Kyushu Day 13 Highlights

It was fancy kimarite day today, as some rikishi dipped into the technique bag and employed some lesser seen moves to win their matches.

Like watching a massive ship run aground, it’s clear that many of the rank and file rikishi are headed toward a slew of elimination matches during the final weekend of the basho. Some fans love these, as only the strong survive. But they are a crazy reminder that sumo is one of the sporting world’s great zero-sum games.

Highlight Matches

Azumaryu defeats Daishomaru – Daishomaru looks so completely depleted right now, it’s tough to watch him compete. He tries a hit and shift left at the tachiai, but Azumaryu completely dominates him and tosses him down with little effort. Kimarite is the quite unusual sokubiotoshi.

Shimanoumi defeats Nishikigi – Speaking of depleted, Nishikigi is now at 10 losses for November, and is slated to man the bilge pumps on the Juryo barge. This guy scored a kinboshi in January. No, really.

Yutakayama defeats Daishoho – Yutakayama continues his total domination of Daishoho, picking up his kachi-koshi and securing his move into battle range with the rest of his Freshmen cohort for Hatsu. Daishoho yielded the inside thrusting path to Yutakayama at the tachiai, and Yutakayama, kept the pressure on. Daishoho also is at 10 losses for November. Hopefully he and Nishikigi can spend some Onsen time getting their bodies back to good health.

Kotoshogiku defeats Ishiura – Ishiura tries a hit-and-shift, and it’s great to see Kotoshogiku so effectively box him in. Nowhere to go, Ishiura is pinned and Kotoshogiku is set up for his gaburi-yori. Ishiura tries everything to dance away, but the Kyushu Bulldozer mode is active, and Ishiura is going out. Kimarite is listed as the seldom seen kimedashi.

Sadanoumi defeats Kagayaki – Kagayaki opened strong, but Sadanoumi is one tough opponent again today. Time and again this November he shows unexpected power and fighting spirit against larger opponents. Backed up to the bales, he rallies and works to get and then exploit a right hand outside grip. Kagayaki seems to run out of ring and run out of energy and Sadanoumi takes the win.

Shohozan defeats Chiyomaru – Chiyomaru gets the better of the tachiai, and takes the inside position. His rapid tsuppari combo starts working against Shohozan, who seems just as comfortable receiving a pommeling as he does delivering one. While his face is being battered by Chiyomaru, his hands are working to reach around his enormous belly and get a handful of mawashi. Sadly, all known forms of geometry and spacial mechanics have no successful solution to this problem, so Shohozan just muscles ahead and walks Chiyomaru out. Shohozan gets his 8th win and is kachi-koshi for November in front of his home-town crowd.

Terutsuyoshi defeats Kotoeko – Terutsuyoshi brings an opening face slap and a deep lunging dive for Kotoeko’s mawashi to the tachiai, putting him in clear control of the match. Kotoeko thrashes about in an unsuccessful effort to break Terutsuyoshi’s grip, and manages to drive Terutsuyoshi toward the tawara. But Terutsuyoshi deflects his forward thrust, and uses the Kotoeko’s unbalanced state to thrust him down. Terutsuyoshi gets his 8th win, and is kachi-koshi.

Chiyotairyu defeats Tsurugisho – Chiyotairyu once again goes chest to chest and employs a Kotoshogiku gaburi-yori to completely overwhelm Tsurugisho. That’s loss #8 for Tsurugisho, who looks dismal in week 2. That’s 5 consecutive losses for Tsurugisho.

Shodai defeats Enho – Well, Enho, your submarine face-mawashi graft had no real impact on Shodai, who probably still carries stuff around for his grandparents on the weekend. So after a bit of a pause where you can almost visibly see Shodai decide there is no real sumo here, channels his inner Tochinoshin and just lifts and shifts Enho for the win. Shodai goes double digits (as we thought he would), and should be back in the top part of Makuuchi for January.

