Kyushu Day 13 Highlights

Day 13 lived up to expectations, leaving chaos and tumult in its wake. Shodai is make-koshi and will be demoted for January. Oho lost to Takayasu, leaving Takayasu as the sole leader in the yusho race with just 2 matches remaining, and an enormous cadre of sumo’s upper division are on the brink of a Darwin match orgy the likes of which not even the almighty has witnessed before. Our mischievous kami is smiling and nodding in hungry anticipation of what is to come.

Highlight Matches

Okinoumi defeats Onosho – For an ace sumo practitioner like Okinoumi, a match like this again Onosho is dead simple. He’s too far in front of his toes, and can only remain upright by leading forward into Okinoumi. Okiniumi steps to the side and pushes him down, and is now 7-6.

Chiyoshoma defeats Terutsuyoshi – Terutsuyoshi is so hurt, he can only offer token offense, and really no defense once Chiyoshoma turns on the forward power. It’s a real shame. At least Chiyoshoma grabs Terutsuyoshi’s hand to keep him from hopping off the dohyo. Chiyoshoma improves to 6-7 while Terutsuyoshi is still on the zepai trail.

Aoiyama defeats Atamifuji – Man, what happened to Atamifuji? Aoiyama looks like he is training one of the Sandanme guys back at Kasugano. This has to be injury. Aoiyama applies a surprisingly gentle hatakikomi, and improves to 6-7.

Abi defeats Kagayaki – Best example of Abi-zumo so far this basho. He catches Kagayaki upright, and applies rapid thrust combos to work him back and out. Abi up to 10-3 and maintains his spot one behind the leader.

Tochinoshin defeats Ichiyamamoto – An unexpected and delightful match, where Ichiyamamoto eagerly initiated a yotsu-zumo fight with Tochinoshin. He managed to prevent Tochinoshin to land that left hand outside grip, and frankly had him on the defensive for most of the match. Tochinoshin took the win when he was able to improvise a sukuinage, that Ichiyamamoto nearly shut down. Brilliant effort, and Tochinoshin is 6-7.

Myogiryu defeats Kotoeko – Myogiryu gets his left hand grip almost at once, and Kotoeko is wise enough to know he is in trouble. He works to break Myogiryu’s hold, but can’t quite get him off of his belt. Myogiryu walks Kotoeko to the edge of the ring and throws for the win. Both end the day at 7-6.

Hiradoumi defeats Endo – Endo worked hard to get a mawashi grip, but when he set up his right hand hold, he could not maintain it. Hiradoumi fought back with a blistering thrusting attack, and then dove in for a left hand deep grip. That grip won the match as Endo’s offense was shut down, and Hiradoumi ran him out. Hiradoumi improves to 9-4, and will try to double digits tomorrow.

Ryuden defeats Azumaryu – Again we get to see Ryuden’s strong right hand outside grip carry a match. Azumaryu had excellent thrusting position for a moment at the start of the match, but could not maintain once Ryuden got that grip and turned him to the side. Ryuden stayed focused and walked Azumaryu out for his 8th win, and is kachi-koshi for November.

Nishikigi defeats Kotoshoho – Kotoshoho front loads his sumo, and comes in strong. He’s not really able to do much against Nishikigi’s strong defense, and finds himself quickly pushed out by Nisikigi’s oshidashi. Both are now 6-7.

Ura defeats Takarafuji – Nice to see Ura wait Takarafuji out. They grapple and lock up in the middle of the dohyo, with Takarafuji having a better offensive position. As Takarafuji is Mr “Defend and Extend”, his sumo instincts take over, and he works to wear Ura down. Ura lets him for a fair length of time, and then his sumo instincts switch in. He finds Takarafuji’s left arm, grabs it and gives it a solid tug. Ura is rewarded with a turned around Takarafuji, whom he pushes out from behind. Ura improves to 3-10.

Takanosho defeats Ichinojo – I am going to guess that between his chronically sore back, and the distractions of his off dohyo antics being in the press, Ichinojo is about as deflated as you can make him. Takanosho is struggling himself, but makes fast and fairly easy work of getting Ichinojo moving, and pushed out, advancing to 6-7.

