Nagoya Day 9 Preview


Asanoyama
Juryo 5 Asanoyama (朝乃山)

Another Day Of Rising Stars.

Within the next couple of days, we are likely to start the part of the schedule that focuses on matches between the remaining Ozeki and Yokozuna. But before that, we get a nice opportunity for more of these crazy “what if” matches to take place. I don’t expect either Ura or Kagayaki to really change the score for the yusho race, but it’s amazing to see these two young rikishi go flat out in a bid to make their mark.

Thus far, the Nagoya basho has been extremely entertaining, and packed with some great sumo. Readers will recall that I had my worries about Juryo by this time last basho. Sadly most folks in the west don’t get much exposure to Juryo, as it is not shown as part of the NHK highlight shows. But there is an entire additional division below Makuuchi, which you can think of as a farm team for Makuuchi. Juryo is actually quite exciting right now, as rikishi Asanoyama (朝乃山) is undefeated and already has his kachi-koshi. He joined sumo from Kinki University, and has only been in sumo for 9 basho. He took the Makushita at new years, and is tearing up Juryo this tournament, after tying for the Juryo yusho in Osaka. He stands a decent chance to contend for the Juryo again this basho, and we may see him Makuuchi soon. Below is a video of his day 8 match against Kyokushuho

 

In the Makuuchi yusho race, it seems only the Ozeki and Harmuafuji face any chance of throwing a loss to Hakuho, and both a Hakuho yusho and zensho are quite possible now. So we wait to see when the Hakuho – Takayasu match turns up, representing the best chance to make the yusho completive.

Nagoya Leader board

Leader – Hakuho
Chasers – Takayasu, Aoiyama
Hunt Group – Harumafuji, Onosho, Chiyotairyu, Takarafuji

7 Matches Remain

What We Are Watching Day 9

Takarafuji vs Nishikigi – Takarafuji has not made many of the highlight shows broadcast in the west, but the rikishi with no neck has been really turning in the wins, and deserves some closer coverage. Currently at 6-2, he goes up against a resurgent Nishikigi. I am expecting both of these rikishi to have solid kachi-koshi records and be mid level Maegashira for Aki. This will only be their second match up, with their first going to Takarafuji.

Arawashi vs Sokokurai – I am very happy to see Arawashi apparently over his injuries that kept him from top form during Natsu, and back with some excellent sumo. Sadly Sokokurai is struggling, and may continue to beg for wins.

Chiyotairyu vs Kotoyuki – Kotoyuki is headed back to Juryo, and was talking to himself today. Never a good sign. Chiyotairyu is quite solid this basho, and is looking for a strong finish. Much like Natsu, I expect a handful of lower Maegashira to approach or achieve 10 win records, and be nominated for a beat down in the joi in September.

Aoiyama vs Chiyonokuni – Speaking of the Aki bruise and ache club, Aoiyama is one shy of kachi-koshi now, and may be able to lock up his majority wins against Chiyonokuni. There are significant logistical and mechanical problems to fighting someone the size and geometry of Aoiyama. If you don’t get inside of him fast and apply torsion to his upper torso (aka a Tokyo Twister), he tends to pummel you senseless with those giant fleshy arms, all the while hypnotizing you with his pendulous man-boobs. Whatever you do, Chiyonokuni – don’t look.

Okinoumi vs Onosho – Okinoumi seems to have gotten in his grove and is at least putting up a good contest, but at the moment Onosho refuses to lose. So I am guessing this may go fast. This is their first meeting, and I am sure that Onosho is going to open hard and fast. Hopefully he keeps his eyes on Okinoumi, as the veteran might be wise to consider a full or mini-henka.

Shodai vs Tochinoshin – Shodai’s closing move on his day 8 match may have escaped fans, but it was very careful and quite precise. I tend to give Shodai a hard time because of his tachiai, but he is a solid sumotori in so many other areas. A chest-to-chest battle with Tochinoshin won’t be to Shodai’s advantage, so I will be curious to see what strategy he employs.

