Welcome to nakabi! The middle day of the basho. This Natsu feels very odd to me, its as if I am still waiting for the real fight to get started. Maybe its because the Ozeki and most of the san’yaku are having such a terrible time of it, I am wondering when practice is over and when honbasho gets started. But not only has it started, we are now half way through. I am going to indulge myself just a tad – there is only one Ozeki right now with a winning record: Takakeisho (4-3). Everyone else is still trying to figure out how to walk and talk on the cell phone at the same time. By the way, don’t try that in Tokyo.
Nakabi is always my favorite day of the basho. It’s been going on long enough, everyone should be in as close to fighting form as they can manage, none of the big questions are really resolved yet, and everyone has to show up and put forth an effort. Will we get a mad cap stomping good day of sumo? Maybe so. But as it is nakabi, we take our first look at the leader board.
It is an odd basho indeed, as the “Hunt Group” overlaps the funnel. normally by the middle of the basho, you have sorted folks into a “Yusho track”, a “Darwin track”, and a “Barge of the damned” track. But with us having a pair of mid-Maegashira with 1 loss leading right now, the leader board has about 12 rikishi at the high side of the funnel as part of the leader board. The schedulers have some ideas about getting this sorted out, as we will see today.
Leaders: Aoiyama, Sadanoumi
Chasers: Terunofuji, Hoshoryu, Daieisho, Tamawashi, Takanosho, Tobizaru, Ichiyamamoto
Hunt Group: Too numerous to list
8 matches remain
What We Are Watching Day 8
Kotokuzan vs Hidenoumi – Today it’s Hidenoumi’s turn to visit the top division, and I would guess he will hand Kotokuzan his make-koshi and his return ticket to Juryo. What oh what happened to this guy? I just hope he can regroup and give it another try soon. This is the first time these two have fought, but given Kotokuzan’s sumo this May, it won’t be too much of a contest.
Chiyotairyu vs Azumaryu – Funnel match, the winner will be positioned to exit the funnel and join the yusho track should they win again tomorrow. Of course the schedulers want to make sure that never happens. So I give Chiyotairyu and edge here, as he is on a 4 match winning streak, and seems to have the “stand them up, slap them down” combo ready at a moment’s notice.
Midorifuji vs Meisei – First time match, both are in the funnel group. Ideally to keep them both in the funnel, Meisei will pick up his 4th win today to send them both to 4-4 for Monday. As far as Meisei, he’s already exceeded his terrible 1-14 result from Osaka.
Myogiryu vs Yutakayama – Yutakayama is probably in the “damned” group as of today, but a loss to Myogiryu would likely seal his fate. Myogiryu has a 4-2 career advantage, and has won 2 of his last 3 matches.
Ichiyamamoto vs Sadanoumi – Yusho track match, co-leader Sadanoumi. takes on chaser Ichiyamamoto in their second career match. Sadanoumi’s advantage is speed, but he will need to avoid Ichiyamamoto’s double arm thrust to start the match, or risk never getting his feet set to attack.
Kagayaki vs Nishikigi – Funnel track match, both of them are 3-4 to start today, and the loser will drop into the “damned” group to slog it out to minimize their make-koshi. Kagayaki has a 9-7 narrow career advantage, but at this point I think he should just get a big wide make-koshi and see if the banzuke kami can save him yet again.
Kotoshoho vs Oho – I really want Kotoshoho to prevail in this funnel track match, although it would work best for the funnel for the win to go to Oho, causing them both to be 4-4 at the end of the day. Kotoshoho has won his last 2, and I have to hope he’s got his sumo sorted out.
Shimanoumi vs Terutsuyoshi – Shimanoumi has a 11-4 career advantage, and needs a win today to keep himself in the middle of the funnel. But I honestly think its about Terutsuyoshi had a hot streak, and I would be overjoyed to see him put Shimanoumi on the clay today.
Takarafuji vs Chiyoshoma – Well, unless something really odd happens, Chiyoshoma will deliver the 8th loss to struggling Takarafuji. I guess it’s time to ask lksumo just how possible it is that dear Takarafuji might be demoted to Jury if he can’t find any wins in the next week.
Okinoumi vs Kotoeko – Another funnel track match, Okinoumi at 3-4 has a 4-2 career advantage over 4-3 Kotoeko. An Okinoumi win would put them both at that much hoped for 4-4 result, locking them into the funnel for the following 2 days.
Ura vs Tochinoshin – High interest match here, as I expect Ura to catch Tochinoshin about 2 seconds before Tochinoshin captures Ura with that left hand outside grip. What happens after that initial merge might be wild and unpredictable. Both are 4-3, so the loser gets pushed back into the middle of the funnel, and the winner has a chance to escape with a win on Monday.
Aoiyama vs Wakamotoharu – Yusho race impacting match, Wakamotoharu is in the funnel group, but he is being given a chance to knock Aoiyama down with a second loss. They have two prior matches, and it comes as no surprise that Aoiyama won his by hatakikomi. Advice to Wakamotoharu, mind your balance sir!
Tobizaru vs Tamawashi – A yusho track match, one of these me will be pushed back to the funnel group with a loss today. Tobizaru has won their 2 prior meetings, but I have to give extra consideration to Tamawashi, who has been fighting very well this May. Tobizaru will try to stay mobile and just out of range of Tamawashi’s oshi-zumo.
Kiribayama vs Hokutofuji – I think this match exists to give Kiribayama a chance to climb out of the funnel group. But then again, someone had to fight Hokutofuji. Kiribayama has a 2-1 career record against him, and Hokutofuji has been pretty rough this may at 2-5, but did win over hapless Shodai on day 7.
Wakatakakage vs Kotonowaka – I am standing by my prediction of a Wakatakakage make-koshi this time out. This is a funnel match, and the winner will join the 4-4 group at the center of the funnel on Monday, and the loser will likely join the “damned” track. Wakatakakage has won all 4 of their prior matches, so chances are high that he will pick up his 4th win today.
Takayasu vs Abi – Takayasu is clearly on a make-koshi track right now, but has a chance to claw his way up into the funnel with a win over Abi. An Abi loss would send him into the 4-4 crowd on Monday, and ensure he was part of the cohort being funneled toward a 7-7 score to start day 15. Takayasu has a narrow 4-3 career advantage.
Mitakeumi vs Endo – Mitakeumi, what the hell? This is a funnel track match, both are 3-4. Mitakeumi can win today (he has a 12-7 career advantage) and stay with the funnel group at 4-4 for Monday, or he can just decided to join the track headed for make-koshi and prepare for kadoban in front of the home town crowd in July. Grim.
Daieisho vs Takakeisho – Besties Battle Bigly, these two have a 19 match career history with Takakeisho leading 12-7. Daieisho at 5-2 is part of the yusho track, but a loss today would pull him down into the funnel track. High stakes for a pair of good friends with offense heavy sumo.
Hoshoryu vs Shodai – Hoshoryu has a 4-1 career advantage over Shodai, who is (no kidding) 1-6 to start the day. He is just one win ahead of hapless Takarafuji and Juryo bound Kotokuzan. This guy needs an overhaul. Maybe his body, maybe his sumo, can’t really tell right now, but he’s not even close to Ozeki sumo right now.
Terunofuji vs Takanosho – Both are 5-2, and I would ideally like to see both Aoiyama and Sadanoumi pick up losses today, and Terunofuji win to ensure he is part of the group that is driving toward the yusho. I think he’s pretty banged up right now, but soldiering on because of his rank and his dedication to sumo. Given the chaos in the yusho race, he may as well be the one to take the cup next Sunday.