Day 12 dawns with a bit of a theme. I would call it “make-koshi day”. Many of the rikishi who start today at 4-7 are paired up in matches where they are statistically likely to struggle. Maybe it is time to sort the lot of them into the demotion category. Everyone is waiting to see if Wakatakakage can rescue is Sekiwake rank by putting Midorifuji on the clay. Signs point to “maybe”, but I am going to watch with great interest anyhow. There are also a pair of mini-Darwins where a possible outcome is the loser is make-koshi and the winner is kachi-koshi.
I also note with great enthusiasm that the schedulers, in their infinite wisdom, paired Asanoyama against that dumpling Oho in the opener. Maybe Oho will find a sudden burst of genki energy, but I tend to think maybe this won’t be possible for whatever reason Oho is performing poorly this March.
One man in the lead, one a loss behind him, and six 2 losses back. I note that Midorifuji and Daieisho have still not matched. Don’t be surprised if they hold the torikumi until after Midorifuji’s match against Wakatakakage to allow that head to head to happen on day 13’s schedule.
Hunt Group: Hoshoryu, Kiribayama ,Wakamotoharu, Kotonowaka, Endo, Chiyoshoma
4 Matches Remain
What We Are Watching Day 12
Asanoyama (10-1) vs Oho (5-6) – Oh Goodie, we get Asanoyama back to see if maybe he can give Oho an atomic wedgie. Asanoyama has been fighting like a monster in Juryo, and shows up today 10-1 with a stamped, first class ticket back to the top division. He has a never fought Oho before, but I think Oho might be in for a bit of a ride.
Kinbozan (7-4) vs Mitoryu (6-5) – Kinbozan is looking for win #8 today against Mitoryu, who has won their only prior match; day 12 of Kyushu 2022. I think Kinbozan is going to have his hands full today, as Mitoryu is on a 3 match win streak, and looks to be finishing strong.
Hokuseiho (7-4) vs Takarafuji (4-7) – I have said it before, and here it is again. There are some sick folks in the scheduling committee. We have a mini-darwin match right here, and the set up is pretty clear. Try to arrange Hokuseiho’s kachi-koshi while delivering Takarafuji a make-koshi at the same time. This is their first ever match, so lord knows what’s going to happen. Hmm, advice to Hokuseiho – attack Takarafuji’s neck, that ought to work.
Azumaryu (1-10) vs Tsurugisho (6-5) – I wonder just how many losses Azumaryu would need to be assigned to the Juryo barge and sent packing from the top division. Knowing how long he has tried to get up there, and win 8 and stay, it’s kind of a tough moment to see him start day 12 with a 1-10 record. For today, we can also cite that Tsurugisho has a 16-8 career record against Azumaryu.
Chiyoshoma (8-3) vs Takanosho (6-5) – Chiyoshoma has his 8 wins, and I think this is a test for Takanosho to see if he can power through a fairly genki opponent. Takanosho needs to win 2 out of the last 4 to get to eight wins, and I am still hoping he can put that together.
Myogiryu (4-7) vs Kotoeko (7-4) – Another mini-Darwin match, this time it’s Kotoeko set for kachi-koshi and Myogiryu for make-koshi. Myogiryu has a 9-3 career lead, but has lost 4 of the last 5, and I expect him to struggle today.
Aoiyama (4-7) vs Kagayaki (5-6) – Another rikishi primed for make-koshi is Big Dan Aoiyama. He looks hurt to me, and he seems to go soft once he gets a lot of pressure from his opponent. I expect Kagayaki to fight for inside hand placement, and then push for all he can to take advantage of Aoiyama’s current condition.
Daishoho (7-4) vs Hiradoumi (6-5) – A win today for Daishoho will be his 8th, and kachi-koshi. He has a 3-0 career lead over Hiradoumi, who has won three of his last 4. This has the makings of a good fight.
Ichiyamamoto (3-8) vs Bushozan (4-7) – Ichiyamamoto is already make-koshi with 8 losses, and he has a chance to share that fate with Bushozan today with a win. Ichiyamamoto’s sumo has been all over the map this March, lacking power, poise, balance and coordination. I hope he can get matters back into good condition prior to the Natsu basho in May.
