As we start week 2, it’s time to focus on the yusho race. Without further ado, here is the Haru leaderboard
It’s all Midorifuji for now, until someone can put him on the clay. That chore falls to Ura for day 9, but I have my doubts he can do it. I note with interest that Midorifuji and Daieisho have not yet fought, so we have that to look forward this week. Keep your eye on Shodai, as I think he’s going to be in the mix in the final 5 days. He’s back into a “good” mode after a six month string of make-koshi tournaments that cost him his Ozeki rank.
Hunt Group: Kotonowaka, Shodai, Endo, Takayasu, Kinbozan
7 Matches Remain
What We Are Watching Day 9
Hokuseiho (5-3) vs Chiyoshoma (5-3) – This ought to be good, we have a first ever match between the enormous Hokuseiho and the human henka dispenser Chiyoshoma, both at 5-3. I am not saying that its certain that Chiyoshoma is going to use a henka today, but you can bet it’s going to be an audible for him at the shikiri-sen.
Tsurugisho (5-3) vs Bushozan (3-5) – Tsurugisho with a 5-3 winning record is a good thing right about now. He is only Maegashira 16w this basho, and he would be well served by a kachi-koshi this time out. No such hopes for Maegashira 14 Bushozan, who I think is probably going to be on the bubble late in the week. Tsurugisho holds a 4-1 career lead in this match up.
Oho (4-4) vs Kotoeko (5-3) – I find it odd that Oho has a 3-1 career record over Kotoeko, but maybe its down to bulk. Numbers are wonderful, but this March, Oho seems to have left his sumo back in Tokyo, and I think Kotoeko has advantage here today, but he will need to be on his guard against Oho’s tsukiotoshi.
Mitoryu (3-5) vs Takarafuji (2-6) – One great thing about the second week, we tend to see lksumo’s wonderful posts on who is at risk for demotion in the top divisions. I would guess that Takarafuji is not going to be on the bubble this time, but I worry that unless he can get his body back to fighting form, he will exit the top division this year. Mitoryu won their only prior match, which was day 4 of Hatsu.
Kagayaki (3-5) vs Takanosho (5-3) – Their scores are mirror images of each other, but I would say that for this day in March, this is an even fight. Their career record is 5-5, and I think Kagayaki is finally dialed into his sumo, after three straight losses to start the basho. Kagayaki has won each of the last three matches.
Kinbozan (6-2) vs Nishikifuji (5-3) – I am quite excited for this match, as we have a first ever meet up between two rikishi who are fighting well, and have a large amount of room to move up the banzuke for May. I would give a slight edge to Kinbozan for the first 10 seconds of the match, but the longer it goes the more likely it will be that Nishikifuji can make something happen. I do note with concern that Nishikifuji has lost 3 in a row now. Injury?
Myogiryu (3-5) vs Daishoho (5-3) – Another match with mirror scores, with only one prior between them.. in 2019? Yes, day 8 of Nagyoa in 2019, and it went to Myogiryu. Myogiryu has lost 3 of the last 4, so I would guess it’s advantage Daishoho today.
Aoiyama (4-4) vs Takayasu (6-2) – These two share an evenly split 24 match history, and they tend to bash the stuffing out of each other when they fight. Four of the last five matches have gone to Takayasu, wth the most recent one being a year ago on day 9 of Haru. Takayasu has lost both of the last two matches, and I wonder if he’s just run out of sumo. Hopefully not.
Azumaryu (0-8) vs Sadanoumi (1-7) – A battle of two men with terrible tournaments. Azumaryu is already make-koshi, but if he picks up his first win it will be make-koshi for Sadanoumi as well. Sadanoumi has the edge in their 6-3 career record, but let’s face it. With scores this bad, it’s going to be whomever is less banged up who takes the win today.
