With the tournament now complete, I am eager to see what becomes of Takakeisho. There was a thought at the beginning of all of this, that he might begin March as the second Yokozuna alongside Terunofuji. Most likely that would have been contingent on a strong performance and a yusho. Some readers have pointed out that at 12-3 yusho against a Maegashira 13 is not at all strong. They are correct, but allow me to present the case why he many get the rope anyhow
Merit – At the end of Hatsu, Takakeisho had earned his third yusho, he had also just had a yusho doten, and the jun-yusho in July of 2022. Is that Hakuho level? Of course not, but it’s pretty close to Kakuryu level. But looking across the landscape of ozumo right now, who else is dominant in any sort of consistent fashion? No one, that’s who. There was a time a few tournaments ago, where it looked like Wakatakakage was going to hit and sustain a higher level of dominance, but he has since receded closer to his averages. Which takes us to our next point.
Safety – The Sumo Kyokai has a kanban rikishi problem. They have a Yokozuna, for as long as they can keep him going. There are likely regular update from Isegahama on his status, and they are well aware how his recovery is going. For a time they thought they might mint a new Ozeki this basho, and it would solve a thorny issue for them. Right now, they need Takakeisho if they are going to uphold the tradition of having at minimum 2 Ozeki on the banzuke. It may seem odd to westerners, but the sumo world really does love their traditions. There is a risk that Takakeisho might become injured in training, or worse yet in a match, and be 2 tournaments away from following Mitakeumi and Shodai down the banzuke. With no successor yet apparent, they need to give themselves some time should that happen. So, make Takakeisho a Yokozuna, and he can be on the banzuke even if he is taking a few months off to recover from some injury. Problem solved. It could also bring some beneifts…
Support – Sumo is largely a Japanese sport made for Japanese speaking fans living in Japan. Those who know and love Japan, understand that having a Japanese yokozuna is a big deal for the popularity of the sport nationally. Minting a new Yokozuna would boost interest and visibility of the sport, as it increasingly competes for attention of fans in a crowded media market. Simply put, it may be worth some much needed cash to mint a Japanese Yokozuna right now.
So there are my three points, I think he’s earned it, it solves a problem with the banzuke until such time as one of the next generation can get their sumo together, and it will be good for business. Feel free to chime in in the comment section below.
UPDATE: The Yokozuna Deliberation Council has now met, and while some members felt there should have been a promotion discussion by the JSA (there wasn’t one), most members believed that it wasn’t a high-level yusho, so there wasn’t much to discuss. The run is on for Haru, with promotion conditions unspecified. -lksumo, via Kintamayama over on Sumo Forum.
Congratulations to Ozeki Takakeisho for a glorious final match. It was not an upset given the long odds that Kotoshoho faced against you, but that was still some red-hot sumo action in the “Brawl to end it all”. With the final win, Takakeisho claims his third yusho, after racking up two jun-yusho in the prior year, the most recent in November. Sumo fans wonder if there is any desire to install Takakeisho as a second Yokozuna following what has been a solid 2-3 years of mostly high performance. It would give them an insurance policy against a lack of Ozeki, by ensuring that both he and Terunofuji could be out with injuries at the same time, and there would be no risk of having to bend the rules around the banzuke needing two men at the top. Silly as it seems, Japan loves its traditions.
With the end of Hatsu, we are once again left wondering who the next Ozeki will be. There was a great deal of talk around a cluster of hopefuls two weeks ago. There were at least three names: Hoshoryu, Wakatakakage, and Takayasu. All of them feel short of their goals. Meanwhile in Juryo, Asanoyama finished 14-1 with the yusho, and I think we will see him in the top division in Osaka. Given the typical need to rack up three double digit wins from san’yaku to be considered for promotion, we have to wonder if Asanoyama really might be the next man to be promoted (in this case re-promoted) to Ozeki. All three of the names above are restarting any Ozeki run in March, and the earliest they might qualify would be following Nagoya, but Kyushu is more likely. Could Asanoyama have 33 wins in san’yaku by the end of November? Not out of the question. Going to be a fun year for sumo.