Onosho defeats Takanosho – The classic nodowa lift and drop tachiai from Onosho today, with a bit of a leftward shift to ensure Takanosho has no outlet for his forward momentum, save to fall down. Onosho is still on track for a Darwin match on day 15. I had better buy more Sake.

Ryuden defeats Aoiyama – Aoiyama slaps and hits Ryuden around quite a bit, but can’t seem to finish him off. Ryuden’s tactic seems to be keep circling to his left, waiting for Aoiyama to be too high with a left hand thrust. When it happens, Ryuden’s on Big Dan’s blue mawashi in a flash. Still in oshi-battle mode, Aoiyama is caught with neither offensive or defensive sumo ready, and is simply escorted out.

Okinoumi defeats Meisei – These two really went after each other, both intent on not being the man who would take their 8th loss today. An incredibly evenly balanced fight, it ended when they jointly threw each other with matching and symmetrical uwatenage. The gumbai went to Meisei, but from the replays it was clear he touched down slightly ahead of Okinoumi. A monoii reversed the call, and Meisei has his 8th loss, and is make-koshi for Kyushu.

Daieisho defeats Myogiryu – Myogiryu picks up his first loss in 4 days after Daieisho gets inside of his defenses, and unloads repeatedly against center-mass. That was quick, brutal and quite effective.

Asanoyama defeats Kotoyuki – Kotoyuki took control at the tachiai, and Asanoyama could find no route to get a mawashi grip. At first, Kotoyuki’s thrusting attack prevailed, but Asanoyama rallied and drove him out of the North side of the dohyo. Asanoyama stay 2 behind Hakuho, and is still mathematically in the yusho hunt for at least one more day.

Tamawashi defeats Hokutofuji – Hokutofuji has shown a lot of strength, a lot of energy, but not a lot of control this November. I think he has the tool kit to be a san’yaku regular in the post Hakuho world, but he’s got to find a way to bring his wild sumo into a more focused and efficient form. Fans (of which I am one) are frustrated by his lack of consistency, and that is down to his current sumo style. He is going to improve this, and I am eager to see the next form he takes.

Endo defeats Takarafuji – Endo once again proves he’s a man for difficult tasks, finding Takarafuji’s neck with a nodowa, and driving him back. While Takarafuji focused on foiling Endo’s follow on attempt for a left hand inside grip, he was being moved back and went down to his 8th loss via Endo’s yorikiri.

Takakeisho defeats Mitakeumi – Mitakeumi remains in danger of vacating his Sekiwake roost with today’s loss to the sole surviving Ozeki. Takakeisho sacrificed some momentum out of the tachiai to gain a clear shot at Mitakeumi’s chest and went to work. Mitakeumi needs to win the remainder of his matches to make kachi-koshi. Kimarite was tsukidashi, and the Grand Tadpole advances to 9 wins.

Hakuho defeats Abi – Reports from the venue indicate that the crowd was behind Abi, as I think the whole sumo world shares a desire to spice up the yusho race if possible, and some fans are frustrated with Hakuho’s sumo in week 2, especially his matches with Endo and Tamawashi. But Hakuho is in fact “The Boss”, and just wins and wins and wins. Short of injury and kyujo, I don’t see him failing to hoist the Emperor’s cup for the 43rd time this Sunday.

Kyushu Day 13 Preview

We are kicking off the final 3 days of the Kyushu basho. It looks almost certain that Hakuho will pick up the Emperor’s cup for the 43rd time, and he will need yet another warehouse in Chiba to store all of that beef he has coming his way. While we wait for “The Boss” to once again face limp condemnation from the YDC over even the slightest breech of protocol, the schedulers are showing us that with so many middling records, it’s Darwin matches for everyone. Coming out of today, we will have at least 3 new make-koshi rikishi, and possibly a few new cremates for the rikishi already aboard the slow, smelly barge back to Juryo.

