Here we are at day 10, the last day of act 2. Act 2 is where we narrow the field to find out who has what it takes to compete for the yusho, and to start sorting the survivors from the damned. Not sure we actually have a good idea who is going to compete for the yusho yet, maybe by the end of today. Right now there is a broad front of 6 rikishi who have 7-2 records—the best that can be offered right now. The most likely candidate for the cup among that crowd is Yokozuna Terunofuji. It’s apparent that he is at less than full power, but at the moment it’s good enough. With the week 2 schedule kicking in, he will have to dispatch both Ozeki, and overcome the other 5 co-leaders to take home the hardware.
But that assumes that the Sumo Kyokai will be able to finish this basho. Yet another heya has gone COVID kyujo in the past 24 hours. The new Omicron variants have become very adept at infecting people. There is a legitimate chance that many of the kanban rikishi are incubating an active Omicron infection right now.
The Darwin funnel continues to do it’s work, with a ridiculous number of rikishi being pushed toward a 7-7 score at the end of day 14. Funnel scores at the end of day 10 will be: 6-4, 5-5 and 4-6. That could be more than half of all athletes in the top division.
In a final and sad note, the 45th Yokozuna, Wakanohana, died last week of kidney cancer, it was announced. He was 82. We thank the divine for his time on earth, and all of the joy he brought to his sumo. Details at the Japan Times.
What We Are Watching Day 10
Myogiryu vs Yutakayama – A prime funnel match, with scores of Myogiryu 5-4 and Yutakayama 4-5, Ideal outcome for the match in terms of Darwin would be a Yutakayama win, which may be a bit of a tall order given that he has dropped his last 3 in a row.
Chiyomaru vs Takarafuji – Takarafuji has a chance to pick up another win today, as his career 9-1 record against Chiyomaru would seem to indicate that Takarafuji is going to be able to shut down the “Round One” and take the win. Typical win in this case is Takarafuji captures Chiyomaru, stands around for a while wearing him down, then walks Chiyomaru out.
Kotoshoho vs Oho – Another funnel match, no matter who wins here today, both will remain in the funnel. Kotoshoho has won 3 of his last 4, and Oho continues to be fighting somewhat less than he should. Both start the day at 5-4.
Onosho vs Midorifuji – A second consecutive 5-4 match up, this time it’s a first ever fight between Onosho and newcomer Midorifuji. I am interested to see if Midorifuji attempt to absorb Onosho’s big opening attack, or tries to make use of Onosho’s notorious early match balance problems.
Nishikifuji vs Meisei – A Nishikifuji win today is kachi-koshi for him, and a Meisei win would leave him at the upper edge of the funnel. This is their first ever contest, and I think that Nishikifuji will have an easier time anticipating Meisei’s sumo choices than the other way around.
Shimanoumi vs Daiamami – Two make-koshi rikishi that start the day with one win each. The good news is… one of these lucky guys will have their second win once the match is over. I personally think that Daiamami is too banged up (ankle) to be fighting right now, and should probably just eat the kyujo and take the demotion back to Juryo.
Tsurugisho vs Kotoeko – Kotoeko was wearing a lot of tape day 9, and I hope he is not trying to overcome some new injury to his arm or upper body. This is another funnel match with Tsurugisho at 4-5 and Kotoeko at 5-4. Ideal outcome would be both of them at 5-5 at the end of the day. They have a balanced 7-8 career record, with Kotoeko taking the last two matches.
Tochinoshin vs Terutsuyoshi – A traditional big man / little man match, that is actually fairly evenly matched. Terutsuyoshi holds a narrow 5-4 career lead over the big Georgian, thought I would think that Tochinoshin may a huge strength advantage if he can keep Terutsuyoshi from getting underneath and causing problems. Tochinoshin starts the day at 5-4, Terutsuyoshi at 3-6.
