Aki Day 11 Highlights

Some tournaments, the last 5 days are a grind of rikishi low on stamina and just going through the motions, hoping to make it through each day. Aki 2021 seems to be a mad cap brawl if increasing intensity. Each day is a bit more energetic than the last, and the sumo just keeps getting better. I am not sure about you, dear readers, but it’s just the tonic I need this fall.

Highlight Matches

Wakamotoharu defeats Chiyomaru – First ever win for Wakamotoharu over Wakamotoharu. He correctly anticipated Chiyomaru’s pull and pushed forward, sending Chiyomaru over the bales in a hurry. Wakamotoharu improves his chances at a kachi-koshi by improving to 5-6.

Tochinoshin defeats Tokushoryu – Tochinoshin finalizes Tokushoryu’s make-koshi, stamping his boarding pass for the Juryo barge of the damned. Again today Tochinoshin could not land his left hand, but made do with his right. Once he had Tokushoryu moving, it was fairly easy to move him out, and hand him his 8th loss. Tochinoshin improves to 5-6.

Endo defeats Kaisei – Endo’s belt grab at the tachiai fell apart, and he released forward pressure and stepped to the side. Kaisei can do many things, but moving to the side is not really one of them. So Endo slipped to Kaisei’s left, reached in from behind and attacked. Endo picks up his 8th win, and is kachi-koshi.

Myogiryu defeats Ichiyamamoto – Myogiryu got the better of the tachiai, putting his hands inside and low while Ichiyamamoto went high. Ichiyamamoto quickly tried to pull Myogiryu down, further degrading his position, and Myogiryu powered ahead to drive him over the bales. Thats loss #8 for Ichiyamamoto, and he is make-koshi, while Myogiryu improves to 9-2, and remains one behind Terunofuji.

Chiyotairyu defeats Tsurugisho – How many days in a row are folks going to let Chiyotairyu execute this move? It’s simple, it’s effective, and some times it’s kind of unstoppable: a big hit at the tachiai and and immediate hikiotoshi. Chiyotairyu improves to 7-4.

Hidenoumi defeats Kagayaki – Kagayaki attacks high, and does not maintain the gap to Hidenoumi, as Hidenoumi takes a half step back; just enough to take Kagayaki off balance, and then slaps him down. Hidenoumi seems to finally be into his sumo, and improves to 5-6.

Aoiyama defeats Chiyonoo – Sloppy set of combo attacks from Aoiyama got the job done, and Chiyonoo could do little other than try to hang on and survive. A big left hand push from a right hand inside position finished Chiyonoo and gave Aoiyama his 6th win, keeping hopes of kachi-koshi alive for him.

Chiyonokuni defeats Tobizaru – As expected, it was a wild match with a lot of agility and motion. Both brought out their attacks at the start, but Tobizaru quickly had to shift to defense. He was unable to stem the blistering volleys from Chiyonokuni, and an attempted escape move became a rout, with Chiyonokuni pushing him out for a seldom seen okuritaoshi. Chiyonokuni improves to 8-3 and has a well deserved kachi-koshi for Aki.

Okinoumi defeats Yutakayama – Yutakayama really wanted this win, he was fast off of the shikiri-sen, and attacked first. Okinoumi gave way and moved to go chest to chest, and soon had Yutakayama settled into a left hand inside position. With Yutakayama captured, Okinoumi worked to improve his grip, then move Yutakayama out for his 8th win, securing kachi-koshi, while Yutakayama gets a loss on his birthday.

Kotoeko defeats Shimanoumi – Its really nice to know the lizard men brought back the genki form of Kotoeko and took their non-sumo executing mandroid back to their secret base miles below Kagoshima. That’s now 3 in a row for Kotoeko, who improves to 5-6.

