Hatsu Day 15 Highlights

For the 6th consecutive Hatsu basho, we have a first time yusho winner take the cup. I am not sure what it is about Hatsu, but it’s a glorious thing. I recall that it was Hatsu 2016, and the Kyushu Bulldozer, Kotoshogiku, broke the Mongolian yusho streak, taking home the Emperor’s cup, lifting the fish, and drinking far too much sake. Since then we have had some great January yusho, including Kisenosato’s the following year, which gave him the green light to ascend to sumo’s highest rank of Yokozuna. Then it was Tochinoshin, Tamawashi, Tokushoryu and now Daieisho.

We sumo fans have now had a string of basho with no real Yokozuna participation. While I do miss the presence of a Yokozuna in the tournament, I think I am enjoying watching the next generation sort itself out. I still think the skill and capability difference between the bottom of Juryo and the top of Makuuchi is not what it should be, and the top division lacks a pack of dominant rikishi. But I also think that in time sumo will return to that mode.

I note with some sadness that Ikioi took his first ever kyujo just prior to day 15 of what could be his final tournament. It seems there was some injury to his hand, and he withdrew from competition. That’s 1090 matches, and not sitting one of them out until today. He would mount the dohyo with any manner of injuries and fight on. It was his hallmark. But given the reality of the situation, I don’t blame him. I expect an intai announcement from him before March, as a make-koshi will likely relegate him to Makushita. He has a kabu secured, and a future as a sumo elder, so I think he may have realized that it was time to move on. My thanks for many wonderful matches over the years, and I look forward to him joining the Yoshikaze / Goeido / Aminishiki BS club on YouTube. Frankly, I do want to know which brand of curry he prefers.

Highlight Matches

Hidenoumi defeats Akua – Juryo visitor Hidenoumi hands Akua his 10th loss. With the so many rikishi in forced kyujo in Juryo, figuring out the promotion / demotion candidates is going to be complex. I will feel most fortunate if lksumo makes an attempt later. But I would guess Akua will be a candidate to return to the lower sekitori ranks. That fall as he exited the dohyo looked like it left him in pain. I am sure Akua is glad Hatsu is complete.

Myogiryu defeats Yutakayama – The lone Darwin match saw Yutakayama extend his losing streak to 4 and finalize his make-koshi. Myogiryu took control of the match after a brief struggle immediately following the tachiai. Myogiryu finished Hatsu with an 8-7 kachi-koshi.

Daishomaru defeats Tokushoryu – Tokushoryu’s pull attempt falls apart in spectacular fashion, handing Juryo visitor Daishomaru his 11th win for January. What are they putting in the chanko at Oitekaze heya?

Midorifuji defeats Tobizaru – One last katasukashi for the road! Tobizaru’s story of Hatsu seems to be “in all things, a half measure short”. The guy put a lot of energy and work into every day, but could only muster 6 wins out of 15. Midorifuji finishes in glorious style, hooking that right hand underneath Tobizaru’s arm and swinging him down. He finishes 9-6 and takes home the technique prize.

Kagayaki defeats Akiseyama – The first match ended with both rikishi exiting the dohyo together, and the replays showed all manner of complexities, from dead bodies to arms touching early. The Shimpan threw in the towel and called for a rematch, which was Kagayaki from start to finish. Sadly, Akiseyama misses out on a special prize due to his final day loss. Kagayaki finishes 6=9.

Aoiyama defeats Ryuden – Aoiyama’s V-Twin has been idling rough for the whole basho, but it was enough to power out a struggling Ryuden, who could offer little resistance to Aoiyama’s forward attack. That’s a 4-11 finish for Ryuden, and a 6-9 for Aoiyama.

Endo defeats Kotonowaka – Another special prize missed as Kotonowaka drops his final match to Endo. Endo had both hands inside early, and was able to grapple Kotonowaka’s chest, lifting and driving forward for a quick and clean win. Endo finishes January 7-8.