Kotoshogiku vs Mitakeumi – These two have split their 6 prior matches, and it’s bound to be a good fight this time. Ojisan Kotoshogiku seems to have found some energy, and is actually putting up some decent sumo now. Mitakeumi is likely smarting from his day 8 loss (he even landed hard). I expect Mitakeumi to be fired up and for the Kyushu Bulldozer to move fast to control the match and keep Mitakeumi from a run-and-gun strategy, which favors him.

Tamawashi vs Takakeisho – Tamawashi is teetering on the edge of getting into losing territory. He wants to make a strong case to begin Ozeki consideration, and he needs to win from here on out to do that. Takakeisho has been getting pounded daily, and everyone expected that. But Takakeisho mounts the dohyo and gives it all each time, which tells us he will be back, and more prepared next time. His romper room special with Hakuho seems to have not damaged his confidence, which I was fairly sure it would not. Seriously folks, these sumotori are physically and mentally tough people. Heya life is rough, and its a very Darwinistic culture.

Takayasu vs Yoshikaze – Evenly matched by their prior bouts. Sadly this is probably the match where Yoshikaze’s face starts bleeding daily as Takayasu has become very fond of forearm smashes at the tachiai. Yoshikaze seems to be a notch lower in intensity than the first 5 days, and I seriously worry he is hurt.

Ura vs Harumafuji – We all know that Harumafuji is going to win handily, but like his match with Hakuho, I think we are going to see Ura make “The Horse” work for it. Their first match, and it will likely be fast.

Hakuho vs Kagayaki – After standing up manfully to Harumafuji, Kagayaki draws an appointment with “The Boss”. I am certain of a Hakuho win (to tie Chiyonofuji’s all time win score of 1045), but how long can Kagayaki stay in the match? The man in gold is about to find out.

Nagoya Day 4 Highlights


Hakuho-Classroom

Nagoya Crazy Train Still Rolling On.

Many sumo fans assumed that at some point this week, the Nagoya bahso would settle down to a standard sumo grind, but this basho is a run away beer truck rolling down hill. The only hope we have is to climb on board and drink the contents while the ride lasts.

With Yokozuna Kakuryu’s withdrawal from the basho, the noises of his retirement have returned at an elevated volume. I think it would be a great loss for sumo, given that his style is fairly unique. But it’s clear that his body is not up to the challenge of supporting the intense schedule of the modern sumo year.

There was a good amount of concern and confusion in today’s match between Ura and Onosho. To the fans in the Aichi Prefectural Gymnaisum, it must have looked that Onosho was a clear winner. In fact it seems that both rikishi were not quite certain who had won. As the gyoji handed the kensho to Ura, the shimpan rose, and Ura assumed that a monoii had been called. Looking confused, he tried to hand the kensho back to the gyoji. In fact it was simply the half way break, and the Shimpan were changing over.

Lastly, in a bout that I loved, but that many in Japan are criticizing, Hakuho completely and utterly deconstructed fast rising star Takakeisho in the final match of the day. It’s quite understandable that Takakeisho would be in awe of his first ever match against the dai-Yokozuna, and Hakuho played on that. After a series of tsuppari delivered to the young challenger, Takakeisho backed off and waited. This prompted Hakuho to encourage him to attack, and it devolved into butsugari geiko. This may not quite make sense, but in that 30 second bout, Hakuho reduced Takakeisho from challenger, to student. Personally I found it endearing, but it seems that a good amount of the sumo mainstays in the NSK found it quite insulting.

Selected Matches

Nishikigi defeats Sokokurai – Nishikigi continues to look renewed in his return to Makuuchi. He is now 4-0 and half way to his kachi-koshi. Sokokurai put up a good fight, but Nishikigi was not going to lose.

Tokushoryu defeats Chiyonokuni – Tokushoryu completely overpowered Chiyonokuni in this match, which resulted in a monii. I have to wonder if Chiyonokuni is nursing some injury from Natsu, as he continues to turn in dismal results.

Aoiyama defeats Shohozan – Aoiyama the man mountain continues to dominate, and remains unbeaten thus far. I am certain that Maegashira 8 is the perfect rank for Aoiyama, as he seems to be doing very well with this degree of difficulty.

