Aki Day 12 Highlights

Outstanding matches on day 12, and the schedulers are able to move one step closer to making the final weekend a real brawl to end it all. We had 6 rikishi reach kachi-koshi today, and dear injured Tamawashi picked up his first win of Aki, possibly sealing Chiyoshoma’s demotion to Juryo in the process.

Highlight Matches

Mitakeumi defeats Sadanoumi – Something was re-enabled in Mitakeumi from Nagoya to now. He’s back to good form, and this far down the banzuke he is somewhat unassailable. This denshamichi-sumo bout against Sadanoumi is just today’s example. Mitakeumi improves to 8-4 and is kachi-koshi. Next stop, double digits.

Hokuseiho defeats Daishoho – Daishoho seems to be banking on his superior density to prevent Hokuseiho from lifting him. It works for a bit, but the effort required to keep that much mass in a fight drains Daishoho’s stamina over time. Hokuseiho waits him out, lets him get tired and then nodowas up a yorikiir. 8-4 for Hokuseiho, and he is kachi-koshi for Aki.

Kinbozan defeats Kagayaki – Points to Kagayaki for working to clear the inside lane and open the route to attack Kinbozan’s chest. He no sooner gets that underway then Kinbozan steps to the side and sends Kagayaki down by tsukiotoshi. Kinbozan improves to 8-4 and is kachi-koshi, Kagayaki hits his 8th loss and is make-koshi.

Midorifuji defeats Myogiryu – Are folks getting tired of Midorifuji’s katasukashi habit? I know I am not, he can do that every day, and I will be happy about it. Seriously though, Myogiryu should have known that was coming. Both are 7-5.

Kotoeko defeats Nishikifuji – I think Kotoeko’s right arm ottsuke did a lot of good, and stopped Nishikifuji at a critical moment. The rest was Kotoeko engaging forward power take off and driving forward. He improves to 7-5 while delivering Nishikifuji’s kachi-koshi at 4-8.

Hiradoumi defeats Kotoshoho – A quick win by Hiradoumi – this is more what I expected from him this basho. Maybe now that he’s safely make-koshi, his actual sumo will come back to support him? He gets a right hand inside grip at the tachiai and almost immediately sets up the throw. The tsukiotoshi advances Hiradoumi to 4-8.

Oho defeats Aoiyama – Starting to look grim for Big Dan. He heads deeper into make-koshi territory with his loss to Oho, who tried hard to hit the dirt before Aoiyama could. A wild and completely off balance hatakikomi dropped both men, but Oho gets the win and is now 4-8.

Ryuden defeats Takarafuji – Faced with make-koshi, Ryuden finds a much needed win. He set up a left hand inside, and both men tried to rotate into a throw. Ryuden completed first, dropping Takarafuji to the clay to advance to 5-7 by uwatenage.

Ura defeats Tsurugisho – It’s a treat to see Ura really enjoying some good grab and tug sumo for a change, and even picking up a win. Given that Tsurugisho tends to win these matches, I am surprised he was not better set up to defend. The finishing touch was Tsurugisho trying some kind of leg trip. The response from Ura seemed to be, “Thanks big stuff for putting your weight on one foot, please keep your hands inside the ride at all times”. Ura advances to 6-6 by kakenage.

Shonannoumi defeats Shodai – The early part of this match was a genuinely solid ottsuke battle, with Shodai quite effectively blocking Shonannoumi’s left hand. Normally this is where Shodai’s cartoon sumo fires up, but instead we get Shonannoumi pivoting, breaking the ottsuke and pushing Shodai out by the face. Oshidashi it is, and Shonannoumi is now 6-6.

Tamawashi defeats Chiyoshoma – Thank you, oh Great Sumo Cat of the Kokugikan! After 11 straight losses, Tamawashi finds enough sumo to beat Chiyoshoma and help him secure a place in the demotion queue. At one point Chiyoshoma gets behind Tamawashi, and lunges forward to drive him out. Tamawashi catches him and delivers a rapid sukuinage to improve to 1-11.

