Welcome to Nakabi – the middle day of the basho. For folks with insomnia, or living in countries other than the US, NHK World Japan will be broadcasting the last 50 minutes of Makuuchi live. So do consider joining their stream if you have a chance, the coverage is always fantastic.
Where do we go from here? The leader in the yusho race, the undefeated Okinoumi, has yet to face any high ranking rikishi. But I would say for this basho, that might not be much of a threat depending on who he draws. Tachiai has been talking about the transition period longer than most sumo media (the Japanese sumo media included), but this is a tough basho all around. Sure there are some great competitors, but we really don’t have the “wall of sumo” at the top ranks that any rank-and-file yusho hopeful must overcome to lay hands on the cup. Maybe if we ask nicely and behave ourselves, lksumo might try to forecast who Okinoumi might have to face in week 2.
Such is the time we live in.
Chasers: Mitakeumi, Meisei, Ishiura
Hunt Group: Goeido, Takakeisho, Abi, Endo, Asanoyama, Myogiryu, Enho, Tsurugisho
8 Matches Remain
What We Are Watching Day 8
Ishiura vs Tokushoryu – Tokushoryu is up from Juryo to face a surprisingly refreshed and refreshing Ishiura. I am keen to see what kind of strategy he uses against his big, round opponent.
Tsurugisho vs Tochiozan – First time meeting for these two, and I am going to give an edge to Tsurugisho whose sumo seems to be ascendant, where Tochiozan seems to be fading out.
Kagayaki vs Toyonoshima – Kagayaki has lost 2 in a row, and each time he has been forced to deviate from his typical “focus on the basics” style and react to his opponent’s sumo. If Toyonoshima can dictate the terms of the match, he has a chance.
Shohozan vs Takagenji – Takagenji may be a write-off for Aki, if for no other reason than his off-dohyo world is a huge distraction. I am going to predict that Shohozan will probably pick him off today.
Azumaryu vs Daishoho – Veteran Azumaryu has a 1-3 record against Daishoho. But Daishoho only got his first win yesterday, and is fighting very poorly. I hate to label this another “battle of the broken toys”, but that does cross my mind.
Nishikigi vs Enho – I think Enho is hungry to stay in the yusho hunt, and he’s is going to take advantage of Nishikigi’s relatively slow sumo to tie him up and drop him.
Yutakayama vs Kotoyuki – Will we get the “out for fun” Kotoyuki today, or the “I am going to make you eat my mawashi” one? The big question for Yutakayama at the mid-point of Aki is: how is that knee holding up?
Okinoumi vs Onosho – Ok, Okinoumi is undefeated, and they are continuing to bottom-feed him. I don’t blame either rikishi, but as an Onosho fan, I have to say that he’s not quite the “red menace” he has been in the past. How about Ryuden instead? Or Abi? Or even Endo? I guess that is reserved for next week.
Kotoshogiku vs Sadanoumi – Both are going to want to grapple on this match, and I think it will come down to belt or armpit hold. If Kotoshogiku can get the mawashi, we all know what comes next. So possibly Sadanoumi aims high. Kotoshogiku aims low.
Meisei vs Kotoeko – After a cold start, Kotoeko has won 3 of the last 4, and I think he will possibly take Meisei out of the pack that is one behind Okinoumi.
Shimanoumi vs Terutsuyoshi – Both rikishi are 2-5, both are in dire need of wins, and both have been struggling daily during September. Terutsuyoshi has a 4-2 advantage over Shimanoumi, but right now neither of them is fighting anywhere near their normal level of intensity.
Takarafuji vs Myogiryu – These two have an 18 bout career history, so I think the 13-5 lead that Myogiryu holds might be an indicator.
Daieisho vs Ryuden – I had thought going in that at Maegashira 5, Ryuden would be at a comfortable rank. But he has not been able to produce wins. Daieisho is not doing much better, but has intensity on his side.
Asanoyama vs Aoiyama – Can we please see more Aoiyama V-Twin thrusting attack again? It’s much more compelling than the pulling nonsense he has used most of Aki. Asanoyama is going to want to get that left hand outside grip at the tachiai again, and Aoiyama is going to try to give him a big meaty palm to the face.
Abi vs Hokutofuji – The matches between these two are pretty ugly. You have Hokutofuji wanting to go for the nodowa, and Abi doing the double-arm shoulder thrusts. The result is usually a traffic jam of hands and elbows that can get jumbled up. Abi is fighting better right now, but continues to put his balance further forward than is prudent at times.
Chiyotairyu vs Endo – Readers know that I am usually not a fan of henkas, but I am hoping Endo does the sumo world a favor and lets Chiyotairyu get a face full of salt and clay.
Mitakeumi vs Takakeisho – To me this is “the” bout today. With the yusho race some sort of circus, Tochinoshin looking at Ozeki doom, the real story line left to play out is can Takakeisho make his 10 and return to Ozeki. I think this match is possibly the decider in that run, and Takakeisho holds a 4-7 career deficit. A note to readers, we have still not seen the “wave action tsuppari” attack. Time to bring out the primary weapon, tadpole.
Tomokaze vs Goeido – First time meeting, and I would love to see Goeido continue his “3 seconds and your are finished” sumo form. Congrats to Tomokaze for his kinboshi and all that, but his sumo has been cheap and sloppy for most of the basho. I only point this out because we have seen his “good” form (Nagoya) and we know what he is capable of.
Tochinoshin vs Shodai – Is this the saddest match in all of day 8? Both are 2-5, Tochinoshin is too hurt to fight, and I am going to guess Shodai may be highly demoralized at this point. As I sometime do, I suggest these two skip the dohyo and go to Popeye in Sumida for a LOT of beer instead.
Kakuryu vs Tamawashi – I am still sticking to the idea that Big K is hurt, but trying to hang tough for the fans. If Tamawashi up-ends him, it may be the signal it’s time to go kyujo.