Natsu Day 15 Highlights

Senshuraku is always a fun day of sumo. I have had the good fortune to attend a few of them, and in the day before COVID, there would be a genuine festival atmosphere among the fans in attendance. The day starts in the afternoon due to the short schedule, and the fans show up mostly before Juryo gets underway. There are ceremonies, awards presentation, some singing, and the whole things ends with a gyoji being tossed into the air.

Looking at video from Tokyo, its clear the sumo fans are trying to carry on as close to customary is possible, while in the middle of a state of emergency. I can only hope the time when it all goes back to it’s wild, raucous natural form is close at hand.

With most of the make / kachi-koshi already decided, today’s matches were more for ranking in July than anything, at least until we got to the finals, where Takakeisho defeated Terunofuji in the final match, forcing a playoff. This was the spot that I think the oyakata were curious about, Terunofuji had shown losses in Makuuchi playoffs in the past. Some had declared he lacked the mental toughness to really come back from a situation like what had just happened on the dohyo, to be able put it behind him and face it as a brand new match.

But we can now assume the remake of Terunofuji was extensive and meticulous, and he dispatched Takakeisho in the first 10 seconds, to claim his second consecutive yusho, and set the stage for an attempt at Yokozuna promotion in July. He becomes the first rikishi since Futabayama to win two consecutive yusho starting from Sekiwake. As mentioned over the course of this basho, he is the only man putting up Yokozuna grade results right now, and he is doing it consistently.

Highlight Matches

Ishiura defeats Kotonowaka – Ishiura continues his perfect record against Kotonowaka, overwhelming him at the tachiai. Kotonowaka did give it his all, but he finished dumped to the clay by Ishiura’s shitatehineri. I know Ishiura has some injuries he is working around, but he finishes strong with 2 straight wins. Both end Natsu wit 7-8.

Daiamami defeats Kagayaki – Kagayaki got a double inside grip at the tachiai, but struggled to do anything with it. They both paused for a while, thinking it through. When Kagayaki dialed up the pressure, Daiamami turned and swung Kagayaki down to pick up his 7th win. Kagayaki really needs to regroup and return to his good sumo.

Chiyoshoma defeats Shimanoumi – The only Darwin match, and really Shimanoumi, were you drinking rather than watching old Chiyoshoma matches? If you were not sure how to find them, there are plenty on Jason’s sumo channel and the always golden Kintamayama. While everyone in the sumo world was looking for a henka, including everyone who read Tachiai’s day 15 preview, it seems Shimanoumi was not. Chiyoshoma improves to 8-7 and is kachi-koshi while Shimanoumi is make-koshi at 7-8.

Takarafuji defeats Chiyomaru – Chiyomaru defaults to slap and tug sumo on days that end in “Y”, and Takarafuji knew what to do with that. Chiyomaru can bring some intensity, but he can’t keep it going for long. So Takarafuji stayed stabled, kept his sumo efficient and rode out the storm. As Chiyomaru tired, Takarafuji took control, ending with an oshidashi push out. Takarafuji improves to 7-8 for May.

Kaisei defeats Tochinoshin – I was half wondering if we were going to see a straight up yotsu battle from the start, and indeed we did. The Tochinoshin of old had the brute power to lift and carry Kaisei about, but with his bum knee, that is now a distant memory. Kaisei consolidated his grip, dropped his hips and pushed forward with power to finish Natsu 9-6.

Akua defeats Hidenoumi – Akua attempted a giant haymaker slap, which was only partially effective. In response Hidenoumi locked up Akua in a rather awkward position, robbing him of any use of his left hand. It looked like it was all Hidenoumi, but Akua managed a throw at the bales to rescue the match. Both end the tournament at 5-10, with Akua declared captain of the Juryo bound barge of the damned.

