An early happy Thanksgiving to all of Tachiai’s readers in the United States. I don’t recall the last time Thanksgiving fell during the November tournament, but the 4 day weekend in the US presents this sumo fan with a double-wide opportunity to enjoy the last days of this basho. A quick run down of day 12 before I start prepping for tomorrow’s feast. If you want the details of what is on the line, do check out lksumo’s excellent piece on the promotion / demotion chances.
Last day of warm-ups for the top ranks, we start the brutal round robin matches soon.
Hunt Group: Takakeisho, Abi
Chasers: Mitakeumi, Tamawashi, Hokutofuji
4 matches remain
What We Are Watching Day 12
Sadanoumi vs Tochinoshin – Well, this one is full of potential, not just because its a significant clash of styles. You have speed and agility from Sadanoumi. Then you have Tochinoshin, who is only a shadow of his former self. If Sadanoumi wins today, it’s kachi-koshi for him, and make-koshi for Tochinoshin.
Ishiura vs Chiyonokuni – Chiyonokunin has never lost to Ishiura, in 8 attempts. For whatever reason, Chiyonokuni has the right formula to shut down whatever Ishiura might try. Both are in the funnel right now, and if Chiyonokuni wins, both will more or less exit the funnel. This happens because as the days march on, the funnel does narrow, and right now anyone who can get to 7 wins and 7 losses is more or less on a path to make or kachi-koshi.
Kotonowaka vs Shohozan – If Shohozan somehow manages to win, he can drag Kotonowaka over the line to join him in make-koshi land. Much as I like Kotonowaka, I kind of what to see this happen.
Kaisei vs Terutsuyoshi – Perfect funnel match, the two have a tied 4-4 career match record, they both come in at 5-6, and the winner gets to ride the funnel into the future, the loser is on the path to make-koshi. I favor Kaisei on this, because against a smaller opponent, being enormous is often a valid sumo strategy.
Chiyotairyu vs Akua – Another solid funnel match, the perfect result, in terms of the funnel, would be a Chiyotairyu win. Chiyotairyu won their only prior match in May. Akua will need to survive the first 5 second if he wants to take things his way, and advance to 7 wins.
Aoiyama vs Yutakayama – Aoiyama has had 8 straight losses after opening strong with 3-0. Can he rally and drag Yutakayama down to make-koshi as well? I have my doubts. Yutakayama is pretty rough this November, too. But I don’t think he is in the same poor condition as “Big Dan”.
Kotoeko vs Chiyomaru – I am going to say that I don’t think we will see another Kotoeko win. He just does not see to have any power in him this time out. Best to see if he can recover from whatever injury is going on, and get him fresh in January.
Kagayaki vs Tobizaru – Kagayaki is make-koshi, but there is still plenty of room for Tobizaru to make his 8, he just needs to
(checks notes) win 3 of his last 4 matches. Oh dear. Kagayaki is quite effective against Tobizaru, with a 4-1 career advantage.
Ura vs Hokutofuji – We all knew this one was coming along at some point, or we at least hoped. This one has the potential to be the match of the day. Ura is doing quite well this November, and Hokutofuji’s over demotion let him run up a 9-2 score. But now that we are in act 3, it’s time to see some of these peer matches unfold, regardless of rank. So I think Ura’s grab and tug sumo holds an advantage against Hokotofuji’s brand of oshi-zumo. Go ahead, big stuff, stick that arm out for a while. We all will get to enjoy a fourth katasukashi from Ura this month.
Hidenoumi vs Chiyoshoma – Matching 6-5 scores, and the winner gets to climb out of the funnel, the loser stays on course for Darwin on day 15. Their 6-7 career record is only slightly informative, as Chiyoshoma appears to fighting better than average, and Hidenoumi is at or slightly below average this basho.
Abi vs Tamawashi – This is a great “act 3” match, where you have two rikishi that are doing well, so you pair them up. I think this is another test match, looking to see if Abi is ready to rank in the top half of the banzuke. Abi’s long-arm thrusting attack works about half the time against Tamawashi, so this will likely be quite the battle.
Okinoumi vs Shimanoumi – A Shimanoumi win today will be make-koshi for Okinoumi, and more funnel time for Shimanoumi. He has a 4-1 career advantage, but it’s never wise to predict that Okinoumi will lose any match on any given day. He is tough, wily and has been in the top division for more than a decade.
Onosho vs Takanosho – Battle of the “nosho” crew, this one strongly favors Takanosho. A win by him will send Onosho make-koshi, and probably punch Takanosho’s ticket back to the named ranks.
Daieisho vs Hoshoryu – Another one for “make-koshi day”, Daieisho is one loss away from his, and he needs to summon his fighting spirit to keep Hoshoryu from getting a hand hold and putting the match on his terms.
Myogiryu vs Wakatakakage – Wakatakakage is also at risk for make-koshi today, but I think that he will prevail against a flagging Myogiryu, who has only had 2 wins this month.
Ichinojo vs Takarafuji – It just won’t not be “make-koshi day” if we were not treated to a mini-Darwin, where one of these two will exit the day with their make-koshi, and another survives to day 13. I think it’s going to be Ichinojo’s win, as Takarafuji just does not seem to be able to resist much forward pressure this basho.
Mitakeumi vs Endo – Mitakeumi can hit double digits with one more. He’s out of the spot of playing spoiler for the yusho, for the most part, but he can still wreck someone else’s November while he’s here. He holds a career 11-6 record over Endo, who has not had much luck landing his opening combos in the last 11 days.
Shodai vs Kiribayama – Shodai should win this today, but I hold in reserve the chance that he might blow his first chance at kachi-koshi. I am glad to note that Kiribayama has won 3 of the last 4, and is not quite as demoralized as his first week’s sumo led me to believe. But a loss today will send him make-koshi, which is typical for a first visit to the named ranks. He will be back.
Takayasu vs Takakeisho – This should be a high interest match, but I am going to guess that Takayasu won’t use his calm, patient sumo. The temptation for “wild man” sumo may be too great for him, and if he’s dancing around on one foot like three drunken gymnasts all squeezed into the same plus size leotard, he’s a big, easy target for Takakeisho.
Terunofuji vs Meisei – Terunofuji is going to wrap Meisei up, and grind him down. The real challenges for the Yokozuna start tomorrow, I would guess, so this is the last preliminary match for him.