Natsu Day 13 Highlights

The Darwin funnel continued it’s dreadful work today, and no fewer than 14 rikishi are hugging the 7-6 / 6-7 center line. The men caught in its mathematical jaws have one last chance to escape tomorrow on day 14. But i predict we will have a bumper crop of 7-7 matches on the final day. Brutal to be sure, but that is the nature of sumo.

At the front end of the yusho race, Endo defeated Takakeisho after Terunofuji dispatched Ichinojo. This puts Terunofuji 2 wins ahead of Endo and Takakeisho, and a win by Terunofuji tomorrow would seal his second consecutive yusho. I for one will be a bit miffed if Terunofuji finishes 14-1, but never having been beaten on the clay. He faces Endo on day 14, and we will see if Sumo’s golden boy can play spoiler and open the door just a crack for someone else to take the cup.

Highlight Matches

Kaisei defeats Chiyoshoma – Chiyoshoma’s nodowa did not pay off against Kaisei, but it did look painful. Kaisei stayed engaged, and worked to get right hand outside grip. As soon as both hands were locked it, it was lift and shift for Kaisei, carrying Chiyoshoma out to improve to 7-6.

Chiyomaru defeats Kotonowaka – Chiyomaru’s opened the match attacking Kotonowaka’s face, but soon converted into a left hand inside position. After letting his grip settle for just a moment, he drives forward, with a struggling Kotonowaka pinned against that enormous belly of his. 4 steps later, Kotonowaka is over the bales and Chiyomaru has his kachi-koshi for May. I think it’s been a couple of years since he was able to get 8 wins in the top division, glad to see him stick around.

Terutsuyoshi defeats Akua – Akua could find no purchase on Terutsuyoshi at the tachiai, and wasted precious seconds trying to find some kind of grip. Terutsuyoshi planted his head in Akua’s chest and powered forward, driving Akua out for his 6th win. Akua down to 4-9.

Chiyotairyu defeats Tamawashi – We have not seen much of Chiyotairyu’s thunder-demon form this tournament, but it showed up today. His tachiai was so potent, it rocked Tamawashi back, and Chiyotairyu followed through, driving Tamawashi to the clay. Chiyotairyu improves to 9-4.

Kagayaki defeats Ishiura – Ishiura put all of his hopes on a left hand inside grip, that he could not maintain. But through a combination of moves, he pinned Kagayaki against the bales. But an off angle lunge by Ishiura imploded, and he fell to the clay. That’s make-koshi for Ishiura and a likely return to Juryo, while Kagayaki improves to 6-7.

Shimanoumi defeats Okinoumi – Shimanoumi went chest to chest with Okinoumi, but could not establish any kind of grip. But he managed to find enough power to move Okinoumi around, and over a few surges forward, started moving forward, finishing with a drive that sent Okinoumi out. Shimanoumi improves to 7-6.

Kiribayama defeats Kotoeko – Kiribayama owned this match from the tachiai, where he connected with a powerful left hand thrust that stood Kotoeko upright. Kotoeko rallied and got chest to chest with Kiribayama after a poorly considered Kiribayama pull down attempt. But Kiribayama’s left hand inside grip was tight enough to endure Kotoeko’s grip shift, and was the key to his win, improving Kiribayama to 4-9.

Aoiyama defeats Daiamami – Aoiyama opening combo fell apart at the tachiai, allowing Daiamami to get his body set and his balance aligned. He and Daiamami then traded thrusting attack, neither gaining advantage. Aoiyama wisely changed attack plans, and grabbed Daiamami’s chest and pushed forward, then slapping Daiamami down. Aoiyama improves to 3-10.

Tobizaru defeats Tochinoshin – People love Tobizaru matches, because he comes up with nutty, wild monkey sumo about half the time. Today he unleashed his monkey-sumo on Tochinoshin, and probably left him a bit puzzled for a moment. That moment was all Tobizaru needed to get the former Ozeki over the bales, and both finish the day 4-9. Of course Tobizaru finishes, win or lose, with a dash into the crowd.

