Welcome sumo fans to the opening day of act 3 of the 2023 Natsu basho. We enter the final five days of the tournament, where we sort everyone into kachi-koshi and make-koshi, and someone takes hope the Emperor’s Cup. Along the way there will plenty of twists and turns, and we will get to see much larger rank differences between competitors in head to head match ups. I am going to assume that the opening salvo in this barrage of awesome match ups is today’s Hokuseiho vs Wakamotoharu. Were I blessed to be in the Kokugikan for day 11, it would merit it’s own can of beer for this match alone.
Asanoyama continues to have the easier route to the yusho, but I expect that to change soon as well. He is more than up to the challenge of facing any of the san’yaku, though it is a bit unorthodox to put a M14 up against the named ranks. We all know its high time it happened. But to be fair, for every win he gets against these guys, it should juice his boost for Nagoya.
With Meisei out of the leaders group, he’s going to hope that someone puts dirt on both Asanoyama and Terunofuji. He gets a big say in that today as he faces Asanoyama head to head in the middle of today’s fight card. Terunofuji starts his tour of the named ranks, and we get to see just how much his body can take for the final 5 days. I must compliment him on getting to 9-1 at the start of act 3, he’s one tough competitor. But can he brute his way through the pain for 5 more days?
Leaders: Terunofuji, Asanoyama
Chasers: Kiribayama, Meisei, Hokuseiho
Hunt Group: Hoshoryu, Daieisho, Wakamotoharu, Hiradoumi, Tsurugisho
5 Matches Remain
What We Are Watching Day 11
Mitoryu (4-6) vs Daishoho (4-6) – Daishoho has won 3 of their last 4 matches, including the one match earlier this year. Given that they have matching 4-6 records, the bias will be toward Daishoho winning again.
Kagayaki (4-6) vs Takarafuji (3-7) – Takarafuji will try to stave off make-koshi against the hapless Kagayaki. I am not sure where Kagayaki’s sumo has gone, but he’s been pretty miserable for a while now. Takarafuji is currently no better, but does bring a 13-6 career advantage into today’s match.
Ryuden (3-7) vs Aoiyama (4-6) – Ryuden likewise working to hold of on his 8th loss, against Big Dan Aoiyama today. Aoiyama has a 7-5 career advantage, and I think Ryuden has re-injured himself. Since day 6 he has lost 5 in a row, and cannot seem to handle movement well. He suffers from a chronic hip injury.
Onosho (5-5) vs Myogiryu (6-4) – The last two days have seen Onosho launch into chest to chest grappling contests within the first two steps, and each time it turns out poorly for him. Perhaps today we will see him return to his oshi-zumo form that tends to win matches for him. Or it could be the case that he has some injury or limitation that is causing him to not use “his brand of sumo” right now. He has a 13-3 career record against Myogiryu.
Chiyoshoma (6-4) vs Takanosho (3-7) – I expect Takanosho to lose this match today, and that will be make-koshi for him. He has lost 3 of the last 4, and both moving poorly, and not able to hold ground. By contrast Chiyoshoma is showing us some of the best sumo from him in the past year.
Sadanoumi (5-5) vs Oho (6-4) – I like this contest, as it puts to the test not just an 8 rank banzuke grip, but the question about wether Oho has actually gotten is sumo in line. I do hope we don’t see Sadanoumi sling himself at breakneck speed directly into Oho’s broad, pasty body. With any luck he will stay mobile and give Oho a lot of complexity to work through today.
Ichiyamamoto (3-7) vs Tamawashi (4-6) – Tamawashi has not lost to Ichiyamamoto in 2 prior attempts. But Tamawashi is a pale shade of his normal combative self, and I don’t know if he will be able to win this one today. Ichiyamamoto has lost five of the last six matches, and a loss today would be make-koshi for him.
Tsurugisho (7-3) vs Mitakeumi (6-4) – What would a day of sumo be without a battle of the mega-fauna? Mitakeumi is not nearly as bulbous as he was only recently, and it does seem to have improved his sumo somewhat. Is it enough to let him handle a nearly 200kg rampaging Tsurugisho? They have one prior match, during Natsu of 2015 when both were in Makushita. Wow!
Meisei (8-2) vs Asanoyama (9-1) – A big match that many of us are looking forward to. We get to see if Meisei can take the stuffing out of former Ozeki and yusho hopeful Asanoyama. Meisei lost his share of the lead when Hakuho’s giant, Hokuseiho, upended Meisei on day 10. He can do his part to claw his way back in the lead by putting Asanoyama on the deck. He will have his hands full, as Asanoyama has won 5 of their 7 prior matches, and continues to fight quite well.
