Haru Day 13 Highlights

First off, Chiyonokuni withdrew from the March tournament on day 13, finally kachi-koshi, he’s going to address his dislocated thumb, and from what I read, a cracked rib? Good grief man! Not sure how you kept with it to get your 8 wins, but wow!

Two of our story lines evolved, one resolved, the other complicated. Triumph first then.

We congratulate Terunofuji for getting to 34 wins, including 10 wins this tournament, and likely completing his quest to return to Ozeki after falling to professional sumo’s second lowest division. Likely one of the greatest comeback stories in the history of sports. No matter what you may feel about Terunofuji, this is a monument to human spirit and courage. I am going to be so happy to see him hoist at least one giant red fish in the next few days.

But before we could shout for joy at Terunofuji carried Shodai out like bag of rice, we saw Takayasu falter on campaign to win his first yusho. In spite of multiple opportunities to finish Wakatakakage, he was unable to finish him. To my eye, he looked to be moving poorly, and I have to wonder if either that knee that imploded last March or that elbow that received a Tamawashi “arm-breaker” kotenage are starting to bother him. He and Terunofuji are tied for the lead with 10 wins each, thought I think Takayasu still has the inside edge for the cup, we now know the winning score will be no higher than 12-3.

Highlight Matches

Kotoeko defeats Chiyomaru – Chiyomaru goes down and surrenders sole lead in Juryo via a brutal slippiotoshi. He got the better of the tachiai, and had the upper hand for most of the match. Kotoeko fought well, and improves to 7-6. The result is a 3 way tie in the Juryo yusho race going into the final weekend.

Akiseyama defeats Yutakayama – Yutakayama came out of the tachiai strong, and attacked center mass. Akiseyama knew he had trouble with that formula, and expertly times a reverse at the bales. With his back now to the center of the ring, Akiseyama got a belt hold, and bushel-basket carried Yutakayama out for his 7th win. Yutakayama drops to 4-9.

Hidenoumi defeats Kotoshoho – Freshly returned Kotoshoho could not make it two wins in a row. Hidenoumi shows no intention of letting up on winning sumo has he throws Kotoshoho to the clay for his 9th win of March. He will probably be mid-Maegashira in May.

Daiamami defeats Chiyotairyu – Daiamami sends the thunder-god to make-koshi with a surprisingly straight forward yorikiri. I am not sure what Chiyotairyu had in mind, but it probably was not that. Daiamami improves to 7-6.

Chiyoshoma defeats Ryuden – This was an odd looking fight, as they neither closed to go chest to chest, nor stayed in effective oshi-range. Instead they kept some distance apart and swatted at each other for a good 30 second. Chiyoshoma endup up attempting and getting a belt grip, and brining Ryuden out. Both end the day at 6-7.

Kaisei defeats Midorifuji – Yeah Midorifuji is in tough shape. He can’t offer much against Kaisei, who sends Midorifuji out with a fairly gentle shove. Kaisei improves to 7-6.

Aoiyama defeats Tobizaru – Tobizaru went for a double inside grip, and Aoiyama pinned him there, eliminating Tobizaru’s sole advantage – mobility. With his opponent captured, the green giant Aoiyama marched forward, carrying the smaller Tobizaru pinned to his enormous belly like a hapless bug splattered on the enormous chrome grill of a truck rolling down the road. Aoiyama improves to 9-4.

Kotonowaka defeats Terutsuyoshi – Terutsuyoshi could not produce much forward power against Kotonowaka, and seemed to not quite know what to try next. When he did make a coherent aggressive play, Kotonowaka grabbed an arm and brought him off balance. It took 3 tries from Kotonowaka, but he got Terutsuyoshi out and improved to 5-8.

Hoshoryu defeats Kagayaki – Kagayaki opened strong, but Hoshoryu got both hands inside. Kagayaki brought his hands inside, locking Hoshoryu’s arms in place. Many times, this would mean Hoshoryu was in a tight spot, but Hoshoryu consolidated his position, shifted his weight and thrust his right leg forward, setting the trip as he pushed Kagayaki forward. Nice move, and the win gave Hoshoryu his kachi-koshi. Sadly, Kagayaki is make koshi with that same beautiful move.

