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SUMO: 2018 Natsu Basho (Day 14)

It’s the final weekend of the Natsu Basho, and things just keep getting more exciting. With sekiwake Tochinoshin’s upset loss yesterday, we now have a tie atop the leaderboard between him and yokozuna Kakuryu. And just one loss behind them is yokozuna Hauho! Today, the leaders go head to head, while Hakuho faces sekiwake Ichinojo. This could be the most exciting day of the basho.

Of course, we also have a set-up for something even more exciting. Our leaders are both 12–1, and Hakuho is 11–2. If Kakuryu beats Tochinoshin today, that would make him 13–1 and leave the sekiwake at 12–2. And if Hakuho beats Ichinojo, he’ll be tied with Tochinoshin. Then, on Sunday, if Hakuho beats Kakuryu (the two yokozuna will be fighting each other on senshuraku [the final day]) AND Tochinoshin beats whoever he must face, we’d end up with a tie for the yusho [tournament championship] and have to decide the victor through a three-way playoff!

If, on the other hand, Tochinoshin wins today, then he’ll regain the sole lead AND have a relatively easy match on Sunday against M5 Ikioi to cinch the yusho. And even if he did lose, he’d fall into a two-way playoff against the winner of the Kakuryu/Hakuho match.

Meanwhile, there are still a bunch of rikishi still fighting to get their kachi-kosh [majority of wins] or to stave off make-koshi [majority of losses]. I’m curious to see how many 7–7 rikishi we’ll have in Sunday’s matches . . . and how many of them will be cruelly paired up to fight against one another.

M8 Yoshikaze (6–7) vs. M17 Nishikigi (9–4)—A good match between two scrappy rikishi. This one has it all—a matta, a monoii, and a rikishi who is fighting to stave off make-koshi. (2:35)
M7 Ryuden (2–11) vs. M16 Aminishiki (3–10)—Two rikishi who are having pretty rotten tournaments. Today, though, they’re fighting for pride! (5:10)
Komusubi Mitakeumi (8–5) vs. M4 Shodai (8–5)—Both of these guys just picked up their kachi-koshi and are trying to reach double-digit wins. And Shodai is coming off handing Tochinoshin his first defeat of the tournament! (11:25)
Yokozuna Kakuryu (12–1) vs. sekiwake Tochnoshin (12–1)—This is the match of the day! Our two leaders going head to head! Whoever wins this match hold the yusho in his hands—a follow-up win tomorrow and it’s his. (14:20)
Sekiwake Ichinojo (7–6) vs. yokozuna Hakuho (11–2)—Hakuho must win this match if he wants to stay in contention for the yusho. Ichinojo is still looking for his kachi-koshi, and getting it with a win over Hakuho would solidify his claim that he’s finally moved his sumo to the next level. (16:10)

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