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

Here we are at last, Day 15, senshuraku [the final day] of this incredibly strange Aki Basho. And in the end, despite all the strangeness, the yusho [tournament championship] will be decided on the final match of this final day when the top two remaining rikishi fight head-to-head. Despite the fact that over the past fortnight there have been more than a dozen legitimate contenders for the title, including the lowest ranked rikishi in the division, it still has managed to come down to the top man—yokozuna Harumafuji—fighting the second-best man—ozeki Goeido.

If Goeido wins the last match of the regular schedule, he will also win the tournament and hoist the Emperor’s Cup for the second time in his career. If Harumafuji wins the final match of the day, the two will finish the tournament with equal 11–4 records, and will go immediately into a playoff match to decide the champion. 

So basically, Goeido has to win one of a potential two matches against his rival today, while Harumafuji must win both of them.

All I can say is that I will be bitterly disappointed if either man uses a henka or other trick play. After everything that’s happened this basho, the fans deserve to have the championship decided by straightforward, honorable sumo. 

Of course, there are twenty OTHER matches taking place today, too. Of the other rikishi, eighteen have already secured their kachi-koshi [majority of wins] while sixteen have already reached make-koshi [majority of losses], leaving FIVE rikishi entering the day’s competition with 7–7 records and knowing that how they perform today will decide whether they will be promoted or demoted for November’s Kyushu Basho. 

I’ll make some kind of wrap-up post early next week to give my final thoughts on this oh so strange tournament. But first, let’s look at the top matches from Day 15.

Four-Man Juryo Playoff—There were four rikishi tied with 10–5 records in the Juryo Division, so they had a four-man playoff featuring several familiar names: J2 Aminishiki, J3 Kotoyuki, J6 Homarefuji, and J11 Abi. (0:50)
M14 Okinoumi (7–7) vs. M12 Sadonoumi (2–7–5)—Okinoumi has looked out of sorts all tournament, and if he doesn’t win today it’s pretty likely he’ll be demoted to Juryo in November. He’s lucky in that his opponent missed the first third of the basho because of injury, and probably should have stayed out entirely. (3:25)
M8 Chiyoshoma (7–7) vs. M15 Yutakayama (4–10)—Chiyoshoma is another of the rikishi still on the cusp of make- and kachi-koshi. He gets the advantage here because Yutakayama is in his first basho in the Makuuchi Division and seems to have fallen prey to rookie nerves. It’s down to Juryo for him in November, and all he can hope to do is grab one more win before the demotion. (4:35)
M6 Ichinojo (7–7) vs. M11 Daieisho (8–6)—Ichinojo is the only one of the 7–7 rikishi that I’m rooting against. He’s put in a particularly listless effort this tournament. Usually he can dominate at the M6 rank if he puts in the effort, but instead he’s relied on being a lumbering behemoth all tournament. Despite my feelings, though, I have to say he’s probably got an edge over Daieisho, who is still pretty green. (6:50)
M16 Asanoyama (9–5) vs. M3 Chiyotairyu (8–6)—Both of these rikishi have had very good tournaments, particularly Asanoyama (who is in his first tournament in the Makuuchi Division). If Asanoyama wins this bout, he will get a kanto-sho [Fighting Spirit Prize]. (8:10)
M3 Onosho (9–5) vs. M9 Takanoiwa (8–6)—Another pair of rikishi who have performed very well. Onosho will get a kanto-sho [Fighting Spirit Prize] for his efforts, plus if he wins he will become the first person ever to get double-digit wins in each of his first three Makuuchi Division tournaments. (8:35)
M8 Takarafuji (9–5) vs. M1 Kotoshogiku (9–5)—There isn’t a special prize or particular achievement riding on the outcome of this match. But whichever rikishi takes it will have double-digit wins, which is always a mark of distinction. And clearly they both want it very much. (10:05)
Komusubi Tamawashi (7–7) vs. M5 Takakeisho (8–6)—Tamawashi is the fourth of our “on the cusp” rikishi. He must win today if he wants to remain in sanyaku in November. Takakeisho has had a very good tournament and will get a shukun-sho [Outstanding Performance Prize]. (13:45)
Sekiwake Mitakeumi (7–7) vs. sekiwake Yoshikaze (8–6)—Mitakeumi is the last “on the cusp” rikishi, and he needs a win in order to keep his sekiwake rank in November. Yoshikaze gets Gino-sho [Technique Prize]. It’s strange to see two sekiwake going head-to-head on senshuraku, but it’s just another way this has been the weirdest basho in recent memory. (14:25)
Ozeki Goeido (11–3) vs. yokozuna Harumafuji (10–4)—This is it, the match that will determine the yusho [tournament championship]. If Goeido wins, he’s the champion. If Harumafuji wins, keep watching because they’ll have to come back after a 10-minute break to have a one-bout playoff to determine the winner. (15:35)

4 Comments

  1. Noel wrote:

    WOW.

    Sunday, September 24, 2017 at 11:10 am | Permalink
  2. Stan! wrote:

    Quite an ending to a memorable tournament!

    Sunday, September 24, 2017 at 11:12 am | Permalink
  3. Andy wrote:

    For all the strangeness of this basho, that was a damn fine last day.

    Sunday, September 24, 2017 at 1:58 pm | Permalink
  4. Noel wrote:

    Indeed! Still a crazy weird tournament… A few highlight-reel-worthy bouts, but not as much sustained good sumo as earlier this year. I really hope the top tier rikishi (especially the ones who didn’t go kyujo) all take some time off and heal, though.

    Thanks again, Stan, for helping cover all the action and illuminate interesting matches & storylines!

    Tuesday, September 26, 2017 at 7:33 am | Permalink

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