Chiyoshoma defeats Terutsuyoshi – What the hell, Chiyoshoma! Once he has a mighty make-koshi locked up, suddenly he remembers that he’s good at sumo, and starts winning matches. Maybe he just had to get that henka out of his system and now he’s well again. Hatakikomi mega-swat put Terutsuyoshi on the clay, after Terutsuyoshi really could not close in and produce any offense. Terutsuyoshi is make-koshi and both end the day at 3-8.

Tamawashi defeats Ura – Ura lost his grip as he began to execute a throw, and that turned out to be his best chance to pick up a win today. His second engagement plan fell apart when he lost traction and slipped a foot out early. Both end the day at 4-7.

Wakatakakage defeats Kiribayama – Kiribayama’s dreams of kachi-koshi and a san’yaku ranking in November took damage today when Wakatakakage took control of the center of the ring, putting Kiribayama on defense. With the two chest to chest, it was Wakatakakage who had the better hand placement. He took control, pushing a struggling Kiribayama high and then driving him out to improve to 5-6.

Takanosho defeats Hoshoryu – Takanosho connected hard, and early. With a big hit at the tachiai, he blasted Hoshoryu back on his heels, and followed up with a combo that sent Hoshoryu back, then another volley pushed him out. Zero chance for offense from Hoshoryu, and he picks up his 8th loss and is make-koshi. Takanosho improves to 6-5.

Ichinojo defeats Takarafuji – The two went chest to chest shortly after the tachiai. In a normal match this strongly favors Takarafuji. The different today is the massive size of Ichinojo presented a huge drain to Takarafuji’s stamina, and Ichinojo took the opportunity to stalemate Takarafuji at the center of the dohyo. Four times Takarafuji rallied and tried to move Ichinojo out, but was just too big to move that far, and each rally presented a bit less energy. All Ichinojo had to do was wait. Sensing that Takarafuji was spent, Ichinojo lifted Takarafuji and walked him out to improve to 5-6.

Mitakeumi defeats Daieisho – Daieisho opened strong with a fierce combo, getting Mitakeumi off balance. But the temptation to pull must have been overwhelming, and Daieisho could not resist. Mitakeumi charged into the pull, and ran Daieisho out of the ring at a gallop. That’s win number 8 for Mitakeumi, and he is kachi-koshi for September.

Takakeisho defeats Onosho – Grand Tadpole Takakeisho shows why he is king of this pond, putting junior croaker Onosho on the clay on the second exchange when (no surprise here) Onosho was too far forward over his toes. After a very worrisome start, Takakeisho has gone 5-0, and is one win away from clearing kadoban, improving to 7-4.

Shodai defeats Meisei – Meisei brought some good power to this match, and had Shodai on defense early. But the “Wall of Daikon” took over with a left hand outside grip, and the match evolved to see who could throw whom first. A whirling dance for position ended with a Shodai uwatenage that concluded with a brutal tea-bagging for maximum effect. Shodai is kachi-koshi and improves to 8-3.

Terunofuji defeats Takayasu – This match was a joy at first. Takayasu, whose sumo has been pretty rough this tournament, was sharp, effective and took the fight to the Yokozuna. Terunofuji, as we have seen all of September, took his time, and did not rush to find the win. He appeared content to take Takayasu apart a piece at a time. Takayasu was having none of it, and was likewise satisfied to shut down every advantage that Terunofuji came up, while biding his time and drawing on that enormous stamina of his to wait for his chance. Terunofuji executed a fast pivot, and although Takayasu maintained contact, something seems to have happened to Takayasu’s knee, and he could not maintain forward pressure. Terunofuji pressed forward and shoved Takayasu over the tawara and into Shodai to pick up his 10th win. Out came the big wheelchair, and it seems Takayasu is hurt.

Aki Day 11 Preview

With the start of act 3, we focus on the yusho race, and the process of starting the make from the kachi koshi. On that subject, a surprising number of rikishi enter day 11 with 4-6 records, and only 3 with even 5-5 records. Looking at the banzuke, it seems that the majority of the top division is on solid footing for a make-koshi this September, and that means a big shuffle for November.

