It’s the penultimate day of Hatsu 2022, and as of today we have a 2 way tie for the cup, but it will come down to the final day. Unless something quite out of the ordinary happens, the yusho will go to Terunofuji, Mitakeumi or Abi. Yes, Abi still has a path to the cup, but it’s a long shot.
What We Are Watching Day 14
Nishikigi vs Ichiyamamoto – I would guess a bit of an exchange match. Should Nishikigi win, he’s kachi-koshi and likely to make a bid to return to the top division. Ichiyamamoto will likely end with a record that could drop him to Juryo. So maybe they are having them fight it out. Ichiyamamoto has a 3-0 career lead.
Ishiura vs Kotoeko – Both are already kachi-koshi, so this is to see who can toss whom about with more power. Ishiura has been looking really sharp the last few days, and I am eager to see these two compact powerhouses fight it out. Ishiura holds a 6-3 career advantage.
Aoiyama vs Chiyotairyu – Their make/kachi-koshi have already been decided, so maybe its just a “hey look, 21 match rivalry” kind of event. Both are not quite at full power, so it’s anyone’s guess how this one is going to play out. I would think Aoiyama is a bit less banged up, so maybe he will have an edge.
Sadanoumi vs Yutakayama – Sadanoumi needs one more win for his kachi-koshi. Should he lose today to Yutakayama, it’s 7-7 for him, and he may find himself in one of the very small number of Darwin matches tomorrow. Since the funnel blew to bits on day 12, the schedulers have stopped trying to march folks to 7-7, and my just take whomever shows up.
Oho vs Akua – I feel for Oho, who has lost 3 in a row. But part of being in the top division is the stamina to still fight with a lot of power (maybe even more power) at the end of week 2. If he drops this match to the injured Akua today, he will be 7-7, and my guess he may face a Darwin match on Sunday.
Chiyonokuni vs Terutsuyoshi – Terutsuyoshi is going to try to win his last 2 and see if he can finish kachi-koshi. He’s got the ghost of Chiyonokuni today, who threw away a perfectly good zenpai. I think Kokenoe Oyakata told him that if he finished 0-15, he would have to organize Chiyomaru’s bodily functions.
Wakamotoharu vs Tobizaru – We have Wakamotoharu at 7-6, Tobizaru at 6-7. I know I said the funnel is dead and shattered, but here is a little piece of it still trying to make the Darwin list full. Tobizaru has a 5-0 career advantage over Wakamotoharu, so the likely outcome here is a pair of 7-7 rikishi, ready for battle on day 15.
Tsurugisho vs Chiyoshoma – Both are make-koshi, but this may be to see if Tsurugisho will end up with enough losses to open another slot in the top division. Not that there are that many promotable records from Juryo. Chiyoshoma holds a 4-2 career advantage over Tsurugisho, but the size different is 60kg. I hereby authorize a Chiyoshoma henka for this match.
Okinoumi vs Tochinoshin – A pair of grizzled and injured veterans hobble to the dohyo, organize their remaining appendages, and do battle. Their 18 match history favors Tochinoshin 10-8, and I think another win would help him stay in the top division one more basho. This match is going to be painful and probably slow.
Ura vs Tamawashi – Oh the evil bastards. A mini-Darwin with two favorites. The winner gets kachi-koshi, the loser goes to 7-7 and joins the Darwin group. Tamawashi has lost his last 3 in a row, and I wonder if he is just plain out of gas right now. I would love to see him reach his 8, but Ura is looking really sharp right now.
Endo vs Ichinojo – Will Endo decided that he is already make-koshi and throttle back, or will he decide to channel whatever frustration he may have into the giant flabby thorax of Ichinojo? Now the Boulder has a 10-4 career advantage, but Endo could give a flip about that. When Endo wants to fight, he’s going to bring his sumo and you are going to work hard or get dirty. An Ichinojo win would be kachi-koshi, a loss and he joins the Darwin crew.
Wakatakakage vs Chiyomaru – Well well, second mini-Darwin. Loser goes to 7-7, winner is kachi-koshi. Wakatakakage has won his last 3 in a row, so maybe he’s on a hot streak in the final days of Hatsu. Wakatakakage will try to go chest to chest for something like a yorikiri, and Chiyomaru will try to slap him down.
Hokutofuji vs Kiribayama – Both are 5-8 make-koshi, so this is to see who drops furthest down the March banzuke. I am going to guess that Hokutofuji has the advantage here. He’s due for a win. But both of them have lost their last 2 matches.
Meisei vs Onosho – Why yes, I would like to see Onosho hit double digits this January. He’s at 9-4 now, so he has 2 chances to get there. He may even be up for a special prize if Mitakeumi takes the cup, I would guess.
Myogiryu vs Daieisho – Myogiryu is back! I think he wanted to try and rack up at least 1 more win to try and preserve some traction on the banzuke for March. Currently at 5-8 from Maegashira 10, he’s going to have his hands full with the Komusubi, and Daieisho holds a 10-2 career advantage.
Mitakeumi vs Takarafuji – Takarafuji has a unique opportunity to help his stablemate Terunofuji. We know the Isegahama clan is very tight, and I am certain that Takarafuji is thrilled he has a chance to play a role in getting a contender out of the Yokozuna’s path. If he can put Mitakeumi on the clay, that might leave Terunofuji as the sole leader of the yusho race. So I am going to be looking for Takarafuji to put it all on the line today. Could be one hell of a match.
Kotonowaka vs Takanosho – A staggering 16 rank difference between these two, I don’t quite recall the last time I have seen a spread this huge. Takanosho can “win out” and keep his Sekiwake slot, but he’s got to take down the very genki Kotonowaka. I really like the chances of this match being a big slug fest deluxe.
Hoshoryu vs Shodai – Shodai’s already kadoban, already make-koshi, and sort of shunted off to the side. He may not face the Yokozuna on the final match of the tournament, and frankly I am a bit annoyed that they don’t treat him like an Ozeki most of the time. I wish that this would motivate him to higher performance, but if I had to guess this just makes him depressed. He has never beaten Hoshoryu, and I have to wonder if the torikumi group is just taunting him now.
Terunofuji vs Abi – Abi does indeed still have a path to the cup, but he’s got to beat Terunofuji to get there. This is not going to be easy, as the Yokozuna is big, stable and patient in the extreme. Abi will want to crank up the double arm thrusts, Terunofuji will want to capture and crush. My money is on the Kaiju. He won their only prior match.