Aki Day 15 Highlights

Tachiai congratulates Tamawashi on his second yusho, which is a considerable accomplishment on many levels. At 37 years and 10 months, he is the oldest rikishi in the modern era to claim the title. The man is completely dedicated to his craft, and has not missed a match ever in his career. Well done Tamawashi; your sumo this September was indeed the best.

Thus ends Aki 2022, with everything more or less how you might want it to end. I have to admit that the final day was the least surprising day of them all, with nearly every match going the way you might expect. As has been the case over the last 4 years, when there is no Yokozuna in the tournament, it opens the door for unexpected performances, and for new champions to rise.

There were outstanding performances from a variety of rikishi, and I note with some enthusiasm that Tobizaru not only reached kachi-koshi at his highest ever rank, he scored a hearty 10-5. Likewise, Wakatakakage’s Ozeki run has started again with his 11-4 finish. As long-suffering fans of both, I was very happy to see both Hokutofuji and Takayasu score double digits, and participate in the yusho race up to the final weekend. Great effort by many, and some rather enjoyable sumo for us all to share.

Highlight Matches

Tsurugisho defeats Yutakayama – Well, you can see Yutakayama’s right leg / foot trying to give out again, and after that it’s easy for Tsurugisho to take the win. It’s tough to watch these guys fight hurt. Tsurugisho finishes Aki at 5-10.

Ichiyamamoto defeats Mitoryu – Mitoryu had a solid enough defense that he was enduring Ichiyamamoto’s initial attacks, but he took an off-balance step forward when Ichiyamamoto released pressure. That was enough to unbalance Mitoryu, and Ichiyamamoto put him on the clay. Ichiyamamoto finishes Aki at 6-9.

Ryuden defeats Terutsuyoshi – Well, that was odd. Terutsuyoshi’s had a typical submarine tachiai, Ryuden was able to maintain a hold as Terutsuyoshi tried to circle away, and as a result was behind him for a second. They both kept trying to circle and break contact, and it came to an end when Terutsuyoshi stepped out. Ryuden finishes with 11-4. Welcome back to the top division indeed!

Kotoeko defeats Chiyoshoma – Today Chiyoshoma did not mind his foot placement, and had his right foot on the janome as he went to throw Kotoeko. They called it yorikiri, so… ok. Kotoeko picks up a final day win to avoid double digit losses at 6-9.

Aoiyama defeats Hiradoumi – Aoiyama has been in poor condition this basho, but it was good to see him put together enough of his old sumo to dispatch Hiradoumi. He finishes 6-9 with a hatakikomi.

Takarafuji defeats Okinoumi – Interesting to watch, as neither of these guys could really generate or withstand a lot of force with their hips or lower back. Takarafuji’s frontal right hand grip did most of the work, and he secures a final win to finish 5-10.

Nishikigi defeats Chiyotairyu – Everything Chiyotairyu had went into the first combo. He tried to stand Nishikigi up and slap him down, but Nishikigi was ready, and his balance remained stable. From there it was an easy win, and both end the Aki Basho at 6-9.

Ura defeats Oho – First of our Darwin matches, if you blink you may miss it. Oho pulls Ura on the second step, and gets him tumbling. But Ura manages to push Oho out before he hits the clay. Ura finds his 8th win and kachi-koshi on the final day to finish 8-7.

Meisei defeats Kotoshoho – Second Darwin match, Kotoshoho opens up with a lot of power to Meisei’s face and neck. But as Meisei has done so many times this basho, he times a move to the side and breaks Kotoshoho’s balance. Kotoshoho falls forward, and Meisei takes the win to finish Aki 8-7.

Nishikifuji defeats Kotonowaka – Kotonowaka takes command of the match, but does not keep his opponent in front of him. Nishikifuji escapes near the bales, and moves Kotonowaka out from behind. Nishikifuji finishes the tournament at 10-5. His first two basho in the top division both end with 10-5 scores, wow.

