Natsu Day 11 Preview

Ready or not, it’s time to start act 3. The goal of act 3 is to sort the make from the kachi-koshi, and to crown the tournament champion. Starting day 11, the yusho picture is still rather murky, with M4 Takanosho and M15 Ichiyamamoto leading with 8 wins. I don’t expect to see their names at the top for too much longer, as the schedulers are going to throw them at harder opponents if possible to try and knock those scores down at least a bit. Ideally they would open the door for Yokozuna Terunofuji to attempt to take the cup in the final weekend. But that’s a bit of a tough proposition, as he’s not in the best of condition below the waist. Above the waist, he’s a one man army, and he just may be able to pull it off.

Natsu Leaderboard

This won’t be a real race until Takanosho and Ichiyamamoto pick up their 3rd loss.

Leaders: Takanosho, Ichiyamamoto
Chasers: Terunofuji, Kiribayama, Ura, Aoiyama, Sadanoumi
Hunt Group: Too numerous to list

5 matches remain

What We Are Watching Day 11

Mitoryu vs Yutakayama – Mitoryu visits from Juryo, and he has a 3-0 career record against Yutakayama. If you think that spells trouble, you are right. At 4-6, Yutakayama needs to win 4 of his last 5 to reach kachi-koshi, and that likely would include a day 15 Darwin match at this point. On top of that, Yutakayama has not been fighting well, and I am going to guess, injured.

Kotokuzan vs Chiyoshoma – Kotokuzan has already punched his ticket to be the boatswain for the Juryo barge this May, so I have to wonder how much he’s going to bring to this first ever match up against Chiyoshoma. Like Yutakayama, Chiyoshoma is 2 losses away from make-koshi, and needs to win 4 out of the last 5 to reach his 8.

Meisei vs Nishikigi – A funnel track match, Meisei needs a win today just to stay on the path for day 15 Darwin. At 5-5 he’s just straddling the center of the funnel now, and his opponent Nishikigi, is on the low side of the funnel at 4-6. Meisei has a 3-1 career record against Nishikigi, so maybe he can use some of that mojo to pick up his 6th win today.

Okinoumi vs Midorifuji – Another funnel match – mostly because the funnel currently covers the bulk of the top division. We have Midorifuji at 6-4, who can exit the funnel today with a win, and Okinoumi who can exit the funnel onto the make-koshi track with a loss. Of course we might see Okinoumi rally today, and then both of them are back to the middle of the funnel.

Azumaryu vs Tochinoshin – The funnel theme continues. This is the first ever match between grizzled veteran Azumaryu (5-5), who would love to find 3 more wins out of the final 5 matches to get his first ever top division kachi-koshi, and former Ozeki Tochinoshin (6-4) who can escape the funnel today with a win.

Kotoshoho vs Chiyotairyu – Staying with the funnel theme, I am sort of surprised that Kotoshoho (5-5) got roped into the funnel, but here he is against 6-4 Chiyotairyu, who has won 6 out of his last 7. Kotoshoho won 2 of their 3 prior matches, so I am going to assume he knows to watch out for Chiyotairyu’s balance wrecking tachiai moves.

Myogiryu vs Terutsuyoshi – Terutsuyoshi is one loss away from securing a make-koshi. It’s still mathematically possible for him to get 8 wins, but he will need to win the rest of his matches to achieve that. He has a 4-2 career advantage over Myogiryu, who comes in at 5-5, and needs wins to stay in the funnel. Honestly, I have to think that Terutsuyoshi is just about due for another win.

Shimanoumi vs Ichiyamamoto – Shimanoumi gets a shot to put dirt on one of the co-leaders. Ranked at M8, he is quite a bit north of Ichiyamamoto’s Maegashira 15. Shimanoumi won their only prior match which was at Aki 2021, when they were both nearly the same rank as they are today. Shimanoumi has won his last 3, so I am going to assume he is in good fighting condition.

Oho vs Kotoeko – Still squarely in the bracket, we see if 4-6 Kotoeko can fight is way back to the center line and disrupt 5-5 Oho’s lack-luster second try to get a kachi-koshi in the top division. I recall a time when Oho (then called Naya) was supposed to be a “big deal”. Maybe he will be some day, but so far he has not distinguished himself.

Takarafuji vs Kagayaki – This match outrages me. They know by now that Takarafuji is hurt, maybe his lower back, but he’s a walking medical case. So they give Kagayaki a chance to pick up a freebee win. I volunteer to loan my spine to Takarafuji for the period of time needed to toss Kagayaki on his ear, then kick dirt over the remains. Ah well, Takarafuji had to fight someone.

