My thanks to Tachiai blog creator Andy, who filled in for the day 14 highlights. What a day of sumo it was indeed. We are left with only 5 rikishi with 7-7 “Darwin” scores, so we get 2 head to head Darwin matches for today. Not a cornucopia that I had hoped for, but enough to underscore the zero sum nature of the sport. Of course one of the participants is Shodai, the ultimate 7-7 rikishi. I also note that Hokutofuji scored his 8th win a couple of days ago, robbing us of “The most powerful make-koshi in all of sumo”, which is sometimes his forte.
The Emperor’s Cup will be decided in the second half of today’s torikumi. Right now, Atamifuji controls his outcome. He is matched against Asanoyama, and should he win, he takes home the hardware. Sadly no balloons drop from the tsuriyane (the dohyo’s roof), but by golly, there should be!
If Asanoyama can stop navel gazing for a few minutes, he should be able to get into “that pose” and simply summon the power of the ancients to banish Atamifuji from the dohyo. But it has been years since we saw him do anything like that. Asanoyama, just go back to being the guy who was happy to be doing sumo every day, who always looked like he was having a great time no matter the outcome. That’s why you succeeded in the past.
Ok, should Asanoyama pull it off, it could be as many as 4 people battling for the cup. Including (checks notes) Hokuseiho? What fresh catnip for the Great Sumo Cat of the Kokugikan is this? Note to readers, should somehow Hokuseiho take home the cup, I will in fact eat both my own buttocks.
Don’t worry, my ample rear end is safe from the frying pan. Here are the possible participants, though some of them face off head to head.
Chasers: Takakeisho, Daieisho, Takayasu, Hokuseiho
Maximum case comes if Atamifuji loses to Asanoyama, then the winner of the Takakeisho vs Daieisho match will be in a playoff after regulation, plus possibly Takayasu, and maybe some pylon for the new football stadium in a mawashi named Hokuseiho.
1 Match Remains
What We Are Watching Day 15
Mitakeumi (9-5) vs Nishikifuji (4-10) – Earlier in the basho, one of the commentators on NHK remarked how far Mitakeumi had fallen that he can now be the first match of the day. It seems like a bit of a gratuitous kick in the jimmies then, and here they did it again. Most likely a Mitakeumi win, with double-digit bonus score if he does.
Kotoshoho (5-9) vs Endo (8-6) – Well, someone had to fight Kotoshoho, so Endo gets the job. Endo is already kachi-koshi, and Kotoshoho is one loss away from double digits. Can you guess what happens next? Endo has won the last two matches against Kotoshoho.
Kinbozan (9-5) vs Myogiryu (9-5) – A fight to see who gets a double digit winning record. They only have one prior match, on day 2 of Nagoya, and it went to Kinbozan by yoritaoshi. Given how well Myogiryu has been fighting, I think there is a good chance he will take this match from Kinbozan.
Midorifuji (9-5) vs Aoiyama (5-9) – Midorifuji has a 3-1 career record against the injured and faltering Aoiyama. A loss for him today would be double digits, and may send him into the queue to join the Juryo barge of the damed. One last chance for a katasukashi, served with a dollop of sour cream, I would guess.
Kagayaki (4-10) vs Oho (5-9) – Kagayaki has already stowed his akeni aboard the afore mentioned Juryo barge, and now he gets a chance to welcome Oho to the double digit loss club. Clearly Oho’s sumo is in shambles right now, and he needs a few weeks to get himself back in line. He has a 4-2 record against Kagayaki, including their most recent match: Day 1 of Natsu.
Chiyoshoma (2-12) vs Ryuden (6-8) – Chiyoshoma is Juryo bound as well, but Ryuden has a shot to soften his make-koshi to a mild 7-8 with a win today. I think the coming November banzuke will be the first time in a long time with no Kokonoe rikishi in the top division. Don’t be surprised to read stories next week of a rampaging zombie of Chiyonofuji tearing it up at the heya to whip these guys into shape.
Onosho (8-6) vs Tsurugisho (8-6) – Both kachi-koshi, both with solid performaces this tournament, and one final match to see who gets to end the month 9-6. They have a nearly even 6-7 record, with Tsurugisho winning the last 4 in a row, mostly by pull down or thrust down. Can that be any surprise when the opponent is Onosho?
Sadanoumi (7-7) vs Shonannoumi (7-7) – First of our Darwin matches, where we find out which of our S*noumi rikishi have what it takes to finish out the tournament with a kachi-koshi. They have never fought before, so this one is a wide open mystery.
