Bruce’s Day 4 Roundup


Kise-Day4

While day 3 may have been a bit bland and pulpy, day 4 recovered with a zesty blob of wasabi served up fresh and feisty. Almost every match was a real battle, with both rikishi giving it their all with vigor and stamina. Great day to catch the full torikumi via Kintamayama’s YouTube channel!

It’s clear that a handful of rikishi will be in position to challenge for the cup, and it’s really an exciting and surprising mix.

Clearly the favorite today would be Hakhuho. The Boss looks to be in solid form, and he has thus far dismantled all challengers. With Harumafuji out of the basho, he only needs to worry about Goeido and Takayasu.

Oh? The Ozeki corps? They are in fact dominating as well. Both are undefeated, and both look to be able to stay that way for the next few days until they get into week 2. Goeido is in top form, in fact he is in similar spirit to his Aki 2016 performance. Strong, fast, unstoppable. Takayasu is more tenuous, he has come close to defeat a couple of times, but managed to pull it out.

Then, if you can believe it, Ichinojo! Yes it’s only week one, but its so wonderful to see Ichinojo back to a bit of his old self. For recent sumo fans, this guy used to be the next kaiju.

Rounding out the undefeated list, it’s none other than Uncle Sumo! How wonderful is that? Aminishiki, all the way down at Maegashira 13, is undefeated. Thus far he has not had to really work too hard, as everyone who has faced him has handed him a win. Of course this is because Aminishiki is very experienced, highly skilled, and like all great athletes, makes it look easy.

On the down side is Kisenosato. His failure to dispatch Takakeisho underscores the fact that he is only partially recovered. Note in his match today how he protects his left side. This is especially acute as Kisenosato is left hand / foot dominant.

Highlight Matches

Ryuden defeats Kotoyuki – Up from Juryo for the day, crowd favorite Ryuden shows us why the folks who get to watch Juryo matches love him. The match with Kotoyuki was fast paced, frantic and unpredictable. If NHK shows this match today, don’t miss it – he’s likely to be in Makuuchi soon.

Aminishiki defeats Myogiryu – Some false start nonsense before the tachiai, and frankly Aminishiki did not quite land his right hand, but once they launched, Uncle Sumo used the same push-then-pull tactic that has won the last three.

Kagayaki defeats Daiamami – Excellent effort from both men, Daiamami got turned around in the post-tachiai struggle for grip, and Kagayaki was quick to force him out. Kagayaki can really bring some excellent sumo when he is on his game.

Okinoumi defeats Kaisei – I am starting to hope that dear Okinoumi has found a way to manage his chronic injury. His sumo, while not Nagoya 2016 level, is looking better.

Ikioi defeats Endo – This was not a long or elegant match, but these two went at it with gusto. The ending was a bit more of a collapse than a throw, but excellent effort all around.

Daieisho defeats Asanoyama – Something must be in the chikara-mizu today, everyone was really putting in massive effort, these two included. Daieisho took control at the tachiai, applying a series of nodowa, and keeping Asanoyama high and off balance. Daieisho in the end overpowered Asanoyama at the tawara for the win.

Chiyomaru defeats Shodai – I get the feeling Shodai decided he was getting too soft, and decided it was time to do sumo again. Though he lost he really put his back into it today, giving Chiyomaru a heck of a fight, including a valiant and successful last stand at the tawara. But Chiyomaru had this one dialed in, and turned Shodai’s pressure at the edge into an opportunity to pull him down.

Tochinoshin defeats Takarafuji – Another excellent strength sumo match up, and Takarafuji should be commended for keeping it close. Its clear that Tochinoshin is trying to keep pressure off of his damaged right knee, so he needs to bank every win he can get. In this match he seems to be fighting nearly one-legged.

Ichinojo defeats Arawashi – Massive effort from Arawashi, who nearly had this section of the Eshima bridge out a couple of times. But each time, Ichinojo would rally and block his kimarite. As Arawashi was setting up his third attempt to end the match, he stepped out just as he was cocking a throw, giving the match to Ichinojo.

Kotoshogiku defeats Terunofuji – It’s just getting depressing to watch Terunofuji lose every day. He’s hurt, he can’t do sumo, and there is no way he is getting his Ozeki hanko back any time soon. We do get to see Kotoshogiku hug-n-chug for the first time this basho. The old bulldozer can still bring it down.

