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SUMO: Haru Basho 2018 (Day 9)

Week 2 of the Osaka Basho kicks off with two rikishi still as yet unbeaten. Yokozuna Kakuryu has been putting in a stronger performance than I anticipated he would be able to, what with the lingering injuries to his right fingers. But those haven’t seemed to bother him since about Day 3, and he has remained focused, something that he doesn’t generally do well in most tournaments. Right now, it’s looking like his yusho [tournament championship] to lose, particularly since the other co-leader is M6 Kaisei who hasn’t yet begun to face higher-level opponents. Still, Kaisei has been putting in A-level performances, and he has been ranked as high as sekiwake in the past, so he’s certainly capable of notching wins against top level competition.

One of the big surprises, though, is that only ONE rikishi remains immediately behind the leaders with a 7–1 record, and that would be M16 Daiamami. Beyond that, SEVEN rikishi are biding their time with 6–2 records and hoping for the leaders to slip up. This two-loss group includes both ozeki (Takayasu and Goeido), last tournament’s champion (sekiwake Tochinoshin), the man-mountain (komusubi Ichinojo), a few fan favorite rikishi (M12 Ikio, M17 Aoiyama), and a random low-level rikishi (M13 Daishomaru).

It’s still anybody’s tournament, and we’ve got seven days of action ahead!

M16 Daiamami (7–1) vs. M13 Asanoyama (4–4)—Daiamami is now all alone in second place, the only rikishi with only a single loss, and it’s getting to the point in the basho where they’re going to “reward” his strong performance with a chance to face off against higher level opponents than his M16 banzuke ranking would normally call for. So he’d better take advantage of “peer” matches like today’s against M13 Asanoyama while he can. (1:35)
M14 Ikioi (6–2) vs. M12 Kotoyuki (0–7–1)—If I told you that this match, between one rikishi who has had a nagging thigh injury and another who is winless and has already missed two days of action from a leg injury, would be one of the most exciting ones of the day, would you watch it? Well, it is . . . so get a-watchin’! (2:40)
M6 Kaisei (8–0) vs. M9 Ryuden (3–5)—Kaisei, after a near-stumble (literally) a few days ago, has returned to his dominant ways. Today he faces a young, up-and-coming rikishi who has huge potential but just has been a little too anxious so far this tournament.  (9:30)
M5 Chiyomaru (3–5) vs. ozeki Goeido (6–2)—Chiyomaru has never fought Goeido (or any ozeki) before in his career. First time meetings are always interesting and slightly improve the chances of new face—basically, if Chiymaru is going to beat Goeido in their first few matches, NOW is the time to do it. On the other hand, Goeido has been hit-and-miss all tournament. At one point we were thinking that Goeido was a shoe-in for double-digit wins, but the truth is that he still has a little work to do in order to secure kachi-koshi [majority of wins]. (14:25)
Yokozuna Kakuryu (8–0) vs. M4 Shodai (5–3)
—Kakuryu continues to dominate his Maegashira-ranked opponents, but soon he’s going to have to start facing the sanyaku rikishi and we’ll see if he really is as strong as he’s appeared. (16:05)

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