Hatsu Day 13 Highlights

Five rikishi picked up their 8th loss and are make-koshi for January. This includes Ozeki Shodai, who will join Ozeki Takakeisho in kadoban status for Osaka. I don’t know what happened to Shodai’s “Good” sumo, but I really want to see him bring it back and dominate again. Another was M16W Tsurugisho, who is one of the few people in the bottom rungs of the banzuke with a demoteable record now. With the complex promotion / demotion picture right now, it seems some of the long serving rikishi such as Tochinoshin and Aoiyama who I worried might be in their last top division tournament will quite possibly stick around. Aoiyama will for certain, as he was able to secure his 8th win today, and will be posting to higher rank in March.

Highlight Matches

Tochinoshin defeats Chiyomaru – Chiyomaru could not generate enough thrusting force at the tachiai to really move Tochinoshin back at all. In return Tochinoshin calmly set up a usable hand grip, and then proceeded to lift and move Chiyomaru back, then out. Tochinoshin improves to 6-7 to keep his hopes alive.

Chiyotairyu defeats Wakamotoharu – Chiyotairyu attempts a flying henka, and connects enough at the tachiai to send Wakamotoharu to the clay. Chiyotairyu is now 5-8, and Makamotoharu needs to look for his kachi-koshi tomorrow.

Ishiura defeats Oho – Wow, it’s been a while since we have seen anyone use the death-spin. Made me miss dear Harumafuji there. Ishiura did not quite have the size to get Oho going too fast, but it discombobulated Oho enough that shitatehineri that followed it made for a satisfying payoff. Ishiura now 9-4, Oho lost the last 3 in a row and still not kachi-koshi. Welcome to the top division, sir. Time to buckle down and gamberize.

Terutsuyoshi defeats Ichiyamamoto – Ichiyamamoto showed surprising lack of awareness in that match. Once Terutsuyoshi stabilized his grip and his balance, there was little chance that the pull was going to do anything more than open the door for Terutsuyoshi to rush forward and take the match. Terutsuyoshi improves to 6-7.

Yutakayama defeats Akua – Akua keeps trying sumo moves that fall apart and cost him a match. After a couple of weeks, it sure does add up. Today he rotated into a throw but left his opponent, Yutakayama behind. As in directly behind. It was okuridashi from there. Yutakayama improves to 5-8.

Aoiyama defeats Chiyonokuni – Chiyonokuni poured on the thrusting attacks, but could not really move Aoiyama about at all, Big Dan finally did respond, but not with the V-Twin thrusting attack. More of a hug-n-tackle sort of move that sent Chiyonokuni off to see the fans for a moment. That’s 8 wins for Aoiyama, and he is kachi-koshi for January.

Hoshoryu defeats Kotoeko – Of course these two went chest to chest immediately, and the high strength technique battle was on. After exchanging grips and moving about a fair amount, they tried to throw each other, with Hoshoryu winning out and heaving Kotoeko to the clay. Fun match to watch, and Hoshoryu improves to 9-4.

Okinoumi defeats Tsurugisho – Tsurugisho worked hard to put Okinoumi away early, knowing that if he let Okinoumi get set up, his chances were slim. With Okinoumi able to consolidate his stance and his hands, it was short work to take Tsurugisho out, and Okinoumi improves to 4-9, while Tsurugisho picks up his 8th loss and is make-koshi.

Kotonowaka defeats Tamawashi – Wow, Tamawashi can’t find that 8th win. He’s lost 3 in a row trying to reach kachi-koshi, and he will have to try again tomorrow. I tell you folks, Konosuke is the best gyoji in sumo right now. He caught that early step out by Tamawashi when almost nobody else did. Kotonowaka improves to 10-3.

Ichinojo defeats Sadanoumi – Sadanoumi recognized that Ichinojo’s size was going to work harder against him the longer the match went. Sadanoumi put a lot of effort up front to grapple Ichinojo and get him moving. I expected Ichinojo to passivate him and go for endurance again today, but instead he actually executed some sharp sumo, turning Sadanoumi around and driving him out. Ichinojo improves to 7-6.

