Welcome to the end of act 2 of the Aki Basho. In act 2, 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. I would say we have hit the mark square on for the terms of act 2. We have 2 men that are in tight contention for the cup, and 3 who will try whatever they can to get in on the action if they can. But first someone has to get dirt on Hokutofuji. That task falls, on day 10, to Takayasu.
If you want to know what that tends to look like, check this stuff out
Not two men who hold anything back. Expect power, expect energy, expect blood.
To compliment the big show down between these long term competitors, we have a spate of first ever match ups. A high interest day to close out act two, and set the final run to the cup in motion.
I can’t shake the sense of creeping doom knowing that technically, Chiyoshoma is in contention for the cup. Is anyone making sure there is not a rogue solar eclipse headed our way for Sunday?
Hunt Group: Takayasu, Nishikifuji, Chiyoshoma
6 matches remain
What We Are Watching Day 10
Terutsuyoshi vs Tohakuryu – Tohakuryu is today’s Juryo visitor. He only started a tsukidash Sandanme 100 in May of 2019, and quickly made his way to Juryo, where he has been bobbing like a cork in the sea ever since, never quite able to muster the score to debut in the top division. Tohakuryu and Terutsuyoshi both come into their first ever match with 5-4 records. Should be an interesting way to start the division.
Ichiyamamoto vs Oho – Oho (6-3) only needs to win 2 more matches to reach his kachi-koshi, and my advice to him is to not worry past the match with Ichiyamamoto (5-4) today. He has an even 3-3 career record against the Abi compatible unit, and he will need to sharpen his balance to overcome the long arm double thrusting attack today. Like many of our readers, I am still trying to figure Oho out. Hopefully at least he knows what is sumo is all about.
Chiyoshoma vs Ryuden – No avoiding it, Chiyoshoma (at 7-2) is likely to get his kachi-koshi today. He holds a 4-1 career record over 5-4 Ryuden. The last time Ryuden took a match was September of 2018. That’s a blast from the past. The last match was day 13 of Haru (Osaka) in 2021. Look for a quick lock up center dohyo, and a fight to yorikiri.
Kotoshoho vs Hiradoumi – A first ever match between a pair of 4-5 rikishi, each needing 4 wins out of the remaining 6 matches to reach kachi-koshi. For Hiradoumi, the final man on the September banzuke, a make-koshi means a return to Juryo to try again no sooner than January. Hiradoumi has lost 5 of this last 6, after a 3-0 start to the tournament. For Kotoshoho, not sure what is ailing him, but his sumo is not up to par right now.
Mitoryu vs Chiyotairyu – Chiyotairyu (2-7) will once again try to stave off make-koshi for a second straight day. He’s never had a match against 4-5 Mitoryu before, and I am looking for Chiyotairyu to resort to his formula of “stand them up, slap them down” from the tachiai today. Should be easy for Mitoryu to practice trying to overcome.
Okinoumi vs Takanosho – It’s 4-5 Okinoumi against 5-4 Takanosho as both of these guys are trying to find a way to just survive until day 15. Both of them are high ranked enough that a mild make-koshi won’t put them at demotion risk. Keeping the four vs five theme, their career record of 5-4 narrowly favors Okinoumi.
Aoiyama vs Tsurugisho – Another day where a pair of 7 loss rikishi face off. Both Aoiyama and Tsurugisho will make-koshi with their next loss, and for one of them that loss comes today. I could cite historical numbers for their five previous matches, but both are banged up and at a fraction of their normal power. So lets just see who can scrape together enough genki energy to make it home after the day’s matches. For Tsurugisho a make-koshi would put him in the Juryo demotion queue in all likelihood.
Yutakayama vs Onosho – Another match up from the scratch and dent bin. Both men come in with 3-6 record, and a notable reduction in sumo power from their normally energetic standards. Onosho has a slight 6-5 edge on the clay, but given neither one of them is even close to fighting form, that won’t matter at all. It will come down to Onosho keeping his feet.
Wakamotoharu vs Nishikifuji – From the depths, to the heights. Two genki fellows with winning records and likely kachi-koshi are going to see who gets there first today. With Nishikifuji at 7-2, a win today will give him his 8, and mark his third consecutive winning record. At 6-3, Wakamotoharu needs two more wins to get his 8. They each have a single win in their prior matches.