Sadanoumi vs Wakamotoharu – I think that this is Wakamotoharu’s chance to pull himself out of the high end of the funnel, and take a big step closer to a kachi-koshi at his highest ever rank. His sumo has been very good for his first time this far up the banzuke, and I look forward to him being part of the future of sumo. He has a 0-4 career deficit against Sadanoumi, who may pick up his kachi-koshi today with a win.

Ura vs Aoiyama – Both men start the day at 7-3, and the winner will get a bright shiny kachi-koshi to end day 11. Although Ura has a 2-1 narrow advantage, I give an edge to “Big Dan” Aoiyama who is fighting very well right now. But an Ura win would play into my hunch that he might be in the hunt for the cup in the final 3 days.

Kiribayama vs Tobizaru – Kiribayama needs a win today to reach kachi-koshi, but he has to overcome the 7-3 career disadvantage he has against Tobizaru. In fact Tobizaru has won 4 of their last 5 matches. A Tobizaru win would keep him in the funnel, and marching to a day 15 Darwin contest. In spite of the career advantage, I want to see Kiribayama pick up his 8th today.

Takayasu vs Hokutofuji – We all know Hokutofuji is headed for make-koshi, and I think its quite fitting that Takayasu be the one to let him secure that outcome today. Takayasu has really struggled this May after a fairly robust run in Osaka that saw him competing for the yusho into week 2. As a Takayasu fan, I am a bit down that he’s too hurt to live up to his potential. But he can certainly take out his frustrations on Hokutofuji today.

Kotonowaka vs Daieisho – These two have matching 6-4 scores, which technically make them part of the funnel group. But the winner will elevate outside of the funnel, and the looser will scrap agains the other rikishi being herded toward a 7-7 day 14 score. Kotonowaka has a 2-0 career lead over Daieisho, so he will have a distinct edge in today’s contest.

Hoshoryu vs Takanosho – Hoshoryu, whose attitude may have out-paced his sumo, gets a chance to back up some of that swagger with a chance to knock one of the leaders off the board. He has a 3-1 career margin against Takanosho, but he’s fighting at least one notch below his typical level of genki. Much as I want to see Takanosho pick up a 3rd loss and draw Terunofuji into the yusho race, I would very much like to see him give Hoshoryu an atomic wedgie and a quick toss into the zabuton to help Asashoryu’s nephew find a little humility.

Mitakeumi vs Wakatakakage – Man, I dread this match. Mitakeumi has a 7-2 career advantage over Wakatakakage, but I don’t think that matters. I would guess that Mitakeumi is, like the rest of the Ozeki corpse, hurt in some non visible way. There is a real risk that all of them may be kadoban for July, and if that is the case, I would put the odds at very long that all of them can recover and make their 8 in the heat of Nagoya. Both start the day at 5-5, and win or lose, neither escapes the funnel today.

Endo vs Takakeisho – We know Endo is going to grab for a left hand shallow front mawashi hold at the tachiai. With Takakeisho’s right arm at less than good status, this leaves him especially open to this kind of attack. At 4-6, Endo is looking for wins to keep himself out of the make-koshi lane, though he is edging ever closer.

Tamawashi vs Shodai – Tamawashi comes in with an 11-8 career advantage, and a win by him will send Shodai make-koshi and kadoban. We can be fairly certain Shodai will have 8 losses this May, but will today be the day?

Terunofuji vs Abi – They have only met twice, and each has a single win against the other. Much as I love me some Abi-zumo, I would rather see Terunofuji stay in the hunt for the Emperor’s cup, in spite of his battered and only partially functional battle readiness report. A win today is kachi-koshi for the Yokozuna.

Natsu Standings, Day 10

With 5 matches remaining:

Ozeki wins needed to avoid kadoban

  • Mitakeumi: 3
  • Shodai: 5
  • Takakeisho: 3

Wins needed to stay in san’yaku

  • Wakatakakage: 3 to stay Sekiwake, 2 to stay in san’yaku
  • Abi: 3 to stay Sekiwake, 2 to stay in san’yaku
  • Hoshoryu: 2
  • Daieisho: 2

Frontrunners for san’yaku promotion

  • Kiribayama
  • Takanosho
  • Kotonowaka
  • Tamawashi
  • Ura

Wins needed to stay in Makuuchi

  • Ishiura: will be demoted
  • Kotokuzan: will be demoted
  • Kagayaki: 4
  • Several others: 1-2

Wins needed for promotion from Juryo

  • Tsurugisho, Hidenoumi: 2
  • Chiyomaru, Ryuden: 3
  • Several others: 4 or more

Wins needed to stay in Juryo

  • Kitanowaka: will be demoted
  • Chiyoarashi, Daishomaru, Shohozan: 4
  • Takakento: 3
  • Kaisei, Churanoumi, Bushozan: 2
  • Several others: 1

Natsu Day 10 Highlights

I could label today the “Mother of all Shimpan parades”. It seems that sumo fandom in Japan let it be know that the lax judging, crummy calls and lack of reviews of close matches were not the stuff of legends. So today we see the men in black decide that they are in fact going to be in charge and maybe supervise a bit more. The result – a lot of monoii. When in doubt, talk it out and let the chaps reviewing the replays have a second look. In general not a bad plan, but they may have over-compensated a bit today, and it really scrambled up the pacing of the top division matches.