Abi defeats Endo – Abi henka, ugh. He is kachi-koshi at 8-4.

Onosho defeats Hokutofuji – Looks like the rikishi wondered if it was actually a matta, with Onosho deciding to not pause the attack. He connected to an upright and waiting Hokutofuji, who was quickly run out from behind. Fight unless it’s called, gentlemen. Onosho now kachi-koshi at 8-4.

Meisei defeats Takanosho – Meisei’s tachiai was so brutal, they heard it upstairs in the “day of” seats. I think it knocked most of the sumo out of Takanosho, who seemed relegated to reacting and trying to figure out how to get his balance back. Meisei did not give him a chance, and took the match by kotenage, he is now 6-6.

Takayasu defeats Nishikigi – Maybe Takayasu’s not hurt after all. He continues his absolute (6-0) dominance over Nishikigi by denying Nishikigi any kind of belt or body hold, then disrupting Nishikigi’s balance to the point he can push him down by hatakikomi. Takayasu improves to 9-3, and is note quite out of the yusho picture yet.

Asanoyama defeats Tobizaru – Tremendous left arm ottsuke from Tobizaru really gave Asanoyama an over sized amount of trouble. Suggestion to the former Ozeki; find a second favorite attack route, everyone knows what you are trying for, and the good ones know how to shut you down. Tobizaru’s focus on that left hand block consumed too much of his focus, and Asanoyama improvised a yorikiri and bodily rammed Tobizaru into his favorite salt basked, sending him into the crowd yet again for a little fan service. You can see why the obaasan corps really loves this guy. Asanoyama improves to 7-5, and the look on Tobizaru’s face as he mounts the dohyo makes me think that someone shoved a phone number in his mawashi while he was in the crowd.

Daieisho defeats Atamifuji – I was very curious how this one would good, as Daieisho is tough to defend against, unless you frequently fight a strong oshi-zumo maniac. Atamifuji did an excellent job for a first ever match against Daieisho, and was able to block, parry or deflect a fair amount of the incoming thrust energy. As Atamifuji’s confidence grew, he decided to counter attack, and that’s when trouble began. Daieisho got him forward of his toes, and then swatted him to the clay with an expertly delivered hikiotoshi. That’s 8-4 for Daieisho, and kachi-koshi in fine style, dropping Atamifuji down one notch and putting him in range for a yusho pick off by the chasers.

Takakeisho defeats Kotonowaka – It makes me happy to see Takakeisho back in his Ozeki form. He puts so much power forward that Kotonowaka’s fight plan must have been completely disrupted, and he is relegated to trying to improvise some form of attack. Always polite, Takakeisho saves him from the embarrassment of forgetting where he was in the match by shoving Kotonowaka’s meaty chest out in rapid fashion by oshidashi. Takakeisho now 9-3 and one win behind Atamifuji.

Wakamotoharu defeats Kirishima – Kirishima missed a chance to clear kadoban today with a crappy tachiai. Poor hand placement, bad first step, it was garbage. Wakamotoharu could not believe his luck and quickly too charge of the match and finished the Ozeki three steps later by rapid yorikiri. Try again tomorrow, Kirishima. Both end the day 7-5.

Hoshoryu defeats Gonoyama – I did not expect Gonoyama to win this one, but I did get what I was looking for. Gonoyama put up an excellent fight against a much higher ranked opponent in a first match – gutsy move to open with that nodowa. But the following pull attempt was well anticipated by Hoshoryu, and it cost Gonoyama the match. To make headway over the next year, Gonoyama will need to work on new tools that are more effective against Ozeki and above. Hoshoryu with a much needed win, now at 6-6.