Ura defeats Chiyoshoma – I really liked Chiyoshoma’s initial combo. He kept Ura at arm’s length for a couple of steps, then rushed forward to pressure him back. Ura’s response was to bend like willow tree and completely shut down Chiyoshoma’s forward pressure. Brilliant stuff. Now chest to chest, Chiyoshoma lined up to attack again, and had Ura moving, but a rotation at the bales put Chiyoshoma out first, and Ura improves to 7-6.

Tobizaru defeats Kiribayama – Tobizaru set up a double inside grip almost at once, and you had to know that it was going to be a rough run for Kiribayama. Kiribayama figures out just how poor his position is after a time, and starts working to escape or reverse advantage. Thats when Tobizaru attack, and takes Kiribayama out. Tobizaru improves to 6-7, and Kiribayama is now make-koshi.

Wakatakakage defeats Endo – These two teetered on the edge of losing their balance many times, and it was great to watch them trade advantage back and forth. They lost the plot for a moment, and when they revived, it was Wakatakakage driving Endo over the West side bales to improve to 7-6, and handing Endo his make-koshi.

Daieisho defeats Hokutofuji – It took us until day 13, but we finally get… “The Most Powerful Make-Koshi In All Of Sumo”! Hokutofuji takes a face full of dirt, and his 8th loss as Daieisho stands him up and slaps him down. Both are now 5-8.

Takarafuji defeats Meisei – It makes my day to watch Takarafuji when he is fighting well. Even in the moments when Meisei seems to be pouring on the offense, Takarafuji’s calmly going along like Meisei poses no genuine risk. When Meisei gives him an opening, Takarafuji brings out the attack and moves Meisei to the exit, giving him his 8th loss and make-koshi for Hatsu. Takarafuji improves to 9-4.

Mitakeumi defeats Abi – The big match of the day for the yusho race, it was clear at the tachiai that Mitakeumi was not going to move one step back in response to Abi-zumo’s double arm attack. As soon as Mitakeumi had disrupted the thrusting train, he focused his forward pressure below Abi’s shoulders, found a connection and turned up the forward motion. 5 steps later Abi was out, and Mitakeumi improved to 11-2.

Onosho defeats Shodai – I like that in response to Onosho’s mega-thrust, Shodai brought out the “Wall of daikon” at long last, and it was working well until Onosho twisted near the tawara and Shodai went along for the ride. Thats 5-8 for Shodai, and it’s kadoban twins for March. Onosho improves to 9-4.

Terunofuji defeats Takanosho – Terunofuji focused his opening attack on an outstretched right arm of Takanosho, and broke Takanosho’s balance. A quick push from the side, and Takanosho was out, and Terunofuji had his 11th win. The Yokozuna faces Abi tomorrow.

Hatsu Day 13 Preview

Three days to go. A three way tie for the yusho.

My thoughts are drawn to Terunofuji’s gristle segments that have been cleverly disguised as knees. His Yokozuna career will last just a bit longer than they do, and every time he takes a big awkward fall we all worry that “this is it!” It’s my sincere hope that they are able to patch him up, and bring him back to the dohyo in fighting form.

The schedulers seem to have taken day 13 as a chance to create some entertainment with some large rank gaps in some matches between interesting opponents, in hopes of keeping everyone eager for the final day.

Hatsu Leaderboard

Leaders: Terunofuji, Mitakeumi, Abi
Hunt Group
: Kotonowaka

3 matches remain

What We Are Watching Day 13

Chiyomaru vs Tochinoshin – A loss today by Tochinoshin is make-koshi for him, and I would guess possibly relegation to Juryo in March. Can Chiyomaru overcome the 2-5 career advantage to take out the former Ozeki? It’s gruesome any way you look at it. If he pulls it off, he will earn his kachi-koshi at the same time.

Wakamotoharu vs Chiyotairyu – First ever meet up, and I would guess this is Wakamotoharu’s chance to get his 8th win. It’s not quite as straightforward as that, though. Chiyotairyu shows up today with a 4-8 record, but he is maybe a bit more genki right now than he was last week. So maybe he’s overcoming whatever prevented him from doing good sumo.