Chiyotairyu defeats Onosho – Onosho went for the mega-thrust during the tachiai, and did not keep his eyes on Chiyotairyu. Chiyotairyu stepped to the side and slapped Onosho down. Chiyotairyu improves to 10-5 for Natsu, while Onosho is make-koshi at 7-8.

Kiribayama defeats Tsurugisho – Kiribayama got his preferred grip in the tachiai, and Tsurugisho struggled to do anything other than try to stay steady. Kiribayama improves to 6-9 for his final Natsu score.

Terutsuyoshi defeats Aoiyama – Terutsuyoshi tried a jump to the side, and if the intent was to get inside and against Aoiyama’s chest, it worked brilliantly. With Aoiyama’s thrusting attack unavailable, Aoiyama was at the mercy of his smaller opponent. After a few struggles to consolidate his position, Terutsuyoshi unleashed the throw, bringing Aoiyama down. Terutsuyoshi finishes 7-8 for Natsu, winning 6 of his last 8 after a terrible start.

Hoshoryu defeats Tobizaru – Tobizaru was the early aggressor, but could not really control the match. Hoshoryu rallied and drove Tobizaru from the ring, but not into the fans, to the great disappointment of many. Hoshoryu finishes 7-8.

Okinoumi defeats Meisei – Meisei delivered a strong tachiai, but Okinoumi wrapped him up, shut him down and rolled him to the clay with a kotenage. Okinoumi finishes May 9-6.

Tamawashi defeats Hokutofuji – Hokutofuji puts up quite the pre-tachiai show, but today Tamawashi went hard into Hokutofuji’s chest, and just never slowed down. It was 3 steps to the bales, and Hokutofuji was out. Tamawashi finishes Natsu 7-8.

Kotoeko defeats Wakatakakage – Kotoeko continues his dominance over Wakatakakage. Wakatakakage launched hard at the tachiai, and was pushing well on center-mass. But Koteko pulled and leapt to the side, sending Wakatakakage to the clay. Both end Natsu with 9-6 records.

Daieisho defeats Myogiryu – Daieisho managed to find one last win this May, in a tournament I am sure he wants to put behind him. Myogiryu offered only token resistance, and it was over. Both end 6-9.

Mitakeumi defeats Ichinojo – Ichinojo seems to have settled on his “Boulder” defense for this match, and Mitakeumi was not impressed. There was a moment when Ichinojo had an opening, but for whatever reason decided to thrust against Mitakeumi’s head, leaving his body wide open for the push that sent him over the bales. Mitakeumi finishes the tournament with 10-5, and a likely return to Sekiwake in July.

Takanosho defeats Takayasu – Takanosho chose to test Takayasu’s endurance, which was a fun decision. But it did not take him long to understand this would never be in his favor. Fortunately for Takanosho, he had no locked up with the former ozeki, but managed to stalemate him at arm’s length. Through some well timed lateral moves and a deflection sumo, he managed to get above an over-extend Takayasu and thrust him down. Takanosho ends the tournament at 5-10.

Shodai defeats Endo – I know there was a minor hype bubble around Endo these past two days. He had some sharp sumo and played spoiler better than anyone could have imagined in act 3. But Shodai, on the verge of losing his 7th match, remembers his Acme tools, somehow re-asserts his balance when he is on one foot, and just body bumps Endo completely off the dohyo. Shodai ends 9-6, and Endo is not going to be able to participate in any playoff. Nice ottsuke, Shodai. More of that please.

Takakeisho defeats Terunofuji – A solid “Stand him up and slap him down” gambit from Takakeisho send Terunofuji face first over the tawara, taking Takakeisho to 12-3, and tying up the yusho race in the final match. This was the moment of discovery – we had seen the Terunofuji of old mentally crumble at this point.

Playoff match – Terunofuji keeps his balance over the arches of his feet, and stays stable. Takakeisho tries a hit and shift strategy a few times, but Terunofuji knows if he remains upright, owns the center of the ring and waits, he can get his hands on Takakeisho and own the match. This comes on the 4th merge, and Terunofuji returns the favor from the first match, slapping down Takakeisho from the side and taking his 4th Emperor’s cup. Well played to both of the Ozeki, and congratulations on a tournament well fought.

