Day 13 is the Friday before the final weekend of the Natsu 2022 tournament. We are seeing some big rank gaps in some of the match ups, as the rikishi work through their final 3 matches. There are a healthy crop of athletes that are on course to be eligible for day 15 “Darwin Matches” where a pair of 7-7 rikishi compete to see who gets a losing or a winning record.
There is already a lot of talk about a Kiribayama promotion to Ozeki from the English language sumo fan crowd. I do hope they are right, but please consider reserving enthusiasm until someone from the sumo kyokai says something. I recall Takakeisho’s promotion required an additional basho of double digit performance before they would punch his ticket, and I would not consider it out of character to see that again in my lifetime. In my opinion, he has probably earned it. But as an English language sumo blogger, my opinion counts for nothing in the world of sumo ranking.
In reality, the cup will go to one of the group of Terunofuji, Kiribayama or Asanoyama. I would not be shocked to see Terunofuji kyujo today due to what he did jumping from the dohyo. But given his attitude toward sumo and being a Yokozuna, he is likely to be toe to to with Asanoyama for the final match.
Chasers: Kiribayama, Asanoyama
Hunt Group: Tsurugisho
3 Matches Remain
What We Are Watching Day 13
Aoiyama (4-8) vs Oho (8-4) – Both have already determined their make / kachi-koshi, so this is really about determining rank. I am not sure about Oho, as he seems to go through “hot” and “cold” periods with his sumo. But as for today, I think Aoiyama is so banged up that I think Oho should be able to beat him.
Myogiryu (7-5) vs Takarafuji (4-8) – Myogiryu will attempt to secure his 8th win today against ailing Takarafuji. Already make-koshi, Takarafuji may be edging toward the exit over the next year, unless he can get his chronic injuries remedied. They share a 25 match history with Myogiryu leading 16-9.
Ryuden (4-8) vs Ichiyamamoto (4-8) – Both are already make-koshi, so this is all about rank, and maybe to find out of Ichiyamamoto will get a ticket for the Juryo barge of the damned. Their only prior match was day 1 of Aki 2022, which Ichiyamamoto won. Both of them need to regroup and try to return healthy in Nagoya.
Onosho (6-6) vs Kagayaki (5-7) – Two rikishi still very much in the hunt for an outcome, with Onosho dead in the middle of the make/kachi-koshi line at 6-6. I would not put hopes on Kagayaki, even though he has a narrow 8-6 career advantage. His sumo has been poor and lacking power, while Onosho’s has been lacking any real balance or ability to maintain contact with his opponent. A loss today would be make-koshi for Kagayaki, and a near certain return to Juryo.
Mitoryu (4-8) vs Takanosho (4-8) – Another make-koshi pair up, and I would guess Mitoryu would be eager to find any win he can right now, to avoid bunking with Kagayaki on that Juryo barge. Mitoryu does have a 7-1 career record against Takanosho, who should be counted among the list of “get healthy for July” crew.
Sadanoumi (5-7) vs Chiyoshoma (6-6) – A solid funnel match, with both of them candidates to make it to a day 15 Darwin match. Thought I would put my hopes on Chiyoshoma today. He has a 7-5 lead against Sadanoumi, who is one loss away from make-koshi. Sadanoumi did win their only prior match this year, during Hatsu day 15.
Ura (6-6) vs Daishoho (5-7) – It would seem it’s time to deliver an 8th loss and a make-koshi to Daishoho. Ura has beaten Daishoho all 4 times they have fought before. I do hope that Ura’s knees are ok after the day 12 barn burner with Tobizaru. With a 6-6, we can be fairly certain that Ura will end up in a Darwin match.
Tobizaru (5-7) vs Kotoeko (7-5) – For folks wondering about a “Funnel” match, this is a great example. Tobizaru has a 6-3 career advantage over Kotoeko, and given how both of them have been fighting this month, I expect Tobizaru to win this one. That will result in Tobizaru at 6-7, Kotoeko at 7-6. That would mean a day 14 win for Tobizaru, and a day 14 loss for Kotoeko to get them both to 7-7.
