If I had to give a name to today, it would be “Donor Day”. There are several matches where 7-5 rikishi are up against make-koshi rikishi who are probably fighting hurt. So have the poorly performing ones donate a key win to get the ones you want to ensure are kachi-koshi that important 8th win. Sure… why not.
The yusho race is a tie between Daieisho and Midorifuji. They both have matches that they have a good chance of winning today, and that should set up a head to head contest either day 14 or day 15. While it is natural to focus on the two leaders, the three men in the hunt group have a good shot at being involved in the final two days if either of the leaders pick up another loss. This could be an exciting finish to a solid basho.
Leaders: Daieisho, Midorifuji
Chasers: Kiribayama ,Wakamotoharu, Kotonowaka
Hunt Group: Hoshoryu, Endo, Daishoho, Kinbozan, Chiyoshoma
3 Matches Remain
What We Are Watching Day 13
Ichinojo (11-1) vs Bushozan (4-8) – Once again we get Ichinojo visiting the top division from Juryo. He has already secured his first-class ticket back to Makuuchi, and now it’s time to see how much he can run up the score. He is right now in sole possession of the lead for the Juryo yusho, with Asanoyama one win behind. He has never fought Bushozan before, but given that Bushozan is already 4-8 and fighting poorly, I don’t expect this to be much contest.
Mitoryu (6-6) vs Takanosho (7-5) – A Takanosho win today would be kachi-koshi for him, and I expect he is going to have every gram of sumo power he can summon on hand today. He has a 1-6 career deficit against Mitoryu, who needs 2 more wins to reach the safety of 8.
Azumaryu (2-10) vs Oho (6-6) – I am going to guess this is a “donor” match, where an poorly fighting Azumaryu donates a white start to keep perennial dumpling Oho around in the top division. Out of their five prior matches, Azumaryu has won 2 of them, but I doubt he will be able to prevail today.
Hokuseiho (7-5) vs Nishikifuji (7-5) – Winner of this match gets kachi-koshi. They have never fought before, and both have struggled in week 2. I give a slight edge to Hokuseiho due to his enormity.
Myogiryu (5-7) vs Takarafuji (5-7) – Loser of this match is make-koshi, and I am going to guess that Takarafuji with 5 wins has done enough to secure his presence in the top division for at least one more basho. These two have a 25 match history, with the score of 16-9 favoring Myogiryu, who won 2 of their 3 matches in 2022.
Kinbozan (8-4) vs Hiradoumi (6-6) – Another first ever match, its kachi-koshi Kinbozan looking to run up the score against Hiradoumi needing 2 more wins over the last 3 days to hit his 8. I think that Hiradoumi has a solid shot here, given that he brings a lot of strength to his matches, and can win if he gets his hands where he wants them.
Aoiyama (5-7) vs Tsurugisho (6-6) – A classic battle of the mega-fauna! Both of these whoppers are close enough to 200kg to be classified as cargo, and it’s going to be big vs big on the dohyo today. An Aoiyama loss today would be make-koshi, and the best he can hope for is a day 15 Darwin match at this point.
Daishoho (8-4) vs Ura (6-6) – I agree with the schedulers, it’s time for Ura to get lined up for his Darwin match on day 15. He has a 3-0 record against Daishoho, so I am looking for him to get his 7th win today as a prelude for 7-7 to start Sunday.
Ichiyamamoto (4-8) vs Kotoeko (7-5) – This might be another “donor” match, with the injured Ichiyamamoto donating a white star to Kotoeko to allow him to complete his kachi-koshi. Kotoeko has won 4 of their 5 prior matches.
Chiyoshoma (8-4) vs Takayasu (7-5) – Ok Takayasu fans, time to hope he can beat Chiyoshoma and at least get his score to 8 wins. Given how well he started the basho, its a surprise to see that he has now gone 1-5 since he fought Ichiyamamoto on day 6.
Kagayaki (5-7) vs Nishikigi (3-9) – Kagayaki needs to win the remainder of his matches to reach kachi-koshi, and he’s got an even match against an already make-koshi Nishikigi. If Kagayaki can get a hand hold on Nishikigi, he tends to be able to limit Nishikigi’s mobility, and win the match. Nishikigi’s job today – stay mobile. They share a 9-8 career record.
Mitakeumi (4-8) vs Sadanoumi (4-8) – Both are already make-koshi with matching 4-8 records. It’s a battle of the make-koshi to see if either of them can soften their demotion range. Mitakeumi has a 3-1 career record, but as both of them are fighting poorly, its anyone’s guess how this one is going to go.
Ryuden (1-11) vs Shodai (7-5) – Shodai needs one more win to reach kachi-koshi, and I think he should be able to get that today. With Ryuden fighting poorly most likely due to a chronic hip injury that was never given time to heal, he’s only 1-11. Yes, likely another donor match to get Shodai to kachi-koshi.
Tamawashi (3-9) vs Kotoshoho (4-8) – Botha re already kachi-koshi, but I really liked how Kotoshoho rallied on day 12 in his fight against Ura. Tamawashi is a much larger, more powerful opponent, so we may not see the excellent mobility Kotoshoho used against Ura. They share an even 2-2 record.
Abi (7-5) vs Tobizaru (4-8) – A win today is kachi-koshi for Abi, though that day 12 stinker against Mitakeumi left a bad impression that may take a while to fade. Tobizaru already make-koshi at 4-8, and ends up with a demotion in spite of his solid sumo in the “big” matches.
Daieisho (10-2) vs Meisei (4-8) – Daieisho gets what should be a cream-puff match against an already make-koshi Meisei. A Daieisho win today would either keep him even with Midorifuji or put him one ahead, depending on the outcome of the penultimate match of the day. Daieisho has an 11-3 career record against Meisei.
Wakamotoharu (9-3) vs Hokutofuji (7-5) – This might look like another donor match, but Hokutofuji is quite capable of defeating Wakamotoharu, provided he is in acceptable physical condition. In fact, he has a narrow 3-2 career record against Wakamotoharu, and won 3 of their 4 matches in 2022.
Kiribayama (9-3) vs Endo (8-4) – I was disappointed to watch Endo flub his day 12 match. There are times he relies far too much on that left hand frontal grab at the tachiai, and when it fails (as it did day 12 against Wakamotoharu), he is left to improvise, poorly. I think this is going to Kiribayama’s match to lose if he can keep his hips out of Endo’s reach for the first and second step.
Midorifuji (10-2) vs Hoshoryu (8-4) – Hoshoryu has a chance to shape the yusho race, if he can best Midorifuji. He has only a single win against him in 7 attempt, with the win coming day 5 of Kyushu 2022. Since then Midorifuji won their rematch on day 6 of Hatsu. This should be quite the battle.
Wakatakakage (6-6) vs Kotonowaka (9-3) – At first glance, this might look like a yawner, but Wakatakakage needs to win 2 of his last 3 to hold rank, and I think that Kotonowaka, at 9-3, smells that the promotion lane might be open later this year, and wants to start racking up the 11+ wins per basho to try for Ozeki. They are evenly matched with a 5-4 career record, so I expect a brawl here.