With that, Tachiai’s daily coverage of the Natsu basho is complete. Thank you, dear readers, for sharing our love of sumo, and reading along with us each day.

Natsu Day 15 Preview

At last, we come to the end of it. I consider this basho to be a healthy preview of the post Hakuho era, as “The Boss” did not even cast a shadow over this May’s proceedings. Its all be up to the Ozeki, and for some of them, they are just fine in that esteemed role. With luck, we will get to see the greatest Yokozuna of the recorded history of sumo mount the dohyo in competition at least one more time before we fully embrace the new age of sumo.

There is, sadly, only one Darwin match. It seems the rikishi corps recognized the funnel, and decided to own their fates, took their losses, and exited the march toward the 7-7 single elimination format. There is always July…

Of course all eyes are on the final two matches of this final day of Natsu. Ideally Shodai would take Endo apart as an Ozeki should to a Maegashira 8. But Endo is under ranked this basho, and Shodai is not anywhere close to his Ozeki form. And Endo win would stage him to challenge for the yusho, if…

The final match, Terunofuji has to defeat Takakeisho to take the cup. Should he lose, he either faces Takakeisho again, or Takakeisho and Endo. History describes Terunofuji having a poor record in yusho playoffs, the playoff against an injured Kisenosato in Osaka comes immediately to mind. To me, this is a test to see if he really has gone beyond his mark reached during his first tenure as Ozeki, his sumo is better, he is more focused, but did he also gain the mental toughness to be the best on the dohyo? We will get to see in just about 12 hours.

What We Are Watching Day 15

Kotonowaka vs Ishiura – I am looking for Ishiura to win this one, and both to finish at 7-8. Our ace prognosticator, lksumo, sees a high likelihood for Ishiura to stay in the top division for July, in part because there are not enough promotable scores at the top of Juryo for a big swap.

Daiamami vs Kagayaki – Both exited the funnel on day 14, and get to compete for a possible 7-8 finishing record.

Shimanoumi vs Chiyoshoma – The lone Darwin match, with both men having a 2-2 career record. I like Chiyoshoma in this one, because I know he is an expert at some janky sumo when he needs it, and today he needs it.

Chiyomaru vs Takarafuji – Takarafuji should pick up a final win today to finish 7-8, mostly because he has a well earned reputation for being able to be Chiyomaru (8-1 career).

Tochinoshin vs Kaisei – Tochinoshin is bound to take a solid slide down the ranks for July, even if he picks up a final win today to close out at 6-9. Fortunately for him, the rest of the banzuke is likely to be a scrambled mess.

Hidenoumi vs Akua – Two more looking at substantial drops, and I am pretty sure they will send Akua down to the middle of Juryo, even if he picks up a final win today against 5-9 Hidenoumi.

Chiyotairyu vs Onosho – Onosho needs one more win to finish with kachi-koshi, and he drew a tough opponent to overcome to reach the safety of 8. True there are 9 ranks between them, but Chiyotairyu has been fighting well all month, where Onosho is very much day by day. They have a 5-5 career record.

Kiribayama vs Tsurugisho – Two more with big drops in their near future, we Tsurugisho at 4-10 against Kiribayama at 5-9. I am sure who wins this one matters in the banzuke room, but both men are going to want to re-set following this May’s results.

Aoiyama vs Terutsuyoshi – Even if he loses today, it looks like Aoiyama’s mid-basho return likely helped him. He picked up at least 4 wins, and kept his move down the ranks in some degree of check. It would be good to see Terutsuyoshi pick up a final win and finish 7-8.

Hoshoryu vs Tobizaru – A little sad for Hoshoryu, who came away with a make-koshi for his first trip to the joi-jin. Such results are common, and I have no doubt that he will be back. He will sharpen his sumo, gain a bit of mass and hit a bit harder next time. If he ends up around M8 or so for July, he should be able to turn in a fairly solid score.