Kinbozan (4-6) vs Kotoeko (5-5) – Fresh from dropping injured Ozeki Takakeisho, Kinbozan comes back down the ranks to tangle with Kotoeko. Both are near the make-koshi/kachi-koshi center line, and may be steering toward day 15 7-7 records. I agree, it’s time to start grooming the Darwin candidates.
Hokutofuji (4-6) vs Nishikigi (4-6) – Another Darwin grooming match, with both rikishi coming in at 4-6. They have 9 prior matches, and are just about evenly split. Nishikigi is on a bit of a tear as of late, having won 3 in a row including against Takakeisho and Wakamotoharu.
Ura (4-6) vs Nishikifuji (2-8) – Nishikifuji is already make-koshi, so perhaps this is him donating a win to keep Ura afloat. I think Ura is a good candidate for yet another Darwin match, which seem to be a recurring theme for him. He has won all 3 of their prior matches, including two prior this year.
Abi (5-5) vs Takayasu (0-1-9) – Look who is back! By back, I mean a broad, rather hairy back indeed. It’s Takayasu rejoining the competition for reasons nobody can explain. Maybe he wants a win or two to cushion his fall down the banzuke. Fair enough. Here, enjoy a fight with Abi.
Shodai (4-6) vs Tobizaru (5-5) – I think this is another Darwin grooming match. Tobizaru has also made it a habit as of late to end day 14 at 7-7, so he is a likely candidate given his score to start act 3. I don’t think they can nursemaid Shodai up to 7-7 except by using a stand in. His sumo the past few days has been pretty sour. He does hold a 6-2 career advantage against Tobizaru. Maybe he can rally today.
Kotonowaka (4-6) vs Midorifuji (3-7) – The expectation here seems to be that Kotonowaka will pick up his 5th win to keep him in the Darwin group, while rendering Midorifuji make-koshi with his 8th loss. All signs point to this as the most likely outcome, given that Kotonowaka holds a 5-1 career advantage.
Kiribayama (8-2) vs Hiradoumi (7-3) – Time for a bit of fun. Nagasaki upstart Hiradoumi can earn his kachi-koshi today by beating Ozeki hopeful Kiribayama. Not too tough a day on the job, right? They have ever fought before, and there is about a 10 rank banzuke different between them.
Hokuseiho (8-2) vs Wakamotoharu (7-3) – Ah, but we can do it the other way, too! Yotsu-zumo master practitioner Wakamotoharu can reach kachi-koshi today if he can just defeat the human apartment block in single combat. They have never matched before, and I do believe that Wakamotoharu will be trying something new and challenging today. Hopefully he coaxes Hokuseiho into an energetic fight.
Daieisho (7-3) vs Takakeisho (6-4) – Why stop there? Lets make a pair of friends fight! One of them is a kadoban OZeki and really needs the wins. The other would love to be Ozeki one day, but really needs to reach double digits. Normally these fights go to Takakeisho by a ratio of 16-6, but Takakeisho’s body is breaking down a bit more each day. A Daieisho win today would be kachi-koshi.
Terunofuji (9-1) vs Hoshoryu (7-3) – Its the Yokozuna vs the Peacock. Terunofuji has never lost a match to this strutting dandy, but there is a reach chance he might today. He has managed to blast his way through the lower ranks, enough to get him safely past kachi-koshi, but now the ready fights begin. Will he successfully win the match before Hoshoryu ever steps on the clay?
5 thoughts on “Natsu Day 11 Preview”
That’s 1 hell of a slate
There’s literally like 7 guys who can win this basho
As gigantic as Hokuseiho is i wonder how much energy he has??…I’d love to see him in a speed/stamina battle and find out how much fuels in the tank…And i’ll be watching this one (Terunofuji (9-1) vs Hoshoryu ) in hope of seeing Hoshoryu get dumped on his ass..Sorry, Hoshoryu as much as Shodai irritates me some days…I just cant bring myself to like you in anyway , your just, i dunno…….
Hokuseiho did a stamina fight already in this basho and won it, one of the early days.
Hate to jump ahead, but I’m too excited! Kiribayama vs. Takakeisho on Thursday, and the winner earns or keeps the ozeki rank, while the loser tries again the next day. The ozeki problem is now solved (for the immediate future) without sacrificing standard. Phew!