With today’s action complete, we close out the weakest Act 2 that I can recall. We don’t really have a yusho race, we have a huge number of rikishi fighting their way through Darwin’s Funnel, and none of the Ozeki are better than a 50% win rate.

Highlight Matches

Tsurugisho defeats Azumaryu – This match featured a matta at the original start, which seems to have disrupted Tsurugisho’s original battle plan. He ended up with a fairly soft tachiai that gave Azumaryu a better grip. Tsurugisho dug in and managed to work into a double inside grip, and proceeded to over power Azumaryu with some simple but effective sumo. Tsurugisho improves to 7-3, and I would guess will make a bid to return to the top division for Nagoya in July. He finishes 7-3.

Myogiryu defeats Kotokuzan – Kotokuzan had zero offense today, giving Myogiryu complete control of the match, and a quick win. Myogiryu improves to 5-5 to remain in the middle of the funnel.

Midorifuji defeats Aoiyama – Midorifuji does yeoman’s work and knocks “Big Dan” Aoiyama out of the leader group. That was quite the opening combo from Midorifuji, who hit at the tachiai, grabbed over Aoiyama’s shoulder (he had to reach up quite a bit) and pulled down. The resulting katasukashi spun Aoiyama to the clay, giving Midorifuji his 6th win to finish act 2 at 6-4.

Kagayaki defeats Chiyoshoma – Chiyoshoma had a good tachiai, but as Kagayaki landed his second thrust combo against Chiyoshoma’s chest, Chiyoshoma tried to pull Kagayaki forward. That tossed aside any forward pressure, and opened the door to Kagayaki just running him out of the ring. Both end the day 4-6.

Ichiyamamoto defeats Kotoshoho – Ichiyamamoto nearly lost this at the tachiai, where he ended up stumbling forward a single step when Kotoshoho deflected his opening move. Kotoshoho responded with power, but with Ichiyamamoto to his side, he tossed Kotoshoho forward and then delivered the finishing push center mass. That’s kachi-koshi for Ichiyamamoto, and he remains part of the leader group.

Tochinoshin defeats Sadanoumi – Really impressive defense from Sadanoumi in this match. Given how incredibly strong Tochinoshin is, and he was able to go chest to chest at the tachiai, its a tall order to break out of his grip. Tochinoshin found on his third finishing attempt the leverage to swing Sadanoumi around to walk him out of the ring. There was a monoii to review Tochinoshin’s feet just prior to the win, but the judges up held the decision. Tochinoshin improves to 6-4.

Shimanoumi defeats Yutakayama – It must be damn frustrating to fight as Yutakayama this May. He had a strong opening, and landed multiple solid hits. But Shimanoumi stayed in bound, on his feet and fighting. Eventually Shimanoumi locked up with Yutakayama in the center of the ring, and went to wear Yutakayama down. Shimanoumi got a left hand hazu, right hand mawashi grip, and rolled Yutakayama into an uwatenage for the win. He’s now 6-4.

Terutsuyoshi defeats Meisei – Terutsuyoshi executed something a lot like a henka at the tachiai. I hesitate to call it a henka because your normal henka is a bit more organized than whatever that was. It worked out well enough, bamboozling Meisei and giving Terutsuyoshi a wide open attack lane. Terutsuyoshi dropped him a moment later to stave off make-koshi for today, and improve to 3-7.

Oho defeats Takarafuji – Takarafuji really had no sumo today, and provided little more than ballast for Oho’s thrusting attacks. Takarafuji is clearly hurt, and not able to hold ground at all, and was quickly shoved out. Oho advances to 5-5 and remains in the middle of the funnel.

Chiyotairyu defeats Kotoeko – Chiyotairyu attempts a hearty serving of denshamichi, ends up face down with Kotoeko flying westward. The gumbai went to Chiyotairyu, but it seems the shimpan have been rightly embarrassed by poor performance, and are calling more review sessions. So it was monoii time. Review showed Kotoeko out while Chiyotairyu was still in flight, so Chiyotairyu takes the win to finish the day 6-4.

Ura defeats Nishikigi – Ura had to know that Nishikigi would grapple straight into the tachiai. He also (like me) saw the katasukashi combo Midorifuji pulled off earlier in the day and thought “hey, that’s pretty cool”. So we get to see Ura execute more or less the same opening combo against Nishikigi. No surprise it worked just as well here as it did against Aoiyama, and Ura improves to 7-3.