Midorifuji defeats Onosho – Onosho opened his chest to Midorifuji, and it only took a moment. Midorifuji gets both hands on center mass and drives forward with everything he can muster. Onosho ends up in the timekeeper’s lap, and Midorifuji finishes Aki at 7-8. Not bad for his first shot at the top of the Maegashira ranks.

Tobizaru defeats Takanosho – While it’s acres of fun to watch Tobizaru go “kitchen sink” against his opponents, I have to compliment Takanosho in this match. He was able to absorb and defend against multiple waves of chaotic sumo from the flying monkey, and kept his feet. I wonder if he practices in the heya by having 2 or three Jonidan guys all try to attack him at the same time. Tobizaru wins a special prize for just crazy man sumo, has a 10-5 kachi-koshi at his highest ever rank, and is simply on fire right now.

Tamawashi defeats Takayasu – The big match for all of the gyoza, it was a callback to the delightful days of 2017 when these two used to beat the stuffing out of each other once per basho. Sadly we got Takayasu “wild man” sumo from the start. You can see him load so much energy into that initial hit that he ends up completely off balance. He’s easy meat at that point, and Tamawashi finishes him off. Tamawashi wins the yusho with a powerful 13-2 final score. His sumo has been excellent for the past 15 days. Well done sir!

Kiribayama defeats Myogiryu – Myogiryu has still not figured out how to beat Kiribayama, as Kiribayama extends his career record to 4-0 over Myogiryu. Today it was all down to hand placement. Kiribayama finishes Aki 9-6.

Tochinoshin defeats Ichinojo – Tochinoshin does a masterful job of capturing Ichinojo and shutting down any attack mode he might have. They take a moment to figure it out, but the moment that Ichinojo gets a left hand outside grip, Tochinoshin knows he is on the clock. So forward march, and walk the Boulder out. Tochinoshin finishes at 7-8.

Daieisho defeats Hokutofuji – I am a bit sad that Hokutofuji could not muster a final win in a tournament that has seen some of his best sumo in several years. But he did not keep his hips square to his opponent, and Daieisho moved to the side and sent him into Endo’s lap. Daieisho finishes Aki at 7-8.

Hoshoryu defeats Endo – Last of our Darwin matches. Not too happy with Hoshoryu pulling a Harumafuji style mini-henka, but I guess he is super fond of that Sekiwake title. He finishes 8-7.

Wakatakakage defeats Sadanoumi – Looks like the Ozeki run is back on, and started in glorious fashion. Sadanoumi was off balance nearly the whole time, and that robbed him of any real chance to lay down much of an attack against Wakatakakage. Wakatakakage drives him out, and takes his score to 11-4.

Wakamotoharu defeats Mitakeumi – In this condition, Mitakeumi is not even proper practice ballast. He has a bit of power at the tachiai, but once Wakamotoharu gets his hands set, it’s a quick walk forward to take the soon to be former Ozeki out. Wakamotoharu finishes with double digits at 10-5.

Takakeisho defeats Shodai – Takakeisho continues his dominance over Shodai, who almost attempted some kind of head lock pull for the briefest of moments, but Takakeisho already had him at escape velocity. Takakeisho ends the tournament 10-5.

Thank you, dear readers, for following along with Team Tachiai during this Aki basho. We have enjoyed bringing you daily coverage, and hope you will join us in our post-basho analysis, and the days that lead up to this year’s final tournament in Kyushu, just 6 weeks away.

Aki Day 15 Preview

The finale of yet another oddball Aki basho is upon us. Today we decide who gets the Emperor’s Cup, and the most likely winner is none other the 37 year old iron man of sumo, Tamawashi. When I say iron man, I mean he’s not missed a match or a day of practice. He’s some completely dedicated his life to the sport, that is his sole focus most days. If he can take the cup, it’s his second yusho, and the rest of his stats just amaze.

