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SUMO: 2017 Aki Basho (Day 9)

Here we go, Week 2 of the 2017 Aki Basho, the strangest sumo tournament I’ve ever seen. We start the week with three co-leaders with 7–1 records—ozeki Goeido, M3 Onosho, and M12 Daishomaru–and it’s difficult to say for sure how the week ahead looks for them.

Usually, Week 2 for an ozeki means lots of matches against fellow ozeki and all of the yokozuna, and in most recent basho that meant six very tough matches. But Goeido is the only ozeki remaining in the tournament, and Harumafuji is the only yokozuna—all the others have gone kyujo [absent due to injury], and that means that this could be a relatively easy weak for Goeido, with a match against Harumafuji on senshuraku. But if Harumafuji drops out for any reason (most likely because he’s amassed too many losses and goes kyujo to save face) then Goeido might not have to face anymore strong competition for the rest of the tournament.

The same is true for Onosho, who fought all of the available top-level rikishi in Week 1, and beat all of them (with the exception of Goeido, who handed the M3 his only loss so far). Week 2 for someone ranked at his level is usually filled with matches against opponents ranked around his own level. Onosho, in this case, is performing well above his ranking, and so ought to have a fairly easy time of it.

Of course, Onosho is very inexperienced (this is only his third tournament in the Makuuchi Division) and Goeido has a well-earned reputation for losing matches he really shouldn’t. It’s easy to forget that Goeido is kadoban [threatened with ozeki demotion] this tournament because he couldn’t even manage to get kachi-koshi in July (something he seems to do two or three times every year). On top of that, the third co-leader Daishomaru, ranked as he is in the bottom third of the banzuke, is even MORE unpredictable. His results have been good so far, but he hasn’t really dominated his opponents . . . and he’s only going to face stiffer competition if he keeps his winning streak going. So as well placed as all the co-leaders are, I have no real confidence that they’re going to capitalize on these opportunities. 

That having been said, who are the rikishi that are lurking one win off the pace at 6–2? Well, unsurprisingly they’re also a bunch of journeymen rikishi who have only ever rarely had their names mentioned in conjunction with a yusho [tournament championship] race—M3 Chiyotairu, M9 Takanoiwa, M9 Arawashi, and M11 Daieisho. And since this has been such an unpredictable tournament, let’s see who’s in the next tier with 5–3. That group consists of yokozuna Harumafuji, M5 Takakeisho, M6 Ichinojo, M7 Chiyonokuni, M8 Takarafuji, M14 Endo, and M16 Asanoyama.

I can’t wait to see how Week 2 unfurls, so let’s get to the action. 

<<NOTE: Sorry, but I left my match of the day notes in the office, and I’m too tired to reproduce them. You’ll have to watch the whole video and make up your own minds about which matches are the best.>>

6 Comments

  1. Noel wrote:

    A few of my picks for interesting/good matches today:
    [1:50] Daieishou v. Yutakayama – Daieishou is fighting like a man who knows he could take the yusho, while Yutakayama knows that a loss would really put him in jeopardy of going make-koshi. Which rikishi has the stronger fighting spirit and concentration today?
    [2:30] Takanoiwa v. Endou – Neither has seemed like a top-tier fighter in recent events, but they both have their moments and are enjoying some of the best records in this crazy Basho. Takanoiwa can keep up with the top rikishi with a win today; while Endou needs a win himself if he wants to have even a small hope of hanging in the hunt for the remaining days.

    Monday, September 18, 2017 at 10:49 pm | Permalink
  2. Noel wrote:

    [3:06] Daishoumaru v. Takarafuji – Another pairing of rikishi near the front of the pack, early on in today’s bouts. Like Takanoiwa and Endou’s matchup, Dasihoumaru wants a win to stay on top of the leaderboard for the yusho and to prove that his spot on the banzuke doesn’t reflect his true talent. Meanwhile, a loss for Takarafuji likely means an end to any hope at the yusho even *if* other rikishi falter on the final days.

    Monday, September 18, 2017 at 10:54 pm | Permalink
  3. Noel wrote:

    [8:42] Onosho v. Chiyotairyu – How long can the inexperienced co-leader keep winning? Sure, he’s set for less-stiff competition on the remaining days; but a yusho requires concentration and consistency over the entire basho. And at M3, Chiyotairyu is set on the banzuke in a similar position (albeit West) as Onosho…

    Monday, September 18, 2017 at 11:05 pm | Permalink
  4. Noel wrote:

    [13:27] Aoiyama v. Goueidou – given their records in this Basho and their overall head-to-head record, this *should* be an easy win for Goueidou. But then again, this is the “Wacky Aki” and Goueidou definitely loses his concentration now and then. Will we see a strong Ozeki assert himself, or will we see yet another odd twist in the tale of this basho?

    Monday, September 18, 2017 at 11:13 pm | Permalink
  5. Noel wrote:

    [14:24] Shoudai v. Harumafuji – After a terrible start, the Yokozuna seems to have gathered himself and put together a respectable set of wins over the last few days. If he wins out, he will have a respectable tournament record and perhaps even be in the running for the yusho. As a Yokozuna, he has proved he can be a strong and consistent performer. But his record this Basho isn’t based on reputation or past wins; it is earned with every day’s fight.

    Monday, September 18, 2017 at 11:21 pm | Permalink
  6. Stan! wrote:

    Domo arigato, Noel! Those were GREAT match-of-the-day write-ups. You covered all of the matches I had chosen, plus a couple extra that I probably should have!

    Tuesday, September 19, 2017 at 7:58 am | Permalink

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