Aki Day 12 Preview

We are well into the thick of things for act 2, and we are just 4 days away from awarding the Emperor’s cup. The contenders who would challenge Atamifuji have fallen out due to losses in the past 2 days, and I think he may wrap things up before Sunday. He is only in his 18th basho , and his second in the top division. A yusho at this stage of his career would be quite the signal that he is going to be a major player in the next generation of sumo. Elsewhere on the torikumi there are 11 rikishi who have a shot at kachi-koshi today, and 4 who may be handed their losing records as well.

Aki Leaderboard

Tobizaru failed in his task, and now look what we have. Atamifuji with a 2 win lead. The path to get any of the hunt group into a spot to challenge for the cup is very narrow now, and an Atamifuji win against Daieisho today might just seal the deal. If the schedulers want to make a battle out of the final weekend, they have to pin their hopes on Takakeisho winning out, and Atamifuji taking a couple of losses. I think those are long odds, but it can still be done.

Leader: Atamifuji
Chasers: (nobody)
Hunt Group: Takakeisho, Takaysu, Tsurugisho

4 Matches Remain

What We Are Watching Day 12

Mitakeumi (7-4) vs Sadanoumi (5-6) – This is a solid chance for Mitakeumi to pick up his 8th win. I just have to say, I have been a fan of the original tadpole for a long time, and it really makes me happy to see him fighting more like his old self again. Last basho must have been miserable, his father had just died, and he looked like he had no fighting spirit, in front of his home town fans, too. I would love to see him hit kachi-koshi today.

Daishoho (3-8) vs Hokuseiho (7-4) – I think this is likewise an offer to Hokuseiho to take out the struggling Daishoho for his 8th win and kachi-koshi. After looking lost and tired during week 1, he has returned to much better form. He has only won 2 out of the 5 prior matches against Daishoho, but I think he’s going to dominate the match today.

Kinbozan (7-4) vs Kagayaki (4-7) – A nice, symmetrical match that should see Kinbozan reach kachi-koshi at the same time that Kagayaki picks up his 8th loss. Kinbozan won their only prior fight, which was day 13 of Aki last year. I am eager to see lksumo’s forecasts for promotions and demotions. I don’t think Kagayaki is at risk. At least not yet…

Midorifuji (6-5) vs Myogiryu (7-4) – Midorifuji has a 4-0 record against Myogiryu, and has beaten him with a variety of techniques. This includes day 5 of Hatsu where he unleashed an uchimuso (inner thigh propping twist down). Not sure we will get something that spectacular today, but I will be looking for Midorifuji to improve to 7-5.

Kotoeko (4-7) vs Nishikifuji (4-7) – The loser of this match is make-koshi, Kotoeko has not beaten Nishikifuji in two prior attempts, but if there was ever a day to do it, it will be today. They last fought on day 15 of Osaka.

Kotoshoho (5-6) vs Hiradoumi (3-8) – Hiradoumi is already make-koshi, and in no real danger of dropping to Juryo. Kotoshoho needs to win 3 of the remaining 4 matches to reach kachi-koshi. Nah, I don’t think he will, but he can at least minimize his drop by salting away a few more white stars.

Aoiyama (3-8) vs Oho (3-8) – Both are already make-koshi, and this may be part of finding out if Aoiyama will be ranked in Juryo in November for the first time in nearly 6 years. Given Aoiyama’s age, he’s likely on the path toward retirement, but he may have one or two strong basho left in him yet. The two last fought on day 13 of Natsu, where Oho won by okuridashi.

Takarafuji (5-6) vs Ryuden (4-7) – These two have a 12 match history, going back to 2018, and favors Takarafuji 9-3. A loss today for Ryuden will be make-koshi for him, but given that Takarafuji’s sumo is hit or miss right now, it’s not certain that Ryuden will lose.

Tsurugisho (8-3) vs Ura (5-6) – I was surprised to learn that these two have 7 prior matches, and they favor Tsurugisho 5-2. All but one of them are in Juryo, but in general, it seems that Tsurugisho has a habit for grabbing the highly mobile Ura and stuffing him in a salt basket, then launching the basket into the nearest river. Given how close the Sumida is to the Kokugikan, I guess that’s where Ura is going today.