Chiyoshoma vs Nishikigi – This is probably meant as a bit of a hurdle for Nishikigi to clear to reach his 8th win and kachi-koshi. I think that Chiyoshoma is not fighting anywhere close to his intensity he had earlier this year, so this fight will likely to to Nishikigi. Chiyoshoma, at 4-5 to start the day, would put himself back to the middle of the funnel with a win today. He has a 8-4 career advantage.
Aoiyama vs Hokutofuji – Both men are 4-5 to start the day. The winner will keep pace in the middle of the funnel, the loser will go to the bottom edge. Hokutofuji has a 12-2 career advantage, and tends to take his frustrations out on “Big Dan” in any way he wants. Aoiyama has not won against Hokutofuji since 2019.
Chiyotairyu vs Tobizaru – A Tobizaru win today would be kachi-koshi, and I think not only is that likely to happen, but I think that the Flying Monkey is going for double digits this time. His sumo really seems to be working well for him, and we may see him near the top of the Maegashira ranks in September. He holds a 4-2 career advantage over Chiyotairyu, who can beat Tobizaru when he can launch his overwhelming cannonball tachiai.
Wakamotoharu vs Okinoumi – Another funnel match, both are 4-5 to start the day, and both need a win to stay in the middle of the funnel. While I would normally think that Okinoumi’s vast experience and technique library would make him an easy favorite, he has not once beating Wakamotoharu. That 2-0 for the Onami brother.
Tamawashi vs Ichinojo – Over their 19 career matches, they have split them 9-10, so this is an even fight with all things being equal. But I note that Tamawashi won his first 3, then has dropped 6 in a row. As Kintamayama noted, he is likely injured, and trying to maintain his record of never missing a match. I applaud the dedication to his craft. An Ichinojo win would be kachi-koshi for him today.
Hoshoryu vs Kotonowaka – Hoshoryu, at 5-4, is in the middle of the funnel group, and a win today would move him to the top edge. But I think it’s far more likely that we will see Kotonowaka take the win today, hit his 8 and be kachi-koshi. Right now Kotonowaka is having a bit of a “break out” tournament, and like Tobizaru, I think he is going for double digits.
Kiribayama vs Abi – Kiribayama comes into day 10 with a fairly sad 3-6 record that does not show the fact that he has been fighting well. It’s simply a case that he has not been winning. He is up against 5-4 Abi, who needs 2 consecutive wins to escape the funnel right now. They have only fought twice before, and they are split 1-1.
Wakatakakage vs Endo – In some ways a bit of a sad match here. At one point many years ago, Endo was viewed more or less how fans view Wakatakakage today. A hotshot young rikishi who is destined for big things in the sumo world. Now we have this match where today’s “new thing” gets to deliver yesterday’s “new thing” his 8th loss and a make-koshi.
Takakeisho vs Daieisho – The big statistic that leaps out at me is that Ozeki Takakeisho has a 13-7 career lead over Daieisho, and that he has a good formula for winning these head to head matches. In fact, their first competition was in November of 2016 when both were ranked in Juryo. They are both power-forward thrusters, though we have seen less of that from Takakeisho as of late.
Ura vs Shodai – If anything can put Shodai’s resurgence and attempt to snatch kachi-koshi from almost certain demotion, it would be a match against Ura. Shodai tends to shamble about the ring quite a bit in his matches, and that’s just pure bait for Ura’s grab-and-tug brand of sumo. In fact he has dominated the Ozeki 3-1 across all career matches. Shodai, at 5-4, needs just 3 wins out of the last 6 days to reach the safety of 8, so he can probably manage if he finds himself teleported into a different universe by Ura’s sorcery.
Terunofuji vs Sadanoumi – Some symmetry today, as it’s likely that Terunofuji will take his 8th win and kachi-koshi as he delivers an 8th loss to Sadanoumi for his make-koshi. They last fought in 2020 when Terunofuji was making his incredible run at the yusho from the bottom of the banzuke, having just battled his way back into the top division. The last time that Sadanoumi won was when Terunofuji was in Juryo, on his way down the banzuke.