Endo (6-2) vs Hiradoumi (4-4) – Hiradoumi surprised me on day 8, with a solid win against Takayasu. I know Takayasu can get out of his safety envelope and suddenly become easy to beat, but Hiradoumi showed solid technique in that win. He will have a different opponent today in Endo, who is now back in his focused and dangerous mode. They share a 1-1 career record.
Ura (5-3) vs Midorifuji (8-0) – Well, someone had to take on sole yusho race leader Midorifuji today. Why not Ura? They only met once before on day 12 of Aki 2022, and Ura won. Can he do it again today? I have doubts here, in spite of being a fan of Ura’s crazy sumo. Ura has won both of his last 2 matches, so maybe he’s got enough dark matter left to open a rift in spacetime and leave Midorifuji baffled.
Kotoshoho (1-7) vs Ichiyamamoto (2-6) – Day 8 was the first time this basho that I saw Ichiyamamoto fight in his normal style, and it netted him a win. He’s got an injured and suffering Kotoshoho today, who is looking terrible right now, having only a single win he picked up on day 7 against aptly named (for March anyhow) Sadanoumi.
Onosho (4-4) vs Hokutofuji (4-4) – Week two is great because you get these kind of matches. Both are either hot or cold, and right now Hokutofuji is ascendant and Onosho is hitting the skids, having lost three in a row now. Both are 4-4, and share an 8-8 career record.
Mitakeumi (3-5) vs Nishikigi (2-6) – I would hope that Mitakeumi is able to take care of arm-twister Nishikigi without losing an elbow. He has a 5-1 career lead, but the last time they fought was day 12 Aki 2022, and much has changed since then.
Daieisho (7-1) vs Tamawashi (1-7) – Daieisho needs to rack up the wins to keep in the chase against Midorifuji, and I like his chances here against a flagging Tamawashi. Tamawashi has a 14-9 career advantage, but he’s probably hurt, fighting poorly, and just not up to competing as the top rank and file man in sumo.
Shodai (6-2) vs Kotonowaka (6-2) – I love this match, as they are both 6-2, and its going to be an elimination from the hunt group for one of them. I have no clue what caused Shodai to revert to his “good” form, but I am happy to see him fighting well. Kotonowaka has a 5-2 career advantage against Shodai, with their last two matches going to Shodai, the most recent on day 3 of Hatsu.
Wakamotoharu (5-3) vs Abi (5-3) – Matching scores again, and a lopsided 4-0 career advantage for Abi in their career match ups. Abi has lost the last 2 matches, after a 5 win streak prior to his day 7 loss to Shodai, who handed Wakamotoharu one of his losses yesterday.
Tobizaru (4-4) vs Hoshoryu (5-3) – I don’t think we are ever going to see Ozeki Tobizaru, but he’s fantastic where he has been for much of the last year, providing high energy sumo to test the top men in the sport. I have no idea where he gets the energy and drive, but it’s a wonder to watch at times. He has a 6-8 record against Hoshoryu, who is on a solid path to a kachi-koshi by next Sunday.
Wakatakakage (3-5) vs Meisei (4-4) – It’s amazing to me that Wakatakakage tends to start many of his basho with a solid losing streak. That ended day 6, and how he has three wins in a row. I would be thrilled if he can fight his way back to kachi-koshi after that old start, and maybe bring his Ozeki hopes back into focus with a new run starting in May. He holds a 7-3 career lead in the series against Meisei.
Kiribayama (5-3) vs Ryuden (1-7) – May not be much of a fight, as Ryuden can’t find his sumo right now, and is nothing close to his normal fighting form. I expect a quick Kiribayama win.