Shodai (5-6) vs Shonannoumi (5-6) – First ever match between two hit or miss rikishi with identical 5-2 records, there is little to ruminate on this one except that I would like to see Shodai endure a Darwin match on Sunday. Shodai has won the last 2 in a row, and Shonannoumi has lost the last 3 in a row.

Chiyoshoma (2-9) vs Tamawashi (0-11) – Is this some effort to save Chiyoshoma from demotion? Or is it just that someone has to fight Tamawashi, and it’s his turn? If it’s the former, I beg the indulgence of the Great Sumo Cat of the Kokugikan to fill Tamawashi’s body with genki power for just a moment, that Chiyoshoma might endure his 10th loss. Of course, the right thing for Tamawashi deliver is a henka today. Yes, please, thank you.

Abi (7-4) vs Endo (7-4) – Winner is kachi-koshi, and I would love to think that Endo can pull it out. But in truth he has only won 3 times in 15 matches against Abi, who’s un-subtle double blast attacks are the antithesis of Endo’s calculated choreography. They have each won one this year, but my favorite Endo win was day 12 of Nagoya 2019, where Abi lost by the non technique tsukihiza.

Hokutofuji (7-4) vs Onosho (7-4) – A second consecutive match where the winner is kahci-koshi. This one is a lot closer in that they have a close to even record, and both are fighting well this September. I think the odds are slightly in Hokutofuji’s favor, but he will need to stay mobile and not let Onosho square his shoulders into his push.

Takanosho (5-6) vs Meisei (5-6) – Matching 5-6 scores, this match looks like a funnel effort to get at least one of the rikishi to a 7-7 score to start day 15. In their prior matches, Meisei has won 9 to Takanosho’s 4, with Meisei taking both of the two prior fights.

Nishikigi (5-6) vs Takayasu (8-3) – Takayasu has not lost to Nishikigi, ever. They have 5 prior fights, and each time Takayasu finds a way to win. If’s he so dominant in this pairing, why am I having my doubts about this fight? Maybe because I suspect he hurt is back in his loss to Atamifuji, and he’s going to stumble, grunt, and wince through the remaining 4 matches.

Asanoyama (6-5) vs Tobizaru (5-6) – Asanoyama, through his own hit or miss sumo, is in the funnel. Both he and Tobizaru are straddling the win / loss line, and both of them are good candidates for day 15 Darwin matches. To further that outcome, we need Tobizaru to finally win against Asanoyama on his 3rd attempt. Nah, I don’t think so either. It’s far more likely he ends up back in the crowd making the grannies swoon.

Daieisho (7-4) vs Atamifuji (10-1) – If you don’t pay any attention to the prior 11 days, you would be right to consider this match to be some kind of joke. But the only way I see Atamifuji not picking up his 11th win is if Daieisho can evade capture by Atamifuji, stay mobile and blast for all he is worth. Hopefully the Isegahama okamisan is shopping for fish.

Kotonowaka (6-5) vs Takakeisho (8-3) – Takakeisho is the best bet for someone other than Atamifuji to pick up the Emperor’s Cup on Sunday. But as mentioned in the leaderboard, it’s a tough path that requires Atamifuji to lose a couple of times, and Takakeisho to continue winning. This second part is especially challenging as he is entering the “tough” part of his schedule. He has a 5-3 career advantage against Kotonowaka, so the numbers favor him.

Kirishima (7-4) vs Wakamotoharu (6-5) – A Kirishima win today is kachi-koshi and he will join Takakeisho in clearing kadoban. He holds a 7-3 career record against Wakamotoharu, including winning the last 5 in a row, including all 4 prior matches this year.

