Natsu Day 15 Highlights

With everything but 2 Darwin matches decided, it was a nice step down in intensity from the prior 14 days of action. What a great tournament! An odd fact, the winning score for both Makuuchi and Juryo was 14-1, that’s some power! Speaking of the Juryo yusho, it features a playoff between Gonoyama and Ochiai that was a scorcher.

Even though he lost his day 15 match, we expect the formalities around Kiribayama’s promotion to Ozeki to start in the coming week. We encourage sumo fans to keep an eye on that process, as it has been a while since we minted an Ozeki (Mitakeumi was the last one, in January of 2022).

Congratulations to Yokozuna Terunofuji on your 8th yusho. Coming back from serious injury and corrective surgery, this was a big hill to climb, and you made it happen. Nothing but acres of respect for your dedication to the sport and your competitive spirit.

Highlight Matches

Mitoryu defeats Tohakuryu – Sort of a ridiculous match to me, Tohakuryu really could not do much of anything to Mitoryu, who chucked him aside to win by hatakikomi. Mitoryu gets a final win before boarding the barge for Juryo.

Asanoyama defeats Tsurugisho – I have read some fans on social media citing that Asanoyama, getting a final score of 12-3 and being in the yusho race did not get a special prize. I would say “get used to it”. He’s a former Ozeki who got punished, and they are not going to go easy on this guy – ever. It will either make him wilt away, or make him incredibly tough. I can’t wait to find out which one. When the two lockup at the tachiai, the difference in sumo posture is quite shocking. As soon as Asanoyama can land that left hand on Tsurugisho’s mawashi, he is done. One last win for Asanoyama and he is 12-3, and headed much higher in the ranks.

Kagayaki defeats Hokuseiho – Kagayaki gets one final win, and if that somehow translates into him staying in the top division, I am going to lose all hope. Hokuseiho faded out in week 2, losing 5 in a row. Sure, he was a lower rank and file guy fighting the san’yaku, but he should have been able to rally today to get rid of the last man on the banzuke. How did Kagayaki defeat the “immobile” Hokuseiho? Hokuseiho’s foot placement was about an good as mine would be, maybe he just did not feel like putting in too much effort as he already had his 8th win.

Takarafuji defeats Ichiyamamoto – Takarafuji wins one more. You can see Ichiyamamoto trying to get his sumo going, but he just falls apart. Takarafuji grabs his head and flings him to the clay, finishing 5-10.

Kotoeko defeats Ryuden – I continue to admire Kotoeko. He needs one more win for kachi-koshi, and he’s all forward power and sharp offense today. He manages to yorkikiri Ryuden into the second row of the zabuton section to secure his 8th win and finish Natsu kachi-koshi.

Hiradoumi defeats Chiyoshoma – I think Chiyoshoma was surprised to find Hiradoumi inside with a morozashi by the second step. Chiyoshoma attempted an escape, but Hiradoumi deployed a leg trip and brought him down, finishing Natsu at 9-6.

Takanosho defeats Myogiryu – Myogiryu had the stronger offense today, and I am not sure why he decided his path to victory was trying to pull Takanosho down. Such a move is always a gamble, because the rikishi initiating the pull releases forward pressure. Takanosho new exactly what to do, and ran Myogiryu by oshitaoshi, finishing Natsu 7-8.

Aoiyama defeats Hokutofuji – Aoiyama gets a fortunate hand placement, and immediately employs the katasukashi to bring down Hokutofuji just as Hokutofuji is charging forward to push Aoiyama out. The final win brings Aoiyama’s score for May to 5-10.

Daishoho defeats Kinbozan – That was too slow to be considered denshamichi, but Daishoho marched Kinbozan directly back and out for a quick yorikiri. Hopefully Kinbozan can recover for July. Daishoho ends the tournament 6-9.

Nishikigi defeats Onosho – Nishikigi goes for the battle hug at the tachiai, Onosho succeeds in blocking him, but shows poor foot placement when executing an ill advised pulling attempt. Nishikigi knows just what to do, and runs Onosho down to win by yoritaoshi, finishing 9-6. Eight (8!) consecutive wins for Nishikigi to conclude Natsu. What happened to this guy?