Yoshikaze defeats Onosho – As predicted, the Berserker had a lot of pent up frustrations that he brought to the match, and deposited on Onosho’s face. Both of them were batting each other like tabbies jacked up on weapons-grade catnip, but the tadpole was no match for the master.

Mitakeumi defeats Chiyonokuni – Messy, messy match, from the matta at the front end to the rubbery collapse into a heap at the edge that concluded it. It’s clear that Mitakeumi is only about 80%, but that tadpole shape is a tough one for Chiyonokuni.

Goeido defeats Tamawashi – This habitual matta garbage from Tamawashi is probably going to receive some attention from the Kyokai, because it’s getting really old. Of course he is trying to throw Goeido off his tachiai timing, because we all know that Goeido is going to rip into you before you can even stand up. But the matta flurry did not have that effect, and Goeido won rather convincingly.

Takayasu defeats Shohozan – Shohozan decides to let Takayasu do what he does better than anyone: lock up an opponent and use his inhuman endurance to wear them down. I am sure that just after they went chest to chest, Shohozan was sorry he did it. The burly Ozeki can and probably does maintain that position against the teppo pole overnight, while sleeping. After Shohozan got tired of holding up 400 pounds of Ibaraki beef, it was easy enough to put him out of the ring.

Takakeisho defeats Kisenosato – Back to worry over Kisenosato, he was favoring his left side, and Takakeisho took full advantage of it. If this is just “I have not done honbasho sumo for 6 months” he will snap in soon enough, but if he’s still injured, it’s time to go kyujo.

Hakuho defeats Chiyotairyu – That was two giant handfuls of struggling rikishi that Hakuho bested today. For a few seconds, Hakuho seemed to be struggling to decide how best to contain Chiyotairyu, but once he got inside of Chiyotairyu’s grip, it was time to put the rikishi out. Hakuho is looking unstoppable… again.

Kyushu Day 4 Preview


Kisenosato-Day3

In spite of the huge distraction that is the Harumafuji story, the basho continues. Finally going into day 4, we can get a feel for how some of the top men are likely to fare physically for the remainder of the basho.

  • Hakuho – Looking very genki indeed! There had been some worries heading into the basho, but it’s clear he is in good enough condition to run everyone he has faced thus far ragged. Barring an injury, he’s going to be contending for his 40th yusho.
  • Kisenosato – There were quite a few worries that Kisenosato was not going to be able to produce much in the way of offense. After his day 3 match, its clear he has some strength back on his left side.
  • Takayasu – What thigh muscle tear? This guy is as strong and sharp as ever.
  • Terunofuji – He can’t muster any lower body force, he is too weak to actually compete at this level. His mental state may be somewhat impacted as well due to the drama in his stable.
  • Mitakeumi – That toe is really bothering him. I am going to guess he will struggle.
  • Kotoshogiku – He seems healthy, but he has yet to win a match.
  • Ichinojo – His persistent back problems are not bothering him thus far, and he’s winning matches.

What We Are Watching Day 4

Kotoyuki vs. Ryuden – Crowd favorite Ryuden is up in Makuuchi for the day, and he goes against Kotoyuki who just recently returned to the top division. Interestingly enough, this is the first time these two have faced each other on the dohyo.

Myogiryu vs. Aminishiki – Aminishiki is really doing very well in Kyushu. In prior basho he has been very day-by-day on his performance, but thus far he has been smooth, precise and completely in control of each match. Myogiryu has a 10-6 career advantage over “Uncle Sumo”, so maybe he can disrupt Aminishiki’s string of wins.

Daiamami vs. Kagayaki – First match between these two, and it would be easy to give an edge to Kagayaki. But Daiamami is a young rikishi who had a solid career in college sumo, and is looking to pave the road to a higher spot in the banzuke.

Kaisei vs. Okinoumi – I am going to cautiously say that maybe Okinoumi has a handle on his medical problems for now, and that we may see something closer to his performance during that barn-burner opening week of Nagoya 2016. Facing off against Kaisei today, who brings in a 2 win career advantage over the man from Shimane-ken in Western Japan.

Endo vs. Ikioi – Classic match of fan favorites, Ikioi has been flagging as late, while Endo is on an upward path after recovering from surgery. Ikioi has a 6-2 career advantage statistically, but I would give the advantage to Endo for this match.

Takarafuji vs. Tochinoshin – Both men have been under-performing this far, and both have a lot of potential for great sumo. I am going to assume that Tochinoshin’s knee is back on the endangered species list, as we have not seen him unleash his enormous strength thus far in Kyushu.