On the subject of Hakuho, its true that I am a fan. But I have a secret hope, in that Hakuho lingers a while longer past his 2020 Olympics goal. Just long enough to have one of the new generation beat him straight up for a yusho. Bonus points if it’s Takakeisho or Asanoyama. Why? He’s the greatest rikishi of our time, and possibly any time. But some of his stuff just seems to beg for a “comeuppance”. The passing of the torch basho have been punctuations to end of dominant Yokozuna careers since I became a fan of sumo before Chiyonofuji faded from dominance. May “The Boss” face a fitting and noble close to his the career, going out guns blazing, but no longer able to dominate the new generation.

Kyushu Leaderboard

Shodai??? Shodai!!! Shodai…

Leader: Hakuho
Chasers: None
Hunt Group: Asanoyama, Shodai

3 Matches Remain

What We Are Watching Day 13

Daishomaru vs Azumaryu – Azumaryu has a kachi-koshi at the top of Juryo, and a healthy number of Makuuchi rikishi eligible for demotion. I would guess “Mr A” is coming back for January. He faces the bosun of the Juryo barge, Daishomaru, who holds a 3-1 career advantage. May not help him today.

Shimanoumi vs Nishikigi – More of “Club Make-Koshi” fight it out in this first ever match between a flagging Nishikigi and a surprisingly low-scoring Shimanoumi. Shimanoumi has had a few very good fights in those 4 wins, but it seems he’s headed downward as well.

Daishoho vs Yutakayama – The captain of the Juryo barge meets a man on the hunt for his 8th win. Daishoho is 0-3 against Yutakayama, so I am going to guess this is a “gimme” match, it’s also a Maegashira 15 facing off against a Maegashira 9. Hoo boy. I am looking forward to lksumo’s assessment in a few weeks of where a few of these pivotal rikishi of the new era are going to rank for Hatsu.

Kotoshogiku vs Ishiura – Ishiura is operating at a new level of sumo, one not seen since his Makuuchi debut 3 years ago in Kyushu. The relic of Kotoshogiku will do his best to blunt Ishiura’s superior agility with strength, bulk and forward power. Let’s hope the Kyushu bulldozer has a few more big matches in him.

Kagayaki vs Sadanoumi – Is it just me, or do you hear Kagayaki grumbling all the way from Kyushu. He seemed genuinely cranky following his day 12 loss to Ishiura, and I expect that he has frustrations he needs to express. Via hitting Sadanoumi. Sadanoumi, for his part, still needs 2 wins, and seems very focused and orderly about the process. I think this comes down to who’s head is in the match.

Shohozan vs Chiyomaru – One more win needed by hometown brawler “Big Guns” Shohozan to pick up his kachi-koshi, and it may come today against Chiyomaru. Big Maru may have good cause to not push things too hard, he is already kachi-koshi, and needs to make sure he stays healthy for January.

Terutsuyoshi vs Kotoeko – Terutsuyoshi is also in the “needs one more win” club, and although he and Kotoeko are evenly matched on paper, Kotoeko is having a terrible tournament. If Terutsuyoshi fights like he has during week 2, this should be kachi-koshi interview for him.

Tsurugisho vs Chiyotairyu – A Tsurugisho loss here would sort him into the make-koshi bin, and he comes in with a 4 bout losing streak. Chiyotairyu, however, is my candidate for a day 15 Darwin match.

Shodai vs Enho – These two have never fought before, and I am eager to see how Enho’s busy “grab anything and tug” technique works against Shodai’s cartoon sumo. Shodai has the size, and some kind of other-worldly luck, but Enho has speed, agility and a solid belief that he can win against anyone. Guess if you practice against the dai-Yokozuna and beat him once in a while, everyone else seems like a bag of Showa-era rice.

