Aki Day 7 Preview

A short preview today, as I am pressed for time. I do hope that the matches turn out well today, as sumo fans could use a nice weekend of giant asian men smashing into each other and tossing their sumo chums around.

What We Are Watching Day 7

Mitoryu vs Tokushoryu – We continue the banzuke imbalance, and today its J1E Mitoryu to visit the top division. He is the first in line for promotion if he gets 8 wins, but he comes to his Saturday in Makuuchi with a worrisom 2-4 record. If its any consolation, he faces 1-5 Tokushoryu who may find himself on the wrong side of a Juryo swap in November.

Ichiyamamoto vs Tsurugisho – Ichiyamamoto (1-5) has a hurt knee, and he’s in no condition to take on a 200kg rikishi any day soon. He won their only prior match which was in Nagoya 2 months ago. After going kyujo for a day with a fever, Tsurugisho (3-3) has won his last 2 in a row.

Kagayaki vs Chiyomaru – The first high interest match, in spite of the massive weight difference between the two, Kagayaki is even with Chiyomaru over his career at 7-7. Its anyone’s guess how this one will turn out, and the mystery just doubles my curiosity about this match.

Kaisei vs Tochinoshin – 23 match history between these two grizzled veterans, and both of them are having a poor 2-4 start to Aki. Since re-injuring his knee and losing his Ozeki rank, he has only beaten Kaisei once. So there is a good chance that we will see him dominate Tochinoshin today.

Yutakayama vs Kotoeko – I still have hopes that Yutakayama can achieve at least kachi-koshi in his return to the top division. His sumo seems sloppy and one dimensional these days, and maybe that comes from his primary training partner being Shodai. He tends to use whatever sometimes works against Shodai. Sadly because Shodai is not characteristic of the rikishi he faces, his sumo suffers a bit. He and Kotoeko are largely tied over their 9 match career, so its an even bet who is going to get what out of today.

Endo vs Chiyonokuni – Oh is this one high interest, it’s a 5-1 oshi-zumo grumpy badger against Endo, who should be dominating a bit more than he is this far down the banzuke. Given that I think both of them are under-ranked, this is a fun and interesting test match to see which one is more genki. If Chiyonokuni stays mobile, his chances of winning go up.

Chiyonoo vs Hidenoumi – From high interest to beer break time (at least for me). This is more or less a Juryo match, as thats where these two have spent most of the past 6 years. Recalling back to the quality of competition in the top division, I am not sure either of these two elevated their sumo so much as the field is quite flat now, in terms of competitive ability. Who knows, ready to be surprised.

Chiyotairyu vs Terutsuyoshi – Both have a 3-3 record going into day 7, they have split their career matches at 2-2, and both are rightly known for staking their match on whatever they can put into their tachiai. For Chiyotairyu that is a lot of forward power, for Terutsuyoshi, it’s some sort of lateral move.

Shimanoumi vs Myogiryu – Myogiryu has only lost to Tobizaru thus far, and I am going to say that I don’t think Shimanoumi has a large chance of success today. More likely it’s going to be win #6 to add to Myogiryu’s 5-1 career advantage.

Aoiyama vs Onosho – Onosho may look forward to fighting Aoiyama, as once he gets Big Dan centered, he can push with everything he’s got against that ponderous bulk. While it only seems to work half the time, its easy to see the junior tadpole enjoying himself in this one.

Ura vs Okinoumi – I find this difficult to believe, but its the first ever match between these two. I have to guess that Okinoumi will try to prevent Ura from putting the match on pause, and setting up one of his acrobatic moves. I give a slight edge to Okinoumi, even though I am an Ura fan.

Tobizaru vs Takarafuji – Takarafuji, Mr Defend and Extend, does quite well against Tobizaru. His style of shutting down his energetic offensive moves, and pinning him to a fraction of the dohyo confounds Tobizaru, and he has yet to find a way to overcome it. In spite of his slightly better record in Aki, I expect him to struggle today.

Daieisho vs Kiribayama – I am looking for Kiribayama to dominate today. He seems to be having a break-out tournament, and frankly at this point I want to see him kachi-koshi on day 9. Certainly Daieisho has the chops, speed and power to take Kiribayama down, but right now the trend favors the Mongol.

Takayasu vs Takanosho – Takayasu’s pitiful 2-4 record is likely to take more damage today. Out of their 5 prior matches, Takayasu has only bested him once, their very first match. Since then it’s been a solid run of 4 white stars. If Takayasu were showing good sumo, I could at least have hope for a solid fight, but I am not holding my breath.