Kotonowaka defeats Midorifuji – Midorifuji had a narrow window to win this match, and he came very close. But then Kotonowaka was able to recover, consolidate his position, and hold Midorifuji far enough away that his bag of tricks were neutralized. Good recovery by Kotonowaka, followed by an oshidashi, and he’s now kachi-koshi at 8-5.

Takayasu defeats Oho – The big match of the day, and it went about as you would expect it to. Takayasu, a former Ozeki, and in good health, was completely under matched by Oho. Maybe some day Oho can work at this level against an opponent of this size and power, but not today. There was a brief second where Takayasu was on one foot following the tachiai, but Oho was in no position to make him pay for that mistake. Takayasu eventually gets a left hand inside grip, and from there, it’s nap time for junior, as Takayasu lays him down and turns off the lights. Takayasu the sole leader at 11-2.

Wakamotoharu defeats Daieisho – Wakamotoharu absorbed a lot of Daieisho’s big thrusting sumo, and managed to stay on his feet and in the match. Daieisho’s attempt at finishing Wakamotoharu flopped, allowing Wakamotoharu to capture him from the side. Daieisho attempted to escape, but simply made matters worse, and Wakamotoharu ran him out. Wakamotoharu kachi-koshi at 8-5.

Sadanoumi defeats Tobizaru – Tobizaru was just a bit too mobile and frantic today, and found himself with his back to Sadanoumi. Sadanoumi is not one to let something like that go, and Tobizaru found his 8th loss by okuridashi. Sadanoumi improves to 6-7.

Meisei defeats Kiribayama – Kiribayama put all of his hopes on a head-hold and pull strategy, which Meisei was able to counter. Without any more meaningful offense, Kiribayama was easy meat once he attempted that pull, and Meisei tossed him into the front row to advance to 7-6.

Mitakeumi defeats Hokutofuji – Mitakeumi holds short on the tachiai, drawing Hokutofuji forward. Off balance, Hokutofuji is easy to drop with a rapid hatakikomi, and both exit the dohyo with 6-7 records. Maybe, just maybe, Mitakeumi can rescue some scrap of dignity with a kachi-koshi.

Wakatakakage defeats Nishikifuji – Wakatakakage was not going to lose this match no matter what. His sumo was so committed that he was continuing his yorikiri down the hanamichi for a short distance. Wakatakakage now 7-6.

Tamawashi defeats Shodai – It fell to sumo’s iron man, as injured as he is, to end the farce that has been Shodai’s Ozeki tenure. It’s a dirty job, but someone had to do it. He comes into the tachiai strong, and turns the oshi-zumo dial to “blast” and proceeds on plan. He takes Shodai out by oshidashi, and improves to 4-9. Shodai make-koshi at 5-8, and will follow Mitakeumi down the ranks to Sekiwake at Hatsu.

Takakeisho defeats Hoshoryu – With only one item of business left on today’s schedule, it was time for Hoshoryu to try and bounce back from his day 12 loss against Oho. But the thing about the “tough” part of the schedule, it is tough. Takakeisho was ready for Hoshoryu, and his sumo was strong and focused, landing volley after volley against Hoshoryu’s chest and body. Hoshoryu was driven from the ring, and Takakeisho advances to 10-3, to stay 1 win behind Takayasu.

Kyushu Day 13 Preview

We are in the final three days of this tournament, which has turned out to be a real meat grinder for the hopes of many aspiring rikishi. It has been mentioned elsewhere, and from other sumo fan media, that former Ozeki Asanoyama has been working his way back up the banzuke, and yet again dropped his 6th match in Makushita. He could have sailed through with 7-0 sweeps, but evidently, he’s not good enough now to present his opponents with Ozeki sumo. Mitakeumi is out as Ozeki, and if he is not careful, out of Sekiwake as well. Wakatakakage will be lucky to finish with kachi-koshi, and Shodai is all but certain to either follow Mitakeumi to a Sekiwake demotion, or face a day 15 Darwin match to decide his fate. Hard times for current and former Ozeki indeed.