Chiyomaru defeats Daiamami – I am surprised that Daiamami fell for the “stand him up, pull him down” combo, which was all Chiyomaru has been able to run for the past 10 days. But good enough! Chiyomaru finishes Hatsu 4-11, and will return to Juryo.
Oho defeats Kagayaki – Kagayaki fails to overcome his Darwin status, and ends Hatsu make-koshi at 7-8. I had figured the chances that this was “gimmie” match to get him to kachi-koshi turned out to be wrong, as Oho rallies for the final day to squeeze out a win, and end at 4-11.
Ura defeats Azumaryu – Ura is able to maintain his super-low position from the tachiai, and once he had contact with Azumaryu, there was no stopping him. For a moment Azumaryu almost had control back, but could not stop Ura from attacking underneath. 7-8 finish for Ura, 9-6 for Azumaryu.
Sadanoumi defeats Chiyoshoma – Chiyoshoma hits double digit losses with his final day loss to Sadanoumi. Sadanoumi was intent on establishing and then maintaining a left hand inside grip, and it left him open to several solid counter moves from Chiyoshoma. But has been the case this January, Chiyoshoma just lacked enough power to make it work. He finally got his throw in, but he had already stepped out before he could bring Sadanoumi down. Sadanoumi finishes 6-9, Chiyoshoma 5-10.
Ichiyamamoto defeats Nishikifuji – Ichiyamamoto hits double digits for his first time in the top division, with a hatakikomi over faltering Nishikifuji. A volley of double arm thrusts, into a quick pull down, and it was all over. Nishikifuji ends January 4-11, Ichiyamamoto 10-5.
Mitoryu defeats Midorifuji – Midorifuji could not overcome the tremendous size difference with Mitoryu. He was able to repel a couple of Mitoryu’s initial attacks, but lunged inside hard to grapple Mitoryu, and Mitoryu slapped him to the clay. Mitoryu gets a final win to finish 7-8, Midorifuji a final loss at 6-9.
Abi defeats Tsurugisho – Our second Darwin match, and it seems that Abi-zumo can still eek out a kachi-koshi this January. There was a moment where Tsurugisho broke Abi’s balance, but could not convert that into anything offensive. Abi ends Hatus 8-7, with Tsurugisho 7-8.
Tamawashi defeats Hiradoumi – First attempt was a matta, second attempt at a tachiai looked just as off tempo as the first, but the fight was on. Hiradoumi did fairly well, but he’s really out-classed against a healthy Tamawashi. Hiradoumi tried to maintain contact as Tamawashi dialed up the forward pressure, but a final shove tossed Hiradoumi down the hanamichi. Hiradoumi finishes 8-7, Tamawashi 9-6.
Mitakeumi defeats Takarafuji – This seems like an even match for both of these diminished top division mainstay. Mitakeumi’s ottsuke is able to stop Takarafuji from setting up any offense, and Mitakeumi kept pushing forward. Mitakeumi gets a final win to cushion his fall down the banzuke, his final score is 7-8, Takarafuji 8-7.
Daieisho defeats Aoiyama – Daieisho had the big attack group early, overwhelming Aoiyama, and making him take a step back. At that point, Aoiyama decided he needed a pull, and that ended just about as well as you might imagine. Aoiyama stepped out a moment later giving Daieisho double digit wins for Hatsu at 10-5, Aoiyama finished with a worthy 8-7.
Tobizaru defeats Kotoeko – The next Darwin match, Kotoeko starts with a double hand strike to Tobizaru’s shoulders, into an immeidate slap down. It fails and now Kotoeko has Tobizaru at full power, attacking his chest. Kotoeko can’t hold ground, and attempts a pull. In response Tobizaru delivers a strong shove to the chest, pushing Kotoeko out for his kachi-koshi, and an 8-7 final score for Hatsu. Kotoeko make-koshi at 7-8.
Wakamotoharu defeats Endo – A fascinating battle for grip and body position. With both of these rikishi wanting to set up a yotsu-zumo match on their terms, it was always going to be about where the other man’s hands fell. It was Wakamotoharu who got set up first, and he took only two steps to set Endo out by yorikiri. Both end Hatsu with 9-6 scores.