Gonoyama (7-4) vs Hoshoryu (5-6) – You know, Shin-Goeido is really impressing me. It’s a tall order to ask him to win today against an Ozeki, whom he has never fought before. But should we win, Gonoyama will be kachi-koshi for September. Hoshoryu is starting to get his sumo together, and has won the last 2 in a row, including a yoritaoshi on day 10 against Wakamotoharu. All things being equal, Hoshoryu is the favorite to win today.

Aki Day 11 Highlights

Who had “manic matta” as a theme for today on their sumo bingo cards? There were lots of matta, wall to wall matta, it was a veritable matta regatta. We have fresh kachi-koshi for Tsurugisho and Takakeisho at the end of day 11, with Takakeisho clearing kadoban as well. We also had Atamifuji deliver a thunderous uwatenage against Tobizaru, and he now has a two win lead for the yusho thanks to Takayasu’s loss to Daieisho. The goal of getting dirt on Atamifuji now requires at least 2 losses by the leader, and I am sure the schedulers are hoping that Takakeisho can play some role in the final weekend. We shall see.

Highlight Matches

Kotoshoho defeats Takarafuji – Great example of Takarafuji’s “Defend and extend” brand of sumo. Kotoshoho is working away at thrusting on Takarafuji’s chest, and Takarafuji is working to tangle up Kotoshoho’s arms, and extending the match. It works quite well for a while, but Kotoshoho gets closer and is able to double arm shove Takarafuji away, with the last big push sending him out of the ring. Both end the day 5-6.

Hokuseiho defeats Aoiyama – Aoiyama decides he’s going chest to chest with Hokuseiho straight away, and actually does pretty well at first. But its obvious he is protecting that left leg, and can’t take pressure on it. Hokuseiho figures this out too, and adjusts his sumo to guard strong on his left, and Aoiyama finds himself neutralized. In response he tries a series of pulls, but he just can’t reach that high, and Hokuseiho walks him out. Make-koshi at 3-8 for Aoiyama, and 7-4 for Hokuseiho.

Mitakeumi defeats Kagayaki – Kagayaki had a solid tachiai, but his left hand was blocked by Mitakeumi’s ottsuke. From there it got progressively worse for Kagayaki, as Mitakeumi stood him up, then slammed him down. The hikiotoshi takes Mitakeumi to 7-4.

Kinbozan defeats Nishikifuji – Great tachiai from Kinbozan, he blocks Nishikifuji’s attempt to get his hands inside, and pushes them out of the way with a follow up shove. Nishikifuji is wide open at that point, and Kinbozan attacks, driving him out of the ring a moment later by tsukidashi. Kinbozan improves to 7-4.

Midorifuji defeats Sadanoumi – Sadanoumi, who is used to things happening in a hurry, seems to have been taken by surprise at the speed of Midorifuji. Unable to hold his ground, Sadanoumi went along with the push, and tried to rotate and pull Midorifuji down. I am impressed that Midorifuji rotated into the pull and dropped Sadanoumi by sukuinage instead. Midorifuji improves to 6-5.

Daishoho defeats Hiradoumi – The captain of the Juryo barge delivers a reciprocal make-koshi to Hiradoumi, who I think is at no risk of leaving the top division this tournament. Excellent defensive work by Daishoho kept the frantic Hiradoumi from doing much more than wearing himself out. The winning move, hikiotoshi, came as Hiradoumi tried to break contact following a nodowa, and was tossed down by Daishoho. Both end the day 3-8.

Kotoeko defeats Chiyoshoma – I have to think that maybe Chiyoshoma is going to be on the Juryo barge as well following Aki. He picked up his 9th loss today after Kotoeko got a solid hold on his mawashi and wrangled him out with a lift and a shove. Kotoeko improves to 4-7.

Myogiryu defeats Onosho – Myogiryu was very clever in his move to set up Onosho to take a forward step at the moment Myogiryu stepped to his left. That required exquisite timing, and he played it perfectly. Onosho crashed out of the ring into the front row for a Myogiryu win. He is now 7-4.