Onosho vs Takanosho – Onosho gets my second nomination for day 7 Darwin match, and I think he’s got quite the hill to climb to get to 8 wins, but I think he can do it. Today’s fight against Takanosho is going to be tough for him, as Takanosho has much better footwork and balance. Onosho holds the power and speed advantage, and they are tied 1-1 from their 2 prior matches.

Aoiyama vs Ryuden – Hey, Big Dan, do us a favor and knock Ryuden around a bit before you give him a clay facial. I love Ryuden / Shin-Ikioi’s sumo, but yesterday’s henka feels like we need a penalty round for him. Please do oblige.

Meisei vs Okinoumi – Loser of this match is make-koshi, and Meisei is 0-3 against Okinoumi over his career. The winner of this bout is another good candidate for a Darwin match on day 15.

Daieisho vs Myogiryu – More Darwin appointees ahoy! I think that this one favors Daieisho due to his superior osha-attack form, so it will come down to if Daieisho can get the inside position at the tachiai, or if Myogiryu can disrupt him and get a mawashi hold.

Kotoyuki vs Asanoyama – Asanoyama has fallen out of the yusho hunt, but the possibility of him stamping his card for his first ever Ozeki bid is still very much in play. Informed prognosticators (like Tachiai’s very own lksumo) tend to think he needs to be at least 11-4 at Kyushu, so the man is on the hunt fo 2 more wins. Today he goes up against “The Penguin” Kotoyuki, who has upped the power of his flipper attacks. Regardless of the outcome, he is another strong candidate for a Darwin match on day 15.

Hokutofuji vs Tamawashi – The scheduler decide that one of these men is make-koshi today, call it a “Mini Darwin” if you would. Both of them are big, strong and pack a lot of power in their thrusts. I give stability advantage to Tamawashi, and speed advantage and “willing to try anything twice” advantage to Hokutofuji.

Takarafuji vs Endo – Our second “Mini Darwin” of the day, as the schedulers telegraph in big, ultra-blobby Kanji that day 15 is going to be survival of the fittest. Loser is make-koshi, and we get to see if that day 12 upper-cut left Endo dazed or stunned. If Takarafuji can shut down his opening gambit, it’s going to be a tough day for the Golden One.

Takakeisho vs Mitakeumi – Mitakeumi surprised me on day 12, and maybe he’s doing a bit better after that day 3 knock to the head. I am sure Takakeisho’s ego is smarting from that day 12 Ryuden henka, and I hope we see a big battle of frustration and angst played out between these two. Mitakeumi needs 2 more wins to hold Sekiwake, and I am sure that having his 3rd bid for Ozeki slip away from him is not bothering him at all…

Abi vs Hakuho – Abi has beaten Hakuho once in their 2 matches. Can he catch lightning in a bottle today? I would not count on it, as Hakuho knows how to win no matter what. I would suppose it comes down to the tachiai face slap coming from “The Boss”. If that fails to find its mark, it might be just the chance Abi needs to apply his sumo. Kintamayama has been including comments on Abi’s “one dimensional” style, and there are many who cite that as a limit to his sumo. But I recall that the same was true of Kotoshogiku. Regardless of todays outcome, Abi is part of the future of sumo, and Hakuho is increasingly part of sumo history.

Kyushu Day 12 Highlights

Some great sumo from the smaller rikishi today. Ishiura and Terutsuyoshi seem to have hit their stride, and are causing their opponents real challenges figuring what, if anything, they can do to overcome their sumo. It’s fun to watch, and will make for some fantastic sumo during the deepening transition era going into 2020. With Asanoyama’s loss and Hakuho’s win today, the yusho is almost certainly going to Hakuho. This would mark his 43rd yusho, further running up the score into territory that will make future generations question the accuracy of the statistics.

Highlight Matches

Daishoho defeats Yago – Yago has no ability to generate any forward pressure, so I would say the big fellow is nursing an injury. Maybe those taped up knees are some indication. But it seems clear that Oguruma will be without a Sekitori in competition in January. Quite a shame as they are had 2 promising young rikishi in Yago and Tomokaze, both of which are injured.