Ishiura vs Oho – Another first time match, Oho needs 1 more win to secure his spot in the top division in March. He’s up against a rather genki Ishiura, and I am hoping this is a real high energy clash of styles. Oho attacking big and heavy, Ishiura with speed and agility.

Ichiyamamoto vs Terutsuyoshi – A battle for make-koshi now, with Terutsuyoshi wanting to win today to keep himself at 7 losses and survive another day to try to climb his way up to 8 wins. They have split their 2 prior matches, and I am going to hope that Terutsuyoshi can pull it off today.

Yutakayama vs Akua – Both of them already make-koshi, so this is only to see how big of a drop each of these large guys are going to take in the March banzuke. Both of them are banged up, both are fighting well below their abilities, and I hope they both can recover and come back strong in Osaka.

Chiyonokuni vs Aoiyama – Chiyonokuni has won 2 in a row. At one point he was cruising for a perfect zenpai, and then abruptly changed course. In normal times with healthy bodies, He has an 11-6 advantage over Aoiyama. But they are both in degraded condition, with Chiyonokuni being the worse off. An Aoiyama win would be kachi-koshi for him.

Hoshoryu vs Kotoeko – Both are kachi-koshi, so this is to let them see if they want to run up the score. Frankly, I am not sure why they would set up this match, with an 11 rank gap across the banzuke, and a clear 3-0 advantage in Hoshoryu’s favor.

Okinoumi vs Tsurugisho – I guess it’s also time to finish off Tsurugisho, if Okinoumi is up to the task. At 5-7 a loss today wold render Tsurugisho make-koshi. But at the moment, there seems to be a lack of rikishi at the top end of Juryo that can move up to take a place. I don’t envy the folks playing “Guess the banzuke” this time out.

Tamawashi vs Kotonowaka – Tamawashi needs one more win to reach his 8, and we have another 11 rank gap match against 9-3 Kotonowaka. They have fought 4 times before, with Tamawashi leading the series 3-1. This should be good enough for him to hit kachi-koshi before the final weekend.

Sadanoumi vs Ichinojo – This one is far more interesting. A 9 rank gap where they have an even 6-6 record. I think Ichinojo is in a bit of a groove right now, and if he can capture Sadanoumi he’s just going to grind him to dust in another marathon stamina test. Bring it on!

Ura vs Chiyoshoma – Yeah, there are a lot of amusement factors in today’s match set. This one is 6-0 in Ura’s favor. We have Chiyoshoma, who is already make-koshi at 4-8, but fighting fairly well. I want to see some enjoyable stunt-sumo from these two today.

Tobizaru vs Kiribayama – A mini-Darwin match, where the loser is make-koshi. These are sort of a necessity now that the funnel was destroyed by the chaos of day 12. But what glorious and enjoyable chaos it was. Tamawashi has lost his last 4, and I would love to see him snap out of that losing streak.

Wakatakakage vs Endo – Day 12 Endo was the “good” Endo, and we all want to see quite a bit more of that. So lets hope for the best, and sumo’s golden boy can once again show up and drop a challenger to the clay in glorious style. He won his only prior match against Wakatakakage.

Hokutofuji vs Daieisho – We are on the cusp of Hokutofuji achieving his goal in most basho, “The most powerful make-koshi in all of sumo”, and that could happen today if Daieisho can crank up his mega-thrust power and get Hokutofuji on the move.

Meisei vs Takarafuji – Meisei, having just collected a Yokozuna scalp, is off to try his luck against Takarafuji. I have some hopes that Takarafuji will hit double digits this time around, so Meisei may find the Maegashira stalwart a bit more stable than Terunofuji turned out to be.

Mitakeumi vs Abi – This match was set up well before the results of day 12 were known, and it will narrow the yusho field to just 2 people. Over the long haul, Mitakeumi holds a 7-2 advantage over Abi. But the thing about Abi is that his sumo is potent enough that it has a chance to defeat anyone on the right day. I hope that Mitakeumi is less rushed than he was against Onosho.