Before this post takes on too negative a tone, there are some bright spots to be enjoyed. The fact that we may see Hoshoryu win the Emperor’s Cup is cause for optimism. His sumo has some areas to fill in still, but it would be wonderful to see him take the cup at least once in his career. I think that Oho has been able to remain focused in spite of his tough matches also deserves our attention and admiration. While his sumo has been sort of vague and uninspired for the last few tournaments, there are seeds of greatness in there too. But let’s not forget the other hopeful, Takayasu. Like his sempai, Kisenosato, Takayasu has always been a bridesmaid. For him to finally win on Sunday would be a just reward for his decade plus of hard work.

On deck to try for kachi-koshi today: Kotonowaka, Wakamotoharu, Ryuden, Kotoeko, Ichiyamamoto, Azumaryu

Kyushu Leaderboard

There is a three way tie at the top of the leader board, and the scheduling team has made sure that after today, only two will remain.
Leader: Hoshoryu, Takayasu, Oho
Chasers: Takakeisho, Abi, Kagayaki
Hunt Group: Kiribayama, Nishikifuji, Onosho, Hiradoumi

3 matches remain

What We Are Watching Day 13

Onosho vs Okinoumi – Okinoumi (6-6) needs to win 2 of the last 3 to secure a winning record for the last tournament of the year. He’s near even (7-8) against 8-4 Onosho, who locked in his winning record on day 12.

Terutsuyoshi vs Chiyoshoma – The dreadful march toward zenpai continues, as winless Terutsuyoshi (0-12) has to find something to try against 5-7 Chiyoshoma today. When I am watching Terutsuyoshi fight this month, every move, every step looks to be a painful chore. Its situations like these that make me recognize that I don’t really know how these people operate.

Aoiyama vs Atamifuji – As if the impending Terutsuyoshi zenpai were just the opening course, much anticipated newcomer Atamifuji (3-9) is packing his bags for an immediate berth on the Juryo barge of the damned. Something went wrong with this guy, as he honestly is a solid rikishi. Hopefully he will be able to rework, recover and renew between now and Hatsu. This is his first ever match against 5-7 Aoiyama, who needs to win his remaining 3 to go home with a kachi-koshi.

Kagayaki vs Abi – Kagayaki is certainly a surprise this basho. After being a poor opponent for most of 2022, he has been fighting well, and winning matches. He’s up against Abi today, with whom he shares a 4-5 career record. Both men start the day at 9-3.

Ichiyamamoto vs Tochinoshin – There are two decisive outcomes possible from this match, either they end the day with Ichiyamamoto (7-5) kachi-koshi and Tochinoshin (5-7) make-koshi, should Ichiyamamoto win, or both take a step closer to a day 14 record of 7-7 and a possible Darwin match on Sunday. Readers know I am hoping for the Darwin outcome.

Kotoeko vs Myogiryu – Myogiryu, at 6-6. comes in with a decisive career lead of 8-2 over Kotoeko (7-5), If Myogiryu manages to win, they both move closer to the Darwin match line for Sunday. A Kotoeko win is kachi-koshi for him.

Endo vs Hiradoumi – Hiradoumi already has his 8th win, and is now fighting for rank in the January banzuke. He’s never matched against flagging Endo (6-6) before, and if he should win, it would move Endo closer to that queue for Darwin bouts I am starting to anticipate.

Azumaryu vs Ryuden – One of these two men, who start the day with matching 7-5 records, will leave the dohyo with your kachi-koshi. If it’s Azumaryu, it will be his first ever winning record in the top division in 4 attempts. I am personally hoping he can pull it off today, or tomorrow. Otherwise…. Darwin!

Nishikigi vs Kotoshoho – Kotoshoho comes into today with a 6-6 record, and either needs to win 2 more, or lose 2 more to finish sorting out his record for November. His opponent, Nishikigi, needs to win the last 3 matches to get to a kachi-koshi. Kotoshoho has a narrow 5-3 career advantage, and I expect Nishikigi to put an extra effort in today to avoid his 8th loss.