Sadanoumi defeats Nishikifuji – Nishikifuji has no effective offense and is quickly removed from the ring by Sadanoumi’s oshidashi. He completes his 15 days with just 3 wins; a final score of 3-12.

Tobizaru defeats Tamawashi – Excellent evasive sumo from Tobizaru. I note that he was able to keep his thrusting attack mostly center mass the whole time he was dodging just about everything that Tamawashi was trying to employ. Each time Tamawashi went for a thrust, or to grab Tobizaru for a pull, he was no longer where Tamawashi was aiming. Our first Darwin match ends with Tobizaru kachi-koshi at 8-7, Tamawashi make-koshi at 7-8.

Takayasu defeats Kotoshoho – The battle of the kyujo features Takayasu attacking then releasing forward pressure as Kotoshoho falls forward. A hikiotoshi win, and Takayasu finishes Natsu 3-12.

Oho defeats Midorifuji – I counted twice that Midorifuji was on the cusp of winning this one, just to have Oho battle back. Oho is then able to grapple Midorifuji, and eventually Midorifuji works himself into a jam by trying to get lower and lower to get under Oho to attack. When he’s too low to recover, Oho brings him to the clay with a hikiotoshi. 11-4 final score for Oho, including an amazing 7 consecutive wins in the final week.

Abi defeats Ura – These two were both expecting some manner of complexity in the tachiai, and there was non. As a result, Ura was low and worked lower as he tried to counter Abi’s thrusting attack. The challenge with this kind of position for Ura is that it’s tough to keep your balance, and Abi was able to catch him out of step, and push him out of the ring. The final Darwin match ends with Abi kachi-koshi at 8-7, Ura make-koshi at 7-8.

Mitakeumi defeats Shodai – Excellent focus from Mitakeumi, he ensures all power is headed to center mass. Shodai has no answer, and is first stood up, then pushed out in this battle of the former Ozeki. Mitakeumi with a final win at 9-6.

Kotonowaka defeats Meisei – Ah, Meisei. He was one part of the lead for the yusho race, then 6 consecutive losses took him to a 8-7 kachi-koshi. Good enough if you ask me. Meisei did seem to melt under Kotonowaka’s attack, and maybe those losses for Meisei are thanks to some injury. Kotonowaka finishes Natsu 8-7. Meisei does end up with the Shukun-sho (Outstanding Performance Award).

Daieisho defeats Wakamotoharu – Daieisho shows that standing between him and his 10th win is not a safe place to be. This may be the first time this basho we see him really uncork the intensity of sumo that won him a yusho in January of 2021. Wakamotoharu is lucky if he still has all of his dental work, as Daieisho finishes 10-5. Wakamotoharu is awarded the Gino-sho (Technique Prize).

Hoshoryu defeats Kiribayama – Future Ozeki Kiribayama gets captured, passivated and tossed like a salad by Kiribayama in his last match of the tournament. That was some over the top intensity from Hoshoryu, and he needs that every day. Both end with respectable 11-4 records, and Kiribayama ends with the Gino-sho (Technique Prize). Anyone else notice that all of the special prize winners lost their matches today?

Terunofuji defeats Takakeisho – I have no clue what Takakeisho was trying to do here, but the whole match was a disorganized mess. He had a double inside “grip” on Terunofuji for a moment, then went mad trying to pull the Yokozuna. It’s ok, he cleared kadoban, and he’s going to be back in July. Terunofuji’s final score is 14-1.

Thank you, dear readers, for following along for the last 15 days. Team Tachiai has enjoyed bring you are coverage of the 2023 Natsu basho, and we hope you will follow along as we wait for the formalities of Kiribayama’s promotion to Ozeki. This concludes are daily coverage of the May tournament. Thanks for sharing our love of sumo!

Natsu Day 15 Preview

The final day of Natsu 2023, a glorious senshuraku is in store. Most of the story lines have been resolved or we at least understand them.

