The first thing that caught my eye when putting this post together was that Asanoyama is back. A doctor told him to take 4 weeks off to recover from a partial tear to his left bicep from his match against Hoshoryu. At the time I complimented him for not “going all Kisenosato on us”, but it seems it was too early to assume that. The shockingly poor state of sports medicine around professional sumo continues to depress me.
With Hokutofuji’s loss to Wakamotoharu on day 11, it’s now Nishikigi’s yusho race to win. I am certain they are going to hope someone puts dirt on him soon, but he has already faced all of the top rikishi, including Kirishima. He still has yet to face Hokutofuji, thought.
There are 4 rikishi up for possible kachi-koshi today: Kotonowaka, Shonannoumi, Ryuden, and Takarafuji, along with 6 up for possible make-koshi, including Asanoyama, the big dummy.
This is all Nishikigi right now, and we have the two chasers facing each other today as Hoshoryu and Hokutofuji fight in the penultimate match of the day. The 4 in the hunt group have to hope that things fall apart a bit to give them a chance to try and get into a leading score in the final 4 days.
Chasesr: Hoshoryu, Hokutofuji
Hunter Group: Daieisho, Wakamotoharu, Endo, Hakuoho
4 Matches Remain
What We Are Watching Day 12
Daishoho (4-7) vs Oshoma (5-6) – With Asanoyama back, the top division had an odd number of athletes again, so we get a Juryo visitor today in Oshoma. He and Daishoho share a 1-1 career match history, with Daishoho winning the most recent one on day 9 of Hatsu.
Kinbozan (6-5) vs Aoiyama (5-6) – Interesting to me is that Aoiyama, with 3 straight wins, managed to work his way from the make-koshi lane into the middle / Darwin lane. He’s got a first ever match against fellow middle lane rikishi Kinbozan today. All “Big Dan” needs is 3 wins out of the last 4 matches to reach kachi-koshi and rescue himself from near certain demotion as the second to last man on the banzuke this July.
Takarafuji (7-4) vs Myogiryu (5-6) – Takarafuji going for his 8th win today, and kachi-koshi. He has a 26 match career history with Myogiryu, with Myogiryu owning the better of it 17-9. But this is equalized today in that Takarafuji seems to be fighting much better than Myogiryu is this July.
Takanosho (6-5) vs Chiyoshoma (5-6) – Another middle lane match up, featuring Takanosho coming into today with 6 consecutive wins, after an ice cold 0-5 start to Nagoya. He has an 8-4 career advantage over Chiyoshoma, and I am once again going to ask – is it time for a henka?
Sadanoumi (2-9) vs Bushozan (3-8) – Both of these guys are already make-koshi, and Bushozan is likely to be the captain of this month’s barge of the damned headed back to Juryo. He has won both prior matches against Sadanoumi, the most recent was day 12 of Aki, 2021, when they were both ranked in Juryo.
Ryuden (7-4) vs Nishikifuji (5-6) – A win today for Ryuden and it’s kachi-koshi for him. He has done surprisingly well this July, maybe in part because he was over-demoted down to M15E, where he has been able to build a strong winning record at 7-4. Out of their 3 prior matches, Nishikifuji has won 2.
Takayasu (5-6) vs Gonoyama (6-5) – Both are on the middle / Darwin path right now, and I could see either or both of them in day 15 Darwin matches. There is no way that Takayasu is anything other than hurt right now, as he can only tolerate about 5 seconds of full power sumo before he tries some kind of escape move like a head pull. This is a first ever match against rising star Gonoyama, who needs just 2 more wins out of the final 4 matches for kachi-koshi.
Hokuseiho (5-6) vs Kotoeko (5-6) – Two more rikishi that are part of an 16 man middle lane headed down the highway looking for a Darwin match on Sunday. It could be epic. Hokuseiho has won both prior match ups against the much smaller and lighter Kotoeko, so I would guess unless Kotoeko can get the giant turned about, it will be a Hokuseiho win today.