Onosho vs Shodai – Shodai needs to “Win out” to avoid kadoban, and that will include a final day match where his score would be 7-7 to start. Onosho, as we talked on the day 12 preview, could care less. He’s going to blast forward from the shikiri-sen and put at least one giant meaty hand in a tender spot and dial up the pressure until you move. Will Shodai use his cartoon sumo and brush Onosho off on a passing gyoji? Or is it time to finally see the “Wall of daikon” at long last?

Terunofuji vs Takanosho – If Terunofuji is not too banged up by that off kilter fall at the end of day 12, I am going to guess that he goes chest to chest with Takanosho, and crushes him to a nutritious paste in a slow and steady manner. Biding his time to take out the winner of Mitakeumi vs Abi.

Hatsu Day 12 Highlights

Today may have been the day that chaos came to call. It’s a day of “did you see that?”, and where you wonder if our fine friends who post match results on Twitter are trolling you or not. Well, dear readers, it seems things did happen that way. But when chaos came to call, it took at lot of hopes and dreams as its wages, but it also left us gifts.

To the matches.

Highlight Matches

As expected, Kaisei is kyujo. This gave Juryo 1 East Kagayaki a freebee win, taking him to 8-4 and punching his ticket to return to the top division, hopefully in better condition. We hope to see you soon, sir.

Wakamotoharu defeats Kotoeko – Wakamotoharu’s left hand inside grip looks like the real deal again today. Kotoeko may have attenuated a fraction as he is already kachi-koshi, but that finishing toss from Wakamotoharu was not. Wakamotoharu improves to 7-5 and may reach kachi-koshi himself tomorrow against Chiyomaru.

Chiyomaru defeats Oho – Oho struggled to find a grip anywhere on Chiyomaru. This is, in fact, the entire point of Chiyomaru. To be so spherical that your hands can find no purchase. While Oho is wondering how the almighty allowed such a creature to exist, Chiyomaru is giving him to business. Oho manages to rally a couple of times, but Chiyomaru has control of this match, and with a mighty shove, he sends Oho out to the combini to get more beer. Chiyomaru improves to 7-5 and has Tochinoshin tomorrow.

Ishiura defeats Ichiyamamoto – Ichiyamamoto comes in with a obligatory double arm thrust, with his balance quite far forward. Ishiura absorbs the first hit, then steps to the side. Ichiyamamoto was counting on having someone to push against, and topples forward. At that moment, Ishiura advances to an 8-4 kachi-koshi while Ichiyamamoto drops to a 4-8 make-koshi.

Tsurugisho defeats Chiyotairyu – The mini-Darwin goes to Tsurugisho, who really hustled today. Maybe he can deliver full power right now if he does it in a hurry, as in before the pain rises in his body and makes him back off. Tsurugisho advances to 5-7 and keeps hope alive while Chiyotairyu is now 4-8.

Kotonowaka defeats Sadanoumi – Sadanoumi gave up his speed advantage early by going chest to chest with Kotonowaka. Once they were locked in their yotsu battle-hug, it was Kotonowaka’s match to decide. They finished it with a mutual throw attempt that was close enough to merit a monoii, but the gumbai was upheld and Kotonowaka advances to 9-3. Sadanoumi can try again tomorrow for kachi koshi against (umm.) Ichinojo?

Aoiyama defeats Terutsuyoshi – Hey, a brief glimpse of Aoiyama and full battle power! He grabs Terutsuyoshi’s head and tosses him forward at the tachiai, pivots and pushes the stumbling Terutsuyoshi out from behind. Aoiyama now 7-5, and might actually hit kachi-koshi. It was at this point that we could see the funnel was going to take a beating.

Chiyonokuni defeats Tochinoshin – Chiyonokuni’s sumo overpowered Tochinoshin today. Even though Tochinoshin is in somewhat dilapidated condition, it came as a bit of a surprise to me. Maybe Tochinoshin’s knee could not take that lateral thrust that sent him over the bales and down to the floor. Chiyonokuni advanes to 2-10, and Tochinoshin is now one loss away from make-koshi.

