Natsu Day 13 Highlights

Photo shamelessly stolen from NSK’s Twitter feed – Actual photographer unknown

Brilliant day of action, and I have to call out Kotoshoho for impressive improvisational sumo. He showed an ability to switch to plan b/c/d that was almost reminiscent of Hakuho. He ultimately lost the match, but the ability to do that while in the heat of battle is pretty impressive.

The top news must be that Wakatakakage was able to achieve what he was asked, and thanks to some poor traction under Takanosho’s feet, put the yusho race leader into the dirt with just 2 days left to go. This opens up the yusho race to Takanosho, Terunofuji and (what?) Sadanoumi. Yes, dear old speed master Sadanoumi made Hoshoryu look like a chump today, and earned his way into this weekend’s three way battle for the cup. Ura was not so fortunate, as a poor choice of escape moves left him easy meat for Abi-zuno, dropping him from contention.

Highlight Matches

Hidenoumi defeats Kagayaki – After a Kagayaki opening surge, Hidenoumi gets his hips down, finds his hands in working position, and attacks. He quickly gains control of the match, pushing Kagayaki back and then out the East side. At long last Kagayaki, the last man on the banzuke, is make-koshi. If he is not in Juryo in July, it will be borderline criminal. Hidenoumi improves to 8-5.

Oho defeats Myogiryu – Myogiryu opens strong, but Oho keeps his head in the match, and one eye on his opponent. He catches Myogiryu too far forward and swings him down for a very welcome win. Oho improves to 6-7, Myogiryu picks up his 8th loss and is 5-8 make-koshi for Natsu.

Midorifuji defeats Nishikigi – Midorifuji tried a tentative pull quite early in the match, and it got Nishikigi off balance enough that Midorifuji was able to get him moving quickly. With Nishikigi too far forward, Midorifuji swung him to the clay in a really nice combo move. I am not sure I have ever seen back to back katasukashi before. Midorifuji improves to 7-6.

Okinoumi defeats Kotokuzan – Ah, poor hapless Kotokuzan. He is able to absorb most of Okinoumi’s tachiai, but Okinoumi just keeps moving through him, running him out the West side three steps later. Okinoumi improves to 7-6.

Meisei defeats Kotoshoho – Kotoshoho tried for an immediate throw in the tachiai, and ended up with terrible body position, giving Meisei a double inside grip. The combo that came next represented a most impressive improvisation to try and recover any kind of fighting position, putting Kotoshoho in control of the match with a Terunofuji style double arm lock grip on Meisei. Meisei stalemates him in the center of the dohyo, probably working out what the hell just happened, prior to surging forward and ramming Kotoshoho across the West side bales by yorikiri. Meisei improves to 7-6. Fantastic match by both men.

Chiyoshoma defeats Terutsuyoshi – Chiyoshoma had his arms forward at the tachiai, and caught Terutsuyoshi before he could completely stand up. Pushing forward, Terutsuyoshi was unbalanced, and Chiyoshoma stepped back and slapped him down. Simple and effective, Chiyoshoma ends the day at 6-7.

Aoiyama defeats Shimanoumi – Quite strong sumo from Aoiyama today. Not quite the whole V-Twin attack, but he took command at the second step, and put his hands on Shimanoumi. Pushing with everything he could muster (and that’s quite a bit) he never let Shimanoumi get any offense started. Aoiyama improves to 9-4.

Yutakayama defeats Kotoeko – Yutakayama was able to disrupt Kotoeko’s balance with a strong shove at the tachiai. A second volley a moment later sent Kotoeko stumbling, forcing him down. Yutakayama improves to 6-7, Kotoeko is make-koshi at 5-8.

Wakamotoharu defeats Azumaryu – Wakamotoharu applies an arm pit lift at the tachiai, which wrecks Azumaryu’s opening attack. From there it’s a left hand inside grip for Wakamotoharu, and a strong surge forward to quickly toss Azumaryu in the make-koshi bin at 5-8, while securing kachi-koshi for himself at 8-5.