Ishiura defeats Chiyotairyu – Ishiura showed up with some really solid sumo today, and the crowd loved it. I am not sure if he has physical or confidence problems, but everyone is hoping to see that same hard-charging sumo machine that first entered Makuuchi in January.

Ura defeats Onosho – In addition to the post-match confusion, this was some really solid sumo from both men. Onosho really pushed hard from the tachiai, but lost momentum moments from victory. His final pulling throw at the edge saw his foot out for just a moment as Ura took flight.

Tochiozan defeats Endo – Something happened at the tachiai, and Endo more or less stopped trying just after the initial charge. All of sumo hopes Endo is not harboring some performance limiting injury.

Takayasu defeats Mitakeumi – Takayasu’s initial shoulder blast seems to have disoriented Mitakeumi, who was never able to get stable and attack. Takayasu continued to press the attack and move forward, and prevailed. This is two days in a row where it seems Mitakeumi became disoriented after a really solid blow to the head on the tachiai.

Goeido defeats Ikioi – Example of Goeido 2.0 behavior. Explode into the tachiai, carry that momentum into your opponent’s chest and just run him off the dohyo. Sadly Ikioi is winless.

Hokutofuji defeats Terunofuji – Hokutofuji is holding up very well against sumo’s top ranks. If he can stay healthy, he will join them before long. It’s clear that Terunofuji is struggling daily to compete through the pain.

Kisenosato defeats Shodai – All of the sumo world breaths a sigh of relief. Not only did he win, but he was producing power through his left side. Maybe he can make a go of it after all. Shodai, of course, had a terrible tachiai.

Harumafuji defeats Tochinoshin – Excellent deploy of Harumafuji’s mini-henka, against an opponent who sort of expected it.

Hakuho defeats Takakeisho – In what I can only call “Mole Boss Sumo”, Hakuho is cat to Takakeisho’s mouse. When they made this Yokozuna, they broke the mould. Much respect to Takakeisho for continuing to try to attack in spite of Hakuho batting him around like a piece of twine.

Nagoya Day 4 Preview


Endo-Doomed

With Kakuryu Out, Endo Joins The Meat Grinder.

Blog contributor and reader Iksumo has correctly pointed out that with Yokozuna Kakuryu’s withdrawal from the Nagoya Basho, Maegashira 3w joins the joi. Readers may have seen us use the term “joi” in the past. It is a fairly loose reference to the top echelon of Makuuchi; those that will have to face Yokozuna and Ozeka as fodder for their sport. Luckily Endo has been in the joi several times before, and is more than ready to take his turn in the meat grinder.

Day 3 gave some comfort to long time sumo fans. At long last all 3 Ozeki won, and Yokozuna Harumafuji scored his first win. But Harumafuji looked far from his poised, aggressive self both before the match and after. He is clearly in a good amount of pain in his lower body, and I worry that he too may find it necessary to sit out some part of this basho.

Sadly, Kisenosato is also looking damaged, and we face a real possibility that we could only have one Yokozuna active (Hakuho) during week two.

Matches We Like

Gagamaru vs Kotoyuki – Both of these rikishi have had a terrible start to this tournament. Gagamaru especially has not been doing well, and is clearly in pain. Kotoyuki as well suffers from a host of injuries, and spent a day kyujo during Natsu.

Nishikigi vs Sokokurai – Nishikigi really has found his stride, and is working to show that he belongs in Makuuchi. He has only faced Sokokurai once before, and lost. Given his 3-0 start, he may be ready to even the score.

Aoiyama vs Shohozan – “Big Guns” Shohozan goes up against the man-mountain Aoiyama. Aoiyama wins in terms of bulk, power and reach. But Shohozan can take a shot and give as good as he gets. If they get started well, this could be a slap fest for the ages. Aoiyama leads the career series 12-6, so advantage to the Bulgarian.

Ura vs Onosho – Ura was off his sumo on day 3, and I wager he will be back in form for Onosho, whom he has faced several times in the past, and defeated 3 times to 1 loss. Onosho is unbeaten so far this basho, and is looking quite strong and confident. This match has a lot of potential.