Meisei vs Okinoumi – Both are kachi-koshi, but 10 ranks separate them – wow! That being said, right now Okinoumi is more than a match for Meisei, and we should see him continue his 6-0 dominance of the Tatsunami man.

Tamawashi vs Hokutofuji – To be honest, they both fought well this tournament, but Tamawashi maybe fought a bit better. It’s a bit sad to watch him age out of the sport, much as our dear departed Yoshikaze did. They have an even 6-6 career record, so this one is a complete toss up.

Wakatakakage vs Kotoeko – I would love to see Wakatakakage hit double digits, and if he does, I would not be surprised to see him holding a sansho trophy and grinning at the end of the day. He has a career deficit of 4-1 against Kotoeko, so he needs to really gamberize today.

Myogiryu vs Daieisho – Daieisho needs to go back and get a sumo tune up. He is quite distant from his unstoppable oshi-zumo that gave him the Hatsu yusho. The truth is, these guys get hurt in practice, and their performance suffers. Whatever has robbed him of his sumo, I hope he can make repairs and return strong in July.

Mitakeumi vs Ichinojo – Matching 9-5 records, and we get to see which man can take it to double digits. The career record favors Mitakeumi 10-4, but that is no reason to not look for Ichinojo to pay the size card. For him, its a very large card indeed.

Takayasu vs Takanosho – The Sekiwake finally battle it out, and their records are mirror images: Takayasu at 10-4 and Takanosho at 4-10. This is more than just a filler match, Takayasu may be on the verge of piecing together an Ozeki run, and the 11th win in May would actually make things a bit more practical for him in July.

Shodai vs Endo – The first of the big matches. Shodai holds a 7-3 career record against Endo, and I would love to think that he can finally unpack some of his acme sumo from that cartoon bag and use it to drop an anvil on an opponent. But who are we kidding? Shodai has been limp all May, and Endo is really genki right now.

Terunofuji vs Takakeisho – This one is likely for the rights to lift a big fish, and I expect both of them to attempt do blow the other one off the dohyo. Takakeisho with an earth shattering shove, Terunofuji dumping him over the edge like a toxic bag of week old shellfish. They have a 2-2 career record since 2020, so look for a brawl to end it all.

Natsu Day 14 Highlights

After talking about the funnel for days, I was amazed by how many escaped it today. To be certain the escape is usually to make-koshi, but it looks like a large number or rikishi decided the could do without day 15 drama, and accepted their 8th loss today. When the dust was settled and the kensho all distributed, there were only 5 rikishi with the magic 7-7 score, an amazing reduction from the 14 potentials we had following day 13.

But the drama was not reduced in total, only shifted higher up the banzuke. In a match that is sure to have sumo fans arguing at least until tomorrow, Endo defeated Terunofuji, to hand him his first loss on the clay. This lowers the Ozeki’s score to 12-2, and brings both himself and Takakeisho to 1 win behind the yusho race leader. Terunofuji faces Takakeisho on day 15, and should the Grand Tadpole defeat Terunofuji in the final match of the basho, it would trigger at least a playoff between the two of them, although Endo could be included if he wins his match against Shodai.

I believe they are testing Terunofuji’s mental toughness on purpose. He has shown himself to be fragile in the past, and it’s clear to everyone who follows sumo that he’s on a Yokozuna path. I am grateful they are not going to just hand it to him, but its just a bit too obvious right now. I don’t know if he’s going to make it, but at the moment he’s the only man on the dohyo producing Yokozuna class numbers.

Highlight Matches

Chiyoshoma defeats Daiamami – Daiamami seemed ready to accept his make-koshi, and once Chiyoshoma had a grip on his head, Daiamami went soft and took his 8th loss for make-koshi. Chiyoshoma improves to 7-7 and will face his fate tomorrow.

