Natsu Day 7 Highlights

While we had some fun with the number of 4-2 head to head matches that cropped up on the day 7 torikumi, a surprising number of 4-2 rikishi are now 5-2, and I am going to guess that the scheduling committee will end up with a day of 5-2 head to head matches as well. Sadly, that now includes Takayasu, who lost his second match of the basho. That leaves 2 Ozeki in contention as we await the tournament’s middle day on Sunday.

Highlight Matches

Chiyonoo defeats Ishiura – They even imported a 4-2 rikishi from Juryo to help out with what was “4-2 day”. I think we are probably going to see Chiyonoo return to the top division in July, for the first time since 2017 or so. He had his hands inside at the tachiai, beating out Ishiura. Ishiura responded with a left hand outside grip attempt, but went nowhere. They stayed chest to chest, but Chiyonoo kept moving Ishiura back, eventually getting the yorikiri to improve to 5-2 (get used to that, you will see it a lot today).

Chiyomaru defeats Akiseyama – Akiseyama continues to struggle this May, and I would guess he’s going back to Juryo unless he rallies strongly starting now. Chiyomaru got in the first strike at the tachiai, and pressed ahead for the 3 steps to take Akiseyama out. He improves to 5-2.

Okinoumi defeats Kaisei – This was a surprisingly good match. Kaisei did try to just be enormous at first, but Okinoumi had a plan for that. Much like picking up a refrigerator, Okinoumi kept inching his arms around until he found Kaisei’s belt. The Kaisei showed some great sumo chops and shifted grip, shutting down Okinoumi’s attack. But with as much front-loaded mass as Kaisei transports, he was a bit off balance, and Okinoumi pulled him down as Kaisei moved forward. Okinoumi improves to 5-2.

Chiyotairyu defeats Kotoeko – This match was not Chiyotairyu’s standard battle plan, but he did quite well chest to chest against Kotoeko. That big forward rush to finish the match? Kind of magical to be honest. If Chiyotairyu made this a standard part of his sumo arsenal, I think he could go somewhere with it. Chiyotairyu improves to 5-2.

Chiyoshoma defeats Akua – Ok, it stinks when Chiyoshoma henkas every day, but when he pulls out a theatrical whopper like this one, it’s kind of fun. I feel bad for Akua, who picked up his 6th loss, but how can you NOT go into a match with Chiyoshoma looking out for that kind of move? Chiyoshoma goes to 4-3 via flying henka.

Daiamami defeats Kotonowaka – Daiamami ran this match from the tachiai, until the moment where Kotonowaka rallied and shut him down. I did like that big belly slap as the two locked up for what turned into a period of chest to chest struggle near the center of the dohyo. But Kotonowaka ran out of stamina, and Daiamami eased him over the bales to end the day 4-3.

Shimanoumi defeats Terutsuyoshi – Whatever they transplanted from Terutsuyoshi to keep Terunofuji’s knees working took the better part of his sumo along with it. Shimanoumi was able to shut down all of Terutsuyoshi’s preferred attack routes, and found himself fighting from a crouch for a few moments as Shimanoumi moved him incrementally out of the ring. Shimanoumi has won 4 of the last 5 after a cold 2 loss start to the basho, he is now 4-3 and looking close to expected form.

Tamawashi defeats Tsurugisho – Wow, that was some huge sumo from these two. Tamawashi opened oshi-zumo style, and Tsurugisho used his bigger body to press for a belt grip. He was able to plow through Tamawashi’s attacks and get his grip, and went to work. But just as Tsurugisho looked ready to win, Tamawashi took control of the throw and drove Tsurugisho’s face into the bales with a resounding meaty thud. Tamawashi improves to 5-2, Tsurugisho leaves the dohyo with a bloody gash on his face.

Kagayaki defeats Takarafuji – The reverse of the multiple 4-2 battles today was this 2-4 battle, between two rikishi who are much better than their scores would indicate. Kagayaki successfully shut down Takarafuji’s attack plan, but Takarafuji was unable to switch to “defend and extend”, and Kagayaki took control and brought him over the bales. Kagayaki ends at 3-4.