Ishiura defeats Kagayaki – New-mode Ishiura completely overwhelmed Mr Fundamentals today with flurries of combo attacks that kept the bigger rikishi off plan. From the time Ishiura got his mawashi hold, Kagayaki was little more than ballast for whatever Ishiura wanted to use to win. Ishiura improves to 7-5 with another unusual kimarite: kirikaeshi.

Terutsuyoshi defeats Chiyotairyu – Win #2 for team tiny, this time Terutsuyoshi pops at the tachiai and dives for a deep left hand grip. He takes the much larger Chiyotairyu to his chest, and attacks with surprising strength and vigor. Chiyotairyu attempts to roll into a throw as Terutsuyoshi is powering him out, but Terutsuyoshi collapses the pivot for the win. Wow!

Shodai defeats Daishomaru – In spite of Shodai’s weak tachiai, Daishomaru can’t generate much if any forward pressure against Shodai, and goes down to his 8th defeat. Now make-koshi, he joins stablemate Daishoho waiting to see if he is relegated back to Juryo to start 2020.

Kotoshogiku defeats Nishikigi – Seemingly eager to muscle the Diasho pair out of line for the Juryo barge, Nishikigi takes his 9th loss as Kotoshogiku somehow musters enough strength to employ a fairly low energy version of his trademark attack.

Shohozan defeats Shimanoumi – Shohozan landed a deep right hand grip shortly after his face-slap tachiai. From there he activated the spin cycle and gave Shimanoumi a toss to the dohyo. The home town crowd loves it, and so do I. Shimanoumi picks up his 8th loss, and is make-koshi.

Chiyomaru defeats Sadanoumi – Chiyomaru takes Sadanoumi and marches forward like he’s late for the chanko line at Kokonoe heya. Chiyomaru gets his 8th win and is kachi-koshi for November.

Onosho defeats Yutakayama – These two oshi-rikishi go chest to chest, and it’s Yutakayama who seems to dominate. But with his heels on the tawara, Onosho does a weight shift via his feet that I am still trying to figure out, and pivots to fall forward, crushing Yutakayama beneath him. 2 more to go for Onosho, 1 more to go for Yutakayama.

Takanosho defeats Enho – Enho executes his submarine tachiai, and latches onto the front of Takanosho’s mawashi, but Takanosho thinks it through and pauses. Re-engaging he pivots and pushes down, sending Enho to the clay. Great recovery from Takanosho today.

Aoiyama defeats Tsurugisho – Traditional Aoiyama match, stand them up, then thrust them down. Tsurugisho struggling to maintain energy in his sumo as we near the end of the tournament. He’s now one loss from make-koshi.

Takarafuji defeats Kotoeko – Complex dance for grip as the two are chest to chest from the tachiai. This is a poor game to play with Takarafuji, who seems to be effective no matter where his hands end up. Takarafuji keeps his focus, and keeps moving Kotoeko toward the bales. Kotoeko picks up his 8th loss and is now make-koshi for November.

Kotoyuki defeats Daieisho – These two are very evenly matched, and both of them brought a lot of energy to an their thrusting attacks. When Daieisho lunged to finish Kotoyuki, Kotoyuki deftly moved to his right, and Daieisho met nothing but clay at the end of his charge.

Myogiryu defeats Okinoumi – Myogiryu had the better of the tachiai, and the match transitioned into a fierce chest to chest battle for control. Okinoumi rallied several times, but could not overcome Myogiryu’s inside grip.

Hokutofuji defeats Meisei – A wild, frantic match, as many of Hokutofuji’s bouts are. The combatants broke contact multiple times, to slam into each other again and again. Nobody had superior balance or position, it was a straight up brawl that was nearly a Meisei victory. But somehow Hokutofuji kept his feet, and was able to spin away, return and catch Meisei over extended, and thrust him down.

