With a cry of “Never give up!” the schedulers went back to the drawing board. The day 12 “Make-koshi day” was a flop, as nearly all of the marks won their matches. The Darwin funnel crumbled, and the grand plan of a day 15 barnyard brawl was nowhere to be found. In times like these, the best take to the izakaya and consult the wisdom of yeast. Perhaps they were encouraged to try again, that the plan just needed more time. They were encouraged to be less subtle, and just drive for what they want, and let the Great Sumo Cat of the Kokugikan handle the details.
They took brush in hand, and crafted this torikumi for our day 13. It has triumphs and perils aplenty, and I think we may see at least one upset. Hold on to your zabuton folks, its going to get bumpy.
Hunt Group: Takakeisho, Abi
Chasers: Mitakeumi, Tamawashi, Ura, Hokutofuji
3 matches remain
What We Are Watching Day 13
Ishiura vs Kaisei – As long as Ishiura does not do a bizzaro tachiai today, he stands a fair chance of beating Kaisei. It may seem odd given the tremendous size different between the two of them, but Ishiura has beating him 3 times out of their 7 career matches. The usual strategy involves getting to the side of Kaisei and either throwing or pushing him out. To prevent this, Kaisei just needs to keep Ishiura locked to his front quarter, and be enormous.
Yutakayama vs Terutsuyoshi – One of these two is make-koshi today. they come in with matching 5-7 records, and the loser gets to exit the fair city of Fukuoka with a losing record for November. Their 4-4 career record indicates it will be an even fight, but I give a slight edge to Yutakayama, who finally seems to be fighting with vigor.
Kotonowaka vs Chiyomaru – Another make-koshi bracket match, Kotonowaka needs one more loss for make-koshi, and Chiyomaru is at 6-6 in the middle of what is left of the funnel. Should Kotonowaka win, it would put them both candidates to hit 7-7 at the end of tomorrow. They have a 2-2 career record, but Kotonowaka is looking a bit better in week 2 than he did in his terrible week 1.
Chiyotairyu vs Tochinoshin – I worry that if Tochinoshin picks up a few more black stars, he may be a candidate for the Juryo barge that will be captained by Shohozan this time. He already has a 4-8 record to start day 13m, but Chiyotairyu (5-7) has lost the last five in a row! This guy was on a firm kachi-koshi path up until his fight against Ura on nakabe, and now he’s a mess. I have to wonder if he got injured last weekend.
Aoiyama vs Shohozan – Every captain needs his bosun, and so we get Juryo barge captain Shohozan checking paying a visit to “Big Dan” Aoiyama,. Not that Aoiyama is at any risk of being relegated to Juryo, but he is another rikishi who opened strong, and has, as of today, a 9 day losing streak. Both of them are hurt, both are at a fraction of their expected sumo power, and this match could be miserable indeed.
Akua vs Tobizaru – Akua wants a win today to hit his kachi-koshi. His opponent, Tobizaru, is at 6-6, and finds himself on the path to Darwin on day 15. I think this will provide significant motivation for sumo’s flying monkey, and I am looking to him for the win today.
Kotoeko vs Kagayaki – I had to look at this twice, but Kagayaki has just ONE more win that Kotoeko going into day 13. As someone who has admired Kagayaki’s sumo for a while, this is staggering. I imagine that he’s going to pick up his 4th win today over Kotoeko, but maybe lksumo will make an attempt to figure out: at what score would Kotoeko be at risk of dropping out of the top division in one massive punt down the banzuke?
Sadanoumi vs Chiyoshoma – I genuinely want to see Chiyoshoma pick up a kachi-koshi this November. I think the mechanical improvements he’s made in his sumo should be the catalyst for a posting to the joi-jin in January. To get there he needs to win 2 of the last 3 matches, which is a tall order given how even the competition is right now. Sadanoumi at M16w is fighting well above his rank, and this could be thought of as a bit of a “test” match for him today.
