Natsu Day 11 Highlights

There were some actual highlight matches today, but I must give special mention to Mitakeumi vs Wakatakakage. That was some fine, strong, and fierce sumo. We minted 4 kachi-koshi today, and one very powerful make-koshi.

My compliments to Takanosho, aka Onigiri-kun, for maintaining his spot at the top of the leader board. While 9-2 is not an overwhelmingly strong score, he is the best of the top division at the end of day 11, and that takes a daily helping of strong sumo. In the remaining 4 days of this basho, I expect that the schedulers will work to put dirt on him at least once more, to draw him down to Terunofuji’s score. As long as the Yokozuna keeps winning, they will work to have Terunofuji contend against Takanosho for the cup at the end of the week, with any of the other rikishi in that group welcome to tag along if they can. I have my eye on Ura, by the way, as a spoiler in this grand parade to the cup.

Highlight Matches

Yutakayama defeats Mitoryu – Mitoryu had a strong start, but could not prevent Yutakayama from getting a nodowa and walking him back. Yutakayama really needed this win, and was able to move forward well enough. He ends the day 5-6.

Chiyoshoma defeats Kotokuzan – Kotokuzan is now the loss leader Natsu. It’s pretty sad given how much effort he put into finally reaching the top division, and he shows up hurt. Chiyoshoma shut down Kotokuzan’s thrusting attacks at the tachiai, and walked him out for a quick win, improving to 5-6.

Nishikigi defeats Meisei – It was chest to chest from the tachiai, and Meisei looked, at first, to be the aggressor. Nishikigi had a solid left hand grip, and used that to keep Meisei from doing much in terms of offense, and then used the leverage from that hand to turn Meisei and run him out of the ring. Both end the day at 5-6.

Okinoumi defeats Midorifuji – The Darwin Funnel continues to do its hideous work. Had Midorifuji won today, he would have escaped from the top end. But Okinoumi was able to set up a double arm bar and kimedashi him out. Okinoumi ends the day 5-6, and Midorifuji at 6-5.

Tochinoshin defeats Azumaryu – Tochinoshin, however, did escape the funnel today with his yorikiri win over Azumaryu. At 7-4 its still possible he will be pulled back into the track for a day 14 7-7 score, but he is fighting well enough that I expect him to get his kachi-koshi in the next 2 days.

Chiyotairyu defeats Kotoshoho – A thunderous tachiai from Chiyotairyu puts Kotoshoho on his heels, and a second volley sends him stumbling backward. A final thrust from Chiyotairyu finishes him in this 1-2-3 match, a style from Chiyotairyu we have not seen in some time. Chiyotairyu now 7-4, and escapes the funnel.

Terutsuyoshi defeats Myogiryu – Terutsuyoshi leaps to the side at the tachiai, grabs one of Myogiryu’s legs and gets to work. He could not maintain that leg hold, but it was enough for him to get Myogiryu moving. With Terutsuyoshi pushing Myogiryu stepped out of the ring, and Terutsuyoshi staved off make-koshi to improve to 4-7.

Shimanoumi defeats Ichiyamamoto – Ichiyamamoto’s opening double arm attack had him in control only for a moment, before Shimanoumi rallied, and found a path to return a few thrusts of his own. Catching Ichiyamamoto at an angle, Shimanoumi disrupted his balance, and a second hit put him on the clay, knocking Ichiyamamoto out of the lead. Shimanoumi now 7-4.

Kotoeko defeats Oho – Really big match between these two today, maybe some of the best sumo from both of them so far this basho. Oho put a lot of power into his sumo today, but was unable to overcome Kotoeko’s excellent balance and stability. The final move was a sukuinage from Kotoeko that twisted Oho to the dohyo, and both end the day at 5-6.

Takarafuji defeats Kagayaki – I am delighted with the outcome of this match. I had worried it was a “gimmie” life line to Kagayaki to try and help him avoid a make-koshi. But Takarafuji rallied through his injury, put up his strong defense, and found an opening to swat Kagayaki down. Takarafuji improves to 2-9, and may have given himself enough wins to keep a toe hold in the top division for July.

