With the start of day 11, we are in the final act of the basho. Act 3 sorts everyone between kachi-koshi and make-koshi, and we crown a yusho winner. Normally we would start to track the yusho race on the middle day, but this basho has had such low scores that we really did not have separation from the rikishi who will contend for the cup from the rikishi who will struggle just to get 8 wins until now. But after day 10, we are down to 4 rikishi in the leader group, with 3 one win behind. I guess that is close enough.
We have had another stable pull out of the tournament, and I have to wonder if maybe a sizable percentage of the rikishi population may be brewing a COVID infection right now.
The yusho race is going to result in a score no higher than 13-2, and if everyone in this group picks up a loss, it will be lower than that. Out of this leader group, only Yokozuna Terunofuji has prior yusho experience. Given those facts, he must be considered the favorite as of today.
Leaders: Terunofuji, Ichinojo, Tobizaru, Nishikigi
Chasers: Takakeisho, Kotonowaka, Nishikifuji
5 matches remain
Bonus: Nagoya Juryo Watch by lksumo
J1e Ryuden (8-2) will finally return to the top division in September. While there are several other contenders, none of them has a promotion case yet. M16w Daiamami (2 wins) and M17w Chiyomaru (3 wins) will be Juryo-bound with one more loss. Several others still have work to do to stay in Makuuchi, led by M16e Yutakayama (4 wins) and M9e Shimanoumi (1 win).
What We Are Watching Day 11
Onosho vs Daiamami – We have an already make-koshi Daiamami up against 5-5 Onosho, who needs to find 3 more wins over the next five days. Everyone please keep in mind, the goal for the scheduling team is to get him to 7-7 by the end of Saturday, so the intent is to give him a win today and a loss tomorrow.
Chiyoshoma vs Takarafuji – Another fine match, I expect them to go chest to chest in short order following the tachiai, and for Takarafuji to hold a strong defensive line against Chiyoshoma’s attack. They have an even 7-7 career record, so it comes down to who wants it more: 4-6 Chiyoshoma or 5-5 Takarafuji.
Terutsuyoshi vs Chiyomaru – A loss today for 3-7 Chiyomaru will be his make-koshi and a certain return to Juryo. Terutsuyoshi has a 7-4 career advantage, so I am going to guess he has a strong chance of handing Chiyomaru his ticket to ride the Juryo barge today.
Tsurugisho vs Midorifuji – Another fine funnel match, we have 5-5 Tsurugisho against Midorifuji at 6-4. If we can get a Tsurugisho win out of this one, they both will be 6-5, and well positioned in the funnel. They have only met once before in the top division, in March of 2021, which is the only time that Tsurugisho has won against Midorifuji.
Kotoshoho vs Yutakayama – More rich and gooey funnel fun, as we have 5-5 Kotoshoho going against Yutakayama at 4-6. The goal would be to have Yutakayama win, and both end the day at 5-6. They have split their only two prior matches, but its notable that Yutakayama has lost the last 4 matches in a row after a fairly strong start to the tournament.
Chiyotairyu vs Nishikifuji – First ever match, and a Nishikifuji (7-3) win would be his kachi-koshi. I expect him to be quite motivated today, and if he can avoid being trampled by 6-4 Chiyotairyu, he will likely get his win.
Oho vs Kotoeko – With Nishikifuji’s kachi-koshi attempt complete, it’s back to the funnel. Those of you like lksumo who are playing the “Bruce mentions Darwin” at home drinking game are probably pretty well lit by now, but remember to pace yourselves. I am frankly surprised that Oho is at 6-4, as his sumo has really not been anything remarkable. Kotoeko at 5-5 seems to be in the process of incremental mummification, as each day he shows up with more bandages on his body. I think Kotoeko will go for a mawashi grip early, and if he can sustain it, he will win. Oho will likely try some tsuki/oshi to get the compact Kotoeko down and out sooner.