Tochinoshin defeats Kiribayama – Tochinoshin dodged the tachiai by slipping to his left, sort of a mini-henka, and was rewarded with a left hand outside grip. From there, as we all guessed, he set up the sky-crane, and hoisted Kiribayama off the clay, and placed him outside the ring to improve to 6-7, and send Kiribayama into make-koshi land.

Shimanoumi defeats Okinoumi – A surprisingly good see-saw battle from two men that started the day with 3-9 records. It ended with Shimanoumi breaking contact, slipping to the side and pushing Okinoumi out from behind. Shimanoumi improves to 4-9.

Hokutofuji defeats Ichinojo – Hokutofuji stayed low, and did a good job of stalemating Ichinojo. We all know that some days Ichinojo does not deal well with stalemates. The entire time, Hokutofuji is working to improve his hand placement, and when he gets his right hand against the front of Ichinojo’s chest, he turns on the forward power and moves the Mongolian giant out for his 8th win. A well earned kachi-koshi for Hokutofuji.

Onosho defeats Takarafuji – In a terrible contest of “Whose sumo is worse?”, Onosho does his best pengo impersonation, moving the block that is Takarafuji smartly forward and out of the ring. This is only Onosho’s third win of March.

Daieisho defeats Meisei – Points to Meisei, he gave it a good effort, but this newly re-energized Daieisho is a tough man to beat. Once Daieisho gets his sumo in forward gear, he escorts Meisei across the bales to improve to 7-6.

Mitakeumi defeats Tamawashi – Mitakeumi took the inside lane at the tachiai, and kept up the forward pressure. Tamawashi has no opportunity to really take back the initiative, and found himself pushed out to drop to 5-8 and make-koshi for March. Mitakeumi improves to 6-7.

Wakatakakage defeats Takayasu – A heartbreaker of a match, there were at least half a dozen times when Takayasu could have put Wakatakakage out or down, but could not capitalize on them. Takayasu drops to 10-3, Wakatakakage improves to 9-4.

Myogiryu defeats Takanosho – Their mutual shoving match was going no where, but it did give Myogiryu an opportunity to slap down Takanosho near the bales. Both end the day at 6-7, joining the group of candidates for Darwin on da 15.

Takakeisho defeats Asanoyama – Our first Ozeki fight of the tournament goes to Takakeisho. This match really underscores how quickly Asanoyama’s sumo is taken down a few notches if he can’t get his belt grip. He did manage to stay in the match long enough for Takakeisho to get tired and start making wild moves. One of the wild moves slapped Asanoyama to the clay, as Takakeisho improves to 9-4.

Terunofuji defeats Shodai – Fast, sharp and powerful – Terunofuji got a frontal grip at the tachiai as Shodai came in soft and vague. Terunofuji gave him no time or space to regroup, and powered forward to take Shodai over the tawara. 10 wins for Terunofuji, he completes the goal set for his return to Ozeki, and is now co-leader with Takayasu.

Haru Day 13 Preview

It’s the start of the final weekend of the basho, and we are at the cusp of resolving some story lines around this tournament, including some new ones that have presented themselves as the past 12 days of competition were written into history. I like Terunofuji’s chances of beating an Ozeki in the last three days, and that would give him 10. I like Takayasu’s chances of going 12-3 or 13-2 to take the yusho, and that would not just hand him a cup, but give him a solid start to re-taking his former Ozeki rank. Of the three contestants for the cup, Takayasu has the easier route. He faces Wakatakakage today, and two rikishi ranked below Ozeki for day 14 and 15. I think those may be Tobizaru and Chiyonokuni, both of which will give him a good battle.

Haru Leaderboard

Leader: Takayasu
Chasers: Asanoyama, Terunofuji, Tobizaru
Hunt Group: Takakeisho, Wakatakakage, Meisei, Tobizaru, Chiyonokuni, Aoiyama, Hidenoumi

3 Matches Remain

What We Are Watching Day 13

Kotoeko vs Chiyomaru – Hey! Chiyomaru is today’s Juryo visitor. With 9-3 at Juryo 3, there is a fair chance this supremely round fellow will re-join the elite ranks of the top division for May. He faces Kotoeko, who has to be less than thrilled. Kotoeko needs 2 wins out of the last 3 to avoid make-koshi, and he has a 3-5 career deficit against Chiyomaru.