  • The yusho goes to Terunofuji with at least a 13-2 score. This is his 8th yusho, putting him one behind Harumafuji.
  • Kiribayama should be promoted to Ozeki. He has 33 wins over the last 3 basho, including a yusho, a jun-yusho, and probably another jun-yusho today. There is no doubt he is second on the dohyo only to Terunofuji right now.
  • Takakeisho remains Ozeki. He cleared kadoban by hook or by crook, but he has his 8 wins.
  • The san’yaku has not looked better in recent memory, very reminiscent of the era just before we had 6 Ozeki. This really means the sport is about to be very interesting.
  • Hokuseiho is going to be a big deal, but he’s still in a mostly larval form, and needs a fair number of upgrades. With Miyagino oyakata, he is in excellent hands.
  • Former Ozeki Asanoyama is not quite back to Ozeki power levels, but we can expect that later this year. He still needs to work on finding a way to beat Terunofuji.

All in all, a fantastic basho. There are only six rikishi left to decide their status as make-koshi or kachi-koshi, and to help us get there we have a couple of nice Darwin matches today.

What We Are Watching Day 15

Mitoryu (4-10) vs Tohakuryu (4-10) – A battle of 4-10 rikishi to see who can get a 5th win. Tohakuryu is visiting from Juryo, where he has struggled all month. Mitoryu is likewise Juryo bound for July, and this match be to help determine rank on the July banzuke. Mitoryu has won all 6 prior matches.

Asanoyama (11-3) vs Tsurugisho (9-5) – Asanoyama had to fight someone on the final day, may as well be Tsurugisho. A Tsurugisho win would be double digits for him, but frankly right now Asanoyama is fighting better. They have split their prior two matches, both of which occurred six years ago in 2017.

Hokuseiho (8-6) vs Kagayaki (6-8) – How lovely of Hokuseiho to give Kagayaki a nice send off as he makes his way back to Juryo. I have been a Kagayaki booster in the past, mostly because he at one point had solid sumo fundamentals and simple but effective moves. I can’t wait to see what he tries against Hokuseiho.

Ichiyamamoto (4-10) vs Takarafuji (4-10) – Another battle of the miserable 4-10 rikishi. Both are fighting well below their abilities probably due to injury. I think that Takarafuji is currently in poorer condition between the two, so I think its likely Ichiyamamoto will prevail and advance to 5-10.

Ryuden (5-9) vs Kotoeko (7-7) – Kotoeko was eligible for a Darwin match, but instead will face Ryuden, who is already make-koshi. They are fairly even in their 11 match career record at 6-5.

Chiyoshoma (8-6) vs Hiradoumi (8-6) – Both kachi-koshi at matching 8-6 scores, with two prior matches split 1-1. I like Hiradoumi in this match because he has fought better against higher ranked people this past week. Does anything think Chiyoshoma will finish with a henka?

Myogiryu (9-5) vs Takanosho (6-8) – Takanosho would like a final win to finish 7-8, but he won’t have an easy time of it given whatever has been limiting his sumo this month, and the fact that Myogiryu has been fighting pretty well. I expect this to be Myogiryu’s match.

Hokutofuji (6-8) vs Aoiyama (4-10) – This match was likely drawn up to give Hokutofuji a final win to end 7-8. But then again Big Dan Aoiyama needs to fight someone unless he goes kyujo.

Kinbozan (4-10) vs Daishoho (5-9) – Daishoho has won 3 of their 4 prior matches, and is slightly less dreadful at 5-9 to start the day. I am certain that Kinbozan is going to be a big deal in a year or two, but as long as he is going to swallow his first make-koshi of his professional career, he may as well make it a big one.

Onosho (8-6) vs Nishikigi (8-6) – The match you didn’t know you wanted to see, but could be quite the battle. Nishikigi has racked 7 (SEVEN!) straight wins, not sure how he did that, but please keep doing it through Nagoya. If he can grapple Onosho today, he’s liable to make it 8 straight wins to finish Natsu.