Arawashi vs. Ichinojo – This one promises to be fun. Both come in to day 4 with 3-0 records. Arawashi has been running a high-speed mobile combat approach, where Ichinojo has reverted to his “Angry Bridge Abutment” mode. It’s speed and agility against size and brute strength. Where this one goes is anyone’s guess.

Hokutofuji vs. Tochiozan – Hokutofuji has delivered some solid sumo in the first 3 days, and I expect he is going to do his utmost to contain the flagging Tochiozan, who is fighting well below his potential. They have only fought twice, with each man taking a win.

Terunofuji vs. Kotoshogiku – Terunofuji has nothing left. Without his legs he cannot transmit power to ground, which is what sumo is all about. I give Kotoshogiku a significant advantage in this match.

Onosho vs. Yoshikaze – Interesting fact, Yoshikaze has yet to win a match from Onosho. I am sure this bothers him quite a bit, and I am hoping Yoshikaze expresses his frustration on day 4 – in the form of tsuppari applied to Onosho’s head.

Mitakeumi vs. Chiyonokuni – What could be another highlight match, we have a somewhat injured and less stable Mitakeumi against a Chiyonokuni who really seems to be running at full throttle every match. Mitakeumi showed some decent strength against Kotoshogiku on day 3, so expect plenty of action.

Goeido vs. Tamawashi – Goeido seems to be solidly booted up in 2.0 mode so far, and it’s a wonderful thing to see. I expect he is going to throw massive, no safety offense at Tamawashi. Tamawashi wants back in San’yaku, and he has a nice win over Kisenosato thus far. This could be another great match if Tamawashi can survive the tachiai.

Shohozan vs. Takayasu – Home town boy Shohozan is a tough customer, and he’s going to have his hands full with Takayasu, who has been delivering power sumo daily so far. But Takayasu’s day 3 match was rough, unbalanced and almost went to Onosho. Look for the Ozeki to try and lock up Shohozan rather than the run-and-gun approach he let Onosho dictate on day 3.

Kisenosato vs. Takakeisho – Takakeisho’s day 3 match against Hakuho had a couple of surprises that went by at a blistering speed. My favorite was where he set up a throw against the Yokozuna, and almost made it stick. Kisenosato is at least one gear lower than he normally fights, so Takakeisho may find more leverage on day 4. Their only prior match went to the Yokozuna.

Chiyotairyu vs. Hakuho – Chiyotairyu gave Kisenosato a good run on day 3, but Hakuho is in no need of confidence boosters. I would expect a quick match with Hakuho the winner. It should be noted that Hakuho has not lost in their prior encounters (6).

Kyushu Day 3 Preview


You Want To Do What?

The schedulers have given sumo fans many wonderful gifts for Tuesday, and we are eager to enjoy them. It seems that it was decided that day three would be twins day, and so most rikishi are facing their “twin”.  We have two giant men of girth, two youngsters who could push a Volkswagen up a hill without breaking a sweat, a pair of brawlers… Well, you get the idea!

The open questions we have going into day three include: 1. Is Harumafuji going to be able to gamberize and stick in the rotation? 2. How hurt is Aoiyama? 3. How hurt is the perpetually injured Kotoyuki? 4. What is it going to take to get Terunofuji to admit he’s injured and should not be playing kaiju today?

What We Are Watching Day Three

Kotoyuki vs. Myogiryu – Kotoyuki seemed to have injured his ankle on day two, but this guy is almost always hurt in some way. I hope that it was only light damage and he will be fit and ready for battle. He holds an 8-2 career lead over Myogiryu, but this will come down to injuries.

Nishikigi vs. Aminishiki – The only prior time these two faced off was in Juryo, and Nishikigi was the winner. For the first two days Aminishiki has looked very smooth and in control, and Nishikigi is not really showing us amazing sumo yet. So I would give a slight advantage to Uncle Sumo for this one.

Kagayaki vs. Asanoyama – These two are practically the same rikishi, that’s what makes this match so delightful! The primary difference is that Kagayaki gains weight in unfortunate locations, and Asanoyama is such a happy guy he may just laugh about it.

Kaisei vs. Aoiyama – Two rotund giants in a battle of the “Too Big To Flail”. Seriously though, probably a forfeit win for Kaisei as I hear Aoiyama really cranked up his ankle on day two.

