Kyushu Day 14 Highlights

Some fantastic sumo today, especially the Terutsuyoshi vs Enho match, and the mad-cap chaos war between Tamawashi and Endo. But the headline is the much expected 43rd yusho for the winningest rikishi in recorded history, the dai-Yokozuna for the ages, Hakuho. I don’t think he’s even close to 100%, but even banged up with a gamey right arm, he’s quite capable of another yusho.

Much as expected, we have a host of rikishi headed for Darwin matches on day 15. This is where two 7-7 men face off, the winner gets the kachi-koshi. In fact we have 7 rikishi in that situation, which is much higher than I have seen in quite some time.

On to the matches!

Day 14 Highlight Matches

Chiyoshoma defeats Daishoho – Chiyoshoma comes to visit the top division…. annd… HENKA! Anyone who was surprised by this should go re-watch a few dozen Chiyoshoma matches.

Takanosho defeats Shimanoumi – Poor tachiai timing, should have been a matta, perhaps. But hey, the gyoji called “hakkeyoi”, so they fight. Takanosho (who was early in the tachiai) claimed the inside lane and never gave up the advantage.

Daishomaru defeats Kotoshogiku – Poor tachiai timing, should have been a matta, perhaps. But hey, the gyoji called “hakkeyoi”, so they fight. Daishomaru was early in the tachiai and was able to get the inside grip with Kotoshogiku at his chest. With that sort of advantage, there is little Kotoshogiku could do. Perhaps Team Gyoji was out kind of late at the pub last night?

Kagayaki defeats Yutakayama – A clean tachiai, thankfully, and Yutakayama goes to work on Kagayaki’s face. But Mr. Fundamentals is intent on attacking Yutakayama center-mass. Yutakayama goes for a nodowa, Kagayaki stays center mass. Yutakayama finds he can’t maintain forward pressure, and Kagayaki shoves him out. Once again, solid sumo fundamentals carries the match for Kagayaki.

Ishiura defeats Sadanoumi – Sadanoumi gets the better of the tachiai, grabbing Ishiura by the arm-pits and lifting. Ishiura gives ground and grapples with great effect, and now has at least partial control over Sadanoumi. Sadanoumi advances, but Ishiura masterfully re-directs his forward motion to the side, and swings him to the clay. Ishiura is kachi-koshi, and Sadanoumi heads to a Darwin match on day 15.

Nishikigi defeats Tsurugisho – I have to wonder what happened to Tsurugisho. This is his 6th consecutive loss, and to hapless Nishikigi no less! Tsurugisho’s balance seems to be shot, so I have to wonder if it’s some injury.

Chiyotairyu defeats Kotoeko – Kotoeko gets the better of the tachiai, but he makes the mistake of giving Chiyotairyu strong pressure to push against. Chiyotairyu advances with gusto and throws in a few thrusts to break Kotoeko’s balance. That’s kachi-koshi for Chiyotairyu.

Enho defeats Terutsuyoshi – Enho picks up win number 7 to advance to the Darwin round after submarining the diminutive Terutsuyoshi. Getting a deep left and shallow right hand grip, Enho gives Terutsuyoshi a ride on the tilt-o-whirl, showing how effective he is, even nearly doubled over.

Chiyomaru defeats Takarafuji – Takarafuji does his best to stalemate Chiyomaru, but there is just too much of Chiyomaru to really contain. When Takarafuji lunges to go chest to chest with Chiyomaru, Chiyomaru turns to the side and guides him to the clay for his 9th win. Nice return to the top division you have going there, Chiyomaru!

Myogiryu defeats Shodai – Shodai drops out of the group 2 behind Hakuho with the loss, but at least we can enjoy that Myogiryu gets sent to a Darwin match for day 15! Shodai was effective at keeping Myogiryu from setting up any kind of planned offense, but Myogiryu was happy to improvise for the win.

Meisei defeats Shohozan – Meisei bravely invites Shohozan to a slap fest, and gives as well as he receives. But he soon realizes that a right hand grip would be better, and tries to swing Shohozan into a throw, which he disrupts. At this point the match gets wild and disorganized, as both rikishi throw whatever they can into the mix. Meisei emerges victorious as Shohozan can’t maintain balance against Meisei’s pull. Meisei advances to a Darwin match on day 15.