Sadanoumi (6-8) vs Nishikifuji (3-11) – Both are already make-koshi, this final match is to help figure out where everyone goes on the banzuke. I would say Sadanoumi his heavily favored given how poorly Nishikifuji has been fighting this month.

Tobizaru (7-7) vs Tamawashi (7-7) – The first of our Darwin matches. Tamawashi is at best maybe 80% of his expected sumo power, and he tends to struggle fighting the highly mobile Tobizaru. If Tobizaru can ensure that he keeps to a hit and move pattern, he should be able to avoid any big attacks from Tamawashi, which is where he wins his matches. Winner kachi-koshi, the loser make-koshi.

Takayasu (2-3-9) vs Kotoshoho (2-9-3) – Great idea! Battle of the kyujo warriors. Both withdrew from the competition and then came back to try and pad their fall. Both of them have 2-12 scores to start the day, and one of them will get a final win. It’s kind of like a Darwin match, only much uglier.

Oho (10-4) vs Midorifuji (6-8) – What on earth is Oho doing up here. Ok, fine. He’s got a double digit winning record, and his sumo looks terrible but wins matches. Go ahead and fight Midorifuji. We have yet to see him deliver a katasukashi this basho.

Abi (7-7) vs Ura (7-7) – The last of our Darwin matches, and this is a pairing of the high mobility rikishi. Abi has a 4-2 career lead as he is good at keeping Ura from employing his grab-and-tug attack combos. If Ura can get a grip on one of Abi’s arms, I am guessing Ura will give him enough air time to reach Hanada. Winner kachi-koshi, the loser make-koshi.

Shodai (6-8) vs Mitakeumi (8-6) – An astounding 31 match career record, with advantage to Mitakeumi by 17-14. Shodai is already make-koshi, and Mitakeumi is already kachi-koshi, so this one is just for the final score. I would guess that it comes down to which of these hit-or-miss guys is in the groove today.

Kotonowaka (7-7) vs Meisei (8-6) – Kotonowaka came into day 15 with a Darwin eligible 7-7 score, but he gets to fight Meisei instead of another 7-7. Meisei is already kachi-koshi, so he does not have a huge motivation to ramp up the sumo power to beat Kotonowaka, add to that the fact that Meisei has lost the last 5 in a row. Kind of looks like a “gimmie” for Kotonowaka to hold rank.

Daieisho (9-5) vs Wakamotoharu (10-4) – Oh, this is such a stroke of scheduling genius. Clash of sumo styles in oshi vs yotsu, the oshi-zumo man needs one more win to keep his push toward Ozeki alive. The yotsu man is already double digits, but needs that last win to set up his Ozeki bid in July. This one could be crazy!

Kiribayama (11-3) vs Hoshoryu (10-4) – The soon to be Ozeki will face the guy he left in the dust. A final chance this month for Hoshoryu to possibly channel any frustration he may have into useful sumo. Hoshoryu was torpedoed already in any hopes he had for Ozeki by the fact that 2 of his wins were by default thanks to an opponent going kyujo. He could use the win to push his score to 11 in hopes of racking 12 wins in July.

Terunofuji (13-1) vs Takakeisho (8-6) – The final match on the final day between the two highest ranked rikishi. It’s traditional, and I think we are going to see Terunofuji do a bit of tadpole bowling. Given Takakeisho’s general spheroid shape, the Yokozuna should be able to get him rolling quite far down the hanamichi.

Natsu Day 14 Highlights

What an awesome day of sumo in Tokyo. The brawl to end it all did not disappoint, as we got to see Kiribayama try out his Ozeki grade sumo to see if he could best Terunofuji for the first time in 10 tries. He could not, and Terunofuji takes his 8th yusho in blazing form. Congratulations to the top man in the sport, it’s been a while since we have seen that kind of sumo.

Before the final match of the day decided the cup, we had 4 new kachi-koshi, congratulations to Nishikigi, Onosho, Hiradoumi (finally!), and Chiyoshoma. Really solid sumo, and well earned.

