Nagoya Day 6 Preview

With the dawning of day 6, we begin act 2 of the 2022 Nagoya basho. At tachiai, we divide the 15 day tournament into three 5 day “acts”, each that tends to have its own goal and tempo. Act 2 is where we 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. This is going to be a tall order this time, as so many rikishi have middling records, and we are likely to see a very broad “Darwin Funnel” put in place starting today or Saturday.

There are 4 rikishi who start day 6 with strong 4-1 records. None of them are in the named ranks. We have one rikishi / geological formation that has a perfect record, that’s the “Mongolian Behemoth” Ichinojo. Nearly everyone else is 3-2 or 2-3. So sure, pair up everyone and see just how many poor souls can be funneled toward a 7-7 score to start day 15. If nobody is going to distinguish themselves, they can all become cannon fodder for the brutal zero sum mill that is sumo at its finest.

How the schedulers are going to brew a yusho race out of this mess is a good question. While I am loving Ichinojo’s total dominance right now, I am quite certain it’s not going to last and we face grim possibilities of unlikely outcomes like a (dare I say it) “Tobizaru Yusho”. This is precisely the kind of thing that keeps me awake a night.

What We Are Watching Day 6

Nishikifuji vs Chiyomaru – Chiyomaru is already getting my vote for “back to Juryo” even though he is a long way from ending up with a kachi or make-koshi. He’s just not fighting that well, and frankly I wish there were some way to clean up the top division from all of these middling performances. I think today is an even shot against Nishikifuji. For funnel purposes, both ending the day at 3-3 would work out well.

Yutakayama vs Tohakuryu – Juryo visitor Tohakuryu comes for a top division match. A college graduate in 2019, he blazed a fast path to Juryo and has been working to claw his way higher since January of 2021. He and Yutakayama have split their two prior matches.

Daiamami vs Oho – I suspect Daiamami’s injured ankle is a ongoing problem for him. We saw him limping following his day 5 match against Azumaryu following his return from kyujo. He has a 2-1 record against Oho, but Oho is not hurt, and seems to be fighting well enough, even if his performance on the clay is nothing remarkable yet.

Ichiyamamoto vs Onosho – Up until yesterday, Ichiyamamoto was unbeaten. With his first loss, he is now one behind Ichinojo, and he gets to face Onosho, who is continuing his streak of poor sumo that was his downfall in May. I have to wonder what kind of injury Onosho is struggling with, because at Maegashira 15 he should be building a pile of white stars that would put him the yusho race from the bottom third of the banzuke. This is their first ever match.

Tsurugisho vs Chiyoshoma – Tsurugisho is clearly struggling in the early part of this basho. It’s a shame but most of these men have at least a handful of chronic injuries that sap their performance and stamina. Tsurugisho has all of the tools that should see him at least as a stable mid-level rank and file man in the top division. Instead he tends to have periods where he struggles to have much sumo power at all, and right now Nagoya is one of those periods. He’s up against Chiyoshoma day, and has a fairly even 3-4 record against hism.

Terutsuyoshi vs Myogiryu – Now that Terutsuyoshi has “broken the ice” and scored his shonichi, I would like to see him run up the win count a bit. He has a 5-2 career advantage over Myogiryu, and a Myogiryu loss today would give him a 3-3 record and nominate him for the funnel.

Kotoshoho vs Midorifuji – Another attempt to produce a 3-3 funnel score. Kotoshoho has a 4-0 record against Midorifuji, and has a 2-3 score starting day 6. So a pick up by the Kotoshoho would center him into the funnel group. The kink in the scheduler’s plans here is how well Midorifuji has been fighting this month.

Takarafuji vs Meisei – I am expecting Takarafuji to continue to struggle. Whatever has put his sumo into “low power mode” is ongoing, and while we can see days where he shows us his excellent skill and tactical thinking, the day to day grind of honbasho will be dictated by the realities of his condition. Meisei has a 6-4 career advantage, and I am not expecting Takarafuji will be able to beat Meisei today.

Tochinoshin vs Kotoeko – I am looking for Tochinoshin to finally be able to satisfy his urge to pick up his opponent and carry them around like a toddler. We all know he loves to do it, and Kotoeko is compact enough he may be able to pull if off if his knees are steady enough to provide the base for that lift. He has a 6-1 record over Kotoeko. Sky-crane ahoy!

Okinoumi vs Shimanoumi – I like that they are giving Shimanoumi a chance to catch up a bit. He has a 6-2 career record against Okinoumi, and with just 1 win to his name so far, Shimanoumi can use every white star he might be able to catch.