Takayasu (1-2-9) vs Tamawashi (6-6) – 33 career matches between these two, split as close to evenly as you could want. They are both rather banged up right now, and I don’t expect more than 50% power out of either one of them. So it’s anyone’s guess who is going to gamberize through the pain and stiffness better. Maybe Tamawashi? Tamawashi could use a win, but is still likely to end up 7-7 to start day 15.
Hokutofuji (5-7) vs Midorifuji (4-8) – Midorifuji is already make-koshi, but it falls to him to bestow the honor of delivering a make-koshi to Hokutofuji, if he can win the match today. We jokingly refer to Hokutofuji as the man with “The most powerful make-koshi in all of sumo!” Due to the fact he fights vigorously, then loses. They have both won one of the their 2 prior matches this year.
Abi (6-6) vs Nishikifuji (3-9) – Oh Abi, fans are really starting to dislike you. I think it’s the henkas. Sure, they can be fun and the chicks dig a guy who can jump like a lizard on a hot plate, but do fight head to head today. You should be able to toss a hurt Nishikifuji around as you please. Save that last henka for your day 15 Darwin match.
Shodai (6-6) vs Nishikigi (6-6) – Both are 6-6, and it may come down to if Nishikigi can get his arm bar hold on Shodai, and which version of Shodai we get today. The genki one will give him a blubbery body block and send him out. Shodai has a 5-3 career record, but right now Nishikigi is on a hot streak, having won 5 in a row. Both are great Darwin candidates for day 15.
Kotonowaka (5-7) vs Kinbozan (4-8) – First ever match up, and Kinbozan can serve up a steaming plate of make-koshi surprise to Kotonowaka if he can get the right body position by the second step. For his first ever tour of the joi-jin, Kinbozan has had the traditional rough ride. Fear not fans, he will be back after some work to improve his sumo.
Tsurugisho (9-3) vs Wakamotoharu (8-4) – Wow, look who came all the way up the banzuke to fight a Sekiwake! It’s a surprisingly genki Tsurugisho who at 9-3 can go double digits today. I was also surprised to see that he has a 5-2 career record against Wakamotoharu. They last fought on day 6 of Hatsu 2022, when both were near the bottom of the Makuuchi banuzke.
Daieisho (8-4) vs Mitakeumi (7-5) – Having taken Asanoyama out of the lead on day 12, Daieisho has a chance to block Mitakeumi from getting to his 8th win today. They have had 26 carer matches, with Mitakeumi having a narrow 14-12 edge. A closer look at that record shows that Mitakeumi has not won against Daieisho since Day 3 of Osaka 2022; Daieisho has won the last 5 in a row.
Hiradoumi (7-5) vs Hoshoryu (8-4) – Good lord, Hiradoumi cannot catch a break. He has been trying for the last 3 days to get that elusive 8th win, and who does he draw on day 13? Oh nice, Hoshoryu. Them’s the breaks sir, but if you pull it off it will indeed be a big deal.
Kiribayama (10-2) vs Hokuseiho (8-4) – The Miyagino giant goes up against Ozeki hopeful Kiribayama, and boy is this a juicy match. Many fans are pre-celebrating Kiribayama’s Ozeki promotion, which may in fact be forthcoming in a few days. But I do know and think I understand that kyokai can seem a bit capricious at times, and direct someone to “try again”. A loss today to Maegashira 11 Hokuseiho might warrant such a move, or it might be part of a plan to see if Hokuseiho can actually fight the big guys.
Meisei (8-4) vs Takakeisho (7-5) – Just one more win, Ozeki. You have 3 days to get just one more win. I am not sure if you can do it, but I know you will give it your all. Meisei has lost 3 in a row, and as long as he does not get a hold on Takakeisho’s mawashi, the Ozeki should be able to take care of him. Takakeisho has an 8-4 career lead.
Terunofuji (11-1) vs Asanoyama (10-2) – I am not sure you can get a bigger match up this tournament. We have former Ozeki Asanoyama trying to take out Terunofuji to even up the score at the top of the yusho race and put him back in contention for the up. Should he manage to do that, it will in all likelihood be a 3 way tie with Kiribayama, who I except to find some way to beat the languid Hokuseiho. What could throw a wrench into all of this would be a Terunofuji kyujo following whatever he did to his knees on day 12 with that leap from the dohyo. Please note that Asanoyama has not beaten Terunofuji in 5 attempts, and I think he may not know if he can.