Osaka Day 11 Highlights

It’s time to start worrying about Ozeki Takakeisho. Clearly whatever is happening on that left leg is getting worse, and he’s looking more likely to be kadoban for the next basho, which we hope will be in May. With only one Ozeki remaining, and likely to be kadoban, it will likely be an influence into the question of Asanoyama’s promotion to sumo’s second highest rank. Sadly for the sumo world, it is likely that Asanoyama is not quite ready for the rank, and there are really no other candidates who are showing any kind of consistency in their sumo.

I also expect there to be similar consideration for the Yokozuna, there are really no candidates for promotion to sumo’s highest rank, and both of the current Yokozuna are getting toward the end of their careers. But if Hakuho’s day 11 performance is any indication, at least one of them is showing no lack of vigor when the mood suits him.

Highlight Matches

Aoiyama defeats Kotonowaka – Big Dan retains his share of the tournament lead with a resounding defeat of Kotonowaka. Kotonowaka had a couple of solid face attacks, but that only got Aoiyama fired up, and the V-Twin went to work. I was impressed that Kotonowaka had the ring sense to circle and deflect quite effectively for a while.

Kotoshogiku defeats Chiyomaru – Welcome back Chiyomaru! But Kotoshogiku had your number today, the Kyushu Bulldozer blasted straight through Chiyomaru’s initial tsuppari attack, grabbed him around the chest and powered forward. Kotoshogiku improves to 6-5.

Ikioi defeats Daiamami – Daiamami had the better of the tachiai, and a brief ottsuke battle ensued. A failed advance from Daiamami, and it was a stalemate in the center of the dohyo, which ended with Ikioi swinging Daiamami out for the win. Ikioi improves to 6-5.

Terutsuyoshi defeats Azumaryu – Terutsuyoshi seems to have surprised Azumaryu, driving inside and getting a fight hand inside position. As Azumaryu was adjusting to defense, Terutsuyoshi advanced strongly and drove Azumaryu over the bales. Terutsuyoshi improves to 6-5.

Kaisei defeats Chiyotairyu – Chiyotairyu did a great job of getting inside, and applying force to Kaisei’s chest. But Kaisei shoved Chiyotairyu away, and dove in for the grip. Finding a left hand outside, it was time for another episode of Newtonian Sumo, this time against an extremely large opponent. Both men exit day 11 with 7-4 records, well on their way to well deserved kachi-koshi.

Meisei defeats Sadanoumi – Great side step and deflect move by Meisei in the opening moments of the match brought him behind Sadanoumi, and it was an easy push out for the win. Sadanoumi picks up his 8th loss and is make-koshi for March.

Takanosho defeats Ishiura – Takanosho continues to dominate, but I really thought Ishiura had a great tachiai. But his gambit of using straight ahead sumo met Takanosho’s power and strength, and was found lacking. Takanosho improves to 9-2.

Kiribayama defeats Nishikigi – Grim match for Nishikigi, he was high at the tachiai, stumbled past Kiribayama, and immediately found himself in his opponent’s bear-hug. With triumphant force, Kiribayama slammed him to the clay. Nishikigi picks up his 8the loss and is make-koshi.

Shimanoumi defeats Shohozan – Shohozan continues to have absolutely no power this March, and finds himself outclassed by Shimanoumi. This is quite uncharacteristic for Shohozan, whose upper body strength is epic, when he is healthy. Shimanoumi improves to 6-5.

Tochiozan defeats Tamawashi – It seems no matter how hurt or in pain Tochiozan might be, he’s always got a mug full of smack down for Tamawashi. It was a simple “stand him up and throw him down” affair, but it was enough for Tochiozan’s first win of the basho.

Tochinoshin defeats Kagayaki – Well, that was quite the henka from the former Ozeki. He executes a couple of them every tournament now that he is walking wounded. Really a big let down to me as I wanted to see Tochinoshin battle Mr Fundamentals, but I understand.

Yutakayama defeats Takarafuji – Takarafuji’s “Defend and Extend” sumo could not contain Yutakayama, who seems to be really back in his pre-injury form now. Take a look at Yutakayama’s ottsuke! His foot position is less than optimum, but I am going to assume he can get that worked out. Now if we could just graft Yutakayama’s upper body on Kagayaki from the hips down…

Enho defeats Tokushoryu – Hatsu yusho winner Tokushoryu continues to suffer, and Enho fans rejoice as he staves off make-koshi another day. Enho even let Tokushoryu do most of the work, with a perfectly timed side step at the tawara.