Chiyoshoma vs Meisei – Meisei win. Chiyoshoma make-koshi on nakabi

Mitakeumi vs Ichinojo – I have to say that Andy’s bi-monthly favorite yusho pick, Mitakeumi, is doing what he needs to to be a contender into week 2. His sumo has been sharp, and he’s shown quite a bit of power in most of his matches. Ichinojo could win this match, if he fights with gusto, but given his 2-4 record this September, I think it’s not likely.

Wakatakakage vs Takakeisho – This is starting to get ugly. Takakeisho needs to win 6 of the remaining 9 matches to keep his rank. It’s possible, but unlikely. Should he just go kyujo now and focus on November and 10 wins? Or will he just slog through and hope for the best.

Shodai vs Tamawashi – Which Shodai mounts the dohyo today? How do we get the good one to show up every day from here on out? With Takakeisho clearly on the bubble, we need Shodai to be strong and get his eight before the last weekend. Tamawashi has a 9-6 career over the human daikon, so this is going to be a real battle.

Kotonowaka vs Terunofuji – I think Kotonowaka is going to be a solid mainstay of the top division for years to come. So he needs to get used to being tossed about by the resident kaiju. Good luck, kiddo, try to stay on your feet, and be careful of a lift rather than a throw.

Aki Day 6 Highlights

Welcome to the first day of Aki act 2, the middle five days of the basho. Act 2 is where we narrow the field to find out who has what it takes to compete for the yusho, and to start sorting the survivors from the damned. We also start tracking the leaderboad, and the yusho race starts to take shape. We get the middle weekend, and all of the big matches that they load into Sunday. It’s prime sumo for fans around the world

Day six saw another Ozeki flame out, with both of them taking losses. Kiribayama’s skill has improved enough that he knows exactly what to do now with a Shodai soft tachiai. After 4 consecutive losses to Shodai, he decisively took a win from him today.

The worry is much deeper with kadoban Ozeki Takakeisho. He did manage to put two wins together, but at 2-4 he’s got a long road to get to 8, and save his ozeki rank. Its clear he is not quite at 100%, and this is going to be a rough time for him.

Highlight Matches

Sadanoumi defeats Chiyonokuni – Chiyonokuni picks up his first loss of the badsho, as Sadanoumi times a shift to the side perfectly. Once outside of Chiyonokuni’s forward quarter, he attacks from the side, and immediately shuts down Chiyonokuni’s thrusting offense. It’s three steps to the bales, and Chiyonokuni has his first loss. Both end the day at 5-1, and Sadanoumi may finally be on the path to return to the top division.

Kagayaki defeats Ichiyamamoto – Ichiyamamoto has now lost 5 straight, thanks to an injury earlier in the basho. He seems to be on course of a make-koshi, maybe even as soon as this weekend. A losing record will almost certainly ensure him a seat on the Juryo barge of the damned. Kagayaki improves to 4-2, and just maybe has his sumo back in working order.

Tsurugisho defeats Tokushoryu – Tsurugisho continues after his one-day kyujo thanks to a fever brought on by what is being reported as cellulitis, which is a bacterial infection of the skin. If you are looking for a match that rages back and forth with big sumo attack / defend swaps, this is not it. Tsurugisho improves to 3-3.

Tochinoshin defeats Yutakayama – Tochinoshin finally picks up his second win, which has to be a relief. Yutakayama allows himself to be captured, and once chest to chest with Tochinoshin, Yutakayama’s yotsu-defense is almost non existent. A moment later, Tochinoshin gets his left hand grip and brutes Yutakayama out to improve to 2-4.

Endo defeats Chiyomaru – Endo gets his favored right hand frontal hold at the tachiai, but can’t maintain it as Chiyomaru opens up a thrusting volley against Endo’s face. Endo breaks contact, and the second merge gives him another right hand grip, with better body placement. At this point Chiyomaru knows he is in trouble, but he can’t break free, and moments later an uwatedashinage lands him on the clay. Endo improves to 4-2.

Chiyonoo defeats Kotoeko – Chest to chest for these two, this one was indeed a see-saw battle between two evenly matched rikishi throwing what they could into the fight. They both lost footing more or less at the same time, and threw each other as they went tumbling over the far side of the dohyo. The gumbai went to Chiyonoo, advancing him to 3-3.