Endo vs. Shodai – Ah Shodai, I am going to assume that Endo is going to make you pay for your high and slow tachiai. Endo seems to be bouncing back hard now, and if he can keep himself free of injuries, may be capable of rejoining the joi soon. For Endo fans that would be a welcome return. For Shodai, once he fixes his tachiai he’s going to make his next move higher.

Ichinojo vs. Hokutofuji – Both of these guys are showing some great sumo so far. I do love that they are going to put them head to head and see what happens. Hokutofuji has been quite fast and low so far, but against Ichinojo, it may not matter. Imagine being locked in hand to hand combat with a bridge abutment. Such a situation is going to require unusual tactics.

Shohozan vs. Chiyonokuni – Two sluggers going toe to toe. Chiyonokuni needs to start winning some, but home town boy Shohozan is starting off on a hot streak. My prediction for this fight is fast and painful, with more than one fierce blow to the face.

Mitakeumi vs. Kotoshogiku – Kotoshogiku has had a crappy first set of matches, and he has eaten a good amount of clay in front of his home town fans. Now he faces an injured Mitakeumi, and I am guessing we are going to see some pelvic thrusts of extraordinary magnitude.

Terunofuji vs. Yoshikaze – Terunofuji has no knees left. I fear a replay of the Black Knight scene from Monty Python’s Holy Grail. Much as we love both Terunofuji and Yoshikaze, this bout is going to be unpleasant to watch.

Onosho vs. Takayasu – Oh what wonders! A first time match between a powerful, brutal Ozeki and a potent up-start. I think the advantage here is Takayasu, but I am eager to see what tactics Onosho employs.

Goeido vs. Tochiozan – I am looking for more Geoido 2.0 here, and I would think that Tochiozan is at least considering a henka.

Takakeisho vs. Hakuho – A rematch we have all been waiting for. What kind of lessons will the Boss hand out to upstart Takakeisho today? Or can the angriest of tadpoles take back some dignity from the rikishi who schooled him in Nagoya?

Harumafuji vs. Tamawashi – A big test match for Harumafuji, if he loses again today it’s clear he is too banged up to compete. I know for a fact that Harumafuji would rather this not be the case, so we may finally see him unleash some of his more defensive tricks. But Tamawashi does indeed know how to win against Harumafuji, so both men will fight hard.

Kisenosato vs. Chiyotairyu – Chiyotairyu is now super-sized for your entertainment, and he gets to test a still-questionable Kisenosato. Today should be the day we can tell if Kisenosato is going to be able to go the distance, or if he is still too hurt to practice Yokozuna level sumo.

Kyushu Day 1 Highlights


Kyushu-Day-1

Matta, Matta, Matta

Day one got off to a rough start, as many of the matches had difficulties getting underway properly, or finishing cleanly. Many of the rikishi seem to be off the pace, and a bit nervous. A good percentage of the matches either started with a matta or finished with a monoii! Typically the first few days of any basho feature the men shaking off the training cobwebs and getting back into tournament form.

In the upper ranks we had two Yokozuna losses today, one of them resulting in a kinboshi. We all knew that things were going to be rough, at least at the start, so don’t get worried just yet. In Kisenosato’s loss, there were a series of false starts, which clearly threw everyone’s timing off. For Harumafuji, it’s clear that he got off balance and Onosho made him pay. Elsewhere in the top ranks, Goeido looked damn awesome in his first match, blasting Takakeisho off the dohyo in the “Goeido 2.0” style we love so much.

Highlight Matches

Nishikigi defeats Daiamami – Daiamami’s first Makuuchi bout, and Nishikigi gave him a pretty good fight. This turned into a strength battle, which Nishikigi seems to handle well.

Aminishiki defeats Kotoyuki – Aminishiki looked quite awesome in his win, and the crowd was really behind “Uncle Sumo”. Of course we had some matta action to slow things down, but in the end, Aminishiki deftly threw Kotoyuki, to score the win.

Asanoyama defeats Okinoumi – Asanoyama really nailed this tachiai, and dispatched Okinoumi with little fanfare. Its clear Okinoumi is bothered by his injury and could not muster much defensive force to stop Asanoyama’s advance.

Kaisei defeats Daieisho – Kaisei continues to improve, I think it looks like he did indeed lose some weight even from Aki. While still somewhat lethargic, he was faster and more aggressive than he has been in tournaments earlier this year. Daieisho gave him a decent fight for a bit, but completely lost his balance and was forced out.

