With Day 4 about to begin, the rest of our “Ones to Watch” will be on the dohyo for their second match. During day 3 action, Wakaichiro went down to defeat after taking a bad step during his match and launching himself from the dohyo. He came out very strong at the tachiai, and frankly looked like he was doing some damage to Kamitani before that stumble took him down. Amakaze picked up his second win, Hoshoryu lost to former Makuuchi rikishi Seiro, while Roga and Musashikuni both picked up their first wins.
Naya vs Fujiazuma – Both are looking for their first win. Fujiazuma is a former Juryo mainstay, so this will be a hard match for Naya. Neither of these rikishi are really in promotion range this basho, unless the top ranks all go down to make-koshi.
Wakamotoharu vs Akua – Again Akua is in a Ones to Watch head to head match. Both rikishi are 1-0, so the winner will join the leader group. These two actually have some history together, with Wakamotoharu holding a slight 3-2 edge.
Midorifuji vs Asabenkei – Midorifuji won their only prior match, but it’s just the one match, though it was just at Natsu. Speed will likely be the order of the day.
Terunofuji vs Onojo – Former Ozeki continues his march to return to the salaried ranks, though he is now at the bottom end of Makushita with a long road ahead. His sumo still seems off, mostly due to mobility issues from his unrepairable knees.
Shoji vs Tsugaruumi – Another 1-0 bracket match, Shoji is up against long serving Sandanme mainstay Tsugaruumi, who has suffered several absenceses in his 45 tournament sumo career.
Kitanowaka vs Chiyooga – After dominating Jonikuchi, Kitanowaka finds himself in mid Jonidan, and facing relative newcomer Chiyooga on day 4 for his second match. I think Kitanowaka may still be a bit under ranked at Jonidan 46, but lets see if anyone can slow him down.
For fans of the lower divisions, day 8 was obliteration, with many of our cohort in the “Ones to Watch” going down to defeat, and others finding their fortunes dashed on the dohyo. With all of our rikishi now having 4 matches complete, only Naya and Amazake are still undefeated, with everyone else taking at least one loss.
Action from day 8
Some highlights and lowlights: Amakaze tossed Shinyashiki like a sack of rice being loaded onto a truck; it’s really the only way to describe it. He picks up his kachi-koshi, remains undefeated and enters the yusho playoff bracket that holds 12 rikishi. Unless something odd happens, there WILL be a playoff for the Sandanme yusho.
Terunofuji’s match was a stumbling mess, and the former Ozeki looked completely off tempo and was ripe for a loss. This gives him his first black star, and takes him out of the yusho race. It also considerably slows his rise back toward the salaried ranks, and he may not find himself out of Sandanme for a bit longer.
Naya remains unbeaten, and he will enter the bracket for the Makushita yusho for the second consecutive tournament. Does this mean that Naya is suddenly better than his rival Hoshoryu? No, it underscores how brutal and effective the meat grinder is at the top of Makushita.
Hoshoryu found himself on a fast track to the south side zabuton when he squared off against another young fast-riser in Ryuko, who made quick work of Hoshoryu. Focus on 4 wins, Hoshoryu – you are in fine shape to get there.
Now on to day 9. You will note that most of the 4-0 lower division rikishi are in action on day 9, as they start to winnow the undefeated pool and try to get to a yusho winner within the remaining 3 matches. In Sandanme and Jonidan, it’s almost certain there will be playoff matches on day 15, but it’s going to be a great adventure to get there. Day 9 is heavy with the Makushita side of our roster, so it’s another late night for Team Tachiai!
Wakamotoharu vs Jokoryu – In this 1-3 bracket match, the loser goes away make-koshi, and facing demotion for Nagoya. Both of these men are trying to return to Juryo, one of them will face disappointment today.
Ichiyamamoto vs Hoshoryu – Two of our “Ones to Watch” up in the same match, it’s a 2-2 bracket that brings two scrappers face to face and underscores that fierce nature of the top ranks of Makushita. Ichiyamamoto won their only prior match.
Midorifuji vs Takakento – Another rematch will see Midorifuji try to even up the career record in this 2-2 bracket fight. Former Takanohana rikishi (now Chiganoura) Takakento is fighting at his highest ever rank, and needs 2 more to advance higher on the banzuke.
Naya vs Tsukahara – A 4-0 bracket match, the winner advances into the ever decreasing pool of rikishi who will compete for the Makushita yusho. Naya will face off against another fast risking young star in Kasugano’s Tsukahara, who has a Jonokuchi and Jonidan yusho to his name.
Roga vs Kototora – Young Roga finds himself in an upper Sandanme 2-2 bracket match, looking for 2 more wins to reach the safety of kachi-koshi. Kototora is fighting at his highest ever rank, but his 55 basho experience may provide a decisive edge.
Amakaze vs Tsugaruumi – Sandanme yusho bracket match sees former Juryo mainstay Amakaze go to work against Sandanme mainstay Tsugaruumi. Tsugaruumi has struggled with injury, and is one of the lighter rikishi in Sandanme. This might set up a second consecutive “grab and toss” from Amakaze.
Kitanowaka vs Oba – Former high school Yokozuna finds himself in a 3-1 bracket, but surprisingly he still has a path to a Jonokuchi yusho. With 3 matches left, there are only 3 rikishi with a 4-0 record, meaning there is a fair chance that the eventual yusho winner will not be undefeated. To remain in the hunt, he needs to get past Oba.
Hattorizakura vs Higohikari – Congrats to Higohikari who will pick up his first win today against perpetual soft-sumo expert Hattorizakura.