Ura vs Takarafuji – Hey! Lets take two banged up rikishi that most fans love, who have matching crummy 2-10 records, an see which one is more miserable today! I honestly think Takarafuji will win this battle of the orthopedic escapees.

Takanosho vs Ichinojo – Speaking of the 2-10 crowd (yes, there’s more than 2), we have Ichinojo. His job today is to hand 5-7 Takanosho his make-koshi. I think that Takanosho with a losing record ranked only at Maegashira 9 is about the most “Sumo 2022” thing we might be able to identify.

Midorifuji vs Kotonowaka – Another match with a solid rikishi starting the day with a 6-6 record, seemingly destined for a day 15 Darwin match. In this case it’s Midorifuji, and he’s up against Kotonowaka at 7-5, who is fighting for his kachi-koshi today. Kotonowaka holds a clear 3-1 career advantage.

Takayasu vs Oho – Either the schedulers got lucky, or the previously mentioned mischievous kami is having a bit of fun. Two of the three co-leaders working to narrow the field to 2. Both are 10-2, and the winner will go on to stake their claim to a portion of, or the entirety of the lead in the yusho race. As this is a first ever match, nearly anything might happen, but I would give a bit of an edge to Takayasu, for being a hungry for this win.

Wakamotoharu vs Daieisho – The 7-5 (Wakamotoharu) vs the 6-6 (Daieisho) pattern once again. One of these two are going to get shunted toward a Darwin match, or if it works out just right, both of them will.

Tobizaru vs Sadanoumi – At least with this match one man’s record will be clarified for November. Both Tobizaru and Sadanoumi start the day at 5-7, and whichever one loses will be make-koshi. The best that either one of them can hope for now is to be part of the growing queue of rikishi looking to be 7-7 at the end of tomorrow.

Meisei vs Kiribayama – Having run out of 7-5 rikishi, the schedulers substituted 8-4 Kiribayama as hammer in this match. He’s got a 3-5 career deficit against 6-6 Meisei, who needs 2 more wins out of the final 3 to end the year with a winning record.

Hokutofuji vs Mitakeumi – These two have had 24 matches over their career (this makes me feel very old), and its a narrow 13-11 advantage for Mitakeumi. He’s already lost his chance to return to Ozeki, and if he can’t win his last 3 matches, he will be make-koshi is well. The best he can hope for is a day 15 Darwin match. Hokutofuji is 6-6, and frankly has been fighting quite a bit better than Mitakeumi.

Wakatakakage vs Nishikifuji – Again the pattern of a 6-6 rikishi (Wakatakakage) battling “uphill” against 8-4 Nishikifuji. The best score Wakatakakage could hope to achieve at this point its a 9-6 make-koshi, which is short of the level of dominant sumo that the sumo association looks for to promote a Sekiwake to Ozeki. It’s a shame, but Wakatakakage earned his record.

Tamawashi vs Shodai – Maybe I am wrong, maybe this match is the most “Sumo 2022” think we could get. A 38 year old rikishi, who took the last tournament’s yusho, is deeply make-koshi, and fighting hammer and tongs against the second Ozeki this year, nay the second Ozeki in two tournaments, to face demotion to Sekiwake, and could be make-koshi today. There. That’s got it. That mischievous kami is just enjoying this far too much.

Takakeisho vs Hoshoryu – Let’s finish the tumult of decay and disorder with this match. At least 9-3 Takakeisho is kachi-koshi, and may even get to double digits. Speaking of that, if he wins today against 10-2 Hoshoryu, he inserts himself into the yusho race, as there would be a single leader going into day 14. Go head kami, let’s have Takakeisho vs Oho tomorrow.

Kyushu Day 12 Highlights

A grand and momentous day of sumo from Fukuoaka. The scheduling committee can create interesting matches each and every day, but it’s down to the rikishi’s own sumo to determine how the story line will play out. I am sure the group that put together day 12 must have looked at the torikumi and thought, well that might be quite the pivotal day of sumo!

