The drama playing out in Makuuchi has been covered in glorious detail by lksumo in his story line post, but to round things out, lets look at the leaderboard and the matches for day 9. Everyone’s waiting for word from Tagonoura Oyakata on Takayasu’s disposition. I think the smart money says that he’s in for at least 8, and if he’s any kōhai of Kisenosato, he’s in it to win it. That may be horribly foolish, but given the way sumo works, they will probably encourage him to do it.
A chance at his first yusho is not entirely far-fetched, if he has mechanical use of that left arm. Hakuho is actually beatable by Takayasu right now, in my estimate. I am pretty sure The Boss knows this, too. We should know in the next few hours.
Meanwhile, that dohyo is going to be a bit more hazardous each and every day that ticks by. This is traditional for Nagoya, but it’s tough to watch people slip and slide in so many matches.
Leaders: Kakuryu, Hakuho
Hunt Group: Mitakeumi, Myogiryu, Tomokaze, Terutsuyoshi
7 Matches Remain
What We Are Watching Day 9
Kaisei vs Sadanoumi – Come on, Kaisei. You are in no condition to fight. Take your ticket to Juryo and work your way back once you are healthy.
Tochiozan vs Terutsuyoshi – Terutsuyoshi dropped his second match on day 8, but he is only 2 away from a kachi-koshi in the top division (his first ever). He defeated the hapless Tochiozan the last time they met (May).
Kotoyuki vs Nishikigi – This match comes down to Nishikigi being able to get a grip on the mobile and maneuverable Kotoyuki. Nishikigi holds a career lead of 5-2, but I think Kotoyuki is very genki right now.
Enho vs Takagenji – We all want Enho to rally, yes we do! Takagenji has been fighting well, but I think Enho has enough room to submarine in and get to work. This has the potential to be an excellent and exciting match. Enho took their two prior meetings, both in Juryo. -lksumo
Kotoeko vs Yago – Both of these rikishi are struggling heading into the second week. Yago is having undercarriage problems, and Kotoeko is still struggling after a cold start.
Chiyomaru vs Daishoho – For myself, Chiyomaru has exceeded my expectations, and I think this is probably a good rank for him. Of course that brings up the question of a kachi-koshi, and how much trouble he would have at Maegashira 8 or 7 in September.
Kagayaki vs Tomokaze – This has my attention in a big way. I think both are doing well going into the second week, and they are fighting using similar styles. From the 2 prior matches, Tomokaze has won them both via hatakikomi.
Myogiryu vs Toyonoshima – 7 ranks divide these two, but this is not quite the lopsided fight that banzuke rank might indicate. True Myogiryu looks ready to kachi-koshi at Maegashira 7, but Toyonoshima seems to finally have shed his ring rust, and may be on a winning streak. Toyonoshima brings enough experience to match what Myogiryu will have at his disposal, which is what I hope this will be an even match.
Shohozan vs Shimanoumi – Both men will want this to start and probably stay mobile. If Shimanoumi yields the inside track to Shohozan, the match will probably go to “Big Guns” in short order. Slick dohyo alert for this bout.
Chiyotairyu vs Okinoumi – Okinoumi will bring finesse, Chiyotairyu will bring power. I can’t find a way to see which one prevails. I think the slick dohyo may play a role in this match, too.
Kotoshogiku vs Onosho – Did you see a flash of the earlier, genki edition of Onosho on day 8? Will we see that again? I am assuming that Kotoshogiku is back to having knee problems, as his ability to generate forward thrust is bad, and further hampered by the traction problems with the dohyo.
Takarafuji vs Daieisho – Both of these rikishi are struggling right now, and it’s only fair that one of them gets a win from a pairing of these two. I think Daieisho is slightly less worse than Takarafuji right now.
Aoiyama vs Endo – Both of these rikishi are probably hoping they are done touring the upper ranks, and can focus on getting their win count to #8. Both of them need to win 5 of the next 7 to make it there, so this match may be critical. They have yet to face the two Komusubi, but otherwise are out of high-rankers to fight. -lksumo
Asanoyama vs Ryuden – Heaping spoon fulls of excitement over this match. I know that Ryuden tends to prevail in their head-to-head matches (5-3), but Asanoyama’s sumo has made a bit of a step change in the last 6 months. Like the Aoiyama vs Endo match, both of these 3-5 rikishi need to win 5 of their last 7 to reach the safety of 8.
Hokutofuji vs Tamawashi – Word to Hokutofuji, watch for the “arm breaker” hold that bit Takayasu. This will be a high-intensity oshi match, no matter what. But Hokutofuji seems to be operating at “Ludicrous Speed” this tournament.
Mitakeumi vs Abi – This will probably be a pickup for Mitakeumi, as he seems to have the antidote for Abi-zumo at the ready (3-0). Like all of the other 3-5 cohort, Abi needs 5 wins out of the next 7 to reach 8.
Shodai vs Takayasu – If this match happens, this will not be an easy ride for Takayasu. I bust on Shodai pretty hard most days, but if he can survive his dreadful tachiai, he is surprisingly flexible, clever and unpredictable. Takayasu’s best strategy may be speed: dispatch Shodai before he can cook up something unexpected. The career record favors Takayasu 8-5, and the two have met and alternated victories in the last 6 tournaments. -lksumo
Ichinojo vs Hakuho – Hakuho needs to be careful here. I am sure that he will try hard, and possibly succeed, in defeating Ichinojo before the tachiai. The primary threat is that injured arm, and the physics of a 212kg Ichinojo in aggressive motion against an injured man.
Kakuryu vs Meisei – Meisei has very little to offer right now, it seems. He may be over-ranked for this basho, and I think he may have physical problems as well. The main hope for Kakuryu is to not take any odd falls, or pick up any injury, in this first-time meeting.