It’s time to look ahead to the final weekend. With two days to go, we are about to decide who gets the Emperor’s Cup and takes home the yusho. Will it be a 4th yusho for Ozeki Takakeisho? A Cinderella story win for Maegashira 15 Atamifuji, taking the cup in his first top division tournament after winning the Juryo yusho in July? Or will we get a surprise on the final day, such as a come from behind victory by perennial runner-up Takayasu? I give credit to the schedulers, most of these possibilities are surprisingly plausible right now, but the final form will be evident by the end of day 14’s action.
It also looks like we could have a brace of Darwin matches loaded up and ready to go, with 11 rikishi having 7-6 / 6-7 scores prior to Saturday’s action on the dohyo.
Both leaders have difficult matches today, Takayasu having the easiest route of the chasers. We can be certain now that the yusho winning score will be no higher than 12-3, and possibly even 11-4.
Leaders: Atamifuji, Takakeisho
Chasers: Daieisho, Takayasu, Kinbozan, Hokuseiho
2 Matches Remain
What We Are Watching Day 14
Myogiryu (8-5) vs Chiyoshoma (2-11) – I am going to guess this one is to help donate a win to Myogiryu for some reason, as Chiyoshoma is ready for dry dock to have the sumo equivalent of his barnacles scraped off. They have a close 7-8 career record, but Chiyoshoma is in no condition to put up too much of a fight .
Takarafuji (6-7) vs Kagayaki (4-9) – Takarafuji needs to win today in order to see if he can get a final win on Sunday. Should he best the flagging Kagayaki, he will end the day at 7-7 and be eligible for a Darwin match on Sunday. they share a 13-7 career record.
Tsurugisho (8-5) vs Hokuseiho (9-4) – Both are already kachi-koshi, they share an even 1-1 match history, and this is really about seeing who ranks where in November. Tsurugisho has lost the last 2 in a row, Hokuseiho has now won 7 straight.
Midorifuji (8-5) vs Daishoho (3-10) – Two people get to fight Daishoho on his way out the door back to Juryo, and Midorifuji is one of them. This is really not much of a contest today, in spite of their even 3-3 career match record.
Kotoeko (6-7) vs Aoiyama (4-9) – This may look like another low interest match, but I think what we have here is Aoiyama trying to get another win to save his spot somewhere at the bottom of the top division November banzuke. Against that we have Kotoeko who needs 2 more wins on the final 2 days to reach kachi-koshi. They share a 7-7 career record, and I think it will all come down to Aoiyama being able to find enough endurance to work through the pain to deliver power forward.
Nishikifuji (4-9) vs Hiradoumi (4-9) – Both have matching make-koshi 4-9 records, and both are facing substantial demotions for November. They have each won a single match against the other this year.
Kotoshoho (5-8) vs Ryuden (5-8) – Another pair with matching losing records, and another effort to sort them out for the November banzuke. I think for September, Ryuden is fighting better than Kotoshoho, so I give him an edge today.
Endo (8-5) vs Shonannoumi (6-7) – Shonannoumi lost their only prior match, but he needs to find a win today or face make-koshi. Shonannoumi’s ranked high enough he is at no risk of being relegated back to Juryo, but it’s still better to get your 8 wins than not. Their prior match was day 3 of Nagoya, where Endo won by yorikiri.
Takanosho (5-8) vs Sadanoumi (6-7) – Takanosho is already make-koshi, and Sadanoumi needs to win his final 2 to reach 8. They have an 11 match history that favors Sadanoumi 7-4, with Sadanoumi winning the last 4 in a row – going back to Osaka 2022.
Oho (4-9) vs Tamawashi (2-11) – I will defer to lksumo’s prognosis, but I am going to guess that with 2 wins, Tamawashi is out of any consideration for demotion to Juryo. But I would still be quite interested to see if he can summon enough energy to defeat the already make-koshi Oho today. Their only prior match was day 3 of Nagoya, and went to Tamawashi by hatakikomi.
Abi (8-5) vs Atamifuji (10-3) – I would label this a tough match for Atamifuji. I know he fought Ichiyamamoto once, at Kyushu last year, and lost on day 2 by hatakikomi, which is useful if we consider Ichiyamamoto a miniature Abi (which we should). I also worry that his losses facing the “big guys” has dented his fighting spirit, and he’s lost some of the confidence we say up to day 10. Fingers crossed we see something big from Atamifuji today.
Shodai (6-7) vs Asanoyama (8-5) – Asanoyama is safely kachi-koshi, and I am hoping that we get to see some big time cartoon sumo out of Shodai today. They have a 12 match history that favors Asanoyama 8-4, with Asanoyama taking the last 4 in a row. Don’t dismiss this one just because it’s Shodai.
Hokutofuji (8-5) vs Ura (7-6) – Hokutofuji played the expert spoiler on day 13, knocking Takayasu out of immediate contention for the cup. Now a tough match for him. he has faced Ura 12 times, and only won twice. We know Hokutofuji loves his nodowa, maybe we will get to see Ura unleash his “death grip” again today in response? I can only hope. An Ura win today would be kachi-koshi for him.
Gonoyama (7-6) vs Meisei (6-7) – In the day 13 highlights, I mentioned that the should give Gonoyama a “gimmie” match to make sure he does not need to beat san’yaku to make kachi-koshi. Maybe this counts? Meisei is M1W, maybe that’s good enough. A Gonoyama win today would be kachi-koshi for him, and make-koshi for Meisei. A Meisei win and they are both 7-7 and eligible for a Darwin match on Sunday.
Nishikigi (5-8) vs Mitakeumi (8-5) – The two have mirror scores, and we know that with his make-koshi, Nishikigi will be exiting the named ranks. Thus ends his second “magical mystery tour”, and I must say I enjoyed it quite a bit. A late bloomer, but he did indeed bloom well. Mitakeumi holds a 6-3 career lead, and given the quality of his sumo this September, should be able to dispatch Nishikigi today.
Takayasu (9-4) vs Tobizaru (6-7) – My congratulations to the schedulers for putting so many consequences into today’s matches. It gives everyone a lot to cheer for, and the rikishi a lot to fight for. Takayasu needs a win to keep any spark of vying for the cup alive, Tobizaru needs a win to avoid make-koshi. This one could be quite good as there will be a high energy clash of sumo styles for this match.
Kotonowaka (7-6) vs Kinbozan (9-4) – Kotonowaka needs to win over red-hot Kinbozan to try and reach 8 today, or face a final day starting score of 7-7. He won their only prior match, on day 13 of Natsu, by yorikiri. This one is likewise a potentially high energy match.
Onosho (8-5) vs Wakamotoharu (8-5) – Both are already kachi-koshi, and with Daieisho holding on to Sekiwake East, this is really only about Onosho’s rank in November. He’s won two of their 3 prior matches, with an oshidashi on day 10 of Nagoya being their most recent fight.
Kirishima (8-5) vs Daieisho (9-4) – There is not really anything other than a white star and a pile of kensho on the line for this match, but maybe that’s enough. Kirishima has cleared kadoban, and may want to run up the score. They have a 8-6 career record on the clay, with Kirishima taking the last 4 in a row.
Hoshoryu (6-7) vs Takakeisho (10-3) – Some high stakes for the final match of the day, well done schedulers! Hoshoryu needs a win to avoid the loss of face that comes from going kadoban your first tournament as an Ozeki. Takakeisho needs a win to move a step closer to his 4th yusho. He has a 7-2 career record against Hoshoryu, who will likely pin his hopes for a win by getting a hold on Takakeisho’s mawashi. Takakeisho has won the last 2 in a row.