Aki day 10, just before noon in Tokyo, Texas sumotori Wakaichiro faced off against fellow 1-3 Sandanme rikishi Tochimitsuru. The loser would leave the dohyo with a make-koshi (losing record), and the winner would remain in the hunt for a winning record.
In a back-and forth match, Wakaichiro prevailed, improving to 2-3. We expect him to fight day 12, with a chance to improve to 3-3. We will share video of the match as soon as it shows up online.
Act 2 comes to a close, and with a full roster of Yokozuna and Ozeki still competing every day, the carnage is back to pre 2017 levels. Kisenosato looks within range of his kachi-koshi today, Mitakeumi’s Ozeki run will hinge on winning every match from here to the end of the basho, and Tochinoshin is in a deep dark kadoban hole. As we did earlier, lets look at the joi-jin bloodbath. The combined record for all of the Komusubi to Maegashira 3 rikishi: 17 wins, 55 loses. That’s going to leave a mark!
The leaderboard continues to narrow, as the road to the yusho gets more challenging. So far the undefeated Yokozunas have control of their destiny.
Ryuden vs Ishiura – Make no mistake, Ryuden has been given the task to deliver the make-koshi doom to Ishiura, and relegate him back to Juryo. Given Ryuden is fighting well and already kachi-koshi, it’s not going to take him much effort to seal Ishiura’s fate.
Yoshikaze vs Nishikigi – Nishikigi has been trending towards going chest to chest and taking a grip on his opponent’s mawashi. But the Yoshikaze mystery body rash may give him a second thought. Their only prior match went to Yoshikaze.
Kotoyuki vs Kyokutaisei – Kyokutaisei draws the somewhat overly theatrical Kotoyuki for day 10. Both of them are in dire need of wins, with Kotoyuki much closer to the Juryo express than Kyokutaisei. I anticipate Kyokutaisei will be chased around the dohyo for a few seconds, then Kotoyuki will be launched into the crowd, even if he has to do it under his own power.
Takanoiwa vs Tochiozan – A win today would give Takanoiwa his kachi-koshi in his return to Makuuchi. After nearly a year on the road to battle back to the top division, it would be an interesting bookend to Harumafuji’s retirement at the end of the month.
Kagayaki vs Aoiyama – In 6 attempts, Kagayaki has never been able to defeat Aoiyama. But for Aki 2018, Aoiyama is hurt and only fighting at a fraction of his power. So the advantage today is clearly with Kagayaki. Aoiyama will try to keep Kagayaki at a preferred swatting distance, and Kagayaki will work to set up in much closer range.
Myogiryu vs Kotoshogiku – If Myogiryu can stay mobile, he has a chance of beating Kotoshogiku. But we know that Kotoshogiku tends to latch onto his opponent during the tachiai. Kotoshogiku will try to be inside to try to land a grip, and Myogiryu’s inclination will be to stay mobile, and that opens a narrow avenue for Kotoshogiku to seize control at the tachiai.
Hokutofuji vs Asanoyama – Both of these bright rising stars are working to regroup after losing their shares of the leaderboard. They are evenly matched, and I expect that they will throw fairly symmetrical sumo at each other. The “handshake tachiai” into a nodowa is not quite working for Hokutofuji in week 2, so hopefully he’s got another offensive gambit. If Asanoyama can constrain Hokutofuji’s sumo, he should be able to set the tempo and terms of the match.
Chiyonokuni vs Shohozan – We know that both of these men are looking forward to this match, as they probably want someone who they can pound the daylights out of. Both of them have had a rough time this basho, and probably have a lot of frustration to work out. Shohozan holds an 8-2 career advantage.
Takarafuji vs Abi – How many days out of Aki 15 can Abi-zumo actually work. We are keeping track, and so far it’s 5, plus 1 where he went for the mawashi. Takarafuji will try to get a hold of Abi and keep him from leaping around and using his double-hand oshi attack. Good luck with that.
Shodai vs Chiyotairyu – If Shodai can withstand the tachiai, he has a pretty good shot at winning another one. Chiyotairyu’s lateral motion is poor, and Shodai can use this to his advantage.