Kaisei defeats Terutsuyoshi – Both break free of the funnel, and I have to give my complements to Kaisei on fighting well this tournament. Terutsuyoshi was able to attack inside at the tachiai, but Kaisei shut down all attempts to convert that superior position to any kind of advantage. Terutsuyoshi drops to 6-8 and is make-koshi, Kaisei improves to 8-6 and is kachi-koshi.

Kotoeko defeats Shimanoumi – Kotoeko breaks out of the funnel with a fine match against Shimanoumi. Shimanoumi defended well, but Kotoeko kept pressing the attack, and managed to get both hands around Shimanoumi’s body and charge forward. Shimanoumi ends the day 7-7 and Kotoeko gets his 8th win and is kachi-koshi.

Ishiura defeats Tsurugisho – As lksumo pointed out, the exchange between Juryo and Makuuchi is not simple this basho, as there are not that many promotion candidates to balance out the demotion candidates. I have hopes that if Ishiura can win one more, he may manage to find some way to remain in the top division. Ishiura sidesteps Tsurugisho and hurls him out today for a kind of cheap win, but it’s still a win. He improves to 6-8.

Tochinoshin defeats Chiyomaru – Tochinoshin went big at the tachiai, and got a deep double inside grip on Chiyomaru. Tochinoshin is one of the few men in sumo large enough, and with long enough arms he can reach around Chiyomaru’s belly. Once Tochinoshin latched on, it was a quick stroll for him to escort Chiyomaru out to improve to 5-9.

Kiribayama defeats Chiyotairyu – Where has this version of Kiribayama been? Solid sumo, forceful right hand outside grip, he shut down any offense that Chiyotairyu may have attempted and dumped him over the edge of the dohyo. Kiribayama improves to 5-9.

Myogiryu defeats Kotonowaka – Kotonowaka was on defense from the start, and really could do little more than try to blunt whatever Myogiryu tried. Kotonowaka even tried to take Myogiryu to his chest to slow him down, but Myogiryu set his hands, lowered his hips and drove forward for a yorikiri win. Myogiryu improves to 6-8 and Kotonowaka ends the day 7-7.

Aoiyama defeats Akua – Akua went for a left hand grab at the tachiai, but could not convert it into any kind of grip, and the two settled for a loose left hand inside stance. Akua started trying to shift Aoiyama around, to get him off balance, but lost his footing and fell, losing the match via tsukihiza. Both end the day 4=10.

Meisei defeats Tamawashi – Two more rikishi break out of the Darwin funnel. Meisei found the inside position at the tachiai, and just kept accelerating forward. Unable to set any kind of defense or counter attack, Tamawashi was swept out of the ring 3 steps later. Tamawashi is make-koshi at 6-8, Meisei kachi-koshi at 8-6.

Tobizaru defeats Kagayaki – Kagayaki refuses to join the Darwin cohort, picking up his 8th loss and accepting his make-koshi. Tobizaru supplied the leaping henka, and focused a thrusting attack center mass on the nearly upright Kagayaki. Tobizaru improves to 5-9.

Wakatakakage defeats Okinoumi – Wakatakakage picks up his 9th win. and improves his bid for san’yaku promotion. Big right hand ottsuke from Wakatakakage shut down Okinoumi’s try to get his grip set up, and Wakatakakage moved forward with power and took the match.

Hokutofuji defeats Hidenoumi – With his make-koshi secure, Hokutofuji is free to dial up the sumo energy and win a few more before the end of the basho. He overpowers Hidenoumi with a combination of nodowa and body thrusts. He improves to 6-8.

Mitakeumi defeats Takarafuji – Takarafuji got a shallow left hand grip at the tachiai, but it cost him too much territory on the dohyo, and he was a half step too slow to set his feet before Mitakeumi had him at the bales. Takarafuji is make-koshi at 6-8, and Mitakeumi improves to 9-5.

