to start sorting the survivors from the damned. I think the sumo association hit that mark well this November. We have a yusho race between Terunofuji and Takakeisho, with Mitakeumi waiting to play spoiler in act 3. We have Abi as the dark horse at the bottom of the banzuke, and we eagerly await his test matches soon.
It’s also looking dim for Shohozan, maybe Tochinoshin, and maybe Kagayaki. There is still plenty of time for these rikishi to pull out a save. Meanwhile, a herd of athletes with middling scores are being herded toward playoff “Darwin” matches on day 15.
But first, the closing day of act 2!
Leaders: Terunofuji, Takakeisho
Hunt Group: Mitakeumi, Abi
Chasers: Tamawashi, Ura, Hokutofuji
6 matches remain
What We Are Watching Day 10
Yutakayama vs Akua – A fine chance for Yutakayama to try and claw his way into the funnel, and for Akua to go to 5-5 and remain in the prime Darwin zone. Granted, it may not happen this way, but with a 2-0 career record, Yutakayama has at least a chance to bring this about today.
Kaisei vs Tochinoshin – Brutal match here, with Tochinoshin and his hurt back trying to find a win any way he can. His bad back is not going to do well against nearly 200kg Kaisei, who needs a win today to stay in the funnel. I expect pain and suffering galore on the clay for this one.
Ishiura vs Shohozan – Can Shohozan find his third win? I sure would like him to, but something is missing here, and it’s probably health related for 37 year old veteran Shohozan. He holds a 5-2 career advantage over Ishiura, so maybe he can muster some sumo.
Sadanoumi vs Hokutofuji – Sadanoumi took a hard loss on day 9 against Yutakayama, and I think he will be looking to bounce back today. Easier said than done against Hokutofuji who is looking for an 8th win and kachi-koshi today. He has a 2-0 career advantage over Sadanoumi.
Chiyomaru vs Terutsuyoshi – Chiyomaru took a face full of clay thanks to Abi on day 9, and I hope he will be a bit more careful today, as Terutsuyoshi is likely to use his speed and agility to keep Chiyomaru’s offense from connecting. Terutsuyoshi has a 5-3 career advantage.
Kagayaki vs Hidenoumi – Kagayaki is two losses away from make-koshi, so he needs to find some wins starting now. Kachi-koshi for him would require him winning 5 of the remaining 6 matches, so it may be out of the question. He has a fairly even record against Hidenoumi, who really did not have much to offer on day 9 against Tamawashi.
Kotoeko vs Chiyonokuni – Man, I just want Kotoeko to own up to whatever injury is plaguing him, go kyujo and spare us the spectacle of him being just a fraction shy of a win each and every day. Chiyonokuni already holds a 3-1 career advantage, and I see no reason why Kotoeko would present a reasonable challenge today.
Abi vs Tobizaru – A high interest match for myself, I would love to see Tobizaru get underneath / inside that long arm thrust attack of Abi-zumo, and take the fight to the mawashi. Tobizaru’s defenses are not evasive enough to endure Abi’s normal attack pattern for more than a couple of volleys, so whatever he is going to do, he needs to do it on the first step.
Ura vs Kotonowaka – Kotonowaka won their only prior match, which was in July in the Nagoya heat. November in Kyushu is a very different scenario, and Ura seems to be dialed into his sumo, and is fighting “his style” nearly every day. His main job will be to keep Kotonowaka off of his mawashi, and keep a medium-scale gap open to allow him to grab and tug any body part Kotonowaka makes the mistake of leaving open.
Shimanoumi vs Chiyotairyu – Both of these guys are squarely in the middle of the funnel, and in terms of keeping them both locked on the path to Darwin, Shimanoumi should win. He has a slight 5-4 career advantage, but I think Chiyotairyu has been fighting better this basho. I won’t mind at all if these guys both break out today.
Aoiyama vs Tamawashi – A win today is kachi-koshi for Tamawashi. He does tend to take a pounding when his opponent is Aoiyama, with Big Dan holding a 9-6 career advantage, and has taken 4 of the last 5 encounters. It may all come down to who gets the first hit. What I do not want to see is Aoiyama and Tamawashi trading arm-breaker kotonage.
Chiyoshoma vs Endo – Both come into today at 5-4, and given that Chiyoshoma is doing fairly solid, straight ahead sumo, this one could actually be a good fight. I expect Endo is going to dominate early, and will work to get a frontal grip. But that won’t spell doom for Chiyoshoma, who is quite capable of breaking that grip and returning his own. Loser gets 5-5 and joins the middle of the funnel.
Okinoumi vs Takanosho – An “outside the funnel” match, its a chance for Okinoumi to apply some of his high quality sumo, which has been far too scarce this basho, to an up and coming star. With any luck, he can either put Takanosho on the clay, or make him work quite hard for a win.
Daieisho vs Wakatakakage – Both of these rikishi are perilously close to make-koshi now. In fact a loss today by Wakatakakage will be his 8th. These two have a 2-2 career record, and it’s really anyone’s guess who will be less terrible today. Grim.
Ichinojo vs Myogiryu – Ichi-friggin-nojo, get your hand out of other people’s hair! I know it’s in the way when you are attacking because of your great height, but you are going to have to adjust. Just setting for slapping them in the face instead. I know it seems very rude and un-sportsman like, but it’s better than risking disqualification. Myogiryu holds an 11-4 career record against you, so he is probably going to wreck you anyhow.
Onosho vs Kiribayama – Both of these guys are 3-6, and they have a 2-2 career record. They are racing each other to the make-koshi line, and I am not sure who I want to jump across it first. My bet is Onosho, and rather than jump, he is going to topple forward over it in pursuit of a cherished win. Poor guy seems to struggle with his balance. Then again maybe Kiribayama will make the mistake of squaring up against him, and Onosho will shove him into the front row.
Mitakeumi vs Takarafuji – Mitakumi is at 8 wins, and there are 6 matches left. He has a solid chance to hit double digits, and may even have it in him to run up the score. He faces a struggling and likely injured Takarafuji today, and I am not sure my favorite defensive rikishi has the mojo to put up too much of a fight. Mitakeumi also holds a 9-3 career advantage.
Shodai vs Takayasu – Oh goodie. The are both 5-4, and I hope Shodai gets a full Takayasu workout today. Tuck in big man and make him grind, see how much he can hold with that “Wall of Diakon” defense. Note to the readers, Shodai has a 14-9 career advantage, but I think Takayasu may want to try out his new sumo technique.
Meisei vs Takakeisho – Takakeisho had a hard landing on day 9 against Hoshoryu, and this will be our first chance to see if he picked up any damage from that fall. He’s fairly consistent winning against Meisei (5-1), so look for an early hit amidships to get Meisei off balance.
Terunofuji vs Hoshoryu – Terunofuji has a 4-0 against Hoshoryu. Plus Hoshoryu is not fighting well this month. How long will the Yokozuna play with him before he sends him out?