  • 111 Basho
  • 78 Basho ranked in the top division
  • 1(2?) Yusho
  • 7 Kinboshi
  • 1 Jun-yuso
  • 1 Gino-sho
  • 1 Shukun-sho
  • 1 Kanto-sho

He also bakes. Quite well I understand. Oh, you think this is another one of Bruce’s tall tales? From Wikipedia

Tamawashi married a fellow Mongolian in 2012.[18] His second child was born in January 2019, on the same day as his tournament championship was confirmed.[7] Tamawashi is a talented baker, known for his cakes and cookies.[19]

There is no need for a leaderboard today, We have one match of consequence, Tamawashi is going to fight Takayasu near the middle of the top division match roster. If Tamawashi wins, he takes the cup. If Takayasu wins, it’s a playoff following the Ozeki match to end the tournament. Much as I adore Takayasu, I recognize that Tamawashi has to win one, Takayasu has to win twice to take the yusho, and the odds therefore favor Tamawashi.

What We Are Watching Day 15

Tsurugisho vs Yutakayama – Both are 4-10, and I would not be surprised if this match was to determine who gets to stay in the top division on double secret probation. Yutakayama has a 6-3 winning record against Tsurugisho, and Tsurugisho makes faces like he is getting poked with a hot iron before, during and after the recent matches. So he’s wrecked.

Ichiyamamoto vs Mitoryu – Both are 5-9, deeply make-koshi, and Mitoryu is probably headed for the Juryo barge this evening to make a slow and smelly trip back to the second division. At Maegashira 16e, Mitoryu did not have any room to spare, and a 6-9 or 5-10 record nominates him for demotion.

Terutsuyoshi vs Ryuden – I think this is one of those “leftovers” matches, where the schedulers have all of the matches they want, then they have a set of rikishi they toss together because that is who is left. So we have kachi-koshi Ryuden at 10-4 against 6-6 Terutsuyoshi. I kind of want to see Ryuden go double digits in his “welcome back” tournament.

Chiyoshoma vs Kotoeko – I am certain that Chiyoshoma would like to improve from his current 9-5 to a 10 win record. All he has to do is beat 5-9 Kotoeko, who would certainly welcome the win. The wrinkle? With one exception, Kotoeko has been taking Chiyoshoma’s lunch money since 2019 (10-5).

Aoiyama vs Hiradoumi – First ever match, I had been hoping that Hiradoumi’s (5-9) survival in the top division would be settled today by a Darwin match, but instead he gets Aoiyama (7-7). This probably comes down to if genki Aoiyama shows up, or orthopedic ward Aoiyama ounts the dohyo instead.

Takarafuji vs Okinoumi – Another battle of the make-koshi. We get 4-10 Takarafuji probably donating a win to 6-8 Okinoumi. They have a 29 match history fighting each other that splits 17-12 in favor of Takarafuji. But given both are some degree if injured, this may not matter one bit.

Nishikigi vs Chiyotairyu – Still more battles of the terminally make-koshi, now it’s 5-9 Nishikigi against 6-8 Chiyotairyu. If Nishikigi can keep his feet at the tachiai, I think he has a decent shot here to win. Since both of them are mid to upper Maegashira, none of them is likely to risk dropping out of the top division.

Oho vs Ura – First of our Darwin matches today. Ura has failed the last 2 day to get his 8th win, and now has to face bulky Oho, who likewise can’t seem to find another white star anywhere. I am sure he has checked the cushions, and the bottom of his rice bowl three times today already. Ura won their only prior match. With Ura looking far to static the past few days, I would really enjoy if he gave Oho a proper grab and tug sumo demonstration today.

Kotoshoho vs Meisei – Second Darwin match, this time its Meisei and Kotoshoho both at 7-7. Meisei comes in having won the last 4, and Kotoshoho has lost the last two. That gives an advantage to Meisei by my reckoning. As with all Darwin matches, winner is kachi-koshi, the loser make-koshi following this match.

Kotonowaka vs Nishikifuji – Both rikishi have wining records, but I think this is to see if Nishikifuji (9-5) can hit 10 wins and score double digits for his second consecutive tournament. Granted, last basho he had an odds defying 3 fusensho when his opponent would withdraw from competition. But a pair of back to back 10-5s for your first two basho in the top division is pretty nice. He just has to beat Kotonowaka for the first time ever (0-3).

