Now that Santa pictures are over, I’ve got some time to wrap up the rest of Day 14 action. Kakuryu’s yusho is a lock and Goeido’s yokozuna hopes are dashed. Kisenosato’s sleeper run was put to an end the day before, so Terunofuji caught him in a bad mood; he’s lucky the veteran had not been able to wrap the mawashi around his neck rather than just up to his man boobs. Kotoshogiku’s continued presence is a bit of a puzzle to me. If he were injured, kyujo would have been a good option days ago. Today he just faced the ignominy of falling flat on his face, victim of an Aoiyama henka.
Other Notable Matches
Hidenoumi got knocked out by Kotoyuki. It was a tense several minutes as he laid still on the dohyo. Kotoyuki’s right paw caught got him under the chin and he was out cold. The scariest bit is the way he fell as his right knee seemed to twist. Several yobidashi scurried to help but I’m not sure how much medical assistance these guys are prepared to provide. There needs to be more medical attention ready ringside.
Gagamaru really wanted his kachi-koshi. I think Tochinoshin was the most surprised that he couldn’t beat his fellow Georgian. Endo just got flat beat by Tochiozan and will be battling a hot Tamawashi for his winning record. Given his performance in the first week, I would hope he’d be in the running for a special prize. Gotta meet friends for dinner…will finish later tonight.
As Bruce mentioned, Kakuryu has locked up the basho. Tomorrow he will close, win or lose, against Harumafuji. Therefore, the drama is in the jun-yusho. Can Harumafuji maintain his second place position? Will Kisenosato be a bridesmaid for the twelfth time? He’ll “battle” the Yokozuna’s stablemate Takarafuji. The Ozeki has dominated this matchup, winning 11 straight – mostly by yorikiri. Shodai has been great but did not have the insane schedule faced by Endo. By virtue of that lighter schedule, he’s in the running for the jun-yusho as well and will likely get it on the back of Arawashi, a Maegashira 10.
Congratulations to Yokozuna Kakuryu, who has had a long and difficult struggle to recover from injuries in 2016. The key to his victory in the Kyushu basho was adaptability. He was constantly on the move, and his approach to any given match could and would change in the blink of an eye.
With Kakuryu’s victory on day 14, there is no means that any other rikishi can catch him tomorrow, on the final day. With a 14-1 record tomorrow, or 13-2, the next closest would be Yokozuna Harumafuji, who could possibly finish 12-3 should he defeat Kakuryu.
Update: The original version of this post included discussion of a monoii for this match. Sadly this was my mistake given early morning match reviews via videos posted on the Grand Sumo app. Clearly I got that wrong, and I apologize.
The last weekend of sumo for 2016 is upon us now. While we now seem to have good indicators of who will with the championship for both Juryo and Makuuchi, I am sure that there are a few surprised, and several great matches left to enjoy.
The popularity of sumo seems to once again be on the upswing in Japan. Tickets are becoming harder to get, and venues outside of Tokyo are selling out more frequently. World wide, there are more opportunities today than at any other time in history for people do start following and enjoying sumo. Enough opportunities for me to suggest, short of some hideous scandal, that sumo is on the cusp of a broader global following.
There are distant rumors that NHK plans to expand sumo coverage as part of their world service, and frankly – I can’t wait. In fact, I have personally offered NHK heaps of my money on demand to let me stream the full Juryo and Makuuchi program at will. I have to imagine that I am not the only one.
Before we can close out Kyushu, we get to see the rest of the Yokozuna head-to-head matches, and watch the rikishi with marginal records scrap for the final wins, hoping to stave off demotion.
Myogiryu vs Arawashi – Myogiryu only needs to defeat Arawashi to secure his rank.
Takekaze vs Daishomaru – Can the veteran seal his winning record and deal a losing record to Daishomaru at the same time? Historically, the two are evenly matched.
Shohozan vs Sokokurai – Local sumotori Shohozan goes up against to try and finish with a winning record. These two are separated 9 slots in the banzuke, so it should be an easy win for Shohozan.
Ishiura vs Shodai – An even bigger mis-match than the previous bout, it’s time for rising star Ishiura to test his performance against Shodai, who has done very well this tournament. The mini-henka is not working against the upper Maegashira, so I am hoping that Ishiura deploys some real sumo today. Shodai already has a strong winning record, and will likely be san’yaku come January, so I am hoping for a really fun upset.
Tochiozan vs Endo – Tochiozan received a dirty henka on day 13 to deal him a make-koshi. Now it’s Endo’s turn to try and lock up a winning record, and a promotion towards the top of January’s banzuke. Historically, Tochiozan beats him up and steals his lunch money. So we will look for Endo to do something new and useful here.
Harumafuji vs Hakuho – Hakuho faded fast once he started his matches against the great San’yaku Battle Fleet. Now he faces his nemesis, Harumafuji. I am hoping the The Boss can escape without any further damage to his undercarriage. Under normal, healthy conditions – this is a Hakuho win. But for day 14, the edge goes to Harumafuji.
Goeido vs Kakuryu – The only thing to consider here is Goeido’s pride, and the yusho. If Goeido wins, there is a strong chance that the yusho will come down to the final day match between Harumafuji and Kakuryu. There is a great deal of rivalry between Goeido and Harumafuji, so it may worth considering that a loss by Goeido could put Harumafuji out of the running for the yusho. Ah, decisions decisions… My money is on Goeido taking his sumo to the Yokozuna. In the long game, Goeido must perceive that this is simply a warm up for his next Yokozuna run. However the career records strongly favor Kakuryu