Endo defeats Tochinoshin – Endo chose to go chest to chest with Tochinoshin, a bold move indeed. Tochinoshin quickly gained superior body position, but his damaged right knee removed any ability for Tochinoshin do to anything offensive. Endo used his body to move Tochinoshin back, and take the match by sending the former Ozeki out. Endo improves to 5-2.

Ichinojo defeats Hidenoumi – Ichinojo opened strong, but Hidenoumi stayed calm, and worked his hands to a double inside grip. At that point, Ichinojo shut him down by simply being enormous, and staying in one place. Truth be told, holding Ichinojo up is a job his on body struggles to do, and Hidenoumi quickly ran out of stamina. Ichinojo improves to 5-2.

Onosho defeats Tobizaru – Tobizaru flubbed the tachiai by going high, and allowing Onosho to bring more of his weight forward. But he quickly gained advantage and a left hand deep hold, and set up an over-arm throw. But in the process of being rotated down, Onosho imploded the throw, and Tobizaru went down with him. The gyoji pointed to the East, giving the match to Onosho and a monoii ensued. They touched down together, and a rematch was called. The second match was a high-energy slapping and thrusting battle that sent Tobizaru into the 4th row for some fansa. Onosho improves to 5-2.

Meisei defeats Wakatakakage – Meisei almost rammed Wakatakakage straight out of the ring at the tachiai, but Wakatakakage showed lightning reflexes and escaped Meisei’s finishing push. Wakatakakage rallied and took at least partial control of the match, taking the fight to Meisei. He was moving Meisei back, but got off balance and Meisei put him face down on the dohyo. Meisei improves to 3-4.

Mitakeumi defeats Daieisho – Daieisho got the inside lane at the tachiai, but he could not overcome Mitakeumi’s mass in motion forward pressure. Realizing he was moving back at an alarming pace Daieisho tries a pull, and in doing so surrenders the match to Mitakeumi. Mitakeumi improves to 5-2.

Hokutofuji defeats Takayasu – I love seeing a Hokutofuji like what he brought to today’s match. I marvel at how such a massive fellow can lunge forward with such speed and aggression. It does Hokutofuji some good, but Takayasu rallies and goes on the attack. Hokutofuji realizes he’s in trouble and attempts a pull as he is losing ground, and it succeeds in sending Takayasu off the dohyo for Hokutofuji’s first win of May.

Takakeisho defeats Hoshoryu – Hoshoryu side stepped the tachiai, hoping to land a mawashi grip. But given how vulnerable Takakeisho is to that attack route, I am sure he practices what happened next multiple times a day. With Hoshoryu nearly doubled over to the side, Takakeisho grabs a handful of his neck and slaps him to the clay. Valiant effort from Hoshoryu, but that was going nowhere. Takakeisho improves to 6-1 and remains one win behind Terunofuji.

Asanoyama defeats Myogiryu – Asanoyama yotsu is not quite as strong as it has been recently, and it seems to be inviting opponents to battle him chest to chest. Today he struggled to overcome some fairly solid attack sumo from Myogiryu. But overcome he did to hurl Myogiryu down with a sukuinage that took some time to put together. Asanoyama improves to 4-3, but everyone has a way to shut down his left hand grip now, it seems. He either needs to improve his right hand attacks, or improve his defense so he can stretch matches out while he gets his left hand attack in place.

Terunofuji defeats Takanosho – Takanosho successfully keeps Terunofuji at arm’s length with a spot on thrusting attack. After three attempts to get inside, Terunofuji abandon’s any try to get a hold of Takanosho, steps back and slams him to the clay. Terunofuji remains unbeaten at 7-0, and in sole possession of the lead.

Shodai defeats Kiribayama – Kiribayama opens strong, but finds he cannot move Shodai back, even with a nodowa driving Shodai’s head back. Once he exhausts that opening gambit, Shodai maintains contact and advances to drive Kiribayama out. Shodai improves to 5-2.