Meisei defeats Takanosho – I do hope that whatever has been causing problems for Takanosho during the past six months can be cleared up. Again today he loses a match he could have and maybe should have won. Meisei did a masterful job of keeping him moving, out of step and off balance until he could run him out by okuridashi. That final win for Meisei puts him at 5-10, Takanosho finishes 6-9.
Kotonowaka defeats Hokutofuji – The last of our Darwin matches, and I must express satisfaction that Kotonowaka was able to help Hokutofuji rack up, yet again, “The most powerful make-koshi in all of sumo”. It just does not feel like a Hatsu basho unless Hokutofuji is make-koshi. Kotonowaka 8-7 to end the tournament, Hokutofuji 7-8.
Kiribayama defeats Ryuden – Congratulations to Kiribayama on his second technique prize, some outstanding sumo this entire month. Ryuden gave him a tough fight, featuring awkward endurance postures, circle dancing, and a long stalemate. Kudos to Ryuden for not conceding a single step on the clay, excellent sumo sir. Kiribayama finishes him by yorikiri, and ends Hatsu 11-4, Ryuden with a respectable 9-6.
Myogiryu defeats Shodai – As guessed in the preview, Shodai racks up the exact same score in his “ozekiwake” tournament that Mitakeumi did in November before being flushed down the banzuke to Maegashira 2. Myogiryu had the better tachiai, and a face slap after Shodai shut him down broke open an attack route to switch up his grip. Myogiryu charged ahead and walked Shodai out. Both finish the tournament at 6-9.
Hoshoryu defeats Onosho – Onosho misses out on a win, and a fighting spirit prize when he ends up pulling Hoshoryu’s top knot in the heat of their match. After driving Hoshoryu back, Onosho decides to pull him forward, and gets a hand on Hoshoryu’s mage as he brings him down. A mono-ii confirms it, and Onosho is disqualified, giving Hoshoryu a final day 8th win and kachi-koshi.
Wakatakakage defeats Nishikigi – Absolutely brilliant sumo from Nishikigi, this guy has made a visible step change in his sumo, and is fighting better than I have ever seen him fight before. I expect this quality of sumo from Wakatakakage, as he will be Ozeki before long, but this was quite the surprise from Nishikigi, good show sir. Wakatakakage eventually catches him lunging forward, and finishes Nishikigi by hatakikomi. Both end Hatsu with 9-6 records, and I am quite certain we will see Nishikigi in the joi-jin for March.
Takakeisho defeats Kotoshoho – My compliments to Kotoshoho for making it this far, you far exceeded all expectations and showed the fans what you are capable of. But HOLY CRAP! Who had Takakeisho winning the yusho with a throw in your list of “must see in 2023?”. I think it surprised Kotoshoho too, as Takakeisho opened with a typical thrusting combo, then hooked his left arm around Kotoshoho’s body and let it fly. Wow! Kotoshoho finishes Hatsu with the jun-yusho at 11-4, Takekeisho the cup and a 12-3 final.
That concludes our daily reporting of the 2023 Hatsu basho, a glorious festival of sumo that has been one of the better tournaments in a while. Thank you dear readers for sharing our joy of sumo as we brought you coverage during the past 15 days. We look forward to bringing you the action from Osaka in March.
There are days when it’s tough to write for the blog, I will be honest. The time footprint can be between 3 to 5 hours each day during honbasho. With the responsibilities of work, and being the father of a rowdy 5 year old, it is (at times) tough to get it all buttoned up and ready to publish on schedule.
Then there are days like today, where the preview for day 13 is so loaded with goodness, I could not wait for the time slot set aside to type up the preview.
The schedulers have set up a culmination point for the tournament, with the high stakes battles stacked into the Friday before senshuraku. Fine with me! A culmination point attempts to bring the threads together, and possibly finish many of them off, while leaving the door open for a resolution in the final two days, should things go “just right”. If you are going to stay up all night to watch sumo, this would be the night to do it.
