Natsu Sanshō / Special Prize Winners


Natsu Sansho

San’yaku Cleans Up

At the conclusion of every basho, the sumo kyokai award a series of special prizes. They are intended to recognize rikishi who have over-performed and achieved greatly in the basho. At the end of Natsu, 4 special prizes were awarded, and all but one went to members of the San’yaku.

Natsu Special Prizes

Ginō-shō (技能賞), Technique prize
Yoshikaze (his 3rd award)
Takayasu (his 2nd award)

Kantō-shō (敢闘賞), Fighting Spirit prize
Onosho (1st award)

Shukun-shō (殊勲賞), Outstanding Performance prize
Mitakeumi (1st award)

Onosho is notable in that he really tore through the ranks on his first Makuuchi basho, going 10-5 from Maegashira 14 rank. Mitakeumi was notable in that he defeated two Yokozuna in his Natsu matches.

Congratulations to all sanshō winners.

Natsu Wrap Up & Day 15 Highlights


Hakuho-15

The Boss Is Back

In completing his perfect yusho, Yokozuna Hakuho has made it clear that he is back in form and ready to resume his reign as the dai-Yokozua. It’s been a long, difficult road for Hakuho. After he injured his foot in Nagoya, he chose to miss Aki and undergo an operation to reconstruct his big toe and to fix parts of his knee. The recovery was not easy. The surgery and immobility afterwords had a bigger impact than I am sure he expected. As a result he has been under performing for months.

In that period, we have seen some rikish who would normally be eking out kachi-koshi scores here and there truly excel. This is in part because to top predator (and some of his cohorts) have been under performing, in culling rikishi from the ranks.

You can think of it this way, for Hakuho to get to 15 wins, the rest of Makuuchi had to absorb 15 losses. With Hakuho kyujo, someone else got those 15 wins. Everyone’s score increased. You got to see Kisenosato finally make Yokozuna, you got to see Goeido take a zensho yusho. You got to see Kakuryu rack up (at last) a yusho himself. It’s been a great year without a Hakuho. But now he is back, and he is genki and he is ready to rule once more.

A sign of that include his late pushes after a match have returned, so maybe he feels he is fine and will stay fine, and he is free to be Hakuho the great. This has huge implications for sumo for the next year or two. Specifically the other Yokozuna and anyone wishing to follow Takayasu up the Ozeki trail.

For a long time nobody but Hakuho could yusho. When he is / was healthy he is / was unstoppable. We saw that again here during Natsu. Is he back to that level? He wants you to think he is, to be sure. But is he? Maybe? But it’s clear that the one armed Yokozuna needs a repair job if he wants to contend once more. It would be brutally sad if Kisenosato had to follow Kakuryu into a series of revolving kyujos due to a combination of untreated and unresolved injuries, and a mighty, nearly unbeatable uber-sumotori at the top of the heap.

Chiyonokuni finished 2-13. He’s much better than that, and I think he still has a lot of promise. He just peaked hard when a lot of other sekitori were flailing, and he got caught in a storm of beat downs by everyone. He will recover, he will be back. He’s one to watch.

Okinoumi & Takarafuji finished 3-12. Both are old for rikishi, both have various performance limiting injuries. This is one of the problems with Makuuchi at the moment, its full of guys in their 30s. As a pure meritocracy, it’s full of people who can win, and those that can’t win go away over time. We are in one of those times, but because of the way the banzuke works, it could take a long time before fading veterans make way for the up and coming hard chargers.

Daieisho, Aoiyama, Takekaze, Toyohibiki, Myogiryu & Yutakayama finished 4-11. You might expect there to be a brutal banzuke thump down for these rikishi, but for every down there must be an up. And many of the pressure from the lower ranks you might expect did not materialize due to near absolute parity in Juryo. 13 Juryo wresters ended with 8-7 or 7-8.

Matches That Mattered On Day 15

Ura defeats Daishomaru – Ura does a reverse tachiai. You can rightly ask “what the hell was that?”, but hey! it worked! Was it a henka? No, not really. Was it strange? Yes. I thought I saw Daishomaru smiling and maybe giggling a bit over what had just happened, but then I had already had a glass of sake, so who knows.