Akiseyama vs Yutakayama – Likewise Akiseyama needs to win 2 of his last 3 to avoid make-koshi, and he’s against already Juryo-bound Yutakayama today. Yutakayama is really looking unwell, and I think that for his last 3 matches, he will be hard pressed to find any more wins.

Hidenoumi vs Kotoshoho – I can’t wait to see if Kotoshoho can win 2 in a row after coming back from 8 days kyujo. This guy really can show some great sumo, and was completely off his form for the first 3 days of the basho. Maybe he was able to fix whatever the problem was, and he’s back to good form?

Chiyotairyu vs Daiamami – Surprisingly, a first ever match between these two rikishi. Chiyotairyu needs to win all of his last 3 to avoid make-koshi, and Daiamami needs 2. I expect this mathematical impossibility to result in some hard hitting action today.

Chiyoshoma vs Ryuden – Likewise, both of these guys are in dire need of wins in the remaining 3 days, with Chiyoshoma needing 3 and Ryuden needing 2. Both of them will likely remain in the top division if the expected make-koshi should happen. But you can maybe look for some kind of full-throttle henka action from Chiyoshoma today.

Midorifuji vs Kaisei – What kind of cruel oyakata would put an injured Midorifuji up against nearly 200 kg of Kaisei? There is literally 100kg different between these guys. Kaisei, please be gentle on this guy. First ever match.

Chiyonokuni vs Tsurugisho – Tsurugisho needs one more to complete his 8, but he’s going to really have a challenge against Chiyonokuni. Chiyonokuni holds a 3-1 career advantage, and he is been fighting really well.

Aoiyama vs Tobizaru – Both are fighting well, both are kachi-koshi already, and I expect some sparks out of this match today. Will it be Big Dan’s V-Twin crushing attack, or will we see Tobizaru’s hit and move sumo carry the day? Bring it on!

Kotonowaka vs Terutsuyoshi – Terutsuyoshi still has a chance to rescue his score and achieve his 8th win, but he will need to win 2 more. He’s got Kotonowaka, who has been struggling since day 1, and has not been able to put together back to back wins this March.

Hoshoryu vs Kagayaki – A Hoshoryu win today is kachi-koshi for him and make-koshi for Kagayaki. But I don’t think it’s quite that cut and dried. I think we may see some solid fundamentals overcome at least some of Hoshoryu’s defenses. Hoshoryu won their only prior match, but Kagayaki is motivated by being one loss away from his 8th defeat.

Kiribayama vs Tochinoshin – Sort of a pre-Darwin match. The loser is make-koshi today, and the other gets to struggle on and hope to win 2 more. Simply put, both of them are a bit too banged up to really achieve kachi-koshi in this tournament, so I hope they are plotting their strong return in May.

Okinoumi vs Shimanoumi – Good grief! Both of them have terrible 3-9 records starting the match today. One of them will exit with a staggering 10 losses on the dohyo. Move over Onosho, you may have competition for the worst record of Haru.

Hokutofuji vs Ichinojo – Did you know you wanted to see this match? I know I did. You have Ol’Stompy going up against the Mongolian Boulder, and the winner gets kachi-koshi. You could note that Hokutofuji holds a 6-4 career record, but Ichinojo is fighting quite well right now, and will be tough for Hokutofuji to beat.

Takarafuji vs Onosho – Oh wait, it CAN get worse than the Okinoumi vs Shimanoumi match. Both of them are 2-10! Is it possible for either of the Maegashira 1’s have such a bad record that they could fall completely out of the top division? I sure hope not. No matter who wins this match, it’s a sore subject.

Meisei vs Daieisho – Daieisho has never lost to Meisei, so I am expecting him to power this thing across the bales with a flurry of thrusting attacks. Daieisho needs 2 more wins for kachi-koshi, and that would be a remarkable recovery from his 1-5 start.