Okinoumi defeats Akua – Okinoumi had some fine, patient sumo today. He took his time to set up his winning move, chipping away at Akua a piece at a time. Both end the day at 3-9.

Hoshoryu defeats Tamawashi – That’s two losses in a row for Tamawashi, who fails yet again today to find his 8th win. He had a strong open against Hoshoryu, but could not keep him centered. Hoshoryu scores his 8th win and is kachi-koshi.

Ura defeats Yutakayama – Yutakayama gave it a good try, but that head / neck pull attempt seems to have given Ura the green light to toss his broad backside out of the ring with enough force to send Yutakayama on a considerable jog down the hanamichi. That’s an 8th loss for Yutakayama, and he is kachi-koshi, while Ura advances to 6-6.

Ichinojo defeats Takarafuji – We had guessed this one might turn into a yotsu endurance contest, and they did in fact supply just that. After a small opening struggle, they settled into their battle-hug and waited for the other man to weaken. This did not happen quickly at all. There was a moment where Takarafuji changed his grip, and they moved a few steps. Then… back to the battle hug. As the moments ticked by, it looked to me that Ichinojo was starting to lose patience, which must have given Takarafuji encouragement. But as we neared the 3 minute mark, Ichinojo lifted Takarafuji and walked forward for his 6th win. He earned his pay this day.

Wakatakakage defeats Tobizaru – Tobizaru supplied a measure of frantic action, but Wakatakakage kept his power focused and delivered it center-mass. He ejected Tobizaru butt-first into one of the shimpan, who would not have been pleased to receive a face full of flying monkey rump. Wakatakakage advances to 6-6.

Endo defeats Kiribayama – Endo staves off make-koshi yet again, picking up his 3rd white star in a row. Kiribayama made the mistake of not taking whatever advantage he had in the opening moment and winning with it. The longer that match went on, the more Endo was able to improve his position. That finishing uwatenage looked fantastic, and Endo keeps hope alive at 5-7.

Daieisho defeats Chiyoshoma – Daieisho got to use his mega-thrust today, and I am sure that made him happy. Chiyoshoma caught the blast full in the chest, and rapidly exited on the East side for his 8th loss. He is make-koshi for January, joining Daieisho at 4-8.

Onosho defeats Mitakeumi – With his warm ups complete, the mischievous kami who came to watch sumo today got down to business. In this tadpole battle, I expected some pushing, especially from Onosho. I did not expect it to disrupt Mitakeumi to the extent that it did. Onosho followed with hikiotoshi and before you could say say “Mitakeumi” he was face down on the clay. With that loss, Mitakeumi drops to 10-2, Onosho advances to 8-4 and is kachi-koshi in grand style, having picked off a yusho leader, and possibly run Mitakeumi’s Ozeki bid for January aground.

Abi defeats Takanosho – The next piece of this puzzle fell into place nearly automatically. It relied on Abi doing what he does best: deploying fast, aggressive Abi-zumo against Takanosho. A strong opening combo and a tsukidashi + slippiotoshi combo later, and Abi joins Mitakeumi at 10-2. They face each other on day 13.

Shodai defeats Hokutofuji – With his back against the kadoban line, Shodai seems to have found his sumo. We saw a bit of the “Wall of Daikon” followed by a solid escape move that employed the gyoji as a bollard. Both end the day at 5-7.

Meisei defeats Terunofuji – Reaching the final match, it was time for our mischievous kami to finish his task. Meisei gets Terunofuji off tempo tachiai. Meisei grabs an arm and pulls Terunofuji forward he can recover has balance ,and sends him straight out the west side. In that helter-skelter exit, Terunofuji may have hurt one of his quasi robotic knees to boot. With the loss, Terunofuji drop to 10-2, and there is a three way tie for the cup with just 3 days to go. Meisei picks up his 5th win, and even if he is make-koshi at the end of day 15, he is a champion today.

