Natsu Day 15 Preview

The final day of Natsu 2023, a glorious senshuraku is in store. Most of the story lines have been resolved or we at least understand them.

  • The yusho goes to Terunofuji with at least a 13-2 score. This is his 8th yusho, putting him one behind Harumafuji.
  • Kiribayama should be promoted to Ozeki. He has 33 wins over the last 3 basho, including a yusho, a jun-yusho, and probably another jun-yusho today. There is no doubt he is second on the dohyo only to Terunofuji right now.
  • Takakeisho remains Ozeki. He cleared kadoban by hook or by crook, but he has his 8 wins.
  • The san’yaku has not looked better in recent memory, very reminiscent of the era just before we had 6 Ozeki. This really means the sport is about to be very interesting.
  • Hokuseiho is going to be a big deal, but he’s still in a mostly larval form, and needs a fair number of upgrades. With Miyagino oyakata, he is in excellent hands.
  • Former Ozeki Asanoyama is not quite back to Ozeki power levels, but we can expect that later this year. He still needs to work on finding a way to beat Terunofuji.

All in all, a fantastic basho. There are only six rikishi left to decide their status as make-koshi or kachi-koshi, and to help us get there we have a couple of nice Darwin matches today.

What We Are Watching Day 15

Mitoryu (4-10) vs Tohakuryu (4-10) – A battle of 4-10 rikishi to see who can get a 5th win. Tohakuryu is visiting from Juryo, where he has struggled all month. Mitoryu is likewise Juryo bound for July, and this match be to help determine rank on the July banzuke. Mitoryu has won all 6 prior matches.

Asanoyama (11-3) vs Tsurugisho (9-5) – Asanoyama had to fight someone on the final day, may as well be Tsurugisho. A Tsurugisho win would be double digits for him, but frankly right now Asanoyama is fighting better. They have split their prior two matches, both of which occurred six years ago in 2017.

Hokuseiho (8-6) vs Kagayaki (6-8) – How lovely of Hokuseiho to give Kagayaki a nice send off as he makes his way back to Juryo. I have been a Kagayaki booster in the past, mostly because he at one point had solid sumo fundamentals and simple but effective moves. I can’t wait to see what he tries against Hokuseiho.

Ichiyamamoto (4-10) vs Takarafuji (4-10) – Another battle of the miserable 4-10 rikishi. Both are fighting well below their abilities probably due to injury. I think that Takarafuji is currently in poorer condition between the two, so I think its likely Ichiyamamoto will prevail and advance to 5-10.

Ryuden (5-9) vs Kotoeko (7-7) – Kotoeko was eligible for a Darwin match, but instead will face Ryuden, who is already make-koshi. They are fairly even in their 11 match career record at 6-5.

Chiyoshoma (8-6) vs Hiradoumi (8-6) – Both kachi-koshi at matching 8-6 scores, with two prior matches split 1-1. I like Hiradoumi in this match because he has fought better against higher ranked people this past week. Does anything think Chiyoshoma will finish with a henka?

Myogiryu (9-5) vs Takanosho (6-8) – Takanosho would like a final win to finish 7-8, but he won’t have an easy time of it given whatever has been limiting his sumo this month, and the fact that Myogiryu has been fighting pretty well. I expect this to be Myogiryu’s match.

Hokutofuji (6-8) vs Aoiyama (4-10) – This match was likely drawn up to give Hokutofuji a final win to end 7-8. But then again Big Dan Aoiyama needs to fight someone unless he goes kyujo.

Kinbozan (4-10) vs Daishoho (5-9) – Daishoho has won 3 of their 4 prior matches, and is slightly less dreadful at 5-9 to start the day. I am certain that Kinbozan is going to be a big deal in a year or two, but as long as he is going to swallow his first make-koshi of his professional career, he may as well make it a big one.

Onosho (8-6) vs Nishikigi (8-6) – The match you didn’t know you wanted to see, but could be quite the battle. Nishikigi has racked 7 (SEVEN!) straight wins, not sure how he did that, but please keep doing it through Nagoya. If he can grapple Onosho today, he’s liable to make it 8 straight wins to finish Natsu.

Sadanoumi (6-8) vs Nishikifuji (3-11) – Both are already make-koshi, this final match is to help figure out where everyone goes on the banzuke. I would say Sadanoumi his heavily favored given how poorly Nishikifuji has been fighting this month.