Natsu Day 7 Preview

We find ourselves happily in the middle weekend of this Natsu basho. It’s clear that the man to beat is once again Terunofuji. In fact he has been the man to beat in 4 of the last 5 touranments. That record goes – yusho, kachi-kosih kyujo (knee), jun-yusho, jun-yusho and yusho. The scores have been 13-2, 8-5-2, 13-2, 11-4, 12-3. That is Yokozuna grade sumo, dear readers. I think this is due to a combination of factors. Firstly that Terunofuji has been, from the start of his career, a gifted rikishi. He rose quickly on that natural talent, and excellent work ethic. Then came injury, illness and a fall down the banzuke. He battled back, and he returned to sumo with his skills greatly improved. Since then, he as been dominating every division as he rose up the banzuke. As I always say with someone in Terunofuji’s condition – I have no idea how long that knee can keep up. But wow, is he ever running away with it right now. I have a soft spot for plenty of other rikishi, but even his detractors must respect what he has accomplished in fact. The scores speak for themselves.

Do I expect him to get the rope? It’s looking more like we could see him take a run for it before the end of the year. I just have to wonder if he will get a chance to face Hakuho one more time (9-4 favoring The Boss), their last match was in May of 2017 – exactly 4 years ago. Video from Jason’s channel here

Note the punk ass dame-oshi from the Yokozuna

Here is a video from March of 2015 – Osaka. An ascendant Terunofuji bests Y1e Hakuho

What We Are Watching Day 7

Ishiura vs Chiyonoo – Chiyonoo up from Juryo to fill the Chiyonokuni banzuke gap. At J1w, Chiyonoo is on a kachi-koshi path at the moment, and stands a fair chance of returning to the top division for the first time since 2017. His attempt for win #5 today won’t be easy, as Ishiura holds a 7-3 career advantage.

Akiseyama vs Chiyomaru – Akiseyama needs to really, pretty much right now. He can afford a small make-koshi, but at Maegashira 13, he could certainly find himself in the queue for the Juryo barge later next week. To add to the bad news Chiyomaru is genki, and has a 4-2 career advantage. Good luck big stuff!

Kaisei vs Okinoumi – More of that over-sized 4-2 crowd: we get the every enormous Kaisei against grizzled veteran Okinoumi. I expect that Kaisei will attempt to limit mobility in this match, and resort to being huge. This works as both an offensive and defensive strategy, it seems. In fact I sort of assume that if Kaisei just assumed a defensive crouch at the shikiri-sen, his opponent might genuinely wear themselves into a frazzle trying to attack him, and eventually fall away exhausted. Of course, it would be fun to watch, but it might be boring for Kaisei.

Kotoeko vs Chiyotairyu – Clearly the scheduling committee is trying hard to winnow the 14 or so rikishi at 4-2 down by pairing them up to fight each other. Now we have pocket powerhouse Kotoeko and the sumo thunder-demon Chiyotairyu. If Kotoeko can keep his feet for the first 10 seconds, I am going to guess he can take this match.

Akua vs Chiyoshoma – A break for the 4-2 derby, we revert to “Grizzled heavy vets struggling at Natsu”, as Akua (1-5) takes on Chiyoshoma (3-3). I have to confess, much as I do love Akua, I am really keen to see Chiyoshoma continue to win doing more or less straight ahead sumo. Chiyoshoma holds a 4-2 career advantage.

Kotonowaka vs Daiamami – Staying with the 3-3 theme, we have Kotonowaka (3-3) against Daiamami (3-3), with a career record of 3-3. No word on if they will bend scheduling guidelines and have this match in the middle of Juryo at 3:30, or maybe hold it at the beginning of SAN-yaku. Sorry, the puns work better in Japanese, so I will just say 39 and leave it at that. (三九)

Shimanoumi vs Terutsuyoshi – No, not more bloody threes. Ok, just one more. It’s 3-3 Shimanoumi against 1-5 Terutsuyoshi. It’s a shame about Terutsuyoshi, who seems to have lost about 20% of his sumo power. Maybe they grafted some of his life force into Terunofuji’s knees for the basho. I hear those Isegahama guys are pretty tight like that.

Tsurugisho vs Tamawashi – And now we flip over into the mirror universe, and we see the anti-Tsurugisho (at 2-4) taking on Tamawashi at 4-2. Did I mention that some folks in Japan like to tell jokes with numbers? I think I can 四 how they might do that through the torikumi. This is their first time meeting, so if Tsurugisho really is from the mirror universe, that means that right now OUR Tsurugisho is leading some kind of yusho race in bizzaro Japan.