Wakamotoharu defeats Okinoumi – Wakamotoharu’s left hand inside at the tachiai gave him control of the match, and he only needed 3 steps to walk Okinoumi back, and place him out of the ring. Fast work for Wakamotoharu, and he ends the day 6-4.

Takanosho defeats Endo – Endo opened strong, but seemed to pause for an awkward moment, which let Takanosho regroup and begin the counter attack. With good focus of power against Endo’s center mass, he took control of the match and quickly ran Endo out of the ring. Takanosho picks up his 8th win, is kachi-koshi, and maintains his share of the leader board.

Kotonowaka defeats Tamawashi – Big, aggressive sumo from both today. Tamawashi really delivered a lot of attack power, but points to Kotonowaka for taking the punishment and returning a lot of of it to Tamawashi. If you wanted to see two big guys basho the stuffing out of each other, this was the match. But in a deft move, Kotonowaka converted a Tamawashi forward surge into a quick trip to the clay, as he threw down Tamawashi to claim his 6th win. Both end the day 6-4.

Daieisho defeats Takayasu – Daieisho found himself overpowered at the tachiai, as Takayasu launched forward. The best Daieisho could do was turn to the side and pull with everything he could muster. They both went flying off the dohyo and the gumbai went to Daieisho. Of course with the embarrassment level near maximum for the shimpan, they were going to review this one too, so up on the dohoyo they went. Review showed Takayasu down first, giving Daieisho his 6th win to finish the day 6-4, and Takayasu his 8th loss to be make-koshi at 8-2 for Natsu.

Kiribayama defeats Abi – Kiribayama took a couple of big hits at the start of the match, but kept his feet, kept his balance as best he could, and positioned himself to dodge as much of Abi’s attacks as he could manage. Kiribayama’s evasion opened up a chance with Abi off axis and off balance, and Kiribayama slapped him down. He ends the day 7-3.

Hokutofuji defeats Takakeisho – Well, an immediate pull at the tachiai is a sure fire losing formula today for Takakeisho. He gets a rapid combo to the chest from Hokutofuji for his troubles, and is quickly pushed out of the ring. Hokutofuji staves off make-koshi for another day and improves to 3-7.

Wakatakakage defeats Shodai – I guess I should note that Shodai at least tried to rally after Wakatakakage completely dominated him for the first few moments of the match. But for whatever reason, Shodai could not muster the wall of daikon today, or any cartoon sumo, though you can see him try. Wakatakakage gently placed him outside of the ring to advance to 5-5.

Mitakeumi defeats Tobizaru – At least one of the Ozeki scored a win today. But it was Tobizaru who was the clear aggressor in the opening moments of the match, getting a right hand inside, and making Mitakeumi give ground. Once Tobizaru had a firm hold on Mitakeumi, he found that was not quite what he wanted after all. Mitakeumi consolidated his grip, positioned his feet and finished Tobizaru off. Both end the day at 5-5.

Terunofuji defeats Hoshoryu – Yes, I know Terunofuji looks a bit more unstable each day, but I found his resounding yoritaoshi of Hoshoryu both glorious and comforting. It’s the kind of finishing move worthy of this match, and it’s especially fun given the overflowing attitude on display day 9 from Hoshoryu. It’s as if the Yokozuna wanted to communicate, “Here kid, let me show you how we take out the trash at Isegahama”. Terunofuji improves to 7-3, one win behind the leaders.

Natsu Standings, Day 9

With 6 matches remaining:

Ozeki wins needed to avoid kadoban

  • Mitakeumi: 4
  • Shodai: 5
  • Takakeisho: 3

Wins needed to stay in san’yaku

  • Wakatakakage: 4 to stay Sekiwake, 3 to stay in san’yaku
  • Abi: 3 to stay Sekiwake, 2 to stay in san’yaku
  • Hoshoryu: 2
  • Daieisho: 3

Frontrunners for san’yaku promotion

  • Kiribayama
  • Takanosho
  • Tamawashi
  • Kotonowaka

Wins needed to stay in Makuuchi

  • Ishiura: will be demoted
  • Kotokuzan: will be demoted barring a miracle
  • Kagayaki: 5
  • Several others: 1-2

Wins needed for promotion from Juryo

  • Tsurugisho, Chiyomaru, Hidenoumi, Ryuden: 3
  • Several others: 5 or more

Wins needed to stay in Juryo

  • Kitanowaka: will be demoted
  • Chiyoarashi, Daishomaru, Shohozan: 4
  • Kaisei, Churanoumi, Takakento, Bushozan: 3
  • Yago: 2
  • Several others: 1