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SUMO: 2018 Nagoya Basho (Day 9)

Day 9 dawns for the Nagoya Basho. The weather is still frightfully hot, and now is when the yusho [tournament championship] race will heat up ever further. Sekiwake Mitakeumi is still undefeated and alone atop the leaderboard. Right behind him are M6 Endo and M13 Asanoyama with just a single loss each. And still hanging on with 6–2 records are ozeki Takayasu, M6 Chiyotairyu, and M13 Tochiozan. Take a good look at those mostly unfamiliar names—one of them is very likely going to be hoisting the Emperor’s Cup on Sunday. 

Mitakeumi broke his own personal best by getting his eighth win in a row, and securing kachi-koshi [majority of wins] in the minimum number of matches. He continues to look strong, calm, and more poised than a 25-year-old rikishi can usually manage. He fights M5 Daishomaru today, who is having a pretty terrible basho with a 3–5 record so far, so the real pressure on Mitakeumi is all internal. Can he stay focused and keep winning now that it really matters?

Endo survived a closely fought match against M9 Myogiryu yesterday, showing that he too is calm and focused. Today he faces the other M9 Yutakayama, who has a pretty good 5–3 record so far this basho.

Both of our kadoban [threatened with ozeki demotion] ozeki won on Sunday. Takayasu notched his sixth victory by completely dominating M5 Kagayaki, giving real proof that there’s no real lingering damage to his arm. Goeido, on the other hand, had to turn the tables on M4 Kaisei at the ring’s edge to narrowly eke out his fifth win. If the Brazilian rikishi had been able to keep his balance for half a second longer, Goeido would have hit the ground first. But with the yokozuna and fellow-ozeki Tochinoshin kyujo [absent due to injury], it’s seeming pretty likely that they can get the two or three wins they need (two for Takayasu, three for Goeido) to secure kachi-koshi and protect their ranks.

Sekiwake Ichinojo, on the other hand, continues to embarrass himself as he was out maneuvered, and pretty much taunted into overextending himself and falling flat on his face by the young M3 Takakeisho. With a 3–5 record, he must win five of his remaining seven matches, but three of those will be against the two remaining ozeki and the current tournament leader. It’s looking more and more like make-koshi [majority of losses] and a demotion from sekiwake are in his future. 

Today’s top matches include:

M15 Ishiura (4–4) vs. Asanoyama (7–1)—It’s not often that you see a rikishi who is near the top of the leaderboard fighting in the very first match of the day. But as I’ve said a few times before, being ranked that far down the banzuke is actually a pretty big advantage for Asanoyama. (0:10)
M16 Hokutofuji (5–3) vs. M11 Onosho (5–3)—Two up-and-coming young rikishi who are both recovering from injuries, and both giving pretty solid performances this basho. We’ll be hearing more from them in tournaments to come. (2:25)
M6 Endo (7–1) vs. M9 Yutakayama (5–3)—Endo is still just one win behind the leader, and looking very comfortable at the M6 rank. It’s generally only when he fights opponents near the top of the banzuke that he has troubles. (7:10)
M5 Daishomaru (5–3) vs. sekiwake Mitakeumi (8–0)—All Mitakeumi has to do is keep on winning. Of course, he’s now on the longest winning streak of his career, so there’s no telling how much more he’s currently capable of doing. (12:20)
Komusubi Tamawashi (5–3) vs. ozeki Takayasu (6–2)—Takayasu needs two more wins to erase his kadoban status, and must keep on winning if he wants to stay relevant in the yusho race. Meanwhile, Tamawashi had a very good week for a komusubi (the toughest ranking on the banzuke). At 5–3, he’s got a real shot at double-digit wins and a chance to be promoted into the sekiwake spot that Ichinojo is likely to get demoted out of. (13:45)
Ozeki Goeido (5–3) vs. M4 Kagayaki (3–5)—Which Goeido will show up today—the one who is capable of winning a yusho, or the one who habitually loses to middling rikishi like Kagayaki? (14:55)

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