Shimanoumi vs Chiyonokuni – Could be some great symmetry here today, with Chiyonokuni win delivering kachi-koshi to him and make-koshi to Shimanoumi at the same time. Should Shimanoumi prevail, it’s back into the Darwin funnel for both of them. What could go wrong?
Takayasu vs Hidenoumi – I am a bit sad that day 13 finds Takayasu fighting to stave off make-koshi. Its even worse that he is against Hidenoumi, who comes in with a superior 7-5 record. As a die-hard Takayasu fan, I worry what kind of doom a make-koshi this month might bring to his rank, as there are 2 more matches for him to endure after today.
Hokutofuji vs Takanosho – Another great test match, its time for criminally over-demoted Hokutofuji to try out against some of his normal opponents. Takanosho is my favorite for a named rank in January. He’s already kachi-koshi, and he has been fighting well enough. I look for Hokutofuji to open big, and it will be up to Takanosho to blunt his opening attack and wait for an opening.
Onosho vs Okinoumi – Of course there is the potential of 4-8 Onosho to win against Okinoumi, but given the balance problems Onosho has been suffering, I think it’s unlikely. A win today would put Okinoumi back into the funnel, but that may not be an issue for him, as he has won 3 of the last 4 matches, and seems to be in a good mode right now.
Hoshoryu vs Wakatakakage – Another battle for “make koshi day”, as one of these two is going to be make-koshi at the end of today. The other will be back into the funnel for another day. Wakatakakagi has won the last 3 in a row, and I give him a slight edge today.
Daieisho vs Myogiryu – The seems to be giving Daieisho a chance to rescue himself with this match. Myogiryu has a 2-10 record for January, a 2-9 career deficit against Daieisho, and is likely going eat a loss today. While it’s nice to give Daieisho a chance to dodge make-koshi for a day, he’s back into the funnel if he wins.
Takarafuji vs Kiribayama – Both of these men come in with 4-8 make-koshi records. This level of performance is not uncommon for shin-sanyaku rikishi, so Kiribayama should just do his best today and hope that he can keep Takarafuji from setting up his defense. Kiribayama will need to stay mobile, and not let Takarafuji put his 30kg weight advantage to work.
Ichinojo vs Ura – There is about 70kg weight difference between these two, and looking at the stats, my first reaction is “I hope nobody gets hurt”. Not that the risk is solely on Ura, his grab-and-tug attack strategy could lead to some truly epic and painful outcomes to Ichinojo. A loss today would be make-koshi for Ichinojo, so I expect him to throw everything into this match.
Endo vs Meisei – Endo can still reach kachi-koshi. He just needs to win 2 of his last 3 matches. This is not out of the question given his skill level, provided his body is up for the level of sumo he will need to transact. Should he prevail today, it will be make-koshi for Meisei, who seems to have run out of momentum that his 10-5 finish at M3 in March gave his rank.
Abi vs Takakeisho – Here comes the big question mark. A pair of oshi powerhouse sumotori, their first fight in 18 months. They share an even 2-2 history, and are well matched. I expect Abi to aim high, and Takakeisho to aim center mass. Abi’s much longer reach will be his advantage, and Takakeisho’s tadpole tenacity will be the Ozeki’s advantage. I expect Abi to open strong and be in charge of the first moments of the match, and Takakeisho will have to shut down Abi-zumo before he turns on the wave-action system.
Shodai vs Tamawashi – Luckily, Shodai is already kachi-koshi, so this is all about record and rank for Tamawashi. I think if we see “Wall of Daikon” early today, the capable veteran Tamawashi will pick up his 4th loss.
Terunofuji vs Mitakeumi – In spite of his traditional week 2 fade, Mitakeumi has a chance here to play spoiler. He has only beaten Terunofuji once since his return to the top division last year, out of 8 attempts. This includes the July 2020 day 15 match when M17e Terunofuji supplied a big yorikiri to finish out his first yusho from the bottom of the banzuke. There is a 15 match history between these two, and it 11-4 in favor of the kaiju.