Meisei defeats Tsurugisho – Meisei’s leaping tachiai may have been a bit early, but Konosuke did not call it, and the fight was on. Meisei quickly contained Tsurugisho, then ramped up the forward pressure, driving Tsurugisho out by oshidashi. Meisei improves to 7-6.

Wakatakakage defeats Hokutofuji – We all knew this day was coming, and I take some satisfaction that it was Wakatakakage who was able to help Hokutofuji achieve “The most powerful make-koshi in all of sumo”. Hokutofuji should have been ready for that side step, as that contact matta from Wakatakakage was a dead give away. But it’s enough for Wakatakakage to get his 8th win and be kachi-koshi for May.

Daieisho defeats Hidenoumi – Daieisho is missing about 30% of his normal thrusting power, and to Hidenoumi credit, he stayed in the fight and absorbed most of what Daieisho produced. Daieisho rallied twice, and the second power surge was enough to drive Hidenoumi out, giving Hidenoumi his 8th loss for Natsu, and his make-koshi.

Mitakeumi defeats Onosho – Onosho only got one big thrust in, and it was Mitakeumi who had the superior offense today. He marched Onosho out for his 8th win and kachi-koshi for May, improving to 8-5.

Hoshoryu defeats Takanosho – Takanosho may vacate san’yaku entirely, given his 9th loss today. Takanosho opened strong, with a pair of thrusting attacks against Hoshoryu’s face. But as Takanosho was focused high, Hoshoryu was working center mass, getting a left hand outside grip. Too late Takanosho realized he had been positioned for the throw, and over he went. Hoshoryu improves to 6-7.

Takayasu defeats Myogiryu – Myogiryu did not permit Takayasu to open with his wild, thrashing sumo, catching him under the armpits and shutting down any of Takayasu’s plans of offense. Stuck on defense, Takayasu played it as large and immobile as he could, which is actually one of his stronger sumo modes. For folks who like sumo mechanics, you can see that Takayasu lets Myogiryu work the upper body, but Takayasu carefully keeps re-centering to put his feet between the shikiri-sen. This allows him the maximum possible space to use should Myogiryu surge forward. When the surge came, Takayasu shut it down, and moved to re-center, but that move broke Myogiryu’s grip, and Takayasu flashed to offense, sending him out. That’s loss number 8 for Myogiryu, who is make-koshi as Takayasu improves to 9-4. I saw Myogiryu looking exhausted following the match, and Takayasu looking like he was just getting started. The man has inhuman stamina.

Terunofuji defeats Ichinojo – Ichinojo put forth an impressive effort today, and opened strong against Terunofuji. He worked his right hand inside grip to the greatest extent he could, but Terunofuji’s defense was strong, and he waited for Ichinojo to attack. He did not wait long, and Terunofuji’s left hand found an outside grip while shutting down Ichinojo’s attack. With a working offensive grip, Terunofuji pressed the attack and 5 steps later Ichinojo was dumped over the East side, crushing a shimpan. Terunofuji improves to 12-1, and a single win in the next 2 days will secure his second consecutive Emperor’s cup.

Shodai defeats Takarafuji – Takarafuji attempted to get into a solid defensive position against Shodai at the tachiai, but Shodai’s ottsuke blocked Takarafuji’s left hand, and prevented him from setting up. While Takarafuji worked to regroup, Shodai got his left in place and pressed forward, taking Takarafuji with him for a yorikiri win. That’s kachi-koshi for Shodai, clearing kadoban and securing his Ozeki rank for another 4 months.

Endo defeats Takakeisho – Endo was no match for Takakeisho’s thrusting power today, but his expert sumo mechanics and ring sense won the match. A perfectly time side step at the bales as Takakeisho rushed to push him out sent the Ozeki headlong over the edge of the dohyo as Takakeisho executed an expansive belly flop. Both end the day 10-3, 2 wins behind Terunofuji.

Natsu Day 13 Preview

It’s been a wild ride up to now, but we are on the cusp of the final weekend now. The Friday / Day 13 matches will set the stage for the close of the yusho race, and once again it’s Terunofuji in the lead, with the only credible challenger being Ozeki Takakeisho. Looking across the torikumi, you can once again see the intent of the schedulers in driving a pool of rikishi closer to a 7-7 score at the end of day 14, setting up a cohort to face single elimination matches, or as I call them, “Darwin matches”.