Gonoyama defeats Endo – This match could have been a real barn burner, but instead Endo succumbs to a slippiotoshi and ends up on all fours. Good enough for a Gonoyama win, and both are now 7-4.

Ryuden defeats Tamawashi – Of course he did. Tamawashi is hurt, and needs recovery. It’s kind of grim watching this happen day after day, but Tamawashi would not have it any other way. Ryuden now 4-7.

Shodai defeats Oho – Shodai did not even really need to use the “Wall of Daikon” today, he simply absorbed Oho’s reduced power thrusting with not much trouble. A few steps forward, and he bodily crowded Oho out of the ring for an oshidashi win. Shodai now at 5-6, and Oho is make-koshi at 3-8.

Asanoyama defeats Shonannoumi – I am not sure what Shonannoumi had in mind, maybe that matta threw him off. He gave Asanoyama his preferred hand placement and stance at the tachiai, and it was three quick steps to the bales for a yorikiri. Asanoyama is now 6-5.

Abi defeats Ura – Abi was largely stalemated by Ura’s ability to stay low and absorb Abi’s thrust attacks. Then Ura broke contact, and lunged in low to try and get some manner of tug-and-pull going, but received a match ending hatakikomi instead. Another great example of Ura’s agility and acrobatics to end the fight, too! Abi improves to 7-4.

Tsurugisho defeats Hokutofuji – I have not seen this much lateral movement from Tsurugisho in a long time. As a bonus it was well executed, and he maintained his balance. In response Hokutofuji was completely impotent, and fell to being off balance (rare for him) and a potent Tsurugisho hatakikomi. Tsurugisho is now kachi-koshi at 8-3.

Atamifuji defeats Tobizaru – Maybe Tobizaru was not sure what combo to use at the tachiai, but throwing himself into Atamifuji’s arms like a damsel in distress was not what I was expecting. They samba for a moment, and then Atamifuji hurls him to the clay. An impressive uwatenage, and Atamifuji is now 10-1.

Meisei defeats Nishikigi – I think the joi-jin have developed a working formula for shutting down Nishikigi. You have to keep his arms pinned down at the tachiai, and drive with all you can muster. As on display today, Nishikigi will continue to put all of his focus on getting a battle hug going, so move him out before he gets that set up. Worked like a charm for Meisei, and both end the day 5-6.

Daieisho defeats Takayasu – The Takayasu week 2 fade is on in full effect, but at least he got his 8th win before it took hold. The other aspect is that I think he really did re-injure his back in that loss to Atamifuji. The first time Daieisho connects at full power, Takayasu steps out. Yep, Daieisho now 7-4.

Kirishima defeats Kotonowaka – Kotonowaka probably could have won this match, but he allowed Kirishima to dictate him to think about defense. You can see that Kotonowaka really is doing little more than trying to block or blunt whatever Kirishima is choosing to do, and that is no way to win a fight. The eventual yorikiri takes Kirishima to 7-4, one win from clearing kadoban.

Hoshoryu defeats Takanosho – That Takanosho pull attempt on the second step really threw away Takanosho’s best chance to take the win. They locked up chest to chest, and the subsequent Takanosho throw attempt fell apart as Hoshoryu countered with a kotenage. Both end the day 5-6, and Hoshoryu keeps hopes of kachi-koshi alive.

Takakeisho defeats Wakamotoharu – Wow, it’s been so long since I got to see Takakeisho whip it on for a few days in a row, it’s a real palette cleanser! Where was Wakamotoharu’s defense? He left his chest wide open in that fight. Maybe like me he is a big fan of Takakeisho’s “wave action tsuppari” and wanted to see it up close. Makes as much sense as this match did. Takakeisho hits 8 wins, is kachi-koshi and clears kadoban at 8-3.

