Welcome to the penultimate day of the last tournament of 2021. With today’s torikumi, there seem to be a few things afoot. First and most obvious is that they have scheduled Abi to fight Terunofuji. With the current roster of 2 Ozeki and 1 Yokozuna, you might expect that the Yokozuna would fight the lower ranked Ozeki on day 14, and the highest ranked Ozeki on day 15. I can see why they would want to have Abi fight Terunofuji, but I think it means that Shodai will not face the Yokozuna. This is a real shame for Shodai, as I think he is being robbed of a chance to put his brand of sumo up against Terunofuji. For myself, I am disappointed.
Should Terunofuji win against Abi today, he would take the yusho. Should Abi win, it’s a bit more complex. Assuming that Terunofuji faces Takakeisho on day 15 in the closer, it could be anywhere from a Terunofuji yusho, to a three way tie with a playoff.
For the match itself, I am sure that Abi will bring his best sumo. I doubt that he is going to be too “psyched out” by Terunofuji. I think this will come down to pure sumo mechanics. More details below in the match preview.
lksumo’s post has the details of the road to the emperor’s cup, so take a look.
2 matches remain
What We Are Watching Day 14
Kaisei vs Chiyonokuni – Clearly this is intended to be a funnel match for Kaisei. He holds a narrow 7-5 career advantage over Chiyonokuni, whose hit and move sumo can face problems with a Kaisei’s enormity. Should Kaisei win today, he will be 7-7.
Kotonowaka vs Tochinoshin – What may be another funnel match, Kotonowaka is 6-7, and will either be make-koshi at the end of today, or ready for Darwin. For Tochinoshin, I think with 5 wins now, he may be able to hold onto the lower rungs of the banzuke in January.
Akua vs Terutsuyoshi – This pair have already sorted their kachi (Akua) and make (Terutsuyoshi) koshi. So this is all about rank in January. Terutsuyoshi seems to have some health problems, and I hope that the break across Christmas and New Years lets him get his body in better order.
Chiyotairyu vs Shohozan – Another battle of the make-koshi. As Shohozan is headed out of the top division, they are going to use him to life-boat more than a few rikishi. Having him face folks that could use another win in hopes that his degraded condition provides his opponent with that white star they need. Although Chiyotairyu is already make-koshi, a win today would keep him from possibly hitting double digit losses at the end of Kyushu.
Aoiyama vs Chiyomaru – Another match that could be a life-boat, Aoiyama broke his 9 match losing streak on day 13 with a win over Shohozan. A win today would put bulbous Chiyomaru in make-koshi condition, or a Chiyomaru win would put him at 7-7.
Sadanoumi vs Tobizaru – Tobizaru also has to “win out” to reach 8, and his best option after today is a 7-7 Darwin match. That brutal day 13 loss to Akua really left him in a tight spot. He’s likely to struggle with Sadanoumi’s speed causing him to lose target focus every other step.
Yutakayama vs Chiyoshoma – A “Mini Darwin” match, we have 6-7 Yutakayama with a 9-3 career advantage, and 7-6 Chiyoshoma coming in at 7-6. A Yutakayama win takes them both to 7-7, where a Chiyoshoma win takes him to kachi-koshi, and Yutakayama to make-koshi.
Shimanoumi vs Kagayaki – The ugly race for the most losses in 2021 heats up with this pair of matches. Kagayaki is already 3-10, and headed for a brutal punt back to Juryo, minus some unthinkable banzuke luck. He’s up against make-koshi Shimanoumi, who is at no risk of demotion. I think that at this point, it would be tough for someone like Kagayaki to get fired up and bring his best sumo to the dohyo. So I would guess Shimanoumi today.
Takarafuji vs Kotoeko – A fight between even an injured Takarafuji and an injured Kotoeko is really no contest at all. Takarafuji has a 4-1 career record, and I expect that he is going to outmatch Kotoeko without much trouble at all.
Okinoumi vs Ishiura – Another “Mini Darwin”, the winner gets to go onto the 7-7 bracket tomorrow, the loser is make-koshi. There is almost no chance that Ishiura will find the sumo today to overcome Okinoumi, at least without a henka.
Onosho vs Myogiryu – These two are in the make-koshi bracket, fighting to see ho many losses they will have at the end of the basho. Right now Myogiryu has the worst score in the top division at 2-11, and is likely to see a big drop down the banzuke for January. Onosho is looking to stay away from the ignoble result of double digit losses by winning his last two.
Hidenoumi vs Takanosho – Over to the kachi-koshi bracket, we get to see if this edition of Hidenoumi can win against someone who will likely hold a named rank in January. He has only won 3 of their prior 8 matches, so this is a fairly tall order for him.
Daieisho vs Takayasu – Takayasu is really not fighting anywhere close to his potential. I would say under normal conditions, he would mop the floor with Daieisho. But Takayasu of Kyushu 2021 is not showing good power on offense or defense, so I think that this one may favor Daieisho. If he wins, he will advance to the Darwin bracket tomorrow.
Endo vs Wakatakakage – Another mini-Darwin, and this one is a first ever match up. If Endo wins, he is kachi-koshi, and Wakatakakage is make-koshi. If Wakatakakage wins, they both advance to the Darwin bracket on day 15.
Ichinojo vs Hokutofuji – Hokutofuji has struggled in his test matches in act 3. So we can assume that a fair portion of his strong 9 win score comes from over demotion, and his ability to dominate the rikishi that far down the banzuke. He has a healthy 8-4 career advantage over Ichinojo, so maybe he can score win number 10 today.
Hoshoryu vs Kiribayama – Both of these rising Mongolian stars have 5-8 records, both are make-koshi, and both need to go refine their sumo. Frankly, I am surprised that Hoshoryu is not nursing a worse score given how poor his sumo has been in the second half of the basho. There are still 2 more matches left, and he can reach double digit losses, if he can’t find a way to execute.
Mitakeumi vs Tamawashi – A long standing rivalry, 27 matches between these two, the record favors Mitakeumi 24-3. They both have 9-3 records starting today, and a Mitakeumi win would send him to the coveted double-digit win mark, in spite of his tradition week 2 fade. Since nakabi, he is 2-3. Ouch!
Ura vs Meisei – Hey, what’s Ura doing all the way up here? Well, just hope he stays safe. He beat Meisei the only prior time the fought. The real question is, which kimaraite? There’s always another katasukashi, but a solid ashitori can really satisfy.
Shodai vs Takakeisho – Ah, the Ozeki fight! Takakeisho, you can blow this daikon up if you just stay focused on center mass, move forward, and don’t lose your cool and pull. Shodai is plenty wide and tall, and if he uses the “Wall of Daikon” technique, he will present a very broad target for you. Both are kachi-koshi, so this is just for pride.
Terunofuji vs Abi – The curiosity of the day. M15w fights the Yokozuna on the second to last day of the tournament. Abi will open as he always does with a double arm attack to the neck. I am sure Terunofuji is reviewing match video of people beating Abi. His double arm thrusting is not unstoppable, but it is effective. The trick is to get underneath, thrust upward against an elbow, and get inside to lock him up. As Abi’s right hand is his dominant one, Terunofuji should thrust up with left, go in with his right. I think Abi will connect at least one volley against the Yokozuna, so he will need to keep his feet for just a moment. For a great example of this in action, see a much healthier Tochinoshin take Abi apart. I think this is very close to what this match will look like today