Ichinojo defeats Chiyonokuni – It looked to me like an early start by Chiyonokuni, but Ichinojo took over and dominated this match, handling Chiyonokuni easily and forcing him out. Is it time to hope that Ichinojo is back on his sumo?

Hokutofuji defeats Terunofuji – Another match that had a rough start, Terunofuji could only offer any defense for a few seconds before his knees started to give way, and Hokutofuji dispatched him over the bales. This is going to be daily agony for Terunofuji, its clear.

Shohozan defeats Yoshikaze – Great battle between these two, it was a slug fest from the start, but Shohozan caught Yoshikaze overcommitted and off balance, and took him down.

Mitakeumi defeats Tochiozan – Another monoii, this time Tochiozan stepped out as he was pulling Mitakeumi down. The gyoji’s decision was reversed and Mitakeumi was given the win.

Takayasu defeats Chiyotairyu – In the burliest match you will see on day 1, these two giants finished fast, as Takayasu caught his opponent too far forward and pulled him down.

Goeido defeats Takakeisho – Oh yea! We got some Goeido 2.0 today, and he was on strong. Launching with unstoppable force straight out of the tachiai, he caught Takakeisho low, a really tough thing to do. His charge was strong and he just kept pushing ahead. You can see the look of surprise on Takakeisho’s face, and it’s over in the blink of an eye. This is the kind of Goeido we love to see, complete commitment to his attack, no turning back, no second chances. In this mode he is like a gunslinger of old west lore, and when he’s in his grove he is unstoppable. More please!

Tamawashi defeats Kisenosato – This match was a mess, I lost count on how many false starts / mattas were involved. The match itself was a bit of a puzzle, Kisenosato started strong, but Tamawashi broke contact and moved off. Kisenosato followed, and Tamawashi re-engaged with a very strong oshi attack which took the Yokozuna out. Kinboshi for Tamawashi.

Hakuho defeats Kotoshogiku – Good effort from Kotoshogiku, but wow, Hakuho was ready and strong today. Really great to see this guy work when he is in good form and good health. Hakuho took the fight to Kotoshogiku, and really controlled him throughout, ending the match with masterfully executed uwatedashinage.

Onosho defeats Harumafuji – Very surprising that Harumafuji lost control of this match at the tachiai, letting Onosho get underneath and inside. Onosho shows that last time was not a fluke, and he used a quick push/pull combo to get the Yokozuna on the clay. Impressive 2-0 against Harumafuji for Onosho now.

Kyushu Day 1 Preview


Uncle-Sumo

It’s been a solid 2 months since we last had competition to discuss, and it seems that the schedulers set up some fantastic matches for the first day. There are so many unknowns for this tournament, and all sumo fans are eager to see 3 of the 4 active Yokozuna in action.

There are a number of rikishi with quite a bit on the line this tournament, including Takayasu who is kadoban for the first time, and our favorite kaiju, Terunofuji, who has been demoted to Ozekiwake and needs 10 wins to return to his rank. For Terunofuji especially, this is going to be a difficult tournament. There is strong evidence that he is still injured and in pain. For Takayasu, it’s unclear how far into recovery he is, but we are fairly certain he will find some way to pick up 8 wins.

What We Are Watching Day 1

Kotoyuki vs. Aminishiki – In a match that replays last tournament’s Juryo action, Uncle Sumo goes against Kotoyuki. I am guessing that for US fans, they will show this on the highlight reel. It will be quite welcome to watch him in action. One thing that was apparent while watching the May tournament in Tokyo, the crowd really loves Aminishiki. With any luck they will show some of that reaction, too. Kotoyuki looks to be over his injuries, and ready to resume fighting at top division levels.

Okinoumi vs. Asanoyama – I am going to be delighted to see how Asanoyama does in his second top division tournament. The guy has a perpetual positive attitude it seems, and one has to respect that. Okinoumi is always hit-or-miss on any day depending on how his chronic injuries are doing.

Aoiyama vs. Ikioi – At Aki, Aoiyama was ranked pretty high, and he suffered quite a bit as a result. He is much more effective at this layer of the banzuke, and should be quite competitive. I would love to see Ikioi have a good tournament, but he seems to be struggling this year.