Onosho vs Midorifuji – Back to the battle of the make-koshi, it’s off balance Onosho (5-9) against “over promoted” Midorifuji (6-8). He has won their only prior match, and if he can finish 7-8 in his first time as Maegashira 1, that’s actually quite noteworthy, as all of his Ozeki matches were first ever in his career.

Tobizaru vs Takanosho – Lets switch back to the kashi-koshi track, and we get sumo’s flying monkey, who did indeed go flying against Tamawashi on day 14. When asked by an interviewer, “How do you feel about your match with Tamawashi today” a disoriented Tobizaru replied “Thursday!”. Takanosho (8-6) has a 7-3 career record against him, but their last match was in May, and since then Takanosho has gotten hurt, and Tobizaru’s sumo has made a significant improvement.

Tamawashi vs Takayasu – The big match of the day, if 12-2 Tamawashi wins, he’s making cookies for everyone, including Takayasu’s children. If Takayasu (11-3) wins, its playoff following the last match of the day. Takayasu has a narrow 16-14 record on the clay, but Tamawashi took their last match in November of 2021 (oshidashi).

Myogiryu vs Kiribayama – This is likely to be a Kiribayama pick up to have him finish 9-6, just to increase the logjam in the Sekiwake ranks. How about Sekiwake 4 North? Sure, why not. Bring Yoshikaze out of retirement and have him terrorize everyone for 15 days. Back in reality mode, both men are 8-6, and if Myogiryu wins it will be his first ever over Kiribayama.

Tochinoshin vs Ichinojo – Battle of the make-koshi mega-fauna! Or in Pokemon terms, Snorlax vs Ursaring. Whomever gets this white star will have a coveted 7th win, which for Ichinojo would cushion his drop out of the named ranks. We know Ichinojo tends to show up for fights that matter, perhaps this will be one of those days.

Daieisho vs Hokutofuji – I do hope that Hokutofuji (10-4) receives some manner of special prize this basho. He really did fight very well, perhaps his best in many years, and for want of a proper fight on day 12, he might still be in the yusho race. Daieisho is already make-koshi at 6-8, but he seems to have once again found his sumo. You can expect high powered frontal attack from each of these men today.

Endo vs Hoshoryu – The final Darwin match of the tournament, it’s Endo, who has been sputtering along for the past year, going against occasionally brilliant Hoshoryu. It’s your last fight until November in front of the fans, please make it a good one. If Hoshoryu wins, he keeps his Sekiwake rank, and increases the logjam for the named posts. Endo, who would only move up a notch or two in the rank and file, does love to play spoiler.

Wakatakakage vs Sadanoumi – Wakatakakage (10-4) would be well advised to find a way to win his match today, and bring his score to 11-4. This “11” would put him one third of the way toward the notional goal to be considered for Ozeki promotion. He has a 2-0 career record over speed demon Sadanoumi (9-5), who is right how fighting some of the best sumo of his life. I would love to see Sadanoumi get his second double digit finish this year.

Wakamotoharu vs Mitakeumi – Why does this match exist? 4-10 pre-demoted Ozeki Mitakeumi should be kyujo already. Maybe we will get word this morning that he has throw in the towel, and decided to “listen to his body”. That would bring Wakamotoharu to a nice 10-5 finish for September.

Takakeisho vs Shodai – Shodai (4-10), please, you are kadoban, you are struggling. Give us a henka today? What a way to finish regulation for this Aki basho. I am sure Takakeisho would understand.

Aki Day 14 Highlights

Three matches of consequence today, Takayasu vs Hoshoryu, Wakatakakage vs Hokutofuji, and Tobizaru vs Tamawashi, which shaped the yusho race that will finish on day 15. They were all quick, and borderline brutal. I think the big news for me out of day 14 is that Wakatakakage’s second Ozeki run is now open for business. He’s at double digits, and could finish 11-4 if he can best speed demon Sadanoumi in his final match. I think if he can get rid of his habitual cold starts, we are actually seeing near Yokozuna grade sumo out of Wakatakakage at this point. Depending on how long Terunofuji is rehabbing that knee, and the continued weakness in the Ozeki corps, there is probably a promotion lane open. I would very much love to see a new Yokozuna some time in 2023, I think it would be good for sumo, and good for the fans. It would also take a lot of pressure off of Terunofuji, who needs to feel like he can take a break and mend his body when it gets in a state like it was this September. Could be the case if young Wakatakakage can start tournaments strong. Let’s hope he solves that puzzle.

