Three days to go. A three way tie for the yusho.
My thoughts are drawn to Terunofuji’s gristle segments that have been cleverly disguised as knees. His Yokozuna career will last just a bit longer than they do, and every time he takes a big awkward fall we all worry that “this is it!” It’s my sincere hope that they are able to patch him up, and bring him back to the dohyo in fighting form.
The schedulers seem to have taken day 13 as a chance to create some entertainment with some large rank gaps in some matches between interesting opponents, in hopes of keeping everyone eager for the final day.
Leaders: Terunofuji, Mitakeumi, Abi
Hunt Group: Kotonowaka
3 matches remain
What We Are Watching Day 13
Chiyomaru vs Tochinoshin – A loss today by Tochinoshin is make-koshi for him, and I would guess possibly relegation to Juryo in March. Can Chiyomaru overcome the 2-5 career advantage to take out the former Ozeki? It’s gruesome any way you look at it. If he pulls it off, he will earn his kachi-koshi at the same time.
Wakamotoharu vs Chiyotairyu – First ever meet up, and I would guess this is Wakamotoharu’s chance to get his 8th win. It’s not quite as straightforward as that, though. Chiyotairyu shows up today with a 4-8 record, but he is maybe a bit more genki right now than he was last week. So maybe he’s overcoming whatever prevented him from doing good sumo.
Ishiura vs Oho – Another first time match, Oho needs 1 more win to secure his spot in the top division in March. He’s up against a rather genki Ishiura, and I am hoping this is a real high energy clash of styles. Oho attacking big and heavy, Ishiura with speed and agility.
Ichiyamamoto vs Terutsuyoshi – A battle for make-koshi now, with Terutsuyoshi wanting to win today to keep himself at 7 losses and survive another day to try to climb his way up to 8 wins. They have split their 2 prior matches, and I am going to hope that Terutsuyoshi can pull it off today.
Yutakayama vs Akua – Both of them already make-koshi, so this is only to see how big of a drop each of these large guys are going to take in the March banzuke. Both of them are banged up, both are fighting well below their abilities, and I hope they both can recover and come back strong in Osaka.
Chiyonokuni vs Aoiyama – Chiyonokuni has won 2 in a row. At one point he was cruising for a perfect zenpai, and then abruptly changed course. In normal times with healthy bodies, He has an 11-6 advantage over Aoiyama. But they are both in degraded condition, with Chiyonokuni being the worse off. An Aoiyama win would be kachi-koshi for him.
Hoshoryu vs Kotoeko – Both are kachi-koshi, so this is to let them see if they want to run up the score. Frankly, I am not sure why they would set up this match, with an 11 rank gap across the banzuke, and a clear 3-0 advantage in Hoshoryu’s favor.
Okinoumi vs Tsurugisho – I guess it’s also time to finish off Tsurugisho, if Okinoumi is up to the task. At 5-7 a loss today wold render Tsurugisho make-koshi. But at the moment, there seems to be a lack of rikishi at the top end of Juryo that can move up to take a place. I don’t envy the folks playing “Guess the banzuke” this time out.
Tamawashi vs Kotonowaka – Tamawashi needs one more win to reach his 8, and we have another 11 rank gap match against 9-3 Kotonowaka. They have fought 4 times before, with Tamawashi leading the series 3-1. This should be good enough for him to hit kachi-koshi before the final weekend.
Sadanoumi vs Ichinojo – This one is far more interesting. A 9 rank gap where they have an even 6-6 record. I think Ichinojo is in a bit of a groove right now, and if he can capture Sadanoumi he’s just going to grind him to dust in another marathon stamina test. Bring it on!
Ura vs Chiyoshoma – Yeah, there are a lot of amusement factors in today’s match set. This one is 6-0 in Ura’s favor. We have Chiyoshoma, who is already make-koshi at 4-8, but fighting fairly well. I want to see some enjoyable stunt-sumo from these two today.
Tobizaru vs Kiribayama – A mini-Darwin match, where the loser is make-koshi. These are sort of a necessity now that the funnel was destroyed by the chaos of day 12. But what glorious and enjoyable chaos it was. Tamawashi has lost his last 4, and I would love to see him snap out of that losing streak.
Wakatakakage vs Endo – Day 12 Endo was the “good” Endo, and we all want to see quite a bit more of that. So lets hope for the best, and sumo’s golden boy can once again show up and drop a challenger to the clay in glorious style. He won his only prior match against Wakatakakage.
Hokutofuji vs Daieisho – We are on the cusp of Hokutofuji achieving his goal in most basho, “The most powerful make-koshi in all of sumo”, and that could happen today if Daieisho can crank up his mega-thrust power and get Hokutofuji on the move.
Meisei vs Takarafuji – Meisei, having just collected a Yokozuna scalp, is off to try his luck against Takarafuji. I have some hopes that Takarafuji will hit double digits this time around, so Meisei may find the Maegashira stalwart a bit more stable than Terunofuji turned out to be.
Mitakeumi vs Abi – This match was set up well before the results of day 12 were known, and it will narrow the yusho field to just 2 people. Over the long haul, Mitakeumi holds a 7-2 advantage over Abi. But the thing about Abi is that his sumo is potent enough that it has a chance to defeat anyone on the right day. I hope that Mitakeumi is less rushed than he was against Onosho.
Onosho vs Shodai – Shodai needs to “Win out” to avoid kadoban, and that will include a final day match where his score would be 7-7 to start. Onosho, as we talked on the day 12 preview, could care less. He’s going to blast forward from the shikiri-sen and put at least one giant meaty hand in a tender spot and dial up the pressure until you move. Will Shodai use his cartoon sumo and brush Onosho off on a passing gyoji? Or is it time to finally see the “Wall of daikon” at long last?
Terunofuji vs Takanosho – If Terunofuji is not too banged up by that off kilter fall at the end of day 12, I am going to guess that he goes chest to chest with Takanosho, and crushes him to a nutritious paste in a slow and steady manner. Biding his time to take out the winner of Mitakeumi vs Abi.