Tochinoshin defeats Toyohibiki – Kind of sour ending by back to back henkas from Tochinoshin. I am going to guess he re-injured that mummified knee, and that’s why he henka’d his last two matches.

Ishiura defeats Takekaze – Ishiura gets to be Hakuho’s standard bearer – very happy for Ishiura, he pulled out a kachi-koshi on the last day. He has some work to do, and hopefully a healthy Hakuho can provide some assistance. His deshi needs some upgrades.

Tochiozan defeats Shohozan – Both end with 6-9, both are in the older crowd that is lingering around, due to lack of pressure from Juryo. Don’t get me wrong, Makuuchi is good sumo now, but it could and should be better. But right now Juryo is kind of broken for some reason I have not figured out. There should be a crop of early 20’s rikishi who stand these old guys on their ear daily, but that is not happening.

Hokutofuji defeats Yoshikaze – Hokutofuji joins the joi next basho, I would assume. It will be time to see if the up-and-comer has the mojo to really make a stand against the San’yaku. With a healthy Hakuho, it could be a blood bath again (as the basho were before he was hurt a year ago). Yoshikaze at this point is just running up his personal score. While we fans out side Japan mostly focus on what the NHK video shows us, it’s important to note that inside the sumotori community, everyone loves Yoshikaze, and I predict that once he retires and exercises his kabu, he is going to be a very big deal in sumo management indeed.

Shodai defeats Mitakeumi – Whatever they put in Shodai’s chanko the last few days, do keep it up! Next basho, we get Shodai back in the joi, and it’s bloodbath time for him, too!

Kotoshogiku defeats Ikioi – Well, that was like the Kotoshogiku of old. We should all enjoy it while it lasts. It’s sort of sad to see him fade, but I guess he is still calling his own outcomes, so I praise his persistence. Ikioi is still hit or miss, but then he has been for a while now.

Tamawashi defeats Goeido – Goeido 1.0 came back for old time’s sake. Now that Kadoban is lifted for a few months, he can afford to be unfocused. Please go get rested, ready and strong Goeido. Nothing would confound the critics and delight the fans more than a second basho full of Goeido 2.0. Who knows, you might even convince Hakuho to retire…

Terunofuji defeats Takayasu – I love the Kaiju when he’s on his sumo. Although I am a ginormous Takayasu fan, it was very good to see Terunofuji deploy all of his moves against the man who will be Ozeki. Even to the point of crushing his arms, which we have not seen in some time. People use to be afraid of facing this guy because they would leave the bout hurt. If Kisenosato can be restored to working order, Takayasu will make a great Ozeki. But while he is training on his own (like he was the for the past 2 months) he is vulnerable. The two are a team, and together they will excel.

Hakuho defeats Harumafuji – Kind of one for the ages. It was a great match, especially the series of moves Hakuho used to change the dynamics of the match and get Harumafuji un-stuck and moving backwards. Given Harumafuji’s re-injury to his ankle, I think he put on a hell of a performance. My complements to both men

Looking toward Nagoya


What a great tournament we just had! To me, what stood out is the large number of outstanding performances throughout the banzuke, from Hakuho‘s zensho yusho all the way down to Onosho‘s 10-5 record in his Makuuchi debut. Terunofuji got his Jun-yusho, and would have been in contention on the final day if not for his early hiccups on days 1 and 2. Takayasu handled the pressure and will be ozeki in Nagoya. Tamawashi may have started his own ozeki run, and has been fighting at that level. Mitakeumi and Yoshikaze held their own in San’yaku, and Shodai, Takakeisho, Tochinoshin, Hokutofuji, Ikioi, and Ura all put up great numbers in the maegashira ranks.

We don’t get the official Nagoya banzuke until June 26, but here are some early thoughts on the top and bottom of the banzuke.