Tamawashi defeats Kotoeko – The grizzled veteran Tamawashi finds a the last of his energy for Hatsu and overwhelms Kotoeko. Kotoeko had a strong opening move, but got turned to the side and ejected by a strong Tamawashi shove. Both end Hatsu 6-9.

Terutsuyoshi defeats Tochinoshin – Terutsuyoshi’s one good arm proves to be more potent than Tochinoshin’s one good leg. The former Ozeki drops to 4-11. Terutsuyoshi really kept himself compact, and his hips low, robbing Tochinoshin of any chance to set up offense and use his size and strength superiority to attempt a lift and shift against Terutsuyoshi. Terutsuyoshi finishes hatsu 7-8.

Onosho defeats Hoshoryu – Onosho’s initial attack completely overpowers Hoshoryu, as Onosho is able to get his hands inside, then ramps up the drive from his legs. Hoshoryu realizes quickly that he’s in trouble at attempts a throw at the edge, but Onosho has him bracketed, brings his left foot to the clay, and the throw collapses from Onosho’s forward pressure. Both end Hatsu 9-6.

Kotoshoho defeats Sadanoumi – Kotoshoho gets his 2nd win of the tournament on the final day, as Sadanoumi accidentally steps out in the process of hurling the hapless Kotoshoho over the bales. Both rikishi are deeply make-koshi, with Sadanoumi finishing 5-10. I dearly hope that Kotoshoho can regroup, fix whatever plagued him and return to good form in March.

Shimanoumi defeats Takarafuji – Takarafuji’s defend and extend strategy came up short today, with Shimanoumi staying strong, focused and able to wait along with Takarafuji, focusing on shutting down Takarafuji’s left hand. Watching it a 3rd time, it’s quite brilliant how Shimanoumi control’s Takarafuji’s upper body, conceding that Takarafuji’s defense (and by extension, lower body) will be superior, he makes sure Takarfuji cannot generate any offense, and waits for his chance. Twice we see Shimanoumi make a play to take control, and both times Takarafuji recovers and they stalemate again. The third opening came when Takarafuji moved to change his grip, and Shimanoumi lifted and advanced to win. Subtle yet fantastic sumo from these two today. They both end the tournament with 9-6 kachi-koshi.

Daieisho defeats Okinoumi – Same formula today, Daieisho got his hands inside at the tachiai, and ripped a lightning fast combo straight to center-mass. Okinoumi could barely even attempt any kind of response and quickly found himself on the dohyo’s exit ramp. This is the kind of sumo that Takakeisho used to execute every day, and I am glad to see Daieisho pick u his 13th win, and the yusho with a solid example of top quality oshi-zumo mechanics.

Hokutofuji defeats Ichinojo – Ichinojo went on the attack at the tachiai, but he let Hokotufuji get his hands inside. Ichinojo found himself with superior position, but unable to really convert it into a win. Rather than wait for his situation to improve, he pressed the attack, and found his fortunes reverse, as Hokutofuji swung around, places a big left hand on Ichinojo’s chest and pushed. Exquisitely timed, it caught Ichinojo standing almost upright, and out he went. Hokutofuji complete’s his efforts to secure “The Most Powerful Make-Koshi In All Of Sumo” for like the 30th time, finishing 7-8.

Mitakeumi defeats Kiribayama – Mitakeumi took his first match from Kiribayama, and it was a complete tadpole job from start to finish. I think Kiribayama had one good attack, right at the tachiai, when he had a right hand on Mitakeumi’s shoulder. But this opened up his chest, and Mitakeumi was inside and driving hard for the win. Mitakeumi finishes Hatsu with 9-6.

Takanosho defeats Takayasu – I thought Takanosho’s chances of success went down when he allowed Takayasu to go chest to chest. But Takanosho stayed calm, stayed in the match and decided to challenge Takakeisho to a yotsu-zumo stamina battle. Things devolved after a good long grapple into a slap-down battle, with Takayasu trying first, failing, Takanosho responding and finding Takayasu off balance. Both finish Hatsu 9-6.

