With the start of Friday action, we are in the closing days of the Aki basho. The fight card will be shorter, and the basho proceedings will start later in the day. The lower divisions should decide their yusho today, with the exception of Makushita, which may not, as it is possible they will have two rikishi with 7-0 records at the end of today, forcing a playoff on day 15.
At the top end of the highest division, we have burning wreckage everywhere. Two ozeki make-koshi, one being demoted, one with double digit losses and slated to be kadoban for the 5th time. A third one throwing henka about. The Yokozuna blew out what was left of his right knee and will be under repair for some time. Two Komusubi make-koshi, and maybe one or two Sekiwake. None of the named ranks are going to compete for the yusho this September. Brutal stuff.
But yet, we are bound to have some glorious sumo on day 13, and I am looking forward to enjoying it Friday evening with my family. Life is good.
Day 12’s combination of wins and losses had a maximal effect in expanding the yusho race. Tamawashi remains in the lead, and there are 4 strong contenders nipping at his heels. His last yusho was 13-2, which is the maximum possible score he could reach in this tournament. Can he repeat that record?
Chasers: Tobizaru, Takayasu, Hokutofuji, Nishikifuji
Hunt Group: Takakeisho, Wakatakakage, Takanosho, Ryuden
3 matches remain
What We Are Watching Day 13
Tsurugisho vs Chiyotairyu – Both men start the day at 4-8 with a make-koshi. For Chiyotairyu a win today will reduce the size of his demotion for November. For Tsurugisho, he’s hoping that if he can get 7 wins he might find a way to hang on in the top division. To me, Tsurugisho is fighting somewhat less hurt right now, so I would give him an advantage as long as he can keep his balance in the tachiai.
Kotoshoho vs Yutakayama – I would hate to think that Yutakayama (3-9) might be headed back to Juryo after escaping a year ago. But some absolutely amazing banzuke luck has allowed him to more or less hover around Maegashira 14 in spite of 4 make-koshi tournament out of the last 6. I would say his luck has run out. Kotoshoho (7-5) kachi-koshi if he wins today.
Hiradoumi vs Kotoeko – As the last man on the banzuke at Maegashira 16 West, Hiradoumi (6-6) needs 2 wins out of the last 3 days to stay in the top division. He has been fighting well for some of the basho, but that streak of 6 losses out of 7 matches really blew his chances to bits. Should he defeat Kotoeko (5-7]) today, Kotoeko will be make-koshi. This is their first ever match up.
Myogiryu vs Chiyoshoma – A somewhat happier match, we have two 7-5 rikishi facing off, one of which will get their kachi-koshi today. I honestly want Chiyoshoma to win today, as I think his solid sumo should earn him a better buffer between him and the bottom of the banzuke. He and Myogiryu have an even 5-5 career record.
Tochinoshin vs Okinoumi – Tochinoshin is already make-koshi at 4-8, but I expect he will make that something more like 7-8 by the time this basho is done. He has Okinoumi (6-6) who needs 2 wins out of the last three days to make his 8. Okinoumi tends to steer a course straight for 8-7 or 7-8, and call it good enough.
Mitoryu vs Onosho – Mitoryu is already make-koshi at 4-8, and should he win today, he could give off balance Onosho (5-7) the gift of a losing record as well. They have never fought before, so no prior history to go by. I do note that Mitoryu looked very “soft” on day 12, maybe indicating some new injury picked up during the tournament. This could explain why he has lost the last 4 in a row.
Aoiyama vs Terutsuyoshi – It was clear from week 1 that Aoiyama (3-9) was going to be soaking up a big make-koshi this September. Something is not right with Big Dan, and he’s more or less going through the motions as best he can. I would label this one a “mercy match” where Terutsuyoshi (5-7) gets a good chance to pick up a win to stave off make-koshi. He has an 8-4 career lead over Aoiyama.
Ryuden vs Endo – This may also be another “mercy” match, where you have 8-4 Ryuden who has never beaten Endo (6-6), who needs 2 wins over the next 3 days to get kachi-koshi. The one thing that comes to mind is that Ryuden is freshly back in the top division, and may decide he has something to prove here. They last fought in January of 2021.