Sadanoumi defeats Wakamotoharu – Wakamotoharu may have been working from the expectation that if they locked up chest to chest, he might have a bit of time to consolidate his grip. But Sadanoumi is always ahead of schedule, and rapidly griped, lifted and walked Wakamotoharu to the bales, throwing Wakamotoharu (and himself) into the front row. That’s win 8 for Sadanoumi, and he is kachi-koshi for Natsu.

Ura defeats Aoiyama – Really straightforward sumo from Ura today, which I think surprised Aoiyama. Aoiyama had a rather defensive tachiai, and quickly found Ura was at his chest, with a double inside grip. Ura lifted and walked forward for a rapid yorikiri win. That’s kachi-koshi at 8-3 for Ura.

Kiribayama defeats Tobizaru – Shall we make it 3? Why not. Tobizaru made him work for it, as it seemed that Kiribayama was eager to close distance and fight chest to chest, and Tobizaru kept him back. But Kiribayama had a bit of a hold, and kept working to ratchet Tobizaru closer. When Kiribayama’s left hand found a purchase, it was fight on, and he finished Tobizaru with a quick yorikiri, picking up his 8th win, and his kachi-koshi for Natsu.

Takayasu defeats Hokutofuji – A moment we knew was coming following day 1, a day foretold on the pages of this very blog, where Hokutofuji reaches what we call “The most powerful make-koshi in all of sumo”. Hokutofuji was in the driver’s seat for a good portion of this match, but Takayasu slapped him down mid-attack to deliver his 8th loss. Both end the day 3-8.

Daieisho defeats Kotonowaka – Daieisho set the tone and tempo of this match, even though Kotonowaka had a few moments where he was the aggressor, it was still in the form that Daieisho had dictated, and thrusting match at your opponent’s head and throat. This eventually favored Daieisho, who found an opening and pushed Kotonowaka out, improving to 7-4.

Takanosho defeats Hoshoryu – Happy to see more sumo, less attitude from Hoshoryu today. He gave Takanosho a strong match, but to me it seems that Takanosho had a ready reply to the anticipated attempt at a leg trip, which disrupted Hoshoryu’s balance ever so slightly, and set up Takanosho’s final attack. With the win, Takanosho is in sole possession of the lead at 9-2.

Wakatakakage defeats Mitakeumi – What an excellent match, the two of them really threw everything they could muster into this fight, and the results were fantastic. I could grouse about another Ozeki loss, but that would unnecessarily tarnish the effort of both men. I am a bit worried that it looked like some kind of injury to Mitakeumi’s right leg that brought about an end to that match. Wakatakakage improves to 6-5.

Takakeisho defeats Endo – Takakeisho got to use “his brand of sumo” effectively for the first time in a while. Endo was looking for a frontal trip in the tachiai, and received a full Takakeisho blast amidships. Before he could set his feet, a second volley sent Endo tumbling back and out. Takakeisho improves to 6-5.

Shodai defeats Tamawashi – Hey! Some cartoon sumo today! Kimarite was listed as tsukiotoshi, but I can genuinely ask “What the hell was that?” Not so say there was no Shodai offense, but I swear this guy, at times, just launches parts of his body in random directions and sumo comes out. Today they look to stumble in opposite directions, with Tamawashi falling down first. Ok, it worked! Shodai improves to 4-7 and holds off kadoban for another day.

Terunofuji defeats Abi – Maybe Terunofuji an hold ground for short periods of time. He takes Abi’s initial attack and immediately blasts back. There is no way Abi can hold the Yokozuna back, and Terunofuji runs him out of the ring to hop down into the front row. Terunofuji’s 8th win, and he is kachi-koshi for Natsu.