I am convinced that the kami who was invited to enjoy this basho was a mischievous spritely sort, given to pranks, jokes and the occasional slip and fall routine. It took at look at this same torikumi with joy and excitement. It had a idea…

Highlight Matches

Onosho defeats Kotoshoho – I counted two times that Kotoshoho tried and partially succeeded in evading Onosho’s forward pushes, and get him off balance. But both times Onosho was able to cover, get back to center point and continue the attack. Onosho secures his 8th win and is kachi-koshi at 8-4.

Aoiyama defeats Terutsuyoshi – I suppose it’s indicative that Aoiyama did not bash or bludgeon Terutsuyoshi today, just kept him off balance and moving backward. Everyone knows he’s hurt, and I am thankful Aoiyama was using minimal force to get his win. Terutsuyoshi still on the road to the seldom seen zenpai, while Aoiyama avoids make-koshi at 5-7.

Chiyoshoma defeats Atamifuji – Atamifuji just cannot catch a break this tournament. He comes into the tachiai strong, and has a solid grip on Chiyoshoma. This seems to be just fine for Chiyoshoma, who pivots and slams Atamifuji to the clay. Chiyoshoma avoids make-koshi at 5-7.

Okinoumi defeats Tochinoshin – Tochinoshin gets his left hand outside grip on the second reach, and Okinoumi counters with a double inside grip in response. Tochinoshin tries to get some kind of sumo going with half a grip, but Okinoumi lifts him and sets him outside the ring to improve to 6-6.

Ichiyamamoto defeats Myogiryu – Myogiryu did a fantastic job of shutting down Ichiyamamoto’s sumo, denying Ichiyamamoto the space to extend his arms and apply forward pressure. In short order, Ichiyamamoto was too far forward, and Myogiryu decided to pull on his neck. The timing was ill considered, as Ichiyamamoto had contact with his hands at the moment, and Myogiryu was quickly shoved from the ring. Ichiyamamoto improves to 7-5.

Azumaryu defeats Nishikigi – Nishikigi opens on the offensive, working to press into Azumaryu’s chest. Azumaryu kept a bit of distance, and encouraged Nishikigi to lean too far forward to adjust, which he did, directly into the uwatenage. Nishikigi hits the clay, and Azumaryu steps closer to his first ever top division kachi-koshi at 7-5.

Hiradoumi defeats Hokutofuji – I had hopes for this match and it did not disappoint. Hokutofuji attacked well, and we got to see his superb stability in action, as Hiradoumi kept varying forward pressure to shift Hokutofuji’s balance. As they were fighting it out, Hokutofuji’s prehensile lower body continued to work to win the match, moving Hiradoumi back for the final attack. Impressive ring sense and sumo skill from Hiradoumi, who opened just enough room at the tawara that Hokutofuji’s finishing caused Hokutofuji to touch down before Hiradoumi was out. Nice way to ear a kachi-koshi sir, he is 8-4.

Takanosho defeats Ura – Ura, survive this one if you can sir. He’s got no ability to withstand any kind of grapple or forward pressure, and Takanosho moves him about for a moment, then tosses him down to improve to 5-7.

Kotoeko defeats Meisei – Meisei’s big forward drive shoved Kotoeko out directly out from the tachiai, but on the way out, Kotoeko found the tawara, stood on them, and slapped Meisei down. It was a close call who was out or down first, but the win went to Kotoeko, and he is now 7-5.

Takarafuji defeats Ichinojo – It does my heart a lot of good to see that Takarafuji maybe found some of his sumo, possible some residue packed into a dark corner of his akene, or he sent one of his tsukibeto back to Tokyo to check his old lodging at Isegahama for a bit of it forgotten in between the tatami mats. Wherever it came from, I am glad to see him fight and win again. Ichinojo, for all of his size, can be surprisingly easy to move about, and Takarafuji defends well, finds his chance and pushes the big fellow out. Takarafuji now 2-10.