The yokozuna ranks should get reshuffled as follows:

Y1 Hakuho Harumafuji
Y2 Kisenosato Kakuryu

We will have 3 ozeki: Terunofuji, Goeido, and Takayasu.

Tamawashi will keep his sekiwake rank, and Mitakeumi should join him.

Yoshikaze will keep his komusubi rank, and I think Kotoshogiku did just enough to only drop down to the other komusubi slot.

We should have a strong new crop of upper maegashira, who may even fare better than their predecessors at these ranks:

M1 Shodai Takakeisho
M2 Tochinoshin Hokutofuji
M3 Ikioi Ura

At the other end of the banzuke, Yutakayama, Myogiryu, and Toyohibiki will find themselves in Juryo, replaced in Makuuchi by Sadanoumi, Chiyomaru, and Nishigiki. I think Kaisei will just barely hang on to the top division at M16. They could swap him with Gagamaru, but what would be the point?

Full banzuke prediction to come once I’ve had some time to digest Natsu.

Natsu Day 15 Preview


Onosho

One More Time.

The end is nigh! Well, for this basho anyhow. It’s been great fun to write like a madman once more, and it’s hard to fathom that just last week I was in Tokyo. The whole thing turned into giant, sumo encrusted jet-lag blur. A very nice blur, but a blur none the less. But now all the clothes I took smell like those tatami mats, and I find I kind of like it. I am also having withdrawal symptoms due to a lack of Katsu Curry, or any real source of soup soba.

Much has been decided, and there are a few interesting things left to resolve. With Kotoshogiku and Takayasu out of Sekiwake, the promotion lanes are finally open again, and it’s a mad dog-pile to see which up-and-comer is going to stand out for a slot as a punching bag in Nagoya.

Then there are the rikishi who are on a knife edge to try and get a kachi-koshi bolted down.

  • Ishiura (fights Takekaze)
  • Kaisei (fights Kagayaki)

What’s going to happen in Juryo? Good lord, who knows! Well, actually the Juryo yusho will either be Nishikigi or Aminishiki, by some magic they both ended day 14 with 9 wins, and had not fought each other. I am sure the schedulers were doing high fives. Does Aminishiki get promoted to Makuuchi from Juryo 8 if he takes the Juryo yusho? Does Nishikigi get promoted if he takes the Jun-Yusho? I don’t envy the banzuke team for this one. I suggest the get well drunk, eat a giant box of Takoyaki, and make up something that rhymes.

Matches We Like

Daishomaru vs Ura – Special prize time for Ura? Can he crack 11 wins with some kind of win over Daishomaru? The only other time they fought, Daishomaru took him apart. I am hoping Ura still has a few magic beans left to eat before his match tomorrow.

Tochinoshin vs Toyohibiki – I call shenanigans! Paul Bunyon with 11 wins going against Shin-Juryo Toyohibiki? Ah well, double bonus points for a henka this time. Triple bonus if they do simultaneous henkae (sp?). Ceremonial Tonkatsu helmet for Toyohibiki if he can actually beat him.

Onosho vs Takakeisho – Both contenders for a special prize, winner should be given said prize, loser gets to drive around the streets of Tokyo in a go-kart dressed as a mini-Bowser.

Hokutofuji vs Yoshikaze – As noted there is some kind of weird San’yaku triangle / drinking game going on, and I am pretty sure it’s a good thing. Who gets to be crowned Sekiwake? Well, I am guessing it comes down to who wins matches today. This one should be good, as Hokutofuji is “strong like bull!”, while Yoshikaze is the kind of guy who can win against nearly anyone.

Mitakeumi vs Shodai – Another part of this triangle, will Mitakeumi take Shodai down? I will admit, Shodai has been looking rather solid the last 3 days, is he genki enough to contain Mitakeumi? Mitakeumi wants that Sekiwake slot, he has really been at Tamawashi levels for the last two basho.

Tamawashi vs Goeido – Winner gets double digits, I would love to see Goeido finish with 10 wins, but I am guessing that Tamawashi wants to go out on a win too. Get Goeido 2.0 on the phone, he needs to make an appearance at the Kokugikan today.