On the subject of the yusho race, neither of the chasers have any real history of presenting any serious challenge to Terunofuji. Myogiryu is 4-12 against the Kaiju, but Onosho is a surprising 4-2. I am going to guess we may see that match up some time in the next 3 days, as it would be definitive a Terunofuji win.

Aki Leaderboard

A blowout on day 10 in the hunt group did a lot to narrow the field, just 2 rikishi remain 1 win behind the Yokozuna.

Leader: Terunofuji
Hunt Group: Onosho, Myogiryu
Chasers: Shodai, Mitakeumi, Kiribayama, Okinoumi, Endo, Chiyonokuni

5 matches remain

What We Are Watching Day 11

Chiyomaru vs Wakamotoharu – With Kotonowaka kyujo, the torikumi imbalance returns, so Juryo rikishi are once again visiting the top division. This time its another Onami brother, Wakamotoharu. Ranked Juryo 3E, he is at a promotable rank, but he comes to today’s match with a 4-6 record, and is likely headed for make-koshi. He has never won against Chiyomaru in 3 attempts.

Tokushoryu vs Tochinoshin – This match interests me, as I suspect it may have something to do with the banzuke group starting to wonder who they are going to demote, and how far down the banzuke they will go. There should be at least two promotable records, and maybe as many as six this time. I am starting to wonder if there will be a big Juryo – Makuuchi swap coming up for November.

Endo vs Kaisei – Endo tries again for his kachi-koshi, and I would be very surprised if he does not get his 8th win today. He tends to dominate Kaisei, in spite of Kaisei’s enormous size.

Ichiyamamoto vs Myogiryu – To me it seems clear that the schedulers want to close out Ichiyamamoto’s make-koshi, and keep Myogiryu in the yusho race. So be it. This is their first ever match, but with Ichiyamamoto hurt, I don’t think his chances are too great today.

Chiyotairyu vs Tsurugisho – Chiyotairyu seems to be locked into using “his brand of sumo” going into the final five days of Aki. He’s form is good, his balance sound and his timing is sharp. I see him blasting Tsurugisho today to take a step closer to kachi-koshi.

Kagayaki vs Hidenoumi – Kagayaki is one of the lonely 3 rikishi with 5-5 records, and he is struggling at a surprisingly low rank of Maegashira 13. Should he fail to hit 8 wins this September, it would be his 6th straight make-koshi. The last time Kagayaki was ranked this low, he turned in a 10-5 result in November of 2019.

Aoiyama vs Chiyonoo – Both of them come into today with middling records, and have struggled to do much power sumo this tournament. Given the possible “big swap” for November, Chiyonoo needs to be concerned about a make-koshi at Maegashira 15. I expect him to be highly motivated today.

Chiyonokuni vs Tobizaru – This match could be a real treat. Both of them will bring high mobility thrusting sumo to the dohyo, and while I expect Chiyonokuni to dominate and get his kachi-koshi today, I am looking to Tobizaru to make him work hard for that win.

Okinoumi vs Yutakayama – Okinoumi has not lost to Yutakayama in any of the previous 4 matches. I don’t see him changing that today. A Okinoumi win would be kachi-koshi for him at Maegashira 8.

Shimanoumi vs Kotoeko – Kotoeko has won the last 2, and I am hoping he might make it 3 in a row today. He has a 10-2 career lead over Shimanoumi, who has also been struggling this September. They come to the dohyo with matching 4-6 records.

Chiyoshoma vs Terutsuyoshi – It would be nice to see Chiyoshoma have at least 3 wins to finish Aki, and stave off any consideration for demotion too far down the banzuke. He has to overcome a flagging Terutsuyoshi, who only has 3 wins so far, and a loss today would be make-koshi. They have an even 4-4 career record.

Tamawashi vs Ura – Ura poured everything into that day 10 match against Terunofuji. He’s likely to finish make-koshi this tournament, but he has shown a lot of drive and fighting spirit. He’s got another tough match today, facing Tamawashi. Tamawashi is nothing close to his former strength, but is still an expert tsuki practitioner.

