Aki Day 5 Preview

Wow, we are already previewing the final day of act 1. Time does indeed fly by when you are having fun. There are only 3 rikishi left in the unbeaten category, and I don’t expect any of them to be in the hunt for the yusho. In fact, I don’t think the yusho winner will have more than 12 wins this time out. The sumo world is still looking for someone to provide the level of power and consistency we enjoyed 5 to 6 years ago. Please don’t assume I am saying it’s a bad thing. We all knew then that we were in a rare period of sumo, and that we would not see that level of dominance again any day soon, if ever.

What we have now is a cadre of guys who are giving it their all, but are so evenly matched that they struggle to contain their encroaching injuries, and to consistently rack up the wins. We are still waiting for someone to replace Terunofuji, who I assume will be retired by this time next year barring some level of miracle cure for the multiple health problems he must endure.

But at the start of day 5, I see no clear favorite to enter the yusho final run a week from today.

What We Are Watching Day 5

Kagayaki (2-2) vs Chiyoshoma (1-3) – These two have an impressive 24 match history, with Kagayaki having 14 wins to Chiyoshoma’s 10. From a technique standpoint, Chiyoshoma has been executing well. Yet he only has 1 win so far, and I have to wonder if he’s not quite up to his normal sumo power. At his rank, he could face the possibility of demotion if his losing streak continues.

Atamifuji (4-0) vs Tsurugisho (3-1) – Co-leader Atamifuji, who is no dainty petunia at 160+ kg, goes up against the super-sized Tsurugisho. Tsurugisho has won both of their prior matches, and I am looking at this as a test of Atamifuji’s progress. if he can pull off a win, he’s made progress in his sumo since the last time they fought, on day 9 of Hatsu.

Daishoho (2-2) vs Kotoshoho (1-3) – A lack of consistent good execution is what has made it tough for Kotoshoho to return to his prior ranking much further up the banzuke. Whatever injury he sustained in January or March of 2021 really robbed us of some excellent competition in the years since. He is off to an abysmal start, and seems to be on course for his 4th consecutive make-koshi tournament.

Aoiyama (0-4) vs Nishikifuji (2-2) – If Aoiyama is going to pull out of this slide, its about time for him to pick up a first win. But at his age, its possible he may instead be at the limit of what his body can handle. It’s tough to watch the old greats fade out. He has never lost to Nishikifuji, so if he is going to win one, today should be the day.

Takarafuji (2-2) vs Sadanoumi (3-1) – These two have a 22 match history, and it’s 2:1 in favor of Takarafuji. At 2-2, he could use the win. I note that Sadanoumi has been fighting quite well this month, and he has won 2 of the last 3 head to head matches with Takarafuji.

Myogiryu (2-2) vs Hokuseiho (2-2) – Both men come in at 2-2, but Hokuseiho has a 2-0 career advantage over Myogiryu. I am sure folks get weary of me writing this, but I would love to see some kind of sharp sumo technique from Hokuseiho. The standing around and being enormous was fun for the first few days, but it’s not impressing me right now.

Kinbozan (4-0) vs Endo (1-3) – A first ever match, and it could not come at a worse time for Endo. He just racked up his first win of Aki on day 3 against Midorifuji, and now he has to brawl with one of the co-leaders. Now Kinbozan is not some kind of super human sumo machine, and I am sure that Endo can find a way in that impressive lexicon of sumo to give him a good, close look at the Aki dohyo.

Midorifuji (1-3) vs Mitakeumi (3-1) – After losing his first match to Kinbozan on day 3, Mitakeumi is no longer unbeaten. But he is still very much a possibility to be a part of the yusho race next week. Although Midorifuji has a 2-1 career lead in their fights, a strong and healthy Mitakeumi can take him without too much worry. But is Mitakeumi healthy?

Hiradoumi (1-3) vs Oho (1-3) – Both men come into day 5 with just a single win. Both of them are moving well enough, but seem to be unable to dominate their matches. The good news is that one of these two will pick up a second win today, with Hiradoumi favored due to his 4-1 career advantage, including all three prior matches this year.