Highlight Matches

Terutsuyoshi defeats Hiradoumi – Happy to see Terutsuyoshi finally get one of his ashitori leg pick attempts to pay off. It’s pretty spectacular when it works. He knocks Hiradoumi to 7-7, and misses kachi-koshi yet again. Terutsuyoshi improves to 6-8.

Chiyoshoma defeats Yutakayama – When Chiyoshoma plants that right hand outside grip, you have to know he is setting up his beloved uwatenage. He wiggles in to get the right body position, and make sure he has Yutakayama as tall as possible, then pivots and slams him to the clay. I will be thrilled if Chiyoshoma can hit double digits this September. He’s up to 9-5 after today.

Chiyotairyu defeats Ichiyamamoto – Some sports fans revel at champions who can “dig deep” and expand their dominance. I tend to admire atheletes that are busted, broken and in a deep hole, yet somehow manage to push through the problems and recover as best they can. In spite of having a terrible start, probably due to injuries, Chiyotairyu has now won 5 of his last 6 matches. I think Ichiyamamoto was waiting for the slap down attempt, and so he tried his own, only to find Chiyotairyu plowing him into the ringside fans. Chiyotairyu advances to 6-8.

Ryuden defeats Takanosho – Takanosho maintained a nodowa for most of the match, but Ryuden decided that was not going to stop him from giving his opponent a personal meeting with the head shimpan. Ryuden runs up the score to double digits to celebrate his return to the top division, and is now 10-4.

Myogiryu defeats Kotoshoho – Myogiryu was offense to begin, but I compliment Kotoshoho on being able to break contact, and take initiative in the second stage of this match. But Kotoshoho was unable to keep his eye and his focus on Myogiryu’s center mass, and did not see him shift to his right, sending Kotoshoho tumbling off of the dohyo. Myogiryu picks up his kachi-koshi at 8-6 to end day 14. Kotoshoho heads off to a day 15 Darwin match.

Tochinoshin defeats Tsurugisho – The look of agony on Tsurugisho’s face. Man, just go kyujo already. Tochinoshin wins as gently as possible, improving to 6-8.

Aoiyama defeats Mitoryu – So now, Aoiyama can do powerful forward sumo? Glad he’s got it working for him, just wish it had been there earlier in the basho. Aoiyama grabs a meaty double handful and pushes forward, taking Mitoryu out three steps later. Both end the day 5-9.

Wakamotoharu defeats Oho – For the fourth day in a row, Oho loses and fails to complete his 8. So now he gets a day 15 Darwin match. Congrats, you earned it. Oho started strong, but did not keep his hips square to his opponent, and Wakamotoharu shifted to his right just a bit, and lowered the off balance Oho to the clay. Wakamotoharu 9-5, and could hit double digits as well.

Sadanoumi defeats Kotonowaka – Kotonowaka put his focus on an armpit attack against Sadanoumi, and it worked pretty well at first. But Sadanoumi’s agility and speed meant he was able to break contact. Kotonowaka stayed in control, but not enough to win. The match was lost when Kotonowaka tried to hold his ground and passivate Sadanoumi, but Sadanoumi rushed forward with all that power, and broke Kotonowaka’s stance, sending him over the bales. Sadanoumi improves to 9-5.

Meisei defeats Okinoumi – Well, Okinoumi lost his footing on the second step, and Meisei was able to convert that into a solid oshidashi, even as he himself stumbled about. Okinoumi picks up his 8th loss and is make-koshi, while Meisei heads off to a day 15 Darwin match.

Tamawashi defeats Tobizaru – Traditional Tamawashi shinkansen-denshamichi sumo. Konosuke could not even finish shouting “Hakeoi!” and Tobizaru is flat on his backside into the salt basket. I am sure Tobizaru had a clever set of moves worked out to take the yusho leader down, but none of that mattered when the Tamawashi express came thundering through. Wow, Tamawashi still in sole lead for the yusho at 12-2. Thirty seven years old, and he’s the top man in sumo.