Wakatakakage vs Kiribayama – I would guess that Kiribayama is looking to see if he can make san’yaku in November. To my eye we will likely clear out one Komusubi and one Sekiwake slot. The big churn may apply to the named ranks as well, perhaps. Right now, Kiribayama looks like a strong contender for one of those slots, and it would be his first posting. He looked really solid in his Harumafuji style win on day 9. I think he has a fair shot against Wakatakakage, who may be more demoralized right now than out classed.

Hoshoryu vs Takanosho – Hoshoryu’s next loss is make-koshi for him. I don’t think it’s a huge chance today against Takanosho, but then they have only fought once before, with Hoshoryu winning. We can be almost certain that Hoshoryu will end up lower on the banzuke for November. His days kyujo were the primary driver of that. Today’s match is a complete toss up, and will possibly come down to who lands the first volley.

Takarafuji vs Ichinojo – Ichinojo has been struggling for most of Aki. He can fight really well when all of the elements come together, but he is unable to consistently bring them along. Part of this may be the strain of being that huge puts on every part of his body, it’s just beyond what can be sustained. I would suggest that he has a strong chance today against Takarafuji, as the Isegahama man’s defensive sumo really does not match well against someone the size of Ichinojo.

Mitakeumi vs Daieisho – A Mitakeumi win today would be kachi-koshi, and another banzuke at Sekiwake, which would make 17 – quite the mark! He has a fairly good average against Daieisho (10-7), and has been fighting better this September. I do like how Daieisho seems to have re-connected with the sumo that brought him the Emperor’s cup earlier this year. Maybe he can over come the odds today and put Mitakeumi on the clay.

Onosho vs Takakeisho – Tadpole fight! Yes indeed, we love it when things get froggy at the Kokugikan. Onosho does not have a winning record against Takakeisho (3-7), and may have a rough ride to a loss, but at least Onosho is already kachi-koshi.

Shodai vs Meisei – A Shodai win today is kachi-koshi for him, and I think he’s got a real strong case (6-1 career) against Meisei, who has lost the last 4 out of 6, and will likely end Aki with a losing record.

Takayasu vs Terunofuji – Its time to play that card, Takayasu somehow manages to have a 12-9 record against Terunofuji, but has been fighting so poorly this tournament, I don’t think it matters. Especially if you recogize that Takayasu’s 4-6 record includes on 2 wins on the clay (plus 2 fusensho). A good chance of Terunofuji hitting the Yokozuna kachi-koshi today.

Aki Day 10 Highlights

Act 2 is in the record books, and we managed to discard much of the chasers in their day 10 matches, leaving only Onosho and Myogiryu, with picked up their kachi-koshi scores today. On to act 3 tomorrow, with the focus squarely on the yusho race, and the make/kachi-koshi divide.

Kotonowaka withdrew from the Aki basho, reporting a knee injury in his day 9 match against Takarafuji is the cause. I note that his day 10 opponent, Takayasu, has his second fusensho win of this tournament, giving him a 4-6 score. Yep, of those 4 wins, 2 are default.

Highlight Matches

Kaisei defeats Ichiyamamoto – Ichiyamamoto could not generate much forward pressure, and could not pull Kaisei off balance. Against Kaisei’s mass advantage, this was never going to work as size vs size, which is what it turned into. Kaisei advances to 4-6.

Yutakayama defeats Chiyomaru – A lesson in attacking armpits and center mass. Yutakayama was able to keep moving Chiyomaru up and back, and made short work of the the spheroid. Both end the day 6-4.

Chiyonoo defeats Tsurugisho – Another quick match, Chiyonoo gets both hands inside at the tachiai, and just walks Tsurugisho out. Both are 4-6.

