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.
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.