Midorifuji defeats Kotoeko – Much as I love Kotoeko sumo, I am happy to see Midorifuji improve his score to 6-8 and minimize his move down the banzuke. He was probably a bit over promoted, but as long as he can stay healthy, he’s going to be a big deal soon enough.

Ichinojo defeats Onosho – Ichinojo decided today he was going chest to chest (wise choice), which blunted Onosho’s thrusting attacks. Onosho was able to break Ichinojo’s battle hug twice, but then Ichinojo closed the match by setting Onosho over the bales with a yorikiri, advancing to 6-8.

Kiribayama defeats Ura – Well, Ura seems to have run out of sorcery for now, and he seems to be resorting to absorbing what he can for as long as he can. Kiribayama was happy to pour on the power, and finished Ura off with a hatakikomi, gaining his kachi-koshi at 8-6. Ura gets a Darwin match for senshuraku.

Wakatakakage defeats Hokutofuji – A match of considerable consequence, Wakatakakage’s win sets the stage for his second Ozeki run. The ability to win in high stakes matches is an indicator of Ozeki or higher rank, and it seems Wakatakakage is starting to even out his sumo at an exceptional level of performance. Now if he can just get rid of those cold starts. Hokutofuji came out of the tachiai with no working hand placement, while Wakatakakage had a useful grip. It was short work following that. Both end the day at 10-4, and Hokutofuji is eliminated from the yusho race. I expect to see him in the joi-jin in November.

Daieisho defeats Nishikigi – Traditional Daieisho sumo, he stopped Nishikigi’s attempt to land a grip, laid down a volley of thrusts to stand Nishikigi up, and then the hatakikomi brought him down. Daieisho improves to 6-8.

Takayasu defeats Hoshoryu – The final high consequence match of the day, and while it was quick and a bit disorganized, that was a brilliant opening combo from Takayasu. I am quite surprised that Hoshoryu was not minding his countermeasures better at the tachiai. The hikiotoshi put Hoshoryu on the deck, and Takayasu moves to 11-3, with a head to head match against Tamawashi on senshuraku. Hoshoryu gets a Darwin match.

Takakeisho defeats Nishikifuji – Well, Nishikifuji, when you decide to fight Takakeisho using his favorite sumo, it’s not going to end well. I note with interest that we did not really see Takakeisho do any forward offense, the win came via tsukiotoshi after Takakeisho repeatedly batted Nishikifuji’s thrusts up and away. Both end the day at 9-5.

Endo defeats Mitakeumi – Ah, Mitakeumi. Just go kyujo already. Get the shoulder fixed up and come to Kyushu (as long as Sakurajima does not cover it in ash) and get your 10. Endo advances to 7-7, gets a Darwin match on day 15.

Shodai defeats Takarafuji – This match was a “gimme” for Shodai. Why? No clue. Shodai’s already deeply make-koshi and will be kadoban for November. Takarafuji is not going to get dropped out of the division even with his terrible score. I guess Shodai had to fight someone today. Both end the day with miserable 4-10 records.

Aki Day 14 Preview

Welcome to the penultimate day of the Aki 2022 basho. Over the past several years, the Aki basho has gotten a well-earned reputation for being the place where the odd, the unusual and the unexpected can and will happen. I mean… Goeido started this whole thing when he had an accidental upgrade to an untested version of GoeiDOS 3.x that turned him into a rampaging kill bot, sending him to a 15-0 yusho. Since then, it’s seen both Mitakeumi and Shodai take the cup, and more than a few wild and unexpected performances by the rikishi. I am sure when NHK puts together their always awesome “best of” reel for Aki 2022, we will all nod and remark about all of the wonderful and unexpected things we enjoyed.