Tamawashi vs Mitakeumi – The loser of today’s mini-Darwin match gets a make-koshi for March, and the winner gets to struggle on. Both of them are likely headed for 8 losses, we are just working to see which day they hit that number. Mitakeumi holds a 22-7 career record, so it’s not good news for the cookie-baker.

Takayasu vs Wakatakakage – Going into the final 3 days, the pressure really starts to mount. I personally think that Takayasu has the upper hand in this match, even though Wakatakakage has a narrow 2-1 career advantage. He’s been close to winning the cup, with 4 jun-yusho in his career. But long suffering fans wonder if this is the time he can actually take home the hardware.

Myogiryu vs Takanosho – Takanosho needs 2 of his last 3 to hit kachi-koshi, and keep his Sekiwake slot. Given the number of wins Takayasu may end up with, and a likely Ozeki re-promotion for Terunofuji, there could be a rather interesting shuffle in the san’yaku. A loss today puts Myogiryu make-koshi for Haru.

Takakeisho vs Asanoyama – It’s time for the Ozeki battles! And first up is Takakeisho and Asanoyama. Who gets the first hit, and will it be a yotsu-zumo fight that favors Asanoyama, or will Takakeisho open a gap in Asanoyama’s defenses and attack with his tsuppari? Both are kachi-koshi, so this is just battling for wins right now.

Shodai vs Terunofuji – Terunofuji just needs to beat one of these guys, and I like his chances best against Shodai. Since Terunofuji’s return to the top division, he has a 2-1 record against Shodai, winning the last two. Clearly he knows how to do it, and I am hoping that we get to see some full bore kaiju action today to seal the deal on promotion.

Haru Day 12 Highlights

Ozeki Takakeisho, with a win today over Okinoumi, has cleared kadoban and will remain an Ozeki for the May tournament. I am delighted to see Takakeisho affirm his rank, and to do it with some solid sumo this March. As we are on the cusp of the final three days of this tournament, the next story to wrap up may be the Ozeki bid by Terunofuji, who picked up his 9th win today against Tamawashi. Finally, the yusho race remained nearly static, as all the leading rikishi won their matches except for Tobizaru, who drops out of the pack 1 win behind Takayasu.

Highlight Matches

Kotoeko defeats Kaisei – Kotoeko kept his hands low at the tachiai, and was rewarded with a double inside body grip. This was quickly converted to powerful forward motion, and seconds later a 6th win. Both end the day at 6-6.

Tsurugisho defeats Chiyonoo – Tsurugisho’s early front grip did not last, but he used his larger mass and enormous belly to keep Chiyonoo on defense, and moved him about effectively. Tsurugisho improves to 7-5.

Aoiyama defeats Daiamami – Big Dan Aoiyama hits his 8th win for a well deserved kachi-koshi. Daiamami had a good opening combo, but he could not convert it to usable offense, and Aoiyama took over. The match ended with Daiamami’s head in the salt basket. I suppose Aoiyama wanted to make sure he had lost.

Hidenoumi defeats Chiyotairyu – Hidenoumi absorbed Chiyotairyu’s cannonball tachiai, and got Chiyotairyu turned to the side for a force out. That is Hidenoumi’s first ever top division kachi-koshi, and I am sure the folks at Kise heya celebrated. What a long tough road for Hidenoumi, who entered sumo in 2012.

Kotoshoho defeats Terutsuyoshi – Back from kyujo, Kotoshoho comes out strong and surprises not only Terutsuyoshi, but most sumo fans as well. He over powered Terutsuyoshi at the tachiai, and completely disrupted Terutsuyoshi’s last ditch attempt to throw at the tawara. On day 13, Kotoshoho finally gets his first win.

Ryuden defeats Yutakayama – Yutakayama opened strong, but could not finish Ryuden. Ryuden gets an opening to place his hands inside, and switches to offense, taking the win and giving Yutakayama his 8th loss for a make-koshi in March. I am sad to see Yutakayama take a berth on the barge to Juryo, but he seems to be in need of some remediation.

Akiseyama defeats Hoshoryu – Almost picture perfect tachiai from Hoshoryu, who had a right hand under Akiseyama’s chin and a left hand against his pectoral. But the excellent start rapidly gave way to a strong Akiseyama counter attack. Akiseyama giant belly was on the move, and try as he could, Hoshoryu could not find enough leverage to slow things down or stop him. Akiseyama improves to 6-6.

