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SUMO: Nagoya Basho 2017 (Day 7)

We’re into the middle weekend of the 2017 Nagoya Basho, and ony a pair of rikishi come in with perfect 6–0 records—yokozuna Hakuho and M8 Aoiyama. Behind them is a quintet of challengers with just a single loss—ozeki Takayasu, M4 Ura, M5 Tochiozan, M6 Onosho, and M15 Nishikigi.

Interstingly, three of those names belong rikishi who weren’t even in the top division a year ago (well, the 2016 Nagoya Basho was Nishikigi’s Makuuchi Division debut). Onosho in particular has been putting on an impressive demonstration of fearless sumo, He hasn’t had to face any of the sanyaku rikishi yet (in this or ANY tournament), but that time is coming soon (probably during this basho if he keeps up his winning ways). It will be interesting to see how he handles the challenge when it comes.

M11 Chiyonokuni (1–5) vs. M15 Nishikigi (5–1)—It really shouldn’t be a surprise that Nishikigi is doing so well, given his current ranking of M15. He had a particularly bad tournament in May, but he’s one of the young up-and-comers, and is back on track this basho while having to face the wobbliest of competition. Starting here, they’ll begin to schedule him against higher ranked opponents, particularly ones that didn’t do terribly well in Week 1 . . . like Chiyonokuni. Nishikigi’s first goal is to get his kachi-koshi [majority of wins] as quickly as possible, THEN worry about whether or not he’s still in the mix for the yusho [tournament championship]. (1:38)

M6 Ichinojo (3–3) vs. M8 Aoiyama (6–0)—Aoiyama is a co-leader at this point, so I’ll be keeping a close eye on him while that remains true. And it should for as long as he’s fighting other mid-ranked rikishi. Today the bulging Bulgarian faces off against one of the only opponents who match him in size and weight. Big men doing big-man sumo. (4:00)

M6 Onosho (5–1) vs. M4 Kagayaki (2–4)—Onosho is doing terrific so far, showing confidence and skill . . . very much the way Kagayaki did in previous tournaments. Onosho is doing SO well that he’s just one win behind the leaders. Kagayaki, on the other hand, has been struggling against higher ranked opponents so far this week, and that’s something Onosho will have to be wary of as he rolls into Week 2. (5:12)

M4 Ura (5–1) vs. sekiwake Mitakeumi (4–2)—Another pair of young upstarts square off in this match, and again one of them is one win behind the leaders. Ura has quickly become a crowd favorite while Mitakeumi is looking very comfortable in his new rank of sekiwake (the third highest in the sport). This could be the match of the day. (6:13)

Ozeki Takayasu (5–1) vs. M1 Shodai (2–4)—After a shaky start on Day 1, Takayasu has looked very confident in his first tournament at the rank of ozeki. He’s gotten back to the dominant ways that secured him that promotion, and that’s kept him one win behind the leaders. One expects him to have an easy time with Shodai, but you never can tell . . . especially in the middle weekend! (7:16)

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