Terunofuji defeats Meisei – I am really enjoying Terunofuji’s sumo now. Meisei threw a lot of oblique torque into this match, looking to put stress on Terunofuji’s knees and generating an advantage. But I have to assume that Terunofuji somehow trains for this, as you can see him shift his hips back to be over the arches of his feet, and stays planted. Of course all of this tossing about by Meisei robs him of any real frontal power, and Terunofuji is free to move forward. Then Meisei decided to try a leg trip, in doing so he put all of his weight on his left foot, and that was the end of Meisei’s sumo for Hatsu. Terunofuji improves to 11-4, and picks up a special prize. Stay healthy, kaiju, I am looking forward to your Ozeki bid finals in March.

Asanoyama defeats Shodai – Not sure this match was definitive, as the tate-gyoji picked the wrong direction to shuffle, and ended up tangled up in the Asanoyama-Shodai scrum. This effectively cut off any “move at the edge” for Shodai, as there was someone in the way. Both end Hatsu with 11-4, respectable Ozeki kachi-koshi. Both have room to improve, and I expect 2021 will be a good year for the next level of sumo technique for both.

With that, dear readers, Tachiai’s coverage of Hatsu 2021’s action concludes. Thank you for sharing the basho with us, and visiting our humble sumo fan blog. Team Tachiai does it all for the love of the sport, and we are grateful that you decided to share some of your time with us.

Hatsu Day 15 Preview

An interesting Senshuraku to close out the Hatsu basho. There is only a single Darwin match, and two visitors from Juryo. In Juryo, there are just two rikishi with 7-7 records. Rather than have them face off Darwin style (they had already faced each other), 7-7 Takagenji has to take on 10-4 Ura, and 7-7 Yago draws Makushita promotion hopeful Tochimaru.

For the yusho, I am expecting Daieisho to walk away with the hardware. He has shown no signs of slowing down into week 2, and if he is feeling any pressure, it’s not effecting his sumo. Shodai’s road to a playoff is as tough as possible now, and I just don’t see a high chance that it would play out that way. Frankly, I was looking for Terunofuji to play spoiler in week 2, but I was surprised it was against Shodai rather than Asanoyama. Speaking of the kaiju, he has a really strong chance of finishing Hatsu at 11-4, which would make his magic number 10 for March. Entirely plausible. Plus I note that chairman Hakkaku has been complimenting Terunofuji’s sumo in the past few months.

Hatsu Leaderboard

Daieisho controls the yusho race, if he wins today, he takes the cup. If he loses today, its incumbent on Shodai to beat Asanoyama and force a playoff.

Leader – Daieisho
Chaser –Shodai

1 Match Remains

What We Are Watching Day 15

Akua vs Hidenoumi – I am going to guess this is an exchange bout, literally. Akua is likely headed for Juryo, and Hidenoumi possibly returning to Makuuchi for the first time in 3 years. They have an even 2-2 record.

Yutakayama vs Myogiryu – The lone Darwin match of the basho. For Yutakayama a win he stays in the top division for certain. They have an even 2-2 career record, so this should be a hell of a fight.

Tokushoryu vs Daishomaru – Another possible “exchange” match, I would be a bit surprised if Tokushoryu dropped to Juryo from Maegashira 8, but with a 3-11 or maybe 3-12 record, I guess its a concern. Daishomaru at 10-4 or maybe 11-4 from Juryo 8 may not quite have the mojo to break back into the top division, but again, maybe that’s what this match is all about. Daishomaru holds a 7-3 career advantage.

Midorifuji vs Tobizaru – A couple of busy little guys who are likely to smack each other around at double time. I expect a lot of motion, a lot of hitting and maybe a throw or two (yes, or two). Midorifuji is already kachi-koshi and Tobizaru already make-koshi, so this is more or less to watch to compact battle bros slug it out.

Akiseyama vs Kagayaki – Kagayaki (5-9) need to regroup. He runs a real risk of a double digit make-koshi, and he’s a more capable rikishi than that. Injury? Illness? No clue, but I hope he can get back on track in March.