Due to Asanoyama’s withdrawal from the tournament, we are not seeing Ozeki on Ozeki fights just yet, as the Ozeki are facing their last rank and file opponents today. None of them are particularly high threat matches, but each of their opponents does have the potential to pull in an upset.

Natsu Leaderboard

Two more wins for Terunofuji, and its fish time…

Leader: Terunofuji
Chaser: Takakeisho
Hunter (2 wins behind): Endo

3 matches remain

What We Are Watching Day 13

Kaisei vs Chiyoshoma – Well, the schedulers are back to having fun with numbers. Both rikishi come in with matching 6-6 records, and they have a career tie at 4-4. So why not have them battle it out? We know the goal is for both of them to be 7-7 at the end of day 14, so lets go. I like Kaisei’s chances a bit better on this one.

Kotonowaka vs Chiyomaru – Matching 7-5 records for these two. The winner gets kachi-koshi and avoids the day 15 drama. Chiyomaru is on a bit of a week 2 fade right now, so I am going to say he has a small disadvantage for this match.

Akua vs Terutsuyoshi – Akua is already make-koshi, and headed back to Juryo at 4-8. Terutsuyoshi is at 5-7, but is at no risk of Juryo demotion. I am sure he would very much want to somehow win his last 3 matches and steal a kachi-koshi on day 15. He has a healthy 6-2 career advantage.

Tamawashi vs Chiyotairyu – Chiyotairyu is kachi-koshi at 8-4, elbow injury included. Tamawashi is 6-6, and can escape the day 15 festivities by winning his next 2. I am kind of curious to see how much longer Chiyotairyu stays in if that arm continues to be sore.

Ishiura vs Kagayaki – Fun with numbers day 3 continues with this pair at 5-7. The loser will get a plum make-koshi and avoid the senshuraku rush. I give Ishiura an advantage today, as I think he is fighting better. It would be a shame to see him take a make-koshi and return to Juryo with Enho.

Shimanoumi vs Okinoumi – kachi-koshi Okinoumi up against 6-6 Shimanoumi in a battle that is chock full of umi. In fact, there is so much umi around that we are likely to see a flock of seagulls perched on the Kokugikan. I would be surprised to see Shimanoumi win this one, but maybe Okinoumi will back off the throttle a bit given his safe score.

Kiribayama vs Kotoeko – A howler of a match here! Kiribayama has been having a terrible basho up at M4e, and now he has a chance to fight someone lower down the banzuke. But who does he get? Kotoeko! Well, Kotoeko has never won against Kiribayama, but Kotoeko is at 7-5, and could really use the win today.

Aoiyama vs Daiamami – Daiamami at 6-6 is also caught in the funnel leading him to day 15 Darwin drama. He has a 2-5 career deficit against Aoiyama, but can take some comfort in the fact that Aoiyama is far from 100% right now.

Tochinoshin vs Tobizaru – Both are make-koshi, and this match is probably just to see who drops farther down the banzuke in July. I give a slight edge to Tobizaru because I think he can keep Tochinoshin off of his belt.

Meisei vs Tsurugisho – Meisei is another 6-6 rikishi who is most assuredly “in the funnel” and would need some solid sumo over the next 2 days to avoid the fate the scheduling committee has planned for him. His opponent, Tsurugisho, is already make-koshi, but he has a 6-2 career advantage over Meisei.

Wakatakakage vs Hokutofuji – A battle of great interest to me, If Wakatakakage, he is make-koshi will delivering the long expected 8th loss to Hokutofuji. But i could see this going the other way, keeping them in the funnel to day 15’s Darwin roster. Wakatakakage won their only prior match, but they have both fought well thus far, and will bring a lot of power to this match.

Hidenoumi vs Daieisho – Hidenoumi is one loss away from make-koshi himself, his best hope is to win the next 2 matches and stay in the funnel. Daieisho already has 8 losses, and has been fighting poorly this month. I hope whatever has robbed him of his sumo can be addressed before July.