Onosho defeats Daieisho – Onosho punches his ticket to the Darwin station by winning this battle of the big thrusters. Daieisho kept his hips square to Onosho, allowing him to ramp up the pressure. Onosho got him off cadence, off balance and on the run to improve to 7-7.

Takayasu defeats Hoshoryu – Takayasu picks up his 10th win to go double digits in his second consecutive basho, handing Hoshoryu his 8th loss and make-koshi. Hoshoryu got nice inside hand placement, but could not convert it into any kind of grip, and was unable to withstand Takayasu’s counter attack.

Ichinojo defeats Takanosho – The banzuke team’s job of figuring out san’yaku is not getting easier as Ichinojo manages to pick up win number 9. I am impressed that Takanosho was able to move Ichinojo at all, but he was not positioned well, and had no way to stop the Boulder’s hatakikomi.

Endo defeats Terunofuji – Endo attacked well at the tachiai, and had a commanding double inside grip. But Terunofuji rallied and counter attacked with a lot of torque, seeking to deflect Endo’s forward pressure. The two struggled and threw each other at the bales, and went down together. The gumbai went to the west side, but a monoii was called. There was no clear winner of this match, and any of the 3 possible calls were plausible at this point. Of course, Bruce thinks in these cases we let them fight again and let the best sumo prevail, but… the shimpan call it for Endo. He improves to 11-3.

Takakeisho defeats Shodai – Shodai, get it together man. What the hell happened to your sumo? I note with some suspicion that they did not give you a bout with Terunofuji in act 3. Odd how luck almost always breaks in your favor. Do everyone a favor, and get out all of your cartoon sumo from the akeni, and use it on Endo on day 15. Takakeisho improves to 11-3.

Natsu Day 14 Preview

Welcome to the penultimate day of this basho, we enter the final weekend with a lot of great sumo to watch, and much to consider about the future of the sport. In terms of great sumo, there will be a pair of lower division playoffs on day 15, and I am still not quite sold on the idea that Chiyonoo will manage to seal the deal on the Juryo championship. There could be some high stakes matches ahead.

In the top division, it’s still Terunofuji’s cup until someone puts dirt on him for the first time. A win today against Endo would finalize the matter, and we would get to see the Kaiju take 3 yusho in the past year, with 2 jun-yusho in between those. Now I am sure the NSK is going to stick to the back to back yusho theme, but if his performance since returning to the top division in July of 2020 is not Yokozuna grade sumo, then what is.

We see it again today – the drive of the scheduling committee to bring as many rikishi as the can manage to 7-7 at the end of today. I have taken to calling this “Darwin’s funnel”, and it has been working with remarkable results for the past 3 days. How many Darwin matches (7-7) will there be on the final day? We can only guess right now, but it could be as high as 7. A banzuke blood-bath of the first order, and a true testament to the brutality of sumo’s zero sum game.

Natsu Leaderboard

Two more wins for Terunofuji, and its fish time…

Leader: Terunofuji
Chasers (2 wins behind): Takakeisho , Endo

2 matches remain

What We Are Watching Day 14

Daiamami vs Chiyoshoma – Funnel match, one of them is going make-koshi, the other survives to be Darwin fodder.

Kaisei vs Terutsuyoshi – This could be another funnel match, but Kaisei is at 7-6 with Terutsuyoshi at 6-7. A Kaisei win would break them both out of the funnel with Kaisei hitting 8 wins and Terutsuyoshi hitting 8 losses. Of course, I am pulling for Terutsuyoshi.

Shimanoumi vs Kotoeko – A variation on the first match, the winner is kachi-koshi, and breaks out of Darwin’s funnel, the loser heads to a 7-7 doom match on day 15. I would be delighted to see Kotoeko (9-2 career lead) take the white star today and reach the safety of 8.