9 thoughts on “Haru Day 9 Preview”
Ozeki Run Golden Numbers:
Daiesho – 3 wins for 20 if M1 counts, anything above that is a bonus and he’s at minimum starting a run this basho (10-5 at M1 in January)
Kiribayama – 6 wins to get to 30 which is the bare minimum (8-7 in November, 11-4 in January)
Hoshoryu – 6 wins to get to 30 which is the bare minimum (11-4 in November, 8-7 in January)
Wakamotoharu – 5 wins to get to 19 in 2 basho (10-5 at M4 in November so probably won’t count, 9-6 in January)
Tobizaru – 6 wins to start a run (10-5 at M1 in November, 8-7 in January)
Wakatakakage – 7 wins won’t be enough because of inconsistency unless the NSK is desperate and that number of wins feels like a pipe dream anyway (11-4 in November, 9-6 in January)
Good grief, what a clunky bunch of candidates for Ozeki runs. Hoshoryu pulled a henka and has been inconsistent, so even if he wins out I don’t think he’ll be considered and be told “We’ll see in May”. Kiribayama is the best candidate, but he’ll also have to win out to be considered if I’m honest. Wakamotoharu will have to get 11 wins to reach 30 in May, which feels like a minimum requirement for consideration, and that’s only if he gets 5+ wins this week. Everyone else is either not doing well or their numbers might not count. Ay carumba!
Shodai is at M1, but he needs 2 wins to get back into the top ranks and have the opportunity to start to earn back his Ozeki rank in May. That seems highly possible and he might crack 10 wins this week. I’m not sure his M1 wins will “officially” count for a run, though. Ditto for Tobizaru’s numbers from November and Daiesho’s numbers from January. But, with our current Yokozuna/Ozeki situation, who knows?
Daiesho is obviously the most likely. Unless Kiribayama or Hoshoryu run the table and maybe win it, I doubt they’ll get promoted even with 30. Considering they didn’t even have a meeting on Takakeisho going to yokozuna, they’re not as desperate as we think they are (or even should be).
Also, I think M wins count (especially higher ranks), as Tochinoshin had them for his run (though he had 37 wins). The rules just seem to be sekiwake for the last tournament, though in practice it rarely happens that someone dominates in their first basho as sekiwake.
The rules seem to be:
– at least joi in first basho
– san’yaku in second basho
– sekiwake in third basho
There are successful runs M-K-S-O, M-S-S-O, K-K-S-O, K-S-S-O and S-S-S-O.
Of course, as the “rules” always have been flexible, there are a few M-M-S-O runs as well as a few direct K-O promotions, and even two M-O, but they all happened very long ago.
As a follow-up comment, I think it’s highly possible we’re going to have more promotable candidates from Juryo than rikishi falling from the top division based on current results. It’s really going to come down to how many Makuuchi rikishi can’t find wins this week. Tsurugisho and Kinbozan most likely won’t have to worry as they only need 2 wins each. Kudos to them for their efforts!
Will Takarafuji drop if he posts a 2-13 record from M12? I’m assuming he’ll probably end up in M16 or 17 depending on what happens to Mitoryu, Azumaryu (M11, but might go 0-15), and Bushozan. Does that sound right?
At 2-13, Takarafuji would go down without a doubt. I think realistically he needs 5 wins to stay (i.e., 3 more). Bushozan and Oho also need 3 more apiece. Mitoryu and Azumaryu need 5 more, while several others need 1 or 2. It’ll start to get clearer in a few more days.
I think it’s a coin flip from here if Takarafuji goes down after this tournament
As lksumo points out he probably needs to go 3-3 and I don’t know if I’d bet on that, especially combined with a Juryo this time that has a number of folks making strong cases (which hasn’t always been the case)
I would posit the beloved Asahisho (with a loaned kabu that’s widely tipped for Takarafuji) is on a very hot seat right now unless he can find another myoseki and fast.
I enjoyed your description of Ura’s fighting style vs Takanosho. He has a Zoidberg-esque technique for sure. I want Midorifuji to keep his lead, but still rooting for Ura the crab man!
Given that Hokuseiho’s tachiai consists of basically just standing up, I would guess that he is not gonna be too vulnerable to a henka. Chiyoshoma should keep his henka-powder dry and save it for someone like Onosho who really commits to the forward charge.