First, the middle weekend is some of the best time to watch sumo. You still have most of the field in play, nobody is make-koshi yet, and people start tracking who will compete for the cup in week 2. The schedulers have served up a fine array of solid matches, with my attention drawn, as always, to a battle between tadpoles. Mitakeumi takes on Onosho late in the day, as the spheroid pusher-thruster class start their bi-monthly struggle to see who is kind of the illy pad. I would note that out of the 3 tadpoles, 2 of them are now Ozeki…
Fans will note that there is no Terunofuji fight today, and no dohyo-iri for him. Sadly he is gone from the Osaka tournament with damage to his undercarriage that will take several weeks to heal. As there have now been 2 kyujo, the banzuke is once again balanced and there will be no more Juryo visitors until someone else withdraws. Lets hope that does not happen, though I suspect we will see at least one more.
What We Are Watching Day 7
Akua vs Ichiyamamoto – This is a sorry way to start the middle weekend. A pair of 1-5 rikishi in the bottom rungs of the banzuke, both of who may end up with terrible scores and claiming early seats on the Juryo barge of the damned. They have only met once before, in July of 2018, and that went to Akua. No telling which one is going to be further off their sumo today.
Kotoshoho vs Kagayaki – Ok, this one is somewhat better match up. I like them both, but I would rather see Kotoshoho reach 8 first, so I am hoping that he prevails today. But to be fair, Kagayaki is fighting better with his fundamentals driven sumo, and I expect he will have the advantage today.
Chiyomaru vs Tochinoshin – I do expect Tochinoshin to return to the slap/bash/hit brand of sumo that is his new flavor for Osaka. He was able to tough out a win on day 6 using what’se left of the old lift and shift, but my guess is that his body is too damaged to try that for two days in a row, especially if the opponents are Chiyotairyu, then Chiyomaru.
Yutakayama vs Chiyotairyu – Speaking of Chiyotairyu, he’s got a chance to score win number 3 here today if he can best the on again off again sumo of Yutakayama. Both of them have lost the last 2 matches, and really need a win. A Yutakayama loss would in fact be 4 in a row for him. Ouch! They share a 6-6 career record.
Kotoeko vs Kotokuzan – First time meeting between these two, and even thought Kotokuzan has a 3-3 record so far this March, I have really not seen any sumo that was really top division class. Kotoeko, though, does tend to really put it all out every time he’s on the dohyo, and I would like to think that today he’s going to surprise the larger and lumbering Kotokuzan.
Chiyonokuni vs Terutsuyoshi – This match comes down to Terutsuyoshi being able to establish a hold early, before Chiyonokuni can get his thrusting attack to the point it blows Terutsuyoshi off his sumo. If he can get that hold, I think that Terutsuyoshi has a chance to overcome his 0-2 career deficit against the “Grumpy Badger”
Nishikigi vs Aoiyama – If Big Dan Aoiyama plays this right, Nishikigi will literally never see what hit him. But I give him fair chance to get chest to chest with Aoiyama, and when that happens it’s Nishikigi’s match.
Tobizaru vs Myogiryu – The schedulers having fun with numbers. Both rikishi are 3-3, and share a 3-3 career record. But they missed a tick by making this the 8th match of the day, rather than the 9th (3 x 3) so tough luck there. On the sumo front, I would give Myogiryu a slight edge today, he has lost 3 in a row and it’s time for him to bounce back.
Chiyoshoma vs Wakamotoharu – We know they both prefer to fight chest to chest, so that is a given. We have seen Wakamotoharu’s really classic style of yotsu this March, and it’s looking really good. Not that it would be right to call a 137kg rikishi “light”, but I have to wonder if in some of his matches, Chiyoshoma’s lower mass does play a role. He has a 2-0 career lead over Wakamotoharu.
Shimanoumi vs Okinoumi – It’s a battle of the sea creatures as we have an all -umi match today near the middle of the torikumi. Both have been fighting poorly this March, and I really don’t know if it would be fair to say that either of them might have what you could call “advantage” today.
Sadanoumi vs Kotonowaka – On the other hand, there is a clear advantage in this match. Kotonowaka is fighting well with a 5-1 record, and he has a 3-0 career lead over Sadanoumi. So this should be close to a spanking in Kotonowaka’s favor.
Hokutofuji vs Takayasu – Oh my… Ol’Stompy vs the undefeated front runner at the start of the middle weekend. Before we dismiss 3-3 Hokutofuji’s chances, he has a 7-9 record against Takayasu, and has sumo that can take down the former Ozeki. Given that this will decide the leaderboard on the first day we track it, this is a high stakes contest.
Takarafuji vs Endo – Sadly this one is an easy call, Takarafuji has yet to put of much of a fight in any match this month, so he may be injured. A Healthy Endo vs and injured anyone is more or less Endo wins.
Ichinojo vs Kiribayama – This is a better contest than it might look on paper. Both are 4-2, both are fighting a bit below their best, but both seem healthy and comfortable in “their brand of sumo”. So it will be the enormity of Ichinojo vs the agility Kiribayama. Sounds like a good time to be a sumo fan.
Takanosho vs Hoshoryu – Another rikishi who is struggling this March is dear onigiri-kun, aka Takanosho. While his numerous fans wanted to see him with 9 wins or more to make a bit to return to the named ranks, it looks like some force (injury?) has put his good sumo out of reach for now. So I expect Hoshoryu to take him to the cleaners today.
Ura vs Abi – You might thing, yeah, this is going to be a full power Abi blow out. It may very much happen that way, but Ura’s sumo gives him a small and quite interesting chance to shock anyone in the world of sumo if he can get a workable opportunity. Given that Abi’s always flailing his arms about, Ura’s grab and tug sumo has many applications in this kind of a match.
Wakatakakage vs Daieisho – The morsels keep getting juicier today, now we get lead Sekiwake Wakatakakage going up against the human wrecking machine, Daieisho. They have an even 3-3 match record today, but this March, Wakatakakage is fighting somewhat better. But he needs to watch out for Daieisho’s “mega thrust” combination nodowa / chin crusher. It was enough to best an Ozeki and a Yokozuna already this basho.
Onosho vs Mitakeumi – Ah, the tadpole fight. Mitakeumi has a 10-4 career lead, and is fighting some of the best week 1 sumo of his career. But Onosho has that quality of not being predictable enough that you can assume how this one is going to go. He has beaten Mitakeumi 4 times in their 14 match history, so he does a route to win. In fact, he was one of only two rikishi to beat Mitakeumi this January on Mitakeumi’s 13-2 yusho march (for which 10-5 Onosho did not get a special prize) for an Ozeki promotion.
Tamawashi vs Takakeisho – This should be advantage Takakeisho, and hopefully his 5th win. He needs 4 more to make his 8 and clear kadoban.
Shodai vs Meisei – You would think that with an 8-2 career advantage, Shodai would have a crushing advantage over 1-5 Meisei. But no, I am going to guess Meisei gets his second win today. Have a seat, Shodai. You are in no condition to fight.