To set up tomorrow, Natsu heads into the final day with 6 rikishi having 7-7 scores. They are eligible for single elimination “Darwin” matches tomorrow. We could have had as many as 3 Darwin matches, but we will only get 2. Tobizaru will face Tamawashi, and Abi will face Ura.

Highlight Matches

Kagayaki defeats Oshoma – Now that he is make-koshi, Kagayaki seems to have remembered some of his sumo. If they find a way to keep him in the top division, I am going to probably be grumpy about it. Kagayaki takes the match by tsukidashi, brought on by solid inside lane thrusting that Oshoma could not counter, improving to 6-8.

Oho defeats Hokuseiho – Oho has the crummiest sumo of anyone I have ever seen score double digits. He’s sort of the inverse of Hokutofuji, who looks great but loses. Shodai used to do stuff like this too. It seems that Hokuseiho has two offensive routes he wants to use, both of which are figured out, and at least a dozen places where he’s weak, mostly around entangling those long legs. Oho fells him like a Scot’s Pine, and is double digits at 10-4.

Chiyoshoma defeats Ryuden – Chiyoshoma sets up an immediate left hand inside grip, and does a great job of constantly shifting Ryuden’s center of balance, wearing him down and aggravating any problems he is having with his chronic hip injury. At one point Ryuden tries to position for a throw, but ends up losing his balance, opening his stance and losing the match to a yorikiri. Chiyoshoma advances to 8-6 and is kachi-koshi.

Onosho defeats Daishoho – Onosho employs the classic way of “stand him up, slap him down” to take the match on the second volley. That’s 8 wins for him and he is kachi-koshi at 8-6.

Hiradoumi defeats Kotoeko – It took him five tries to get that 8th win, but I am happy to announce that Hiradoumi is finally kachi-koshi. At no point did Kotoeko present a credible offense, and I don’t think Hiradoumi was in any mood to allow him an opening.

Sadanoumi defeats Aoiyama – Big Dan Aoiyama now has double digit losses for Natsu. I don’t think he’s at risk for boarding the barge to Juryo, but he has lost all defensive power for now. He will be 37 by the time Nagoya starts, and I have to wonder if he’s starting to figure that his body has had enough. Sadanoumi dominated him today, setting up a hold by the second step and running him out by yorikiri. Sadanoumi now 6-8.

Takanosho defeats Ichiyamamoto – Joining Aoiyama in the ranks of the double digit losses is Ichiyamamoto. At Maegashira 15, he may end up as the captain of the Juryo barge this time. Takanosho kept low, kept his hands in the inside lane and pushed with everything he could muster. Ichiyamamoto has very little defense right now, and was quickly moved out by oshidashi. Takanosho improves to 6-8.

Hokutofuji defeats Mitoryu – With his make-koshi secured, Hokutofuji is free to open up the throttle if he chooses. He makes fast work of Mitoryu, who joins the double digit loss club at the bottom of the banzuke. Hokutofuji with an oshidashi to advance his score to 6-8.

Myogiryu defeats Tamawashi – Myogiryu launched a bit early from the shikiri-sen, but nobody called a matta, and the fight was on. Tamawashi gave it everything he could muster today, but he’s not quite as healthy as Myogiryu this May. Myogiryu had a nice move to deflect Tamawashi away when he was rallying for win. The deflection left Tamawashi with his back to Myogiryu, and the resulting combo sent Tamawashi to the clay. Myogiryu now 9-5, Tamawashi now 7-7 and is eligible for a Darwin match tomorrow.

Kotoshoho defeats Takarafuji – How banged up is Takarafuji? He lost today to an injured Kotoshoho. There are starting to be some speculation that Takarafuji will retire. If he’s that hurt I can see him doing that, but I will miss his unique brand of sumo. Kotoshoho did a masterful job of tsuppari center-mass to keep Takarafuji on the move, and then out. Kotoshoho improves to 2-12.

Tobizaru defeats Mitakeumi – Tobizaru’s left hand frontal grip looked a bit worrisome, and it seems to get Mitakeumi off his sumo from the tachiai. I think that Tobizaru also decided he was not going to try and win a match by naniyotsu, and went for a morozashi double inside grip instead. A quick yorkiri, and Tobizaru is 7-7, and eligible for a Darwin match tomorrow.