Mitakeumi vs Onosho – Oh good! A tadpole fight. Onosho is very much in the funnel at 6-6, and headed straight for a day 15 Darwin match. I am predicting that Mitakeumi picks up win number 8 today and is safely kachi-koshi. There is a respectable chance that Onosho will catch Mitakeumi with a big thrust and send him out in a hurry. I expect this one to be over in 6 steps or less.

Hoshoryu vs Takanosho – Takanosho is sadly make-koshi at 4-8, and needs to win out to ensure he does not abandon san’yaku all together. Meanwhile, should Hoshoryu lose today, he will also be make-koshi. A win, and he stays in the Darwin funnel. This is their first ever match.

Takayasu vs Myogiryu – Myogiryu has a distinct career advantage (13-9) over Takayasu, who has to be thinking about getting 10 wins at this point and maintaining a shot as hatching an Ozeki run soon. A loss today would make Myogiryu make-koshi, and a win today would keep him in the funnel.

Ichinojo vs Terunofuji – A delightful pairing, this one will likely be all Terunofuji. But it will be fun to see him power through the Boulder. Both are kachi-koshi, so I expect Terunofuji just has to get a commanding hold on Ichinojo and he will go soft. On the other hand, I expect a big stack of kensho on this match, so Ichinojo might be rather fired up….

Shodai vs Takarafuji – Shodai has a 13-3 career advantage over Takarafuji. If he does not put him away today, clearing kadoban and reaching kachi-koshi, I am just going to give up hope on the human daikon. Takarafuji comes in 6-6, and is squarely in the middle of the day 15 funnel, win or lose today.

Endo vs Takakeisho – A fun match to finish the day. Endo will want some kind of a mawashi hold, and Takakeisho will try to boost him to relativistic speed using overwhelming oshi-zumo. I can’t wait to see who is going to win this one. A loss today by Takakeisho could knock him out of the chase for the yusho, so lots on the line. He has a 7-3 career advantage over Endo.

Natsu Day 12 Highlights

Today was a satisfying day of sumo, and while the drama of day 11 still hangs in the air like unwelcome flatulence, we at least had some decent sumo action to enjoy. A fair number of rikishi are still in prime shape for day 15 “Darwin” matches. A Darwin match is my term for two 7-7 rikishi fighting head to head on the final day. The entire tournament down to a single match. The winner is kachi-koshi, the loser is make-koshi. I know that some of the folks who set up the fight schedule love these things, and this tournament they seem to be doing everything they can to funnel as many rikishi as possible into this position. Sometime late on day 14, we will now how well it worked.

Highlight Matches

Tokushoryu defeats Ishiura – Tokushoryu gave ground until Ishiura had him backed up to the tawara. Tokushoryu the surged forward, catching Ishiura off balance and ran him off the dohyo. Tokushoryu picks up his 8th win and is kachi-koshi for May, and probably headed back to the top division.

Chiyotairyu defeats Okinoumi – Chiyotairyu goes back to oshi-zumo, standing Okinoumi up and slapping him down. Both end the day at 8-4. I am happy that Chiyotairyu is kachi-koshi, he fought well this tournament and showed some versatility in changing up his sumo.

Kaisei defeats Tamawashi – Tamawashi opens with a strong thrusting volley, but Kaisei is just too big to move very far if he is ready to fight. Today, it seems he was. He rallies and drive Tamawashi from the ring, both end the day 6-6.

Daiamami defeats Terutsuyoshi – Terutsuyoshi struggled to achieve a grip, and the few moments he was able to grab onto Daiamami’s mawashi, it seemed to only serve to Daiamami’s advantage. In the end, Daiamami carries him over the bales to advance to 6-6.

Shimanoumi defeats Akua – Akua had early control of this match, but decided it was time to pull Shimanoumi down. In fact, it was not time to pull Shimanoumi down, as Shimanoumi surged forward and pushed against Akua’s chest to send him out for his 8th loss, and make-koshi for Natsu. Shimanoumi ends the day 6-6.

Kotonowaka defeats Kagayaki – Kotonowaka gets a great early grip on Kagayaki, who counters with an arm bar hold, and can’t do too much with it. But he had a solid hold of Kotonowaka, and used his lower body to push Kotonowaka. Kotonowaka consolidates his hold as Kagayaki has him moving back, and translates Kagayaki’s forward motion into the energy for a shitatedashinage that won the match. Kotonowaka finishes the day 7-5.