Kotonowaka defeats Chiyoshoma – Chiyoshoma seemed to be a bit under powered today. Kotonowaka absorbed everything Chiyoshoma was delivering, and still managed to move forward. Kotonowaka improves to 4-8.

Ichinojo defeats Midorifuji – Ichinojo brutes ahead, taking Midorifuji to his chest and rapidly moves him out. With Midorifuji nursing an injury, there is not much he could do against Ichinojo if Ichinojo was actually fighting today. Midorifuji hits his 8th loss and is make-koshi for Haru. Ichinojo improves to 7-5.

Chiyonokuni defeats Myogiryu – Myogiryu had the advantage from the tachiai, with a left hand inside, and superior body position. As he was being moved back by Myogiryu, Chiyonokuni loaded up a rescue throw at the edge and connected to pick up his 8th win, and a well earned kachi-koshi for March.

Meisei defeats Tobizaru – Tobizaru got one combo in at the tachiai, and then it was all Meisei. Launching a thrusting attack squarely at center mass, Meisei got Tobizaru moving, then thrust him out for his 8th win, and kachi-koshi. Tobizaru drops out of the group 1 win behind Takayasu.

Kagayaki defeats Shimanoumi – Shimanoumi’s sumo lacks any real forward power now, and I would guess whatever injury has been robbing him of his typically powerful offense is really starting to hurt, and he picks up his 9th loss today, helping Kagayaki dodge make-koshi today.

Tochinoshin defeats Takarafuji – Takarafuji played his best “defend and extend” hand today, taking Tochinoshin to his chest and keeping him locked up and stalemated at the center of the dohyo. A protracted leaning / endurance contest ensued, with Tochinoshin gradually working to set up his right hand for the finishing throw. With the win, Tochinoshin improves to 5-7.

Kiribayama defeats Onosho – Onosho’s miserable record ties him with Takarafuji down in the basement of the top division. Onosho chose to fight this one out on the belt, and his yotsu-zumo is not quite up to putting Kiribayama down. Kiribayama worked to set up a pivot at the bales, and took the match away from Onosho, who drops to 2-10.

Takayasu defeats Hokutofuji – Hokutofuji opened strong, but was deflected on his third thrust. As his body turned, Takayasu pivoted and drove him from the ring. Brutal, quick and effective. Takayasu improves to 10-2 and remains in the lead for the cup.

Wakatakakage defeats Daieisho – Daieisho had a thrusting attack pattern up and running at the second step, but Wakatakakage kept shifting under the pressure. This kept Daieisho turning, and unable to hit a second thrust with his hips and shoulders squared against his opponent, robbing him of full power. Wakatakakage kept this running until he had Daieisho near the bales, and a quick hatakikomi finished the match. That’s 8 wins for Wakatakakage, and kachi-koshi with his first ever win over Daieisho.

Terunofuji defeats Tamawashi – Tamawashi came out strong and agressive at the tachiai, and had Terunofuji on his back foot almost at once. Getting an “arm breaker” hold on Terunofuji, Tamawashi delivered combo after combo, and he kept moving Terunofuji back, and it looked like a loss for the Ozeki hopeful. But an over-extension by Tamawashi and a well placed thrust put Tamawashi to the clay, and Terunofuji improves to 9-3.

Asanoyama defeats Mitakeumi – Asanoyama got the grip at the tachiai, and Mitakeumi could do litter more than go along for the ride. Asanoyama remains 1 win behind Takayasu in the yusho race, and improves his score to 9-3.

Shodai defeats Takanosho – Takanosho gets a right hand nodowa at the tachiai, raising up the already poorly positioned Shodai moments after the tachiai. But today Shodai shifted to break the attack and focused on bringing Takanosho forward and disrupting his balance. Two combo hits later, Takanosho is face down on the clay, and Shodai improves to 7-5.

Takakeisho defeats Okinoumi – This was an odd butsukari match, with Okinoumi acting as the ballast for Takakeisho’s powerful forward motion. Unable to do much other than try to slow the Ozeki down, Okinoumi quickly found himself forced out of the ring. Takakeisho has his 8th win, and clears kadoban on day 12.

