Welcome to nakabi, the middle day of a 15 day sumo tournament! We may see our first top-division kachi-koshi today if Midorifuji wins his match against Aoiyama, and we will start seeing the yusho race take shape, with the Emperor’s Cup awarded one week from today.
With lone surviving Ozeki Takakeisho now kyujo for the rest of the tournament, we will no longer see Juryo vistors. Its a bit of a shame, as there are quite a few familar faces now in the Juryo tank hoping to get their sumo back together and resume rank in the top division.
What We Are Watching Day 8
Kinbozan vs Chiyoshoma – First time ever match up for these two. Newcomer Kinbozan should be able to reach 8 wins in the next week and stay in the top division for May. It will be interesting to see if Chiyoshoma employs some of his more slippery combos, given he’s not going to have a history of fighting Kinbozan to guide his choices. Both are 5-2.
Daishoho vs Mitoryu – After starting 0-4, Mitoryu has won the last 3 straight. He’s going to try to make it 4 today when he goes up against 4-3 Daishoho. Daishoho won 2 of their 3 matches in 2022, which is part of a broader overall 9-6 career record.
Hokuseiho vs Kotoeko – 4-3 Hokuseiho will try to snap a 3 match losing streak today in his first ever match against 5-2 Kotoeko. This will be a tradition big man / little man sumo match, and I am interested to see if Hokuseiho will be a bit less passive today. He will have his hands full given Kotoeko’s agility and combo attacks.
Oho vs Takarafuji – I am nearly certain that Takarafuji (2-5) will end this basho with a deep make-koshi score, but I keep hoping he will pick up a win here and there to cushion his descent down the banzuke. His opponent today, 3-4 Oho, has very much been a hit or miss competitor this basho, and at Maegashira 15, he will need to be careful not to rack up too large of a losing record come day 15.
Azumaryu vs Bushozan – Sadly, a loss today will put Azumaryu make-koshi for March. It’s more or less inevitable at this point. You have to assume it’s an injury, and hope he can manage to get enough wins to hang on the in top division. He’s beaten Bushozan (2-5) in each of their 4 prior meetings, so maybe today will be the day.
Myogiryu vs Tsurugisho – This should be a fairly even battle. We have 3-4 Myogiryu against 4-3 Tsurugisho. To my eye Tsurugisho has lost a bit of energy since day 1, but then again he’s a massive fellow, and the first week of competition likely took its toll on his stamina. They share an even 2-2 record.
Kagayaki vs Nishikifuji – Interestingly enough, it’s their first ever match. 2-5 Kagayaki has lost the last 2 in a row. He’s facing 5-2 Nishikifuji who has also lost his last two in a row. My instinct tells me that Nishikifuji will have the advantage today.
Takanosho vs Ura – Takanosho (5-2) has a clear advantage today over 4-3 Ura. Takanosho is fighting well, has been showing fairly good balance and reaction times, and he holds a 3-1 career advantage over Ura. Ura seems to be in one of his modes where he is not quite certain about his fight plan, and just dives low and throws some chaos out, hoping some of it will work.
Hiradoumi vs Takayasu – In spite of his first day loss, Takayasu is very much in the mix in the race for the cup. Just one win behind Midorifuji, he needs to stay strong and wait for the leader to take his first trip to the clay, which should happen before act 1 is complete. He’s fighting against 3-4 Hiradoumi, who won’t be able to out-muscle Takayasu, so if he wants to compete, it will need to be on speed and agility.
Ichiyamamoto vs Sadanoumi – It’s sad to report that both of these fine athletes are starting the day with dismal 1-6 scores. I don’t know what has sapped their sumo, but it’s certainly not in Osaka this March. Who is going to win this will come down to who gets to use their approach to sumo before their injured bodies stop them. Not a fun contest at all. They share a 2-1 career record.
Kotoshoho vs Hokutofuji – 3-4 Hokutofuji’s sumo somehow found its way back to his akeni, and he has been cuddling with it nightly now for the past 3 days. He should be able to dispatch 1-6 Kotoshoho without too much trouble, given how poorly the Sadogatake man has been fighting this month.
Aoiyama vs Midorifuji – Tournament leader Midorifuji takes on Big Dan for his kachi-koshi. Aoiyama (4-3) has only beaten Midorifuji once in three tries, with that win coming 2 years ago on day 4, winning by hatakikomi. I think a far more likely outcome is a glorious katasukashi that takes Midorifuji to 8-0.
Onosho vs Endo – Onosho (4-3) sometimes struggles with his balance, and given his losses on both prior days, he’s ripe for yet another slap down today. I am certain that 5-2 Endo will use every combo he can to put Onosho off balance, and pick up is 6th win. They share a 6-7 career record.
Meisei vs Ryuden – Ryuden, starting the day at 1-6, is another one of those rikishi who are having a terrible tournament. He may find himself punted a fair distance down the banzuke for May if this trend continues. He has 3-4 Meisei as an opponent today, and I would think that we will see Meisei pull even today at 4-4.
Daieisho vs Abi – Like Takayasu, Daieisho remains part of the elite group that have a fair shot at the cup next Sunday. His day 7 loss to Wakamotoharu aside, he’s in excellent form, and will be the favorite in any match he’s in for the next week. He has 5-2 Abi today, who has 7 of their 15 prior matches, so count on lots of oshi-zumo action here, and some big hits.
Tamawashi vs Kotonowaka – Kotonowaka (5-2) is one of the few rikishi in the named ranks who is actually on track for double digits right now. If he can manage 5 more wins over the next 8 days, it would mark his first time achieving a kahci-koshi that strong in the upper reaches of the top division. He faces 1-6 Kotonowaka, who seems to not have himself in condition this March to put up a strong fight against rikishi in the named ranks. Kotonowaka holds a 6-3 lead in their career record.
Wakamotoharu vs Shodai – Oddly enough, Shodai is also on course for a double digit finish to Haru. I am sure that he and Wakamotoharu will gladly go chest to chest from the tachiai today, and I am eager to see how a genki Shodai does in this situation. Wakamotoharu has won 2 of their 3 prior matches. Both start the day 5-2.
Wakatakakage vs Nishikigi – Wakatakakage has won the last 2 in a row, and it’s a bit too early to consider if he is going to turn his fortunes around and get to the safety of 8 wins this March. He’s got “arm breaker” Nishikigi today, who has injured opponent’s elbows on previous days with his kotenage. They both start the day at 2-5.
Kiribayama vs Tobizaru – A pair of 4-3 rikishi, who are comfortable in multiple styles of sumo. I expect this to be a high mobility match, with Tobizaru using rapid combos and Kiribayama using fewer, but stronger attacks. They share a 5-9 career record that favors Tobizaru almost 2 to 1.
Mitakeumi vs Hoshoryu – With no Ozeki left in the roster for Haru, the day will end with a Sekiwake fight. Mitakeumi (3-4) remains a mystery right now. Some days he can fight well enough to win. Other days he’s just a mess. Hoshoryu at 4-3 seems to be more or less on course of a kachi-koshi, but his sumo as been a bit ugly this March, and I would love to see him clean up his approach. They share a 3-3 record on the clay.