Ryuden vs Aoiyama – I think the scheduling committee is opening the door for both of them to finish at 5-10, which would require a Ryuden win. Neither have fought well in January, and I think they will be happy just to finish the basho.

Endo vs Kotonowaka – First time match, and I am guessing Kotonowaka may find his hands full with Endo today. While Kotonowaka will try to dictate an oshi-zumo battle, watch for Endo’s shallow right hand grip before the second step.

Kotoeko vs Tamawashi – A pair of brawlers who need some time in dry dock. Tamawashi holds a 4-0 advantage, and a win today would mean both end the basho with 6-9 make-koshi records. Much as I have loved Tamwashi’s sumo over the years, he is headed down the same road is Ikioi and Shohozan, as age and injury degrade his sumo.

Tochinoshin vs Terutsuyoshi – A man with one good leg takes on a man with one good arm. Both are make-koshi, so this is an ugly little battle. Given Terutsuyoshi comparatively light (112kg) size, we may see one more sky-crane from Tochinoshin for good measure.

Hoshoryu vs Onosho – Another first time match, and it should be a good one. Can Hoshoryu finish 10-0 after starting 0-5? If so, it will be quite the turn around. Onosho’s got mass and power on his side, Hoshoryu has agility and a broader catalog of kimarite. I am looking forward to this fight.

Kotoshoho vs Sadanoumi – Yeah, I can’t watch this one. I am guessing Kotoshoho finishes 1-14.

Takarafuji vs Shimanoumi – Takarafuji finishing double-digits in the joi-jin? Strong chance of it as Shimanoumi does struggle to overcome Takarafuji’s defensive sumo style. Both rikishi are kachi-koshi, so this is just fighting for rank at this point. Though withe the San’yaku all kachi-koshi, there are not many slots to move up for March.

Okinoumi vs Daieisho – THE match, the big match. Journeyman veteran Okinoumi holds a narrow 10-8 career advantage over Daieisho. But Daieisho has won 5 of the last 6. I thikn that unless Okinoumi finds some reserve of genki, it’s going to be an explosive tachiai from Daieisho, and 4 steps to the win, followed by hoisting the fish, a giant macaron, and too much sake.

Hokutofuji vs Ichinojo – Can he do it? Can Hokutofuji get his 7th win to complete “The Most Powerful Make-Koshi In All Of Sumo?” He has to overcome a rock-steady Ichinojo and find a way to move the boulder. If the big Mongolian can stay stable and stay upright, Hokutofuji has his work cut out for him.

Kiribayama vs Mitakeumi – Both kachi-koshi, so this is to see who can get win number 9. Mitakeumi has never beaten Kiribayama in 3 tries, so maybe this will be his day.

Takayasu vs Takanosho – I look at this match, and wonder how many Sekiwake will appear on the Haru banzuke. I don’t think that 10 from Takayasu would force them to grant him a slot. As Takanosho got his 8th win on Saturday, the only likely change will be a slot created for Daieisho.

Terunofuji vs Meisei – I am looking for Terunofuji to hit 11 today, literally and figuratively. He holds a 2-0 advantage over Meisei, and I think he will dispatch him within the first 15 seconds.

Asanoyama vs Shodai – The two highest ranking survivors in the final match of the basho. Should the unlikely happen, and Daieisho lost his match to Okinoumi, this would be Shodai’s only opportunity to force a playoff. He has split his 8 prior matches with Asanoyama, so this is going to be a big fight either way.

Hatsu Day 14 Highlights

The penultimate day of Hatsu was a roaring, back breaking, endurance grinding, dirt eating thrill. Not sure when I have seen such a day of quality sumo, and I am glad I was around to see it. The match of the day is, without a doubt, Terunofuji’s win over Shodai. Since Daieisho’s sweep of the Ozeki in week one, it was clear that any chaser was going to have to overcome very strong competition in week 2. Shodai’s sumo has been both impressive and a bit chaotic, but Terunofuji really gave him a fight today.