Kagayaki vs Takarafuji – Two other refugees from the mirror universe, the face off with matching 2-4 records. Kagayaki, well, I am just about to write him off for now. Takarafuji, I am guessing he also donated some of his life force to Terunofuji to keep him whole for the entire 15 days. Even bizzaro Isegahama rikishi are in for the cause.

Tochinoshin vs Endo – Rounding out our 4 transplants from the mirror universe, bizzaro Tochinoshin at 2-4 faces off against Endo at 4-2. I have a strong idea that Endo is going to be able to take bizzaro Tochinoshin apart today, and send him back through the portal with clay all over him.

Hidenoumi vs Ichinojo – But wait, there is more! Another 4-2 pairing, just to make it fun. We are going to have Hidenoumi take on the Boulder. If there is a lot of kensho, Ichinojo will beat him like a tent peg at a yellowstone camp site. If not, it’s time for Hidenoumi to adjust that 1-5 career deficit.

Onosho vs Tobizaru – Of course Onosho is with the rest of the 4-2 crowd, but rather than give him 4-2 Mitakeumi, they let him try his mega-push against the hapless flying monkey. Before you take too much pity on Tobizaru, he holds a 2-0 career advantage over Onosho, so maybe he can start that rally today.

Wakatakakage vs Meisei – We are still playing with numbers and opposites, even this far up the torikumi. It seems to me that maybe the oyakata hit the pub early and just decided to have some fun with it. I don’t blame them one bit, as they need to do something to make the leaderboard tomorrow manageable. I am looking at Wakatakakage, and thinking that if one of the san’yaku stumble this time, he may actually fit in at the top for a bit.

Mitakeumi vs Daieisho – Now we just jumble everything up. It’s 三四, and if they can get this match to happen at 4:30, it will be even funnier. The two share a 8-7 career record, so they are equally likely to knock the stuffing out of each other. Maybe Mitakeumi can vent some of that day 6 post-match frustration into giving Daieisho an ultra-wedgie for a win.

Takayasu vs Hokutofuji – With Takayasu coming in at 5-1, we can congratulate him on one hand for being tied for second place behind Terunofuji on one hand. We can also jeer at him for messing up the number jokes. But this match was going to be an oddball anyhow as Takayasu’s up against winless Hokutofuji. They are fairly evenly balanced over their careers, but once Hokutofuji gets locked into that make-koshi run, it’s hard to get him to change his mind.

Hoshoryu vs Takakeisho – This is a magical time in a rikishi’s career. Their first ranking in the joi-jin. They get to see the top men in sumo up close, and get tossed about and sent packing. I am sure that Hoshoryu will be back some day, but first I expect Takakeisho to put some dirt on him today. This is their first ever fight.

Asanoyama vs Myogiryu – Asanoyama, you had better win this one.

Takanosho vs Terunofuji – You think, “Hey, it’s the Kaiju, he will make fast work of Onigiri-kun”. But in fact Takanosho holds a 4-1 career advantage over Terunofuji. Sadly I don’t have some terrible Japanese number joke to throw in with this one, just a hope to see Takanosho put up at least a decent struggle.

Shodai vs Kiribayama – I can’t stop thinking about Kiribayama slamming Asanoyama to the dohyo on day 6. He does not seem to be able to do that every day, but it was most interesting to see yesterday. Shodai holds a 3-0 career lead over Kiribayama, so I am going to guess that Shodai will survive to be 5-2 on Sunday.

Natsu Day 6 Highlights

It’s the first day of act 2 of the Natsu basho, and it’s clear there is a sharp battle brewing among the san’yaku for the cup. But it seems your shikona must begin with a “T” to participate this time around. For those of you not familiar with the Tachiai notion of basho “acts”, act 2 is where we narrow the field to find out who has what it takes to compete for the yusho, and to start sorting the survivors from the damned.