Tsurugisho vs Ishiura – Both are make-koshi, so the schedulers keep them out of the way of everyone they are trying to squeeze through the funnel. I would like to see Ishiura cushion his fall down the banzuke as much as possible, so I am hoping he can win-out starting today against Tsurugisho. But with the damage to his hand and lord knows what else, he faces long odds.

Tochinoshin vs Chiyomaru – A make / kachi koshi pair, they face off and stay out of the way of everyone caught in the funnel. Tochinoshin holds a 4-1 career lead over sumo’s personal flotation device, so maybe he can pick up another win and put the breaks on his slide down the banzuke for July.

Kiribayama vs Chiyotairyu – Another make / kachi koshi pair, this time it’s sumo’s thunder-demon up against Kiribayama. They have split their 2 prior matches, so there may be some good sumo here today. Personally I think Kiribayama is only at about 80% of his normal sumo, so he may take a fast trip across the bales.

Kotonowaka vs Myogiryu – This may not look like a funnel match, but when you consider Myogiryu at M4w is taking on M11e Kotonowaka, there is a solid chance this one is designed to hand Kotonowaka his 7th loss and give Myogiryu some make-koshi padding.

Aoiyama vs Akua – Both have big make-koshi scores, maybe this one is a chance for Aoiyama and Akua to finish at 4-10 together at the end of their match. The scheduling crew seem to love their numerology and score symmetry.

Meisei vs Tamawashi – Back to the funnel! If Tamawashi wins this one, they both go 7-7, but if Meisei can overcome Tamawashi’s thrusting attacks, they will both exit the funnel as a kachi / make koshi pair.

Kagayaki vs Tobizaru – They really want Kagayaki (3-0 career advantage) to win this one over Tobizaru (4-9) and end up joining the 7-7 crew.

Wakatakakage vs Okinoumi – Both are kachi-koshi, and so this is all about the score. There is an 11 rank difference between the two, so I think this is just to try out Wakatakakage against a seasoned veteran.

Hidenoumi vs Hokutofuji – Like above, but both arae make-koshi. There are only 5 ranks difference between the two, but it could be a decent match. But Hidenoumi has lost 7 of the last 8. Ouch! Both of them will be back in July, and hopefully they will be in better condition.

Mitakeumi vs Takarafuji – Mitakeumi holds an 8-3 career advantage, and if he wins against Takarafuji today, he will send him make-koshi with his 8th loss, and kick him out of the funnel. I almost want to see Mitakeumi lose this one, just so we have another 7-7 rikishi.

Onosho vs Daieisho – Onosho needs to overcome his 5 match losing streak and beat Daieisho today if he wants to stay in the funnel and take his chances on day 15. At 6-7, the more likely outcome is make-koshi at the end of day 14.

Takayasu vs Hoshoryu – A first time, high interest match. Young Hoshoryu is at 6-7, and I think will likely lose this one against the former Ozeki, giving him his 8th loss and sending him to make-koshi. But I am having a tough time trying to decide which I would want more, Takayasu at 10 wins, or Hoshoryu in a day 15 Darwin match.

Ichinojo vs Takanosho – Possibly some kind of san’yaku try-out match for Ichinojo. He is already kachi-koshi, and Takanosho is already headed out of the named ranks. A win today would place him at no fewer than 9 wins, and it might give him an edge for the final Komusubi slot.

Endo vs Terunofuji – The big match, if Terunofuji wins this one, which I think he will, it will be the yusho. But I do hope that the Kaiju is ready for Endo’s schemes and clever sumo. If there is one man in sumo this tournament who can devise a way to dismantle Terunofuji’s monstrous sumo, it may be Endo. they have a 4-4 career record, but Terunofuji is 2-0 against Endo since his return to the top division.

Shodai vs Takakeisho – Finally, we get an Ozeki match. Shodai can (and maybe will) relax a bit having hit his 8 wins, and cleared kadoban. I am not sure where the sumo that took him to Ozeki has gone, but I think everyone agrees its time for it to come back. Takakeisho holds a 8-5 career record.