Natsu Day 9 Preview

An orderly honbasho has a distinct tempo and cadence, and follows a well known pattern. Natsu 2022 refuses to conform. We are about to start week 2, and there is really not a yusho race to discuss or focus upon. Sure, there are a set of folks with the highest score going into day 9, but none of them are really dominating the tournament. Worse yet, the groups behind them reach all the way down to the 4-4 group that are in the middle of the funnel towards Darwin matches on day 15. Madness and chaos.

If we look at the yusho race, the highest possible score would now be 13-2. But there is zero chance that anyone who is a leader right now can or will win out. How low will the yusho score go? 12-3? 11-4? a 10-5? Right now sumo has a talent problem, and maybe a health problem.

First up is the beloved by weak Yokozuna. He was always a limited time offer, and we all knew his knees were going to take him out sooner or later. If we go by last basho and this one, the result here is “sooner”. This is really a bit of a tragedy, as right now sumo needs at least one Yokozuna. But surely there is a rising star waiting in the wings, on the cusp of winning back to back yusho and claim the rope, right?

O1E Mitakeumi: 4-4
O1W Shodai: 2-6 (should be 1-7)
O2E Takakeisho 5-3

No sir, these guys will be lucky to get to kachi-koshi in a basho where the Yokozuna can’t really fight, one of the Sekiwake is headed for make-koshi, and the only sure thing in san’yaku are the Komusubi.

I don’t know if the NSK coaches these top men of sumo on their performance, but if they do I would not want to be in the room following this basho when they discuss if they are worthy to hold their ranks.

But let’s not single out the san’yaku. There are (checks his math) TWENTY BLOODY EIGHT rikishi that are right now in the funnel. These are sumotori who can’t dominate their matches enough to have a strong winning record, and are riding the make/kachi-koshi line. Is the competition that tough? Or is everyone just phoning it in right now?

Alright, back to day 9. Goal for today is to winnow down the leader group, and pray that someone is at 7 wins at the end of the day. Keep the funnel crew straddling the center line, and beat the make-koshi bracket into a pulp.

Natsu Leaderboard

Its a hot, steaming mess right now. There are 5 rikishi with not very impressive records (6-2) that share the lead right now. The Chasers are part of the funnel, and the hunt group is the middle of the funnel. I am sure there are some old timers who might tell me this is how it always was “back in the day”, but I have never seen a start to week 2 like this. How does it end? I guess we can only watch and learn.

Leaders: Tamawashi, Takanosho, Aoiyama, Sadanoumi, Ichiyamamoto
Chasers: Too numerous to list
Hunt Group: Too numerous to list

7 matches remain

What We Are Watching Day 9

Chiyonokuni vs Midorifuji – Ah, dear Chiyonokuni comes up to visit from Juryo. But he’s not one we are looking to see return to the top division in July. Having just a 2-6 record right now, he’s headed lower than his J2 rank right now. Midorifuji clocks in at 4-4, and needs wins to stay in the funnel.

Oho vs Kotokuzan – Both of these guys are on the make-koshi track right now, with Oho needing wins just to make it back into the funnel. A Kotokuzan loss today would be make-koshi for him, so maybe Oho can overcome the 1-3 career disadvantage.

Chiyotairyu vs Meisei – Another funnel match, we get Chiyotairyu with five straight wins against 4-4 Meisei. A Meisei win would pull Chiyotairyu back into the funnel, but a Chiyotairyu win would allow him to escape. Stand him up, knock him down.

Kagayaki vs Sadanoumi – Kagayaki gets a pretty tough match against one of the co-leaders, as speed demon Sadanoumi comes down the banzuke to deliver some doom to the lowest ranking fellow in the top division. Kagayaki has taken 7 of their prior 17 matches, but there is no way he is fighting well enough to present much of a challenge to Sadanoumi right now.

Ichiyamamoto vs Chiyoshoma – Ichiyamamoto in the leader group at 6-2 up against funnel fixture Chiyoshoma. I do not find this match an easy take for Ichiyamamoto at all, and I think that Chiyoshoma is going to probably put him on the clay. This is in spite of Ichiyamamoto winning their only prior match. Chiyoshoma has won his last two, and is just starting to peek, so hopefully we can get some solid sumo from him today.

Kotoshoho vs Azumaryu – Funnel bracket match. Kotoshoho has a 4-1 career advantage over 4-4 Azumaryu. A Kotoshoho win will elevate him into the actual yusho track group, and push Azumaryu further down into the funnel.

Yutakayama vs Terutsuyoshi – Man, where to start with this. This match exemplifies my suspicion of folks “phoning it in”. Both of them are on the make-koshi path right now, and both of them are top flight talent. What the hell, boys? They have an even split to their prior 11 matches, and frankly I want Terutsuyoshi to win this one to help ensure a Yutakayama make-koshi at this point.