For the sixth straight day, Terunofuji continues to demonstrate he is, while his poor knees last, the most powerful man on the dohyo. Watching his sumo mechanics, there is almost nothing to fault. When you layer in his physical challenges, it’s quite remarkable that he is able to perform at this level. We have yet to start the series where the Ozeki face each other, and I suspect we will see some powerful matches next week. But until then, Terunofuji is the man to beat.

Highlight Matches

Chiyomaru defeats Tokushoryu – Tokushoryu opens with a standup tachiai, and the two very gingerly engage in some close quarters shoving. With them chest to chest, Tokushoryu pulls Chiyomaru while he has a hold on Chiyomaru’s mawashi. Not sure what he had in mind there. Chiyomaru improves to 4-2.

Kaisei defeats Akua – Akua repeatedly invited Kaisei to over-extend and get off balance, but Kaisei stays centered and pressing ahead. Akua is clearly suffering this basho, and takes his 5th loss while Kaisei improves to 4-2.

Ishiura defeats Daiamami – Ishiura continues to look solid. He took a piece of Daiamami’s arm early and used it with great effect. I really liked the mini death-spin to finish the match as he loaded Daiamami up with rotational energy. Ishiura now at 4-2.

Chiyotairyu defeats Kotonowaka – Chiyotairyu was all over the kimarite diagrams in this match. I tend to call this a “Daiso Match”, as there is a bit of everything in it. I think he tried a piece of nearly everything as he waggled and jumbled his way to a messy, but welcome victory. For Kotonowaka’s part he kept things focused and moving forward. But he was not quite ready for Chiyotairyu rescue move at the bales, and took a trip to the zabuton. Chiyotairyu improves to 4-2.

Chiyoshoma defeats Akiseyama – Another Daiso match, as Chiyoshoma cycles through a lot of sumo, starting with a henka. Akiseyama is genuinely looking worse for wear this basho, and I think he should try to keep his losses away from double digits if he can. Chiyoshoma improves to 3-3

Kotoeko defeats Tamawashi – The first time ever for Kotoeko to win over Tamawashi. As is sometimes the case, Tamawashi became fixated on his opponents face and shoulders, leaving his body wide open for counter-attack. It did not take long for Kotoeko to find his mark and apply the pressure, sending Tamawashi hopping out. Both end the day 4-2.

Okinoumi defeats Terutsuyoshi – Terutsuyoshi really can’t muster the power this basho to pull in the wins for some reason. Okinoumi boxes him up early, and Terutsuyoshi finds he can’t manuver enough to set up any moves. Moments later Okinoumi implodes Terutsuyoshi’s attempt at an ipponzeoi and brings him to the clay. Okinoumi improves to 4-2.

Tochinoshin defeats Kagayaki – Kagayaki gets an early advantage, but once the two are chest to chest, Tochinoshin is able to consolidate his hold just as Kagayaki’s advance runs out of power. This is the wrong position to be in with Tochinoshin, who finds the strength and stability to lift and shift Kagayaki, and moves him a piece at a time out of the ring. Both end the day at 2-4.

Shimanoumi defeats Takarafuji – Takarafuji missed a lateral shift by Shimanoumi, and found himself with Shimanoumi flanking him. Unable to do much to resist the pressure from the rear, Shimanoumi made the trip out of the ring quick. Shimanoumi improves to 3-3.

Tsurugisho defeats Hidenoumi – Tsurugisho had a good tachiai, finding a left hand shallow grip, which he converted into a Terunofuji style double arm bar. That’s only the second win of this basho for Tsurugisho, maybe with act 1 out of the way his ring rust has been addressed and he will start to win.

Ichinojo defeats Endo – I have to wonder why we don’t see this form of Ichinojo more frequently. Endo was, of course, quite precise in his attack plan, but when Ichinojo is fighting well there are quite a bit fewer things that will actually work. Both finish today at 4-2.

Wakatakakage defeats Onosho – Wakatakakage expertly uses Onosho’s mega-push tendency to encourage him to over extend. By the second step, Onosho is already so far forward over his toes that Wakatakakage only needs to release pressure and step to the side to send Onosho to his second loss. Both end the day at 4-2.