Tamawashi defeats Chiyotairyu – Big tachiai from Chiyotairyu, but Tamawashi responds with a massive thrust center mass. Chiyotairyu can’t really hold ground this basho for some reason, and is propelled back and out by the third step. Both end the day 7-6 and will have to try for kachi-koshi tomorrow.

Hokutofuji defeats Takarafuji – This sad battle of the fujis has a somewhat questionable ending, where it looked to me that Takarafuji had slapped Hokutofuji down before stepping out. But the gyoji called it a Hotutofuji win, and the call was not reviewed. Hokutofuji improves to 4-9.

Kotonowaka defeats Tobizaru – Today was a great example of Tobizaru using combo attacks in a match. There are advantages to this, it keeps your opponent guessing where you are going to hit next. Of course the problem is, you allow your opponent opportunities to steady his defense because you don’t overwhelm any part of his body. Kotonowaka played this perfect, waiting out Tobizaru’s frantic monkey-sumo. Kotonowakaka gets a hand on Tobizaru’s mawashi, and takes control, finishing him a moment later with an oshitaoshi. Kotonowaka improves to 7-6, Tobizaru make-koshi at 5-8.

Kiribayama defeats Tochinoshin – Tochinoshin let Kiribayama get a deep double inside grip, and then wanted to try a kimidashi. It seems the sky-crane was not in working order today. It devolved into a yotsu endurance match, and Tochinoshin had poor body position. Kiribayama waited him out, and when the time came, walked Tochinoshin back for a yorikiri win, improving to 9-4.

Endo defeats Takayasu – Takayasu kept Endo back with some strong oshi/tsuki sumo for a moment. But Endo was relentless, closing in and getting a right hand grip, immediately converting that to an uwatedashinage, rolling Takayasu to the clay. Endo improves to 6-7.

Daieisho defeats Ichiyamamoto – As assumed in the preview, Ichiyamamoto was completely outclassed today. He got in a good double hand combo at the tachiai, but Daieisho stood him up, and immediately slapped him down. Daieisho advances to 9-4.

Sadanoumi defeats Hoshoryu – The wages of hubris are defeat. Captain stare down seems to discount Sadanoumi’s incredible speed, and gets overwhelmed from the moment of launch. Though Kiribayama tries a throw as Sadanoumi is rushing him out of the ring, he is off balance and it implodes before the rotation can complete. It was close, but the monoii confirms that Sadanoumi won, and he advances to 10-3.

Abi defeats Ura – A sloppy escape move by Ura as Abi was pounding him threw this match away. Ura turned and presented his back to Abi, and it was off to the races for Abi. Abi improves to 7-6, knocking Ura out of contention for the yusho.

Wakatakakage defeats Takanosho – Wakatakakage completed the task assigned him today, getting dirt on Takanosho for the 3rd time this basho. To be fair there was a bit of a slippiotoshi from Takanosho, but Wakatakakage played his part perfectly, and is rewarded with an improved 7-6 score. With that, the yusho race opens up, and we have the final weekend battle for the cup.

Mitakeumi defeats Shodai – This match was all Mitakeumi. Shodai was able to make a bit of a stand at the tawara, but Mitakeumi kept up the pressure, locking Shodai down, and preventing any cartoon moves at the tawara. Shodai is kadoban, make-koshi, and hereby directed to get his act together. Mitakeumi improves to 6-7.

Terunofuji defeats Takakeisho – I was fairly certain that Takakeisho was not going to be able to best Terunofuji, given the Ozeki’s poor condition this May. But he gave it a hell of an effort, and my compliments to him and his fighting spirit. He manage to keep Terunofuji from achieving a grip for an impressively long stretch of time, attacking fiercely and disrupting everything the Yokozuna tried. but Terunofuji has acres of patience these days, and waited for his chance. It came, he grappled Takakeisho, and gave him a yoritaoshi. Terunofuji improves to 10-3.

Natsu Day 13 Preview

We enter the final weekend of the basho, and its time to kick off the closer to the nearly non-existent yusho race. The job at hand – put dirt on Takanosho. The candidates for the task are Wakatakakage, Ura, and maybe Yokozuna Terunofuji Kiribayama or Sadanoumi, as Takanosho has already fought and defeated Terunofuji, and he’s faced all other san’yaku opponents except Takakeisho, who is in the same stable [lksumo]. Can Onigiri-kun survive without picking up at least 1 loss? Would be a great story if it happens, but count on him getting at least one more loss.

At the end of today, at least one Ozeki will be kadoban, and we may face a situation where all 3 of them are kadoban at the start of Nagoya in July. Please don’t get me started on Shodai. But I suspect that just maybe they have decided to see if they can get all 3 of these guys kadoban. Rather than a Darwin match, for them it might be a Darwin basho. I admit to a certain sick fascination with this approach, and maybe its worth a try, brutal as it may be.

Natsu Leaderboard

I am thinking that either Wakatakakage gives Takanosho his 3rd loss today, or Ura will give him that loss tomorrow or day 15. He may also face Sadanoumi. He has already beaten Terunofuji.

Leader: Takanosho
Chasers: Terunofuji, Ura, Sadanoumi

3 matches remain

What We Are Watching Day 13

Hidenoumi vs Kagayaki – If at first you do not succeed… After Chiyotairyu’s lame ass henka handed Kagayaki a win, they bring Hidenoumi (7-5) up to face 5-7 Kagayaki. The schedulers love these make-kachi-koshi matches. Furthermore, a win today would pretty much punch Hidenoumi’s return ticket to the top division.

Myogiryu vs Oho – First ever match between these two. They are both at 5-7, and thus the loser will be make-koshi for Natsu. The only way either of them can escape make-koshi now is to win their remaining 3 matches, passing through the funnel and enduring a day 15 Darwin match. Golly.

Midorifuji vs Nishikigi – Prime funnel match with both rikishi at 6-6. The trick is to give both of these men one win and one loss over the next two days and deliver them as 7-7 Darwin candidates on day 15. These two are pretty evenly matched in terms of capabilities, with Midorifuji having the agility advantage, and Nishikigi having the size advantage.

Okinoumi vs Kotokuzan – First ever match between these two. This is a chance for 6-6 Okinoumi to pick up a win from 2-10 Kotokuzan, who is destined to drop far down the banzuke for Nagoya.

Kotoshoho vs Meisei – Back to prime funnel competition. Both are 6-6, and both will be matched to ensure 1 win and 1 loss over the next two days. Kotoshoho took their only prior match in September of 2020.

Chiyoshoma vs Terutsuyoshi – Chiyoshoma (5-7) is hobbling before and after his daily matches, and that ankle remains taped. So in my mind its just a question of when he’s going to get his 8th loss. He has a dead even 5-5 record against already make-koshi Terutsuyoshi (4-8), who is at this point looking to pick up wins to cushion his fall down the banzuke for July.

Shimanoumi vs Aoiyama – Aoiyama is already kachi-koshi at 8-4, and he’s lined up against 7-5 Shimanoumi, with Shimanoumi looking for his 8th win. Like most of the matches today, their career record is quite even, with Shimanoumi having a slight 4-3 edge. While it may be a slight advantage for Shimanoumi, if Aoiyama fights like he did on day 12, Shimanoumi is going to be exiting in a hurry.

Yutakayama vs Kotoeko – Both are 5-7, loser is make-koshi. You can think of this match as a mini Darwin match, with both men having fought pretty well this tournament, but I think Yutakayama is somewhat more injured right now. I expect Kotoeko to want to go chest to chest, and Yutakayama wanting to use hit-and-move oshi zumo.

Azumaryu vs Wakamotoharu – Another mini Darwin match, its 5-7 Azumaryu against 7-5 Wakamotoharu. If Wakamotoharu wins, he gets kachi-koshi, and Azumaryu a make-koshi. I think if Wakamotoharu can remain calm, lock up Azumaryu and wait him out in the center of the dohyo, he will probably take this match, and a winning record for May.

Chiyotairyu vs Tamawashi – I am surprised that we get to the final weekend, and Tamawashi is in the middle of the funnel at 6-6, after being part of the leader group at one point. But Tamawashi has lost the last 4 matches, and 5 of the last 6. Now he is up against 7-5 Chiyotairyu, who needs a win today to reach his 8. They have 21 career matches, with Chiyotairyu having a tiny 11-10 lead.

Hokutofuji vs Takarafuji – The sadness of the make-koshi track matches cannot be summed up. Here we have two really good rikishi fighting it out to see who will have the worse record at the end of the basho. This happens when people compete hurt, and I am going to guess both of them are nursing some undisclosed injury. Hokutofuji (3-9) has a 8-3 career record against Takarafuji (2-10), and is probably less injured.

Tobizaru vs Kotonowaka – Simply put, Tobizaru (5-7) got robbed in his match against Shodai on day 12. But them’s the breaks. I think today is going to be a bit more straight forward for him when he takes on 6-6 Kotonowaka. Tobizaru is fighting to stave off make-koshi today, so I expect him to have an elevated sense of urgency as he fights Kotonowaka.

Kiribayama vs Tochinoshin – Both men start the day with 8-4 kachi-koshi, so this is all to map out who gets the bigger promotion on the July banzuke. I like Tochinoshin’s chances here, as his yotsu-zumo form has been pretty good given the prevalence of his injuries.

Takayasu vs Endo – There is no hint what the intent is today with this match. Takayasu has a 13-8 career advantage over 5-7 Endo. That is to hand Endo his 8th loss today, and lump him into the make-koshi track, where Takayasu landed on day 10.

Ichiyamamoto vs Daieisho – A bit of a head scratcher match. They are both 8-4 kachi-koshi, and there is a massive 15 rank difference between M15 Ichiyamamoto and Komusubi Daieisho. They have never fought before. I guess we get to see if Ichiyamamoto has the mojo to take the fight to Daieisho.

Hoshoryu vs Sadanoumi – These two fight about once a year, and I am looking forward to this year’s match up. Sadanoumi (9-3) is fighting some of his best sumo ever, and is part of the leader group. He shows up daily with an excellent blend of speed, agility and utter commitment to his offense. Hoshoryu needs one more win for his kachi-koshi, and I want to see him have a significant challenge to reach his 8.

Ura vs Abi – Ura, also part of the 9-3 leader group, gets a turn with 6-6 Abi. Abi wants 2 wins over the next 3 days to escape the funnel with a kachi-koshi, and he knows how to defeat Ura. His day 12 match against Ozeki Mitakeumi was a textbook example of how Abi-zumo can just completely swamp any opponent if Abi can make all the parts line up. With his long arms flailing, he’s also a perfect mark for Ura’s grab-and-tug technique. Of course if Ura changes the planck constant mid match again, who knows whats going to happen.

Wakatakakage vs Takanosho – I think this is the biggest match of the day. The goal is to let Wakatakakage advance a step closer to kachi-koshi, and knock Takanosho down one peg to join the troupe at 9-3. Takanosho does have a 7-5 career advantage, but Wakatakakage has taken 3 of the last 4 matches. This one is high stakes, and we get to see if Takanosho can take the stress.

Mitakeumi vs Shodai – The time has come for the Ozeki to fight each other going into the final days of the basho, and what a brutal start to that period. Both are 5-7, and the loser will be kadoban for July and go home with a make-koshi. They have 27 career matches, with Mitakeumi having at 15-12 lead. Will there be a monoii that cancels out a clear win today? Odd mistakes keep happing around Shodai, and they all go in one direction. Mitakeumi, please put him in the dirt, and leave no doubt.

Terunofuji vs Takakeisho – Not only is it time for the Ozeki to fight each other, it’s time for them to have their turn with the Yokozuna as well. Takakeisho has the leading record in the Ozeki corps at 6-6, and he is especially susceptible to the kind of attack that Terunofuji has resorted to this basho to keep himself in the battle. I expect Terunofuji to capture Takakeisho, give him a lengthy, firm battle hug, and then walk or carry him out of the ring.

Natsu Day 12 Highlights

People adore Ura because of the kind of thing that happened in his match with Takakeisho today. A moment where things like physics and the natural world take a break and you gets a raw moment of “WHAT JUST HAPPENED?” sumo. It does not happen every day, or even every basho, but if you look for it, there are Ura highlight reels on YouTube that just got another segment from today’s fight.

The yusho race is largely unchanged, with the schedulers waiting to gets Takanosho in the final three days. I expect that he will get at least one loss, and there will be a chance for both Terunofuji, and maybe Ura too, to try for the cup in the last two days. While I love the fact that speed demon Sadanoumi is in that same 9-3 bunch, I think they are going to brush him off shortly to bring the race down to 2 or 3 people.

Highlight Matches

Ryuden defeats Oho – Ryuden gets an immediate hazu-oshi from the tachiai. It only lasts a moment, but it’s enough to raise Oho up, and even though Ryuden breaks content, Oho never resets lower. From there its Ryuden on the attack until Oho steps out on the west side. That’s win number 8 for Ryuden, he is kachi-koshi for Natsu, and we may get to see him in the top division again in July if he can manage another win in Juryo.

Kagayaki defeats Chiyotairyu – You know its an odd day when bulky locomotive Chiyotairyu attempts a henka. It works about as well as you might expect, and gives Kagayaki a bit of an offensive advantage. Kagayaki looked to be dialed into his sumo, which I think comes with being at 7 losses as the last man on the banzuke. He delivered a couple of combos center-mass, and sent Chiyotairyu tumbling out. Kagayaki improves to 5-7.

Aoiyama defeats Azumaryu – Solid, simple and fundamentals based sumo from Aoiyama. He got his hands inside and delivered a sequence of pushes to Azumaryu’s chest. The first one broke his balance, the following ones send him back and out. That’s win number 8 for Aoiyama, and he is kachi-koshi for May at 8=4.

Meisei defeats Chiyoshoma – Meisei had a bit of an early launch, but the gyoji did not call it, so the match proceeded. The two grappled at the center of the ring, and it was immediately apparent that Meisei had come equipped with a very loose mawashi today. As Chiyoshoma was working hard toward some kind of belt throw, the mawashi proved to distract him from his sumo, and Meisei moved him back and out as Chiyoshoma was struggling to improve his grip. Meisei finishes the day 6-6.

Okinoumi defeats Yutakayama – For the opening moments of the fight, it was a very evenly balanced pushing match. But For some reason Yutakayama attempted to break contact, and dropped his defense. Okinoumi charged ahead, pushing Yutakayama back and out, improving to 6-6.

Kotoshoho defeats Midorifuji – Impressive speed from Kotoshoho today. He quickly grabs Midorifuji at the tachiai, runs him back and crushes him out at the tawara. Midorifuji tried a rescue throw at the bales, but it was going nowhere. Both end the day in the middle of the funnel at 6-6.

Tochinoshin defeats Myogiryu – Myogiryu starts strong, but he can’t keep Tochinoshin moving. Paused chest to chest near the middle of the ring, Tochinoshin finds his left hand outside grip, and from there it’s three quick steps to the bales, and Tochinoshin’s 8th win to end the day 8-4 and kachi-koshi for Natsu.

Sadanoumi defeats Shimanoumi – Sadanoumi continues his dominance over Shimanoumi, getting low and inside, then proceeding to drive him immediately out. Sadanoumi improves to 9-3.

Kotokuzan defeats Terutsuyoshi – Kotokuzan finally picks up his second win of the basho. He did it by keeping Terutsuyoshi off of his mawashi, and then chasing him around the ring. The last in a series of blows sent Terutsuyoshi out, improving Kotokuzan to 2-10, and delivering Terutsuyoshi his 8th loss. He is make-koshi for Natsu.

Nishikigi defeats Kotoeko – For the first time in their sumo careers, Nishikigi has been able to beat Kotoeko. The secret to Nishikigi’s sumo today was patience, and working towards a left hand outside grip. Once he was able to get that grip, it was quick work to finish Kotoeko with an uwatenage. Nishikigi finishes the day at 6-6.

Takanosho defeats Ichiyamamoto – Tehre was a small chance that Ichiyamamoto could have scrambled the leaderboard for us, but given their huge rank difference, there was never much chance. Points to Ichiyamamoto for a pull attempt at the tachiai that got Takanosho off balance, but the yusho race leader was able to keep his feet enough to drive Ichiyamamoto out first. Takanosho improves to 10-2 and remains in sole possession of the lead.

Endo defeats Hokutofuji – No grip attempt from Endo today to start the match, he takes Hokutofuji on in a thrusting battle. The two exchange pulling attacks, with Endo’s having some effect. He gets behind Hokutofuji and runs him out from behind to improve to 5-7.

Wakamotoharu defeats Kiribayama – Kiribayama attempted some kind of flying pull down henka at the tachiai. It failed spectacularly. Kiribayama did manage to get a left hand inside grip, and was able to stay in the match and fighting. This unfolded into a protracted yotsu battle, with neither man able to gain enough advantage to do much more that struggle for a better grip. It was Kiribayama who tired first, and Wakamotoharu took his opening, driving Kiribayama out to improve to 8-4, and complete his kachi-koshi for Natsu.

Takayasu defeats Takarafuji – Takayasu nearly lost this match by making the critical mistake of focusing his attacks on Takarafuji’s non-existent neck. Takarafuji made him pay, driving him back and nearly over the tawara (a healthy Takarafuji would have dispatched Takayasu at this point). But Takayasu was able to arrest his slide, and tossed Takarafuji to the clay, improving to 4-8.

Hoshoryu defeats Kotonowaka – Hoshoryu got the inside route and attacked Kotonowaka center-mass. Showing excellent foot placement, and good body position, Hoshoryu attacked from underneath, and there was nothing Kotonowaka could do but move back, and eventually out. Hoshoryu improves to 7-5.

Daieisho defeats Tamawashi – Sadly Tamawashi has faded from being part of the leader group to now being the middle of the funnel. Daieisho gets a solid hit at the tachiai, and steps to the side for Tamawashi’s counter strike. That’s win number 8 for Daieisho, and he improves to 8-4 and is kachi-koshi for Natsu.

Shodai defeats Tobizaru – An oblique attack by Tobizaru at the tachiai was well executed, and got Shodai to the edge of the ring in a hurry. But Tobizaru’s finishing move was partially deflected by Shodai, and they stepped out together. It was monoii time. The replay showed Shodai touching first, but the shimpan called for a redo. Second match, its all Shodai, who pushes Tobizaru out to improve to 5-7.

Abi defeats Mitakeumi – Abi-zumo made fast work of Mitakeumi today, landing his initial strike against Mitakeumi’s neck. From there Abi powered forward, and Mitakeumi could not break away. Abi improves to 6-6.

Ura defeats Takakeisho – Ura used his forearm as a defensive shield against Takakeisho’s opening thrust, and it worked. But Takakeisho was on the attack, and Ura could only try to keep his feet and stay in the ring. As Takakeisho pushed him over the bales, one of those strange Ura moments took place. Suddenly gravity eased up, momentum took a break, and Ura executed a circular fall in mid-air, getting just enough purchase to push Takakeisho out from behind. Of course there was a monoii, as everyone within a 100 mile radius wondered what the hell just happened. No, it really did happen that way, and Ura takes the win to advance to 9-3, and Takakeisho heads to the tunnel to watch the replay and figure out “how”.

Terunofuji defeats Wakatakakage – Wakatakakage gave the Yokozuna a strong fight, but eventually Terunofuji got his double arm lock set up. Sure Wakatakakage had morozashi, but could not do anything about it. Terunofuji took his time and eventually lifted Wakatakakage for another kimedashi win. Terunofuji stays one win behind Takanosho at 9-3.

Natsu Day 12 Preview

Sumo fans, prepare yourself. The final days of this basho are likely to be chaotic and unpredictable. We may have the largest Darwin cohort in recent memory, a topsy turvy yusho race with rikishi from all over the banzuke having a shot at the cup, and maybe even the Great Sumo Cat of the Kokugikan himself will make an appearance. Stock up the fridge, buy up a large horde of sake, and prepare for the unusual. It just may happen.

Natsu Leaderboard

If someone can beat Takanosho it will blow the race open. I expect that today or Friday, as it’s the best possible outcome for the schedulers now.

Leader: Takanosho
Chasers: Terunofuji, Kiribayama, Ura, Sadanoumi, Ichiyamamoto

4 matches remain

What We Are Watching Day 12

Oho vs Ryuden – Hey, look who it is! I am kind of curious if we will see Ryuden back in the top division in July. Like many others, he was suspended, dropped down the banzuke, and has been battling his way back ever since they let him restart. According to our ace prognosticator lksumo, he needs 2 more wins to punch his ticket back to the top division this basho, maybe he can take one from Oho today.

Chiyotairyu vs Kagayaki – What a fine match this is. We may get Chiyotairyu kachi-koshi and Kagayaki make-koshi at the same time. As the last man on the banzuke, a losing record had better toss him back into the farm league this time. Chiyotairyu has a 8-5 career advantage, and I want to see some thunder-god sumo from him today.

Aoiyama vs Azumaryu – It’s time for “Big Dan” Aoiyama to pick up his 8th win. I really wish it were not likely to be against Azumaryu, who is now just 2 losses away from make-koshi himself. Azumaryu won their only prior match, but Aoiyama is fighting quite well right now, and will likely dominate this match.

Meisei vs Chiyoshoma – Pure funnel match as both are 5-6. In spite of Meisei’s 6-3 career advantage, I like Chiyoshoma’s chances today. Winner centers themselves in the funnel for the last 2 days, loser gets to ride the bottom edge and try to avoid make-koshi.

Okinoumi vs Yutakayama – Another match where both rikishi are 5-6. Okinoumi has a 5-0 career record over Yutakayama, and I like his chances today. YUtakayama seems to be fighting hurt, and I would not be surprised to find out later it’s his back or his hips, as he is quite stiff when he is in motion both on the dohyo and off.

Kotoshoho vs Midorifuji – More funnel madness, but this time it’s 5-6 Kotoshoho who needs to take a win from 6-5 Midorifuji to push them both back the the center lane at 6-6. This is aided by Kotoshoho’s 3-0 match record against Midorifuji.

Myogiryu vs Tochinoshin – Thirty, yes 30, career matches between these two. They break 17-13 in favor of Myogiryu, who needs a win today to stay centered in the funnel with the 6-6 group, where a win by Tochinoshin will be his 8th and a well earned kachi-koshi. Each basho, we see a creaky and pained looking Tochinoshin start. By the middle day we are impressed he’s still in the hunt for his 8, and by the last day, we remark at his resilience. Much respect to him for never quitting.

Shimanoumi vs Sadanoumi – A kachi-koshi track match, we have 7-4 Shimanoumi looking for his 8th win and kachi-koshi against already 8-3 Sadanoumi. Sadanoumi’s 5-3 career advantage will matter today, as I think Sadanoumi is fighting some of his best sumo in a long while, and I would not be surprised to see him finish with double digits.

Kotokuzan vs Terutsuyoshi – Wow, 1-10 Kotokuzan against 4-7 Terutsuyoshi. Is this some kind of Terutsuyoshi life line? Should he win today, and I would guess that he will, he escapes make-koshi for yet another day. It would be brutal if Terutsuyoshi swims upstream into the funnel and finishes 7-7 on day 14 to face a Darwin match.