Tobizaru (7-7) vs Tamawashi (7-7) – The first of our Darwin matches. Tamawashi is at best maybe 80% of his expected sumo power, and he tends to struggle fighting the highly mobile Tobizaru. If Tobizaru can ensure that he keeps to a hit and move pattern, he should be able to avoid any big attacks from Tamawashi, which is where he wins his matches. Winner kachi-koshi, the loser make-koshi.

Takayasu (2-3-9) vs Kotoshoho (2-9-3) – Great idea! Battle of the kyujo warriors. Both withdrew from the competition and then came back to try and pad their fall. Both of them have 2-12 scores to start the day, and one of them will get a final win. It’s kind of like a Darwin match, only much uglier.

Oho (10-4) vs Midorifuji (6-8) – What on earth is Oho doing up here. Ok, fine. He’s got a double digit winning record, and his sumo looks terrible but wins matches. Go ahead and fight Midorifuji. We have yet to see him deliver a katasukashi this basho.

Abi (7-7) vs Ura (7-7) – The last of our Darwin matches, and this is a pairing of the high mobility rikishi. Abi has a 4-2 career lead as he is good at keeping Ura from employing his grab-and-tug attack combos. If Ura can get a grip on one of Abi’s arms, I am guessing Ura will give him enough air time to reach Hanada. Winner kachi-koshi, the loser make-koshi.

Shodai (6-8) vs Mitakeumi (8-6) – An astounding 31 match career record, with advantage to Mitakeumi by 17-14. Shodai is already make-koshi, and Mitakeumi is already kachi-koshi, so this one is just for the final score. I would guess that it comes down to which of these hit-or-miss guys is in the groove today.

Kotonowaka (7-7) vs Meisei (8-6) – Kotonowaka came into day 15 with a Darwin eligible 7-7 score, but he gets to fight Meisei instead of another 7-7. Meisei is already kachi-koshi, so he does not have a huge motivation to ramp up the sumo power to beat Kotonowaka, add to that the fact that Meisei has lost the last 5 in a row. Kind of looks like a “gimmie” for Kotonowaka to hold rank.

Daieisho (9-5) vs Wakamotoharu (10-4) – Oh, this is such a stroke of scheduling genius. Clash of sumo styles in oshi vs yotsu, the oshi-zumo man needs one more win to keep his push toward Ozeki alive. The yotsu man is already double digits, but needs that last win to set up his Ozeki bid in July. This one could be crazy!

Kiribayama (11-3) vs Hoshoryu (10-4) – The soon to be Ozeki will face the guy he left in the dust. A final chance this month for Hoshoryu to possibly channel any frustration he may have into useful sumo. Hoshoryu was torpedoed already in any hopes he had for Ozeki by the fact that 2 of his wins were by default thanks to an opponent going kyujo. He could use the win to push his score to 11 in hopes of racking 12 wins in July.

Terunofuji (13-1) vs Takakeisho (8-6) – The final match on the final day between the two highest ranked rikishi. It’s traditional, and I think we are going to see Terunofuji do a bit of tadpole bowling. Given Takakeisho’s general spheroid shape, the Yokozuna should be able to get him rolling quite far down the hanamichi.

7 thoughts on “Natsu Day 15 Preview

  1. Wow. If the scheduling committee wanted to send a message to Kagayaki, they sure did it with this scheduling. Ooof.

    I’m happily surprised at Takayasu/Kotoshoho. Everyone knows they’re only there to punch an the “yes” column of an attendance card and fighting each other means, hopefully, less damage to both of them overall. Heck, they could play rock/paper/scissors after a fist bump tachiai and I don’t think I’d mind at this point.

    The big question for tomorrow: Does Abi have the guts to henka Ura? He’s at least considering it given his current record.

    The last three matches are just a prequel to the next basho. Which is ridiculously amazing.

  2. Midorifuji did have a lovely katasukashi win over Hokutofuji on Day 13.

    Also, Abi will claim a komusubi slot with a win, so he’ll be motivated.

  3. Bruce, Andy, Iksumo and the rest of Team Tachiai – THANK YOU!

    LOVE the accuracy; honesty; intelligence; the experience to teach me and make it fun and most of all – all done with Class and Humor!!!


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