Nearly everyone has figured out if they are going home with a winning or losing record this September. A few more will be decided today, and all eyes are rightfully on the yusho race. The man in the lead, Tamawashi, has held the title once before. The two who are one win behind are both eager, aggressive and hoping for any chance they might be presented with to receive the glorious macaron of victory for the first time. Given that all 3 of them are rank and file Maegashira, I really am not sure if any of them can be considered any kind of favorite. Any of them could drop a match or two in the final two days of the tournament. We know that should both Hokutofuji and Takayasu lose, and Tamawashi win today, he would eliminate any competition, and win the yusho outright. Readers know that I am secretly hoping for a 3 way “Brawl to end it all” on Sunday. But the path to that is narrow and unlikely.

Aki Leaderboard

All the bouts among the three leaders have taken place except Takayasu vs. Tamawashi, which is presumably being saved for senshuraku. So today, we get them all fighting the toughest available opponents the torikumi committee could muster.

Leader: Tamawashi
Chasers: Takayasu, Hokutofuji
Hunt Group: Wakatakakage, Tobizaru, Nishikifuji, Ryuden

2 matches remain

What We Are Watching Day 14

Terutsuyoshi vs Hiradoumi – First ever match up, and a Hiradoumi (7-6) win would mean the last man on the Aki banzuke would get his kachi-koshi, and get to stick around in the top division for at least one more tournament. he’s got to over come a flagging 5-8 Terutsuyoshi, who should really give up on the ultra-low tachiai. At one point about 4 years ago it was a a super-weapon, but for the most part nobody falls for it anymore.

Chiyoshoma vs Yutakayama – Chiyoshoma is already kachi-koshi at 8-5, and Yutakayama is already make-koshi at 4-9. They are both ranked at Maegashira 14, and it’s well past time for them to fight head to head. Yutakayama has a 10-5 career advantage, but Chiyoshoma has won two of the last three.

Ichiyamamoto vs Chiyotairyu – A pair of 5-8 rikishi working out their individual demotion velocities. After a terrible start, Chiyotairyu has won 4 of the last 5 matches, and almost looks like he might make it to 7-8 before this whole thing is done. I was surprised by Ichiyamamoto’s act 3 implosion, he has not won a match since day 9, and is looking to head deeper into make-koshi territory.

Ryuden vs Takanosho – Both men are kachi-koshi, and share an even 2-2 record. I am expecting Ryuden will end this basho with double digit wins, as he just needs one more out of the last 2 to reach that mark. I am happy that Takanosho has hit his 8, but his sumo still looks pretty rough, as it did on day 13. They have not fought since July of 2020.

Myogiryu vs Kotoshoho – Both are 7-6 to start day 14, and that means one of these rikishi will leave the Kokugikan today with a kachi-koshi. Given that the 3-0 career record only shows wins for Myogiryu, I am thinking it will be his white star today.

Tochinoshin vs Tsurugisho – Both are make-koshi, with Tochinoshin at 5-8, Tsurugisho at 4-9. I expect Tsurugisho to be in Juryo in November, so he is really fighting now to limit his fall down the banzuke. He’s big, and heavy, but the amazing strength of Tochinoshin seems to be up to the task of controlling him, as he holds a 3-1 lead in their career match ups.

Aoiyama vs Mitoryu – Another make-koshi match up. This match is also a first time fight between 4-9 Aoiyama and 5-8 Mitoryu. At Maegashira 16e, Mitoryu is headed back to Juryo, but how far down the banzuke is still to be decided. He would normally be an easy mark for Aoiyama, except that Big Dan is not healthy right now, and is just as likely to fall over as win.

Wakamotoharu vs Oho – Once again, we will wait to see if Oho (7-6) can finally get his 8th win. This has to be mental, because nothing has really changed about his nondescript, somewhat obligatory sumo in the last few days. He has lost the last 3 in a row, and 4 out of the last 5. Wakamotoharu (8-5) will want to battle hug him and waltz him out, and if Oho does not mind his feet, that is exactly what will happen.

Kotonowaka vs Sadanoumi – Both are 8-5 to start today. Sadanoumi has never won a match against Kotonowaka, in 4 attempts. I do think that this is the kind of day where that might change. Sadanoumi has been moving well, and fighting strongly this September. So I am looking for Sadanoumi to employ some of his epic speed to overwhelm Kotonowaka at the tachiai.

