Welcome to the middle day of the Kyuhsu basho! At the midpoint, we take our first look at the yusho race, and it’s about half of the Makuuchi banzuke. This goes to underscore just how mediocre and non-differentiated the sumo has been this basho. The 1 loss rikishi is Hakuho, but only a single san’yaku rikishi follows at 2 losses. In my opinion, unless something unexpected happens to Hakuho in week 2, there are not many rikishi that are genki enough to present much if any challenge to his path toward yusho 43.
I also expect that with the strong sumo from the 2 surviving Ozeki on day 7, that we may see the start of their rally into week 2, and push for securing their 8. While you might expect an Ozeki with this level of competition to go 10+, I am going to expect 8 given their physical condition.
Day 8 leaderboards are typically crazy, but this one is doubly so. While Hakuho shows no sign of slowing down, the number of rikishi who are mathematically in contention right now is staggering.
Chasers: Asanoyama, Sadanoumi, Shodai, Chiyomaru, Kagay
Hunt Group: Takakeisho, Abi, Hokutofuji, Daieisho, Meisei, Tamawashi, Aoiyama, Onosho, Enho, Tsurugisho, Shohozan, Yutakayama, Chiyotairyu
8 Matches Remain
What We Are Watching Day 8
Chiyomaru vs Daishoho – I don’t expect Daishoho will be able to knock Chiyomaru from his position 1 behind Hakuho. Right now Chiyomaru seems to be genki.
Daishomaru vs Takanosho – This may be an easy pickup for Daishomaru, who holds a 3-0 career record over challenger Takanosho. Daishomaru may go for an early slap down following the tachiai.
Ishiura vs Nishikigi – Nishikigi’s poor eyesight leave him unusually vulnerable to a henka, but I honestly hope Ishiura does not resort to that gambit for a 3rd consecutive day.
Shimanoumi vs Chiyotairyu – I hope we can see another Chiyotairyu gaburi-yori match today. While his cannon ball tachiai is the stuff of legends, a solid chest to chest mode would do him a great deal of good.
Terutsuyoshi vs Shodai – Shodai is ranked low enough, he is likely to dominate most of his matches. I think that this first time meeting with Terutsuyoshi is his to lose unless we see another successful submarine attack from Terutsuyoshi.
Kotoshogiku vs Kagayaki – Kotoshogiku needs to start putting together wins if he wants to make his 8. I am happy to see him fight Kagayaki, as I think Kagayaki may need to learn how to beat the former Ozeki (2-0 career favoring Kotoshogiku).
Tsurugisho vs Sadanoumi – Tsurugisho has his work cut out for him, in spite of his larger size on day 8. Sadanoumi is in his best form in years, and he seems to have put all of his elements together for effective sumo. Should be a good match, with Sadanoumi focusing on containing and constraining Tsurugisho.
Onosho vs Kotoeko – Career record these two are evenly matched. Onosho is on a 3 match winning streak, and I would like to see him make it 4. Kotoeko has had a rough time putting together anything resembling effective sumo on two consecutive days this November.
Yutakayama vs Enho – This is probably the highlight match of the first half. You have rising power Freshman Yutakayama against power pixie Enho. Both of them were handed disappointments day 7, and both of them are 4-3. Yutakayama won their only prior match, but that won’t really matter on day 8 when these two face off.
Shohozan vs Ryuden – Shohozan tends to struggle with Ryuden, and I think that will continue today. After several consecutive days of bashing every opponents face around, Shohozan seems to have settled down a bit. Ryuden heeds to bounce back after that loss to Endo.
Myogiryu vs Kotoyuki – Kotoyuki has had 3 straight losses, and I am hoping he can return to winning form today. He holds a 3-19 career advantage over Myogiryu.
Daieisho vs Okinoumi – I love the fact that Okinoumi shows up every tournament, and puts in his 15 days in a solid, workman like fashion. I am sure some tournaments he’s in pain or suffering some unreported injury, but he’s always there, plugging away. He’s most comfortable in the mid-Maegashira ranks, so at Maegashira 1, we may see him continue to head towards make-koshi land.
Hokutofuji vs Endo – And now the good stuff starts. In a pair of Komusubi fights, we get the Endo / Hokutofuji clash of speed and power vs tactics and precision. Its probably going to come down to Endo getting his desired shallow grip at the tachiai, or Hokutofuji getting his armpit or neck attack in first.
Abi vs Asanoyama – Brilliant clash of styles for Komusubi fight 2. Abi’s frantic thrusting attack vs the grappling power of Asanoyama. If Asanoyama can land a grip, will we see the seldom used Abi-zumo 2.0? Fans can only hope. I would give a slight edge to Abi this time, as these two are evenly matched, and right now Asanoyama leads the career series 5-3.
Mitakeumi vs Aoiyama – I fear that whatever damage that blow to the head did to Mitakeumi might keep him on a make-koshi path for November. He steps up against Big Dan Aoiyama and the V-Twin power attack on day 8. Mitakeumi did manage to rally on day 7 against Kotoyuki, but Aoiyama is a different class of opponent.
Takakeisho vs Meisei – Career record of 2-0, with a less than genki Takakeisho needing 4 more wins for kachi-koshi and safety. Meisei lost his last 2, but if he can keep mobile and just out of reach of Takakeisho’s short arms, he could surprise the Ozeki.
Takarafuji vs Takayasu – Takayasu is in a bigger score hole than Takakeisho, and he is nursing that injured left arm as well. Takarafuji has the strength and stamina to wear down the injured Ozeki, so Takayasu is going to need to do something fast and brutal at the tachiai. Such gambits are risking with a master tactician like Takarafuji, but at this point the Ozeki needs to be willing to gamble.
Tamawashi vs Hakuho – Well, career record of 15-1 favors the boss. I know Hakuho wants someone to give him a good challenge, and maybe Tamawashi will oblige.