Terunofuji vs Takayasu – Time to try on the Ozeki rank one stop early. Hey, Takayasu! Today, move forward, no pulling, no moving backwards. You are one of the best yotsu-zumō around. How about you uncork a bucket of that and let the Kaiju have a whiff of the aroma of Ozeki Takayasu?

Harumafuji vs Hakuho – Well, this one is zensho-yusho. Harumafuji is hurt, but I am sure the rivalry between him and Hakuho will drive him to peak performance. I just hope that he comes out of it in an recoverable condition. Harumafuji is, in my opinion, unique in sumo for the present day. I hope he can stick with us in good condition for a few years more. Oh yes, in his interview today Hakuho looked really very happy. Like I have not seen Hakuho in a long time. It was quite pleasant.

Natsu Day 14 Preview


Hakuho-dohyo-iri-13

One Last Chance To Stop Hakuho

The Dai-Yokozuna is running away with Natsu, and I am delighted. I had feared that we were in the slow fade of the Hakuho era, and that we might never see him genki again. His day 14 match is against our favorite kaiju, none other than Terunofuji. Now Terunofuji is clearly banged up, and his problematic knee or knees are once again bothering him. But I am quite sure he wants to deliver some solid sumo on Saturday. If Hakuho wins, he wins the tournament. If he loses, there is one glimmer of hope for Harumafuji in the final match of the final day.

As it’s now Saturday morning in Japan, I expect to start seeing reports on Takaysu hit the sumo / sports press in Japan. We won’t know about his Ozeki promotion for a bit, but I am sure they are speculating like mad about it. I was a bit bemused to see that his parents had to sit in the Kokugikan rafters today. Did no one affiliated with Tagonoura beya not have a pair of tickets they could give up for Big T’s folks? Did I mention he gets to play with Shodai on day 14? Maegashira 5w is a lot tougher than it normally is this time.

The basho has not lost it’s interest, as there is still the Juryo jumble, and a number of solid rikishi (including both Komusubi) fighting it out for a kachi-koshi. This makes me think about Yoshikaze. I am sure it would be a fun bragging point to make it back to Sekiwake at 35, but at this point he’s got to be wondering about the wear and tear on his berserker frame.

Natsu Leader board

LeaderHakuho
Chasers – Harumafuji, Terunofuji, Takayasu

2 Matches Remain

What We Are Watching Day 14

Ichinojo vs Daishomaru – Ichinojo can get his kachi-koshi today, believe it or not. He has not been really bold this basho, and one has to wonder if he is once again suffering his chronic back problems that have sapped his performance. The good news – there is no Jungyo tour after Natsu. So everyone has a chance to rest, get medical attention or go see mom and dad. Maybe Ichinojo can get his back fixed and return to being Kaiju-Jr.

Tokushoryu vs Kagayaki – Tokushoryu also pressing to close out his kachi-koshi, while Kagayaki wants to run up the score. While Kagayaki has shown some great sumo this past two weeks, he got rolled like crepe on day 13.

Shohozan vs Kaisei – Dangling by his fingertips at the sharp and rocky edge of Makuuchi, Kaisei has a shot today to cement himself as a July Maegashira rank by beating Shohozan. This won’t be too easy, as Shohozan probably bench presses more the Keisei weighs.

Ura vs Takakeisho – After a pride obliterating slap down from Ikioi on day 13, Ura tries to recover and bid for a special prize against Takakeisho. A win for Takakeisho would take him to double digits, and give him a healthy shove up the banzuke. Did I mention the dread I am feeling when I think about trying to put this chaos into my spreadsheet? I will beg our readers to only laugh a little.

Hokutofuji vs Endo – Well, Endo has a make-koshi now, and Hokotofuji will be eager to see if his improved sumo is enough to defeat a Maegashira 1. Depending on the final win tally on Sunday, we may see Hokotofuji in the dreaded upper 4 Maegashira slots for Nagoya. Personally, I am eager to see how he does against the San’yaku. Endo on the other hand will need to regroup and fight his way back up the banzuke.