In Juryo, we have both 11-1 rikishi, former Ozeki Asanoyama and hot shot colleague champion Kinbozan going head to head, knocking one of them out of the lead for the Juryo yusho and a shot at the top division for Osaka. At the start of the top division fight card, Enho comes up to face Mitoryu. He’s 6-6, and not too likely to qualify for promotion back to Makuuchi, but the guy is an absolute crowd favorite, and I anticipate he will be roundly cheered today.
To finish the day, yusho race leader Onosho must defend his position against Ozeki Takakeisho, who has inexplicably lost the last two matches in a row, scuttling his bid to be promoted to Yokozuna. He has a shot to claw back some measure of redemption today with a win against fellow tadpole Onosho, which would bring the race for the cup back to a tie.
Call the neighbors, wake the kids. Put the sake in the refrigerator, and order up a big plate of katsu curry, it’s going to be a brawl.
As stated just above, Onosho has to defend his lead today. He is not known for being able to beat Takakeisho, so he has his work cut out for him. But these two have been fighting since they were children, competing in youth and school sumo tournaments since an early age.
Leader: Onosho Chasers: Takakeisho, Kotoshoho
3 Matches Remain
What We Are Watching Day 13
Enho vs Mitoryu – Enho is 6-6. He needs 2 more wins in the last 3 days to hit kachi-koshi, and at least retain rank. He’s ranked Juryo 4E, so not sure about his promotion chances right now, but it would be good to see him in the promotion zone for March. He has a 5-3 career advantage against 5-7 Mitoryu. I loss today by Mitoryu would be make-koshi, and he may join that heavily loaded Juryo barge of the damed. Enho has won all of their matches since 2020, so I am looking for him to have an edge here.
Kagayaki vs Ichiyamamoto – Same drill as yesterday, Ichiyamamoto. Both are 7-5, and if you win, you get kachi-koshi. Loser gets to try again tomorrow. Prior matches are an even 1-1 split. I think right now Kagayaki is fighting somewhat stronger than Ichiyamamoto, in part because of how disoriented Ichiyamamoto looked in his day 12 loss to Endo.
Chiyoshoma vs Azumaryu – If I were Azumaryu (8-4), I would henka this clown today. Who cares if you lose this one, you are kachi-koshi. Also, it would be fitting if Chiyoshoma (5-7) took his 8th loss by such a move. Instead I think that both of them are going to engage in a straight ahead match, and that we will once against see Chiyoshoma struggle to generate any kind of forward pressure for more than 5 seconds. Azumaryu has a 6-1 career record against him, and I expect him to continue to dominate.
Aoiyama vs Endo – Aoiyama (7-5) looking for his 8th win today, against already kachi-koshi Endo at 8-4. At Maegashira 9W, Endo is at a comfortable rank right now, and he can usually go 8-7 or 7-8 from here. So I will be interested to see if he decides he wants to try and run up the score and land in the joi-jin for March. Aoiyama holds a 7-5 career advantage, and the split their two matches last year 1-1.
Takanosho vs Chiyomaru – Chiyomaru (3-9) is already the bosun’s mate for the Juryo barge this time around, so I look at this match and wonder if the point is to get Takanosho (5-7) a “mercy” win, or to give Chiyomaru a chance to share the make-koshi love. Chiyomaru has a slight 3-2 edge, but that won’t matter much today, as Chiyomaru is still trying to overcome an ankle injury.
Kotoeko vs Ura – This match is all about setting the stage for Darwin on day 15. Both are 6-6, both are not fighting as well as they should be, and both need 2 out of the last 3 matches to be wins for them to reach kachi-koshi. Frankly, I think Ura should own a make-koshi record, and end up a bit further south on the banzuke for his home town of Osaka. I would love to see him do well in front of the fans.
Tsurugisho vs Myogiryu – Myogiryu is already make-koshi at 4-8, and one more loss for 5-7 Tsurugisho would make him make-koshi too. At this point its all about sorting these people out into winning and losing records, and having them face people near their rank that they have not already fought this basho.
Takarafuji vs Nishikigi – Takarafuji has lost 3 of the last 4, and I want him to somehow find that 8th win. I am not sure which of these two 7-5 rikishi I would give the edge to today, Takarafuji who has won more head to head, or Nishikigi who has overall fought better this tournament. Nishikigi won 2 of their three matches in 2022.