Oho vs Sadanoumi – Both rikishi are 7-5 to start the day, so the winner of this match will get their kachi-koshi today. Sadanoumi has a huge speed advantage, and a 4-1 career record over Oho in his favor. In fact, Oho has not won a match against Sadanoumi since July of 2021 when both were in Juryo. If you look at the record, Oho.exe appears to need restarting, as he has lost 3 of the last 4 matches, after a solid 5-0 start to Aki.
Takarafuji vs Ichiyamamoto – I think maybe another ‘mercy match” where we have make-koshi Takarafuji at 3-9 against Ichiyamamoto at 5-7, needing to win out to reach the safety of 8. I think Ichiyamamoto is high enough up the banzuke that he would not be considered for demotion to Juryo, but it’s always best to keep yourself out of risk for November.
Tamawashi vs Nishikifuji – A good choice for the schedulers, yusho race leader Tamawashi (10-2) goes up against one of the chasers. In this case its red hot Nishikifuji (9-3) who is in the running for the cup in only his second tournament in the top division. This is their first ever match, so I urge Tamawashi to be patient and not rush this fight.
Kotonowaka vs Takanosho – Nice to see Takanosho (8-4) fighting later in the day, where he normally belongs. He had an even 2-2 career record against Kotonowaka (7-5) who is looking for his 8th win today. I think this is a bit of a test match to see if he is past his injuries, and ready to re-join the top half of the banzuke.
Meisei vs Midorifuji – Both rikishi are 5-7, and facing the real likelihood of make-koshi if they don’t win their remaining 3 matches. In the case of Midorifuji, it’s his first posting to the top of the rank and file, and as we discussed in our pre-basho podcast, it’s probably a bit early to assume he will kachi-koshi at this rank. But from his action on the dohyo, you can see that day is coming.
Tobizaru vs Hokutofuji – After his day 12 belly flop against Takakeisho, Hokutofuji is probably ready to chew through concrete to get someone to give him a standup fight. He gets Tobizaru, who will throw rapid fire combos at Hokutofuji, but has never won against him in 6 attempts. Both are 9-3, and this fight will eliminate one man from the yusho race, barring some strange (er) outcomes on day 14 and 15.
Takayasu vs Kiribayama – I am not pleased to see Takayasu’s (9-3) antique “wild man” sumo coming back out. It was what he did before Kisenosato taught him focus and discipline in his sumo. But it seems that once he hit Ozeki, Kisenosato retired, and he went back to this form. It wins matches some times, but leaves a lot of avenues for counter-attack. He has Kiribayama (7-5) who needs one more white start to maintain his Komussubi rank.
Ura vs Ichinojo – Ura (7-5) has a shot at kachi-koshi today, but he has to win against “The Boulder”, Ichinojo (4-8). Ura has been able to do this 3 times before out of their 7 match career history, so it’s not out of the question. Ichinojo has lost his last 2 in a row, and may be sort of giving up now that he is make-koshi, and getting turned out of the named ranks for November.
Daieisho vs Wakamotoharu – Fresh off of his big win against Tamawashi on day 12, Wakamotoharu (7-5) needs to deflate Daieisho (5-7) to get his 8th win today. Should that happen, he would give Daieisho his 8th loss, and leave him make-koshi for Aki. They have only fought once before, in Nagoya this year, where Daieisho took the win. This will come down to a clash of sumo styles, with Daieisho being firmly in the oshi-zumo club, and Wakamotoharu being a committed yytsu-zumo man.
Nishikigi vs Hoshoryu – Nishikigi (5-7) attempts to keep the make-koshi at bay against 6-6 Hoshoryu. He has not beaten Hoshoryu in 2 prior attempts (0-2), and I think that he will struggle today. Should he lose, that is make-koshi for Nishikigi, and the wild internet talk of a Komusubi slot for him by this time next year may fade.
Mitakeumi vs Shodai – Battle of the broken Ozeki. Mitakeumi (4-8) in the road to demotion, and 2-10 Shodai looking like a beaten man. I don’t have much to say about this match, except that it had to happen, so we have to watch it. The 28 career matches favor Mitakeumi 16-12.
Takakeisho vs Wakatakakage – Both are 8-4, and right now Wakatakakage needs to ask himself if he has what it takes to put in double digits. If he wins the remainder of this matches, that would be 11-4, and there would be no doubt that the Ozeki run is on.