Chiyotairyu vs Hokutofuji – This match would usually be a must-see. But neither of these guys are fighting well right now, in fact well below their peak capabilities. I don’t think either one of them has given up their goal to be their best, but we are back to injuries again, and what problems they are working through while competing in sumo’s top division, where no quarter is given. Hokutofuji has an 8-3 career lead.

Nishikigi vs Tobizaru – Now this is fun, the schedulers have pair up the two highest ranking 4-1 rikishi to narrow the field. They have only fought once before, and it was Nishikigi who took the win. That being said, I think Tobizaru is fighting well right now. But be warned that we have seen Nishikigi go on a “magical mystery tour” of the upper reaches of the banzuke before. He can and does surprise opponents.

Endo vs Sadanoumi – On the theme of injuries – we have May’s jun-yusho holder in Sadanoumi now with a single win at the end of act 1. Maybe he was over-promoted, or more likely he picked up an injury at some point prior to the basho. If so he should be an easy mark for Endo, who could frankly use the win.

Wakamotoharu vs Aoiyama – Most of the sumo world liked how Wakamotoharu trashed Ozeki Shodai on day 5. As always, Wakamotoharu has solid fundamentals and a very sharp ring sense. He’s going to need it today, as right now Aoiyama is quite a bit more genki than his 3-2 score would indicate. If Wakamotoharu can keep his feet for the first 10 seconds, he may get a shot to win this one from “Big Dan”.

Kotonowaka vs Takanosho – Add Takanosho’s name into the “what happened to this guy” column. He has successfully defended san’yaku ranking in the past, and here is is struggling with a 1-4 record in the rank and file. I am going to assume that Kotonowaka is going to pick him off today. The question that comes to my mind – in week 2, will Kotonowaka be in what should be a very jumbled yusho hunt?

Hoshoryu vs Abi – Hoshoryu has an excellent record of shutting down Abi-zumo. With his 1-4 record, Hoshoryu could use the win, and I would like to see Abi eat some clay and join the funnel team with a 3-3 record to start the middle weekend.

Wakatakakage vs Kiribayama – I still think Wakatakakage is headed for higher rank if he can stay healthy (a big question indeed). But his Ozeki dream is now being packed up and sent out to be rebuilt from scratch. With a 2-3 record, he needs to set aside that aspiration and focus on his 8. This has happened to many of the current and past Ozeki, and it’s no big deal if he can stay healthy. Meanwhile, Kiribayama will be looking to increase his 6-3 career lead over Wakatakakage.

Ichinojo vs Mitakeumi – The Original Tadpole gets to take on The Boulder. There is trouble all over this match, from the fact that Ichinojo is probably going to push Mitakeumi closer to make-koshi and demotion from his Ozeki rank, to the concern that at some point Ichinojo will lose a few, and then how do we get any kind of yusho race? Will the whole mess boil down to 20 or so 7-7 Darwin matches on the final day, with some kind of daffy single elimination tournament to decide the yusho? I don’t have enough sake in the house for that kind of thing…

Takakeisho vs Ura – The only Ozeki who looks to be ready to hold his rank is Takakeisho. He needs to keep his arms close to his body when he is not attacking, or its grab and tug time courtesy of Ura. The job for Takakeisho is to keep Ura centered, and keep both hands delivering force without lingering near the opponent. Takakeisho enjoys an 8-3 career advantage over Ura.

Daieisho vs Shodai – Its not getting any easier for Shodai. He has a 7-12 career record against Daieisho, and given how poorly Shodai if fighting, he is likely picking up another win today. Right now I just wish Shodai could get his sumo back, this slowly falling apart a day at a time is no fun to watch.

Terunofuji vs Tamawashi – Tough subject, but it’s time to consider when Terunofuji will go kyujo. He’s got a knee card he can play at any time, and he clearly is not able to be a Yokozuna every day this July. A few days, yes, but so far only a thin majority. He has a 10-8 career record against Tamawashi, which means that Tamawashi is up to the task at taking a second consecutive kinboshi in two days from sumo’s lone Yokozuna.

One thought on “Nagoya Day 6 Preview

  1. If the Yokozuna is 3-3, I would not be surprised to see kyujo. This would be a great time for Mitakeumi to right this ship.

    Shodai needs a complete overhaul of his form. His brand of sumo has been figured out. He’ll need to produce another Houdini-like kadoban escape.

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