Okinoumi defeats Myogiryu – Myogiryu opened strong with a series of attacks to Okinoumi’s face, but it left him high and a bit off balance. Okinoumi used the opening to get a left hand inside position, and got the yorikiri. Okinoumi improves to 6-5.

Mitakeumi defeats Daieisho – This match was all Daieisho until somehow Mitakeumi made his enormous tadpole body more or less vanish at the tawara as Daieisho lunged forward to finish him off. That was one hell of a move, and I am sure Daieisho was wonder “where did he go?”. I had to watch it on slow motion a few times myself, and marvel at Mitakeumi’s exquisite foot work and timing. Mitakeumi improves to 9-2.

Endo defeats Onosho – Master sumo technician Endo dismantles the Red Tadpole with uncanny awareness of Onosho’s attempt to pull. In fact, it seems Endo may have known he was going to do it even before Onosho did. Perfectly replaced to avoid Onosho’s attack, Endo used the mistake to drive Onosho from the ring for the win. Both men leave the dohyo with 6-5 records on day 11.

Asanoyama defeats Ryuden – Ryuden make Asanoyama work for that right hand inside position, shutting it down at the tachiai. But once Asanoyama set up shop, he caught Ryuden with his feet out of position, and with no defense. Asanoyama continues to move towards Ozeki consideration, but I worry that his sumo is still very narrow right now. It’s excellent sumo, but he may struggle as Ozeki until / unless he diversifies a bit.

Abi defeats Takakeisho – Takakeisho gets his arms out early, to grab Abi’s hands as they move to their first attack. A worthwhile gambit, and it works for a bit, giving Takakeisho the inside position and clear range to attack Abi’s body with his thrusting attack. But Takakeisho can’t make the timing work, and Abi masterfully resets, and lays down volley after volley against Takakeisho, driving him from the ring. Both end the match at 5-6.

Kakuryu defeats Shodai – As predicted, Shodai put up a strong effort, but it was all Kakuryu. The Yokozuna looked very strong and focused today, and given the worrisome state of the lone Ozeki, I think all talk of pressuring him to retire is off the table for the rest of the year.

Hakuho defeats Hokutofuji – I am sure Hakuho was really upset with himself after day 10. He decided to toy with Onosho, and found that the Red Tadpole has quite the bite. Today he showed what kind of power he has when he is focused, intense and absolutely looking to win with overwhelming power. Hokutofuji is well north of 150 kg, but he was ejected in moments by Hakuho’s opening attack.

Osaka Day 11 Preview

Welcome to act 3, the final act of the Haru Basho. I frankly had my doubts we would get this far. I suspected that some poor rikishi would come down with COVID-19 before day 9, and the tournament would be shut down. I am quite pleased to have been wrong. With so many other sports canceling their remaining games, or delaying the start of their seasons, it’s quite welcome that my favorite sport, sumo, has found a way to continue.

Act 3 is all about sorting kachi-koshi from make-koshi, and crowning a yusho winner. Right now, there are clearly a cadre of rikishi who are injured and have either withdrawn or are desperately limping through their final 5 matches by any means available. It’s tough to see some of these legends limp along, but just maybe they can bounce back in May, with their bodies in a better state and their fighting spirit renewed.

Haru Leaderboard

With Hakuho’s day 10 loss, the race for the yusho has been greatly expanded. While I don’t pretend that Hakuho has anything to fear from Aoiyama, there are some tough matches for him in the days head, including the day 15 bout with Kakuryu.

Leader: Hakuho, Aoiyama
Chasers: Kakuryu, Asanoyama, Mitakeumi ,Takanosho
Hunt Group: Daieisho, Takarafuji, Chiyotairyu, Ishiura ,Kotonowaka

5 matches remain

What We Are Watching Day 11

Kotonowaka vs Aoiyama – Another first time match, featuring shin-maku rikishi Kotonowaka. Today he has the pleasure of facing the normous, overwhelmingly powerful and genki Aoiyama. And the pleasure is likely to be Aoiyama’s. He is currently tied with Hakuho for the lead, so I expect that his motivation will be quite high, and Kotonowaka is going to receive the “full treatment”.

