Welcome to the start of act 2, the middle three days of the basho. During Act 2, we get to find out who has what it takes to fight for the yusho, and we will start sorting people into make and kachi-koshi. It’s where we will find the middle weekend of the tournament, and we will start to have our first look at the leader board.
Unlike Kyushu, I think we will have a leader board on day 8, and I think we will have a solid and exciting race to the cup. So let’s dive into the day 6 match, as there is plenty to look forward to.
What We Are Watching Day 6
Akua vs Chiyomaru – With Tochinoshin out, we now get daily Juryo visitors to fill the banzuke gap. First up is Akua, who last held a top division rank in March of 2022. He managed to work is way up to Juryo 1E, and able to return with a simple kachi-koshi. But unfortunately he starts today with a disappointing 0-5. He has only won twice in 11 attempts against 0-5 Chiyomaru. So the good news is that one of these round fellows will score their first win today.
Tsurugisho vs Azumaryu – At 4-1, Azumaryu is riding his best ever start in a top divisions tournament. His goal is to get his first kachi-koshi at a Maegashira rank in his career. The wrinkle today is that he has a 7-16 career deficit against 2-3 Tsurugisho, who has won their last 3 in a row.
Kotoshoho vs Takarafuji – Takarafuji sustained some kind of injury to his hand on day 4 against Mitoryu, and for a while we wondered if he would start day 5. But it looks like he was able to get his hand well enough to continue with the tournament, with a 4-1 score including the freebee win over Tochinoshin on day 5. He has a job to do today: Put dirt on white hot 5-0 Kotoshoho. Takarafuji has a working formula for doing this, winning all of their 3 prior matches.
Ichiyamamoto vs Kotoeko – Both men start the day 3-2, with the winner getting a bit ahead of in the climb to kachi-koshi next week. I am starting to wonder if the schedulers are going to run a funnel starting this weekend. I genuinely liked November, where they did not try the funnel, as I thought it provided for a more interesting tournament. Kotoeko leads the series 3-1.
Mitoryu vs Okinoumi – First ever match for these two, I just wish that 0-5 Okinoumi was in better fighting form this January. An up and comer like Mitoryu (2-3) could learn a lot from fighting a grizzled veteran with an encyclopedia full of sumo programmed into his mind and body.
Takanosho vs Chiyoshoma – At this point, 0-5 Chiyoshoma needs to take stock of his position in this tournament. No wins, a failed henka attempt on day 5, and looking rather pointless. He’s only won 3 of his 9 career matches against 3-2 Takanosho, so I hope he finds his sumo overnight and can bring it to the dohyo today.
Kagayaki vs Endo – At 3-2, Endo is just a bit better than even right now, and he has a distinct career advantage over 2-3 Kagayaki. Kagayaki has lost his last 2, against Aoiyama and then Hiradoumi, and could really use a win today. He has to hope that Endo does not get that left hand on his belt at the tachiai.
Onosho vs Aoiyama – I would guess that when the scheduling team put this match together, they were hoping that both would come in with 5-0 scores. Instead we have 4-1 Onosho against 5-0 Aoiyama. They have an even 7-7 record across their career, and both men are well know for having hot and cold basho. If they hold onto their pattern that each man wins 2, then the other man wins 2, this will be Onosho’s match today.
Hiradoumi vs Oho – Oho has been a mixed bag since he arrived in the top division. He comes from a family of sumo royalty, and thus expectations for him have been high. The reality has been quite another matter, as we have him now at 0-5, and struggling to beat anyone, in spite of still showing mostly good sumo mechanics. He’s against 3-2 Hiradoumi today, but I don’t have high expectations for Oho’s performance.
Hokutofuji vs Myogiryu – Myogiryu at 1-4? Seems rather odd to me, but every time he is ranked above Maegashira 7, he turns in a make-koshi. He’s against 3-2 Hokutofuji today, who holds a 9-6 career advantage over him.
Ryuden vs Nishikigi – Ryuden has affirmed that he can win against anyone near his rank, taking out the previously unbeaten Ohnosho on day 5. I have confidence that he has a fair chance to overwhelm Nishikigi today, who has really tuned up his forward pressure in the last two months, and looks like he could move a mountain if he could get the yori going.
Ura vs Sadanoumi – Fans hope that 2-3 Ura can keep his face out of the dirt today. With an unblemished 4-0 record against 2-3 Sadanoumi, everyone is looking for him to score his third win. This is the first time they have fought in a Hatsu basho since 2017.
Mitakeumi vs Nishikifuji – Both rikishi start the day 2-3, but I really have my doubts about Mitakeumi. His sumo seems to lack all potency, and even his muscle tone seems to have been moved down a couple of notches from this time last year. Its tough to see the perennial underdog fade out like this, we can only hope he can eventually bounce back.
Kiribayama vs Daieisho – Now that Daieisho has gotten his score up to 4-1 at the end of the first act, I want to see him continue to dominate. He’s got a marginal losing record to 3-2 Kiribayama, with the Mongolian holding a 7-5 advantage. Once Daieisho gets settled into his sumo this early, he tends to finish with double digits. I am looking forward to seeing him try to pull it off this tournament.
Meisei vs Kotonowaka – Both of them start day 6 with terrible 1-4 scores. I would not be surprised if both of them are make-koshi before the final weekend, as both are struggling now. Life is tough for a Komusubi, and these two are living the dream. They share a 4-1 career record that favors Meisei.
Wakatakakage vs Tamawashi – There has been plenty of talk over the last few months about how 2-3 Wakatakakage is the next hope for Ozeki. At times he does seem to fight with the consistent, high grade sumo required for such a rank. Sadly that seems to have escaped him the last few months, and he will be starting over shortly unless something very odd happens, more or less starting today. He has won 6 of 8 prior matches against 3-2 Tamawashi, who took a loss to lone Ozeki Takakeisho on day 5.
Tobizaru vs Shodai – This January, I think anyone and everyone is going to beat Shodai. He’s about as sad a case of an Ozekiwake as you would ever want to know, and at 1-4 he may want to just go kyujo now if he is already injured. Yes, I know there are going to be a swarm of people come and tell me I am wrong. Imagine that, one person telling another person they are wrong… on the internet of all places. Shodai’s won 4 out of 6 against Tobizaru in the past, and Tobizaru is none too shape right now at 2-3, so maybe we can see Shodai score his second win.
Takayasu vs Wakamotoharu – The seemingly injured Takayasu at 1-4 will try to find his second win of the basho today, against the other Onami brother, Wakamotoharu (2-3). Takayasu has won both of their prior matches, but right not Takayasu does not look like he can generate enough power to overcome a medium strong opponent, so I worry where the old hairy guy is going to end up in March.
Midorifuji vs Hoshoryu – Now that we had Daieisho put dirt on Hoshoryu (now 4-1), it’s time to really challenge the fellow, and see if he can bounce back and win some more. So they tee’d up 3-2 Midorifuji mostly because he has a 5-1 career advantage over Hoshoryu. As mentioned in the day 5 highlight post, it takes a lot of focus and guts to not get rattled by a loss you were not looking for, and to return to winning. This should be a good match.
Abi vs Takakeisho – Why not also finish with a really good match? Yes, let’s take 5-0 unbeaten double thrust Abi, and pair him up against the lone Ozeki, Takakeisho, at 4-1. Both of them are going to delivery monster-truck force into each other’s bodies, and I think it will be a lot of fun for the 10 whole seconds this one is going to last. Abi leads the series 5-2.