Okinoumi vs Meisei – A mini-Darwin if you will. They are both 6-7, and the loser will get their make-koshi as a result. The winner will finish day 14 at 7-7, and will have to work for a win on Sunday to decide their fate. Okinoumi has a 10-1 career record against Meisei, with that only win coming day 3 of Kyushu 2021.

Tobizaru vs Tamawashi – High impact match in the middle of the top division once more. Both men have secured winning records, with Tobizaru at 9-4, and yusho race leader Tamawashi at 11-2. The goal is for Tobizaru to somehow evade Tamawashi’s brutal attack, and get some dirt on the front runner for the cup. He has the agility and tenacity to do it. But as Mike Tyson once famously said, “Everyone has a plan until they get hit in the face”.

Kotoeko vs Midorifuji – Back to seeing just how crummy some of the make-koshi records can go, we have a pair of 5-8 rikishi facing off today to see how low they might go. Its a bit of a shame that M1w Midorifuji was unable to get a kachi-koshi his first time at the top of rank and file, but I am fairly certain he will be back. His opponent, Kotoeko, has a 2-1 career lead, but has been unable to find the last 15% he has needed to win on most days.

Onosho vs Ichinojo – Another in the make-koshi playoffs, it’s two 5-8 rikishi with vary narrow ranges of sumo styles. It’s anti-weebil Onosho up against the Snorlax today, and it will come down to if Onosho’s big frontal attacks are enough to wake Ichinojo up and motivate him to fight.

Ura vs Kiribayama – If you have detected a pattern in the fight roster, congratulations. It’s time to pair up a set of 7-6 rikishi and see which one claims a kachi-koshi today. Ura should have a slight edge if you just look at the numbers, but both of them have lost 3 of the last 4 matches, with each man’s single win in that period coming on day 12. We have not seen trademark Ura sumo in several days, and I hope he turns Kiribayama into a can of soup for a few seconds by his sorcery, just to add some drama to the day.

Wakatakakage vs Hokutofuji – I know the temptation has got to be overwhelming, but I don’t want either of you two guys to henka today. Hokutofuji at 10-3 wants a win to stay in the yusho race, Wakatakakage needs 1 or 2 wins to firmly put his score in “Ozeki run” territory. They last fought in May, where Wakatakakage won (3-1).

Daieisho vs Nishikigi – Back to the make-koshi playoffs again, and once more both are 5-8. This will be a clash of styles, with Nishikigi having his “battle hug” yotsu-zumo against Daieisho’s “Mega thrust” oshi-zumo. Interestingly enough, Nishikigi actually has a 6-4 winning record against Daieisho.

Takayasu vs Hoshoryu – The last of the fights involving the leading trio, and I am hoping I don’t see flailing, wild-man sumo from Takayasu today. He has a 3-1 career advantage on the dohyo over Hoshoryu, but I note that Hoshoryu won their last head to head, in May of this year. The outcome of this match is tough to guess, so we are just going to have to watch it to see if Takayasu’s overflowing energy or Hoshoryu’s clever hybrid attacks will carry the day.

Takakeisho vs Nishikifuji – Two kachi-koshi rikishi, with Takakeisho at 8-5, and Nishikifuji at 9-4. This is a first ever match, and I think it is to test how far up the banzuke they can move Nishikifuji. It’s quite possible he will reach double digits, and could end up at the bottom of the joi-jin. First ever fight for these two.

Endo vs Mitakeumi – Mitakeumi (4-9), go kyujo and get that shoulder (or both) worked on. You are going to give 6-7 Endo a white star anyhow in all likelihood today, so may as well just own your injuries and prepare to try for 10 wins in Kyushu.

Takarafuji vs Shodai – Final match of the day, and we have a broken down and out of warranty version of Takarafuji at 4-9 probably taking a white star from deeply make-koshi 3-10 Shodai. Not sure if I want to watch this out of sick curiousity, or avoid it because it’s a 10 layer nonsense cake with daikon frosting.