Mitakeumi vs Ikioi – Will Ikioi shut down Mitakeumi’s bid for a winning record? Ikioi looked very solid, very powerful in his day 13 match against Ura, and I am hoping he brings that sumo back out for day 14. Mitakeumi is a great power sumo rikishi, and it would be great to see a strength battle between these two.

Tochiozan vs Yoshikaze – Tochiozan had a great start and then ran into trouble. I do suspect that some injury started closing in, and he reverted to his prior form. Yoshikaze is also trying to clinch his 8th win, and hold onto San’yaku. This will be an exciting match between sumo’s senior class.

Tamawashi vs Tochinoshin – Lumberjack Tochinoshin goes against Tamawashi, who really knew how to get Hakuho enraged on day 13. This time it’s going to be speed vs brute strength. Tochinoshin’s match against Shodai was incredible in the amount of force that was being exchanged back and forth between the two rikishi. Tamawashi will, I predict, stay away from that kind of match, and keep it on his terms.

Shodai vs Takayasu – Shodai gets to train with the pre-Ozeki on day 14. As some have pointed out, this might be win #12 for Takayasu, further putting a punctuation on his Ozeki bid. Then again, Shodai has a chance at bringing Takayasu back to earth for a moment, and should take every advantage of this match.

Terunofuji vs Hakuho – The Boss against Kaiju. I predict this one is over in seconds. Terunofuji is hurt. He knows it, Hakuho knows it, the fans know it. A win here would clinch the yusho for Hakuho, and maybe there is no valor to be won for Terunofuji this time. Not to imply, but he might need a favor later if his knees continue to bother him.

Harumafuji vs Goeido – I would imagine that Harumafuji is rather frustrated after his day 13 loss. I would not be surprised if he give Goeido a right proper launch into the 3rd row, and I just hope that Goeido is not injured. He and Harumafuji have a 40 match history, with Harumafuji winning 30-10. So, it’s going to be ugly. Up side, mighty fine pile of kensho should come out of this match.

Natsu Day 13 Review


Hakuho-wave-off
What, Again?

Takayasu Ascendant

As written early this morning, my sumo fandom is still ringing with Takayasu’s win over Harumafuji. I have seen some fans state that the gyoji got in the way, and that’s why Harumafuji lost. These things happen, and it’s all part of sumo. The Goyji tries his best to stay out of the way, but when both rikishi are going pell mell all over the dohyo, it’s tough to get out of the way. I would urge those who are fixated on the gyoji to focus on two things. First, I think Harumafuji re-tweaked his knee a couple days ago (we pointed it out), and has been a bit tender on his feet since. Second, the Harumafuji of last week (healthy and full of fight) would have recovered better from the boutus-interruptus at the tawara than what happened today. We may as well be asking if an army of mini-Mike Ditkas could overcome a two headed John Elway and Happy Gilmore in a game of golf.

In other big news, Goeido successfully erased his kadoban status for at least a couple of months. As we suggested when Kisenosato went kyujo, that move pulled upper and mid Maegashira up to bouts with the San’yaku, and all of them had really terrible records. I personally think Goeido still has more recovery to do from his ankle surgery, and I hope we can get a full time Goeido 2.0 basho some time soon.

Oh, and that flaming mess in Juryo? Someone threw some old tires in there too. We have SEVEN rikishi at 8-5, thats a 7 way tie for the lead. Who’s going to get the yusho? My money is on that mutant two headed John Elway and Happy Gilmore monster we left back at the Wal Mart. He had a shopping cart full of Corona and a questionable looking frozen breakfast burrito.

Highlight Matches

Chiyotairyu defeats Ishiura – Pocket dynamite Ishiura needs to win both his final matches to avoid a make-koshi. He has been vague and inconsistent since his really excellent premier in January. We hope he can get his sumo back, because he has a lot of potential.