Takayasu defeats Nishikifuji – Blistering attack from Takayasu at the first step. He had Nishikifuji unable to counter, or keep his balance. A quick tour of the ring as Nishikifuji tried to evade, and a tsukidashi for Takayasu’s second win of the basho, he is now 2-12.

Nishikigi defeats Abi – Abi had one double arm attack, and that move to break away from Nishikigi was superb. Abi lost his balance, and Nishikigi dropped him to the clay by oshitaoshi. That’s kachi-koshi for Nishikigi at 8-6, Abi at 7-7 and is Darwin bound.

Midorifuji defeats Kinbozan – If you are going to take your first ever professional career make-koshi, you might as well make it a big one. Kinbozan started strong, and was moving toward a win. But he lost his balance, and Midorifuji finished him with a hikiotoshi. Kinbozan now at 4-10 while Midorifuji improves to 6-8.

Kotonowaka defeats Ura – Ura, quite the match, I love the wrist bender ottsuke you put on Kotonowaka. That looked like absolute hell for him. Kotonowaka was able to eventually free that hand, but Ura had an excellent defensive hold in place. They stalemated until Ura decided to try a pull and slap combo that hit well, but the timing was poor. Kotonowaka went down and Ura stepped out together. There was a monoii, and rather than have a rematch, the judges reversed the goyji’s decision and awarded the win to Kotonowaka. Both end the day 7-7 and are eligible for Darwin matches tomorrow.

Asanoyama defeats Shodai – Straightforward attack at the tachiai by Asanoyama gave him a solid body hold. He drove Shodai to the bales and finished him with a yoritaoshi to pick up his 11th win. He’s not quite back to Ozeki power, but I think this basho has informed him of that, and I would expect he redoubles his training. I do miss the smiles he would beam follow his matches, win or lose, that were the hallmark of his early career. Asanoyama now 11-3 while Shodai is make-koshi at 6-8.

Daieisho defeats Meisei – Daieisho stays on the narrow path to double digits, narrowly avoiding a mid-match step out and rallying to get Meisei off balance and down by tsukitaoshi. Not normally how Daieisho would like to fight, but it’s a win regardless, he is 9-5.

Hoshoryu defeats Tsurugisho – I am fairly sure that Tsurugisho did not want to give Hoshoryu a double inside grip on the second step. He tried an arm lock on Hoshoryu, but he does not have Terunofuji’s height or strength. Hoshoryu worked to unbalance Tsurugisho, then threw him down by sukuinage to improve to 10-4.

Wakamotoharu defeats Takakeisho – Takakeisho has his 8, I think we should all be glad he got there, and I am pretty sure that both days 14 and 15 are him showing up to make sure his opponent has their fight. With luck he will get treatment or whatever he needs for his knees and can be back strong for July. Takakeisho know he has no forward power today, so takes to trying to slap Wakamotoharu silly with big, round house hits to the face. Wakamotoharu endures them as best he can, focuses center mass and ejects the Ozeki by oshitaoshi, improving to 10-4.

Terunofuji defeats Kiribayama – Kiribayama gave the Yokozuna a solid fight, but one of the great hallmarks of Terunofuji 2.0 is his patience. Granted its been six months since he had a worthy opponent for this kind of sumo, so many forgot. They may have thought “Oh no, the Yokozuna is in trouble!”. Nah, he’s just getting it all together at his own pace. Kiribayama does a marvelous job of blocking Terunofuji’s favorite attack routes, and forces the Yokozuna to go defensive. Absolutely superb lower body defensive sumo from Terunofuji this match, go watch and study that. Coupled with that left arm ottsuke that shut down Kiribayama’s right, he stalemated Kiribayama and shut down the attack. Sumo fans, it’s been some time since I have been able to use the tag “Terunofuji’s angry yorikiri”, but look at that finish. Nodowa and a toss into the camera club. 13-1, and an 8th yusho for Yokozuna Terunofuji. He is awarded a diorama of the Yokosuka sea wall made out of kensho envelopes.

