With the dawn of day 11, we enter act 3 of the Hatsu basho. Act 3 is where we sort everyone into make-koshi and kachi-koshi, and we award the yusho to the rikishi with the best record. Unless something terrible happens, that will be Takakeisho (the Grand Tadpole). The question then arises, are the rumors of a possible Yokozuna promotion actually under consideration? We will get to find out in just about a week from now.
If he is successful in winning the yusho, it will be his 3rd yusho, to go along side his 8 jun-yusho he has picked up since 2018.
It’s still Takakeisho’s tournament to lose, and with the two chasers going head to head, we will narrow the field yet again today.
Chasers: Kotoshoho, Onosho
Hunt Group: Tamawashi, Nishikigi, Hiradoumi, Azumaryu
5 Matches Remain
What We Are Watching Day 11
Ichiyamamoto vs Oshoma – The day 11 Juryo visitor is Oshoma, who starts the day with a 5-5 record at Juryo 3. This guy is hell on wheels. He started professional sumo at Makushita 15 tsukidashi in November of 2021, and proceeded to blast his way up the ranks. He won the Juryo yusho last tournament, but is struggling now to try and stay on a winning path. He has never had a match against Ichiyamamoto (6-4), so this will be a lot of people’s first look at Oshoma.
Chiyoshoma vs Tsurugisho – A battle of 4-6 rikishi, and this match is what is making me start to suspect that there is a tiny amount of funneling going on. The winner will remain in the lane for the Darwin pool on day 15, the loser will get one step away from make-koshi. They have a 5-4 joint record, but to my eye Chiyoshoma is fighting quite a bit worse this tournament than Tsurugisho is, and that’s saying something.
Mitoryu vs Hiradoumi – A mirror score match, where we have 3-7 Mitoryu against 7-3 Hiradoumi. A Hiradoumi win would be a simultaneous make-koshi for Mitoryu, and kachi-koshi for Hiradoumi. The wrinkle in that plan is Mitoryu’s 2-0 career record.
Aoiyama vs Takarafuji – I am still grumbly that Endo decided to henka against Takarafuji. Now we get this match where both men are 6-4, and Takarafuji has a 7-22 career deficit against Aoiyama. Aoiyama is not at his peak form, but he’s close enough that this trend is likely to be the controlling factor in today’s match.
Azumaryu vs Endo – Today could be the day that Azumaryu (7-3) gets that magical 8th win that would reward him with his first ever winning score in the top division. As mentioned above, I am still grumbly at Endo for that stinker match on day 10, so hopefully no crummy stuff today. Endo has won their only prior match way back in March of 2016.
Chiyomaru vs Oho – Both rikishi are already make-koshi, and Chiyomaru (2-8) is already Juryo bound, so they can commiserate, and maybe Chiyomaru can pick up a 3rd win, as I am not sure who Oho (1-9) can beat at this point.
Onosho vs Kotoshoho – This match between the two rikishi who are 1 win behind Takakeisho will ensure that there is only one at the end of today. Both men are 8-2 kachi-koshi, and both have a good chance of reaching double digits over the last 5 days. Onosho has won 4 of their 5 prior matches, with Kotoshoho’s only win coming on day 9 of in July of 2022, by kotenage. Kotoshoho has had stand out tournaments in the past, but has been through a soft patch for the last year since his Juryo yusho in January 2021.
Kagayaki vs Ura – Kagayaki at 5-5 is on course to join the Darwin club on day 15, so long as he continues to win one, then lose one. Ura at 6-4 has a chance to escape that fate today with a win. His day 10 loss aside, he has had a fairly decent tournament this January, and I think it would be good for him to finish with a winning record. He has only won 1 of their prior 4 matches, with only one fight (in 2021) since Ura went kyujo to have his knees rebuilt.
Kotoeko vs Myogiryu – Two more candidates for the funnel, each having a clear road to the Darwin group on Sunday. It’s 5-5 Kotoeko against 4-6 Myogiryu. For Kotoeko, he always fights much larger than his score. But for Myogiryu, something is amiss with his sumo, and he’s not turning out the wins at his normal rate. He does have a 9-2 career advantage over Kotoeko, and won 2 of their 3 matches in 2022.