Kaisei vs. Daieisho – Kaisei made it back to Makuuchi in September, and looked like he lost a bunch of mass. Furthermore, in the NHK segment on Tomozuna Oyakata, there were plenty of shots showing Kaisei training, and he seems to have lost still more weight. I think this indicates some good things for the man from Brazil, as he had gotten too heavy and it had begun to retard his sumo. Daieisho opened very strong at Aki, and I am eager to see if he can do it again. This will be a nice test, as Kaisei was defeated by Daieisho in both of their previous bouts.

Endo vs. Chiyomaru – Endo has quietly been getting his sumo stronger, match by match, since he had surgery over the summer. Hopefully this will inspire the badly damaged Ura that its possible to get fixed up, heal up, and return to the dohyo. Endo holds a 3-1 advantage over Chiyomaru.

Chiyonokuni vs. Ichinojo – Mighty Ichinojo seemed to actually wake up and focus on sumo during Aki, and it was great to see. I know the giant suffers from all manner of injuries due to his enormous size and weight. On the other hand, Chiyonokuni is a blistering firestorm of sumo offense, and I think Maegashira 4 is a very good rank for him. They are tied in career matches at 2-2.

Terunofuji vs. Hokutofuji – The labor of pain starts early for Terunofuji, he has never defeated Hokutofuji, who suffered a hand injury during Aki and was a shadow of his normal self. If he has returned ready and ganki, this could be tough for Terunofuji. Not only must he win, he needs to protect his injured knees in order to keep fighting in top form for the whole tournament. Thus far, Terunofuji has not found a way to defeat Hokutofuji in any of their prior matches.

Shohozan vs. Yoshikaze – Battle of the brawlers, “Big Guns” Shohozan is the underdog in this match. Yoshikaze kept his normal low profile during the jungyo, but I am quite sure he is primed for battle.

Mitakeumi vs. Tochiozan – Mitakeumi has quietly put together the second most wins this year, just behind Harumafuji. He looked vague and unfocused during Aki, and he faces a full spread of Yokozuna this time around. He warms up against Tochiozan over whom he has a 4-1 career edge.

Chiyotairyu vs. Takayasu – How healed up is Takayasu? Time to find out when he faces off against super-sized Chiyotairyu on day 1. During Aki, Chiyotairyu was showing some solid sumo and some overwhelming force, so this is not going to be easy for Takayasu in the slightest.

Goeido vs. Takakeisho – Goeido has some work to do to repair his reputation after Aki, and his day one bout against Takakeisho is a great place to start. Goeido has been looking especially sharp in both jungyo and practice, so I am expecting a lot of Goeido 2.0 this basho. Oddly enough, they are even at 1-1 for their career totals.

Kisenosato vs. Tamawashi – Is it finally time to welcome the return of Kisenosato? Almost every sumo fan in the world has their hopes pinned on his return to health and vigor. Although Tamawashi is no longer in the San’yaku slot he held for so long, he can be counted on for explosive sumo straight from the start. This will be an excellent test of just how healed up Kisenosato is.

Kotoshogiku vs. Hakuho – The boss gets to meet home-town boy Kotoshogiku on day one, and frankly I am thrilled. The Kyushu Bulldozer is easy to anticipate, but he finds ways to trap you into his sumo and make you pay. Hakuho is so fast, so clever and so skilled that it will likely be a contest between Hakuho’s trying to stay mobile, and Kotoshogiku trying to lock the Yokozuna up. Hakuho dominates their career matches 52-5.

Harumafuji vs. Onosho – Onosho is feeling fierce, and who better to temper him than the winner of the Aki yusho? Harumafuji has spent some of the intervening two months nursing himself back to health, but he spent the first week of Aki second-guessing his sumo, and dropping matches to underlings. Onosho won their only prior match, and I am sure that Harumafuji is going to make Onosho pay.

Aki Day 13 Preview


Goeido-Mug

Time to crank up the final weekend for the Aki basho, and what a weekend it is likely to be. Yes, there are two paths (you can go by, but in the long run, there’s still time to change the road you’re on) to the finish line. One is likely and it involves Goeido staying in charge and holding course until Day 15, when it won’t matter what happens when he faces Harumafuji. The other, more interesting and unlikely path involves some brave soul (Takakeisho?) finding a way to defeat the lone surviving Ozeki, and forcing the option of a Senshuraku Showdown. Then it all comes down to Harumafuji, and a win would force the barnyard brawl that we know would light the sumo world on fire. While the 10 rikishi who are 2 wins behind Goeido will likely thin quite a bit before Sunday, a multi-way battle for the cup would be a fitting end to Wacky Aki.