Tochiozan vs Endo – Both of these rikishi come into today with 2-1 records, and both of them have been looking fairly well thus far. Endo needs to tune up for his rotation through the upper ranks, but Tochiozan tends to beat Endo with a high degree of predictability.

Takayasu vs Mitakeumi – The shin-Ozeki vs the future-Ozeki. Day 3 Mitakeumi seemed to have stopped prematurely, so he will get a chance today to apply his sumo with gusto. Takayasu leads their series 5-3, but Mitakeumi has a lot to prove.

Terunofuji vs Hokutofuji – Injured Terunofuji vs the up-and-coming Maegashira who has shown a lot of poise, ingenuity and strength. This is their first meeting, so once again we get to see how both men handle the first encounter.

Kisenosato vs Shodai – Should Kisenosato drop this bout to Shodai, it will be very dark days for the newest Yokozuna indeed. It is clear that he has not recovered, and that thus far he has not been fighting at even Ozeki level. Shodai will (hopefully) get his tachiai together for day 4.

Tochinoshin vs Harumafuji – With Harumafuji sore, Tochinoshin has a real chance for another kinboshi. More recent followers of sumo may not know this, but at one time Tochinoshin (before his injuries) as a serious contender for upper ranks. It is really nice to see him competing at this level once more. Harumafuji leads the career bouts 21-6.

Hakuho vs Takakeisho – Yet another first meeting, this time the hard charging up and comer goes face to face with the dai Yokozuna. I am sure that Takakeisho will be a bundle of nerves, but I just hope he puts up a good struggle.

Nagoya Day 1 Preview


Makuuchi-crew

Every Match Has Interest Today

Much has been said here on Tachiai as well as other sumo media about some of the excitement around this Nagoya basho. There is a lot of fresh blood in the top half of Maegashira, Hakuho looks to be back to fighting form, and there is a new Ozeki in town. On day one of any basho, the possibilities are wide open, but I feel more so for this tournament. It’s at times like this that I wish there were a way to get the full NHK English program (2 hours) without going through strange gyrations and whole house rewiring. But most likely we will be limited to what matches NHK World can squeeze into the 20 minute highlight show.

Matches We Like

Nishikigi vs Kotoyuki – Kotoyuki ended Natsu on a really sour note. He was clearly injured and was just barely getting up on the dohyo daily. Nishikigi is back after one tournament in Juryo, and it’s time to see if he has improved. Nishikigi holds a 2-1 career edge.

Sadanoumi vs Sokokurai – This one should be all Sokokurai, but their last meet up (also on day 1 of the May basho) saw Sadanoumi deliver a convincing oshidashi.

Chiyonokuni vs Shohozan – Chiyonokuni was drop-kicked down the banzuke after a miserable turn as Maegashira 1. Now bottom feeding at Maegashira 11, he goes up against “Big Guns” Shohozan, who holds a 5-1 career advantage.

Tokushoryu vs Ishiura – Only one prior match between them, and it went to Ishiura. Tokushoryu has bulk, height and reach on Ishiura, so if Ishiura wants to take their second career meeting, he is going to do it via speed and technique.

Ichinojo vs Tochiozan – Tochiozan had a great basho in Osaka, and then fizzled at Natsu. Ichinojo is hit or miss, so it’s time to see if the big Mongolian is healthy and ready to compete. Tochiozan holds a 6-3 career advantage.

Chiyoshoma vs Kagayaki – Kagayaki is probably a bit uncomfortable with his significant lift up the banzuke, and he starts Nagoya facing off against veteran Chiyoshoma. Chiyoshoma had a miserable Natsu, but was not demoted nearly as much as might be expected based on his 5-10 record. If Kagayaki is going to be able to put up much of a contest at his new rank, this may be a good early indicator.

Ura vs Endo – One of the big matches of the day. Two crowd favorites face off for the very first time. I expect Endo to go for a straight ahead bout, and Ura is going to try something creative. May not last long.