Kotoeko (1-3) vs Ryuden (1-3) – Another pair of 1-3 rikishi who have actually been fighting pretty well. I would say that Ryuden can move when he choses, but seems to be making odd or ill advised tactical choices on the clay. They have an even 6-6 record, but I would give an edge to Kotoeko today.

Takayasu (3-1) vs Shonannoumi (2-2) – This is Takayasu’s first ever match against Shonannoumi. Will he go in calm and powerful, or crazy and flailing about? It’s tough to guess which one might be more of an advantage for Takayasu, so I am going to guess Shonannoumi goes easy on the tachiai and tries for a slap down / pull down on the second step as Takayasu lunges forward.

Gonoyama (3-1) vs Onosho (4-0) – I did not realize how much I wanted to see this match up until it appeared on the torikumi. Oh yes please. Shin-Goeido vs the last somewhat healthy tadpole. Much as I love me some Onosho sumo, I really want to see Gonoyama run the table this September. They fought once before, on day 11 of Nagoya, with the win going to Onosho.

Shodai (1-3) vs Ura (2-2) – At this point Shodai is a human dumpster fire of sumo. Who better for him to fight than Ura. I am normally an Ura booster, but I would love to see another deployment of Shodai’s Acme driven cartoon sumo. It’s like getting to see water running uphill, or spontaneous human combustion. Why not televise it around the world in 4K? Ura holds a 6-3 career advantage, but that means nothing if Shodai made a stop in ToonTown before coming to the Kokugikan.

Hokutofuji (3-1) vs Meisei (1-3) – Hokutofuji was part of that cadre of folks who picked up their first losses on day 4, dropping a match to Daieisho after beating all 3 Ozeki on consecutive days. At 1-3 I don’t think Meisei’s sumo is strong enough this month to offer much of a challenge to him, unless he hurt something crashing off the dohyo by Daieisho’s oshidashi.

Daieisho (2-2) vs Takanosho (1-3) – One the subject of Daieisho, he has lost and won on alternating days so far. If he follows that pattern, he will lose today, much to Takanosho’s delight. But my guess is that he’s going to bat Takanosho around like a tabby jacked up on weapons grade catnip before sending him off the dohyo to go cuddle with a waiting Tobizaru.

Kotonowaka (3-1) vs Tobizaru (2-2) – On the subject of Tobizaru, I note that he has a 5-6 record against Kotonowaka, and both have won 2 of their 4 matches this year. When Kotonowaka wins against Tobizaru, it tends to be via a throw. So I will look for Kotonowaka to try and capture the flying monkey and give him a toss down range. Stay mobile Tobizaru!

Nishikigi (3-1) vs Wakamotoharu (2-2) – Seriously, folks. What kind of hulking golem of dread is this current form of Nishikigi. He’s not quick, he’s not agile, he’s like some chanko powered mud slide, tumbling down the mountain wrecking most of what it hits. Wakamotoharu leads the career series 5-3, but I am not certain I would bank on that too much this tournament.

Kirishima (2-2) vs Asanoyama (2-2) – Asanoyama ate a big plate full of “wave action” vittles on day 4, and I am sure that attenuated his fighting spirit a bit. Kirishima needs wins as well, and has dropped the last two matches, both to Maegashira opponents. He needs 6 wins over the final 11 matches, starting wtih today, to clear kadoban.

Tamawashi (0-4) vs Hoshoryu (1-3) – The good news is that Hoshoryu is likely to pick up a much needed win. The sad news is we have to watch Tamawashi get spanked on yet another day. I am not even going to suggest he go kyujo, that is a word he never took the time to learn. So good luck and hold on tight, Iron Man.

Abi (3-1) vs Takakeisho (3-1) – Both are 3-1, both are big power forward thrust jockeys. Both of them have distinct “brand of sumo”. Most of the time (6-4), it’s Abi who carries the day. Like Kirishima, Takakeisho needs wins – 5 over the remaining 11 matches.

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