Kotoeko vs Endo – The odds are getting longer that 3-6 Endo will be able to reach 8 this September, which seems fitting as his sumo this tournament has been largely forgettable. Kotoeko, with a 4-5, is getting by, but his sumo seems obligatory right now. He has not had a real winning streak since Osaka, but he is typically make-koshi in September.
Takarafuji vs Myogiryu – With Takarafuji already make-koshi, and clearly hurt, its time to use him as a blood bag to keep other rikishi in the hunt for their 8. Today it’s 5-4 Myogiryu, who with a 15-7 career record over Takarafuji, would be expected to win if Takarafuji (1-8) were healthy, But Takarafuji is not at all healthy.
Tochinoshin vs Sadanoumi – These two have an 11 match career record that stacks up 7 for Tochinoshin and 4 for Sadanoumi. Their matches are always fun because Sadanoumi tends to close in at warp speed and grab Tochinoshin before the big Georgian can react. I am keen to see how this match up will play out.
Hokutofuji vs Takayasu – This is one way to narrow the yusho race field. It’s 7-2 Takayasu’s option to hand Hokutofuji (9-0_ his first loss of Aki. He has a narrow 11-8 career lead, and their past matches have been high energy battles of guile, maneuver and brutal hits. I am sure everyone is expecting a big fight, and maybe a bit of blood today. Takayasu has won all of their matches this year, and he is coming in with an extended rest prior to Aki thanks to COVID kyujo in July. Have your popcorn ready.
Nishikigi vs Meisei – Nishikigi’s tour of the named ranks may be more or less over, and he’s back to fighting fellow Maegashira. At 4-5, he still has plenty of room to pick up a kachi-koshi and possibly be higher ranked in the joi-jin for Kyushu. How amazing would that be? He’s up against 3-6 Meisei who is probably headed for make-koshi himself, but I think will still put up a solid fight.
Kotonowaka vs Midorifuji – Another 5-4 (Kotonowaka) against 4-5 (Midorifuji) match, with the implied expectation they could end up both at 5-5 at the end of the day. Their short 2-1 career record would indicate they are evenly matched, so maybe some solid sumo before we has through the named ranks next.
Tobizaru vs Kiribayama – Both men are 6-3, and I think that this qualifies as a high interest match. Tobizaru has a 7-4 career edge over Kiribayama, and I think that comes down to Tobizaru’s agility. Kiribayama is excellent on the move as well, so with luck we are going to get a fast pace hybrid match that will change forms three or four times before we find our winner.
Wakatakakage vs Ura – Ura has never beaten Wakatakakage in 4 attempts. But the great thing about Ura is that he is capable of beating anyone on any day if he can get his opening. Will it be tug-and-pull today? It’s been a while since we have seen him grab an opponent’s body part and make it a weapon. Both men are 6-3, and each need just 2 more wins for kachi-koshi.
Tamawashi vs Mitakeumi – Credit to the scheduling team, they are going to try to make it interesting. Mitakeumi, at 3-6 and likely headed for Ozekiwake in Kyushu, has a 27-4 career record against 8-1 Tamawashi, who is one win behind yusho race leader Hokutofuji. Normally this would be where Tamawashi gets his second loss, but Mitakeumi is in such poor condition that I think that’s a big ask.
Ichinojo vs Shodai – Shodai… If you start winning now, it’s just going to be so very annoying. At 1-8 you are kadoban for November, and you have only won 5 times against Ichinojo out of 17 career matches. At 3-6, Ichinojo is probably headed for make-koshi as well. At least he will always have Nagoya.
Takakeisho vs Hoshoryu – If the Great Sumo Cat of the Kokugikan will entertain my plea, grant Takakeisho an overwhelming blast of wave action tsuppari today that he might send Hoshoryu deep into the box seats, where he can greet his fans. Loft him gently in a graceful arc that carries him directly at the NHK commentator booth, that they might view first hand his defeat. We thank thee for consideration. Takakeisho (6-3) has a 5-1 career record against Hoshoryu (4-5).
Terunofuji vs Daieisho – Terunofuji (5-4) is dangerously close to the make-koshi / kachi-koshi line at 5-4, and I worry that he won’t be able to even get 8 this September. Much as it would be a shame to have an intai prior Kyushu, it’s really down to him and Isegahama. Hopefully they know what they are doing. He’s normally dominates Daieisho (8-5) but without working knees, its going to be a guess who will prevail. 3-6 Daieisho is not in good fighting form either. Maybe it will be alright.