Takayasu defeats Ryuden – Ryuden gets a left hand frontal grip at the tachiai, and Takayasu’s first job is to break that grip. He lifts Ryuden’s arm away, and converts that to a hold on Ryuden’s face, and drives forward. Backing Ryuden up to the bales, Takayasu reverses and pulls him to the clay. Quick, direct and brutal. Takayasu now 10-2.

Kagayaki defeats Kotonowaka – Kagayaki’s tachiai was low and slow, and for a moment looked entirely ill-considered. But Kotonowaka failed to read it and defect to the side, resulting in Kagayaki making good contact with his legs set to drive forward. Drive he did, and Kotonowaka had no stance to defend. Three steps later Kotonowaka was out, and Kagayaki , from near the bottom of the banzuke, picks off a Maegashira 1 to advance to 9-3.

Wakamotoharu defeats Tobizaru – We got our serving of frantic sumo, and for the second day in a row, Wakamotoharu’s opponents forced him into an oshi-zumo fight that he won. Maybe that’s not an effective route to beating him. Tobizaru takes one of his first jogs into the zabuton zone this tournament, to the delight of the fans, as Wakamotoharu picks up his 7th to finish the day 7-5.

Endo defeats Tamawashi – I came for a fight, and all I got was this crummy henka. Endo 6-6.

Daieisho defeats Midorifuji – Daieisho was keen to defend against any combo attack at the tachiai, and did not put much forward energy into his first move. Midorifuji was intent on a straight ahead match, at least to start, and grappled Daieisho, and pushed forward. Daieisho grabbed, lifted and pivoted Midorifuji out without too much fuss, and both end the day 6-6.

Oho defeats Hoshoryu – The big match for the yusho race. Prior to today, Oho had won 2 of their prior 3 matches, and clearly had a good formula for taking care of “Hos”. The struggled for control of the match briefly, and Hoshoryu came out on top, and drove Oho back. Maybe a bit too much power, maybe already expecting the win? He was not thinking defense it seems, as Oho used Hoshoryu’s forward power to launch him into the clay with a deftly applied hatakikomi. I have been a bit negative on Oho due to his lack luster sumo in the past, but there is that flash of greatness I discussed in the preview, and it came in a high stakes, high pressure match. Can he build on that spark? Everyone in sumo hopes he does. He takes the win, and both are 10-2.

Abi defeats Wakatakakage – As if opening the yusho race was not enough, the mischievous kami that seems to be enjoying the basho had more for our story lines. It seems almost everyone but Wakatakakage could not read that matta, a prelude for a henka. At the tachiai, Abi evaded to Wakatakakage’s left, swung him around and dropped him to the clay. Abi improves to 9-3, but Wakatakakage drops to 6-6, rendering it impossible for him to reach double digits, and possibly putting a bullet through his Ozeki hopes for now.

Mitakeumi defeats Sadanoumi – Day 12, and Mitakeumi decides to end his 6 match losing streak by reverting to Ozeki form. Nice to see, but it’s a shame he could not muster that sooner. Both end the day 5-7.

Takakeisho defeats Nishikifuji – If this were communication, the message was “Get off my dohyo, junior!”, Takakeisho seems to enjoy himself quite a bit as Nishikifuji decides to give Takakeisho a strong opening thrusting salvo. Takakeisho responds in kind, opens up the center lane, and dispatches Nishikifuji with a big blast. Takakeisho 9-3.

Kiribayama defeats Shodai – “But I have one more” quipped the mischievous kami. Shodai defends strongly at first, but did not keep Kiribayama centered, did not keep his hips squared, and on the 2nd exchange, opened his chest. Massive mistake and Kiribayama attacks with all available power. Shodai’s stance is broken, his balance disrupted and the next step is his last in the ring. Kiribayama picks up his 8th win and his kachi-koshi for November. Shodai one loss from following Mitakeumi on the road to purgatory.

Kyushu Day 12 Preview

I am both impressed and delighted at the rate at which the scheduling crew is busy throwing matches in that have daily impact to the story lines. I know what’s what they are supposed to be doing, but I have seen more than once that this gets saved up for the last 3 days. This is also the time when the numerologists in the schedule crew start to have fun, play games or make number jokes with the matches and the schedules. It’s subtle, it’s dumb, it’s nerdy, and so very Japanese.