Chiyomaru defeats Tsurugisho – Chiyomaru started with a quick thrusting volley, then took Tsurugisho to his chest. Tsurugisho had a firm left hand grip, but did not move with Chiyomaru when he attempted to break contact. Now too far forward, Chiyomaru thrust Tsurugisho to the clay, giving him his 8th loss and make-koshi for Natsu. Chiyomaru improves to 7-5.

Kotoeko defeats Endo – What a great match from Kotoeko! I am going to guess that like me, Endo expected Kotoeko to open with a thrusting attack, instead he grabbed Endo across the chest. Endo’s normal opening attempt a frontal grip was nowhere to be found. You can see Endo move to change attack modes, he hops to the side and reaches down for a hand hold of Kotoeko’s mawashi. But Kotoeko keeps his shoulders square to his opponent and is pushing forward with power. Endo arrests his backward motion at the bales, but Kotoeko continues to drive, and takes him out. Kotoeko improves to 7-5, and really impressed today.

Takarafuji defeats Chiyoshoma – Chiyoshoma opened strong, but focused his left hand attack on Takarafuji’s non-existent neck. Takarafuji laughed it off, and broke Chiyoshoma’s hold, and charged in to grab Chiyoshoma’s mawashi. Chiyoshoma backed up, but lost balance and Takarafuji converted that to an oshitaoshi. Both end the day at 6-6.

Tochinoshin defeats Hoshoryu – Hoshoryu leapt in early, and I am not sure if it was a bad start, or Tochinoshin was defending against a suspected henka. Hoshoryu lets Tochinoshin get a left hand outside grip, and he’s in business. It’s 3 steps from that moment to the point where Tochinoshin chucks Hoshoryu over the edge of the ring, into Tobizaru. Hoshoryu looks a bit winded and disoriented, and takes time to return to the dohyo. Tochinoshin improves to 4-8.

Aoiyama defeats Myogiryu – Aoiyama won this match, but never really seemed to control it. He was able to counter Myogiryu forward pressure, but chose to launch a risky pulling attack that saw him reverse across the entire diameter of the ring, but finally bring Myogiryu to the clay. Aoiyama improves to 2-10.

Tobizaru defeats Kiribayama – Kiribayama had his heart set on grabbing Tobizaru and engaging in a grappling match. He got his wish, but it was Tobizaru who had the superior body position. While Kiribayama is attempting to get some kind of attack going. Tobizaru shifts his stance, attempting a leg trip. The leg trip fails, but Kiribayama’s completely disrupted, with his back turned to Tobizaru. Tobizaru runs him out for the win. Both end the day a 3-9.

Hidenoumi defeats Wakatakakage – Hidenoumi fought well from a low position, forcing Wakatakakage to fight off balance from the tachiai. Hidenoumi converted that to a quick hatakikomi, bringing Wakatakakage to the clay. Hidenoumi improves to 5-7.

Meisei defeats Mitakeumi – Meisei picks up his first ever win against Mitakeumi, and he did it by first carefully setting up his hand position, and then driving forward against his much heavier opponent. This was solid, skilled sumo, and its even better to watch in slow motion. He improves to 6-6, and Mitakeumi is solidly into his week 2 fade with 3 losses in a row.

Hokutofuji defeats Daieisho – Hokutofuji was not interested in losing today. He took a solid look at Daieisho’s day 11 match footage, and noted that the Hatsu yusho winner was closing his eyes at the tachiai. Hokutofuji supplied a hit / shift / slap to drop Daieisho at the tachiai.

Shodai defeats Takanosho – Shodai in classic form today, and I don’t mean that in a good way. Sloppy, slow tachiai, some evasive sumo that dodged Takanosho’s attacks, and a cartoon sumo move at the bales to win. But it’s a win, and he needed one. Shodai improves to 7-5, while Takanosho is make koshi at 4-8, and will vacate his Sekiwake rank.