Daieisho defeats Onosho – Even clash until Onosho decided to try to pull, and gave up forward pressure on Daieisho. Daieisho reaches his kachi-koshi, and Onosho heads for a day 15 Darwin match.

Kotoyuki defeats Okinoumi – Kotoyuki gets the better of the tachiai, he gets inside Okinoumi’s reach and goes to work with his “Flipper Attack”. Okinoumi has the strength to push back, and advances into Kotoyuki’s attack. The two exchange volleys until Kotoyuki closes in and delivers a might shove to Okinoumi’s neck. Okinoumi is make-koshi, and “The Penguin” heads for his Darwin match on day 15.

Asanoyama defeats Ryuden – Asanoyama secures the jun-yusho, and is clearly working toward an Ozeki bid in January. Ryuden absorbed Asanoyama’s opening gambit, converting it into a solid attempt at a throw, but Asanoyama kept his footing in spite of his poor stance. Asanoyama rallied, and used Ryuden’s left hand grip to swing him around and out for win number 11. With 11 wins, he may force a Sekiwake slot to open for January, if necessary…

Hokutofuji defeats Aoiyama – Hokutofuji is less helter-skelter today, and focuses his energy on Aoiyama’s expansive whishbone region. Although he could not pick up kachi-koshi in his second trip to Komusubi, his sumo was greatly improved over his March visit to san’yaku.

Endo defeats Tamawashi – What a great match. These two threw it all at each other, and when that did not carry the day, they found new energy and kept going. I lost count how many times the match style changed: Yotsu, Throws, Oshi, and around again. At the end it looks like Tamawashi lost balance at a poor moment and Endo applied the yoritaoshi (one of my favorites) for the win. BOTH men advance to Darwin matches on day 15.

Abi defeats Takakeisho – Abi’s superior reach allowed him to land his hands first, and Takakeisho pushed forward to close the gap. Abi adroitly moved to the side and Takakeisho found nothing but clay to meet him. I would call this a damn clever delayed henka, and it worked brilliantly. Did you know this is Abi’s 3rd straight kachi-koshi as Komusubi 1 East?

Hakuho defeats Mitakeumi – And just like that, we have Hakuho yusho 43. Congrats to the boss. Mitakeumi looks completely disrupted at this point, and hits his 8th loss for a make-koshi. The question now is: will he vacate san’yaku entirely?

Kyushu Day 14 Preview

As we enter the final weekend of the Kyushu Basho, there are some fans who will feel a genuine sense of relief. This tournament has seen a brutal number of rikishi exit competition due to injury, and long time favorites struggle. But looking past that, there are a number of interesting and promising developments. A few for thought

Small Rikishi Sumo – There was a time last year when the small guys were storming through Juryo, and looked to roll their way into the top division and disrupt everyone’s sumo. But as almost always the case, these rikishi had to work hard (and they did work hard) to pioneer adaptations to be competitive. Now we have 3 small rikishi that are fighting well, and winning matches, often with existing results.

Freshmen Rebound – The Freshmen, a cohort that I define as Asanoyama, Yutakayama, Hokutofuji and Kagayaki, are all doing quite well this basho, even if Hokutofuji is make-koshi. Two of them are recovering from tough injuries that pushed them back to Juryo, and two of them are in san’yaku. These guys are the stars of sumo, starting earlier this year, and we can expect their influence to grow as the old guard hang up their mawashi for the final time.

The Old Guard Rallies – This is mostly covered in Herouth’s reports, but if you wondered where beloved veterans like Ikioi, Kaisei, and Tochiozan went, they are in Juryo. They are all headed to double digit winning records, and it may put a lot of pressure on the make-koshi rikishi in the bottom half of Makuuchi. I think January could see a whole roster of beloved favorites make one more run into the top division.

I know some readers will find ways to take exception to this, but to me it’s a great time to be a sumo fan. The sumo world is changing, and we get to watch it happen.

Kyushu Leaderboard

A win today, and Hakuho takes the yusho. Team Tachiai expects this to be the outcome.

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

2 Matches Remain

What We Are Watching Day 13

Chiyoshoma vs Daishoho – Chiyoshoma visits from yusho, hunting for his 8th win and yet another make-koshi in the top Juryo ranks. Daishoho has little to offer in terms of sumo right now, and is almost painful to watch on the dohyo.

