It’s the end of act 2. I think this is the first time I have seen act 2 fail. The goal of act 2 is: 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 don’t think that the yusho race has actually formed yet. Sure there are a quad of punters with leading scores, but I don’t expect any of them to be in front on day 15. Who will be is a very interesting question indeed.
The only rikishi with prior yusho experience, Tamawashi, lost his day 9 match, and dropped back to join Terunofuji in the 6-3 group. If we imagine a future where either Terunofuji or Tamawashi win out, the most the yusho score could be would be 12-3. It think it’s far more likely the score will be 11-4 or maybe even 10-5.
I would be inclined to say that Terunofuji is still the favorite, but his lower body is so day-by-day that I would not be surprised to see him go kyujo some time later in week 2. That leaves us with Tamawashi, and one additional quite ugly fact. Takakeisho’s day 9 loss to Wakatakakage. It does appear that Wakatakakage put a hand on the dohyo in response to Takakeisho’s pull request, and everyone seemed to miss it. That means Takakeisho’s 5-4 might have been a 6-3, placing him along side Terunofuji and Tamawashi.
Lastly, there are still 23 people in the funnel at the start of day 10.
Ah, what a mess this tournament is.
Well, the hunt group still intersects with the top end of the funnel.
Leaders: Takanosho, Aoiyama, Sadanoumi, Ichiyamamoto
Chasers: Terunofuji, Hoshoryu, Kiribayama, Tamawashi, Ura
Hunt Group: Too numerous to list
6 matches remain
What We Are Watching Day 10
Azumaryu vs Tsurugisho – Tsurugisho is up visiting from Juryo to check out the sights should he manage to get a kachi-koshi and punch his ticket to return. He’s up against funnel occupant Azumaryu, who is hoping to pick up 3 more wins in the next 6 days to get his first ever top division kachi-koshi. Tsurugisho had a 13-7 career record.
Myogiryu vs Kotokuzan – Kotokuzan is already make-koshi, has a single win, and has a 1-0 career advantage over Myogiryu, who needs 4 wins over the next 6 days to finish with a winning record. I think Myogiryu has a tough road, but today should be a win for him.
Aoiyama vs Midorifuji – Aoiyama continues to maintain his position in the leader group with a 7-2. He started the tourament winning 6 in a row, then lost two, and has bounced back with a win day 9. He is up against funnel resident Midorifuji at 5-4, the two have split their prior matches. An Aoiyama win today is kachi-koshi for him.
Kagayaki vs Chiyoshoma – Kagayaki is 2 losses away from the make-koshi that will take him back to Juryo after far too much banzuke luck keeping him in the top division. He’s 11-8 against Chiyoshoma, who needs 4 out of the last 6 wins to finish with a kachi-koshi.
Kotoshoho vs Ichiyamamoto – Ichiyamamoto is the lowest ranking man in the leader group at Maegashira 15. He has a 3-1 record against 5-4 Kotoshoho, and needs a win today to stay in the leader group. A win today will be kachi-koshi for him.
Sadanoumi vs Tochinoshin – The next guy up for kachi-koshi today is Sadanoumi, who is also part of the 4 strong leader group. He has a near even 4-5 record against Tochinoshin, and I think he’s going to struggle a bit with the match today. Tochinoshin needs 3 wins out of the last 6 days to confound mother nature and the Department of Orthopedic Surgery at University of Tokyo Hospital to hit a second consecutive kachi-koshi.
Shimanoumi vs Yutakayama – A solid funnel match, we have 5-4 Shimanoumi looking to best 4-5 Yutakayama. Should Yutakayama manage a win today, he would bring both of them back to the middle of the funnel at 5-5. Should Shimanoumi win, he will have a day 11 chance to escape the funnel with an additional win.
Meisei vs Terutsuyoshi – Terutsuyoshi is one loss away from make-koshi, which would be his 4th in the last 5 tournaments. Meisei is part of the funnel group at 5-4, and needs to pick up 3 more wins for a quite welcome kahchi-koshi given his 1-14 record in Osaka. Terutsuyoshi has 5-3 career advantage, so he may stave off this 8th loss today.