Oho vs Sadanoumi – This match take step “sure, why not” slot. We have M6 Oho at 1-11, and M4 Sadanoumi at 4-8. Both are already make-koshi, and neither one of them is likely to drop to Juryo. So it’s really just to further sort these fellows out, and try to see if somehow Oho can pick up more than one win this January.
Abi vs Kotoshoho – A high interest match, we have last basho’s yusho winner, Abi, at 7-5 up against Kotoshoho (9-3), who still finds himself 1 win behind the current yusho leader, Onosho. He has never won against Abi, in 2 prior attempts. I think this may be an effort to know Kotoshoho out of contention, and reduce the yusho race to 2 people. But Kotoshoho may have other ideas. He’s already beaten other rikishi this January that he tends to lose to, and he’s stayed very strong through the second week. I personally think this one has acres of potential.
Hiradoumi vs Daieisho – First ever match between these two, it features 7-5 Hiradoumi trying to pull out his 8th win against already kachi-koshi (8-4) Daieisho. Daieisho has won the last two in a row, after losing 3 straight just before that. I think he has his sumo well in hand, and will give Hiradoumi a sharp, short battle.
Tobizaru vs Mitakeumi – A battle of great sadness, the loser of these two 5-7 men will be make-koshi today. I really don’t want to see Mitakeumi eat yet another losing record. But to me, that looks like a very real possibility today. He does have a 4-1 career advantage over Tobizaru, but his sumo has been day to day for the last several tournaments.
Hokutofuji vs Wakamotoharu – Now look what they have done. If Hokutofuji wins today, which I think he will, he will have his 8th win and cannot achieve “The most powerful make-koshi in all of sumo”. He has a 7-5 score to start the day against Wakamotoharu’s 6-6. Hokutofuji won 3 of their four matches last year.
Meisei vs Nishikifuji – Another make-koshi bracket match, this time is 4-8 Meisei vs 3-9 Nishikifuji. Both of them are going to have a few months to sort their bodies and their sumo out, and hopefully come back healthy and ready to fight in March. In the mean time, they may just fight among the other make-koshi rikishi to keep any of the healthy ones from reaping an easy win against them.
Tamawashi vs Kotonowaka – I would guess this match is to sort 5-7 Kotonowaka into the make-koshi bin, as I don’t really see how he can put up too much of a fight against 8-4 Tamawashi right now. The numbers would say that he has a 5-3 career lead, but that won’t matter right now, as Tamawashi is in good fighting form, and Kotonowaka is not.
Kiribayama vs Midorifuji – Kachi-koshi Kiribayama at 8-4 gets to fight 6-6 Midorifuji. They split their matches in 2022, each winning one. In spite of Midorifuji’s lack luster record, dare we hope for a katasukashi today?
Wakatakakage vs Hoshoryu – Two Ozeki aspirants, neither one of them really have the chops right now to make a bid. Hoshoryu would need to win all of the last 3 to get to 10 wins, and Wakatakakage needs to win 2 of the last 3 just to get to kachi-koshi. It’s just as likely he will continue to ride the center line, and end up in a Darwin match on Sunday. Wakatakakage has a 7-3 career advantage against Hoshoryu, so I hope that means a good match today.
Ryuden vs Shodai – If 6-6 Shodai wins 2 of the last 3, he’s kachi-koshi for Hatsu. As odd as it may seem, given that I have been quite critical of him in the past, I would like to see him make his 8. If for no other reason that I think that he has some health problem that has sapped his sumo, and hope that once he can resolve that, we might again seem him dominate matches in the future. Ryuden (7-5) can reach kachi-koshi today with a win, but has a 1-6 career record against the human daikon.
Onosho vs Takakeisho – The big taco, the ofutomaki of the basho, the double wide, wheels on fire, run away beer truck rolling down the I-70 grade into Denver with no breaks and no driver, this is the match that will settle a very important score. Can tournament leader Onosho (10-2) overcome his 3-11 career disadvantage over Ozeki Takakeisho (9-3), and all but win the yusho today. The last time Onosho (Red Tadpole) beat Takakeisho (Grand Tadpole) was 2 years ago, at Hatsu 2021. Since that day, Takakeisho has taken 6 in a row from Onosho. I am certain he starts today with absolute determination to dispatch Onosho within the first 10 seconds. Such an outcome would even the score at 10-3, possibly setting the stage for a final playoff at the end of regulation on day 15. Frankly, I can’t wait.