Tamawashi vs Ikioi – Both make-koshi, both having a rotten Aki basho. Both of them are strength-oshi rikishi, so I am looking for some high power, high mobility sumo.
Yutakayama vs Takakeisho – First time match up for these two, and it should be a good one. Yutakayama picked up his first win on day 9, and he’s back looking for a few shiroboshi to soften his fall down the banzuke. Yutakayama will bring strength and stamina to the match, where Takakeisho will bring speed an fury. Should be a good battle!
Kaisei vs Tochinoshin – Tochinoshin will continue his task to find 8 wins, and he may have an opportunity on day 10. Over the 16 career matches, Tochinoshin holds a 9-7 slight advantage. He needs this win, and I am going to guess he is willing to endure a lot of pain and possible injury to defeat the mighty Brazilian.
Goeido vs Takayasu – As we continue to rotate through the Ozeki matches, it’s time for speedy Goeido to take his sumo against the strong and chaotic Takayasu. Takayasu holds a 18-10 lead in the career series, but Goeido 2.2 seems to be increasingly effective executing his rapid, forceful sumo. This match may only take a moment, and it’s anyone’s guess who will prevail.
Kisenosato vs Endo – Endo is make-koshi, and clearly injured. So I am calling that Kisenosato will pick up his kachi-koshi today, and seal his successful return to sumo. We all know that “10” is a Yokozuna kachi-koshi, but no one is going to give a care about that. The Japanese sumo fans will have Kisenosato back, he will have successfully gotten a majority of wins, and he is free to improve and recover before Kyushu.
Ichinojo vs Hakuho – Hakuho is probably going to rack win #10, as Ichinojo is not fighting well. Regardless of whatever injuries “The Boss” might have, he’s still bringing some of the best sumo each day.
Kakuryu vs Mitakeumi – Mitakeumi’s Ozeki bid hangs by a thread now, and Kakuryu holds the other end of that thread. Their career record is 4-3 in favor of Kakuryu, so it’s not a given that Big-K can score a win. But Mitakeumi cannot afford a single loss from here on out, and he is in the toughest part of the schedule. Every eye in sumo fandom will be locked to this match.
Today’s post will focus on the rikishi in the named ranks, setting up the storylines for the final six days of the basho. Both of the Day 9 highlight matches exceeded expectations. First, Dai-Yokozuna Hakuho used all of his skill and experience to best promotion-seeking Sekiwake Mitakeumi. Then, in what can justifiably be described as a career-saving victory, back-to-the-wall Yokozuna Kisenosato prevailed in a titanic struggle with kadoban Ozeki Tochinoshin, himself badly in need of a victory. Judging by today, and with the matches among the upper ranks just starting, we should be in for a treat!
Kakuryu (9-0) has had an easy stroll through lower-ranked opponents so far. His degree of difficulty goes up tomorrow against Mitakeumi, and should be followed in order by bouts against Tochinoshin, Takayasu, Goeido, Kisenosato, and Hakuho.
Hakuho (9-0) has had to work harder for his undefeated record, but co-leads the yusho race nevertheless. He faces Ichinojo tomorrow, to be followed by the three Ozeki and the other two Yokozuna.
Kisenosato (7-2) has looked shaky at times, but beating obviously struggling Endo tomorrow would give him the all-important eighth win. If his record stands at 8-2 after Day 10, which would still put him in yusho contention, I don’t think we’ll hear renewed calls for his retirement even if he fades hard down the stretch against a lineup of Ichinojo, Mitakeumi, Goeido, and the other two Yokozuna, and after today I wouldn’t be surprised to see him pick up a couple of wins in those five bouts.
Goeido and Takayasu sport identical 8-1 records, and have both looked consistently strong this basho. Tomorrow’s highlight match pits them against each other for a chance to challenge the two undefeated Yokozuna for the yusho and a leg up in the jun-yusho race. Oh, and having clinched their kachi-koshi, they don’t have to worry about being kadoban in Kyushu.