Takarafuji vs Oho – Takarafuji picked up his first win on day 9, and I think everyone is hoping that he can pick up a few more and hopefully preserve his member of the top division. This is his first ever match against Oho, who needs to find 4 wins out of the final 6 to get to kachi-koshi.
Chiyotairyu vs Kotoeko – There is a lot on this match between two rikishi who share an even 6-6 career record. It’s 5-4 Chiyotairyu against 4-5 Kotoeko. In terms of keeping people inside the funnel, ideally there would be a Kotoeko win at the end of this match, placing both at 5-5, but frankly if Chiyotairyu can get a solid first hit, he is likely to carry the day.
Ura vs Nishikigi – Ura is one win behind the leader group, and I like his chances in the final week to finish with a double digit score. Will he be part of the final push for the cup? I don’t see it happening for him right now, but there is a lot of sumo between now and the end of Sunday.
Okinoumi vs Wakamotoharu – Another funnel group, we have 4-5 Okinoumi against 5-4 Wakamotoharu. We know that they will look to go chest to chest fairly early in the match, but I worry that Okinoumi may be low on mojo for this basho.
Endo vs Takanosho – The last of the leaders, yes the highest ranking rikishi in the leader group is Maegashira 4. Today he takes on fellow M4 rikishi Endo. Endo has a 4-2 career lead, but only a 4-5 record coming into day 10. I do think that needing 4 more wins will help to focus Endo and his sumo. Keep in mind Endo is the man who knocked Tamawashi out of the leader group on day 9. Can he repeat on day 10?
Tamawashi vs Kotonowaka – Speaking of Tamawashi, here he is against Kotonowaka, who like so many others this basho, is stuck in the funnel. Tamawashi has a 3-2 career record against Kotonowaka, so not much indication of an advantage there. I would think that Tamawashi is headed for a solid kachi-koshi, and should the score for the yusho dip low enough, he would have the benefit of having been in a prior yusho race (and the attendant stress) under his belt.
Takayasu vs Daieisho – Takayasu has a 10-4 career advantage over Daieisho, but comes in with a 2-7 record starting day 10, meaning a loss today by Takayasu would be make-koshi for him. Of course, he could defy expectations and win the last 6, and still take home a winning record. Of course, I don’t think Daieisho is ok with that.
Kiribayama vs Abi – Abi had a rough match on day 9, and he missed a solid chance to escape the funnel. I think that he will redouble his efforts to secure a win in his match today. Kiribayama leads him by 1 win, and could really use a win today to keep with the group one behind the leaders.
Hokutofuji vs Takakeisho – Takakeisho is more or less out of the competition for the yusho, thanks to a sloppy job officiating his day 9 match. He is, thankfully, up against Hokutofuji who may achieve his “Most powerful make-koshi in all of sumo” today if he can secure a loss against Takakeisho.
Wakatakakage vs Shodai – High interest match. Shodai needs to win 5 of the last 6 to save himself from kadoban. The guy is such a cartoon character that he just might do it. Of course his score might have been 2-7 at this point save for the blow call on day 8, but I am sure he is thankful for that extra white star. He has a 5-3 advantage over Wakatakakage, but it only matters if the “good” version of Shodai mounts the dohyo today to compete.
Mitakeumi vs Tobizaru – Mitakeumi needs to find 4 more wins over the last 6 matches. Given that two of those are Takakeisho and Terunofuji, he needs to take the next 4 matches, including today, to ensure that he is not kadoban in front of his home town crowd in July. He holds a 2-0 career record against Tobizaru.
Terunofuji vs Hoshoryu – Terunofuji has a 6-0 career record against Hoshoryu, and I am not going to expect a big stare down on day 10 like we saw him produce against Takayasu on day 9. Both are 6-3 to start the day, so the winner will remain in the group 1 behind the leaders.