With the dawn of day 11, we enter act 3 of the Hatsu basho. Act 3 is where we sort everyone into make-koshi and kachi-koshi, and we award the yusho to the rikishi with the best record. Unless something terrible happens, that will be Takakeisho (the Grand Tadpole). The question then arises, are the rumors of a possible Yokozuna promotion actually under consideration? We will get to find out in just about a week from now.
If he is successful in winning the yusho, it will be his 3rd yusho, to go along side his 8 jun-yusho he has picked up since 2018.
It’s still Takakeisho’s tournament to lose, and with the two chasers going head to head, we will narrow the field yet again today.
Ichiyamamoto vs Oshoma – The day 11 Juryo visitor is Oshoma, who starts the day with a 5-5 record at Juryo 3. This guy is hell on wheels. He started professional sumo at Makushita 15 tsukidashi in November of 2021, and proceeded to blast his way up the ranks. He won the Juryo yusho last tournament, but is struggling now to try and stay on a winning path. He has never had a match against Ichiyamamoto (6-4), so this will be a lot of people’s first look at Oshoma.
Chiyoshoma vs Tsurugisho – A battle of 4-6 rikishi, and this match is what is making me start to suspect that there is a tiny amount of funneling going on. The winner will remain in the lane for the Darwin pool on day 15, the loser will get one step away from make-koshi. They have a 5-4 joint record, but to my eye Chiyoshoma is fighting quite a bit worse this tournament than Tsurugisho is, and that’s saying something.
Mitoryu vs Hiradoumi – A mirror score match, where we have 3-7 Mitoryu against 7-3 Hiradoumi. A Hiradoumi win would be a simultaneous make-koshi for Mitoryu, and kachi-koshi for Hiradoumi. The wrinkle in that plan is Mitoryu’s 2-0 career record.
Aoiyama vs Takarafuji – I am still grumbly that Endo decided to henka against Takarafuji. Now we get this match where both men are 6-4, and Takarafuji has a 7-22 career deficit against Aoiyama. Aoiyama is not at his peak form, but he’s close enough that this trend is likely to be the controlling factor in today’s match.
Azumaryu vs Endo – Today could be the day that Azumaryu (7-3) gets that magical 8th win that would reward him with his first ever winning score in the top division. As mentioned above, I am still grumbly at Endo for that stinker match on day 10, so hopefully no crummy stuff today. Endo has won their only prior match way back in March of 2016.
Chiyomaru vs Oho – Both rikishi are already make-koshi, and Chiyomaru (2-8) is already Juryo bound, so they can commiserate, and maybe Chiyomaru can pick up a 3rd win, as I am not sure who Oho (1-9) can beat at this point.
Onosho vs Kotoshoho – This match between the two rikishi who are 1 win behind Takakeisho will ensure that there is only one at the end of today. Both men are 8-2 kachi-koshi, and both have a good chance of reaching double digits over the last 5 days. Onosho has won 4 of their 5 prior matches, with Kotoshoho’s only win coming on day 9 of in July of 2022, by kotenage. Kotoshoho has had stand out tournaments in the past, but has been through a soft patch for the last year since his Juryo yusho in January 2021.
Kagayaki vs Ura – Kagayaki at 5-5 is on course to join the Darwin club on day 15, so long as he continues to win one, then lose one. Ura at 6-4 has a chance to escape that fate today with a win. His day 10 loss aside, he has had a fairly decent tournament this January, and I think it would be good for him to finish with a winning record. He has only won 1 of their prior 4 matches, with only one fight (in 2021) since Ura went kyujo to have his knees rebuilt.
Kotoeko vs Myogiryu – Two more candidates for the funnel, each having a clear road to the Darwin group on Sunday. It’s 5-5 Kotoeko against 4-6 Myogiryu. For Kotoeko, he always fights much larger than his score. But for Myogiryu, something is amiss with his sumo, and he’s not turning out the wins at his normal rate. He does have a 9-2 career advantage over Kotoeko, and won 2 of their 3 matches in 2022.
