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SUMO: 2017 Haru Basho (Day 10)

Day 10 of the Haru Basho arrives with no changes to the leaderboard. Yokozuna Kisenosato and his stablemate sekiwake Takayasu remain in the lead with unbeaten 9–0 records. Directly behind them are ozeki Terunofuji and M10 Tochiozan. That’s not to say there have been no changes, though. Yokozuna Harumafuji lost his third match yesterday, putting him for all practical purposes out of the race for the yusho [tournament championship]. He will have a lot to say in who the eventual winner is, though, since no one on the leaderboard has faced him yet.

Sekiwake Kotoshogiku put up a good fight yesterday against his old rival Kisenosato, but despite the five years they spent as banzuke [ranking sheet] equals, the yokozuna proved that there’s definitely a reason he’s climbed to sumo’s highest rank while Kotoshogiku is struggling to regain his former ozeki ranking. Still, that result was predictable. Kotoshogiku is 6–3 as of today, and he must win four of his remaining six matches to achieve his goal.

M13 Daishomaru (6–3) vs. M10 Tochiozan (8–1)—Tochiozan continues to stay one win behind the leaders, but he’s not looking particularly impressive in doing so (particularly considering the fact that he’s facing such low-ranked opponents. Of course, in sumo style doesn’t really count for much . . . all that matters is the win/loss record, and as long as Tochiozan finds SOME way to keep winning, he’ll remain in the hunt for the yusho. (2:30)

Sekiwake Kotoshogiku (6–3) vs. M1 Takekaze (2–7)—Kotoshogiku can’t let his loss yesterday break his confidence or concentration. He needs four more wins to regain his ozeki rank, and he’s only got six matches in which to get them (and he has a bout against ozeki Terunofuji coming up in his not too distant future). Meanwhile, Takekaze has fought valiantly this tournament, but just hasn’t come away with the wins. In fact, the next time he loses it will be his make-koshi [majority of losses] so if anything he’s going to be turning the pressure UP over his next few bouts. Two physically similar rikishi who both desperately need a win. (8:25)

M2 Takanoiwa (2–7) vs. sekiwake Takayasu (9–0)—Takayasu has been a fairly strong rikishi for the past couple of years, but all of a sudden he seems practically invincible. Now, a good part of this certainly is that he’s in the same stable as Kisenosato, and training with someone on a track for yokozuna promotion certainly did wonders for his skills, too. But it’s more than that. It’s like along with the physical skills he’s picked up some of Kisenosato’s confidence. All that is my way of saying that I don’t think Takanoiwa stands much of a chance today. (9:20)

Komusubi Shodai (3–6) vs. ozeki Terunofuji (8–1)—With yesterday’s win, Terunofuji got his kachi-koshi [majority of wins] and erased his kadoban [threatened with ozeki demotion] status. More than that, though, he seems to have miraculously shed the albatross of the past sixteen months or so, and instantly returned to being the man he was in mid-2015. He’s looking like the rikishi who won the Natsu Basho that year and secured promotion to ozeki at the age of twenty-four. I’ll be honest, I was beginning to fear that he was NEVER going to rest enough to fully heal and we’d NEVER see him reach his full potential. But it’s been GREAT seeing him resurgent this tournament. All of that is my way of saying that I don’t think Shodai stands much of a chance today. (10:10)

Sekiwake Tamawashi (5–4) vs. yokozuna Kisenosato (9–0)—Kisenosato is clearly the man to beat in this basho. He’s not only winning, and winning convincingly, he’s walking around with a swagger in his step and a steely glint in his eye that says he’s “in the zone,” that he’s not going to lose concentration and take a bad loss like he has in so many past tournaments. But then again, it’s just when you’re feeling that way that you become most vulnerable to overconfidence. As good as he’s performing, Kisenosato is the one rikishi I most FEAR will lose to a clearly inferior opponent, just because the yokozuna was too busy being yokozuna and forgets to actually fight. (11:45)

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