Sumo fans, prepare yourself. The final days of this basho are likely to be chaotic and unpredictable. We may have the largest Darwin cohort in recent memory, a topsy turvy yusho race with rikishi from all over the banzuke having a shot at the cup, and maybe even the Great Sumo Cat of the Kokugikan himself will make an appearance. Stock up the fridge, buy up a large horde of sake, and prepare for the unusual. It just may happen.
If someone can beat Takanosho it will blow the race open. I expect that today or Friday, as it’s the best possible outcome for the schedulers now.
Chasers: Terunofuji, Kiribayama, Ura, Sadanoumi, Ichiyamamoto
4 matches remain
What We Are Watching Day 12
Oho vs Ryuden – Hey, look who it is! I am kind of curious if we will see Ryuden back in the top division in July. Like many others, he was suspended, dropped down the banzuke, and has been battling his way back ever since they let him restart. According to our ace prognosticator lksumo, he needs 2 more wins to punch his ticket back to the top division this basho, maybe he can take one from Oho today.
Chiyotairyu vs Kagayaki – What a fine match this is. We may get Chiyotairyu kachi-koshi and Kagayaki make-koshi at the same time. As the last man on the banzuke, a losing record had better toss him back into the farm league this time. Chiyotairyu has a 8-5 career advantage, and I want to see some thunder-god sumo from him today.
Aoiyama vs Azumaryu – It’s time for “Big Dan” Aoiyama to pick up his 8th win. I really wish it were not likely to be against Azumaryu, who is now just 2 losses away from make-koshi himself. Azumaryu won their only prior match, but Aoiyama is fighting quite well right now, and will likely dominate this match.
Meisei vs Chiyoshoma – Pure funnel match as both are 5-6. In spite of Meisei’s 6-3 career advantage, I like Chiyoshoma’s chances today. Winner centers themselves in the funnel for the last 2 days, loser gets to ride the bottom edge and try to avoid make-koshi.
Okinoumi vs Yutakayama – Another match where both rikishi are 5-6. Okinoumi has a 5-0 career record over Yutakayama, and I like his chances today. YUtakayama seems to be fighting hurt, and I would not be surprised to find out later it’s his back or his hips, as he is quite stiff when he is in motion both on the dohyo and off.
Kotoshoho vs Midorifuji – More funnel madness, but this time it’s 5-6 Kotoshoho who needs to take a win from 6-5 Midorifuji to push them both back the the center lane at 6-6. This is aided by Kotoshoho’s 3-0 match record against Midorifuji.
Myogiryu vs Tochinoshin – Thirty, yes 30, career matches between these two. They break 17-13 in favor of Myogiryu, who needs a win today to stay centered in the funnel with the 6-6 group, where a win by Tochinoshin will be his 8th and a well earned kachi-koshi. Each basho, we see a creaky and pained looking Tochinoshin start. By the middle day we are impressed he’s still in the hunt for his 8, and by the last day, we remark at his resilience. Much respect to him for never quitting.
Shimanoumi vs Sadanoumi – A kachi-koshi track match, we have 7-4 Shimanoumi looking for his 8th win and kachi-koshi against already 8-3 Sadanoumi. Sadanoumi’s 5-3 career advantage will matter today, as I think Sadanoumi is fighting some of his best sumo in a long while, and I would not be surprised to see him finish with double digits.
Kotokuzan vs Terutsuyoshi – Wow, 1-10 Kotokuzan against 4-7 Terutsuyoshi. Is this some kind of Terutsuyoshi life line? Should he win today, and I would guess that he will, he escapes make-koshi for yet another day. It would be brutal if Terutsuyoshi swims upstream into the funnel and finishes 7-7 on day 14 to face a Darwin match.
Nishikigi vs Kotoeko – Back in the funnel track, both men are 5-6 to start the day, and one of them gets to stay in the middle of by joining the 6-6 group today. Kotoeko has never lost to Nishikigi in their 5 career matches, so I would strongly suggest that Nishikigi is going to be taking a loss today.
Ichiyamamoto vs Takanosho – I wonder if this match was set before Ichiyamamoto took his day 11 loss (I would guess so), and represented a chance for the two leaders to face off and reduce the number to just one. But now, Ichiyamamoto has a narrow chance to pull a fantastic upset, and claw his way back into the yusho race. All he has to do is beat Takanosho today, and the yusho race will be a 6 way barnyard brawl for the final 3 days.
Hokutofuji vs Endo – If make-koshi is a contagion, we can assume that Takayasu gave it to Hokutofuji on day 11, and now maybe Hokutofuji (3-8) can pass it on to 4-7 Endo. Probably through direct contact of Hokutofuji’s right hand into Endo’s generalized face area, with a fair amount of force.
Kiribayama vs Wakamotoharu – This match has a lot of interest for me. We have already kachi-koshi Kiribayama at 8-3 against funnel track rikishi Wakamotoharu at 6-5. Both of them are comfortable fighting yotsu style, and I think that’s how this match is goign to start. They share a 2-2 career record, and I expect this will be a solid fight.
Takayasu vs Takarafuji – At this point, I almost hope that 3-8 Takayasu loses today if for no other reason than to give 2-9 Takarafuji a bit more banzuke cushion. Both of them are going to drop precipitously, but Takarafuji is at Maegashira 7, and will need the wins. They have 29 matches that favor Takayasu 21-8.
Hoshoryu vs Kotonowaka – Another high interest match, both are 6-5, they share a 3-3 record, and are to be considered vanguard of the “up and coming” rikishi cohort. I honestly don’t have a hunch who has the upper hand in this one, they both like to throw, they both have great mobility. Could be quite the fight.
Tamawashi vs Daieisho – I think this one is to give 6-5 Tamawashi pull himself into position to reach for a kachi-koshi tomorrow. he has a 10-8 career advantage over 7-4 Daieisho, who will reach kachi-koshi today should he prevail. Both are powerful thrusters, but for Daieisho to really shine, he needs to get a clear path to his opponent’s face, where Tamawashi is somewhat more versatile.
Tobizaru vs Shodai – Next loss for 4-7 Shodai is kadoban, it could come today at the hands of sumo’s flying monkey, 5-6 Tobizaru. Not that Shodai is incapable of beating Tobizaru, he certainly is. But I can’t decide what it takes for the genki form of Shodai show up and fight. Should the soft, rubbery, booger picking Shodai show up today, it’s kadoban time.
Mitakeumi vs Abi – If I do recall, it was Mitakeumi who decoded the formula for shutting down Abi-zumo first back in the day. His 8-2 match record underscores that Abi’s double arm attack has little effect on now Ozeki Mitakeumi. Both are 5-6, and the winner gets to join the growing crowd in the middle of the funnel at 6-6.
Ura vs Takakeisho – A great match for generating strange outcomes. Normally Takakeisho would toss Ura about like a tennis ball in an industrial clothes dryer. But right now 6-5 Takakeisho is at a fraction of his normal power output, and 8-3 Ura has really dialed in his grab-and-tug sumo. Given that Takakeisho tends to not protect his arms, we could see some fireworks today.
Terunofuji vs Wakatakakage – Man, I have been waiting for this match since January. Wakatakakage has only beaten Terunofuji once, back in Juryo when he was climbing his way back up the ranks. Its clear that Wakatakakage is ascendant, and one of these matches, he’s going to start winning. Terunofuji is already kachi-koshi at 8-3, and 6-5 Wakatakakage is looking for 2 more wins in the next 4 days to finish his eight.