Natsu Day 11 Preview

Ready or not, it’s time to start act 3. The goal of act 3 is to sort the make from the kachi-koshi, and to crown the tournament champion. Starting day 11, the yusho picture is still rather murky, with M4 Takanosho and M15 Ichiyamamoto leading with 8 wins. I don’t expect to see their names at the top for too much longer, as the schedulers are going to throw them at harder opponents if possible to try and knock those scores down at least a bit. Ideally they would open the door for Yokozuna Terunofuji to attempt to take the cup in the final weekend. But that’s a bit of a tough proposition, as he’s not in the best of condition below the waist. Above the waist, he’s a one man army, and he just may be able to pull it off.

Natsu Leaderboard

This won’t be a real race until Takanosho and Ichiyamamoto pick up their 3rd loss.

Leaders: Takanosho, Ichiyamamoto
Chasers: Terunofuji, Kiribayama, Ura, Aoiyama, Sadanoumi
Hunt Group: Too numerous to list

5 matches remain

What We Are Watching Day 11

Mitoryu vs Yutakayama – Mitoryu visits from Juryo, and he has a 3-0 career record against Yutakayama. If you think that spells trouble, you are right. At 4-6, Yutakayama needs to win 4 of his last 5 to reach kachi-koshi, and that likely would include a day 15 Darwin match at this point. On top of that, Yutakayama has not been fighting well, and I am going to guess, injured.

Kotokuzan vs Chiyoshoma – Kotokuzan has already punched his ticket to be the boatswain for the Juryo barge this May, so I have to wonder how much he’s going to bring to this first ever match up against Chiyoshoma. Like Yutakayama, Chiyoshoma is 2 losses away from make-koshi, and needs to win 4 out of the last 5 to reach his 8.

Meisei vs Nishikigi – A funnel track match, Meisei needs a win today just to stay on the path for day 15 Darwin. At 5-5 he’s just straddling the center of the funnel now, and his opponent Nishikigi, is on the low side of the funnel at 4-6. Meisei has a 3-1 career record against Nishikigi, so maybe he can use some of that mojo to pick up his 6th win today.

Okinoumi vs Midorifuji – Another funnel match – mostly because the funnel currently covers the bulk of the top division. We have Midorifuji at 6-4, who can exit the funnel today with a win, and Okinoumi who can exit the funnel onto the make-koshi track with a loss. Of course we might see Okinoumi rally today, and then both of them are back to the middle of the funnel.

Azumaryu vs Tochinoshin – The funnel theme continues. This is the first ever match between grizzled veteran Azumaryu (5-5), who would love to find 3 more wins out of the final 5 matches to get his first ever top division kachi-koshi, and former Ozeki Tochinoshin (6-4) who can escape the funnel today with a win.

Kotoshoho vs Chiyotairyu – Staying with the funnel theme, I am sort of surprised that Kotoshoho (5-5) got roped into the funnel, but here he is against 6-4 Chiyotairyu, who has won 6 out of his last 7. Kotoshoho won 2 of their 3 prior matches, so I am going to assume he knows to watch out for Chiyotairyu’s balance wrecking tachiai moves.

Myogiryu vs Terutsuyoshi – Terutsuyoshi is one loss away from securing a make-koshi. It’s still mathematically possible for him to get 8 wins, but he will need to win the rest of his matches to achieve that. He has a 4-2 career advantage over Myogiryu, who comes in at 5-5, and needs wins to stay in the funnel. Honestly, I have to think that Terutsuyoshi is just about due for another win.

Shimanoumi vs Ichiyamamoto – Shimanoumi gets a shot to put dirt on one of the co-leaders. Ranked at M8, he is quite a bit north of Ichiyamamoto’s Maegashira 15. Shimanoumi won their only prior match which was at Aki 2021, when they were both nearly the same rank as they are today. Shimanoumi has won his last 3, so I am going to assume he is in good fighting condition.

Oho vs Kotoeko – Still squarely in the bracket, we see if 4-6 Kotoeko can fight is way back to the center line and disrupt 5-5 Oho’s lack-luster second try to get a kachi-koshi in the top division. I recall a time when Oho (then called Naya) was supposed to be a “big deal”. Maybe he will be some day, but so far he has not distinguished himself.

