We are in the final three days of this tournament, which has turned out to be a real meat grinder for the hopes of many aspiring rikishi. It has been mentioned elsewhere, and from other sumo fan media, that former Ozeki Asanoyama has been working his way back up the banzuke, and yet again dropped his 6th match in Makushita. He could have sailed through with 7-0 sweeps, but evidently, he’s not good enough now to present his opponents with Ozeki sumo. Mitakeumi is out as Ozeki, and if he is not careful, out of Sekiwake as well. Wakatakakage will be lucky to finish with kachi-koshi, and Shodai is all but certain to either follow Mitakeumi to a Sekiwake demotion, or face a day 15 Darwin match to decide his fate. Hard times for current and former Ozeki indeed.
Before this post takes on too negative a tone, there are some bright spots to be enjoyed. The fact that we may see Hoshoryu win the Emperor’s Cup is cause for optimism. His sumo has some areas to fill in still, but it would be wonderful to see him take the cup at least once in his career. I think that Oho has been able to remain focused in spite of his tough matches also deserves our attention and admiration. While his sumo has been sort of vague and uninspired for the last few tournaments, there are seeds of greatness in there too. But let’s not forget the other hopeful, Takayasu. Like his sempai, Kisenosato, Takayasu has always been a bridesmaid. For him to finally win on Sunday would be a just reward for his decade plus of hard work.
On deck to try for kachi-koshi today: Kotonowaka, Wakamotoharu, Ryuden, Kotoeko, Ichiyamamoto, Azumaryu
There is a three way tie at the top of the leader board, and the scheduling team has made sure that after today, only two will remain.
Leader: Hoshoryu, Takayasu, Oho
Chasers: Takakeisho, Abi, Kagayaki
Hunt Group: Kiribayama, Nishikifuji, Onosho, Hiradoumi
3 matches remain
What We Are Watching Day 13
Onosho vs Okinoumi – Okinoumi (6-6) needs to win 2 of the last 3 to secure a winning record for the last tournament of the year. He’s near even (7-8) against 8-4 Onosho, who locked in his winning record on day 12.
Terutsuyoshi vs Chiyoshoma – The dreadful march toward zenpai continues, as winless Terutsuyoshi (0-12) has to find something to try against 5-7 Chiyoshoma today. When I am watching Terutsuyoshi fight this month, every move, every step looks to be a painful chore. Its situations like these that make me recognize that I don’t really know how these people operate.
Aoiyama vs Atamifuji – As if the impending Terutsuyoshi zenpai were just the opening course, much anticipated newcomer Atamifuji (3-9) is packing his bags for an immediate berth on the Juryo barge of the damned. Something went wrong with this guy, as he honestly is a solid rikishi. Hopefully he will be able to rework, recover and renew between now and Hatsu. This is his first ever match against 5-7 Aoiyama, who needs to win his remaining 3 to go home with a kachi-koshi.
Kagayaki vs Abi – Kagayaki is certainly a surprise this basho. After being a poor opponent for most of 2022, he has been fighting well, and winning matches. He’s up against Abi today, with whom he shares a 4-5 career record. Both men start the day at 9-3.
Ichiyamamoto vs Tochinoshin – There are two decisive outcomes possible from this match, either they end the day with Ichiyamamoto (7-5) kachi-koshi and Tochinoshin (5-7) make-koshi, should Ichiyamamoto win, or both take a step closer to a day 14 record of 7-7 and a possible Darwin match on Sunday. Readers know I am hoping for the Darwin outcome.
Kotoeko vs Myogiryu – Myogiryu, at 6-6. comes in with a decisive career lead of 8-2 over Kotoeko (7-5), If Myogiryu manages to win, they both move closer to the Darwin match line for Sunday. A Kotoeko win is kachi-koshi for him.
Endo vs Hiradoumi – Hiradoumi already has his 8th win, and is now fighting for rank in the January banzuke. He’s never matched against flagging Endo (6-6) before, and if he should win, it would move Endo closer to that queue for Darwin bouts I am starting to anticipate.
Azumaryu vs Ryuden – One of these two men, who start the day with matching 7-5 records, will leave the dohyo with your kachi-koshi. If it’s Azumaryu, it will be his first ever winning record in the top division in 4 attempts. I am personally hoping he can pull it off today, or tomorrow. Otherwise…. Darwin!