Arawashi defeats Toyohibiki – It’s clear Arawashi is not at 100%, but he is putting his all into avoiding a make-koshi. Toyohibiki on the other had is probably a candidate for return to Juryo.

Ichinojo defeats Tokushoryu – Tokushoryu limps off the dohyo, so we are now curious if he is hurt. A guy of his mass can sometimes fall hard (rikishi practice like mad falling safely), so we hope he is all right. Ichinojo is still looking slow and clumsy.

Daishomaru defeats Takakeisho – Congratulations to Daishomaru on his kachi-koshi, Takakeisho did a nice roll off the dohyo, much like a (ahem) bowling ball.

Onosho defeats Hokutofuji – It was a close one, and they had a monoii to discuss after the gyoji awarded the match to Hokutofuji. Really impressed with Onosho’s performance this basho, great way to make a point entering Makuuchi.

Ikioi defeats Ura – It does seem that Ikioi did find a way to dispel Ura’s magic today, it helps that Ura was sloppy in his mini-henka, and submarined into Ikioi’s brutal charge. I would point out the Ura is still fairly new to Makuuchi, and is still working on upgrading his sumo, so he is learning on the road.

Tochinoshin defeats Shodai – Tochinoshin now at double digits win. I think it would be fantastic if Tochinoshin could end up with a special prize for his fantastic turn-around this basho.

Yoshikaze defeats Chiyoshoma – The Berserker is still chasing his kachi-koshi, and he moved one step closer today. Like most of the upper Maegashira, Chiyoshoma has been nuked this basho, and is just hoping to get out of here with all of his internal organs intact. Note both rikishi made it to the 3rd or 4th row of zabuton today.

Mitakeumi defeats Endo – Mitakeumi is also one win away from his kachi-koshi, and a possible elevation to Sekiwake, which would be a fantastic development for him. Endo gets his make-koshi, and will be bumped a small amount down the banzuke.

Goeido defeats Takarafuji – Takarafuji put up a really good fight this bout, but there was enough Goeido to win. Allow me to suggest to Goeido that flowers, a nice bottle of sake and a night on the town eating Okonomiyake would be suitable for Kisenosato. He saved your bacon in a big way. You faced hapless Maegashira rather than a Yokozuna, and you were able to get rid of the kadoban flag. Some booze and pancakes are the least you can do.

Terunofuji defeats Tochiozan – The Kaiju is clearly hurt, but he’s still mighty enough that he was able to resist Tochiozan’s bunny hop attack (nicely done Tochiozan!). Tochiozan gets high marks for always moving forward, but was rolled at the edge of the dohyo. Terunofuji hops back to his side to receive his kensho.

Hakuho defeats Tamawashi – Generous portion of pre-match aggression, both men aborted the tachiai, and it was clear they were really sizing each other up, and Tamawashi was not intimidated. The crowd in the Kokugikan loved every moment of it. Of course, there was a henka involved, as Hakuho decided Tamawashi needed a lesson. Hakuho now 13-0, and running head long towards a perfect yusho.

That’s all for now, the mini-Ditkas are yelling at me to drop them off at the bar.

Natsu Day 13 Preview


Hakuho-Kensho

Marking Time Till The Final Showdown

Most of the questions around Natsu were resolved on day 12, and so the last big question – and it’s a big one, is the yusho. Right now, Yokozuna Hakuho has a 1 match lead over Yokozuna Harumafuji. Due to Kisenosato and Kakuryu’s withdraw, they will meet on the final bout of day 15. If both remain at their current scores (12-0, 11-1), Harumafuji can force a playoff by beating Hakuho. I can almost hear the echo of Osaka.

But first the two surviving Yokozuna have to navigate a few challengers. I would expect them to win the next two matches, but there is always an opting for wild outcomes.

There is also the question of the special prizes. Right now Ura, Takayasu, Tamawashi, Tochinoshin and Takakeisho could possibly be considered. For the most part it comes down to 10 wins or more.