Takakeisho defeats Ichinojo – I was impressed that Ichinojo was not really able to put enough force into his thrusting attacks to move Takakeisho back much if at all. There was a scary moment when Takakeisho went very low to attack, and looked like he might drop a knee. But he found a route to Ichinojo’s center mass and overpowered nearly 200kg worth a rikishi. Wow. Takakeisho improves to 10-2.

Terunofuji defeats Onosho – No lingering mental hangups from Terunofuji that I could notice today. He took Onosho apart and dumped the remains over the east side. Now 11-1 for Terunofuji and still in sole possession of the lead.

Natsu Day 12 Preview

Nothing like a big, stinky, dank basket of sumo scandals to make me on the gumbly side, so apologies if things are a bit snarky today.

I spotted Asanoyama a bit early, and I was a fan because he just seemed happy to be there. Just excited that he was getting paid to compete in sumo, and genuinely the kind of guy who is thankful for every day they get on this good earth. That may be the case, but now he is in deep trouble. Given the seriousness about the current state of emergency in Japan, I expect the NSK is going to be quite harsh on Asanoyama. As an Ozeki, he has a unique position to uphold the traditions and spirit of Japan’s national sport. The infraction was bad enough, but maybe some long shot, long climb back up the banzuke to try again was conceivable. But he lied about it as well. I expect an intai announcement before the end of the month.

If there is any upside to be had, it’s that Takayasu will finish day 12 with a fusensho that will take him to 8 wins, and kachi-koshi for Natsu. This leaves the door wide open for him to win 2 of the remaining 3 matches, ending with 10 wins and keeping hopes of an eventual run to return to Ozeki alive.

Looking across the torikumi, it seems the scheduling committee took my advice, and continued to drink heavily. The results are wonderful to behold.

Natsu Leaderboard

Some goobers gave Terunofuji a disqualification on day 11, so now he has a loss. I was hoping for a 15-0 mega-win from the kaiju, complete with double fish lift and drinking sake out of the Prime Minister’s Cup. Win it anyhow, Terunofuji!

Leader: Terunofuji
Chasers: Takakeisho, Endo
Hunt Group (2 wins behind): Ichinojo, Okinoumi

4 matches remain

What We Are Watching Day 12

Ishiura vs Tokushoryu – Last man to hit a 14-1 yusho? None other than Tokushoryu! He’s kicking around a J2e right now, but a win today makes him kachi-koshi, and maybe punches his return ticket to the top division. He’s facing a damaged Ishiura, with a badly mangled hand. I am not sure if he can manage to find 3 more wins out of the remaining matches, but I know he’s going to give it his all.

Chiyotairyu vs Okinoumi – Sure, make Chiyotairyu take down the old man that is Okinoumi. Chiyotairyu has a 9-5 career lead over Okinoumi, but Chiyotairyu’s left elbow is not in good shape. Plus, the thunder-demon has lost the last 2 in a row. A win today and he’s kachi-koshi.

Tamawashi vs Kaisei – I adore that the scheduling team sees the vast potential for Darwin matches wall to wall on Sunday, and seem to be cultivating keeping the pack headed for 7-7 as broad as possible. This match has a fair chance in yielding two 6-6 rikishi.

Daiamami vs Terutsuyoshi – Now two 5-6 face off, with at least one of them headed straight to 6-6, sure I think Terutsuyoshi is more likely for the win today, so sure, let’s tee him up for a day 15 doom contest against someone like Tamawashi.

Shimanoumi vs Akua – Not quite as much potential, as Shimanoumi is 5-6, and Akua is 4-7, but if Akua can gamberize today, he can drag Shimanoumi down into the 5-7 tar-pit from which there is only a narrow path to escape. Can we get both of these guys to 7-7 please?

Kotonowaka vs Kagayaki – Kagayaki holds a 2-0 career record, and if he can beat Kotonowaka today he can make them both 6-6 at the end of the day. Are you digging the numerology running wild in sumo? Give me some of what those guys are drinking please!

Tsurugisho vs Chiyomaru – Here it is once more. Tsurugisho at 4-7 has a substantial career advantage (8-5) over Chiyomaru at 6-5. A good chance that Tsurugisho can pick up win 5, and Chiyomaru loss number 6.