Tamawashi vs Ikioi – Tamawashi is coming in with a lot of buzz about him being ready to take his sumo to the next level. While we all hope that Rikishi can continue to excel, he gets to try it out on Ikioi first. Tamawashi leads 8-4 over their careers, but that’s not going to stop Ikioi from trying to blast him into space from the tachiai.

Takayasu vs Hokutofuji – Another highlight match. This is the first meeting between these two, and it could be quite exciting. Both have similar approaches to their sumo. So I am looking for Hokutofuji to prevent Takayasu from getting his preferred grip, and try to coax him into pulling for a hatakikomi or similar move. This is always Takayasu’s weakness, and I pray he just fights moving forward.

Tochinoshin vs Goeido – From the scratch and dent bin, we get two rikishi who are capable of great sumo, but frequently under-achieve. I will be looking for Goeido to go for a massive offense straight from the tachiai.

Terunofuji vs Takakeisho – Takakeisho’s baptism by fire. Welcome to upper Makuuchi kid! Here, have a match with the kaiju! It will be entertaining to see what Takakeisho does in reaction to Terunofuji. Maybe a henka?

Shodai vs Kakuryu – Big K holds a 4-0 advantage in the series, so I am going to look for a strong but high tachiai from Shodai, with Kakuryu using his energy to move him toward the tawara.

Kisenosato vs Mitakeumi – There are a lot of great matches today, and this could be worthy of note. We will find out if Kisenosato is still a one armed man, and we will see if Mitakeumi was sandbagging during the last few days of training.

Yoshikaze vs Harumafuji – There is no love lost here. Last year in Nagoya their bout became a street brawl that left blood on the dohyo. Career wise, Harumafuji leads only by 9-8, and Yoshikaze tends to beat kinboshi out of Harumafuji.

Hakuho vs Kotoshogiku – We get to see Hakuho launch into his march towards the all time win goal with his bout against an ailing and aging Kotoshogiku. I am not sure about you, but watching Kotoshogiku fight now is kind of sad to me.

Nagoya banzuke crystal ball part 2


This post is the follow-up to Nagoya banzuke crystal ball part 1.

Lower maegashira

M5 Chiyoshoma Tochiozan
M6 Ichinojo Onosho
M7 Daieisho Aoiyama
M8 Takanoiwa Ishiura
M9 Tokushoryu Chiyotairyu
M10 Okinoumi Shohozan
M11 Daishomaru Chiyonokuni
M12 Arawashi Takarafuji
M13 Takekaze Sokokurai
M14 Sadanoumi (J) Chiyomaru (J)
M15 Nishikigi (J) Kotoyuki
M16 Kaisei/Gagamaru (J)?

Make-koshi at Natsu in red; kachi-koshi in green; (J) = promotion from Juryo.

That looks like a lot of red. So I counted, and 14 of the rikishi in this part of the banzuke had losing records at Natsu. I guess that’s why they’re here. Only 6 of the wrestlers here who were in Makuuchi at Natsu had winning records, most notably Onosho, who jumps all the way from M14 to M6. It’s probably to Onosho’s benefit that he takes a big jump up the banzuke but gets more experience before having to face the highest ranks. Conversely, Chiyonokuni tumbles all the way from M1 to M11 (see “meat grinder, the” in the previous post; everyone but Endo finds themselves here: Chiyoshoma, Tochiozan, Daieisho, Aoiyama, Okinoumi).

I learned my lesson from Natsu banzuke prediction and stuck entirely to the order dictated by my computed ranks. So the only decision was how to break ties. In general, I gave the nod to the rikishi ranked higher at Natsu. But in a few cases, I bumped up wrestlers with kachi-koshi above those with make-koshi: Tokushoryu and Chiyotairyu above Okinoumi and Shohozan, Daishomaru above Chiyonokuni and Arawashi, and Chiyomaru and Nishikigi above Kotoyuki.