Nishikifuji (6-5) vs Takayasu (7-4) – Something happened to Nishikifuji on or around his day 6 match against Aoiyama. Since then he has lost 5 matches out of 6, and I would expect he is going to lose this match as well. Takayasu won their only prior fight, on day 11 of Kyushu 2022. A Takayasu win today would be kachi-koshi for him.
Kotoshoho (3-8) vs Ura (6-5) – It makes me sad that Kotoshoho underperformed this tournament. I maintain hopes that he will take the next step with his sumo and become a big deal. But before any of that might happen, he has to get his body healthy and moving well. He has a 1-3 career deficit against Ura, who I think will pick up his 7th win today.
Abi (6-5) vs Mitakeumi (4-7) – Normally this match would be easy to handicap. Mitakeumi has a repeatable recipe for shutting down Abi-zumo and sending him packing into the front row in a heap. But Mitakeumi has not been fighting well for months, and it looks like he struggles just to mount the dohyo and perform shiko. Mitakeumi leads the series 8-4, but a loss today would me make-koshi for him.
Sadanoumi (3-8) vs Ryuden (1-10) – A traditional battle of the make-koshi, this is where two rikishi with losing records battle each other in an attempt to give one of them a win more to cushion the fall down the banzuke. I am not sure how dire it will be for either of them, as they are high enough up they should be safe from any demotion risk. They share a 6-6 career record.
Tamawashi (3-8) vs Nishikigi (2-9) – Another battle of the make-koshi, we will see this during the remainder of the basho, I would think. The interesting aspect to me is that Tamawashi has started looking genki again suddenly, having won the past two days. Care to make it three sir? He holds a 7-1 career advantage over Nishikigi.
Daieisho (9-2) vs Hokutofuji (7-4) – Daieisho needs to keep winning if he wants to maintain any hope of catching Midorifuji. He has a nearly even (9-7) record against a resurgent Hokutofuji, who has 7 consecutive white stars on the board following a 0-4 start. A win today for Hokutofuji would be kachi-koshi.
Meisei (4-7) vs Kotonowaka (8-3) – Not quite a mini-Darwin, but a loss by Meisei will be make-koshi. He’s facing already kachi-koshi Kotonowaka, who is two wins behind Midorifuji. That’s too far to be likely to contest for the cup, but he may as well keep the pressure up to win just in case everyone has a wipe out on day 13 or 14. Meisei has a 4-2 career advantage.
Wakamotoharu (8-3) vs Endo (8-3) – Both are kachi-koshi, both are fighting very well, both have exceeded expectations for this basho in my book. I think they are both also curious about the potential for some kind of jumble in the yusho race in the next two days, and want to stay on pace with Midorifuji. So look for sparks here. Wakamotoharu has won 3 of their 4 career matches.
Shodai (6-5) vs Tobizaru (4-7) – So much for the hope that Shodai might contest for the cup. For whatever reason he just can’t execute his “good” sumo at the intensity needed right now to carry that forward into the second week. He has a chance to kick Tobizaru out of the named ranks with a win here today, handing sumo’s flying monkey his 8th loss and kachi-koshi. Shodai holds a 5-2 career advantage.
Wakatakakage (5-6) vs Midorifuji (10-1) – Wakatakakage has a chance to play spoiler and draw himself even at 6-6. He needs to be worried about his rank, as he needs to win 3 out of the last 4 to make it to the safety of 8, or he will lose Sekiwake for May. Midorifuji took his first loss on day 11, and maybe his confidence took a hit as well. This should be a very good match.
Kiribayama (8-3) vs Hoshoryu (8-3) – I love this match, as it’s two high skill, fairly healthy rikishi fighting it out to see which one gets a chance to wait with the rest of the crowd for some kind of yusho race jumble in the next couple of days. Only one will make it! Hoshoryu holds a slight 6-4 edge in matches fought.