Shimanoumi vs Myogiryu – Another funnel bracket match. Both are 4-4, though Myogiryum has a 7-1 career advantage. Shimanoumi only recently was able to shed his ring rust, and has won 4 of the last 5. Maybe he can take this one today. Win or lose, both will stay in the funnel for now.

Aoiyama vs Kotoeko – Schedulers would like co-leader Aoiyama to be part of the yusho race, and given how things are going, I strongly agree. he has a solid chance of besting Kotoeko today, but should he fail, he will be in the funnel. That’s how impoverished the leader board is right now.

Takarafuji vs Nishikigi – I feel really sad for Takarafuji, and I hate to think this could be goodbye for him. I don’t know if he will be able to overcome fellow yotsu-zumo practitioner Nishikigi, but you have to hope that at some point he will pick up a few wins and save himself a trip to Juryo.

Tochinoshin vs Wakamotoharu – Another funnel match, I think both of them will agree to go chest to chest, and what happens after that is a good question. I think Tochinoshin has worked on alternates to his sumo style enough that he does not require his big left hand outside grip now, but will certainly make use of it should he get there. From sheer bulk, advantage Tochinoshin.

Ura vs Okinoumi – Funnel time again. An Ura loss will push him back into the middle of the funnel, a win would kick him into the sort kinda yusho track. Okinoumi is very much hit or miss right now, but both have won their last two matches.

Endo vs Tamawashi – Unless he gets a win today, Endo is on the make-koshi track for Natsu. He faces Tamawashi, who is one of the co-co-co-leaders, and frankly the best be to the yusho – at least for now. Tamawashi also holds a 16-12 career advantage over Endo.

Hokutofuji vs Kotonowaka – It should surprise no one that Hokutofuji is on the make-koshi track, he is the man with the “Most powerful make-koshi in all of sumo”, and he’s going to be owning one of those for Natsu in short order. He has a 1-1 record against Kotonowaka, who at 4-4 is in the funnel.

Kiribayama vs Daieisho – Not sure if this is a yusho track match, or the high side of the funnel, as both are 5-3. So I would guess that the winner is in the yusho track group, the loser is in the funnel. My money is on Kiribayama for the win today.

Hoshoryu vs Takayasu – Sadly Takayasu is on the make-koshi track this May, but he come in with a 4-0 advantage over Hoshoryu. Should Takayasu win, he would be able to fight his way back into the funnel, while pulling Hoshoryu in from the high side as well. Go get ’em papayasu!

Abi vs Shodai – After day 8 on Sunday, maybe someone wanted to see what crazy might look like, and this could be the match where we see it. Abi has a 4-6 career deficit against Shodai, and Shodai is headed (for now) squarely at a kadoban infused make-koshi. We all know he could bash the stuffing out of everyone he faced for the next seven days if he can get his body and his sumo to line up. Maybe he will…

Mitakeumi vs Takanosho – Mitakeumi is in the middle of the funnel at 4-4, Takanosho is coming in from a kinboshi against Yokozuna Terunofuji, and is one of the co-leaders. A loss to Mitakeumi today pulls him out of the lead, and maybe back into the funnel (this is how screwed up the yusho race is now). A Mitakeumi loss today may doom him to be kadoban in front of his home town crowd in July.

Wakatakakage vs Takakeisho – Oh my, this match may not look like much on the surface, but let’s peel back a layer or two. Wakatakakage is very close to being pushed into the make-koshi track, another loss should do it. Takakeisho is very close to the yusho track right now, another win should do it. Takakeisho has a 5-2 career advantage over Wakatakakage, so he’s got a definite edge. Oh, and Wakatakakage could “win out” with 7 more white stars and keep his Ozeki bid alive for July to hit 33. Now that would be a huge comeback story indeed.

Terunofuji vs Tobizaru – I just want Terunofuji to finish this basho without additional injuries to his knees or anything else. If you watch the dohyo-iri, you can see how tender his lower body is. Both of these rikishi start the day at 5-3.

5 thoughts on “Natsu Day 9 Preview

  1. I checked and we haven’t had this many rikishi (28) with between 4 and 6 wins after Day 8 since the 1950s.

    • I know you’re joking, but a yusho by anyone below ozeki usually gets an outstanding performance prize, and that’s looking quite likely.

  2. This whole peculiar funnel situation may be bad news for sumo, but I think there’s a silver lining to it. After all, a basho full of surprises is a fun thing to watch ! Aoiyama and Tamawashi co-leader, Terunofuji conceding two kinboshi…I like watching sumo and thinking “what on earth could be happening today?”.

    Still, I wonder how much of that uncertainty is the consequence of Hakuho retiring. Maybe the steady makuuchi power balance, dominated by a record-breaking Yokozuna, has been disrupted? Hopefully, what we are witnessing now is just the adjustment period.


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