Finally, Kaisei/Gagamaru seems like a complete toss-up. Kaisei went 7-8 in Makuuchi. His 7 wins include 2 over Juryo opponents and a fusen “win” over Kotoyuki. Gagamaru went 9-6 in Juryo, including 1-1 against Makuuchi opponents. Their recent performances don’t give any reason to expect anything more than a mediocre performance by either at the bottom of Makuuchi, with a good chance of demotion to Juryo after Nagoya. But someone has to fill M16e…

Natsu Day 10 Highlights


Takayasu

The Hard Chargers Already Achieve Kachi-Koshi.

Day 10, we saw a number of hard charging rikishi achieve their tournament winning records, known as kachi-koshi. This includes

  • Takayasu (actually secured day 9)
  • Terunofuji
  • Shodai
  • Tochinoshin
  • Ura

Kisenosato is in a tough spot – he is too injured to be competitive against the other Yokozuna and probably Terunofuji. There is a real chance he could end up with a make-koshi. Does he go kyujo? I think everyone would understand, but his pride would prevent him from sitting out the rest of the tournament. I am sure the NSK is worrying about what to do next.

The mess in Juryo continues to decay into radioactive slag. The chances of anyone being really worth to promote to Makuuchi is quite slime, as everyone in the top half of Juryo (and could be considered for promotion) has a record no better than 6-4. While there are several rikishi in Makuuchi worthy of return to Juryo, it’s going to be a real wild guess how the July banzuke is going to end up.

Takayasu’s Ozeki run has some problems, though he is likely to overcome. It’s the same issue that Kisenosato and Goeido face. With either Harumafuji or Hakuho healthy, it’s really tough towards impossible to be too dominant. With both of them healthy, you have to be thankful for every win in the upper ranks you can score. Fans will recall that this was the status quo for many years, and it’s one of the primary reasons Kisenosato stayed an Ozeki.

Selected Matches

Yutakayama defeats Ishiura – This was a bit of a strange match. It quickly went to Yutakayama holding Ishiura by the armpits, with Ishura bent over at the waist with a firm grip on Yutakayama’s mawashi. They stayed like this for quite a while until Yutakayama broke the stalemate, and tossed Ishura like a pizza crust into the Shimpan.

Tochinoshin defeats Daishomaru – Another weird one, there were two mattas, each time Daishomaru attempted a very poor henka without putting his hands on the dohyo at the tachiai. The third try? Henka again, but Tochinoshin was having none of it, and Daishomaru was done. Congratulations to Tochinoshin for a fairly early kachi-koshi

Ura defeats Kaisei – Kaisei seemed to struggle to figure out what to do with Ura, who once again was very low at the tachiai. Ura established a firm double hand flab-hold and began to lead Kaisei around like some kind of farm animal. Ura finished Kaisei off with a rather clever leg trip, and had his 8th win. Congratulations to Ura for his kachi-koshi, too.

Ichinojo defeats Takanoiwa – Very good bout right from the tachiai. Both rikishi struggled for control back and forth several times, and it seemed that Takanoiwa finally got the upper hand. Ichinojo was able to halt Takanoiwa’s charge at the tawara, and applied a rather well executed tsukiotoshi for the win.

Shodai defeats Sokokurai – Sokokurai had early control of this match, and looked to be in charge. But he could not put Shodai away. Shodai allowed Sokokurai to do all the work, and as Sokokurai tired, Shodai battled him back to the center of the dohyo. Sokokurai rallied and moved Shodai to the edge, but once again could not finish him. With his heels on the tawara, Shodai applied a somewhat clumsy tsukiotoshi to win the match. Shodaim also picks up his kachi-koshi

Terunofuji defeats Yoshikaze – Yoshikaze started out with an attack plan, and engaged with vigor. However, he was up against a kaiju, who had no interest in playing with the berserker. Terunofuji picked him up like a puppy and set him outside the tawara. Yoshikaze to his credit knew the match was lost and went along with it. Terunofuji also hits 8 wins and claims his kachi-koshi.

Goeido defeats Chiyoshoma – Looked like Goeido 2.0. Keep in mind Goeido is kadoban this tournament, and is still 2 wins from reaffirming his rank. He has some tough matches coming up during the rest of this week.