Takarafuji vs Kagayaki – This match outrages me. They know by now that Takarafuji is hurt, maybe his lower back, but he’s a walking medical case. So they give Kagayaki a chance to pick up a freebee win. I volunteer to loan my spine to Takarafuji for the period of time needed to toss Kagayaki on his ear, then kick dirt over the remains. Ah well, Takarafuji had to fight someone.

Sadanoumi vs Wakamotoharu – I think that this is Wakamotoharu’s chance to pull himself out of the high end of the funnel, and take a big step closer to a kachi-koshi at his highest ever rank. His sumo has been very good for his first time this far up the banzuke, and I look forward to him being part of the future of sumo. He has a 0-4 career deficit against Sadanoumi, who may pick up his kachi-koshi today with a win.

Ura vs Aoiyama – Both men start the day at 7-3, and the winner will get a bright shiny kachi-koshi to end day 11. Although Ura has a 2-1 narrow advantage, I give an edge to “Big Dan” Aoiyama who is fighting very well right now. But an Ura win would play into my hunch that he might be in the hunt for the cup in the final 3 days.

Kiribayama vs Tobizaru – Kiribayama needs a win today to reach kachi-koshi, but he has to overcome the 7-3 career disadvantage he has against Tobizaru. In fact Tobizaru has won 4 of their last 5 matches. A Tobizaru win would keep him in the funnel, and marching to a day 15 Darwin contest. In spite of the career advantage, I want to see Kiribayama pick up his 8th today.

Takayasu vs Hokutofuji – We all know Hokutofuji is headed for make-koshi, and I think its quite fitting that Takayasu be the one to let him secure that outcome today. Takayasu has really struggled this May after a fairly robust run in Osaka that saw him competing for the yusho into week 2. As a Takayasu fan, I am a bit down that he’s too hurt to live up to his potential. But he can certainly take out his frustrations on Hokutofuji today.

Kotonowaka vs Daieisho – These two have matching 6-4 scores, which technically make them part of the funnel group. But the winner will elevate outside of the funnel, and the looser will scrap agains the other rikishi being herded toward a 7-7 day 14 score. Kotonowaka has a 2-0 career lead over Daieisho, so he will have a distinct edge in today’s contest.

Hoshoryu vs Takanosho – Hoshoryu, whose attitude may have out-paced his sumo, gets a chance to back up some of that swagger with a chance to knock one of the leaders off the board. He has a 3-1 career margin against Takanosho, but he’s fighting at least one notch below his typical level of genki. Much as I want to see Takanosho pick up a 3rd loss and draw Terunofuji into the yusho race, I would very much like to see him give Hoshoryu an atomic wedgie and a quick toss into the zabuton to help Asashoryu’s nephew find a little humility.

Mitakeumi vs Wakatakakage – Man, I dread this match. Mitakeumi has a 7-2 career advantage over Wakatakakage, but I don’t think that matters. I would guess that Mitakeumi is, like the rest of the Ozeki corpse, hurt in some non visible way. There is a real risk that all of them may be kadoban for July, and if that is the case, I would put the odds at very long that all of them can recover and make their 8 in the heat of Nagoya. Both start the day at 5-5, and win or lose, neither escapes the funnel today.

Endo vs Takakeisho – We know Endo is going to grab for a left hand shallow front mawashi hold at the tachiai. With Takakeisho’s right arm at less than good status, this leaves him especially open to this kind of attack. At 4-6, Endo is looking for wins to keep himself out of the make-koshi lane, though he is edging ever closer.

Tamawashi vs Shodai – Tamawashi comes in with an 11-8 career advantage, and a win by him will send Shodai make-koshi and kadoban. We can be fairly certain Shodai will have 8 losses this May, but will today be the day?

Terunofuji vs Abi – They have only met twice, and each has a single win against the other. Much as I love me some Abi-zumo, I would rather see Terunofuji stay in the hunt for the Emperor’s cup, in spite of his battered and only partially functional battle readiness report. A win today is kachi-koshi for the Yokozuna.

