We are well into the thick of things for act 2, and we are just 4 days away from awarding the Emperor’s cup. The contenders who would challenge Atamifuji have fallen out due to losses in the past 2 days, and I think he may wrap things up before Sunday. He is only in his 18th basho , and his second in the top division. A yusho at this stage of his career would be quite the signal that he is going to be a major player in the next generation of sumo. Elsewhere on the torikumi there are 11 rikishi who have a shot at kachi-koshi today, and 4 who may be handed their losing records as well.
Tobizaru failed in his task, and now look what we have. Atamifuji with a 2 win lead. The path to get any of the hunt group into a spot to challenge for the cup is very narrow now, and an Atamifuji win against Daieisho today might just seal the deal. If the schedulers want to make a battle out of the final weekend, they have to pin their hopes on Takakeisho winning out, and Atamifuji taking a couple of losses. I think those are long odds, but it can still be done.
Hunt Group: Takakeisho, Takaysu, Tsurugisho
4 Matches Remain
What We Are Watching Day 12
Mitakeumi (7-4) vs Sadanoumi (5-6) – This is a solid chance for Mitakeumi to pick up his 8th win. I just have to say, I have been a fan of the original tadpole for a long time, and it really makes me happy to see him fighting more like his old self again. Last basho must have been miserable, his father had just died, and he looked like he had no fighting spirit, in front of his home town fans, too. I would love to see him hit kachi-koshi today.
Daishoho (3-8) vs Hokuseiho (7-4) – I think this is likewise an offer to Hokuseiho to take out the struggling Daishoho for his 8th win and kachi-koshi. After looking lost and tired during week 1, he has returned to much better form. He has only won 2 out of the 5 prior matches against Daishoho, but I think he’s going to dominate the match today.
Kinbozan (7-4) vs Kagayaki (4-7) – A nice, symmetrical match that should see Kinbozan reach kachi-koshi at the same time that Kagayaki picks up his 8th loss. Kinbozan won their only prior fight, which was day 13 of Aki last year. I am eager to see lksumo’s forecasts for promotions and demotions. I don’t think Kagayaki is at risk. At least not yet…
Midorifuji (6-5) vs Myogiryu (7-4) – Midorifuji has a 4-0 record against Myogiryu, and has beaten him with a variety of techniques. This includes day 5 of Hatsu where he unleashed an uchimuso (inner thigh propping twist down). Not sure we will get something that spectacular today, but I will be looking for Midorifuji to improve to 7-5.
Kotoeko (4-7) vs Nishikifuji (4-7) – The loser of this match is make-koshi, Kotoeko has not beaten Nishikifuji in two prior attempts, but if there was ever a day to do it, it will be today. They last fought on day 15 of Osaka.
Kotoshoho (5-6) vs Hiradoumi (3-8) – Hiradoumi is already make-koshi, and in no real danger of dropping to Juryo. Kotoshoho needs to win 3 of the remaining 4 matches to reach kachi-koshi. Nah, I don’t think he will, but he can at least minimize his drop by salting away a few more white stars.
Aoiyama (3-8) vs Oho (3-8) – Both are already make-koshi, and this may be part of finding out if Aoiyama will be ranked in Juryo in November for the first time in nearly 6 years. Given Aoiyama’s age, he’s likely on the path toward retirement, but he may have one or two strong basho left in him yet. The two last fought on day 13 of Natsu, where Oho won by okuridashi.
Takarafuji (5-6) vs Ryuden (4-7) – These two have a 12 match history, going back to 2018, and favors Takarafuji 9-3. A loss today for Ryuden will be make-koshi for him, but given that Takarafuji’s sumo is hit or miss right now, it’s not certain that Ryuden will lose.
Tsurugisho (8-3) vs Ura (5-6) – I was surprised to learn that these two have 7 prior matches, and they favor Tsurugisho 5-2. All but one of them are in Juryo, but in general, it seems that Tsurugisho has a habit for grabbing the highly mobile Ura and stuffing him in a salt basket, then launching the basket into the nearest river. Given how close the Sumida is to the Kokugikan, I guess that’s where Ura is going today.