Harumafuji defeats Tochiozan – Showing that he was not as injured as we feared yesterday, Harumafuji launched off the line and pushed Tochiozan directly out. It was no contest.

Kotoshogiku defeats Kisenosato – The sad tale of Kisenosato’s injuries continues. In his loss, the Japanese Yokozuna prolonged the inevitable for Kotoshogiku by another day.

Hakuho defeats Takayasu – Takayasu put everything he had into this match, but he was completely out-classed by Hakuho. Hakuho secured a solid mawashi grip early, and Takayasu struggled to get any traction. As Takayasu struggled to set up a throw, Hakuho decided he was done playing, lowered his head and his hips and drove them both off the dohyo, landing in the first row of zabuton. Some really good sumo. But it’s clear that the last 2 wins Takayasu needs to secure a bit to be promoted to Ozei will not be an easy run.

Natsu Day 6 Preview


Takayasu-Endo

Start Of The Middle Act.

The middle part of any basho is where we find out who is going to have a shot at the yusho, and who is going to struggle to stay above 500. Right now its clear that both Hakuho and Harumafuji are fit, strong and in their groove. We also have a very solid performance from Takayasu thus far, and he seems to be well on his way towards hitting the 10 wins needed for consideration for promotion to Ozeki.

Indeed, Takayasu has stated in recent interviews that he is pressing for the yusho, and believes he sumo is up to the task. His tests against Hakuho and Harumafuji are yet to happen, but they are likely to decide if Takayasu’s goal might be within reach. We could reasonably expect those matches this weekend, though the scheduling team may hold them for later next week, as they are certain to be a big draw for fans. Takayasu is a bona fide hit with fans in the Kokugikan, and you can safely assume that carries out to fans watching at home. Right now, most of Japan wants to see Takayasu succeed.

Day 6 is next, though, and while there will likely be some great sumo today, there are no huge earth shattering bouts on the torikumi.

Matches We Are Following

Tokushoryu vs Chiyotairyu – Both rikishi have be fighting well this tournament, and their prior 8 matches are evenly split. I expect Chiyotairyu to try an early hatakikomi, and Tokushoryu working hard to lock up the mawashi.

Onosho vs Kotoyuki – This is their first meeting. Kotoyuki has been looking lack-luster for the past year or so, and may have finally sunk down the banzuke far enough that he is competitive. He certainly has been brining very good sumo this tournament, and was surprisingly fast to react in the first 5 days. Both are pushers so, lots of flailing arms here.

Ichinojo vs Ura – The fans love a big man – little man match, and this is one of the ultimates. I hope that Ura keeps his eyes on Ichinojo, and can stay mobile.

Hokutofuji vs Sokokurai – Sokokurai won both their prior match ups, but don’t assume Hokutofuji is going to lose this one. Hokutofuji is still working to become comfortable in Makuuchi, but from watching the first 5 days, he is starting to get his sumo together at this level.

Takanoiwa vs Shodai – Shodai has been hit or miss, and is night fighting as well this tournament as his 4-1 record would indicate. But he does somehow seem “blessed’ inside and outside the ring. Statistically Takanoiwa has a slight edge.

Tamawashi vs Takayasu – Sekiwake battle today, with most of Japan rooting for Takayasu. Takayasu has found a way to win every match thus far, but he and Tamawashi are a career 6-6. Probably one of the better matches today.

Terunofuji vs Chiyonokuni – Another match with a lot of potential, Chiyonokuni is losing a lot this tournament, but fighting very well. Terunofuji may have rekindled the spark of his sumo again that was so compelling during Osaka, so I would anticipate a brawl. Interestingly, Terunofuji lost their only prior match up.

Mitakeumi vs Goeido – We have seen hints of Goeido 2.0 in the past couple of days, but Mitakeumi is at his career best right now. Mitakeumi did manage to beat Goeido once. It will be down to who shows up, Goeido 1.0 will lose this match, 2.0 will win it with a massive, rapid burst of offense that will overwhelm Mitakeumi.

Endo vs Hakuho – Only interesting because I am curious what kind of maneuver The Boss is going to use to crumple Endo.