Aki Day 11 Preview

Act 3 starts now, and the scheduling team are wasting no time in turning up the heat on this basho. I take a look at the torikumi, and there are some solid, high-interest fights for today. I suspect they are going to do a bit of funnel work – that is to try and herd everyone who is 5-5, 6-4 or 4-6 into a maximum number of 7-7 scores to start day 15. This will give them a chance to set up “Darwin matches” where the winner is kachi-koshi, the loser is make-koshi. It’s a perfect example of sumo’s zero sum approach to a tournament.

We are also going to see much larger gaps in rank between opponents, and some of the high performers from the lower half of the banzuke will get to face some of the big talent near the top, to test their mettle, and see if they have what it takes. The chief among these is yusho race leader and human cuddle bug, Atamifuji.

Aki Leaderboard

Atamifuji is alone atop the leader board, at least for one day. On cue, he’s going to face some of the kanban rikishi to see if he has what it takes to compete for the cup. Today it’s Tobizaru, whom he has never faced before. Hell, this match along is worth staying up all night to see in real time. But what of Takayasu? I just hope he did not wrench his back in his loss to Atamifuji, but they are not giving him any creampuffs either, he gets Daieisho.

To be clear, the best outcome that the schedulers would have would be to have at least 3 rikishi in contention to start Saturday. To do that we have to have Atamifuji lose at least once, and preferably twice. So buckle up, this is where it gets ugly.

Leader: Atamifuji
Chaser: Takayasu
Hunt Group: Takakeisho, Hokutofuji, Onosho, Endo, Tsurugisho

5 Matches Remain

What We Are Watching Day 11

Takarafuji (5-5) vs Kotoshoho (4-6) – Possibly part of a funnel, if they are running one (it’s not clear that they are), with the goal of keeping both Takarafuji and Kotoshoho on course for 7-7 scores to start day 15. Takarafuji has won 4 of their prior 6 matches, and I would consider him to have an edge today against Kotoshoho.

Aoiyama (3-7) vs Hokuseiho (6-4) – Their only prior match was day 3 of Natsu, where Hokuseiho grabbed Aoiyama and delivered an excess height yorikiri. Given Hokuseiho’s low creativity shown on the dohyo so far, I would expect him to try the same thing. An Aoiyama loss would be make-koshi for him.

Mitakeumi (6-4) vs Kagayaki (4-6) – Mitakeumi has never lost to Kagayaki, and I see no reason for this to change today. With a 7-0 career record, and his sumo looking a lot more like his Ozeki days, he’s going to probably toss Kagayaki out of the ring in short order.

Kinbozan (6-4) vs Nishikifuji (4-6) – Another possible funnel match, with the goal of having Nishikifuji pick up a win against Kinbozan. Kinbozan started Aki with 4 straight wins, but has dropped 3 of the last 4. Hopefully he did not pick up an injury fighting Hokuseiho on day 7.

Midorifuji (5-5) vs Sadanoumi (5-5) – Another possibly funnel match, both have 5-5 scores to start the day, thought Midorifuji holds a 4-1 career lead over Sadanoumi. Would Midorifuji be so bold as to try for a katasukashi two days in a row?

Daishoho (2-8) vs Hiradoumi (3-7) – The likely captain of the Juryo barge of the damed, Daishoho, has a chance to hand out a freshly minted make-koshi to Hiradoumi. All he needs to do is win today’s match. He has a 4-1 career record against Hiradoumi, though Hiradoumi won their most recent match on day 6 of Natsu.

Kotoeko (3-7) vs Chiyoshoma (2-8) – Chiyoshoma is already make-koshi, and I think now he needs to find some wins to keep from joining Daishoho on that Juryo barge. He has a tough hill to climb, and today he needs to overcome a 2:1 career disadvantage against Kotoeko. Kotoeko has won the last 3 in a row, and holds a 14-7 advantage overall since 2012. Should Chiyoshoma win, it would be make-koshi for Kotoeko.

Onosho (7-3) vs Myogiryu (6-4) – Another pair with a lengthy history where one rikishi dominates the other. Onosho holds a 14-3 lead against Myogiryu, with the last Myogiryu win being in 2019 on day 15 of Kyushu. An Onosho win today is kachi-koshi for him.