Shodai (5-6) vs Shonannoumi (5-6) – First ever match between two hit or miss rikishi with identical 5-2 records, there is little to ruminate on this one except that I would like to see Shodai endure a Darwin match on Sunday. Shodai has won the last 2 in a row, and Shonannoumi has lost the last 3 in a row.
Chiyoshoma (2-9) vs Tamawashi (0-11) – Is this some effort to save Chiyoshoma from demotion? Or is it just that someone has to fight Tamawashi, and it’s his turn? If it’s the former, I beg the indulgence of the Great Sumo Cat of the Kokugikan to fill Tamawashi’s body with genki power for just a moment, that Chiyoshoma might endure his 10th loss. Of course, the right thing for Tamawashi deliver is a henka today. Yes, please, thank you.
Abi (7-4) vs Endo (7-4) – Winner is kachi-koshi, and I would love to think that Endo can pull it out. But in truth he has only won 3 times in 15 matches against Abi, who’s un-subtle double blast attacks are the antithesis of Endo’s calculated choreography. They have each won one this year, but my favorite Endo win was day 12 of Nagoya 2019, where Abi lost by the non technique tsukihiza.
Hokutofuji (7-4) vs Onosho (7-4) – A second consecutive match where the winner is kahci-koshi. This one is a lot closer in that they have a close to even record, and both are fighting well this September. I think the odds are slightly in Hokutofuji’s favor, but he will need to stay mobile and not let Onosho square his shoulders into his push.
Takanosho (5-6) vs Meisei (5-6) – Matching 5-6 scores, this match looks like a funnel effort to get at least one of the rikishi to a 7-7 score to start day 15. In their prior matches, Meisei has won 9 to Takanosho’s 4, with Meisei taking both of the two prior fights.
Nishikigi (5-6) vs Takayasu (8-3) – Takayasu has not lost to Nishikigi, ever. They have 5 prior fights, and each time Takayasu finds a way to win. If’s he so dominant in this pairing, why am I having my doubts about this fight? Maybe because I suspect he hurt is back in his loss to Atamifuji, and he’s going to stumble, grunt, and wince through the remaining 4 matches.
Asanoyama (6-5) vs Tobizaru (5-6) – Asanoyama, through his own hit or miss sumo, is in the funnel. Both he and Tobizaru are straddling the win / loss line, and both of them are good candidates for day 15 Darwin matches. To further that outcome, we need Tobizaru to finally win against Asanoyama on his 3rd attempt. Nah, I don’t think so either. It’s far more likely he ends up back in the crowd making the grannies swoon.
Daieisho (7-4) vs Atamifuji (10-1) – If you don’t pay any attention to the prior 11 days, you would be right to consider this match to be some kind of joke. But the only way I see Atamifuji not picking up his 11th win is if Daieisho can evade capture by Atamifuji, stay mobile and blast for all he is worth. Hopefully the Isegahama okamisan is shopping for fish.
Kotonowaka (6-5) vs Takakeisho (8-3) – Takakeisho is the best bet for someone other than Atamifuji to pick up the Emperor’s Cup on Sunday. But as mentioned in the leaderboard, it’s a tough path that requires Atamifuji to lose a couple of times, and Takakeisho to continue winning. This second part is especially challenging as he is entering the “tough” part of his schedule. He has a 5-3 career advantage against Kotonowaka, so the numbers favor him.
Kirishima (7-4) vs Wakamotoharu (6-5) – A Kirishima win today is kachi-koshi and he will join Takakeisho in clearing kadoban. He holds a 7-3 career record against Wakamotoharu, including winning the last 5 in a row, including all 4 prior matches this year.
Gonoyama (7-4) vs Hoshoryu (5-6) – You know, Shin-Goeido is really impressing me. It’s a tall order to ask him to win today against an Ozeki, whom he has never fought before. But should we win, Gonoyama will be kachi-koshi for September. Hoshoryu is starting to get his sumo together, and has won the last 2 in a row, including a yoritaoshi on day 10 against Wakamotoharu. All things being equal, Hoshoryu is the favorite to win today.