Myogiryu defeats Kaisei – Myogiryu deflected at the tachiai, and took advantage of Kaisei’s turning radius to re-attack from the side. This made fast work of Kaisei, improving Myogiryu to 5-1.

Chiyotairyu defeats Shimanoumi – On days when Chiyotairyu can connect at the tachiai, he can rob his opponent of any hope of offense. That seemed to be what the formula was today, as Shimanoumi found himself completely disrupted, and unable to generate any sumo after catching a Chiyotairyu cannon ball tachiai full in the chest. Both end the day 3-3.

Terutsuyoshi defeats Hidenoumi – Terutsuyoshi henkas, grabs a Hidenoumi drumstick and brings the ashitori (leg pick). If Terutsuyoshi gets that hold, there is really no workable defense, and Terutsuyoshi improves to 3-3.

Ura defeats Aoiyama – Ura now seems to be dialed into his sumo after a bit of a cold start. Aoiyama clearly did not know quite what to do with Ura, who once again lined up well back of the shikiri-sen. Aoiyama tries out a couple of attack plans, but can do no better than park Ura’s heels on the tawara. There was a moment where it looked like Ura was once again to twist the fabric of space and time, but Aoiyama is just too huge for that stuff, so Ura settled for an off the rack oshidashi.

Onosho defeats Tobizaru – Onosho opted for an asymmetrical tachiai that was heavy of the left side. It worked a treat, getting Tobizaru turned to the side. Onosho completed the rotation, getting behind Tobizaru for a quick okuridashi win. Onosho improves 5-1.

Okinoumi defeats Takarafuji – Takarafuji could only maintain his defense for a short time, as Okinoumi is expert at shifting attack angles each time he takes a step. This prevented Takarafuji from stabilizing his stance, and stalemating Okinoumi. Okinoumi improves to 4-2.

Takanosho defeats Chiyoshoma – Another day, another Chiyoshoma loss. Takanosho could not keep his feet, but won the match by getting Chiyoshoma out before he fell. Takanosho’s 100th top division win improves him to 3-3.

Takayasu defeats Ichinojo – Sloppy match where neither man had command of their balance. Watching Takayasu fight, he is, at times, almost an opposite of the current form of Yokozuna Terunofuji. Both end the day 2-4, and need to find a way to elevate their sumo into week 2.

Mitakeumi defeats Kotonowaka – It was Kotonowaka’s first time facing the original tadpole, Mitakeumi, who seems to be having a good basho this September. He caught Kotonowaka’s tachiai put his hands in Kotowaka’s armpits, and then ran him directly out. Mitakeumi now 5-1.

Daieisho defeats Meisei – We have not seen Daieisho fight this well since January. He seems to once again be able to combine speed, power and agility into his oshi-zumo. The bounces shin-sekiwake Meisei, before slapping him down. Daieisho improves 4-2.

Kiribayama defeats Shodai – Kiribayama seems to have taken the next step in his sumo. He gets a solid grip at the tachiai, and leave Shodai struggling for defense. That defense is nowhere to be found, as Shodai’s tachiai leaves him high and stiff – an easy target for Kiribayama’s yotsu-zumo. Kiribayama improves to 5-1.

Tamawashi defeats Takakeisho – Takakeisho opened strong, but dropped his arms for just a moment, giving Tamawashi a clear route to his chest. Tamawashi is not one to let that kind of opporutnity pass, and blasted Takakeisho back, and a second volley took him out. Tamawashi improves to 3-3.

Terunofuji defeats Wakatakakage – I give a lot of credit to Wakatakakage, who put a lot of effort into this fight, but once Terunofuji had that double arm hold across Wakatakakage’s shoulders, we all knew where it was headed. This is the basic attack pattern that has carried him back to the top division, and onward to Yokozuna. He remains the lone undefeated rikishi at 6-0.

Aki 2021: Jonokuchi Match Day 3

Today, I’ve got a quickie write-up looking at the Yusho Race in Jonokuchi and some Jonokuchi alumni.

The Jonokuchi Yusho Race

The field of undefeated wrestlers in sumo’s lowest division is rapidly coalescing around a few serious contenders. Setonoumi benefited from rather easy schedule as he faced Takatairiku. The Tokiwayama teen paid the price for his double matta as Setonoumi blasted him backward. Ariake advanced past Watanabe and Chiyofuku beat Agazumazakura. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find video of those bouts online and I’d not gotten home yet to tape it myself.