Tochinoshin (5-4) needs to at least split his remaining 6 matches to clear kadoban and remain Ozeki. With Kakuryu, Hakuho, and Takayasu still on his fight card, tomorrow’s bout against Kaisei looks like a must-win, and their career 9-7 record only narrowly favors the Ozeki. Tochinoshin will also need to collect victories against his other two remaining maegashira opponents, most likely Shodai and Endo.
Mitakeumi (6-3) probably needs a 5-1 finish to earn promotion to the second-highest rank. After his extended battle against Hakuho today, he gets the other co-leader tomorrow. Perhaps surprisingly, Mitakeumi has defeated Kakuryu 3 times in their 7 prior bouts. After that, he still has to face Kisenosato and Takayasu, along with 3 maegashira opponents (probably Kaisei, Yutakayama, and Endo). A tough road, but not impossible.
Ichinojo (3-6) showed some life today, and will be done with the hard part of his schedule after facing Hakuho and Kisenosato. A kachi-koshi might be out of reach at this point, but he can aim for a 4-2 finish to cushion his demotion only down to Komusubi and remain in san’yaku.
Tamawashi (1-8) will face easier opponents from here on, but it comes too late for him to avoid a fall back into the rank-and file. Takakeisho (3-6) still has a chance to save his rank with a very strong finish. Neither man will feature further in the high-stakes games to be played by those above them on the banzuke.
Another rikishi we are following in Sandanme is none other than Texan Wakaichiro, who fights day 10 against Sandanme 79 Tochimitsuru. Tochimitsuru is a 23 year old rikishi from Kasugano heya, and has been moving between Jonidan and Sandanme for the past 4 years. The two are similar height and weight, so this will be an interesting contest.
Wakaichiro comes to his day 10 match with a 1-3 record, looking to improve by picking up his second win, and avoid a loss and a make-koshi / losing record for Aki. As always we will bring you news as soon as we know it, and video as soon as it crops up on the internet.
The basho is rushing towards the close of act two, and the damaged are being sorted from the survivors. Nowhere was that more clear than the final match of the day which saw Kisenosato and Tochinoshin battle for a single white star that only one of them could claim.
From now to Senshuraku on Sunday, we will see the highest ranking rikishi battle daily, while the lower ranks face increasingly unusual pairings. Many rikishi will have double digit losses this tournament – the fully-staffed upper ranks guarantee it. So don’t worry if one of your favorites is doing poorly; they will have another chance at glory in November.
Okinoumi defeats Yoshikaze – Points to Okinoumi for defeating Yoshikaze without actually touching his rash covered torso. It was painfully obvious that Okinoumi wanted no contact with Yoshikaze’s mystery rash.
Takanoiwa defeats Kyokutaisei – I always wonder why these guys come back from kyujo. They were busted up enough to seek medical treatment, and it’s clear they don’t have the mojo to compete. Kyokutaisei is make-koshi, and I am sure he is going to try and pick up enough wins to keep himself in the top division.
Sadanoumi defeats Kotoyuki – Kotoyuki put up a solid fight today, but ends the match with his obligatory crowd-surfing run, which ends with him cuddling Daieisho. Kotoyuki’s sumo is not quite together enough for Makuuchi this basho, so it will be a long shot for him to stay in the top division for Kyushu.
Daieisho defeats Ishiura – Also on the express Juryo return voyage is Ishiura, who has not been able to win in spite of putting his back into his sumo. The man has talent, and is clearly driven to excel, but something is missing (besides a kachi-koshi).
Ryuden defeats Shohozan – Ryuden masterfully shuts down Shohozan’s mobility advantage, and traps him in a painful embrace. Unable to clear the hold and unleash his barrage of blows against Ryuden, Shohozan struggles to free his arms, as Ryuden makes him dance to his tune. Every time he nearly breaks free, Ryuden locks him up once more. Actually a fantastic display of a specific, narrow strategy executed with grim determination to great effect. Ryuden scores his 8th win, and looks to be on track for double digits.