Nishikigi vs Kotoshoho – Kotoshoho comes into today with a 6-6 record, and either needs to win 2 more, or lose 2 more to finish sorting out his record for November. His opponent, Nishikigi, needs to win the last 3 matches to get to a kachi-koshi. Kotoshoho has a narrow 5-3 career advantage, and I expect Nishikigi to put an extra effort in today to avoid his 8th loss.
Ura vs Takarafuji – Hey! Lets take two banged up rikishi that most fans love, who have matching crummy 2-10 records, an see which one is more miserable today! I honestly think Takarafuji will win this battle of the orthopedic escapees.
Takanosho vs Ichinojo – Speaking of the 2-10 crowd (yes, there’s more than 2), we have Ichinojo. His job today is to hand 5-7 Takanosho his make-koshi. I think that Takanosho with a losing record ranked only at Maegashira 9 is about the most “Sumo 2022” thing we might be able to identify.
Midorifuji vs Kotonowaka – Another match with a solid rikishi starting the day with a 6-6 record, seemingly destined for a day 15 Darwin match. In this case it’s Midorifuji, and he’s up against Kotonowaka at 7-5, who is fighting for his kachi-koshi today. Kotonowaka holds a clear 3-1 career advantage.
Takayasu vs Oho – Either the schedulers got lucky, or the previously mentioned mischievous kami is having a bit of fun. Two of the three co-leaders working to narrow the field to 2. Both are 10-2, and the winner will go on to stake their claim to a portion of, or the entirety of the lead in the yusho race. As this is a first ever match, nearly anything might happen, but I would give a bit of an edge to Takayasu, for being a hungry for this win.
Wakamotoharu vs Daieisho – The 7-5 (Wakamotoharu) vs the 6-6 (Daieisho) pattern once again. One of these two are going to get shunted toward a Darwin match, or if it works out just right, both of them will.
Tobizaru vs Sadanoumi – At least with this match one man’s record will be clarified for November. Both Tobizaru and Sadanoumi start the day at 5-7, and whichever one loses will be make-koshi. The best that either one of them can hope for now is to be part of the growing queue of rikishi looking to be 7-7 at the end of tomorrow.
Meisei vs Kiribayama – Having run out of 7-5 rikishi, the schedulers substituted 8-4 Kiribayama as hammer in this match. He’s got a 3-5 career deficit against 6-6 Meisei, who needs 2 more wins out of the final 3 to end the year with a winning record.
Hokutofuji vs Mitakeumi – These two have had 24 matches over their career (this makes me feel very old), and its a narrow 13-11 advantage for Mitakeumi. He’s already lost his chance to return to Ozeki, and if he can’t win his last 3 matches, he will be make-koshi is well. The best he can hope for is a day 15 Darwin match. Hokutofuji is 6-6, and frankly has been fighting quite a bit better than Mitakeumi.
Wakatakakage vs Nishikifuji – Again the pattern of a 6-6 rikishi (Wakatakakage) battling “uphill” against 8-4 Nishikifuji. The best score Wakatakakage could hope to achieve at this point its a 9-6 make-koshi, which is short of the level of dominant sumo that the sumo association looks for to promote a Sekiwake to Ozeki. It’s a shame, but Wakatakakage earned his record.
Tamawashi vs Shodai – Maybe I am wrong, maybe this match is the most “Sumo 2022” think we could get. A 38 year old rikishi, who took the last tournament’s yusho, is deeply make-koshi, and fighting hammer and tongs against the second Ozeki this year, nay the second Ozeki in two tournaments, to face demotion to Sekiwake, and could be make-koshi today. There. That’s got it. That mischievous kami is just enjoying this far too much.
Takakeisho vs Hoshoryu – Let’s finish the tumult of decay and disorder with this match. At least 9-3 Takakeisho is kachi-koshi, and may even get to double digits. Speaking of that, if he wins today against 10-2 Hoshoryu, he inserts himself into the yusho race, as there would be a single leader going into day 14. Go head kami, let’s have Takakeisho vs Oho tomorrow.