Chiyotairyu defeats Kagayaki – Kagayaki caught the full Chiyotairyu right in the chest at the tachiai, with Chiyotairyu immediately going into a rapid-fire combo straight to the chest. Another quick match, with Chiyotairyu picking up win number six, though it looks like he cut his eye.

Aoiyama defeats Tokushoryu – A balanced pushing and shoving contest, the two traded advantage across the ring. Of course Aoiyama grew bored with this and grabs the back of Tokushoryu and pulls him down. Aoiyama’s right hand looked to have a lot of hair contact in the process. But the judges did not move to review it, and Aoiyama improves to 5-5.

Hidenoumi defeats Chiyonokuni – I was surprised that Chiyonokuni worked to go chest to chest with Hidenoumi, who has a superior yotsu-zumo skill. Both fought well, with Hidenoumi controlling most of the match, and shutting down the 2 or 3 “breakout” moves Chiyonokuni attempted. To me it looked like Hidenoumi was hoping to get his right hand set for a throw, but settled for a yorikiri. Chiyonokuni misses out on kachi-koshi today, and Hidenoumi improves to 4-6.

Myogiryu defeats Okinoumi – Myogiryu’s right hand shallow grip at the tachiai was the key to today’s win. Okinoumi tried to break the grip twice, but by then he was at the tawara, and the match was over one step later. Myogiryu kachi-koshi with his 8th win.

Tochinoshin defeats Tobizaru – Tochinoshin doing oshi-zumo is somehow unsatisfying to me, I get that he needs to find wins now any way he can. He keeps Tobizaru from getting any kind of offense or really defense going, and simply slaps him around the dohyo for a time and tosses him at the west side salt basket. Both end 4-6.

Kotoeko defeats Terutsuyoshi – Kotoeko has a slightly longer reach than Terutsuyoshi, and that looks to have been the key to today’s win. They exchanged volleys of arm-distance thrusts, with Terutsuyoshi failing an attempt at a foot attack in the middle of it. Nice last second move by Terutsuyoshi, but Kotoeko improves to 4-6.

Onosho defeats Endo – Endo was looking for any kind of grip, but Onosho’s thrusting combos were rapid and effective, knocking Endo back again and again. When Endo tried to rally, it was too late to slow down or escape, giving Onosho his 8th win and kachi-koshi for September.

Chiyoshoma defeats Shimanoumi – Suddenly, Chiyoshoma bounces back and remembers his sumo. He had a solid performance against Shimanoumi today, dumping him over the edge with a resounding, meaty thud. That’s only the second win for Chiyoshoma who improves to 2-8.

Kiribayama defeats Hoshoryu – Kiribayama executed an immediate shift to the left, grabbing the back of Hoshoryu’s mawashi, and chucking him forward at speed. Brutal move. Kiribayama improves to 7-3.

Takarafuji defeats Takanosho – Takanosho put a lot of forward power into his second step from the tachiai, but his hips were not square to Takarafuji. Takarafuji sensed the unequal pressure, and stepped aside to let Takanosho tumble forward for the loss. Takarafuji improves to 6-4.

Ichinojo defeats Tamawashi – Today Ichinojo decided to be large and in charge. When he gets moving forward with strength, even Tamawashi can’t stop him, just slow him down. Ichinojo improves to 4-6.

Mitakeumi defeats Wakatakakage – Wakatakakage gave it his all, but Mitakeumi had the first step one, connected well against center mass, and only took 3 steps forward to win. Almost denshamichi. Mitakeumi improves to 7-3.

Shodai defeats Daieisho – Daieisho decided to employ the same formula that worked on day 9 against Terunofuji. But Shodai has a lot more lateral motion in his sumo, and Daieisho depends on keeping his opponent directly in front of him. It only took 3 volleys for Shodai to disrupt his balance and send him to the clay. Shodai improves to 7-3.

Takakeisho defeats Meisei – Meisei had the early moments of this fight, connecting well with some big hits against the Ozeki. I was impressed to see Takakeisho focus on defense for the first 3 exchanges, find his route to center mass and blast the stuffing out of Meisei when the moment came. I hate to think of someone like Takakeisho fighting injured, but just maybe some good is coming of it, with a focus on defense. Takakeisho improves to 6-4.