Natsu Day 10 Highlights

I could label today the “Mother of all Shimpan parades”. It seems that sumo fandom in Japan let it be know that the lax judging, crummy calls and lack of reviews of close matches were not the stuff of legends. So today we see the men in black decide that they are in fact going to be in charge and maybe supervise a bit more. The result – a lot of monoii. When in doubt, talk it out and let the chaps reviewing the replays have a second look. In general not a bad plan, but they may have over-compensated a bit today, and it really scrambled up the pacing of the top division matches.

With today’s action complete, we close out the weakest Act 2 that I can recall. We don’t really have a yusho race, we have a huge number of rikishi fighting their way through Darwin’s Funnel, and none of the Ozeki are better than a 50% win rate.

Highlight Matches

Tsurugisho defeats Azumaryu – This match featured a matta at the original start, which seems to have disrupted Tsurugisho’s original battle plan. He ended up with a fairly soft tachiai that gave Azumaryu a better grip. Tsurugisho dug in and managed to work into a double inside grip, and proceeded to over power Azumaryu with some simple but effective sumo. Tsurugisho improves to 7-3, and I would guess will make a bid to return to the top division for Nagoya in July. He finishes 7-3.

Myogiryu defeats Kotokuzan – Kotokuzan had zero offense today, giving Myogiryu complete control of the match, and a quick win. Myogiryu improves to 5-5 to remain in the middle of the funnel.

Midorifuji defeats Aoiyama – Midorifuji does yeoman’s work and knocks “Big Dan” Aoiyama out of the leader group. That was quite the opening combo from Midorifuji, who hit at the tachiai, grabbed over Aoiyama’s shoulder (he had to reach up quite a bit) and pulled down. The resulting katasukashi spun Aoiyama to the clay, giving Midorifuji his 6th win to finish act 2 at 6-4.

Kagayaki defeats Chiyoshoma – Chiyoshoma had a good tachiai, but as Kagayaki landed his second thrust combo against Chiyoshoma’s chest, Chiyoshoma tried to pull Kagayaki forward. That tossed aside any forward pressure, and opened the door to Kagayaki just running him out of the ring. Both end the day 4-6.

Ichiyamamoto defeats Kotoshoho – Ichiyamamoto nearly lost this at the tachiai, where he ended up stumbling forward a single step when Kotoshoho deflected his opening move. Kotoshoho responded with power, but with Ichiyamamoto to his side, he tossed Kotoshoho forward and then delivered the finishing push center mass. That’s kachi-koshi for Ichiyamamoto, and he remains part of the leader group.

Tochinoshin defeats Sadanoumi – Really impressive defense from Sadanoumi in this match. Given how incredibly strong Tochinoshin is, and he was able to go chest to chest at the tachiai, its a tall order to break out of his grip. Tochinoshin found on his third finishing attempt the leverage to swing Sadanoumi around to walk him out of the ring. There was a monoii to review Tochinoshin’s feet just prior to the win, but the judges up held the decision. Tochinoshin improves to 6-4.

Shimanoumi defeats Yutakayama – It must be damn frustrating to fight as Yutakayama this May. He had a strong opening, and landed multiple solid hits. But Shimanoumi stayed in bound, on his feet and fighting. Eventually Shimanoumi locked up with Yutakayama in the center of the ring, and went to wear Yutakayama down. Shimanoumi got a left hand hazu, right hand mawashi grip, and rolled Yutakayama into an uwatenage for the win. He’s now 6-4.

Terutsuyoshi defeats Meisei – Terutsuyoshi executed something a lot like a henka at the tachiai. I hesitate to call it a henka because your normal henka is a bit more organized than whatever that was. It worked out well enough, bamboozling Meisei and giving Terutsuyoshi a wide open attack lane. Terutsuyoshi dropped him a moment later to stave off make-koshi for today, and improve to 3-7.

Oho defeats Takarafuji – Takarafuji really had no sumo today, and provided little more than ballast for Oho’s thrusting attacks. Takarafuji is clearly hurt, and not able to hold ground at all, and was quickly shoved out. Oho advances to 5-5 and remains in the middle of the funnel.

