It’s the final weekend, and we have a least a 3 way race for the yusho. The chances that all 3 of the current leaders will drop a match today are very slim. In fact, I am going to say the chances are fairly high that one of them will take home he Emperor’s Cup on Sunday. Right now the favorite has to be Terunofuji, who has prior yusho experience, and is a Yokozuna. Readers on the site, can commentators on Twitter have pointed out that Terunofuji is not fighting anywhere close to his normal level of power and aggression. But I think it will likely be enough to carry the day.
The “Darwin’s Funnel” process finishes today, and this part relies on some level of luck. Everyone who is still part of the funnel group has either 7 wins or 7 losses to start to day, and the trick is to get as many of them as possible to 7-7. In many cases it means pairing a 6-7 with a 7-6, and hoping the win/loss allocation goes as planned. There are currently 18 rikishi in the funnel, which is both ridiculous and unprecedented.
The winning score for the yusho will be no higher than 12-3, and may even be 11-4. Poor performance across the board.
Leaders: Terunofuji, Takanosho, Sadanoumi
Chasers: Daieisho, Kiribayama, Ura, Aoiyama
2 matches remain
What We Are Watching Day 14
Kotokuzan vs Mitoryu – Both are make-koshi, and Mitoryu is visiting from Juryo. Kind of an ugly match to start the top division on the penultimate day.
Midorifuji vs Chiyoshoma – Funnel match, for this to work out, Chiyoshoma has to win so that both finish the day 7-7. A Midorifuji win would give him kachi-koshi, and Chiyoshoma make-koshi for Natsu.
Okinoumi vs Kagayaki – Kagayaki is already make-koshi, and had better wind up in Juryo in July. An Okinoumi win today would be kachi-koshi for him, a loss will send him into the Darwin pool. They have a 6-7 career record.
Kotoshoho vs Myogiryu – Myogiryu is already make-koshi at 6-8, and Kotoshoho needs to win to avoid make-koshi today. He has not beaten Myogiryu in either of the 2 prior attempts.
Shimanoumi vs Chiyotairyu – Sort of a “mini-Darwin”, the winner will get kachi-koshi, the loser will get a Darwin match on Sunday. Shimanoumi leads the series 6-4.
Takarafuji vs Yutakayama – I look at Takarafuji’s 2-11 score, and I feel great sadness. This has to be the result of some injury that we don’t know about, and it’s just terrible. He’s against Yutakayama who needs a win today to avoid make-koshi, and qualify for a Darwin match on Sunday.
Azumaryu vs Kotoeko – Both are 5-8 make-koshi to start day 14, and this is to see if Azumaryu gets punted back down to Juryo, I expect. Kotoeko holds a 5-1 career advantage.
Ichiyamamoto vs Wakamotoharu – Both have 8-5 kachi-koshi (the converse of the prior match) so this is to see who gets the bigger boost up the banzuke. Ichiyamamoto’s oshi-zumo is orthogonal to Wakamotoharu’s yotsu-zumo, so I am looking forward to see who will dictate the form the battle takes.
Oho vs Tobizaru – Tobizaru starts the day with a 5-8 make-koshi, and Oho needs to win the last 2 to secure his first ever winning record in the top division. They have never fought before.
Endo vs Meisei – This is one of those matches where the win/loss needs to come out right. An Endo win means both have 7-7 records at the end of the day. An Endo loss means Meisei is kachi-koshi, and Endo make-koshi for the Natsu basho.
Hokutofuji vs Nishikigi – The is an interesting match in that Hokutofuji is already make-koshi at 4-9, while Nishikigi is part of that massive funnel group. He needs one more win, today, to make it to 7-7. He has a 3-3 career record against Hokutofuji.
Tochinoshin vs Tamawashi – Sadly, Tamawashi is also in the funnel group at 7-6, and needs a loss to center him at the dreaded 7-7 score. He is up against kachi-koshi Tochinoshin, who is fighting surprisingly well for a one-legged man, and holds a 22-12 career lead over Tamawashi.
Kiribayama vs Takanosho – Kiribayama has an excellent chance to play spoiler here, and knock one time yusho race leader Takanosho down to his 4 loss mark. Both are already kachi-koshi, they are fighting for a Emperor’s Cup slot, and position for any san’yaku slots that might open up. Takanosho holds a 10-1 career advantage.
Takayasu vs Terutsuyoshi – Both have matching, ugly 4-9 make-koshi scores. I think this fight is to see which one gets to have a double digit loss record first. Ouch. Takayasu won their only prior match.
Hoshoryu vs Aoiyama – Decider day part 1 for Hoshoryu. If he wins today, he is kachi-koshi with at least an 8-7 final score. If he loses, he joins the pool of rikishi that could face a 7-7 stand off “Darwin” match on Sunday. He is up against 9-4 kachi-koshi Aoiyama, who holds a narrow 3-2 career lead.
Sadanoumi vs Daieisho – Co-leader Sadanoumi (M12w) is quite far up the banzuke, fighting Daieisho (K1w) in an effort to hold on to his piece of the lead. He has actually take 4 of the 9 career matches, but the two have not fought since January of 2019.
Wakatakakage vs Ura – I am disappointed that Ura is not part of the 10-3 group today. But that escape move that he used against Abi was complete rubbish, so that’s the result. I would be delighted if he can put Wakatakakage on his back and send him to a 7-7 Darwin score to end the day. Tall order given that he has never beaten Wakatakakage before.
Kotonowaka vs Abi – A “Mini-Darwin” match, the winner is kachi-koshi, the loser joins the Darwin pool. Abi won their only prior match, but I think Kotonowaka can give him a big fight if he can break away from Abi’s double arm attack.
Mitakeumi vs Takakeisho – Loser of this match gets to join Shodai in the kadoban petting zoo for July. Winner is a 7-7 Darwin candidate, and given who it is either faces Terunofuji for the decider, or faces Shodai.
Terunofuji vs Shodai – If Shodai rallies today and uses the “Wall of Daikon” against the Yokozuna, I am going to be royally pissed off. He’s been lackluster this whole month, and if he only wakes up for a big stack of kensho, then consider me disgusted. Terunofuji needs to win today to stay in contention for the cup. He has a 9-4 record against Shodai on the clay.