Takanosho (5-9) vs Daishoho (3-11) – The captain of the Juryo barge of the damed, Daishoho, will have the opportunity to leave the top division with a win. Should he prevail against Takanosho, he would drop him to a double digit make-koshi loss. He has a 7-3 career record against Takanosho, but may be too banged up right now for that to matter.
Hiradoumi (5-9) vs Tamawashi (2-12) – Regardless of how this one ends, just finishing the tournament will be an achievement for Tamawasih. Fifteen days of what may have been painful sumo, he can finally focus on getting his body ready for Kyushu. He has beaten Hiradoumi in both their prior matches, but may not be physically able to extend that to 3-0 today.
Shodai (7-7) vs Takarafuji (7-7) – The second of our Darwin matches, and it’s not looking good for Takarafuji. He has only won 3 times in 20 matches against Shodai, who seems to really enjoy using the “Wall of Daikon” on Takarafuji. Winner is kachi-koshi, loser is make-koshi.
Atamifuji (11-3) vs Asanoyama (8-6) – Hopefully you took the half time break to bring an entire bottle of sake over to where you are watching sumo, as this is where it gets crazy. First ever match between yusho race leader Atamifuji, and former Ozeki Asanoyama. Trust me when I say that Asanoyama has already figured out 5 different ways he can lose this match, and is worried to death about all of them. The kami that propelled him to Ozeki is feeling abandoned, and is down at the spiritual izakaya black out drunk, picking fights with the local Sumida-ku yokai, waiting for the “Seven Wonders of Honjo” to show up. Will the kami get its ass handed to it by “The Procession of the Tanuki“? or will it make it to the Kokugikan to give Asanoyama the fighting energy he needs to open this yusho race wide?
Kotoeko (6-8) vs Meisei (6-8) – Both are already make-koshi, so this is to see who gets the more gentle slide down the banzuke for November. Kotoeko holds an 11-6 career advantage, though I think Meisei has been fighting much better this month.
Hokutofuji (8-6) vs Abi (8-6) – Both men have 8 wins and are already kachi-koshi. But strongly feel the Abi needs to have a henka revenge satisfying loss before this basho is over, and who better to supply that than Hokutofuji? Unfortunately the career record of 8-5 favors Abi, so this may not come to pass.
Gonoyama (8-6) vs Tobizaru (6-8) – Another first ever match for shin-Goeido, who has done a solid job by reaching kachi-koshi for his first visit to the joi-jin. If he can stay healthy, he’s going to be one to watch. Sadly, Tobizaru lost a couple of matches he could have won, and will have to settle with at least 8 losses for September. He had key wins against Takakeisho and Hoshoryu, and I am looking forward to him continuing to harass the top rankers in Kyushu.
Nishikigi (5-9) vs Ura (8-6) – We wave a fond farewell to one of sumo’s nice guys, who managed to finally be ranked in the san’yaku rather late in his career. By the second week, everyone had a solution for his battle hug, and he was no longer a threat. He may lose this match today, as Ura tends to make Nishikigi the unfortunate target of “tug and pull” sumo. Ura had a 5-2 career advantage.
Kotonowaka (8-6) vs Wakamotoharu (9-5) – Both of them are kachi-koshi, both of them are going to ranked in the exact same spot for November, so this is just for the joy of sumo. I would like to see Wakamotoharu hit double digits and start an Ozeki run, but Kotonowaka leads the series 6-4.
Hokuseiho (10-4) vs Hoshoryu (7-7) – Imagine the final day torikumi comes out, and you need one more win to save face and not be kadoban your first tournament as an Ozeki. Your opponet is ranked Maegashira 11, awesome! Your opponent works as a structural component of one of TEPCO’s largest hydro-electoral projects in the off-season, damn! They have one prior match, Natsu day 12 where Hoshoryu won by okuridashi. I don’t think there is a huge chance that Hokuseiho will win this one, but if he does, make sure you have that bottle of sake close at hand.
Daieisho (10-4) vs Takakeisho (10-4) – One of these two gets to challenge for the cup if Asanoyama can stop feeling sorry for his self and beat up the newbie. Oh blast, what are the odds of that? Anyhow, what a great idea to have these two friends battle it out for a chance to compete for the cup. Both are 10-4, but Takakeisho has a 17-6 career lead, plus he has been fighting well, plus plus, he’s the “Grand Tadpole” ’nuff said.
Kirishima (8-6) vs Takayasu (10-4) – The final match of the tournament will feature Takayasu maybe just maybe having a narrow shot at also competing for the yusho if Asanoyama can do what he needs to do. As a long suffering fan of sumo’s most hirsute top division fighter, I know full well not to expect much, especially if his back is once again boogered up (which rumors in the Japanese press seem to indciate). Frankly I am just happy that Kirishima has cleared kadoban, the rest of bonus.