Chiyotairyu defeats Kotoeko – Chiyotairyu attempts a hearty serving of denshamichi, ends up face down with Kotoeko flying westward. The gumbai went to Chiyotairyu, but it seems the shimpan have been rightly embarrassed by poor performance, and are calling more review sessions. So it was monoii time. Review showed Kotoeko out while Chiyotairyu was still in flight, so Chiyotairyu takes the win to finish the day 6-4.

Ura defeats Nishikigi – Ura had to know that Nishikigi would grapple straight into the tachiai. He also (like me) saw the katasukashi combo Midorifuji pulled off earlier in the day and thought “hey, that’s pretty cool”. So we get to see Ura execute more or less the same opening combo against Nishikigi. No surprise it worked just as well here as it did against Aoiyama, and Ura improves to 7-3.

Wakamotoharu defeats Okinoumi – Wakamotoharu’s left hand inside at the tachiai gave him control of the match, and he only needed 3 steps to walk Okinoumi back, and place him out of the ring. Fast work for Wakamotoharu, and he ends the day 6-4.

Takanosho defeats Endo – Endo opened strong, but seemed to pause for an awkward moment, which let Takanosho regroup and begin the counter attack. With good focus of power against Endo’s center mass, he took control of the match and quickly ran Endo out of the ring. Takanosho picks up his 8th win, is kachi-koshi, and maintains his share of the leader board.

Kotonowaka defeats Tamawashi – Big, aggressive sumo from both today. Tamawashi really delivered a lot of attack power, but points to Kotonowaka for taking the punishment and returning a lot of of it to Tamawashi. If you wanted to see two big guys basho the stuffing out of each other, this was the match. But in a deft move, Kotonowaka converted a Tamawashi forward surge into a quick trip to the clay, as he threw down Tamawashi to claim his 6th win. Both end the day 6-4.

Daieisho defeats Takayasu – Daieisho found himself overpowered at the tachiai, as Takayasu launched forward. The best Daieisho could do was turn to the side and pull with everything he could muster. They both went flying off the dohyo and the gumbai went to Daieisho. Of course with the embarrassment level near maximum for the shimpan, they were going to review this one too, so up on the dohoyo they went. Review showed Takayasu down first, giving Daieisho his 6th win to finish the day 6-4, and Takayasu his 8th loss to be make-koshi at 8-2 for Natsu.

Kiribayama defeats Abi – Kiribayama took a couple of big hits at the start of the match, but kept his feet, kept his balance as best he could, and positioned himself to dodge as much of Abi’s attacks as he could manage. Kiribayama’s evasion opened up a chance with Abi off axis and off balance, and Kiribayama slapped him down. He ends the day 7-3.

Hokutofuji defeats Takakeisho – Well, an immediate pull at the tachiai is a sure fire losing formula today for Takakeisho. He gets a rapid combo to the chest from Hokutofuji for his troubles, and is quickly pushed out of the ring. Hokutofuji staves off make-koshi for another day and improves to 3-7.

Wakatakakage defeats Shodai – I guess I should note that Shodai at least tried to rally after Wakatakakage completely dominated him for the first few moments of the match. But for whatever reason, Shodai could not muster the wall of daikon today, or any cartoon sumo, though you can see him try. Wakatakakage gently placed him outside of the ring to advance to 5-5.

Mitakeumi defeats Tobizaru – At least one of the Ozeki scored a win today. But it was Tobizaru who was the clear aggressor in the opening moments of the match, getting a right hand inside, and making Mitakeumi give ground. Once Tobizaru had a firm hold on Mitakeumi, he found that was not quite what he wanted after all. Mitakeumi consolidated his grip, positioned his feet and finished Tobizaru off. Both end the day at 5-5.

Terunofuji defeats Hoshoryu – Yes, I know Terunofuji looks a bit more unstable each day, but I found his resounding yoritaoshi of Hoshoryu both glorious and comforting. It’s the kind of finishing move worthy of this match, and it’s especially fun given the overflowing attitude on display day 9 from Hoshoryu. It’s as if the Yokozuna wanted to communicate, “Here kid, let me show you how we take out the trash at Isegahama”. Terunofuji improves to 7-3, one win behind the leaders.

