Welcome to the end of act 2. The idea behind act 2 is to narrow the field to find out who has what it takes to compete for the yusho, and to start sorting the survivors from the damned. I would say that has been accomplished with great effect. As of day 9, all of the rikishi that were 2 losses behind front runner Takayasu lost their matches, and a tight group of 4 men are now in contention to fight their way down to senshuraku, and one of them will hoist the Emperor’s cup on Sunday.
At the start of day 10, we have those 4 rikishi who are already kachi-koshi, and 5 that are make-koshi, and the rest of the field in the top division to be sorted in between the two.
The chase group disappears, and it’s down to these 4. Someone needs to put dirt on Takayasu to open this thing up.
Hunt Group: Mitakeumi, Wakatakakage, Kotonowaka
6 matches remain
What We Are Watching Day 10
Kaisei vs Tochinoshin – Hey, look who is back in the top division! It’s dear old Kaisei, and we are happy to see your giant Brazilian-Japanese self once more. He and Tochinoshin have an astonishing 26 career matches, with Tochinoshin having a narrow 14=12 lead. I wonder what will happen with Tochnoshin’s current favorite style – bashing and beating upon his foe until they decide they have had enough, will work on the mega-fauna that is Kaisei. In spite of Tochinoshin’s well documented ursine qualities, he would be ill advised to get Kaisei to rampage.
Kotoshoho vs Kotokuzan – A pair of 5-4 rikishi for our next match, and I think it’s going to be a even fight. They have split their only 2 prior fights. Kotokuzan is very much hit or miss in terms of good days vs bad days right now. Where as Kotoshoho has won 4 of the last 5. See, scheduling guys making number jokes / puns again.
Akua vs Yutakayama – A loss today gives Akua his 8th black star, and will render him kachi-koshi for March. Yutakayama has a slight 3-1 career lead over him, so this should be fairly straightforward.
Chiyomaru vs Nishikigi – Life can be odd. One day you wake up, and Nishikigi is 6-3, and only 2 wins away from his first kachi-koshi in the top division since bloody November of… 2018? He needs to pick up 2 more wins, and he has a 9-5 career advantage over Chiyomaru, so let’s see if he can notch that number down to “1” today.
Kotoeko vs Ichiyamamoto – Kotoeko seems to be continuing his good sumo from January, and I would love to see him inch Ichiyamamoto one more black star closer to the inevitable posting to the Juryo barge of the damed. We know he has a cabin reserved in the kansai deck, so he may as well embrace his fate and come aboard.
Shimanoumi vs Kagayaki – The battle of “men who can’t quite setting into their sumo this March”. I present you with two high skill rikishi that have nevertheless struggled in just about every match. Their scores mutually straddle the make/kachi-koshi line, and I would not be surprised to see either or both of them as Darwin candidates for day 15. Kagayaki has a slight 5-3 career advantage, but that only really counts when you are fighting well.
Tobizaru vs Chiyotairyu – My money is that Chiyotairyu won’t come blasting like a rocket sled off the shikiri-sen today at the tachiai. There are just too many wacky and unfortunate things that Tobizaru might be able to do with that much mass in motion. So I am looking for a “stand up” tachiai. Followed by Tobizaru bouncing about and having a lot of fun, even if he loses.
Terutsuyoshi vs Wakamotoharu – Terutsuyoshi enjoys a good yotsu-zumo battle, and he’s got a willing partner in Wakamotoharu. Wakamotoharu has won their only 2 prior meetings, but if Terutsuyoshi can get low enough an grab a dangling piece of undercarriage, it’s going to be his match to control.
Chiyoshoma vs Myogiryu – Both of these guys are moving well enough, but seem to be lacking power and strength in their sumo. Maybe one or both are injured? But I do look for Myogiryu to have a slight advantage today in this head to head.
Aoiyama vs Sadanoumi – A Sadanoumi loss today would indeed be sad, as he would have 8 losses, and be make-koshi for March. Aoiyama is not completely doomed to make-koshi yet, but he certainly looks like he is headed that way. As with a few other rikishi, he seems to lack the last 10%-15% that he would need to be genki this tournament.
Onosho vs Kiribayama – I like that the schedulers continue to park a high interest match in the middle of the torikumi. This one will be a clash of styles as well, pitting Onosho’s mega-thrust tadpole sumo against Kiribayama’s hit and move style. They have 5 career matches with a 3-2 split.
Okinoumi vs Meisei – Wow, a sad one here. Both are already make-koshi, and the only joy that will pop up from this depressing match is that one of these guys will get their second win. I should probably be Okinoumi, given his 7-1 career advantage, but who can tell when both of them are likely injured and trying just to make it to day 15.
Ichinojo vs Tamawashi – The back to the good stuff, this is a nice fight in that we can see both Maegashira 2 slug it out, and they have a fairly even record. They bring in symmetrical 5-4 / 4-5 records, and I can’t help but wonder if there is some funnel action starting up.
Daieisho vs Kotonowaka – Daieisho has been hit or miss, and his 5-4 record at the start of day 10 underscores that. He has the power and speed to best Kotonowaka, it’s a big question if he can summon it in his current condition, whatever that may be. Kotonowaka comes in kachi-koshi at 8-1, but I am going to bet he wants to run up the score.
Takanosho vs Ura – Oh my, back to a match of sadness once more. Both are 1-8 make-koshi, both are solid fighters, both are taking a trip south on banzuke street for May. Who is going to prevail in this contest of demote-ees? I will be watching to find out.
Takayasu vs Hoshoryu – Looks like its time for Takayasu to start fighting higher ranked, more capable foes. He’s never lost to Hoshoryu, so this may not be that big of a test just yet. I am sure Hoshoryu will get some good “explainers” from his uncle, but talking about fighting Takayasu can only go so far once you are face to face with that big hairy guy with the stamina of a tree trunk, and a new baby on the way.
Wakatakakage vs Abi – Well, this is their first ever fight! I imagine the double arm attack at the tachiai may disorient Wakatakakage, but hopefully he has all of the Sandanme guys lined up to double arm blast him this morning, as preparation. I guess this may be an Abi pickup.
Hokutofuji vs Mitakeumi – Hokutofuji has proven capable of giving Mitakeumi a lot of trouble, and while I still expect he is going to be competing for the cup at the end of the week, I would like to see Hokutofuji give him a tough match.
Takarafuji vs Takakeisho – Takarafuji, not fighting so well at 3-6, not moving so well either. I don’t think he’s going to pose too much risk to Takakeisho, unless things take an odd turn. Takakeisho needs just 2 more wins to clear kadoban.
Shodai vs Endo – This will be a big, ugly test for Shodai’s rally. I don’t know if he’s going to be able to take apart Endo today, as Endo is fighting pretty well for this stage of the basho at 6-3, and Shodai is fighting Endo and long Covid at the same time.