Shimanoumi vs Takanosho – Evenly matched 5-5 career record, but there is little on the line today as Shimanoumi is already make-koshi, and Takanosho already kachi-koshi. Lets hope they can bring some energy to the match anyhow.

Kotoshogiku vs Daishomaru – Can sumo fans get excited for a wounded, aging former Ozeki who is already make-koshi? You bet! Kotoshogiku is on a 3 match winning streak, and may have already saved himself from Juryo demotion. But heck, pour it on Kotoshogiku. I would love to see you finish 7-8 at this point.

Kagayaki vs Yutakayama – What a great match. Both are Freshmen cohort rikishi, both are 8-5, and they have a 3-3 career record. Both prefer to use oshi-zumo, but have shown a willingness to grapple chest to chest this November. I would like to see Yutakayama hit double digits this tournament, and end up at the lower edge of the joi-jin for January.

Ishiura vs Sadanoumi – Winner of this match is kachi-koshi, and my money is on Sadanoumi. Sadanoumi has been absolutely tough this basho, and has kept his energy and fighting spirit high for both full weeks. Given that the prize is the coveted 8th win, I do expect Ishiura to throw some high agility combo sumo into this match, but Sadanoumi’s superior defensive stance and foot work is likely to foil what could be a great display of Ishiura 3.0.

Tsurugisho vs Nishikigi – Another pair of make-koshi rikishi who look like they have nothing left to give. They have to fight someone, so why not fight each other? Sure.. why not.

Chiyotairyu vs Kotoeko – Raise your hand if you want to see Chiyotairyu go chest to chest and gaburi-yori someone again today? I know I do! Kotoeko has a lot of mobility, so this may be a wild ride.

Terutsuyoshi vs Enho – A loss today and Enho is make-koshi. Now we don’t want any of that, do we? With Terutsuyoshi already holding win #8, we may see him turn down the intensity a notch and keep his body healthy for January. But even if Enho wins today, you know it’s Darwin time for him tomorrow.

Takarafuji vs Chiyomaru – Takarafuji holds an 8-0 career record over the bulbous one, and I see no reason for that to change today.

Myogiryu vs Shodai – Shodai did make it to double digits, much as Team Tachiai had expected. How much harder will he push it? If he runs the score up too much, he’s going to get another beat-down in January. But if Myogiryu gets the win today, it’s Darwin time for him, too!

Shohozan vs Meisei – With Shohozan kachi-koshi in front of his home town crowd, maybe it’s time for a celebratory slug-fest against the make-koshi Meisei

Daieisho vs Onosho – Winner of this one is kachi-koshi, and the loser is relegated to Darwin on day 15. Career record favors Onosho, and he seems to have fixed some of his week 1 problems.

Kotoyuki vs Okinoumi – Loser is make-koshi, and the winner gets a Darwin match. Sumo can be so brutal some times. Okinoumi leads the career series 9-5

Ryuden vs Asanoyama – Well, I expect Asanoyama to take care of Ryuden today, sending him to make-koshi land. But will Ryyden deploy another henka? If so, would Asanoyama fall for it? I want to see Asanoyama run up the score – we are running out of Ozeki, and this guy is young, healthy and has fantastic sumo. Hurry up, Yutakayama, we need you to slow this man down!

Hokutofuji vs Aoiyama – At the bottom of san’yaku, Hokutofuji’s make-koshi will in all probability send him back to the rank and file to sort out his sumo. But he can deliver a make-koshi today if he can keep Aoiyama from powering up the V-Twin attack.

Tamawashi vs Endo – Oh Great Sumo Cat of the Kokugikan, hear our pleas. Bless Endo that he might defeat Tamawashi on this day, and send both of these guys into brutal, soul crushing Darwin matches on day 15.

Takakeisho vs Abi – I am sure Takakeisho wants to hit double digits this time, with his first shot being day 14 against Abi. The big issue there is that Abi has 2x the reach of our stump-armed Grand Tadpole. I think it comes down to if Takakeisho can get inside and blast away before Abi-zumo can send him reeling.

Mitakeumi vs Hakuho – This is probably the match that delivers the make-koshi to Mitakeumi, and resets any hopes he may have had to reach Ozeki. There are some fans who think Hakuho is still nursing that arm injury from earlier in the year, and maybe, just maybe if Mitakeumi can attack from that side he might gain advantage. He has beaten him twice before, but right now it’s a long shot. A win today would clinch the yusho for Hakuho.

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.