Hokutofuji vs Takanosho – Speaking of rikishi who need to recover their sumo: Takanosho. No telling what has happened to him (as far as I can tell), but being 4-6 at the start of act 3 ranked at a middling Makuuchi 9 is a puzzler. For 6-4 Hokutofuji, the even / odd make/kachi-koshi is par for the course. The optimum outcome for any funnel activity is a Takanosho win, which would push them both into the middle lane headed for Darwin. Hokutofuji holds a 6-3 career advantage.
Nishikigi vs Tamawashi – Oh, I do love this match. They are both 7-3, so the winner ends the day with kachi-koshi. Tamawashi, it would be no surprise if he expanded on his 6-1 career record against Nishikigi. But as we have pointed out for days, something changed with Nishikigi in the last while, and he’s formidable right now. So it will be a clash of styles, and a race to see if Nishikigi can get his grip, or Tamawashi can get him on the clay first.
Mitakeumi vs Ryuden – The doom that completely encircles Mitakeumi just continues to rain cold, ugly drops down upon his face. He’s at 5-5, in the middle of the Darwin hunt group. He’s against 5-5 Ryuden, who holds a 5-1 career advantage, and for some reason the scheduling team seems to be picking the opponents to make sure you lose. Somebody take mercy on this guy.
Tobizaru vs Abi – It’s chaos sumo time! Who’s wild, out of control offense is going to win today? I think it’s likely up to 6-4 Abi to give 3-7 Tobizaru his 8th loss, and hand him a make-koshi for January. Tobizaru has not won a match against Abi since July of 2017, when they were both in Makushita. Ouch…
Daieisho vs Wakamotoharu – Both rikishi are 6-4 to start today, with kachi-koshi just 2 wins away. Daieisho had a wild hot streak going into the middle weekend, but has now lost 4 matches in a row, and is no longer looking genki at all. As he has done for the past couple of years, Wakamotoharu just quietly keeps plodding along, turning in constant and workable sumo. Of course it did not hurt that he had a fusensho against Takayasu on day 6.
Meisei vs Midorifuji – Midorifuji (5-5) has the task before him of giving 3-7 Meisei his 8th loss and make-koshi. Midorifuji himself needs to find 3 more wins in the final 8 days for kachi-koshi, and I am certain he does not want to be one of the crowd looking for that final white star on the last day of Hatsu.
Sadanoumi vs Shodai – I really liked Sadanoumi’s day 10 win against Wakatakakage. It’s as if he said “no more, that’s it, no more crashes into the salt box”, and made it work out that way. He’s only at 3-7, so his next loss with be his 8th. I would think under normal circumstances that Shodai would find him easy meat, but poor Shodai is just day to day right now, and at 4-6 getting perilously close to make-koshi himself.
Nishikifuji vs Hoshoryu – The prediction is that Hoshoryu and his injured ankle will be back in action on day 11. Makes a person wonder what he was out for day 10. He needs to finish up his 6-4 scored and try to find 2 more wins. I think he can do it, if he’s not too banged up. Nishikifuji at 3-7 is also in the club that is one loss away from make-koshi. This is their first ever match.
Wakatakakage vs Kiribayama – A battle of two future stars who seem to have fallen into a rough patch. It’s 5-5 Wakatakakage, who at one point 10 days ago was the subject of future Ozeki rank. He’s facing 6-4 Kiribayama who is also a possible future Ozeki, in my opinion. Neither one of them have covered themselves in glory this time out, though its not out of the question that they both could hit 8 wins and kachi-koshi. Kiribayama leads the series 7-5.
Kotonowaka vs Takakeisho – Takakeisho is a man on a mission, and I think we all love that mission. A win today will give him double digits, which would make his 4th consecutive tournament with 10 wins or more. Right now he’s on the yusho trail, and continuing to win is how he gets to his goal. Kotonowaka at 4-6 has only beaten him once, in May of 2022 by oshidashi on day 1 of Haru.