Meisei defeats Hokutofuji – Hokutofuji will likely continue in this mode until his 8th loss, at which point he will will all of his remaining matches. I like how Meisei stays compact, keeps his body organized while Hokutofuji thrashes about. Hokutofuji is capable of excellent balance, but he was not able to put it to work today. While Meisei improves to 2-4, Hokutofuji continues to work towards the most powerful make-koshi in all of sumo.

Takayasu defeats Mitakeumi – These two have a history of over 20 matches against each other, and they are well aware of how the other’s “brand of sumo” works. This resulted in a see-saw match where each man would attack and gain advantage, just to lose it moments later. The match ended with a mutual uwatenage that looked terribly close to myself. The gyoji gave it to Takayasu, and that will probably do just fine as he improves to 5-1.

Daieisho defeats Takanosho – Its great to watch Daieisho dump in about 15% more power into each thrust in this match, as these two traded double arm shoves from the tachiai. Takanosho stands up to the attacks for a time, but Daieisho overwhelms is defenses. Once Takanosho is moving, it’s three steps to the edge and Daieisho drives him out of the ring. Both end the day a 3-3.

Kiribayama defeats Asanoyama – Kiribayama beat Asanoyama in a mawashi battle today. This really gives me a worry that Asanoyama has some problem or injury. Kiribayama owned this match with the brief exception of a few moments when Asanoyama was finally able to consolidate his grip. But Kiribayama kept his cool and worked Asanoyama into a tight spot and dropped him with an uwatenage. Kiribayama improves to 2-4.

Terunofuji defeats Hoshoryu – Hoshoryu has been slowly making his way up the banzuke, and is now at the bottom edge of the joi-jin, and is eligible to face an Ozeki. Sadly for Hoshoryu that Ozeki is currently the most powerful man in sumo. Hoshoryu is mechanically sound, but he lacks the size and power to really make it effect Terunofuji in any meaningful way. Terunofuji remains undefeated at 6-0.

Myogiryu defeats Shodai – Today, Shodai’s soft tachiai cost him the match. Myogiryu got inside, attacked center mass, and it was 3 steps to the bales. Shodai did not even have enough space or energy by the time he got to the edge to even try any rescue moves, and stepped out. Myogiryu improves to 2-4.

Takakeisho defeats Tobizaru – Really nice to watch Takakeisho go on the attack today. Tobizaru has a solid oshi-zumo catalog, but it does him no good today. I am not sure what kind of music Takakeisho listens to, but watch his thrusting attacks take on a different rhythm today from yesterday. It was some kind of rapid, poly-rhythmic death metal today, if you ask me. Bappity-bappity-bappity-whoom!

Natsu 2021 Day 6 Preview

We’ve just ended the first third of the tournament and already have a clear favorite for the Cup in Terunofuji. He’s been dominant while his fellow Ozeki have struggled to prove their mettle at the rank. It’s far too early to crown any champions yet but at this point the competition appears tarnished and dull. Kaiju, however, has yet to fall.

Match List

Tokushoryu (Juryo 4-1) vs Chiyomaru (3-2): Both of these big men lost competitive bouts yesterday. Tokushoryu’s was a tawara-dancing switcheroo against Yutakayama. Tokushoryu is highly motivated to get back into Makuuchi, while Chiyomaru only needs 5 of 10 wins to stay, so I’m giving Tokushoryu a slight motivational edge in spite of Chiyomaru’s historical edge. Either way, it will be a fun oshi-brawl.

Kaisei (3-2) vs Akua (1-4): Akua had a disappointing loss to an injured Enho today. It looked like he was trying to develop a belt game rather than focusing on pushing the smaller guy down. I would not advise going into a bout with Kaisei in the same way. Don’t go for the belt with weak belt game or he’ll win. Keep him off the belt if you want to turn things around.

Ishiura (3-2) vs Daiamami (3-2): Both men are having a good start to the tournament but definitely have work to do to ensure they stay in the top division. Both men also have preferences for migi-yotsu sumo and Ishiura holds a slim 2-1 lead in their rivalry. I don’t think Ishiura will need a henka to pull this off. He can hit Daiamami head on and act quick at the tachiai. If the bout drags out, Ishiura will slip away and rely on an off-balance Daiamami to give chase.