Kotoshogiku vs Chiyomaru – He’s back! Its Chiyomaru, who was on a fast track to a kachi-koshi, takes a few days off for a fever. While the sumo world was holding their collective breath, his record started racking up losses. Now he’s back, and he needs 3 more wins out of the last 5 matches to 8. He’s got Kotoshogiku today, and the former Ozeki is looking increasingly questionable.

Daiamami vs Ikioi – Ikioi enjoyed a good start to Haru, but as the days tick by, the injuries seem to be slowing him down a bit more each day. Today’s match against Daiamami is especially troublesome, as he holds a 5-1 career advantage over Ikioi. Ikioi needs 3 more wins to reach his 8.

Azumaryu vs Terutsuyoshi – Both come into day 11 with 5-5 records, and their career record is 2-3. Terutsuyoshi won the last two, but both of them are just as likely to pull the other one down as anything else. Fans, including myself, would love to see another leg pick from Terutsuyoshi today.

Chiyotairyu vs Kaisei – A Chiyotairyu win against Kaisei will seal a kachi-koshi, but he has to overcome the 4-12 career disadvantage, and the fact that Kaisei seems to be fairly genki this March. Chiyotairyu has been showing some of his best sumo in some time, but he has lost 2 of his last 3.

Sadanoumi vs Meisei – Sadanoumi has lost the last 3 in a row, and is staring at the business end of a make-koshi for Osaka. The only comfort he can take is that he faces the lack luster Meisei on day 11. Neither one of these rikishi have anything to enjoy right now, and given the restrictions on the stables, I am sure they have not even had a chance to enjoy any of Osaka’s legendary cuisine.

Takanosho vs Ishiura – A win today will be kach-koshi for Ishiura, great news? No, his match is against red-hot Takanosho, who has been winning match after match. In fact he has won 4 of the last 5. This should be a big fight.

Nishikigi vs Kiribayama – Once again, Nishikigi will struggle to avoid make-koshi in his match with Kiribayama. They have never fought before, so it’s anyone’s guess where this will go. I am certain that Nishikigi will do his best to get his favored arm-bar hold, but Mongol Kiribayama’s sumo may prove too quick and nimble for that trap.

Shohozan vs Shimanoumi – Shohozan, injured, make-koshi – what does this guy have for motivation? I guess reducing the demotion for May. Shimanoumi at 5-5 can still have hope, so I would give motivation, and a 2-1 career record advantage to him.

Tochiozan vs Tamawashi – More sadness in the scratch and dent bin. Although Tochiozan holds a 13-3 career record over Tamawashi, but not today. My guess is that injured Tochiozan has no power to present much defense to Tamawashi, and Tamawashi will avoid make-koshi for another day.

Tochinoshin vs Kagayaki – Kagayaki has never beaten Tochinoshin in their 4 prior matches. The Tochinoshin of today has battled back a 1-5 start, and has 4 wins headed into day 11. He can still salvage his record, or at least limit the damage with a win today over Mr Fundamentals – Kagayaki.

Yutakayama vs Takarafuji – Takarafuji is one win away from a kachi-koshi, and I think he has a good chance of picking it up today against “Big Unit” Yutakayama. Takarafuji’s body seems to be in good condition, and his defensive sumo has been working very well this basho. Yutakayama tends to throw a lot of energy into his attacks, and it will be fun watching Takarafuji deflect, dodge and re-direct that energy.

Enho vs Tokushoryu – There has been speculation that Enho is injured, and that is why his sumo has lacked impact this basho. There may be the factor that for the crowd, there is no rikishi who elicits more enthusiasm and more noise. In the silent basho, all of that is gone. With Tokushoryu already make-koshi, will he still muster enough energy to give Enho a solid fight? An Enho loss today would be his 8th.

Okinoumi vs Myogiryu – These two have a 24 match career history, and they are split 12-12. Okinoumi tends to win by Oshidashi, Myogiryu by yorikiri. So it looks like the form of the match may gate who has the advantage. Chest to chest, and Myogiryu may avoid his 8th loss on day 11.

Daieisho vs Mitakeumi – Mitakeumi finds himself once again within striking range of the Emperor’s cup. Like his prior campaigns, he seems to be holding strong into week 2, and his sumo seems unstoppable. Daieisho needs a win today to reach kachi-koshi, but he would need to overcome a 3-7 career deficit against Mitakeumi.

Onosho vs Endo – Onosho stunned sumo fans with his day 10 win over Hakuho, and now he comes up against Endo, who has lost 3 of his last 4 matches. His 4-1 career advantage may not matter much, as the Onosho hype machine is at full power.

Asanoyama vs Ryuden – Having made his 8, Asanoyama is assured to retain his Sekiwake slot for May. But he has to take 4 of the last 5 to make 12, and to reach the mark of 33 wins over the basho that is sometimes considered the minimal threshold for consideration to be promoted to Ozeki. He holds a 7-5 career advantage over Ryuden, who is on a 3 match losing streak. This is one of a few “easy” matches that Asanoyama has left before he starts his tour of the Yokozuna and Ozeki corps.

Takakeisho vs Abi – Takakeisho is in real danger of ending the basho make-koshi, and having to clear Kadoban in the next tournament, which we all hope will be in May. As the lone surviving Ozeki, I am quite sure the NSK has to be worried that he may have a serious injury behind his decreasing sumo power this March. If it helps, Abi is a bit of a mess as well.

Shodai vs Kakuryu – Shodai has never beaten Kakuryu in 12 attempts. Shodai is also, typically, part of Yokozuna Kakuryu’s dohyo iri team. I would look for a vigorous but honorable loss by Shodai today.

Hakuho vs Hokutofuji – I am sure that Hakuho is quite frustrated with his loss to Onosho on day 10, and I am hoping that frustration converts into some high energy sumo, where Hakuho takes the match seriously, and rather than trying to beat his opponent with their own style, he bring Hakuho style sumo and wins with authority.

Osaka Day 10 Highlights

Some sumo fans were skeptical of my interest in Onosho. Today maybe there is more to think about, as the “Red Tadpole” took a chunk out of Yokozuna Hakuho, scoring his second kinboshi (the fist was Aki 2017 against Harumafuji). Since they first began to breach the sekitori ranks, Onosho was always, to my eye, the most capable of the crew. True, he has had balance issues that were compounded by an injury during Hatsu 2018. It has been a real struggle for him to fight back to this level of competition, including a misguided attempt to stop wearing that red mawashi.

With Hakuho’s loss, the yusho race opens up considerably, bringing none other than “Big Dan” Aoiyama into a tie with Hakuho for the cup. Do I think the Bulgarian is a match for Hakuho – probably not, but Aoiyama likely could care less. I am sure that should they ever go head to head, he will give him a full volley and let the sumo decide. Hot on their heels, just 1 loss behind, are three proven yusho winners who are eager for a chance to step in and claim the title: Kakuryu, Asanoyama and Mitakeumi. Frankly, if Mitakeumi takes his 3rd Emperor’s cup, the fans in Nagoya are going to be incorrigible.

Highlight Matches

Kotoyuki defeats Daiamami – Well, that injury in January does not seem to have quenched Kotoyuki’s sumo. He looked strong and motivated to drive Daiamami from the dohyo. At Juryo 1E, all he needs is a kachi-koshi to return to the top division.

Azumaryu defeats Kotoshogiku – That probably should have been a matta, but the gyoji let them fight it out. Kotoshogiku struggled for a reasonable grip, and each moment that passed drained some of the power he could transmit through those damaged knees. Azumaryu took his time, set up the throw and took the match with an uwatenage. Both men end the day 5-5.

Aoiyama defeats Shimanoumi – “Big Dan” Aoiyama remains at the front of the makuuchi race for the cup with a solid win over Shimanoumi. Shimanoumi came in low and fast, but Big Dan unleashed the V-Twin, and there was no escape for Shimanoumi. Aoiyama improves to 9-1.

Kaisei defeats Ishiura – Ishiura used a lot of great high-agility sumo today, and Kaisei played with him for a bit. But once Ishiura went full Enho and started grabbing any body part and tugging, it seems Kaisei reached out to his spirit guide, Sir Issac Newton, and unleashed a might shove that broke the dohyo. Kaisei improves to 6-4.

Meisei defeats Ikioi – Ikioi certainly gave it a full measure, but a well timed side step by Meisei in the face of an Ikioi charge sent Ikioi to the clay. Meisei really needed that win to maintain any hope of a kachi-koshi for March.

Terutsuyoshi defeats Kotonowaka – A duck and side step at the tachiai left shin-maku rikishi Kotonowaka momentarily distracted. In a blink of an eye, Terutsuyoshi had a hold of the left knee and lifted, sending Kotonowaka to the clay. Great sumo from Terutsuyoshi today, wow!

Nishikigi defeats Tochiozan – Is there anything sadder that Tochiozan’s sumo right now? I don’t think so, at least not inside the Edion area. Day 10, and still more tape on veteran Tochiozan as Nishikigi gets his favorite kimedashi arm bars early, and just advances for the win. Tochiozan is now an eye watering 0-10.

Tochinoshin defeats Shohozan – Two more injured veterans, facing each other and trying to stay away from make-koshi. Sadly Shohozan succumbed to this 8th loss fever in a chaotic bout against Tochinoshin when he lost traction, and his legs splayed out, straddling the tawara. Hopefully no groin pull there. Shohozan now make-koshi.

Chiyotairyu defeats Kiribayama – Not quite sure what happened here. There was a strong tachiai from Chiyotairyu, and as he reached for a right hand grip, Kiribayama collapsed to the clay. Kimarite is listed as hatakikomi, so let’s go with that. Chiyotairyu improves to 7-3.

Takarafuji defeats Takanosho – Takanosho decided to try his usual tachiai, which Takarafuji deftly absorbed. As Takarafuji attempted to deflect the follow up charge, it was evident that Takanosho was too far forward, and Takarafuji helped him to continue forward to land face first in the clay. Takarafuji improves to 7-3, one win from a well deserved kachi-koshi.

Tamawashi defeats Sadanoumi – This match was a non-stop slug fest from the tachiai. If you wanted to see two rikishi unleash flurry after flurry of thrusts and blows, this is your bout. Tamawashi eventually found himself on Sadanoumi’s flank, he grabbed his mawashi and chucked him down like a bag of cement. Both men leave the day a 3-7.

Yutakayama defeats Kagayaki – Well, this is starting to get serious. “Big Unit” Yutakayama, seems to have bounced back from his 2-5 start, and has now rallied to an even 5-5. If you wanted to see Kagayaki really work a match, this is a fantastic example, as Yutakayama threw everything at Mr Fundamentals, but Kagayaki stayed stable, stance wide and pressing forward. He had Yutakayama pinned at the bales, but the Big Unit found a handle, turned and thrust Kagayaki down. Two stars from the near future in action, showing some great sumo.

Okinoumi defeats Tokushoryu – Okinoumi made fast work of the Hatsu yusho winner, handing him the inevitable make-koshi we knew was coming for a week or so now. I look forward to seeing how Tokushoryu does in the mid-Maegashira ranks, as it is clear that M2 is well outside of his ability this March.

Daieisho defeats Abi – Daieisho has learned well the mechanics of disrupting Abi-zumo, and applied them with gusto. For those of you wondering, thrust upward at the elbows and shut down his rhythm early. His foot placement is always set to allow maximum forward pressure, and if you remove that double-arm attack from the equation, he is inherently unstable. Daieisho improves to 7-3, and could reach kachi-koshi tomorrow against Endo.

Myogiryu defeats Hokutofuji – Hokutofuji once again racks up “The Most Powerful Make-Koshi In Sumo”, as Myogiryu completely disrupts his attack, then steps aside when Hokutofuji rallies to move ahead.

Mitakeumi defeats Endo – Endo staked everything on that predicable left hand mawashi grip at the tachiai. Mitakeumi went for a quick left hand nodowa. Did anyone else see that ottsuke? Mitakeumi presses forward with his massive body, and just overruns Endo’s defenses. Mitakeumi picks up his 8th win, and his kachi-koshi. So far the Mitakeumi second week fade is nowhere in sight.

Asanoyama defeats Enho – Asanoyama stays on the trail of his Ozeki bid by bashing the genki out of Enho, sending him one loss away from make-koshi. Asanoyama was in oshi-mode today, and Enho was grabbing arms, hands, wrists – anything really, to try to unbalance Asanoyama. The Ozeki hopefully was having none of it, and just kept moving forward with power. Asanoyama now kachi-koshi.

Shodai defeats Takakeisho – The lone surviving Ozeki is in trouble now, as he opens strong against Shodai, who quite impressively stayed calm and showed some nice “Defend and Extend” sumo today. He kept urging Takakeisho to move forward, and lean forward until he could slap him down. Both men end the day at 5-5.

Onosho defeats Hakuho – Hakuho’s enormous ego and overflowing skill channel him to try and fight his lower ranked opponents by copying their style. Clearly he decided he was going to take Onosho on in a thrusting match, but he found that this tadpole has the power of Takakeisho, with the reach of Ryuden. You can’t just take a step back and remove his primary offense. Points to Onosho for pressing the attack, and offering the Yokozuna no escape. “The Boss” take his first loss, and Onosho improves to 6-4. The kami that lives in his red mawashi grew in power today, watch out. I am hoping against hope we get Onosho vs Takakeisho.

Kakuryu defeats Ryuden – Kakuryu was in no mood to play today, and just grabbed a hold and drove forward with power. That’s win #8 for Big K, and he’s kachi-koshi for March.

Osaka Day 10 Preview

Image of Itadaki’s Amazing Hand-Made Bento Shamelessly Stolen From The NSK’s Twitter Feed, To Whom We Sincerely Apologize.

Hey! We made it to day 10! The closing day of act 2, and the act 2 mojo has been quite strong. 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. It’s clear that Hakuho, whatever his aches and pains may be, is still the greatest living rikishi, and perhaps the greatest ever. He is undefeated at 9-0, and the only rikishi 1 loss behind are ranked far down the banzuke. Suffice it to day, I think we are looking at a Hakuho yusho.

We are awaiting with eager anticipation the results of Chiyomaru’s COVID-19 test results, which we expect at some point on Tuesday. Should he test positive, that will be the end of a foreshortened Haru basho. What does that mean for the yusho, the May banzuke, and everything else? Nobody knows for sure, and I would guess that if we ever get that far, the sumo kyokai will decide what to do. There is no real precident for this sort of thing, and that is enough to make any Japanese organization quite uncomfortable.

Haru Leaderboard

Leader: Hakuho
Chasers: Takanosho, Aoiyama
Hunt Group: Kakuryu, Asanoyama, Mitakeumi, Ishiura, Kotonowaka

6 matches remain

What We Are Watching Day 10

Kotoyuki vs Daiamami – Hey sumo fans, guess who is back? None other than “The Penguin” Kotoyuki! He was on a rather impressive run of sumo until he got injured just before Hatsu, and dropped from Maegashira 3 all the way down to Juryo 1. He is back to visit for a match against 4-5 Daiamami, but Kotoyuki’s sumo is looking poorly again.

Kotoshogiku vs Azumaryu – The 5-4 Kyushu Bulldozer mounts the dohyo again today to push toward his 8. Frankly, I am really impressed that Kotoshogiku can continue to lay down winning sumo in spite of his injuries. The only prior match went to Azumaryu, but given the fact that Azumaryu is not fighting so well, it is probably an even fight.

Shimanoumi vs Aoiyama – Aoiyama hit his 8th win on Monday, and now it’s all down to him running up the score. As we have seen throughout his history in sumo, Big Dan is not one to back off the throttle just because he is kachi-koshi.

Ishiura vs Kaisei – Henka complaints aside, Ishiura has been doing very well this basho, and in fact there is a good chance he can reach kachi-koshi today, if I can prevent the massive Kaisei from invoking the icon of all massive objects in motion—Isaac Newton. Should Ishiura fail to get out of Kaisei’s way, there are few forces short of Ichinojo that can slow him down. Stay nimble!

Meisei vs Ikioi – Yeah, sure, Meisei holds a 2-0 record, but does anyone think that Meisei has any mojo right now? I think he has laid in a course for make-koshi, as is proceeding at full impulse.

Kotonowaka vs Terutsuyoshi – A win today gives Kotonowaka his 8th, and the glory of the kachi-koshi interview. Say, ever wondered what would happen if there were a make-koshi interview? Get Raja Pradhan to do it, they give him all of the terrible jobs.

Nishikigi vs Tochiozan – I can’t belive it, but there is a solid chance that Nishikigi will be able to dodge make-koshi for another day. The exquisitely skilled Tochiozan is a walking bandage right now, and I would not expect him to do much if anything with vigor.

Shohozan vs Tochinoshin – Say, lets take two really strong rikishi, make sure they are really hurt, and watch them fight. No, that’s not theoretical, that happens day 10 (again) as we see the battle-damaged former Ozeki Tochinoshin take on the relic of “Big Guns” Shohozan. A Shohozan loss today means make-koshi, which we all know is coming, but we just don’t know when.

Chiyotairyu vs Kiribayama – A first time meeting between Chiyotairyu and Natsu basho kanto-sho winner, Kiribayama. Is he, at his relatively feather weight (94 kg vs 166.8 kg), ready for the overwhelming, thunderous tachiai? Word to Kiribayama, the occasional henka is not only useful, it can be amusing to the fans.

Takarafuji vs Takanosho – Another first-time match. We get to see the kachi-koshi Takanosho encounter the “defend and extend” sumo of Takarafuji. Takanosho is a straight-ahead yorikiri kind of guy, so I am really keen to see what happens when Takarafuji invites him to go chest to chest, but makes sure there is nothing he can do with it.

Sadanoumi vs Tamawashi – Both of these rikishi seem to be setting course for the same make-koshi system that Meisei is headed to at full impulse. Both are high-skill, capable rikishi who just seem to be having a stinker of a tournament. A Tamawashi loss today would be his 8th, which, given Sadanoumi’s 9-3 career advantage, may be the outcome.

Yutakayama vs Kagayaki – Oh, now this one looks tasty! Yutakayama really gave Takakeisho the business on day 9. For his longterm followers, it was not really out of character, but I am going to watch what he does with Kagayaki. They have split their prior 8 matches, so this is a great bell-weather bout on whether Yutakayama is doing better than his normal level.

Okinoumi vs Tokushoryu – Can Tokushoryu come back from 2-7 to rescue a kachi-koshi at Maegashira 2? Most unlikely, but given that his sumo fundamentals are strong (if narrow), and he has a toolkit of winning moves, it’s just possible. The more likely outcome is that veteran Okinoumi rides him like a hoppy toy around the edge of the dohyo before sending him on a jog around where the spectators should be for his 8th loss.

Daieisho vs Abi – I think Abi is still injured from Hatsu, and his double arm attack is still front and center in his sumo, but that sore knee means he lacks the stable platform to give his double arm thrust sufficient power to overwhelm his opponents. On top of that, Daieisho is on a hot streak, winning his last 6 in a row.

Hokutofuji vs Myogiryu – Loser gets make-koshi, that’s really all you need to know here.

Mitakeumi vs Endo – Mitakeumi unleashed an uwatedashinage on Endo in their January match, handing him his 3rd consecutive loss in the middle of the basho. If Mitakeumi can repeat that performance, it will be his 8th win, and a well deserved kachi-koshi for March. Endo seems to have hit a dead spot, losing 2 of his last 3.

Asanoyama vs Enho – Asanoyama is on a narrow path to an Ozeki promotion bid, and he needs quality wins to even get serious consideration. A loss to Enho on day 10 would most likely shut down the hype train for March, and cause him to try again next basho, whenever that happens.

Takakeisho vs Shodai – Fans should consign themselves to the very real possibility that Takakeisho will be kadoban following March. It’s pretty obvious he has an injury, and he’s just gamberizing as hard as he can. He holds a 7-3 career lead over Shodai, but right now Shodai is fighting better than Takakeisho is. The Ozeki needs 3 of his last 6 to make his 8, a tough climb for a man in pain.

Hakuho vs Onosho – This is some sort of twisted nod to Onosho’s fightback to the top ranks of sumo. He has finally completed his quest to return to the highest levels of competition, as he faces the dai-Yokozuna on day 10. True, Hakuho has and likely will mop the dohyo with him, but… what an honor!

Ryuden vs Kakuryu – In the “time to take your lumps” bucket with Onosho, it’s Ryuden’s turn to face Kakuryu. Ryuden is more aggressive, and I would love to see him unleash something unexpected and dangerous before Kakuryu shuts him down and sends him flying.