Hatsu Day 12 Preview

Post body here…

Wow, day 12 already? We have 4 matches left in this basho, and some folks are probably really feeling the heat now. It’s going to be a grind right up until they toss the gyoji in the closing ceremonies, and I would not be the least bit surprised to see them hold Mitakeumi vs Terunofuji until the final on day 15. This crew does like to end things with a “Brawl to decide it all”.

With Mitakeumi entering day 12 at 10-1, the somewhat whimsicale discussion at the start of this basho about a Ozeki promotion is now quite real. For Mitakeumi to finish with a 12-3 record only requires him to win 2 of his last 4 match. A quite plausible outcome. We know that the most he can finish with is 14-1, but I do have my doubts that he can make that happen, though I will be delighted if he does. I know the general guideline is 33 wins over 3 basho, but the Kyokai can mint a new Ozeki on any score it chooses. I think I am almost more interested to see how this story turns out then even the yusho race.

Hatsu Leaderboard

Leaders: Terunofuji, Mitakeumi
Hunt Group: Abi
Chasers: Takarafuji, Kotonowaka, Kotoeko

4 matches remain

What We Are Watching Day 12

Kagayaki vs Kaisei – Hey, look who is back! It’s Kagayaki, and he seems to have his sumo back in working order. He visits from Juryo to fill the banzuke gap, bringing his 7-4 record with him. If he manages to get his 8th win, his J1E ranking means he’s back in the top division after only 1 basho. I wonder if he will pick up a fusensho today, as Kaisei’s ankle that took damage day 11 may result in another kyujo.

Wakamotoharu vs Kotoeko – Kotoeko has 8 wins, and is kachi-koshi. I would never seriously tell anyone to go ahead and lose matches, but I hope that Kotoeko does not run up the score. He got severely pounded in Kyushu, and I hope he decides to work his way up the ranks at a leisurely pace. He shares a 1-1 record with Wakamotoharu, who could use 2 more wins to reach his 8.

Chiyomaru vs Oho – I like this matchup for a bunch of reasons. First, its new. Oho and Chiyomaru have never fought before, and the mechanical challenges that Chiyomaru presents will be most amusing to watch Oho try to debug. Second, if Oho can pull off a win, he’s kachi-koshi in his debut tournament, and that would be a great thing.

Ishiura vs Ichiyamamoto – This is the kind of match that the schedulers do seem to enjoy. An Ishiura win would give him kachi-koshi at the same time it would be a make-koshi for Ichiyamamoto. The big problem is that Ishiura has never won against Ichiyamamoto. That being said, I think this is some of the best sumo from Ishiura in a long time, and if there was a basho where he may be genki enough to pull this off, it’s right now.

Tsurugisho vs Chiyotairyu – Battle of the mega-fauna, and not only that, it’s a mini-Darwin! The loser is make-koshi, and the winner gets to try to limp his way toward 7-7 on day 15. Both of them are well below their abilities right now due to some kind of injury, and this could in fact be painful. 5-3 career lead to Chiyotairyu, but that may not count for much given the condition these two are in.

Sadanoumi vs Kotonowaka – Sadanoumi can seal his 8th win, and a winning record if he can defeat Kotonowaka today. He has yet to do that (ever) in 2 tries, so today will indeed be a special day if he can. Sadanoumi has the advantage of speed and mobility, and Kotonowaka size and power.

Aoiyama vs Terutsuyoshi – Its time for a good old fashioned funnel match. Terutsuyoshi has a 6-3 career record over Aoiyama, and has generally been fighting well. Aoiyama can muster some fight on some days, and I just hope today is one of those days. If Terutsuyoshi should take this match, they will both end the day at 6-6 and be once again in the middle of the funnel.

Chiyonokuni vs Tochinoshin – Its time to throw Tochinoshin a life line. We give you a fairly one sided match. Even without being banged up from stem to stern, Chiyonokuni had a 2-8 career deficit against Tochinoshin. The man is just too massive to really feel much effect from Chiyonokuni’s hit-and-move sumo style. With Tochinoshin at 5-6, he really could use a win today.