For those looking forward to our July banzuke discussion, I dare you to try and figure out the Makuuchi <-> Juryo moves. No one in Juryo will end up with more than 10 wins, ok – that’s not too uncommon, but then there are 7 more that could end up with 9 wins. At this point, only J2w Kyokushuho and J4e Nishikigi look like they might be promotable. But then you have maybe 4 Maegashira who are probably worthy of demotion back to Juryo. Maybe once it’s all over the picture will make more sense, but I doubt it. One thing is certain, the July banzuke is going to have a huge amount of churn.

Natsu Leader board

LeaderHakuho
Hunt Group – Harumafuji
Chasers – Terunofuji, Takayasu, Ura

3 Matches Remain

What We Are Watching Day 13

Sadanoumi vs Kaisei – I am guessing they are trying on Sadanoumi as another promotable. Kaisei is still struggling to lock up a kachi-koshi, he needs 2 more wins.

Kotoyuki vs Kagayaki – Kagayaki has his kachi-koshi, and Kotoyuki may be headed to Juryo, he is also at least somewhat injured. Thus far Kotoyuki leads career matches 3-0, but with him being injured, and Kotoyuki improving quite a bit this basho, it’s time for a new page in their record book.

Ichinojo vs Tokushoryu – Tokushoryu can lock up his kachi-koshi with a win over the towering Ichinojo. I don’t know what happened to Ichinojo, but he really seems so very lost this basho. I think he could be a big deal (and not just his mass to height ratio), but like so many rikishi, he needs to clear up lingering health issues.

Daishomaru vs Takakeisho – Daishomaru trying for his kachi-koshi today against a red-hot Takakeisho. They are evenly matched career wise, but I am guessing Daishomaru may get this one.

Hokutofuji vs Onosho – Another lab experiment bout brought on by kyujo pock-marks in the torikumi. You could look at it as Maegashira 7 vs Maegashira 14, or as two up-and-coming youngsters duking it out. I do know that Onosho has a fun habit of beating Hokutofuji. So I bet this one is a brawl.

Ura vs Ikioi – Oh yes, thank you oh Great Sumo Cat of the Kokugikan! This is the kind of match that myself and sumo fans around the globe live for. What kind of bizzaro stuff is Ura going to produce today? Will Ikioi decode his incantations and put a stop to Ura’s sorcery?

Tochinoshin vs Shodai – Yes, yes, a hundred times yes! Both sumotori have secured their promotions, now it’s just to see who is king of the hill. Once again we get the big guy who can’t quite tachiai, against a man with tree trunks for thighs, who can and probably does lift the Tokyo Skytree so they can vacuum under it.

Chiyoshoma vs Yoshikaze – Now that the promotion lanes are going to be open, I am keen to see Yoshikaze reach his magic 8 wins, and cement himself in the San’yaku for July. Chiyoshoma is running on fumes, but can still deliver a great match, as he has dropped Takarafuji and Takakaze in the last two days.

Mitakeumi vs Endo – This goes double for Mitakeumi, I am pulling for him to get his magic 8 and remain in the San’yaku. By the dangly bits of Chiyonofuji, I think he can do it. Endo still has a slim chance at kachi-koshim but he has a bit of an uphill fight. Endo did look very sharp against Yoshikaze day 11, and that a hell of a brawl.

Terunofuji vs Tochiozan – Time to see if our favorite Kaiju was hurt badly on day 12, or if was just some kind of cramp that the trainers could work out. I really pray that Terunofuji can stay healthy, because for the past 2 basho, he has been the only credible Ozeki to be found. Tochiozan will provide a good test for him.

Harumafuji vs Takayasu – These two really do throw down hard. But it’s been since Aki that Takayasu actually won against “The Horse”. A win by the hairy one would cement his Ozeki status, and knock Harumafuji out of the yusho race. But my money is on Harumafuji for day 13, is only loss was a silly slip, and apart from that he is really in excellent form.

Tamawashi vs Hakuho – Hakuho has one goal now, keep in form and pick up no injuries. Tamawashi is strong enough to be a spoiler, but “The Boss” has been in most excellent form this basho, and it’s really magic to watch him do his sumo once more.