Kotoeko vs Endo – Now it’s getting fun, and I am going to assume the schedulers had finished bottle number 3 by now. Sure, lets put Kotoeko at 6-5 against 9-2 Endo. Kotoeko won their last match in November, and Endo’s already kachi-koshi. He’s going to ease up, right? It will come down to who gets to dictate the format of this match. Look for Kotoeko to get at least the right hand against Endo’s upper body at the tachiai, and stop him from that left hand frontal mawashi grip.

Chiyoshoma vs Takarafuji – Its 6-5 Chiyoshoma against 5-6 Takarafuji, in another match to set up what might be the biggest Darwin Sunday in my memory. Who will win this one? Not sure it matters, they are both headed toward 7-7.

Hoshoryu vs Tochinoshin – Those that feel pity, this is the match. Tochinoshin, already make-koshi and clearly hurt, gets his first ever match against a fairly genki Hoshoryu, who needs to find 3 more wins over the next 4 days. You know where he’s headed, right? I hope Tochinoshin’s knee can hold on until Sunday night.

Aoiyama vs Myogiryu – 22 career matches between these two, and they are split right down the middle. Aoiyama is 1-2 since coming back from kyujo, and not really making much of a case for himself. But in the interest of Sunday’s august proceedings, I hope he can rally and smack Myogiryu to the clay today, sending him to 6-6.

Kiribayama vs Tobizaru – Both of them are already make-koshi, so they are shunted off to the side so they don’t interrupt the beautiful dance that is shaping Sunday’s battle-space. Fight it out you guys, you are getting demotions anyhow, but you will stay in the top division. Just make sure nobody gets hurt.

Wakatakakage vs Hidenoumi – Also safely away from the glorious parade of 5-6/6-5 struggling to their final day judgement, 7-4 Wakatakakage must overcome a 2-6 career deficit against 4-7 Hidenoumi today to get his kachi-koshi. You can just hear them laughing in that back room in the basement of to Kokugikan as they came up with this.

Mitakeumi vs Meisei – But ok, throw Mitakeumi a bone. We may need a reserve Ozeki some day, and maybe if he can buckle down and work like a madman he could push himself enough to hit 33 wins. Who am I kidding, I love Mitakeumi, but that’s not happening any time soon. But he has a 4-0 career advantage over Meisei, so he is probably going to get his 8th win today. Should Meisei prevail, he would go to 6-6 (see what they did there? Drinky bastards…)

Hokutofuji vs Daieisho – If you can’t do something nice, as my granny would say, you may as well make sure you ruin somebody’s day. And that’s certain here, as one of these two are going to pick up their 8th win. it may as well be Hokutofuji, as he is practiced at such outcomes while fighting like a mad man and looking like he should win.

Shodai vs Takanosho – Shodai needs 2 more wins to hold on to Ozeki. I am going to guess they are going to protect him if they can because they are about to lose an Ozeki. But there is only so much that can be done given he has to face the other 2 Ozeki, both of which are going to take his chanko money. So he needs to win this one. I know at least one sick bastard in the scheduling committee would love to put him in a day 15 Darwin match just to put the fear of Raiden in him.

Ichinojo vs Takakeisho – And now, the crowning achievement of what a lot of drinking, a calligraphy brush and an Excel spreadsheet can bring you. Hell, I laughed for a while when I saw this one. Takakeisho is already kachi-koshi, as is Ichinojo. So this is more or less just for fun. Like when you dared the kid down the street to jump his Schwin bicycle over that string of 12 flaming car tires. Probably going to achieve the same outcome, except your mom won’t hit you with a spoon.

Onosho vs Terunofuji – But wait, there is more, maybe they were past the “can’t stand and need to puke” stage, looked at the spreadsheet and there were only two names left. Where this is fun is that Onosho actually has a 4-1 career against Terunofuji. Onosho has trashed him in each of the last 2 basho, so I am wondering if he can get his mega-thrust running and just send the Kaiju out for his first real loss. If not (that’s right.. you guessed it) Onosho will finish the day at 6-6.

Drunken laughter fills the basement of the Kokugikan, as the Great Sumo Cat lies quietly on the tarp covered dohyo and dreams of the day ahead.