Daieisho has Okinoumi on day 15, who comes into the match at 7-7. I am not sure the veteran from Shimane-ken has what it takes this January to put Daieisho into the dohyo and bring about the potential for a playoff – if and only if Shodai can overcome Asanoyama. Daieisho owns his destiny now, and a win on day 15 will give him the Emperor’s Cup.

My compliments to the scheduling team in once again building a great basho with less than optimum materials to work from.

Highlight Matches

Kotonowaka defeats Yutakayama – Yet another day, and Yutakayama can’t get his 8th win. You can see the point where Yutakayama lets his frustration boil over, lunge in and give the match to Kotonowaka. Well, it’s Darwin time for Yutakayama on day 15. Kotonowaka improves to 10-4.

Myogiryu defeats Kotoeko – Myogiryu joins Yutakayama in the day 15 Darwin queue, as he defeats Kotoeko in spite of a last minute throw by Kotoeko. That’s loss number eight for Kotoeko and make-koshi.

Tokushoryu defeats Sadanoumi – Sadanoumi elects to get chest to chest with Tokushoryu, and Tokushoryu’s belly. The belly takes control and pushes Sadanoumi over the bales. Tokushoryu advances to 3-11 (well, 2(1)-11, that’s his belly there with one win).

Kiribayama defeats Midorifuji – An excellent endurance match, with Midorifuji supplying most of the offensive energy, and Kiribayama working hard to keep Midorifuji shut down and himself in the match. Then…. MAWASHI FAIL. Not enough that the NHK cameras comically pan to the roof in panic, but Kiribayama’s came loose, and the gyoji stops the match to perform a bit of in-situ haberdashery. Kiribayama’s post pause pulling attempt disrupted the stalemate, and he was able to get Midorifuji moving and pushed him out. Excellent sumo, and Kiribayama finds his 8th win for kachi-koshi. Brilliant match.

Hoshoryu defeats Tobizaru – A fine thrusting battle that was more or less even until Tobizaru attempts a pull and releases forward pressure. Hoshoryu capitalizes on this opening and runs Tobizaru off to visit the fans ring side. Tobizaru picks up his 8th loss and is make-koshi while Hoshoryu advances to 9-5. Nine straight wins after a 0-5 start.

Akua defeats Ryuden – Ryuden gets a bit too far forward and Akua uses his arm to lever him to the clay. Both are deeply make-koshi, but Akua improves to 5-9.

Akiseyama defeats Tochinoshin – Its becoming a frequent refrain – Tochinoshin’s knees don’t allow him to transmit enough power to ground to permit him to hold back a top division rikishi. Once Akiseyama starts to advance, all Tochinoshin can do is try to deflect. But that fails and he’s out in a moment. Akiseyama improves to 9-5.

Terutsuyoshi defeats Kotoshoho – Terutsuyoshi brought heaps of offensive power to this match, but Kotoshoho was not going to be a push over, in spite of what his 1-12 score might indicate. Even when Terutsuyoshi has morozashi, Kotoshoho defended and even brought Terutsuyoshi back to the center of the dohyo. Feeling an opportunity, Kotoshoho drover forward for a win, right into Terutsuyoshi’s utchari. Terutsuyoshi improves to 6-8. You have to feel for Kotoshoho, but he’s young, he’s good, and he will be back.

Shimanoumi defeats Onosho – Shimanoumi absorbed Onosho’s initial forward blast, and in many matches, that’s 80% of winning against Onosho. Shimanoumi stayed calm, stayed focused, and kept working to dial up the forward power, driving Onosho out by yorikiri. That’s win number 8 and kachi-koshi for Shimanoumi.

Takarafuji defeats Ichinojo – When Takarafuji endured Ichinojo’s opening combo, it was clear he was going to be able to set up his defend and extend technique against the Boulder. Other’s have tried this January, so bold move from Takarafuji. Takarafuji wisely set up with Ichinojo off axis, and did not need to bare the full weight of Ichinojo leaning forward. Takarafuji kept working a bit at a time further to the side of Ichinojo, reducing Ichinojo’s ability to push. I think it got to the point where Takarafuji realized it was “now or never” and lifted Ichinojo from the side and drove for the win. Great effort from both. That burst of strength from Takarafuji about 2 minutes into an endurance match really surprised me. Both end the day with 9-5.