Natsu Day 14 Preview

It’s the final weekend of the Natsu basho, and we have a barn burner of a match that may settle the yusho race today. A number of rikishi are fighting for their kachi-koshi, and we have some “mini-Darwin” matches already cropping up, where one rikishi gets his kachi-koshi and the other gets a 7-7 record to end the day.

Many of the original story threads for Natsu have been resolved. We know that Terunofuji is strong and healthy enough to hold the lead into the final two days, and is still the favorite to take the cup. We can be fairly certain that Kiribayama will be promoted to Ozeki next week, but would be able to punctuate that achievement if he can best Terunofuji for the first time in 10 attempts, possibly also taking home the Emperor’s Cup. We know that Takakeisho has cleared kadoban, and will remain Ozeki for at least two more tournaments. We know that most of the other Ozeki hopefuls will need to try again, as they have given good performances, but probably not yet good enough.

Lastly, we will see a Juryo visitor today because for some reason Kotoshoho decided to re-enter the competition. Good luck Kotoshoho.

Natsu Leaderboard

It’s down to Terunofuji or Kiribayama unless something very strange happens. They fight head to head in the final match of the day. A Terunofuji win gives him the Emperor’s Cup outright, and a loss will mean that the cup will be deduced on day 15 either by wins, or a head to head match against Kiribayama.

Leader: Terunofuji
Chaser: Kiribayama
Hunter: Asanoyama

2 Matches Remain

What We Are Watching Day 14

Kagayaki (5-8) vs Oshoma (7-6) – Oshoma could score his 8th win and kachi-koshi today if he can beat flagging Kagayaki, who had better be ranked in Juryo come July. They have never fought before.

Hokuseiho (8-5) vs Oho (9-4) – Having had a bruising tour of the upper ranks, Hokuseiho gets to finish out with someone ranked closer to himself. I think he did fairly well against the top men in sumo, so hopefully he is not too worried about his losses. He gets to fight Oho, who lost to Hokuseiho the only prior time they fought. Both are already kachi-koshi, so this is all about rank for July.

Ryuden (5-8) vs Chiyoshoma (7-6) – Chiyoshoma can reach 8 wins with a victory over already make-koshi Ryuden. I know what you are thinking, super ultra henka mode engaged.

Onosho (7-6) vs Daishoho (5-8) – Likewise Onosho can hit kachi-koshi with a win over already make-koshi Daishoho. He has a 6-1 career record over Daishoho, so as long as he can keep his feet under him, this should be number 8 for him.

Kotoeko (7-6) vs Hiradoumi (7-6) – Thank goodness they are giving Hiradoumi a bit of a break. After quickly moving to 7-2, the schedulers sent his Maegashira 9 on a bumpy tour of top performance, some of them in the named ranks. The results were a predictable 4 match losing streak that kept him from reaching kachi-koshi. Today they finally gave him someone more his speed, Kotoeko. He has beaten Kotoeko each of the prior 4 matches. This counts as a mini-Darwin, as the winner get kachi-koshi, and the loser goes on to 7-7.

Sadanoumi (5-8) vs Aoiyama (4-9) – A battle of the busted, normally I would say Aoiyama has advantage here, but I have watched him step back and out under even moderate forward pressure for the past week. At his age, a worsening chronic injury could mean a exit from the ring. Let’s hope not.

Ichiyamamoto (4-9) vs Takanosho (5-8) – Both are already make-koshi, but the final tally is important as it will determine their rank. For Ichiyamamoto, that rank could be in Juryo if he loses too many more. He has a tall order today as he has never beaten Takanosho in 3 prior attempts.

Hokutofuji (5-8) vs Mitoryu (4-9) – Another rikishi from the bottom of the banzuke on the bubble is Mitoryu. His sumo has been somewhat glacial this May, and its up to already make-koshi Hokutofuji to possibly push his loss count into double digits. Mitoryu is also at risk of boarding the Juryo barge of the damned.