Aki Leader board

Goeido is 2 ahead of an army of 10 chasers, which is everyone who is kachi-koshi as of day 12. Amusingly enough, that means even Endo and Asanoyama!

Leader – Goeido
Chasers – Harumafuji, Yoshikaze, Kotoshogiku, Onosho, Chiyotairyu, Takanoiwa, Arawashi, Daieisho, Endo, Asanoyama

3 Matches Remain

What We Are Watching Day 13

Nishikigi vs. Sadanoumi – Nishikigi is one loss away from make-koshi, and he faces Sadanoumi who is headed southbound in a big way. Nishikigi has a series advantage for 7-4, but both rikishi are struggling this tournament.

Daishomaru vs. Arawashi – Daishomaru working to close out his winning record against a strong and fierce Arawashi. Arawashi has faded a bit in week 2, but not as severely as Daishomaru. The two have split the previous matches 4-3, favoring Daishomaru.

Takanoiwa vs. Chiyomaru – Former leader board occupant Chiyomaru is hosting to finish out his kachi-koshi today as well, but he has to overcome Takanoiwa to get there. I am going to assume this match will come down to a pulling / thrust down kimarite, as both of these men are hoping to avoid a protracted battle.

Endo vs. Takarafuji – Clearly at test match for Endo, with the question being “how well has he healed up?”. Takarafuji has been fighting well, and a win here will give him his kachi-koshi. Takarafuji also holds a series lead of 5-2 over Endo.

Chiyonokuni vs. Kotoshogiku – This match has real potential, as the grumpy badger Chiyonokuni tests his mettle against the Kyushu Bulldozer Kotoshogiku. Chiyonokuni needs 2 more wins to lock down a winning record, but I don’t think that Kotoshogiku is going to cut him any slack. The real question is if the match is going to be Kotoshogiku wrapping up Chiyonokuni from the tachiai, and applying the yori-gabori, or if Chiyonokuni is going to stay mobile (not Kotoshogiku’s strong suit in spite of recent improvements) and force it to be a battle of footwork and balance. I can’t wait to watch this one.

Tamawashi vs. Aoiyama – The man-mountain Aoiyama seems to have gotten in step with his sumo now, and he is using his enormous reach and huge strength to manhandle his opponents. Tamawashi is one loss away from make-koshi and a his first demotion out of San’yaku in about a year, so I expect him to fight like it’s his last stand. Also another match with huge potential, as it could come down to Tamawashi’s blistering speed vs Aoiyama’s enormous strength. Also of note, Tamawashi has a habit of false and shaky starts to his matches, and he could employ that to throw of Aoiyama’s timing.

Mitakeumi vs. Ichinojo – Both rikishi come into today’s match 6-6, and can only drop one more match to have a hope of a winning record at the end of the day Sunday. Big Ichinojo has been hit or miss this basho, but in the past week has been more hit than miss. Mitakeumi seems to be at about 80% of his typical power, so it’s tough to know how this match is going end. Ichinojo won their only prior meeting.

Takakeisho vs. Goeido – This is a pivotal match, and Goeido has a complex problem to solve. Takakeisho has an impressively low center or gravity, he holds a great deal of mass below his belly button. This makes him quite stable as long as he can keep his balance. This is one case where it may be critical that Goeido be able to employ a solid henka. Goeido really needs to sell it, and get the relatively inexperienced Takakeisho to push off the tachiai with full force. Even a hit and shift could work in this case. For Takakeisho, Goeido’s best attack is to likely try and do a torpedo tachiai and blast him from from the dohyo before Takakeisho can set up his “Wave Action Tsuppari”. So actually, Takakeisho either needs to just stand up at the tachiai, or henka himself. For Goeido, this is a “must win” match if he wants to put the cup out of reach of the chasers.

Yoshikaze vs. Harumafuji – There was a match between these two in Nagoya in 2016 that turned into a bloody street fight that sent Yoshikaze to the hospital to get his face rebuilt. Since then these two have been strictly business when it comes to their bouts. Yoshikaze is now safe in his Sekiwake slot, so the question comes down to how high does he want to try and run up the score? Harumafuji is kachi-koshi as well, but Yokozuna have a higher bar, and anything less than double digit wins may be seen as sub standard performance. These two are evenly matched 9-9 in their prior bouts.