Haru Day 15 Preview

We have come to it, the final day of the Haru basho. It’s been a wild and crazy ride to this point, and there has been a lot of fantastic sumo to enjoy. My heart goes out to all the rikishi who suffered through injuries to keep fighting this March: Ryuden, Azumaryu, and Tamawashi. I suspect Bushozan and Ichiyamamoto too, with a dash of Meisei, and Mitakeumi. I don’t pretend to understand sumo culture, but I have to wonder about how the sport manages its talent.

We have an exciting end to this tournament, the last match on the last day will be the decider. Either Daieisho wins and takes home the cup, or Kiribayama wins, and forces a playoff. Given that Wakamotoharu lost his day 14 match, as did Midorifuji, there is no chance for a multi-way “brawl to end it all” that was a tantalizing hope 24 hours ago.

There is only a single Darwin match, which is kind of a let down, but hey, can’t have ice cream for supper every day, or you end up too much like Ichinojo. On to the bouts.

What We Are Watching Day 15

Kagayaki (5-9) vs Tsurugisho (7-7) – Tsurugisho needs to win to reach kachi-koshi. He will need to best already make-koshi Kagayaki, who holds a 4-2 career lead. There prior match was a year ago on Osaka day 6, and that went to Tsurugisho by yorikiri.

Kinbozan (10-4) vs Takanosho (8-6) – First time match between these two kachi-koshi rikishi. I am happy that Takanosho has his 8, but I would love to see him elevate his score. That’s going to be tough against Kinbozan, who could finish Haru with 11 wins.

Azumaryu (3-11) vs Daishoho (8-6) – I don’t see this one as a “donor” match at all. It’s just that Azumaryu has to fight someone, and Daishoho got the draw. He has a 7-4 career advantage, and he won their prior bout on day 7 of Nagoya 2022.

Kotoeko (8-6) vs Nishikifuji (9-5) – Nishikifuji suffered a mid-basho drought, where he went 1-5, before he resumed winning style, winning his last 3 in a row. He’s only fought Kotoeko once before, on day 1 of Aki 2022. He won by hatakikomi. Both are kachi-koshi.

Myogiryu (5-9) vs Bushozan (4-10) – Both are make-koshi in this first ever match between them. Both have deep make-koshi records, and I think Bushozan is likely to be on the Juryo barge tomorrow night.

Oho (7-7) vs Hiradoumi (6-8) – Well, well, well. Look who it is, our Oho the HoHo, dumpling supreme for March. He decides make-koshi or kachi-koshi with this final match against already make-koshi Hiradoumi. I imagine Hiradoumi may have some frustrations to work out, given he fought pretty well in Osaka, but still is going home with a losing record. He holds a 2-1 career lead over Oho.

Aoiyama (6-8) vs Mitoryu (7-7) – Repeating the pattern above, its Mitoryu with a make or break fight against already make-koshi Aoiyama. I think Aoiyama did pretty well given that his sumo has been hampered by what is probably an injury.

Chiyoshoma (9-5) vs Ura (8-6) – I am happy that both of these guys are kachi-koshi, and can just crank it up and brawl for their final match. Ura holds a 7-0 career record against Chiyoshoma, with a spread of oshidashi and yorikiri in the mix. But my eye catches on that tottari from November 2021.

Ichiyamamoto (4-10) vs Hokuseiho (8-6) – Last match for the Tokyo Skytree this March. He managed to get his kachi-koshi, but I think this was an eye opener for Hakuho’s giant prodigy. He can finish off with a fight against injured Ichyamamoto, and maybe end with 9 wins.

Hokutofuji (7-7) vs Takarafuji (7-7) – The only Darwin match on the final day, and it happens to fall on two well loved veterans of the dohyo. Hokutofuji dominates their career record at 9-4, and I can’t see him losing to an injured Takarafuji today. Frankly, I am amazed that Takarafuji was able to battle back to 7-7, given his condition. Winner gets a kachi-koshi.

Kotoshoho (6-8) vs Nishikigi (5-9) – Both are make-koshi, and this is really about who gets the bigger shove down the banzuke for May. Kotoshoho has a bit of an edge, with a 6-4 career record, but Nishikigi has won 2 of the last 3 matches.

Mitakeumi (4-10) vs Ryuden (1-13) – In the scratch and dent bin, it’s one last chance to see if Ryuden can finish with more than one win. Given that he suffers from chronic hip problems, and that seems to be bothering him now, I don’t thing chances are good for him today. He does have a 6-1 career record against Mitakeumi, including his most recent fight on day 11 of Hatsu which Ryuden won by oshidashi.

Abi (8-6) vs Endo (9-5) – Both are already kachi-koshi, and Endo for some reason struggles to shut down Abi-zumo and the double arm thrusting attack. Nearly everyone else on the top half of the banzuke solved this one in 2020 or before, but Endo still is trying to work it out. Endo did win against Abi on day 14 of Hatsu 2023.

Midorifuji (10-4) vs Shodai (9-5) – Hopefully Midorifuji will get a special prize, as he did quite well this basho, and for a time was leading the yusho race. He gets to fight Shodai, who managed to not only reach kachi-koshi, but may finish with double digits as well if he prevails.