Hokutofuji defeats Aoiyama – Again, where was this sumo week one Hokutofuji? With his mighty make-koshi firmly secured, Hokutofuji dominates each match now. To be fair Aoiyama decided to try and pull, and that just opened the door for Hokutofuji’s big thrust that won the match. He improves to 6-8.

Daieisho defeats Tamawashi – I was impressed that Daieisho’s big opening combo did not really move Tamawashi, who absorbed a couple of volleys, then attacked. Daieisho’s mobility was perfect, and he pulled in response to Tamawashi’s forward lunge, stepping to the side and bringing Tamawashi down. Daieisho improves to 12-2 and the yusho train keeps rolling.

Takayasu defeats Kagayaki – The move to look for is Takayasu’s big twist to break Kagayaki’s grip. It’s small and easy to miss, but that was magic, and it’s at that moment that Takayasu took control of the match and powered Kagayaki out. Takayasu improves to 9-5.

Endo defeats Mitakeumi – Endo got his frontal grip a moment after the tachiai, and he was in business. Sure, at that point it was like lifting a refrigerator across a curb, but Endo got it done. He improves to 6-8.

Takanosho defeats Okinoumi – To my eye that tachiai was in matta territory, but they went ahead with the match. Okinoumi was powering forward, and Takanosho responded with a step back and a hand to the back of Okinoumi’s neck. That’s win 8 for Takanosho. That’s kachi-koshi for Takanosho, and Okinoumi will need to win on day 15 to reach 8. Against…. Daieisho?!!

Terunofuji defeats Shodai – The big match we were all waiting to see, and it did not disappoint. Shodai opted to open defensive, and attempted a thrust down against the 3rd step of Terunofuji’s overpower charge. But Terunofuji’s balance was too well established, and the fight was on. Shodai pressed the attack chest to chest, and nearly drove Terunofuji from the ring, but again Terunofuji kept his feet quiet, and heavy. Shodai was leaping to maximize pressure, but could not finish him. For an instant Shodai found himself behind Terunofuji, but could not attack in time. Terunofuji attacks again, Shodai loses his footing and the kaiju slaps him down. Brilliant sumo. Shodai falls one behind Daieisho, Terunofuji hits double digits, and the sumo world goes crazy.

Asanoyama defeats Meisei – Asanoyama tried hard to get “that” grip set up, but had to settle for a trust down when his body would not comply. Good view of a viable switch to “plan b” from Asanoyama, a real weakness of his. Asanoyama improves to 10-4.

Hatsu Day 14 Preview

It’s the final weekend of the Hatsu basho. We have a 2 way race for the Emperor’s cup between Shodai and Daieisho. Shodai continues to find ways to win, in spite of a tougher schedule than Daieisho, who beat all of the Ozeki in week one. Should the two prevail in their 2 remaining matches, there will be a playoff following the final match of day 15, which is expected to be Asanoyama and Shodai. Yep, if will probably come down to that Asanoyama and Shodai match on day 15 to see if there will be a playoff. Great drama to end this tournament.

Hatsu Leaderboard

It’s Daieisho and Shodai – nobody else is likely to contend.

What We Are Watching Day 14

Yutakayama vs Kotonowaka – Yutakayama will try again to find win number 8 and kachi-koshi. He’s only met Kotonowaka once, during the November tournament, where Yutakayama lost. Kotonowaka is fighting very well, and we may see Yutakayama end the day 7-7, and become a candidate for a “Darwin match”.

Kotoeko vs Myogiryu – The loser of this match is make-koshi, the winner likely gets a Darwin match with a 7-7 score. Myogiryu holds a 5-1 career advantage, so I think its Kotoeko who make go make-koshi today.

Tokushoryu vs Sadanoumi – Both are make-koshi, both are facing a drop in rank, and I have to wonder if this match is to help determine if Tokushoryu drops to Juryo along with Sadanoumi. They have an 18 match history, with Sadanoumi holding a narrow 10-8 advantage.