Haru Day 12 Preview

With Takayasu dropping his day 11 match to Shodai, the yusho race opens up quite a bit (stats below). Again going into the “What will the winning record be?”, we can now say it will be no better than 13-2. At that mark, only Takayasu has a chance to take home the cup. But I think 12-3 is far more likely. At that score, we have a chance that at least one of the list of Takayasu, Asanoyama, Terunofuji (whom I picked pre-basho), and plucky Tobizaru! Tobizaru is the name of great interest. He has yet to face Takayasu, and in their only prior match, Tobizaru won. I would not be surprised to see a day 13 or 14 match against the flying monkey.

The next big question is Terunofuji. He has yet to face the Ozeki, and faces Tamawashi on day 12, leaving him to rotate through Asanoyama, Takakeisho and Shodai on days 13, 14, 15. In what can’t be good news for Asanoyama, he has yet to beat Terunofuji in any of their 4 prior matches. The news is not much better for Shodai, who seems to serve as fair practice ballast for the kaiju, having only won 4 against Terunofuji’s 6, and only once since Terunofuji’s return to the top division. Terunofuji fares poorly against the Grand Tadpole, with Takakeisho holding a 3-1 career advantage. That wave-action tsuppari really take their toll on the kaiju, it seems. Terunofuji with 10 wins to finish Haru seem to be a good bet right now, and both Asanoyama and Terunofuji’s route to 12 wins is really rocky at this point – the would both have to win out, and at some point they face each other. So once again, my attention returns to Tobizaru. I am sure the schedulers area going to give him some very hard matches soon, but he has shown an ability to surprise. What a great final 4 days!

Haru Leaderboard

Leader: Takayasu
Chasers: Asanoyama, Terunofuji, Tobizaru
Hunt Group: Takakeisho, Hokutofuji, Wakatakakage, Meisei, Chiyonokuni, Hoshoryu, Aoiyama ,Hidenoumi

4 Matches Remain

What We Are Watching Day 12

Kotoeko vs Kaisei – The vast mass difference in these two means that Kaisei, if he can plan his feet and keep Kotoeko centered, will pick up his 4th win in a row over the Sadogatake rikishi. Kaisei is just 2 wins away from a kachi-koshi, and while is sumo is fairly stationary, sometimes being enormous is a valid strategy.

Chiyonoo vs Tsurugisho – Chiyonoo comes to visit from Juryo, facing off against Tsurugisho for the 12th time in his career. Chiyonoo, ranked at Juryo 3, has a chance at a promotion to the top division in May. This would be 4+ years since his last top division banzuke. Good luck guys!

Daiamami vs Aoiyama – Big Dan Aoiyama is one win away from kachi-koshi, and given how strongly he has been fighting (3 wins in a row), I think he’s going to have a distinct advantage over Daiamami. Aoiyama, who has a 4-2 career advantage, tends to us a “stand him up, slap him down” technique against Daiamami.

Chiyotairyu vs Hidenoumi – Long time sumo fans around the world are eager to see if Hidenoumi can finally have his first ever career kachi-koshi in the top division. At 31 years old, and 53 basho, the former Nihon University athlete will achieve a welcome milestone with a win over thunder-god Chiyotairyu today.

Terutsuyoshi vs Kotoshoho – For reasons no one at Tachiai can fathom, Kotoshoho is back from kyujo to face Terutsuyoshi. Seriously, Kotoshoho, your sumo was a wreck before you went kyujo. Unless you have found some magic potion to get your body in working order, it’s not going to pan out for you.

Yutakayama vs Ryuden – Ryuden can deliver a make-koshi loss for Yutakayama today, should he prevail. Both of these rikishi are fighting well below their career median, and I hope that should Yutakayama return to Juryo, he use the return to the junior division to get his body in condition.

Akiseyama vs Hoshoryu – A win today gives Hoshoryu a kachi-koshi at his highest ever rank (M9w). I personally see Hoshoryu having a lot of growth to do in terms of his sumo, but I note with some interest that since entering the top division last September at Maegashira 16, he has managed to stay in spite of a make-koshi in the middle of that run.