However, I did get to watch tonight’s bouts. Unfortunately, the Kototaiko bout was nothing to write home about. I wish I’d started the recording a little early and got Nangu’s bout. Other than his excellent shiko, he had a great come-from-behind win over Wakafujioka. I do have footage of Mifuneyama taking on Kokuryunami but I’ve prefaced it here with Ito against Asahabataki. I don’t think Ito’s out of this race and he disposed of Asahabataki quickly. Likewise, Mifuneyama outclassed Kokuryunami.

They’re going to need to schedule Setonoumi against an undefeated wrestler at some point. I was a bit surprised that he didn’t get more of a challenge today and that they had Kototaiko move up to Jonidan for his bout. That ended in disappointment. We should see Setonoumi against Mifuneyama, Ariake, or Chiyofuku. In either case, that should be an entertaining bout but a Setonoumi/Mifuneyama bout would be very interesting. I’d pip Setonoumi because he’s seemed pretty aggressive and mobile in these early bouts.

Another undefeated rikishi in Jonokuchi is Byakuen! Well, he did miss his first bout so he’s got one absentee loss but he’s definitely in the hunt. His win against Daitenshin is pure sumo entertinment. He sure is a Houdini and I am very impressed by the way he turned the tables there at the edge of the dohyo. I wonder if they’ll pick him to fight Setonoumi next. You know, I think I may actually prefer to see that bout over Setonoumi vs Mifuneyama. Both look pretty quick and Byakuen seems quite elusive so Setnoumi would be quite the test. But Setonoumi is undefeated so the schedulers should really preoccupy themselves with testing him. Nonetheless, I think we’ll get a few more entertaining bouts out of Jonokuchi for Day 4!

Jonokuchi Alumni

I do have a couple of bouts of Jonokuchi alumni in the early hunt for the Jonidan yusho. In this first bout here, I’ve got two guys who finished 5-2 last tournament, Hitoshi and Nobehara. Both are strong guys who could develop into solid wrestlers pretty quickly. Hitoshi had the technical edge today as he took advantage of Nobehara’s lack of balance for a quick slapdown victory.

At the start of the video you can see our next featured wrestler, Mogamizakura, practicing his tachiai in the tunnel in the background. He could use some more practice but does well to keep his balance against the veteran, Daishohama. He offers quite the contrast from his former stablemate, Shonanzakura. In fact, he’s probably got a good chance at being heyagashira before the end of the year or early 2022 in 2022 or 2023. This win for Mogamizakura and Hitoshi move them to 3-0, one win from early kachi-koshi.

Aki Day 6 Preview

Just like that, we are headed into the first weekend of the 2021 Aki basho. On the whole, I think we’ve seen some at times pretty compelling stuff, even if the top division is shorn of many top rikishi. Yesterday’s sumo, with much of the top division struggling to sort their footwork, reminded me of this thing I had when I was a kid, called a slip-n-slide. Basically you would shoot a hose down the plastic track and you were supposed to be able to have a DIY waterslide in your back yard. Unfortunately, though, the thing never really worked and you ended up flying off into the patchy grass and getting all banged up. Yesterday was a lot like that.

Leaders: Terunofuji, Chiyonokuni
Chasers: Shodai (!?), Mitakeumi, Kiribayama, Onosho, Tobizaru, Myogiryu

Day 6 Fixtures

Chiyonokuni (5-0) vs. Juryo Guy Sadanoumi (4-1) – Despite all the myriad kyujo going on and guys coming back, we still can’t get an even number of top division rikishi, so Juryo’s very own Sadanoumi gets called up to make up the numbers in what may be reflected upon later as a check of his credentials in the event of a promotion/demotion edge case. Chiyonokuni has looked good so far, and is in the yusho favourite rank of Maegashira 17 so surely he’s going to win this.

Kagayaki (3-2) vs Ichiyamamoto (1-4) – This is a first time meeting, and you sometimes forget just how long future oyakata (probably) Kagayaki has been in the top division. When Ichiyamamoto came up we all talked about how he looked like Good Abi. Lately, in his injured form, he looks like Bad Abi. All sauce and no bottle. Despite Kagayaki’s strong grasp of sumo fundamentals, he does at times get distracted by chaos which, if Ichiyamamoto were in good nick, might give the Nishonoseki heyagashira more of a chance. But he’s not, so I make Kagayaki the pick.