Myogiryu vs Nishikigi – How interesting that Nishikigi already has an 8-2 kachi-koshi. He last had a double digit finish in September of 2018, which set up his magical trip to the joi-jin that netted him a kinboshi. I am genuinely excited for this guy, as all indications are that he is a kind, humble and hard working human being. Myogiryu has a great chance to escape the funnel today with a win, that would put him at 7-4 and outside of the grind to take everyone down to 7-7.
Tochinoshin vs Meisei – The goal here is for 5-5 Tochinoshin to score a win and drag Meisei back down into a funnel compatible score before he can escape, which he would with a win today. Tochinoshin and Meisei share a 2-3 record, so there is no clear advantage toward either man from their prior meetings.
Shimanoumi vs Sadanoumi – Both are already make-koshi, and the question is how deeply in the hole will either 1-9 Shimanoumi or 2-8 Sadanoumi go. In this battle of the *umi, I have to think these guys are hurt and will benefit from dropping down the banzuke and working to recover their form. Sadanoumi leads the career score with 6-3.
Wakamotoharu vs Hokutofuji – With the battle of the make-koshi out of the way, its time for MOAR FUNNEL! Both of these guys are 5-5, and in normal conditions I would think this would be an excellent and exciting match. But Hokutofuji is fighting at just a tiny fraction of his normal ferocity, and he’s really struggling to win with any dominance. I pair that against Wakamotoharu who has faced the top men in sumo and has a 5-5. Guess which person I think will prevail?
Okinoumi vs Ura – Both start the day at 4-6, and the loser drops out of the funnel into the make-koshi track. Both are far enough up the banzuke that its really just a demotion at this point, so there will be a minimum of fuss. Ura has won 2 of their 3 prior matches, and may be able to make it 3 out of 4 today if he can find something to grab and tug.
Kiribayama vs Tamawashi – I am surprised that Tamawashi is one loss away from his make-koshi. He opened strong, then has lost 7 in a row. This might indicate he got hurt on day 3, and refuses to go kyujo, wishing to maintain his record of never missing a match. He has never beaten 4-6 Kiribayama in 5 attempts.
Ichinojo vs Abi – Oh my, Ichinojo is part of the leader group, and seems to have re-connected with his sumo. He has a 4-2 career advantage over 5-5 Abi, who needs to find 3 wins over the next 5 days to stay in san’yaku. Given that Ichinojo is in contention for the cup, I don’t think he’s going to have pity for anyone.
Kotonowaka vs Daieisho – Kotonowaka is in the group 1 win behind the leaders, and I would guess that he is going to give Daieisho a hell of a fight and try to secure his 8th win of July. At 5-5, Daieisho is very much in the middle of the bubble group, and needs to get a majority of wins over the next 5 days to remain at Sekiwake.
Wakatakakage vs Aoiyama – You may wonder what 4-6 Aoiyama is doing up here fighting Wakatakakage (6-4), but then its notable that Aoiyama has beaten Wakatakakage both of their prior matches, and may be able to bring the Sekiwake back toward the middle of the funnel. A Wakatakakage win today would clear him of the funnel, and put him one win away from kachi-koshi.
Endo vs Shodai – Endo is already make-koshi at 2-8, but this man LOVES to play spoiler. There have been tournaments where he had a miserable score, but he won a single or pair of big matches just to play a role in the story. So I suspect that he might give 6-4 Shodai some trouble on the clay.
Takakeisho vs Tobizaru – It was bound to happen, kachi-koshi Tobizaru has a chance to deny 7-3 Takakeisho the safety of 8 wins if he can overcome the Ozeki’s oshi-zumo strengths. With strike-and-move sumo the order of the day for Tobizaru, Takakeisho is going to need to find some way to cut down on the flying monkey’s mobility.
Terunofuji vs Hoshoryu – Terunofuji has a 7-0 career record against Hoshoryu, who needs just 2 wins from his 6-4 score to get his 8, and possibly ascend to Sekiwake. I don’t think he will find one from Terunofuji today, who looks dead set to drive what is left of his body to ruin if needed to be the Yokozuna this July.