Myogiryu (8-5) vs Tamawashi (7-6) – Tamawashi needs one more win to secure a “fighting injured” kachi-koshi. He has a 10-6 career record against already kachi-koshi Myogiryu, so I suppose this is possible. I don’t know if Tamawashi can supply the sumo to get it done.

Takarafuji (4-9) vs Kotoshoho (1-9-3) – I guess if you are going to get Kotoshoho back in the torikumi, you give him what looks like a tough match. He has never won against Takarafuji in 4 attempts. But that is likely a healthy Takarafuji, which is not who Kotoshoho will face today. Kotoshoho is looking for only his second win of the basho.

Tobizaru (6-7) vs Mitakeumi (8-5) – Tobizaru need 2 more wins to finish with 8, so why not give him a real challenging fight. If the “good” Mitakeumi shows up, it will be a real struggle for Tobizaru. Mitakeumi has a narrow 4-3 career lead, and has won the last two matches.

Takayasu (1-3-9) vs Nishikifuji (3-10) – Watching his day 13 match, its pretty clear that Takayasu is still nursing that leg injury. He’s got no forward power and can’t hold ground. I think this makes him an easy mark for Nishikifuji today, and he could really use the wins. Takayasu is going to re-rack much lower down the banzuke in July, and nothing is going to stop that at this point.

Abi (7-6) vs Nishikigi (7-6) – Oh, I do hope that we see Nishikigi get a hold on Abi and battle hug him out of the ring. This is another mini-Darwin, with the winner earning kachi-koshi and the loser going to 7-7. There’s nothing wrong with Abi-zumo, it even won him a yusho. But folks like myself don’t want another henka from him this month.

Kinbozan (4-9) vs Midorifuji (5-8) – Another battle of the already make-koshi, this time we two that could be headed to double digit losses and a big shove lower in rank for July. For Kinbozan, this is his first professional sumo make-koshi, so he may as well make it a big one.

Kotonowaka (6-7) vs Ura (7-6) – Another form of the mini-Darwin is this beauty. We will either see both men end 7-7 today, or Ura kachi-koshi and Kotonowaka make-koshi. It’s been 2 ½ years since they last fought, with Ura taking that match, and Kotonowaka the one before.

Shodai (6-7) vs Asanoyama (10-3) – Battle of the former Ozeki! I am so happy the schedulers set up this match. These two had been strong rivals, with 10 prior matches and a 6-4 split favoring Asanoyama. Already at double digits, Asanoyama is now seeing just how high up the banzuke he will be in July. I think he has more work to do to get back to Ozeki form, but we can already see it from here. Should he win today against Shodai it would put him at 8 losses and finish his make-koshi.

Daieisho (8-5) vs Meisei (8-5) – Daieisho can still hit double digits, but he must win this match and whatever they set up for him tomorrow. He has a 12-3 career record against Meisei, who has now lost 5 of the last 6. He’s already kachi-koshi, so I am not too worried about him.

Tsurugisho (9-4) vs Hoshoryu (9-4) – Very interesting first ever match. Interesting in that Tsurugisho has at least 60kg more mass than Hoshoryu. I am fairly certain that does not daunt Hoshoryu in the slightest, but it will be fun to see him piece it together on the clay. Tsurugisho’s day 13 loss to Wakamotoharu looked pretty weak, so I wonder if maybe he hurt something in the past two days.

Wakamotoharu (9-4) vs Takakeisho (8-5) – Someone has a twisted sense of humor. One of the most ardent practicianers of yotsu-zumo in the sport today against a man who can’t win if his opponent gets a belt grip. Interestingly enough, Takakeisho has won 3 of their 4 prior matches. Given Takakeisho’s state, and already secured kachi-koshi, I am not sure he is going to run this one at full power.

Terunofuji (12-1) vs Kiribayama (11-2) – The big match, possible the biggest match of the tournament. A Terunofuji win secures his 8th yusho, a loss means that the yusho will be decided on day 15. He has won all of his 9 prior fights against Kiribayama, so the Ozeki hopeful will need to climb a steep wall of habit to pull out a white star today.