Abi defeats Tamawashi – I am not sure what kind of battle plan Tamawashi had for this match, but it seems to have not fired off correctly. Abi took control early, and drove the match in the manner he wanted. Tamawashi could really only muster one solid counter attack, but Abi broke contact, and re-engaged in full Abi-zumo mode.

Mitakeumi defeats Asanoyama – Asanoyama could not land his favored left hand grip, and was maybe surprised by the vigor Mitakeumi brought to the match today. Clearly the Sekiwake has some power left, and he’s going to push to hold onto his rank a bit longer. With his loss, Asanoyama drops away from any credible yusho contention.

Ryuden defeats Takakeisho – Rather crummy henka today, as I was hoping to see Ryuden use actual sumo to possibly beat the sole Ozeki in good standing in the sumo world today. It would have been a function of Ryuden getting that left hand on Takakeisho’s mawashi and going to work. But instead we got this dud. Oh well.

Hakuho defeats Endo – Kind of crappy sumo from Hakuho today. The face slap is annoying, but that’s Hakuho. That forearm to the jaw is another matter all together. Is it legit in sumo? Yes, it is. But honestly, it’s probably a bit huge given that he can beat Endo without using a combo that has a high change of injury. With his win, Hakuho is now 2 wins in front of the closest pursuit for the yusho, and has likely Locked up #43.

Kyushu Day 12 Preview

The scheduling committee keeps going back to their favorite – the big man / little man contest, and the matching records head to head. This portends a brutal final weekend as the rikishi are sorted into make/kachi-koshi piles for the winter.

For the best write up of what is at stake, and the story lines to date, read lksumo’s write up further down the page, or click here.

We know our “Man in foreign lands”, Josh, is somewhere in Kyushu, and we hope to hear first hand about the proceedings in the Fukuoka Kokusai Center, including the all important food truck report. Until then – on to day 12!

Kyushu Leaderboard

Leader: Hakuho
Chasers: Asanoyama
Hunt Group: Takakeisho, Shodai, Kagayaki

4 Matches Remain

What We Are Watching Day 12

Yago vs Daishoho – The broken hulk of Yago returns again to the top division for a visitor’s match. I have no idea what the roster of damage this man is burdened with while he tries to compete in Kyushu. Both rikishi are make-koshi, and both of them are in demotion danger.

Ishiura vs Kagayaki – As if to make up for the total stink-bomb for the first match, we get this gem. Kagayaki is already kachi-koshi, but I suspect he wants to run up the score (good for him). Ishiura has found a new level of genki this week, and I would love to see him give Kagayaki the business. This one is probably a highlight.

Terutsuyoshi vs Chiyotairyu – Lets keep the big / little contrast thread running, with this match between the surprisingly durable Terutsuyoshi squaring off against the massive, dreadnaught class Chiyotairyu. Speed vs power in this first ever fight between the two. It will probably come down to Chiyotairyu landing his massive cannonball tachiai or if Terutsuyoshi can duck or deflect it.

Daishomaru vs Shodai – Shodai is kachi-koshi, and I am curious to see if he eases up on the intensity. This will be a good indicator today, as he is probably capable of beating the rather un-genki Daishomaru if he puts his back into it. A Daishomaru loss today would nominate him to join his stable mate for a possible return to Juryo in January.

Kotoshogiku vs Nishikigi – Matching 3-8 records mean that this match might be a “decider” on which one will be more likely to be considered for demotion to Juryo. Sadly, Nishikigi has been make-koshi in every tournament this year. It’s a big gap between the Nishikigi who fought in the joi-jin, and actually recused himself well.

Shohozan vs Shimanoumi – Shohozan has an 0-2 record against Shimanoumi, and comes in with a 2 match losing streak. Is he fading out? I would not count on it. He is 2 wins away from kachi-koshi on his home turf, and I am looking for Shohozan to rally starting right now.