Takarafuji defeats Onosho – I am fairly certain that after the basho we may learn that Onosho’s knee is going to require further work. He simply cannot generate much forward pressure right now, and Takarafuji contains him and drives him from the ring. It’s important that Onosho get this thing healed up and working, as he has a lot of great sumo coming his way over the next few years.
Kagayaki defeats Hokutofuji – A bit of a surprise as Hokutofuji’s hot streak turns cold. It’s true that Kagayaki executed well, Hokutofuji’s handshake tachiai / nodowa did not last more than a moment, and Kagayaki successfully landed a right hand inside, with his left setting up the arm-bar. From there he rotated and rolled into the kotenage for the win.
Kotoshogiku defeats Asanoyama – Asanoyama foolishly goes chest to chest with the Kyushu Bulldozer and gets left in the ditch. The crowd loves to see him do it, and Asanoyama should have known better.
Abi defeats Tochiozan – Tochiozan could not pierce Abi’s “wall of tsuppari” to produce any meaningful offense. Abi advances to 6-3.
Shodai defeats Myogiryu – Back to weak tachiai from Shodai, but he is able to execute the kotenage while traveling in reverse. Myogiryu had higher intensity, but Shodai remained calm and executed.
Yutakayama defeats Chiyotairyu – Yutakayama finally picks up his first win, after returning from kyujo. Chiyotairyu delivered his typical thunderous tachiai, but ceded the inside thrusting position to Yutakayama who used it to dominate Chiyotairyu and control the match.
Kaisei defeats Tamawashi – Tamawashi lost this one at the tachiai, as he was beaten off the shikiri-sen by slow moving Kaisei. From there he was always reacting and could not quite generate any offense. This is Tamawashi’s 8th loss and he is now make-koshi and will almost certainly be out of the Komusubi spot next basho.
Ichinojo defeats Ikioi – Ichinojo decides to execute some sumo today, and easily tosses Ikioi aside for the win. Ikioi won the tachiai and pushed Ichinojo to the tawara. But rather than surrendering today, Ichinojo rallied and won. Ikioi’s win over Mitakeumi seems even more bizarre and worrying in this context.
Takayasu defeats Chiyonokuni – Chiyonokuni had command of the early portion of this match. He set the tone and tempo, and Takayasu was forced to follow. But yet again Chiyonokuni found himself stepping a foot out of the ring and losing. Somehow his typically good ring sense is gone, and his feet are costing him dearly needed wins. The disappointment on his face following the match betrays his frustration.
Goeido defeats Takakeisho – Excellent work today from Goeido. He endured a flurry of blows to get inside of Takakeisho, who could only get one wave of attack in before Goeido applied pressure center-mass and advanced. I declare Goeido 2.2 to be one of the better upgrades in a while.
Hakuho defeats Mitakeumi – This match was entertaining because it featured a number of odd elements, including a lengthy pause in the middle with Hakuho nearly upright. In fact, he glanced across Mitakeumi’s back, taking stock of Mitakeumi’s body and leg position. Feigning a leg trip, Hakuho tap’s Mitakeumi’s calf, and breaks the deadlock, to Hakuho’s waiting attack. Ladies and Gentlemen, example 32 of dai-Yokozuna sumo. Mitakeumi’s Ozeki bid is close to failure now, it seems.
Kakuryu defeats Endo – Endo’s make-koshi bout was another example of Endo going through the motions in spite of some undisclosed injury that has left him in no condition to fight as a Maegashira 3.
Kisenosato defeats Tochinoshin – What I like to call a “Darwin” match, only one was going to survive, even though fans wanted them both to win. Kisenosato is now all but assured of a kachi-koshi as he faces Endo on day 10, and Tochinoshin is now in deep trouble in an attempt to clear kadoban. The big Georgian struggled to generate forward pressure, in spite of getting a favorable grip. Kisenosato was too high for most of the match, and it was alarming that Tochinoshin’s multiple attempts to throw the Yokozuna failed. Tochinoshin needs to find 3 more wins to reach safety.