Kotonowaka (3-2) vs Chiyotairyu (3-2): Kotonowaka will want to get a belt-grip against Chiyotairyu. The key here will be whether Chiyotairyu allows it. If not, this bout goes full-on bar brawl.

Akiseyama (1-4) vs Chiyoshoma (2-3): Kaisei handed Akiseyama his fourth loss while Chiyoshoma is happy his arm is not broken. Neither has had a particularly impressive first week so far.

Tamawashi (4-1) vs Kotoeko (3-2): On the flip side, Tamawashi and Kotoeko are doing quite well. A few more wins for Tamawashi and he’ll be able to coast to kachi-koshi. Kotoeko is still outsized and often outmatched at this rank. He’ll need to capitalize on any opportunities afforded by Tamawashi but there won’t be many against this veteran.

Okinoumi (3-2) vs Terutsuyoshi (1-4): Okinoumi is under-ranked here while Terutsuyoshi has been “solved” by most of his opponents. These two have split their previous meetings but my gut gives Okinoumi the confidence and experience edge against Terutsuyoshi “on tilt.”

Tochinoshin (1-4) vs Kagayaki (2-3): Tochinoshin has a fraction of the power he had previously. This may turn into a brawl, rather than his standard belt battles but I think Kagayaki will pick up his second win against the former Ozeki.

Shimanoumi (2-3) vs Takarafuji (2-3): These two gentlemen have been chewed up and spit out in their visits in the Makuuchi joi. Takarafuji probably has the experience and technique advantage here. Takarafuji will rope in Shimanoumi and win this one on the belt.

Hidenoumi (4-1) vs Tsurugisho (1-4): These two men are fighting strength-to-strength and have a long history of bouts in the lower divisions with Tsurugisho having the slight 10-9 edge. The nod goes to the lady’s man in this bout.

Endo (4-1) vs Ichinojo (3-2): Endo had a very impressive, adaptive win today against the smaller Terutsuyoshi but he has trouble with the size of Ichinojo on the belt. Will he avoid the belt and try to win in a slapfest? This is Endo, so I doubt it but I think that gives him the best chance.

Wakatakakage (3-2) vs Onosho (4-1): Onosho is in the chase group but Wakatakakage has collected quite the scalp collection this tournament, winning 50% of his bouts against Ozeki as well as a thumper against Takayasu. After his loss to Kaiju, he’ll be punching below his weight (not literally) against Onosho. If he hopes to advance and pick up more hardware, he’ll need to win all the bouts in which he’s favored.

Meisei (1-4) vs Hokutofuji (0-5): Both of these guys have been through the ringer this week. Neither get much headway with sanyaku, though they’re certainly capable of the occasional upset. They’ve been lacking consistency at this high level but one must win. With a narrow 2-1 head-to-head going the way of Hokutofuji, I still think Meisei’s the least likely to go 5-10 or worse among these two.

Takayasu (4-1) vs Mitakeumi (4-1): These two share roots in the Philippines and a desire to take advantage of the froth in the sanyaku ranks. However, Mitakeumi has proven that he knows how to win while Takayasu crumbled in historic fashion in the last tournament. They have stated goals of double-digit wins with Takayasu one-leg in an ozeki run. Mitakeumi will need a miracle but both will duke it out in spectacular fashion. The edge goes to Takayasu since the yusho is not on the line.

Daieisho (2-3) vs Takanosho (3-2): This will be the bout to get up and get a beer.

Asanoyama (3-2) vs Kiribayama (1-4): Stay in the kitchen a bit, choose another beer and avoid the disappointment. I want both of these guys to be in the hunt and I’m sad that neither are performing anywhere near that level.

Hoshoryu (2-3) vs Terunofuji (5-0): Hoshoryu’s surprise win against Ichinojo will have prepared him well for his bout with…oh. The Kaiju? Not the Kaiju. Say your prayers, young dragon.

Shodai (4-1) vs Myogiryu (1-4): Shodai needs wins. Myogiryu enjoys handing them out.

Tobizaru (1-4) vs Takakeisho (4-1): The wave action should find Tobizaru three or four rows deep in the stands. Maybe he can help his brother out while he’s there by getting the Posture Princess’ phone number.