With the start of day 6 action, we open act 2 of the 2023 Aki basho. Act 2 is where we narrow the field to find out who has what it takes to compete for the yusho, and to start sorting the survivors from the damned. We will enjoy the middle day of the tournament, and being to track the leader board as we start the yusho arasoi. As of now, there are 8 men tied for the lead at 4-1, and we can be fairly certain that the one who eventually takes the cup will have a score no better than 14-1, and more likely 12-3. Only one rikishi in the leader group is in the named ranks, kadoban Ozeki Takakeisho. But keep track of the winner of one of today’s most anticipated match ups – Gonoyama vs Takayasu.
What We Are Watching Day 6
Aoiyama (1-4) vs Chiyoshoma (1-4) – Now that Aoiyama has his first win, will he be able to bounce back like he did in Nagoya? From day 8, he won 7 straight to finish 9-6. This battle today against Chiyoshoma should be telling.
Tsurugisho (4-1) vs Kotoshoho (2-3) – Tsurugisho’s uses his ponderous bulk to great advantage, but when facing a rikishi with good lateral motion, it can be a real weakness. We know Kotoshoho can fight with a lot of mobility, even if some days he does not. He does have a 3-1 career lead over Tsurugisho, including both prior matches this year.
Myogiryu (3-2) vs Kagayaki (3-2) – Both men have 3-2 scores, both men won their day 4 and day 5 matches, and they share a close to even 6-7 career record. Let’s just call this one even, thought I admit I am still quite pleased with Myogiryu’s win on day 5 against Hokuseiho.
Daishoho (2-3) vs Nishikifuji (2-3) – Another match up with even scores, but this time we have Nishikifuji coming in with a 7-2 career advantage against Daishoho. But the only prior match this year, which happened on day 10 of Osaka, went to Daishoho. I would like to see if the Oitekaze Mongol can do it again in September.
Mitakeumi (4-1) vs Atamifuji (4-1) – A match that was destined to happen. Both of them are plump, round fellows with a great deal of sumo skill. Both of them have a share of the 8 way leader board, and only one of them will survive this match. They have never fought before, and frankly I have no clue if either of them bring any kind of advantage to the dohyo today. I am pulling for Mitakeumi to be in the yusho race next week, just to confound the sumo world.
Kinbozan (4-1) vs Takarafuji (3-2) – It’s still great to watch Takarafuji fight, but age and accumulated injury has taken away quite a bit of his former stamina and alacrity. Given that his opponent is the red-hot Kazah Bulldozer, Kinbozan, this match might be a bit one sided. That is, unless Takarafuji can get his feet set before Kinbozan can rev up the forward power.
Sadanoumi (3-2) vs Endo (2-3) – A pair of long serving vets with acres of experience. I am not sure if Endo can be “up” for two days in a row any more, but I would love to see him pull some of his “how did he think of that” combos against the speedy Sadanoumi today. The last two matches have gone to Endo, with the most recent being day 1 of Osaka.
Midorifuji (1-4) vs Hokuseiho (2-3) – I am always ready to watch an Isegahama vs Miyagino battle. I just wish that dear old Haraumafuji could have been there to take on the Isegahama name and carry things forward. Ah, perhaps in some alternate universe where Kisenosato won 8 yusho after he took the rope. Midorifuji won their only prior contest, on the final day of Nagoya, but he comes in today diminished from his performance in the heat. I think that Hokuseiho will probably even the score today.
Onosho (4-1) vs Kotoeko (1-4) – Onosho took his first loss on day 5, but I don’t expect that to trigger one of his losing streaks unless he was somehow injured by his match with Gonoyama. Now part of the 8 man leader group, I suspect he’s fairly secure to be the favorite today against the flagging Kotoeko.
Hiradoumi (1-4) vs Ryuden (2-3) – Hiradoumi has not been able to beat Ryuden in any of the 5 previous attempts. I see no reason for him to be able to change that today. Hiradoumi has been moving well in each of his matches, but has been unable to pick up more than a single win thus far.
Gonoyama (4-1) vs Takayasu (4-1) – Do any of you readers finding yourself looking forward to Gonoyama’s match of the day. My eye caught that he was going to fight Takayasu today, and my reaction was “oh good!”. This has a lot of fun potential, as you can get the speed of Gonoyama going against the power and endurance of Takayasu. It’s been a long time since we have watch Takayasu grind someone to dust using his inhuman stamina, and maybe we might get that today. Gonoyama won their only prior match, on day 12 of Nagoya.
Oho (2-3) vs Shonannoumi (2-3) – Shonannoumi has won both of their prior matches, though only one has happened recently. On day 3 of Natsu, where Shonannoumi won by tsukiotoshi. I would like to see Oho once again keep his body calm and his center of gravity moving less, much as he did in his win against Hiradoumi on day 5.
Hokutofuji (3-2) vs Takanosho (2-3) – Hokutofuji has lost the last 2 in a row, after beating the 3 top men in the sport. No telling why that happened, but he has a chance to return to the winning path with a victory over Takanosho today. He has beaten him in 8 out of their 12 career matches, so the odds are indeed in his favor.
Abi (3-2) vs Meisei (2-3) – Abi is done playing with the Ozeki and the Sekiwake for September, so it’s on to thrashing about the Maegashira now. While is sumo is achingly formulaic, it still gets the job done most of the time. He has an 8-4 career record against Meisei, including all 4 prior matches this year.
Tobizaru (3-2) vs Wakamotoharu (3-2) – This match has a great chance of being loads of fun. We have an excellent clash of styles, with Wakamotoharu preferring to latch onto his opponent and fight yotsu-style, and Tobizaru looking to stay mobile and fight monkey-style. They both have won 7 of their 14 prior fights, and they come in with matching 3-2 records. I do note that Wakamotoharu has won the last six consecutive contests, going back to 2022.
Daieisho (2-3) vs Ura (2-3) – Neither one of these rikishi have been setting the torikumi on fire this week, and come in with middling 2-3 scores. Each have a set of matches that they somehow flubbed, and are left trying to find their way to 8 wins. Daieisho clearly holds a lead over their careers, at 9-2, including 3 of the last 4.
Kotonowaka (3-2) vs Nishikigi (3-2) – This match also has my attention. Nishikigi is actually on a path to get to kachi-koshi from the Komusubi rank. Should he do so, it will be a remarkable peak of performance late in his career. Frankly, I would love to see it. He has only won 2 out of the 6 prior fights with Kotonowaka, but did manage to get one of those wins on day 12 of Natsu – by oshidashi.
Tamawashi (0-5) vs Takakeisho (4-1) – I will be very surprised if Tamawashi can rally for this fight. He seems to be going through the motions as best he can, and I would guess he is probably injured. Right now Takakeisho needs 4 more wins to clear kadoban, and is part of the 4-1 leader group.
Kirishima (3-2) vs Shodai (2-3) – Shodai holds a 10-6 record against Kirishima. He has also won his last two (Hoshoryu, Ura) using a healthy measure of cartoon sumo. Kirishima must be on his guard, as he needs 5 wins across the last 10 days to clear kadoban.
Asanoyama (2-3) vs Hoshoryu (2-3) – To my surprise these two have only fought twice, with both wins going to Hoshoryu. The most recent of which was Day 7 in Nagoya where Hoshoryu won by uwatenage. I think this rank is about as high as Asanoyama can go with his current level of polish. Should he wish to ascend (I assume he does), he’s going to need to get back into his 2018 / 2019 form where he always seemed happy to be doing sumo on any day that ended in a “Y”. Sadly that seems missing now, and with it that last 10% that made him dominant.