Terunofuji defeats Ura – The WTF match lives up to expectations, with Ura throwing a bunch of unconventional sumo around the dohyo against Terunofuji’s unshakable defense. I gasped the moment Ura went for the ashitori, as I could just see a moment where Terunofuji’s knee gets blown out. But Ura could not get an effective offense running, and Terunofuji was happy to defend for as long as it took. Damn, what a difference from 2016 Terunofuji! They lock up, and exchange grips. I know Ura’s hand strength is insane, and I doubt Terunofuji is going to break that hold. As Terunofuji moves to execute the uwatenage. Ura’s grip holds strong, and he nearly unbalances Terunofuji by counter-rotation. But the Yokozuna does manage to get Ura to the clay, and improves to 9-1. Major effort from Ura, and that was a hell of a match, but he looked shattered when it was over.

Aki Day 10 Preview

Good golly! Its the end of act 2 already! We certainly have a yusho race on our hands, and we are starting to sort the survivors from the damned, so that’s act 2. On the final day, we a number of head scratcher matches. Some of them have the chance to be “energetic”. Going into act 3, the conventions of how close in rank the contestants are are relaxed, and we will see some fun match ups. At times they will just be because they are interesting, and sometimes to test two rikishi against each others. Sadly, we can’t get a Wakatakakage vs Hoshoryu rematch until November. Frankly they could schedule those one per day, and we would all be happy.

I am starting to have hope that Takakeisho might be able to pull this one out. He has 6 matches left, and needs 3. He’s got to be as solid as he can manage given he may still be less than 100%, and that means defense for him, a tall order. Takakeisho is all about attacking with overwhelming power. But that power is not where it should be, and he needs to stay in the match longer than what he is used to in order to get his openings to win. In the long run, this may be beneficial for him, as a solid defense is a good thing for an Ozeki to have.

Aki Leaderboard

With Terunofuji’s day 9 loss to Daieisho, the race is a bit more open. But Terunofuji is still heavily favored to win.

Leader: Terunofuji
Hunt Group: Onosho, Okinoumi, Myogiryu, Endo, Chiyonokuni
Chasers: Shodai, Mitakeumi, Kiribayama, Daieisho, Chiyomaru

7 matches remain

What We Are Watching Day 10

Kaisei vs Ichiyamamoto – Oh dear, both of these guys are on the straight road to make-koshi. Both of them are in demotable range, so caution is urged. Kaisei is kind of fading out at this point, and Ichiyamamoto is nursing a banged up knee. If anything, I will give Kaisei a small edge for being enormous.

Chiyomaru vs Yutakayama – I do want to see Yutakayama apply a mighty push squarely in Chiyomaru’s “Chubstance”, and send him to 6-4. Right now Yutakayama is still in good shape to reach 8 wins, and I would like to see him secure a spot in the top division for a few more basho.

Chiyonoo vs Tsurugisho – Chiyonoo has been trying his utmost the past 10 days, but he’s seriously coming up short at the bottom end of Makuuchi. He was make-koshi last tournament, and I worry that another 8 losses (or higher) will send him back to Juryo. Tsurugisho is in slightly off with a 4-5 score today, and is likely to not be at any risk of demotion for November.

Chiyotairyu vs Kagayaki – Both men come into day 10 with matching 5-4 scores, and Chiyotairyu has a solid 7-4 career advantage over Mr. Fundamentals. Chiyotairyu has taken 6 of the last 7m so I think we can guess which way this one will go.

Aoiyama vs Tokushoryu – Man, this first set of matches is a veritable parade of the damned! Both of these rikishi are having a miserable basho, with Tokushoryu likely to captain the Juryo barge unless something magical can happen.

