Welcome to the final weekend! This is where we finish sorting everyone into make-koshi and kachi-koshi, and crown the yusho winner who gets to take home the Emperor’s cup. The schedulers have not pushed to get a big crowd of rikishi into a 7-7 record this basho, so there was never really a funnel to drive a group into Darwin matches. But if everything turns out correctly, we could have a few for day 15. Right now there are 10 rikishi with 6-7 or 7-6 scores. Including some famous names.
With Daieisho in the lead, he controls the outcome right now. Chances are pretty good it will be him who lifts the big red fish on Sunday. He is the only one of the group who has prior yusho experience, and so I think that gives him a bit of an edge. He also seems to be healthy, and his sumo is working quite well at the moment.
Daieisho faces Midorifuji today, and a Midorifuji win would blow the race wide open. I am not sure what his chances are, but that would be quite the exciting turn of events.
Chasers: Kiribayama, Wakamotoharu, Midorifuji
Hunt Group: Hoshoryu, Kotonowaka, Kinbozan
2 Matches Remain
What We Are Watching Day 14
Mitoryu (7-6) vs Shonannoumi (7-6) – Shonannoumi visits from Juryo for his first ever match against Mitoryu. The winner gets kachi-koshi and the loser is qualified for a Darwin match.
Myogiryu (5-8) vs Oho (6-7) – Myogiryu is already make-koshi, but if he can manage a win on day 14, he can send to make-koshi. Of course if Oho wins, it’s a Darwin match for him. If sumo had a “most likely to be mistaken for a shrubbery”, my vote would be for Oho right now. Get your sumo together sir!
Tsurugisho (7-6) vs Nishikifuji (8-5) – Tsurugisho is fighting for kachi-koshi today against Nishikifuji. If he loses, yes – Darwin! Tsurugisho has a nearly even career record against the Isegahama man, so it could be a big fight. Will we see another Tsurugisho henka today?
Aoiyama (5-8) vs Bushozan (4-9) – Both of them are already make-koshi, so this is probably to see if Aoiyama can bludgeon out another win, and maybe nominate Bushozan for a Juryo return trip. Someone’s got to take a hike if we are going to get Ichinojo and Asanoyama to the top division in May.
Hokuseiho (7-6) vs Hiradoumi (6-7) – Call this a mini-Darwin, if Hiradoumi loses he is make-koshi, and Hokuseiho kachi-koshi. If he is able to topple the Tokyo Skytree, it’s Darwin time for both of them.
Ichiyamamoto (4-9) vs Takarafuji (6-7) – The good news – I am pretty sure Takarafuji saved himself from making a trip to Juryo, so everything past that is an upgrade. He can still actually finish with a kachi-koshi, but the only way to do it is for him to have a 7-7 score at the end of today, and survive a possible Darwin match tomorrow. He has a 4-1 career record against already make-koshi Ichiyamamoto.
Azumaryu (3-10) vs Ura (7-6) – Lets be clear, this is another “donor” match. Azumaryu will give up a white star to Ura to secure his kachi-koshi in all likelihood. Should Ura lose through some bizarre twist of events, it’s Darwin time for him as well.
Hokutofuji (7-6) vs Chiyoshoma (8-5) – Hokutofuji holds a 7-1 career record against Chiyoshoma, so chances are good he will pick up his 8th win and be kachi-koshi. If not… Darwin!
Kotoeko (8-5) vs Takayasu (8-5) – No Darwin match for either of these guys, they are both already kachi-koshi. But one of them will get a chance to try for double digits. Kotoeko won their only prior match, and may be able to surprise Takayasu today.
Kotoshoho (5-8) vs Kagayaki (5-8) – Both are already make-koshi, so this is all about who gets what rank. Kotoshoho seems to have recovered some of his fighting form in the last few days, he has won the last 4 in a row.
Mitakeumi (4-9) vs Takanosho (7-6) – A decider for Takanosho, he either can best Mitakeumi today or he faces a Darwin match tomorrow. Personally, I think that Mitakeumi is going to put him on the clay today.
Abi (8-5) vs Kinbozan (9-4) – Both are already kachi-koshi in this first ever match up, it’s all about deciding rank for the May banzuke. I would love to see Kinbozan surprise Abi today with a rapid grab-and-chuck of his lanky hide out of the ring, just to keep matters interesting, and have Kinbozan finish his maiden basho with double digit wins.
Nishikigi (4-9) vs Ryuden (1-12) – Wow, these two are in dire need of rework. I am going to guess Ryuden is injured and he won’t be his normal level of fierce until he can get his lower back and hips in better condition. In the mean time, I am going to hope that Nishikigi does not attempt a kotenage today and add an elbow injury to Ryuden’s list of problems.
Tamawashi (3-10) vs Sadanoumi (5-8) – This pair is also make-koshi, but it would be good to see Tamawashi do no worse than 5-10 this March. Given how he is struggling day to day, he may be an easy mark for Sadanoumi’s high speed sumo.
Daishoho (8-5) vs Shodai (8-5) – Both start the day with 8-5 records, and Shodai won their only prior match, on day 9 of Kyushu 2019. It almost seems like a different world. Shodai was a Maegashira 10 headed for Ozeki, and there was no such things as COVID-19 causing problems around the world.
Meisei (4-9) vs Tobizaru (4-9) – Both have matching 4-9 records, and I wonder why Tobizaru has done so poorly this basho. He won opening day against Takakeisho, and then has been mostly down hill since then. He will be exiting the san’yaku with the May banzuke, but I am certain he will return.
Daieisho (11-2) vs Midorifuji (10-3) – With the preliminaries out of the way, it’s time for the main event. A Daieisho win will eliminate Midorifuji from the yusho race, a Midorifuji will will open up a tie to start the final day, possibly with multiple rikishi in the lead depending on how the matches that follow turn out. They have fought twice before, and both have won one. The first, day 11 Aki 2022, went o Midorifuji by hikiotoshi. Daieisho evened the score on Kyushu day 12 with a yorikiri win. We all know what must happen here. A glorious, lead busting katasukashi. Midorifuji, please make it so.
Endo (8-5) vs Kotonowaka (9-4) – Both of them have kachi-koshi, but I am certain that Kotonowaka wants to run up the score to double digits if at all possible. He is not quite to the point where he is ready to try for Ozeki the first time, but I think its going to happen this year. Endo loves to play spoiler, but his day 13 sumo was disorganized and sloppy, and he has lost thee in a row. Maybe he can bounce back.
Wakatakakage (7-6) vs Kiribayama (10-3) – Wakatakakage either overcomes a 5-8 career deficit, or it’s time for him to get a well deserved day 15 Darwin match. Frankly, Kiribayama’s sumo has been better over the last 14 days, and I hope he take the win today.
Wakamotoharu (10-3) vs Hoshoryu (9-4) – I guess the question is – can Wakamotoharu force himself into a Sekiwake slot by winning 11 or 12? I would love to see him make the case. He has only won twice in 7 fights against Hoshoryu, who has a strong chance to finish with double digits himself.