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SUMO: 2018 Nagoya Basho (Day 12)

Day 12 of the Nagoya Basho is here, and sekiwake Mitakeumi remains undefeated and alone atop the leaderboard. Not only that, he’s got a two-win lead over his nearest competition. I was mistaken yesterday when I said that only one rikishi was in that second place slot. In point of fact, there were two . . . and today there remain two—M13 Tochiozan and M13 Asanoyama.

Mitakeumi showed his resolve by beating M4 Kaisei, who himself is having a very good basho and is 2 inches taller and 80 lbs. heavier than Mitakeumi. Still the sekiwake took control right from the tachi-ai [initial charge] and won the bout without any fuss.

Ozeki Goeido seems to have settled himself down and managed to notch his eighth win yesterday against M5 Daishomaru. Admittedly, this wasn’t a great feat, and it also wasn’t a particularly dominant victory . . . but it WAS enough for Goeido to secure kachi-koshi [majority of wins] for the tournament and erase his kadoban [threatened with ozeki demotion] status.

The other kadoban ozeki, Takayasu, lost to sekiwake Ichinojo, despite the fact that the giant Mongolian is having a terrible tournament. It seems clear to me that the several kotonag [arm bar] losses that Takayasu has suffered have exacerbated his previous injury, and left him with very little ability to attack from the left side. Unfortunately for him, though, Takayasu still needs one more win to reach kachi-koshi and secure his rank, so he must and will fight on. Personally, I hope he gets that eighth win today and then declares himself kyujo [absent due to injury] for the remainder of the basho. Unfortunately, today Takayasu faces the yusho leader, Mitakeumi. He’s scheduled to fight M6 Endo tomorrow (who is still in the hunt for the yusho), and we know that he’ll fight fellow-ozeki Goeido on Sunday, so that leaves only one day to hope that he gets scheduled against a soft opponent (or one that’s willing to engage in a little yaocho [match fixing]).

Fortunately for Takayasu, he’s ALREADY fought everyone else ranked M4 and higher. So the two highest-ranked opponents he could be asked to face are M5 Daishomaru and M5 Yoshikaze (who have a total of 3 wins between them so far this basho). The Kyokai [Sumo Association] can throw Takayasu a bone on Saturday and still claim that they gave him the “toughest opponent available.” The question remains, though, WILL they?

NOTE: There was one point just after shin-ozeki Tochinoshin declared himself kyujo (due to a big toe injury) where he and his coach declared that he might return to action later in the basho if the toe healed well enough. They have now announced that he is definitely NOT coming back this tournament, and will be kadoban in September during just his second tournament at the rank of ozeki. If he’s healthy though, there should be no difficulty in his getting 8 wins and clearing that hurdle. Of course, we started this basho saying the same things about Goeido and Takayasu—so you never can tell what will happen.

Some of today’s top bouts include:

M9 Myogiryu (7–4) vs. M13 Tochiozan (9–2)—Tochiozan is one of the rikishi immediately behind the leader, though in this case “immediately” is a two-win cushion. If he wants to stay in the race, he has to keep winning. But as it usually goes, the Kyokai are beginning to “reward” his earlier performance with matches against higher ranked rikishi, in this case Myogiryu. (1:55)
M4 Kaisei (7–4) vs. M13 Asanoyama (9–2)—The other second-place rikishi, Asanoyama, REALLY has an “up match” against M4 Kaisei, who is looking for his kachi-koshi AND a little payback for his loss to Mitakeumi yesterday. (4:55)
Sekiwake Mitakeumi (11–0) vs. ozeki Takayasu (7–4)—This is the match everyone has been waiting for. Is Takayasu’s arm healthy enough to let him challenge Mitakeumi? Can the sekiwake keep up this incredible winning streak? The fate of the yusho race hangs in the balance. (12:10)

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