Midorifuji vs Kiribayama – First ever match between these two, and I am eager to see if Kiribayama can overcome Midorifuji’s tendency to shut down his opponent’s sumo, and toss them rodeo style to the clay.

Hoshoryu vs Tobizaru – Hoshoryu come into day 15 with a respectable 8-5 kachi-koshi, and Tobizaru with a 6-7 score that is a formula for a make-koshi. Should he win today, it’s time for him to face his own Darwin match tomorrow. Tobizaru has a 4-1 career advantage over Hoshoryu.

Ryuden vs Akua – Both have a 4-9 record going into day 14, and this match is probably to help figure out if Akua is going to remain in the top division. Even if he does stay, I am not sure he’s every going to return to his pre-COVID level of power, as he may have suffered damage to any number of internal systems.

Tochinoshin vs Akiseyama – Tochinoshin is in no danger of demotion, but that 4-9 record for January is ugly news for the former Ozeki. Akiseyama managed to lock in his kachi-koshi on day 13, and he is safe at near the bottom of the banzuke. Tochinoshin has won their prior 2 matches.

Kotoshoho vs Terutsuyoshi – Both are make-koshi, and I have my doubts that Kotoshoho will ever find his second win for Hatsu. Terutsuyoshi is unquestionably injured, but I expect he will gamberize through the last 2 days and strive to finish as close to 7-8 as he can. Kotoshoho, at 1-12, is a lost cause.

Shimanoumi vs Onosho – A win today will be kachi-koshi for Shimanoumi, and to get there he will have to survive the initial big forward attack from Onosho. Onosho comes in to today kachi-koshi, and will be part of the joi-jin in March.

Takarafuji vs Ichinojo – As both rikishi already have winning records, this one is just for score, and I am really looking forward to it. Ichinojo has a 12-2 career advantage over Takarafuji, mostly because the defend and extend approach has limited use against Ichinojo. Doubly so if Ichinojo brings his “Boulder” style to his day 14 match, turning the tables on Takarafuji and forcing him to attack.

Hokutofuji vs Aoiyama – Both of these rikishi start the day with 5-8 records, but right now Hokutofuji is fighting much better. He also has a 10-2 career record over Aoiyama. So I expect a big V-Twin open from Aoiyama, and a fast Hokutofuji nodowa that gives control of the match to Ol’Stompy.

Tamawashi vs Daieisho – Tamawashi has a narrow chance of knocking Daieisho out of the lead. While he has beaten Daieisho before, Daieisho is red-hot right now, and Tamawashi is a shadow of his former brutal self. Maybe he can rally for this big match, but I would say it is unlikely.

Takayasu vs Kagayaki – Takayasu at 8-5 takes on Kagayaki at 5-8. I expect that Kagayaki is going to get tossed about like a nickel in a laundromat dryer, and finally hit the clay.

Endo vs Mitakeumi – Another 8-5 vs 5-8 match, this time we get to see if the 10-5 career advantage that Mitakeumi holds over Endo will carry forward into day 14. Given that Endo is struggling to fight well this January, the advantage belongs to Mitakeumi.

Okinoumi vs Takanosho – Winner gets kachi-koshi, loser gets nominated for a Darwin match. They have evenly split their 6 prior matches, and both have been fighting reasonably well. This has the potential to be a good match.

Terunofuji vs Shodai – Oh my. I recall day 4 of Aki, where Terunofuji was one of two rikishi who beat Shodai on his way to his first ever yusho, and sealing his Ozeki bid. A Terunofuji win today would likely block Shodai from the yusho, and would put Terunofuji into double-digit wins. Really looking forward to this match.

Asanoyama vs Meisei – Both are kachi-koshi, so I am looking for Asanoyama to work to stretch for his 10th win against Meisei. He holds a 3-1 career advantage, and is finally more or less “in form”. It’s the kind of score he will be expected to deliver every basho should he manage to become an Yokozuna.