Welcome to the start of act 2. Act 2 is a favorite, it has the middle weekend, and we start to shape the yusho race. The scheduling committee is wasting no time getting on task, and the fight card for today shows their focus. We have the two 5-0 rikishi, who are from the lower half of the banzuke, fighting it out for sole posessions of the lead. At the end of the day, in the musubi no ichiban. we have Terunofuji taking on Tamawashi, both at 4-1 with prior yusho experience. I personally think that there is a solid chance that at the end of the middle weekend, there will be no clear view of the yusho race.
Today, in the first day of act 2, the scheduling committee needs to do something about the enormous number of rikishi with 2-3 records. 18 of them. In order to get things in better shape for the middle weekend, most of the 2-3 rikishi will fight each other today, hoping to keep some of them riding the middle line. Of course, this opens up options for a “Darwin’s funnel” this weekend, which I am kind of looking forward to.
What We Are Watching Day 6
Oho vs Midorifuji – A battle of 2-3 rikishi, the only good news is that the winner goes back to the 3-3 center line for a score, and the loser takes a big step toward the make-koshi lane. This is the first time these two have met in the top division, but they share a 2-3 record from the lower ranks.
Chiyotairyu vs Yutakayama – Another 2-3 match up, with the same stakes. I am surprised that Yutakayama is at 2-3, he has been fighting fairly well, and at M14, he should be kicking these people around with great effect. Chiyotairyu, though, looks like he is struggling.
Azumaryu vs Meisei – Finishing out our starting trifecta of 2-3 battles, Its Meisei and Azumaryu. The best thing is that with his 2-3 record, Meisei has already bested his score from Osaka. These two share a 4-4 career record, and are not doing very well this May.
Myogiryu vs Kagayaki – From the 2-3 crew, lets try a pair of 3-2! These two have been fighting fairly regularly, and its an even 4-5 match. I think Kagayaki may make it to 8 this time, which would be his first top division kachi-koshi in 9 attempts. Myogiryu’s two losses came in back to back days against both of the 5-0 rikishi.
Kotokuzan vs Sadanoumi – Kotokuzan will get his first win at some point (he’s 0-5), but I don’t think it’s today against Sadanoumi, who is having his best start since November in Kyushu. His only loss was day 2 against Chiyoshoma. This is their first ever match.
Aoiyama vs Ichiyamamoto – I applaud the scheduling committee putting the two 5-0 rikishi head to head on day 6. Bold move that I hope pays off well. Ichiyamamoto won their only prior match, which was back in January. That should be tempered by the fact that Big Day Aoiyama has not had a 5-0 record on the clay since July of 2017, so consider him to be well ahead of his normal.
Kotoshoho vs Okinoumi – Back to the 2-3 grind, both of these guys are hoping to keep close to the break even line, set at 3-3 at the end of today. I like Kotoshoho’s chances here, only because Okinoumi seems to be only able to generate 60% of his normal forward power right now.
Chiyoshoma vs Tochinoshin – Another set of the 2-3 cohort (you see why the schedulers want to thin them out…), it’s fairly genki Chiyoshoma vs Tochinoshin and his mystery knees. This is now the second tournament in a row where he starts off pretty well hurt, gets better in act 1, and rolls on from there. I would love to see him pull in a second consecutive kachi-koshi this May.
Nishikigi vs Terutsuyoshi – Still more from the 2-3 cohort, and I expect Terutsuyoshi will dominate this one. A combination of his 3-1 career advantage, and the fact that his day 5 match against Okinoumi fell apart means that Terutsuyoshi will be looing for a soli win to move him into the center of Darwin’s Funnel for Saturday.
Takarafuji vs Shimanoumi – Only Takarafuji and Kotokuzan are winless, and I see that they keep giving Takarafuji opponents he has winning records against. Bless their heart for doing so, but I think Takarafuji is banged up and won’t have much to offer in terms of competition this tournament. I hope at M7 he is high enough up the banzuke that he’s not in any risk of being demoted to Juryo.
Kotoeko vs Wakamotoharu – Wakamotoharu has himself a nice slot at Maegashira 6. He’s high enough up the banzuke he gets to try his sumo against some of the kanban rikishi, but he’s not far enough up the roster that he will be in the Yokozuna and Ozeki rotation. Kotoeko is 3-2 right now, and a win today would keep him clear of the funnel for now, which is an outcome I am hoping to see.
Onosho vs Tobizaru – Onosho is another member of the 2-3 cadre, and he needs to find some mojo tomorrow to help him keep his balance set against the ace grab/tug/trip/bounce/slap machine that is Tobizaru. I like that he’s 4-1 to start act 2, and maybe he’s going to be able to come through with double digits this time out.
Endo vs Ura – Ura is holding on to a slight winning score right now at 3-2, and frankly I thought he would be doing much better at this rank. There is potential for some fun today, although most rikishi in the top half of Makeuuchi are wise to Ura’s quirky sumo. Even Wakamotoharu saw through his back lift attempt on day 5. Hopefully if his tricks are now expected, he can come up with some new moves to confuse his opponents and delight the fans.
Kiribayama vs Kotonowaka – Both of the Maegashira 2s facing off today, and this has the makings of a solid match. They have a career 2-2 record, and coming in 2-3 and 3-2 respectively. Of course to feed the funnel, they need Kiribayama to win and deposit both of these guys in the middle with 3-3 going into Saturday.
Hoshoryu vs Daieisho – I am starting to think Daieisho may be on the road to one of his “good” basho, and that would be most welcome. We have not seen him turn in double digits since September of 2021, and I would say that he is about due for a big basho. Hoshoryu is a bit of a puzzle right now, he lost to Takakeisho, but beat Mitakeumi. He lost to Endo, and beat Wakatakakage. Ok….
Wakatakakage vs Takayasu – Sadly, I would guess that Takayasu is setting course for a make-koshi now, having 1-4 record starting day 6. He could still come back with 7 wins over the next 10 days, but that’s a pretty steep hill to climb, especially when your sumo seems to be lacking about 20% of its former power. That being said, A Wakatakakage loss today would kick him out of the funnel, and course change him toward the make-koshi I expect from him this basho.
Takanosho vs Shodai – What can be said about Shodai that is not already apparent. On the outside, it’s tough to guess what has happened to his sumo and why. This situation is maddeningly similar to Goeido, who you know was capable of overwhelming, dominate sumo. Yet time after time he would come in and just be completely terrible. Frankly I hope Takanosho takes him apart today.
Mitakeumi vs Hokutofuji – Interestingly enough, they have a near peer 12-11 record against each other on the clay. A Mitakeumi loss today is something no one wants to see, but we face the prospect that the majority of the Ozeki corps may enter the middle weekend with losing records.
Abi vs Takakeisho – At least we can guess this will be an oshi battle royale, as both of these guys want to get both hands up, on their opponent and thrusting away like mad. Abi actually has a 3-2 advantage over Takakeisho, so could be a rough day for the Ozeki, and my new fax machine to lodge a formal complaint is still stuck somewhere in a shipping container in LA.
Terunofuji vs Tamawashi – Both of these guys are 4-1, and they both have prior yusho experience. They represent the (at the moment) most likely to contend for the cup next week, so it’s fun the pair them up now before the middle weekend and see who comes out on top. Terunofuji has a 10-7 career lead. I note that Tamawashi has won their last 2 matches out of a 10-7 overall career lead for the Kaiju.