Kotoshoho (4-7) vs Oho (4-7) – An even up match where the loser gets his 8th loss. Both come in at 4-7, and they have a 4-4 career record. They last fought in 2022, and of the 4 matches that year, they split them 2-2.
Tsurugisho (3-8) vs Onosho (6-5) – Tsurugisho is too hurt to fight, but I am sure he is remaining in competition to try and make sure he does not rack up enough losses to be sent back to Juryo. Sumo can be incredibly brutal some times, and this is a prime example of that brutality. Onosho will likely be able to chose the manner he defeats him, as Tsurugisho won’t have the mobility to avoid his massive forward thrusting power.
Midorifuji (3-8) vs Hiradoumi (3-8) – Both are already make-koshi, so this is all about padding their fall down the banzuke. Hiradoumi won their only prior match, which was day 10 of Hatsu 2022.
Shodai (5-6) vs Meisei (4-7) – Shodai may be in a bit of a late basho rally right now, having won 3 matches in a row. Should he best Meisei today, it would relegate him to a losing record with an 8th loss. Shodai leads their career series 9-5.
Ura (5-6) vs Mitakeumi (2-9) – In normal circumstances, Mitakeumi can beat Ura without too much trouble (7-1). But right now Mitakeumi is just going through the motions most day, and Ura may get his second career win against the former Ozeki today.
Nishikigi (10-1) vs Shonannoumi (7-4) – First of the big matches, we get a first ever fight with rising star Shonannoumi in an attempt to get some dirt on the yusho race leader. A Shonannoumi win would be kachi-koshi for him, but he will need to be far more aware of his spot in the ring than he was in his day 11 loss to Kotonowaka if he wants to take down the ultra-stable Nishikigi, who needs to win this one to stay in the lead.
Asanoyama (4-4-3) vs Tobizaru (6-5) – In a bit of a “What are you thinking?” moment, we have Asanoyama back in action with a partially torn bicep. Hes up against the ultra-mobile Tobizaru, who would be well advised to throw his most chaotic combos at the former Ozeki straight from the tachiai. Asanoyama won their only prior match, day 5 of Natsu 2021.
Kotonowaka (7-4) vs Endo (8-3) – Endo continues his tour of the upper ranks, visiting from near the bottom of the banzuke. I might guess they are trying to figure out where to rank him for September, and they are seeing how he fares against various folks in the san’yaku for some reason. He holds a 4-2 career lead over Kotonowaka.
Hakuoho (8-3) vs Abi (4-7) – The last man on the banzuke for July takes his kachi-koshi into the san’yaku to see how he can stand up to Abi-zumo. Abi needs this win to rescue himself from almost certain make-koshi, which I would not be surprised to see show up today.
Tamawashi (6-5) vs Daieisho (8-3) – Daieisho needs to win 3 of the last 4 to hit 33 and punch his ticket to be considered for Ozeki. Right now Tamawashi is not that potent a threat, as he seems to be about a half step slower than his recent top form. They have 24 career matches, favoring Tamawashi 14-10, with the most recent being a Daieisho win on day 9 in Osaka.
Hoshoryu (9-2) vs Hokutofuji (9-2) – Unless something odd happens, this match will knock Hokutofuji out of realistic contention for the cup. He has not defeated Hoshoryu in 5 prior attempts, and will be hard pressed to take him down today. Whomever wins this match will be the lone chaser against Nishikigi, unless Shonannoumi should manage a win, in which case the winner of this match will be tied for the yusho at the end of the day. Hoshoryu needs 3 of his last 4 to reach 33.
Wakamotoharu (8-3) vs Kirishima (5-4-2) – In a fantastic demonstration of the brutal, zero sum game that is sumo, Wakamotoharu must win today against the lone competing Ozeki to keep his dreams of being promoted to Ozeki ahead of his brother Wakatakakage alive. Kirishima is not at his normal fighting power, but so far has done a fair job in defeating the rest of the upper ranked rikishi. Kirishima needs to win 3 of his last 4 to reach the safety of 8, and kachi-koshi to avoid kadoban in September.