Tamawashi (3-11) vs Meisei (4-10) – It’s painful to watch Tamawashi fight, I can’t imagine what it is like for him. But he’s just got to endure one more – against Meisei. Meisei is likely in bad condition as well, so maybe these two can go have a nice drink and try to relieve their pain once this match is over. Both are make-koshi.

Sadanoumi (6-8) vs Tobizaru (5-9) – Another make-koshi pair, they both suffered with being just shy of potent enough to win a handful of their matches, and that left them with losing records. I think we will see them regroup, and hopefully recover for May.

Wakamotoharu (10-4) vs Kotonowaka (9-5) – This is Wakamotoharu’s third double digit winning tournament in the last year. I find his sumo more consistent than his injured brothers, and he might in fact end up being the first of the two to become Ozeki. An 11th win today might help make that case too. I am sure Kotonowaka has something to say about that, wanting to hit 10 himself. Kotonowaka also has a 6-1 career advantage, winning every match since 2020.

Takayasu (9-5) vs Hoshoryu (10-4) – A chance for Takayasu to finish with double digits too, if he can take a final white star from Hoshoryu. He has a 5-1 record against the Sekiwake on the clay, so it’s possible.

Kiribayama (11-3) vs Daieisho (12-2) – The final match of the day, the final match of the tournament. It may decide the yusho, if Daieisho can get his mega-thrust sumo on target and full power before Kiribayama can grab a piece of him and toss him about. Both have performed exceptionally well this March, and either would be a fine champion.

13 thoughts on “Haru Day 15 Preview

  1. “Endo for some reason struggles to shut down Abi-zumo and the double arm thrusting attack. Nearly everyone else on the top half of the banzuke solved this one in 2020 or before…”

    OK, I am a totally biased fan, but… Since 2021, Abi has had two top division jun-yushos and a yusho, 3 special prizes and a kinboshi. He’s had two kachi-koshis ranked at sanyaku (Sekiwake and Komusubi) and now in the most recent two bashos he will have two more KKs ranked in the joi (M3 and M2), so facing everyone at the top of the banzuke.
    I would not describe that as: Abi-zumo has been ‘solved’ by everyone apart from Endo.

    • The difference between knowing what to do, and being able to do it is large. Endo still seems to be working on what to do.

      • Watching their last fight, it looked like Endo came upon a plan he could make work. It’s not always that easy to do what you need to do against those long-ass arms, but Endo at minimum has better odds here than a 3-11 head-to-head record would suggest.

      • There’s a term from boxing- “carrying his opponent fast.” Endo is kind of naturally indolent out there, like an enormous cat, and it seems like Abi’s sheer physical aggression bothers him and throws him off of his game by taking away the time he likes to set up his stuff.

      • Or, to paraphrase Mike Tyson, “everyone has a plan till they get a two-handed thrust to the neck…”

  2. I know that a double henka from Chiyoshoma and Ura is unlikely…but I can hope, can’t I?

    Wow, if we need evidence that Tokoshoryu’s Cup win affected how the committee schedules a lower ranked rikishi on a Cup run, we can look at the way they handled Midorifuji in this basho. No “gimmie” matches at all and straight into the grinder. Ooof. I do think Midorifuji will have another chance at a Cup in the future and I look forward to watching him attack his goal with more experience.

    I’m wondering how much Wakatakage’s bad knee affected his sumo. If he was healthy, I suspect he’d be more consistent a la Wakamotoharu. I hope he takes as much time as he needs (kneeds?) like Ura did to recover fully from his incoming surgery.

    It still boggles my mind that we can have two promotions from Juryo or up to five depending on what happens on the last day of this basho and how much the committee wants to shake things up. Goodness!

    • They sure handled Midorifuji different than Kotoshoho last time and especially Abi when he won the cup without fighting Kiribayama and Takakeisho (before the playoff).

      • Kotoshoho was M13 and Abi was M9. Midorifuji is M5 which can be considered the joi (given that Yokozuna and Ozeki are both out). So it is no surprise that he faced stiffer competition. Also, if I recall correctly, neither Abi nor Kotoshoho were ever sole leaders in the 2nd week, whereas Midorifuji was 2 wins clear at one point.

  3. It feels like we are entering an exciting time for sumo having perhaps endured a deflated top division as of late. But the further along i get in my fandom the more excited i get about all the amazing prospects that are coming up, some rather quickly. ( Although I hope Miyagino slaps Kawazoe a few times so he show his knees more respect.) Your comment on sumo culture and injuries is a very pertinent one. Do you think they will ever change the rules for injury kyujo and demotions? Seems like “if you can’t handle it you don’t deserve/want it enough” vs stop making your most valuable asset choose between their health and their wallets. Keeping them fighting makes the jsa more money i suspect, so the “sumo culture” is likely more about economics. Egad. cheers!

    • I guess the JSA would have made much more money if Terunofuji had fought against Hakuho instead of in Jonidan… me thinks it should be their health AND their wallets (as it was with covid-related kudos).

  4. Calling someone who has stayed seven tournaments at Sekiwake, including one yusho, as not as consistent is the kind of thing that makes me not want to read these overviews anymore. Just say you like Wakamotoharu better than Wakatakakage. No need to shade him.


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