Hokutofuji vs Takanosho – Speaking of rikishi who need to recover their sumo: Takanosho. No telling what has happened to him (as far as I can tell), but being 4-6 at the start of act 3 ranked at a middling Makuuchi 9 is a puzzler. For 6-4 Hokutofuji, the even / odd make/kachi-koshi is par for the course. The optimum outcome for any funnel activity is a Takanosho win, which would push them both into the middle lane headed for Darwin. Hokutofuji holds a 6-3 career advantage.
Nishikigi vs Tamawashi – Oh, I do love this match. They are both 7-3, so the winner ends the day with kachi-koshi. Tamawashi, it would be no surprise if he expanded on his 6-1 career record against Nishikigi. But as we have pointed out for days, something changed with Nishikigi in the last while, and he’s formidable right now. So it will be a clash of styles, and a race to see if Nishikigi can get his grip, or Tamawashi can get him on the clay first.
Mitakeumi vs Ryuden – The doom that completely encircles Mitakeumi just continues to rain cold, ugly drops down upon his face. He’s at 5-5, in the middle of the Darwin hunt group. He’s against 5-5 Ryuden, who holds a 5-1 career advantage, and for some reason the scheduling team seems to be picking the opponents to make sure you lose. Somebody take mercy on this guy.
Tobizaru vs Abi – It’s chaos sumo time! Who’s wild, out of control offense is going to win today? I think it’s likely up to 6-4 Abi to give 3-7 Tobizaru his 8th loss, and hand him a make-koshi for January. Tobizaru has not won a match against Abi since July of 2017, when they were both in Makushita. Ouch…
Daieisho vs Wakamotoharu – Both rikishi are 6-4 to start today, with kachi-koshi just 2 wins away. Daieisho had a wild hot streak going into the middle weekend, but has now lost 4 matches in a row, and is no longer looking genki at all. As he has done for the past couple of years, Wakamotoharu just quietly keeps plodding along, turning in constant and workable sumo. Of course it did not hurt that he had a fusensho against Takayasu on day 6.
Meisei vs Midorifuji – Midorifuji (5-5) has the task before him of giving 3-7 Meisei his 8th loss and make-koshi. Midorifuji himself needs to find 3 more wins in the final 8 days for kachi-koshi, and I am certain he does not want to be one of the crowd looking for that final white star on the last day of Hatsu.
Sadanoumi vs Shodai – I really liked Sadanoumi’s day 10 win against Wakatakakage. It’s as if he said “no more, that’s it, no more crashes into the salt box”, and made it work out that way. He’s only at 3-7, so his next loss with be his 8th. I would think under normal circumstances that Shodai would find him easy meat, but poor Shodai is just day to day right now, and at 4-6 getting perilously close to make-koshi himself.
Nishikifuji vs Hoshoryu – The prediction is that Hoshoryu and his injured ankle will be back in action on day 11. Makes a person wonder what he was out for day 10. He needs to finish up his 6-4 scored and try to find 2 more wins. I think he can do it, if he’s not too banged up. Nishikifuji at 3-7 is also in the club that is one loss away from make-koshi. This is their first ever match.
Wakatakakage vs Kiribayama – A battle of two future stars who seem to have fallen into a rough patch. It’s 5-5 Wakatakakage, who at one point 10 days ago was the subject of future Ozeki rank. He’s facing 6-4 Kiribayama who is also a possible future Ozeki, in my opinion. Neither one of them have covered themselves in glory this time out, though its not out of the question that they both could hit 8 wins and kachi-koshi. Kiribayama leads the series 7-5.
Kotonowaka vs Takakeisho – Takakeisho is a man on a mission, and I think we all love that mission. A win today will give him double digits, which would make his 4th consecutive tournament with 10 wins or more. Right now he’s on the yusho trail, and continuing to win is how he gets to his goal. Kotonowaka at 4-6 has only beaten him once, in May of 2022 by oshidashi on day 1 of Haru.