Kotonowaka vs Chiyoshoma – Kotonowaka holds a 3-0 career advantage over Chiyoshoma, but I think Haru day 12 may be the day that Chiyoshoma puts up his first win in that record. Kotonowaka, like his stable-mate Kotoshoho, is fighting poorly, and needs to regroup.

Midorifuji vs Ichinojo – The schedulers always love putting the little guys up against Ichinojo. Its like when the new guy at work has to do the really ugly work for a while. Midorifuji has lost both previous attempts, and a loss today would be a make-koshi for Haru.

Chiyonokuni vs Myogiryu – Chiyonokuni only needs 1 more win to reach his 8, but i don’t think fans should pin their hopes on day 12. He has a 3-5 career deficit against Myogiryu, coupled with a distinct fade in Chiyonokuni’s sumo since he injured his right thumb in week 1.

Meisei vs Tobizaru – Meisei needs one more win for kachi-koshi, but if prior tournaments are any indicator, Tobizaru won’t back off the intensity even though he has reached kachi-koshi. Meisei also holds a 4-1 career advantage, so I am expecting a basho and smash battle between these two today.

Kagayaki vs Shimanoumi – Shimanoumi, who seems to have lost to everyone except Terunofuji, can deliver make-koshi to Kagayaki with a win today. But I very much doubt that Shimanoumi will be able to summon enough genki power to make it happen. Both of these guys seem to be suffering from some kind of crummy sumo malfunction this March.

Takarafuji vs Tochinoshin – Takarafuji’s defend and extend defense works about half of the time against Tochinoshin. The former Ozeki is one loss away from his own make-koshi, so he should be fighting with a touch more urgency today.

Kiribayama vs Onosho – Onosho has a chance to deliver make-koshi to Kiribayama today. Onosho has not lost to Kiribayama, ever. So maybe he can keep his balance centered and just pound Kiribayama into the clay. With a miserable 2-9 record going into day 12, what does he have to lose?

Takayasu vs Hokutofuji – One of the big matches of the day, it’s puts Takayasu’s 1 win yusho lead on the line against Hokutofuji, whom Takayasu trades wins with every couple of months (7-7 career). I want to see Takayasu prevail today, but he’s going to have to be very careful with Hokutofuji’s nodowa. Should he manage to land that thing, it may be tough to keep in the fight. A Hokutofuji win today would be kachi-koshi for him.

Wakatakakage vs Daieisho – I really like this match, although it is likely overshadowed by some of the higher profile contests today. This pits a born-again genki Daieisho against a rikishi who seems to be ramping up his sumo into the second week, Wakatakakage. This is only their second ever match, with Daieisho blowing Wakatakakage off the dohyo in November. I almost expect a repeat ejection ceremony, but I have a suspicion that Wakatakakage may make it a bit more of a challenge this month. A Wakatakakage win today would be kachi-koshi.

Terunofuji vs Tamawashi – Since Terunofuji’s return to the top division, he has not lost to Tamawashi, and I don’t expect that to change on day 12. This would take Terunofuji to one win away from justifying an Ozeki bid, and push Tamawashi to one loss from make-koshi.

Mitakeumi vs Asanoyama – I know Asanoyama wants to vie for the yusho, but he has perhaps the toughest road of all of the candidates. Today he begins his final 4 days with Mitakeumi, who in spite of being hit or miss this March, tends to always be genki and ready for Asanoyama. Although Mitakeumi has a 5-3 career advantage, they have been trading wins since January 2020.

Shodai vs Takanosho – Shodai needs 2 more wins in 4 days to avoid kadoban. I think he should be able to do this without too many problems. He holds a distinct 4-2 advantage over Takanosho, taking the last two in a row. I am a bit sad this match is happening on day 12, as I think there is a clear path where both of these guys could end up in a position for a Darwin match on day 15.

Takakeisho vs Okinoumi – Takakeisho knows well that he must keep Okinoumi away from his belt, and provided he succeeds, he will clear kadoban today. He holds a 8-4 career advantage over Okinoumi, and the man from Simane-ken has been fighting poorly, possibly due to a chronic injury.