Natsu Day 10 Preview

It’s the end of act 2. I think this is the first time I have seen act 2 fail. The goal of act 2 is: narrow the field to find out who has what it takes to compete for the yusho, and to start sorting the survivors from the damned. I don’t think that the yusho race has actually formed yet. Sure there are a quad of punters with leading scores, but I don’t expect any of them to be in front on day 15. Who will be is a very interesting question indeed.

The only rikishi with prior yusho experience, Tamawashi, lost his day 9 match, and dropped back to join Terunofuji in the 6-3 group. If we imagine a future where either Terunofuji or Tamawashi win out, the most the yusho score could be would be 12-3. It think it’s far more likely the score will be 11-4 or maybe even 10-5.

I would be inclined to say that Terunofuji is still the favorite, but his lower body is so day-by-day that I would not be surprised to see him go kyujo some time later in week 2. That leaves us with Tamawashi, and one additional quite ugly fact. Takakeisho’s day 9 loss to Wakatakakage. It does appear that Wakatakakage put a hand on the dohyo in response to Takakeisho’s pull request, and everyone seemed to miss it. That means Takakeisho’s 5-4 might have been a 6-3, placing him along side Terunofuji and Tamawashi.

Lastly, there are still 23 people in the funnel at the start of day 10.

Ah, what a mess this tournament is.

Natsu Leaderboard

Well, the hunt group still intersects with the top end of the funnel.

Leaders: Takanosho, Aoiyama, Sadanoumi, Ichiyamamoto
Chasers: Terunofuji, Hoshoryu, Kiribayama, Tamawashi, Ura
Hunt Group: Too numerous to list

6 matches remain

What We Are Watching Day 10

Azumaryu vs Tsurugisho – Tsurugisho is up visiting from Juryo to check out the sights should he manage to get a kachi-koshi and punch his ticket to return. He’s up against funnel occupant Azumaryu, who is hoping to pick up 3 more wins in the next 6 days to get his first ever top division kachi-koshi. Tsurugisho had a 13-7 career record.

Myogiryu vs Kotokuzan – Kotokuzan is already make-koshi, has a single win, and has a 1-0 career advantage over Myogiryu, who needs 4 wins over the next 6 days to finish with a winning record. I think Myogiryu has a tough road, but today should be a win for him.

Aoiyama vs Midorifuji – Aoiyama continues to maintain his position in the leader group with a 7-2. He started the tourament winning 6 in a row, then lost two, and has bounced back with a win day 9. He is up against funnel resident Midorifuji at 5-4, the two have split their prior matches. An Aoiyama win today is kachi-koshi for him.

Kagayaki vs Chiyoshoma – Kagayaki is 2 losses away from the make-koshi that will take him back to Juryo after far too much banzuke luck keeping him in the top division. He’s 11-8 against Chiyoshoma, who needs 4 out of the last 6 wins to finish with a kachi-koshi.

Kotoshoho vs Ichiyamamoto – Ichiyamamoto is the lowest ranking man in the leader group at Maegashira 15. He has a 3-1 record against 5-4 Kotoshoho, and needs a win today to stay in the leader group. A win today will be kachi-koshi for him.

Sadanoumi vs Tochinoshin – The next guy up for kachi-koshi today is Sadanoumi, who is also part of the 4 strong leader group. He has a near even 4-5 record against Tochinoshin, and I think he’s going to struggle a bit with the match today. Tochinoshin needs 3 wins out of the last 6 days to confound mother nature and the Department of Orthopedic Surgery at University of Tokyo Hospital to hit a second consecutive kachi-koshi.

Shimanoumi vs Yutakayama – A solid funnel match, we have 5-4 Shimanoumi looking to best 4-5 Yutakayama. Should Yutakayama manage a win today, he would bring both of them back to the middle of the funnel at 5-5. Should Shimanoumi win, he will have a day 11 chance to escape the funnel with an additional win.