Tokushoryu (1-4) vs Tsurugisho (2-3) – Tsurugisho got a nice win on his return from his fever. Tokushoryu has looked shorn of confidence, and not really able to execute his counter attacking style. I don’t really like this match up for either of them, and it’s a fairly even rivalry (5-7), so it’s a bit of a coin toss for me.

Yutakayama (3-2) vs Tochinoshin (1-4) – Tochinoshin has won all their previous encounters but it’s hard not to make Yutakayama the favourite on form. Tochinoshin appears to be generally in decline and has not looked especially genki after Day 1. Yutakayama has been on and off, but he has a chance to make a big statement here, and given how susceptible the former Ozeki normally is to a disruptive pushing-thrusting attack, I’d be looking for the Tokitsukaze guy to take this.

Endo (3-2) vs Chiyomaru (3-2) – On paper this is a total mismatch. Not only is Endo frankly just a much higher class rikishi but also dominates their previous matchups 6-2. I’m a little surprised he’s already at 2 losses however, and I think it’s the usual case of his losses being self-inflicted against weaker opponents. Endo at M11 should really be in the yusho race until the final weekend. Chiyomaru started well but has dropped the last two and I would go as far as to say Endo losing this might be the upset of the day, barring a kinboshi at the other end of the torikumi.

Chiyonoo (2-3) vs Kotoeko (2-3) – Blah.

Kaisei (2-3) vs Myogiryu (4-1) – Myogiryu looked alright before his slip on Day 5. It’s worth remembering for both of these veterans, a strong kachi-koshi from low down in the division actually can have the effect of extending their career by another 4-6 months or so. Myogiryu has a decent career advantage (12-7), but there are two very different sumo styles at play here, Kaisei’s steady pragmatic sumo which is all based around balance vs Myogiryu who is a bit of an animal out of the tachiai with fast movement, looking to unbalance his opponent into a push out or to set up a throw. I think Kaisei’s style has aged better but it’s harder to compete when Myogiryu is on song, which he is now, and I think he’ll take this.

Shimanoumi (3-2) vs Chiyotairyu (2-3) – It’s hard to believe Chiyotairyu has been in the top division almost 10 years, and he just keeps on doing his brand of big tachiai oshizumo. Shimanoumi is turning into one of those guys who’s always kinda just there, having not ever really looked in danger since arriving a couple years ago. As with almost all Chiyotairyu battles this will be won and lost at the tachiai, and the steadier Shimanoumi might just about be the favourite.

Hidenoumi (2-3) vs Terutsuyoshi (2-3) – The workmanlike Hidenoumi has a pretty even record against excitement machine Terutsuyoshi, who has clearly looked genki, potentially motivated by the results of his newly minted Yokozuna stablemate. The challenge for Terutsuyoshi is going to be to continue moving and not to allow a belt grip, because if he does he’s likely to be walked out by the much larger and steadier opponent.

Ura (2-3) vs Aoiyama (2-3) – It feels like everyone is 2-3. Ura finally gave us the exciting victory we all have wanted from him yesterday, although the identity of the opponent was equally surprising. A comedy win here might be less surprising, and with the two having only met once (victory to the Bulgarian), there is certainly potential for trickery from Ura. Aoiyama started this basho quite poorly, and has the ability to blow Ura away with his pushing attack, but the longer this goes the better the potential is for a fun victory for the Kansai native.

Tobizaru (4-1) vs Onosho (4-1) – The winner of this is going to be firmly in the yusho race going into the middle weekend and that’s somewhat astonishing. Tobizaru has looked good, he’s someone who clearly adores the limelight of coming up against big opponents, but his style of chaos is a little bit more effective when he can blend it with fundamentals against middle of the pack opponents. Onosho in terms of ability will be the favourite here as he has been able to consistently execute the strong pushing-thrusting sumo which brought him to the attention of the sumo world to begin with, but this is certainly a potential banana peel (pun intended) for a rikishi who has a history of overcommitting from the tachiai and ending up flat on his face.

Okinoumi (3-2) vs Takarafuji (3-2) – It’s the 26th meeting of these veterans, with the Isegahama man having grabbed 15 wins to date. It’s nice to see two top division stalwarts this far into the second half of the day’s action, albeit mostly because of the withdrawals above them. If you’re a fan of belt sumo this is going to be a match for you. Okinoumi is going to want to try hard to establish his grip from the start and move forward, because the longer this goes, the more likely it will fall in favour of Takarafuji, who seems to have rediscovered his ability to defend, extend and counter attack.

Chiyoshoma (0-5) vs Takanosho (2-3) – This is probably exactly the match that Takanosho needs, coming the day after a vital fusen-sho having looked pretty banged up earlier in the week. Chiyoshoma, the only un-feated makuuchi man – has had a pretty hapless start to life this basho, and Takanosho will desperately want to win this to relaunch his campaign for san’yaku repromotion. Watch out for a henka.

Takayasu (1-4) vs Ichinojo (2-3) – It’s the Komusubi showdown! Takayasu’s fusen-sho has kept him from joining Chiyoshoma at the bottom of the scoresheet, and hopefully he used the day off to reset. Ichinojo has been classic Ichinojo, looking astonishingly up for it some days and not bothered on others. Takayasu leads this rivalry 7-6, a good enough sample size to indicate that despite Takayasu’s overall higher pedigree, Ichinojo’s record of turning up against the big names holds true in these matches. The only thing that gives me pause is Ichinojo’s most comprehensive victories are still largely coming via pull down, and I think it’s hard to plan for that against someone like Takayasu who can hang in matches for a while. This could be another 3 minute bout.

Mitakeumi (4-1) vs Kotonowaka (2-3) – This is the type of basho where Mitakeumi should absolutely be in the championship race, and the flat track bully has not massively disappointed so far. Kotonowaka got cannoned out of the dohyo yesterday against Takakeisho, so it will be intriguing to see how that affects him mentally. This is a first time matchup which may tell us a lot about the future of both rikishi. I think Kotonowaka’s best strategy here is to try and get into a belt battle, where he is very skilled. While Mitakeumi also has developed into an accomplished yotsu-zumo rikishi, he can be walked out by larger men when put in a weak position and doesn’t always have the ability to counterattack from those grips as he does in a pushing and thrusting matchup.

Daieisho (3-2) vs Meisei (2-3) – We projected in our podcasts before the basho that Meisei would struggle to stay at Sekiwake, and that looks to be the case. There’s no lack of effort from the Tatsunami man, but he’s had a tough start to life at his new career high, which will get tougher here against an opponent who will no doubt have been shocked by the manner of his own loss on Day 5 to Ura. Daieisho is actually at his lowest rank for almost 3 years and has a commanding 6-2 advantage in this matchup, and is motivated to get back into san’yaku. Meisei, who came up as a pusher-thruster but has developed his belt skills nicely, will want this match on the mawashi to have a better chance of avoiding an upset.

Shodai (4-1) vs Kiribayama (4-1) – It seems I raise some eyebrows every time I say that actually Kiribayama’s sumo isn’t actually that different to Hoshoryu’s, but he’s not as lauded as his compatriot because he seems to be a jovial fellow who likes coffee and doesn’t go around scowling at shimpan and refusing to bow when he loses to higher ranked opponents. But anyway, he’s extremely good value for his 4-1 and has got himself into some serious battles of endurance in the past few days. However, he has never beaten Shodai, who started this tournament in awful form but somehow finds himself a win off the pace. The most shocking thing is that he actually had some kind of tachiai on Day 5 against Wakatakakage, which will have given Kiribayama something to think about. The ozeki is the undoubted favourite here, but Kiribayama has an outstanding chance to seal a san’yaku debut in the next tournament and this could be a crucial match towards that goal. If these two go chest to chest, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see a leg trip or leg sweep attempt from the Mongolian, which could result in any number of outcomes either in or out of his favour.

Tamawashi (2-3) vs Takakeisho (2-3) – Tamawashi is probably getting this match at the wrong time, with Takakeisho having apparently willed himself back into form. Takakeisho leads the rivalry, and owing to the gap in stature between the two, is not really the right type of opponent for Tamawashi’s signature nodowa. At this point we basically know what we’re going to get from Tamawashi, so it’s all about the condition in which Takakeisho brings himself onto the dohyo.

Wakatakakage (3-2) vs Terunofuji (5-0) – There wasn’t a whole lot to learn from Wakatakakage’s latest loss, as the whole world would have been shocked that Shodai launched as forcefully as he did out of the tachiai. That won’t make Wakatakakage any more wary than he already would have been against the top dog. There hasn’t been anything to criticise in Terunofuji’s sumo since his Yokozuna promotion, and the weight of the rank doesn’t seem to be affecting him at all. He hasn’t lost on the dohyo to Wakatakakage since they met in Juryo, and the Yokozuna will go into the match the overwhelming favourite. As he should.