Okinoumi vs Akua – Another battle of the make-koshi clan. I wonder what Akua’s “survival number” would be from Maegashira 10. I would guess 4? Maybe lksumo could help us out at some point with some of his prognostication. I am pretty sure Okinoumi is not too worried about appearing quite a bit lower on the banzuke in March, as he traditionally lofts higher and then drops down to begin again. Like some large, fish-fueled Sisyphus. This is actually a first ever match between these two.

Tamawashi vs Hoshoryu – Another fine mini-Darwin, this time the winner gets a bright, shiny kachi-koshi and the loser gets to go home and think again. Tamawashi is on a bit of a week 2 fade, so I wonder about his chances against Hoshoryu who has won 4 of his last 5.

Ura vs Yutakayama – Say, let’s keep Ura in the funnel, and kick Yutakayama into make-koshi at the same time. Or at least that may be the goal here. Yutakayama is having a dismal Hatsu, right now one loss away from make-koshi. Ura has been hit or miss, and can only manage a 5-6 record so far. This is his highest ever rank, and he may need to spend some time fighting the higher rankers to get his sumo dialed in. But I give him a distinct advantage today.

Takarafuji vs Ichinojo – Oh delightful! Two long serving top division men who excel at standing in once place emitting great bounding waves of strength. Who will lose patience first, or will this be a 5 minute contest of leaning against each other trying to wear the other one out. I warn you, Ichinojo is enormous, but Takarafuji can go the distance. Time to bake a pie, I would guess. They will still be at it. Ichinojo has a sterling 16-3 career advantage.

Wakatakakage vs Tobizaru – Both of these guys are in the funnel group, and I think both of them want to stay in the top half of Makuuchi. So I am expecting them to beat the stuffing out of each other today. Tobizaru has lost the last 2 in a row, so I think he may be fading. On that alone, I give Wakatakakage a slight edge.

Endo vs Kiribayama – Can Endo muster the mojo to take down Kiribayama and keep himself out of make-koshi for another day? I know Endo has the skill, the cunning and the courage the dismantle even the greatest rikishi of all time. But maybe today he’s too hurt to bring that version of Endo to the clay. A Kiribayama win would give Endo his 8th loss, and render himself 6-6, back in the middle of the funnel.

Chiyoshoma vs Daieisho – I think Chiyoshoma recused himself quite well in his day 11 match against Terunofuji. He showed some fine sumo, some skill and even some strategy before he at dirt. He’s up against injured and already make-koshi Daieisho today, and he needs to win the remaining 4 matches to reach kachi-koshi. Might we get one of his world famous henka today? I would enjoy that very much.

Mitakeumi vs Onosho – Tadpole battle deluxe! Its the Original Tadpole vs the Junior Tadpole. Mitakeumi has a 10-3 career advantage, and one of the things I adore about Onosho is he could care less. I expect he is going to launch of the shikiri-sen and mega-thrust square into Mitakeumi’s face, daring him to do something about it. Should he upset the Ozeki hopeful, it would be kachi-koshi for Onosho.

Abi vs Takanosho – Well, Takanosho is a mess this time out. Not quite Shodai level of “eeeww” but trending stinky socks in a bucket of brown water mess. I am sure Abi will have some fun with this match, as he’s 1 win behind the leader pair, an should some surprising calamity befall them both, he might just have a role to play in the yusho race if he can keep raking up the wins.

Hokutofuji vs Shodai – Shodai loss is make-koshi for him, and kadoban for March. Make that “Kadoban Twins”, as Takakeisho is already in that boat. I can imagine some ugly future day where its Shodai vs Takakeisho for who gets to survive as Ozeki. Wow, that went dark really fast.

Terunofuji vs Meisei – The question before us, will it be a throw, or will Terunofuji simply ride the broken husk of Meisei’s body like a sled back to his celebratory yurt in the back lot of the Kokugikan? I imagine said sled would necessarily be pulled by Terutsuyoshi and Takarafuji.