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SUMO: Nagoya Basho 2017 (Day 6)

Day 6 of the Nagoya Basho and we lose not one but TWO more of the big name rikishi to kyujo [withdrawal due to injury]. Immediately after yesterday’s matches, yokozuna Kisenosato went directly to the hospital to have his ankle looked at (presumably injured in his tumble from the dohyo in his loss to M3 Ikioi). Word is that there was no structural damage to the bones, and there was some thought that Kisenosato might come back to “fight through the pain.” Thankfull, he’s decided that resting that injury, not to mention his still ailing left shoulder, provides a better chance for him to come back FULLY healed for September’s Aki Basho in Tokyo.

Speaking of “fighting through the pain,” ozeki Terunofuji has made that something of his trademark over the past eighteen months, and struggled because of it. In fact, he’d already announced that this was his plan again for the current basho, but apparently getting bodily thrown off the dohyo everyday by rikishi half his size has convinced him otherwise. Terunofuji is also going kyujo as of Friday.

This makes a total of FOUR top-name rikishi out after just the first five days of the tournament, leaving opportunities galore for young, hungry sumotori to step up and stake a claim to the title “next great rikishi” . . . or for Goeido or Takayasu to step up and make a case for being considered for yokozuna promotion. But first, they’re going to have to get past Hakuho, who himself must be thinking that this makes it even more likely that he’ll reach a dozen wins the basho and break the all-time record for most career wins AND do so while logging back-to-back zensho yusho [undefeated tournament championships].

Basically, what was already a wide-open, wildly unpredictable tournament has now had BOTH those descriptions turned up to eleven (maybe even higher).

M11 Daishomaru (3–2) vs. M10 Shohozan (3–2)—These are two bruisers who are mostly known for their tenacity (as opposed to technical skills), which means the match is likely going to go to the one who flat out refuses to lose (as opposed to the one who figures out how to win). (3:27)

M7 Takanoiwa (0–5) vs. M8 Aoiyama (5–0)—Aoiyama is looking focused this tournament, which is not something that one often gets to say. Given his relatively low ranking, and the shake ups near the top of the banzuke, this gives him a fantastic chance to stay atop the leaderboard deep into Week 2. (5:20)

M5 Chiyoshoma (2–3) vs. M6 Ichinojo (3–2)—This basho Ichinojo is back down the banzuke to a level where he can dominate, but that doesn’t always mean that he will. This is a terrific match as Chiyoshoma tries to find the secret to somehow toppling the lumbering behemoth. (6:10)

Komusubi Yoshikaze (4–1) vs. sekiwake Mitakeumi (3–2)—Two rikishi who have been stealing wins from the ozeki and yokozuna today face off against each other. (8:28)

Ozeki Takayasu (4–1) vs. M2 Tochinoshin (2–3)—Two big strong rikishi who like to perform power sumo, both of them having pretty good tournaments so far. This is the match I was looking forward to most on today’s schedule. (9:55)

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