On deck for a try at kachi-koshi today: Kiribayama, Kotonowaka, Ryuden, Onosho and Hiradoumi.

I am eager to see how matters with Wakatakakage play out. His performance has not been Ozeki level this November, but as documented elsewhere on Tachiai, the NSK may be in dire need of another Ozeki before too long, and he is the only option they have at hand. But it’s all for naught if he can’t consistently win 2 matches out of every 3. The last thing we need is a repeat of Shodai or worse yet poor Mitakeumi.

I have no misconceptions. Sumo is going to be just fine. But sumo fandom is harder now than it was 5 years ago. Welcome to the post Hakuho era.

Kyushu Leaderboard

Significant changes since day 11’s preview – we now have a single leader for the cup. He’s not had prior yusho experience, so for the final 4 matches, it’s mostly a mental battle between his ears. Can Hoshoryu calm his inner self and continue to excel? We will know more at the end of day 12…

Leader: Hoshoryu
Chasers: Takayasu, Oho
Hunt Group: Takakeisho, Nishikifuji, Abi, Kagayaki

4 matches remain

What We Are Watching Day 12

Onosho vs Kotoshoho – A win today, and Onosho has a kachi-koshi for November. He’s not fought that well, and frankly I would not be surprised to see him struggle to cross the finish line to get a winning record. Kotoshoho has been unimpressive at 6-5, and has been struggling to fight above the broad average for the entire year. Onosho holds a 3-1 career advantage.

Aoiyama vs Terutsuyoshi – Terutsuyoshi (0-11) is running out of chances to avoid the dreaded zenpai. Maybe his best last opportunity is a match against 4-7 Aoiyama today. Terutsuyoshi holds an 8-5 career lead, but I don’t have high hopes that Terutsuyoshi will be able to muster the lower body fortitude to keep him in the match more than a few seconds.

Atamifuji vs Chiyoshoma – Atamifuji (3-8) is already make-koshi, and likely headed back to Juryo to regroup. Isegahama has had a real dud of a tournament in Fukuoka this year, I wonder what happened for so many of their top performers to all be in terrible fighting form all at the same time. He has a first time match against Chiyoshoma, who is one loss away from make-koshi (4-7).

Okinoumi vs Tochinoshin – A pair of 5-6 rikishi who share a 22 match career record, favoring Okinoumi narrowly at 10-12. During 2022, both of these grizzled veterans get into pretty sore and depleted condition around about this time of a basho, so this match may be who has enough fuel left to fight stronger today.

Ichiyamamoto vs Myogiryu – On to a pair of 6-5 rikishi, both of whom have a worrisome 3 losses in the last 4 matches. Looks like today will be to see who gets to make that 4 losses out of 5. Ouch!

Nishikigi vs Azumaryu – At this point, I am really pulling for 35 year old Azumaryu (6-5) to finally get his first ever top division kachi-koshi. If that means 5-6 Nishikigi needs to eat some clay, that’s a price I am willing to pay.

Hokutofuji vs Hiradoumi – Oh goodie, the first high interest match crops up before half time. They have never fought, and I have been impressed by how well, and how strongly 7-4 Hiradoumi has fought this November. He’s got ol’Stompy 6-5 Hokutofuji, who on any given day, unleash some impressive sumo. But as he has aged, Hokutofuji’s range of when he can unleash that wonderful stuff seems to grow more narrow, which is a shame. A Hiradoumi win today would be kachi-koshi.

Ura vs Takanosho – Two high interest matches in a row! Sure, both of them are fighting poorly, but I like both of their sumo styles, and maybe we can get a good match from them today. Its already make-koshi Ura at 2-9 against about to be make-koshi Takanosho at 4-7. May the best man lose!

Meisei vs Kotoeko – Both are 6-5, both still have a strong chance to end the year with a winning record, and both of them are just as likely to end up in a day 15 Darwin match. You didn’t think I forgot about that, did you? Oh heavens no. Sure Kotoeko is dashingly handsome and has a 10-6 career lead over Meisei, But I think this one is going to be a brawl.

Takarafuji vs Ichinojo – Just about half way through the torikumi, we get this dud of a fight. Both are already make-koshi, both are having a poor tournament, and both will struggle to do any sumo today. But whose sumo will stink worse? 1-10 Takarafuji, or 2-9 Ichinojo. Before you answer that, Ichinojo is slightly less banged up, and holds a 17-3 career lead.

Takayasu vs Ryuden – But now they schedulers make up for that stink burger, with this gem. I think a lot of sumo fans want to see Takayasu (9-2) take the cup once before he retires. He’s one win behind Hoshoryu, and needs to keep winning and hope that someone can put dirt on the yusho race front man. To reach that admirable goal, he’s got to best 7-4 Ryuden today. Not out of the question, but I do hope that Takayasu’s sumo is a bit more balanced and under control today.

Kagayaki vs Kotonowaka – Let this one sink in – Kagayaki is kachi-koshi (8-3), and on the leader board. Not that his performance is amazing right now, just that’s how weak the leader board is. If rising star Kotonowaka (7-4) can’t beat him up and take his lunch money, I will be surprised. A Kotonowaka win today would be kachi-koshi for him.

Tobizaru vs Wakamotoharu – Oh, just when my interest was starting to wane, here we have a fine example of scheduling. Tobizaru (5-6) has lost 3 of the last 4, and needs to win three out of the last 4 to reach kachi-koshi (see what they did there?) He’s up against Wakamotoharu (6-5) who is the polar opposite of Tobizaru’s wild, frantic sumo. Can’t wait.

Tamawashi vs Endo – Big match of people who we all wish were fighting better. Perennial favorite Endo (5-6) has only had one kachi-koshi this year, a 8-7 at Osaka. He’s up against September yusho winner Tamawashi (3-8), who I can only image is hurt and just can’t fight at his normal level of power. They have a 30 match history between them – wow.

Midorifuji vs Daieisho – Back to a pair of middle of the road fighters, we have 6-5 Midorifuji, and 5-6 Daieisho. I am still impressed that Midorifuji is able to be competitive at this rank in only his 4th top division basho, he only won their only prior match.

Oho vs Hoshoryu – You might say, hey, what’s this match? An M13 fighting off against a Sekiwake? Well, the Maegashira 13 is Oho, and one behind the leader, 10-1 Hoshoryu, who is his opponent today. Oho (9-2) is kind of a surprise this basho, and if he manages a win today, would throw the yusho race into chaos, by drawing even with Hoshoryu, and should Takayasu also win, turn this into a 3 way fight to the end. Surprisingly, they have had three prior matches, which Oho won 2 of them. Welcome to the big leagues, Oho.

Wakatakakage vs Abi – We just had a key match to shape the yusho race, what can we do next? Oh yeah! Lets try to take Wakatakakage’s Ozeki bid and see if we can run it aground! Abi is already kachi-koshi at 8-3, against 6-5 Wakatakakage, who I expected to be in the yusho race at this time. Wakatakakage has a narrow 2-1 career edge.

Sadanoumi vs Mitakeumi – Now that we had our fight, we can have our wake. Mitakeumi’s Ozeki career is done, will he also end this tournament make-koshi? At 4-7, he’s one loss away from that outcome, and I will be a bit surprised if Sadanoumi is the one who delivers the kill shot.

Takakeisho vs Nishikifuji – Both men are 8-3, so they are both securely kachi-koshi. This battle is to see which one of them will stay in the hunt for the cup, though the winner is going to hope that Oho can accomplish the unlikely.

Kiribayama vs Shodai – Just when you think it’s all done, along comes this nugget. Kiribayama at 7-4 can secure a winning record by defeating kadoban Ozeki Shodai (5-6). The problem is, I think we have Yokozuna Shodai from the parallel universe around, at least he was on day 11. If that guy hangs around, it’s wins every day until senshuraku. But if it’s normal Shodai, we may get to see him make-koshi, and follow Mitakeumi rank down the drain.