Meisei vs Terutsuyoshi – Terutsuyoshi is one loss away from make-koshi, which would be his 4th in the last 5 tournaments. Meisei is part of the funnel group at 5-4, and needs to pick up 3 more wins for a quite welcome kahchi-koshi given his 1-14 record in Osaka. Terutsuyoshi has 5-3 career advantage, so he may stave off this 8th loss today.

Takarafuji vs Oho – Takarafuji picked up his first win on day 9, and I think everyone is hoping that he can pick up a few more and hopefully preserve his member of the top division. This is his first ever match against Oho, who needs to find 4 wins out of the final 6 to get to kachi-koshi.

Chiyotairyu vs Kotoeko – There is a lot on this match between two rikishi who share an even 6-6 career record. It’s 5-4 Chiyotairyu against 4-5 Kotoeko. In terms of keeping people inside the funnel, ideally there would be a Kotoeko win at the end of this match, placing both at 5-5, but frankly if Chiyotairyu can get a solid first hit, he is likely to carry the day.

Ura vs Nishikigi – Ura is one win behind the leader group, and I like his chances in the final week to finish with a double digit score. Will he be part of the final push for the cup? I don’t see it happening for him right now, but there is a lot of sumo between now and the end of Sunday.

Okinoumi vs Wakamotoharu – Another funnel group, we have 4-5 Okinoumi against 5-4 Wakamotoharu. We know that they will look to go chest to chest fairly early in the match, but I worry that Okinoumi may be low on mojo for this basho.

Endo vs Takanosho – The last of the leaders, yes the highest ranking rikishi in the leader group is Maegashira 4. Today he takes on fellow M4 rikishi Endo. Endo has a 4-2 career lead, but only a 4-5 record coming into day 10. I do think that needing 4 more wins will help to focus Endo and his sumo. Keep in mind Endo is the man who knocked Tamawashi out of the leader group on day 9. Can he repeat on day 10?

Tamawashi vs Kotonowaka – Speaking of Tamawashi, here he is against Kotonowaka, who like so many others this basho, is stuck in the funnel. Tamawashi has a 3-2 career record against Kotonowaka, so not much indication of an advantage there. I would think that Tamawashi is headed for a solid kachi-koshi, and should the score for the yusho dip low enough, he would have the benefit of having been in a prior yusho race (and the attendant stress) under his belt.

Takayasu vs Daieisho – Takayasu has a 10-4 career advantage over Daieisho, but comes in with a 2-7 record starting day 10, meaning a loss today by Takayasu would be make-koshi for him. Of course, he could defy expectations and win the last 6, and still take home a winning record. Of course, I don’t think Daieisho is ok with that.

Kiribayama vs Abi – Abi had a rough match on day 9, and he missed a solid chance to escape the funnel. I think that he will redouble his efforts to secure a win in his match today. Kiribayama leads him by 1 win, and could really use a win today to keep with the group one behind the leaders.

Hokutofuji vs Takakeisho – Takakeisho is more or less out of the competition for the yusho, thanks to a sloppy job officiating his day 9 match. He is, thankfully, up against Hokutofuji who may achieve his “Most powerful make-koshi in all of sumo” today if he can secure a loss against Takakeisho.

Wakatakakage vs Shodai – High interest match. Shodai needs to win 5 of the last 6 to save himself from kadoban. The guy is such a cartoon character that he just might do it. Of course his score might have been 2-7 at this point save for the blow call on day 8, but I am sure he is thankful for that extra white star. He has a 5-3 advantage over Wakatakakage, but it only matters if the “good” version of Shodai mounts the dohyo today to compete.

Mitakeumi vs Tobizaru – Mitakeumi needs to find 4 more wins over the last 6 matches. Given that two of those are Takakeisho and Terunofuji, he needs to take the next 4 matches, including today, to ensure that he is not kadoban in front of his home town crowd in July. He holds a 2-0 career record against Tobizaru.

Terunofuji vs Hoshoryu – Terunofuji has a 6-0 career record against Hoshoryu, and I am not going to expect a big stare down on day 10 like we saw him produce against Takayasu on day 9. Both are 6-3 to start the day, so the winner will remain in the group 1 behind the leaders.