Gonoyama (6-4) vs Endo (7-3) – I swear, every day as I read the torikumi, my eye catches on Gonoyama, and my brain goes, “damn, that might be a really hot match”. I guess Gonoyama is my favorite of the moment. He has Endo today, who beat him in their prior encounter on day 9 of Nagoya. Both are having solid tournaments, but a win today for Endo is kachi-koshi.

Ryuden (3-7) vs Tamawashi (0-10) – Shall we save Ryuden from make-koshi for another day? Sure, why not. Put him up against the battle damaged Tamawashi and let him pick up a win.

Shodai (4-6) vs Oho (3-7) – A win today for Shodai would push him closer to the middle of any funnel that might be underway, while at the same time a Oho loss would be make-koshi for him. Its plain to me that Oho needs (at minimum) a tune up and valve train alignment, so the sooner he is make-koshi, the better. Shodai won their only prior match on day 14 of Nagoya.

Shonannoumi (5-5) vs Asanoyama (5-5) – What the hell, Asanoyama? Ok, here you are fighting the perennial Makushita door stop Shonannoumi. But I can’t honestly say that I think you are going to walk away with this one, in spite of the fact he has never won against you in 4 attempts. Good luck today, sir.

Abi (6-4) vs Ura (5-5) – Will the “Ura goes flying” tally increase by 1 today? We can only hope. He’s been especially energetic this tournament, ending up in flight any number of times. I do hope that the NHK highlight reel splices them all together to give like a super cut of Ura aloft. Abi leads their series 5-2, and will probably boost the man in pick off the clay today.

Hokutofuji (7-3) vs Tsurugisho (7-3) – Winner today gets kachi-koshi, and I do like Hokutofuji’s chances. Mostly because in spite of his 160+ kg bulk, he is still quite mobile, this is a problem for Tsurugisho who has the bulk but not the agility to do much against Hokutofuji’s independently articulated lower body. This one will be fun to watch no matter what.

Atamifuji (9-1) vs Tobizaru (5-5) – It’s time to test young Atamifuji against something he’s not used to – some flying monkey sumo. Given the battery of combos Tobizaru is likely to deliver in the first 10 seconds, I will consider it a victory if Atamifuji can even keep his feet. First ever match, with a Atamifuji loss possibly knocking him out of the sole possession of the lead.

Nishikigi (5-5) vs Meisei (4-6) – I like this match because I find it unpredictable. They have a 4-4 score over their careers, with both winning a match this year. If Meisei can set up a throw, he tends to win by shitatenage. We all know that Nishikigi only serves one big wide flavor – yorikiri. I can’t wait to see which way this one goes.

Daieisho (6-4) vs Takayasu (8-2) – Time to find out if Takayasu hurt himself in his day 10 loss to Atamifuji. He leads the career match up 11-7 against Daieisho, including both prior matches this year. An Atamifuji loss to Tobizaru would draw Takayasu back into a share of the yusho lead should he win today.

Kirishima (6-4) vs Kotonowaka (6-4) – Its time for the kadoban Ozeki to finish out their last victories and get on with sumo. I think the chances are quite strong that Kirishima will dispatch Kotonowaka today, given his 8-3 career record, with wins in 3 of the 4 prior matches this year.

Takanosho (5-5) vs Hoshoryu (4-6) – Hoshoryu needs to win 4 of the last 5 matches to reach the safety of 8. His sumo is good enough, its just a question on if his brain can make it happen. He’s fairly evenly matched against Takanosho, who needs 3 wins to reach kachi-koshi himself.

Wakamotoharu (6-4) vs Takakeisho (7-3) – A Takakeisho win today will clear kadoban for the Ozeki. He will need to keep Wakamotoharu away from any kind of grip to make that happen, a feat he can only pull off about half the time. Takakeisho lost their most recent match, day 14 of Natsu.