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SUMO: Natsu Basho 2017 Senshuraku [Final Day] (Day 15)

It’ senshuraku [the final day] of the Natsu Basho. Day 15 and thanks to Hakuho’s win over Terunofuji yesterday, we already know that he’s going to hoist the Emperor’s Cup and notch his 38th yusho [tournament championship], expanding on record setting career. The unanswered question at this point, though, is whether he can beat Harumafuji today and make it a zensho [perfect record] yusho. If so it would be the 13th he’s achieved that feat, also expanding an all-time record he already owned.

The Kyokai [Sumo Association] has announced which rikishi will be getting special prizes, and I’m sure it was a tough decision. This basho has been one of extremes with an unusual number of rikishi reaching double-digit wins, and a likewise unusual number of rikishi only managing to get three or four wins. 

The shukun-sho [Outstanding Performance Award] will be given to komusubi Mitakeumi who beat two yokozuna on his way to a kachi-koshi (perhaps as good a record as 9–6 if he can win again today). I say it often, Komusubi is quite probably the toughest spot on the banzuke [ranking sheet], so to not only succeed in that role but do well enough to earn a special prize really speaks to what a special sumotori Mitakeumi is, and how bright his future could be.

The kanto-sho [Fighting Spirit Prize] will be given to Onosho, who managed to get double-digit wins in his ROOKIE outing in the Makuuchi Division. He should get a big boost up the banzuke next tournament, so we’ll get to see how he fairs against tougher opponents.

And finally, there are two recipients of the gin-sho [Technique Prize]. First is komusubi Yoshikaze, who beat two yokozuna on his way to a solid winning record (again, in the toughest rank on the banzuke). This is the third time he’s won this award. The other winner it sekiwake Takayasu (who has won the prize once before), clearly for how he handled the competition so easily and racked up double-digit wins for the third tournament in a row. This is likely the last time he’ll win the prize, though, because once he’s promoted to ozeki he will no longer be eligible. 

Speaking of Takayasu’s promotion, the Kyokai has said that the official ceremony/announcement will take place this coming Wednesday. So when the Nagoya Basho kicks off in July we will have four yokozuna and three ozeki!

M15 Kaisei (7–7) vs. M9 Kagayak (8–6)—Kaisei, who just a few basho ago was up in sanyaku and looking strong, is really struggling with knee problems. If he loses this match and is make-koshi, chances are that the Brazilian will most likely be demoted into the Juryo Division. (1:10)

M6 Takekaze (4–10) vs. M11 Ishiura (7–7)—Ishiura managed to pull his record even yesterday. He’s had an up and down tournament, but he’d better be on the up side today or he’ll go down on the banzuke in July. (3:05)

ozeki Terunofuji (11–3) vs. sekiwake Takayasu (11–3)—The most recently promoted ozeki (Terunofuji) against the soon to be promoted ozeki (Takayasu). Both of them are nursing some bruises here in the final days of the tournament, but each of them wants to notch a win over the other just for ozeki bragging rights. (8:55)

yokozuna Harumafuji (11–3) vs. yokozuna Hakuho (14–0)—Hakuho already has the yusho guaranteed (the 38th of his illustrious career), but with it having been a full year since he won a tournament, finishing out with a zensho yusho would be a fine way for him to make a statement that it won’t be so long until he notches number 39. Harumafuji, on the other hand now will have gone a full year since he won a tournament, too . . . and he wants to make a statement that he’s just as tough as Hakuho. This is going to be a great bout . . . I can just feel it! (9:43)

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