Nishikigi vs Kotoeko – Back in the funnel track, both men are 5-6 to start the day, and one of them gets to stay in the middle of by joining the 6-6 group today. Kotoeko has never lost to Nishikigi in their 5 career matches, so I would strongly suggest that Nishikigi is going to be taking a loss today.

Ichiyamamoto vs Takanosho – I wonder if this match was set before Ichiyamamoto took his day 11 loss (I would guess so), and represented a chance for the two leaders to face off and reduce the number to just one. But now, Ichiyamamoto has a narrow chance to pull a fantastic upset, and claw his way back into the yusho race. All he has to do is beat Takanosho today, and the yusho race will be a 6 way barnyard brawl for the final 3 days.

Hokutofuji vs Endo – If make-koshi is a contagion, we can assume that Takayasu gave it to Hokutofuji on day 11, and now maybe Hokutofuji (3-8) can pass it on to 4-7 Endo. Probably through direct contact of Hokutofuji’s right hand into Endo’s generalized face area, with a fair amount of force.

Kiribayama vs Wakamotoharu – This match has a lot of interest for me. We have already kachi-koshi Kiribayama at 8-3 against funnel track rikishi Wakamotoharu at 6-5. Both of them are comfortable fighting yotsu style, and I think that’s how this match is goign to start. They share a 2-2 career record, and I expect this will be a solid fight.

Takayasu vs Takarafuji – At this point, I almost hope that 3-8 Takayasu loses today if for no other reason than to give 2-9 Takarafuji a bit more banzuke cushion. Both of them are going to drop precipitously, but Takarafuji is at Maegashira 7, and will need the wins. They have 29 matches that favor Takayasu 21-8.

Hoshoryu vs Kotonowaka – Another high interest match, both are 6-5, they share a 3-3 record, and are to be considered vanguard of the “up and coming” rikishi cohort. I honestly don’t have a hunch who has the upper hand in this one, they both like to throw, they both have great mobility. Could be quite the fight.

Tamawashi vs Daieisho – I think this one is to give 6-5 Tamawashi pull himself into position to reach for a kachi-koshi tomorrow. he has a 10-8 career advantage over 7-4 Daieisho, who will reach kachi-koshi today should he prevail. Both are powerful thrusters, but for Daieisho to really shine, he needs to get a clear path to his opponent’s face, where Tamawashi is somewhat more versatile.

Tobizaru vs Shodai – Next loss for 4-7 Shodai is kadoban, it could come today at the hands of sumo’s flying monkey, 5-6 Tobizaru. Not that Shodai is incapable of beating Tobizaru, he certainly is. But I can’t decide what it takes for the genki form of Shodai show up and fight. Should the soft, rubbery, booger picking Shodai show up today, it’s kadoban time.

Mitakeumi vs Abi – If I do recall, it was Mitakeumi who decoded the formula for shutting down Abi-zumo first back in the day. His 8-2 match record underscores that Abi’s double arm attack has little effect on now Ozeki Mitakeumi. Both are 5-6, and the winner gets to join the growing crowd in the middle of the funnel at 6-6.

Ura vs Takakeisho – A great match for generating strange outcomes. Normally Takakeisho would toss Ura about like a tennis ball in an industrial clothes dryer. But right now 6-5 Takakeisho is at a fraction of his normal power output, and 8-3 Ura has really dialed in his grab-and-tug sumo. Given that Takakeisho tends to not protect his arms, we could see some fireworks today.

Terunofuji vs Wakatakakage – Man, I have been waiting for this match since January. Wakatakakage has only beaten Terunofuji once, back in Juryo when he was climbing his way back up the ranks. Its clear that Wakatakakage is ascendant, and one of these matches, he’s going to start winning. Terunofuji is already kachi-koshi at 8-3, and 6-5 Wakatakakage is looking for 2 more wins in the next 4 days to finish his eight.