Chiyomaru vs Sadanoumi – Both Chiyomaru’s bulk and his 10-3 career record over Sadanoumi might indicate he is favored to win, Sadanoumi has been showing surprising strength and fighting spirit this November. The weakness? Most of Sadanoumi’s wins have come via a solid mawashi grip. Given Chiyomaru’s protective belly bulge, his mawashi is as unreachable as Aogashima.

Onosho vs Yutakayama – Oh good! Battle between two future power house rikishi. Yutakayama comes into this match with a superior level of genki, but Onosho holds the career advantage at 5-3. Both of these big guys are oshi-zumo practitioners, so I would expect a high degree forward power today. Yutakayama has the mobility advantage, Onosho a strength advantage.

Takanosho vs Enho – A first time match, we get to see power-pixie Enho face up to Takanosho, who is one win away from kachi-koshi. How far back from the shikiri-sen will Takanosho line up? Will Enho do one of his odd stand-up tachiais? Why am I asking so many questions? Does Tachiai know anything about sumo? What the hell is going on here?

Aoiyama vs Tsurugisho – Matching 5-6 records in this match once again clearly signal the intent of the scheduling committee to bring us a roster of 7-7 match ups on the final day. Tsurugisho is in the middle of a 3 match losing streak, Aoiyama is coming off of the “difficult” part of his schedule, and looking to get his final 3 wins. Both men have size and strength. Aoiyama will ring your bell if you are not careful, but Tsurugisho seems able to take more than a couple of sharp blows and stay in the fight.

Takarafuji vs Kotoeko – Matching 4-7 records (are you getting the theme here?). Loser is make-koshi, but will stay in the top division. Kotoeko has struggled to reach more than 8 wins for some time, though he displays flashes of good sumo.

Daieisho vs Kotoyuki – These two have an even 3-3 career record, and I think its going to come down to who gets the inside position at the tachiai. Both will try to overwhelm their opponent with a powerful volley of tsuppari within the first few seconds.

Myogiryu vs Okinoumi – This match is s show case of power and experience, with both of these veterans bring some fairly good form into this day 12 match. They have 22 matches over their long careers, with Okinoumi holding a thin 12-10 advantage. Both men are at 5-6 for Kyushu at the start of day 12.

Hokutofuji vs Meisei – Hokutofuji is now at the edge of make-koshi, which is a shame given some of his brilliant sumo this tournament. But he seems to go “all in” on some of his gambits, and somewhat less than 50% of them pay off. As a result, he fights like a mad man, but loses more than he wins. He’s great to watch, his attitude is excellent, and I think at some point he’s going to be a san’yaku regular. But I think his sumo needs at least 1 more step change to make it work.

Abi vs Tamawashi – Tamawashi had not shown us “his brand of sumo” much if at all this basho, until day 11 when he completely mastered Onosho. Abi faced a awkward match on day 11 as well, and I am hoping to seem them both clash in good form, with an abundance of energy.

Mitakeumi vs Asanoyama – Normally this would be a high-interest match, but Mitakeumi looks beaten right now. Can he rally? Sure he can. But Asanoyama has an edge today as he is strong, healthy and fighting well. He also is looking to keep 1 behind “The Boss” in the yusho race.

Takakeisho vs Ryuden – Ryuden has yet to take a single match from Takakeisho, and is one loss away from make-koshi. I expect him to fight with vigor, but right now Takakeisho seems to be fighting with renewed energy, in spite of his less than optimal left arm.

Endo vs Hakuho – So the assumption is that Hakuho will increase his 10-1 career advantage over Endo, and it’s a good assumption. But Endo is in rather good Endo-zumo form, and if he gets lucky, his excellent technique does present a narrow opening to surprise the Yokozuna. I assure you that should this happen, Japan would lose its mind with Endo fever. But I do think the one rikishi who has a chance against Hakuho is the sole surviving Ozeki, Takakeisho, who will likely face him in the final match of the tournament on Sunday.