Chiyonokuni vs Hidenoumi – Chiyonokuni could reach kachi-koshi with a win today, and I expect him to dominate Hidenoumi from the start. As the bottom man on the banzuke, he was predicted to cause a lot of damage, and he played a part in the wide spread of poor scores among the bottom half of the banzuke.

Okinoumi vs Myogiryu – A battle for kachi-koshi! Both men are 7-2 to start today, the winner will reach the magic 8th win and stay in the yusho race, the loser will have to try again tomorrow, and likely fall out of the run for the cup. They have a 29 match history, with a 15-14 split.

Tochinoshin vs Tobizaru – I will take the flying monkey over the battered former Ozeki today. Tobizaru’s high agility sumo prevents Tochinoshin from setting his feet and using his strength.

Kotoeko vs Terutsuyoshi – Two smaller rikishi, both with poor (3-6) records for Aki. Both of them are likely to end up make-koshi, and that’s really a shame given that both of them have fought pretty fiercely this fall. Neither one is at any risk of dropping to Juryo, so hopefully they can recover for November.

Endo vs Onosho – Back to the plus side of the ledger, another elimination match. The winner is kachi-koshi, and stays in the group hunting for a shot at the yusho. The loser will drop back to the chase group, and have to try on day 11 for their 8th win. Endo holds a 6-1 career lead.

Chiyoshoma vs Shimanoumi – Chiyoshoma is already make-koshi, and frankly I would love to know what happened to his sumo. His offensive power is nowhere to be found, and it’s kind of sad. He holds a 4-2 career record over Shimanoumi, but given his 1-8 record so far at Aki, I am going to guess it won’t matter.

Hoshoryu vs Kiribayama – Another battle of the up-and-coming rikishi. Hoshoryu is at 3-6, Kiribayama at 6-3. I expect Hoshoryu to be make-koshi at the end of Aki, but he has delivered some great sumo. Kiribayama should be headed for higher rank, and I think has a solid chance to premier in san’yaku soon.

Takarafuji vs Takanosho – Both are at middling 5-4 records, and both have been straddling the make/kachi-koshi line for the last several days. Takanosho has been able to overcome Takarafuji’s defense in 4 of their 5 career matches, so I am going to look for him to prevent the Isegahama man from setting up a solid footing.

Takayasu vs Kotonowaka – Takayasu, what happened? At 3-6, this is a really bad tournament for you. Kotonowaka at 3-6 is a bit more understandable, given he is new to the upper echelon of sumo, and is going to need to learn how to consistently produce results like his day 8 win over Shodai. One of these guys is going to end the day 7-3… ooof.

Tamawashi vs Ichinojo – Another 6-3 pairing of rikishi from the joi-jin who have taken a beating this September. Both had early wins over Takakeisho, so not without achievement. The loser will inch closer to a make-koshi, needing to “win out” over the final five days of Aki to avoid demotion.

Mitakeumi vs Wakatakakage – Wakatakakage needs to win this one to keep hopes of a kachi-koshi at Maegashira 1 within a reasonable range of effort. He has only beaten Mitakeumi once in 5 attempts, so this is going to be difficult.

Shodai vs Daieisho – Daieisho, coming from a kinboshi against Terunofuji (third career kinboshi), is going to be hyped for his match against Shodai. Shodai is in no position to challenge for the cup, but he can plod around the dohyo with great effect. Daieisho holds a narrow 8-6 career lead over the “Wall of Daikon”, and may be able to pull off two upsets in a row.

Meisei vs Takakeisho – Meisei will need to stay mobile, and not let the Ozeki connect with both hands in a thrusting volley. If he can get into a working hit-move-hit pattern, he can overwhelm Takakeisho’s limited balance.

Ura vs Terunofuji – Today’s glowing WTF match: the musubi-no-ichiban. Its their first ever match, and frankly I only want one outcome for this match, both men to exit with their knees in no worse condition than when it started. This has to be some kind of twisted “kneeless wonder” match up. Ah, never change, sumo… never change.