Skip to content

SUMO: Natsu Basho 2017 (Day 14)

It’s Day 14 of the Natsu Basho and yokozuna Hakuho remains undefeated atop the leaderboard. Indeed, with Harumafuji’s loss yesterday, his closest competition are a trio of rikishi with 11–2 records—yokozuna Harumafuji, ozeki Terunofuji, and sekiwake Takayasu. Everyone else is now mathematically eliminated from the yusho [tournament championship] race.

Hakuho is now guaranteed at least a tie (and then a playoff) for the yusho. He faces Terunofuji today, and if he can beat the ozeki, he’ll have locked in the yusho . . . the only question remaining will be if he can make it a zensho [perfect record] yusho by defeating Harumafuji on senshuraku [the final day]. I don’t want to put the cart before the horse, and I certainly don’t want to jinx Hakuho (who hasn’t won a yusho since the 2016 Natsu Basho), but I have a hard time believing that Terunofuji will win today, particularly since he came up limping after his win over Tochiozan yesterday. Still, it should be a good, hard fought contest.

Harumafuji faces Goeido, who saved his kadoban [threat of ozeki demotion] status yesterday (thanks to the absences of Kakuryu and Kisenosato). Now the pressure is off Goeido and his performance against the top rankers doesn’t matter. Harumafuji, on the other hand MUST win to even have a CHANCE to stay in mathematical contention. The same is true for Takayasu, who faces M5 Shodai.

Looking at the top division overall (and discounting rikishi who are kyujo [withdrawn due to injury]) there are 15 rikishi who are already kachi-koshi [majority of wins] and 16 who are already make-koshi, leaving just 8 that are still on the bubble. Of those, 6 are currently ahead of the curve with 7–6 records (meaning they must only win one of their remaining matches to reach kachi-koshi) while only 2 have their backs against the wall at 6–7 and must win BOTH of their remaining matches to avoid make-koshi [majority of losses].

That SEEMS pretty even, but it’s strange how this breaks down into “performance bands.” Nearly ALL of the sanyaku rikishi are kachi-koshi, with only ONE (sekiwake Kotoshogiku) already being make-koshi. It’s just the two komusubi who are still undecided, and both Mitakeumi and Yoshikaze start today at 7–6. In the M1–M5 ranks, EVERYONE is make-koshi except for Shodai who is kachi-koshi. Most of the middle Maegashira, M6–M10, are kachi-koshi with just three of them being make-koshi, and just Ichinojo still on the bubble. When it gets down to the M11–M16, half of them are still on the bubble, but four of the remaining six are make-koshi, and only two are kachi-koshi. 

Mostly all this tells us that there will be a BIG shake-up all over the banzuke in July . . . EXCEPT for the very top, where the sanyaku ranks are going to remain pretty stable (notwithstanding Takayasu’s almost certain promotion to ozeki).

M9 Ichinojo (7–6) vs. M13 Daishomaru (8–5)—Ichinojo is one of those rikishi on the bubble. A win today or tomorrow and he’ll be up for promotion next basho. (1:10)

M11 Ishiura (6–7) vs. M4 Takarafuji (3–10)—Ishiura is also on the bubble, but in a more dangerous way. He must win BOTH today’s match and tomorrow’s in order to eke out a kachi-koshi 8–7 record. Today, he’s fighting Takarafuji, who is ranked significantly higher, but has been having a TERRIBLE tournament.  (4:10)

komusubi Mitakeumi (7–6) vs. M6 Ikioi (9–4)—Also on the bubble is Mitakeumi, but that’s often the case with a komusubi. Their Week 1 schedules are so tough that they’re sometimes lucky to even have a mathematical chance at kachi-koshi. Mitakeumi only needs one more win to get his, which is a good thing because today he’s facing Ikioi who is having a strong tournament and looking to get double-digit wins and perhaps qualify for a special prize. (7:30)

M4 Tochiozan (5–8) vs. komusubi Yoshikaze (7–6)—Yoshikaze is the other komusubi this basho, and he’s in the same situation as Mitakeumi . . . except that his opponent today has NOT been having a terrific tournament. In fact, Tochiozan has struggled and is already make-koshi. (8:05)

M5 Shodai (8–5) vs. sekiwake Takayasu (11–2)—Takayasu seems to have locked up his ozeki promotion, but he still wants to make as strong an impression on the Promotion Council as possible. A win here would keep him at least tied for second place, and give him yokozuna-like numbers for this basho. (10:15)

yokozuna Harumafuji (11–2) vs. ozeki Geoido (8–5)—The question is still out on whether or not Harumafuji’s toe is injured. He lost so quickly yesterday that no one got to see whether the injury actually played a part. Goeido, on the other hand, got his kachi-koshi and now wants to put two extra notches in the win column so it LOOKS like he had a strong tournament. (12:25)

ozeki Terunofuji (11–2) vs. yokozuna Hakuho (13–0)—This is the marquee match of the day, and perhaps the decisive one for the basho. If Hakuho wins, his lead will be unassailable and he’ll have secured his 38th yusho [tournament championship]. Unfortunately, the ozeki reinjured his knee the other day and seemed to be hobbling during his match yesterday. If Terunofuji somehow manages to pull off an upset, then he and any other two-loss rikishi will still be mathematically in the hunt and dependant upon Harumafuji to likewise win on Sunday to force a playoff. (10:50)

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *