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SUMO: 2018 Kyushu Basho (Day 6)

It’s Day 6 of the Kyushu basho and already the top of the leaderboard is down to two rikishi. But what makes that truly incredible is that one is a komusubi (Takakeisho) and the other is an M2 (Tochiozan). Not only that, with the exception of ozeki Takayasu, all of the other sanyaku rikishi already have two or more losses.

Yesterday was a microcosm of the tournament so far for the upper-rankers. ALL of the sanyaku rikishi lost (except for Takakeisho, of course), and most of them looked bad doing it. Worst of all was Takayasu, who went from looking strong, in control, and confident on Days 1–4, but seemed utterly hapless on Thursday. Meanwhile, sekiwake Mitakeumi (who entered this basho with hopes of earning a promotion to ozeki) was completely bamboozled by komusubi Kaisei, who was kyujo for the first two days of the tournament and still seemed stiff and a little unsteady.

This certainly is making for an unpredictable tournament. No one expects Takakeisho and Tochiozan to keep up their dominance for the whole two weeks. Chances are that this basho will be taken by a rikishi with fewer than 13 wins, which is extremely uncommon. But that also means the chances are good that the yusho [tournament championship] will be decided in a playoff after the end of the regular matches on Sunday. 

As exciting as that would be, I have to say that from where I sit here on Day 6, I’d much rather see the overall quality of the sumo go up a notch in Week 2 and have just a couple of high-performing rikishi take the lead. On the other hand, maybe I’m wrong about Tochiozan and Takakeisho—maybe they ARE up to the task, and THEY are the high-performing rikishi I’m asking for.

Today’s top matches include:

M9 Kotoshogiku (3–2) vs. M7 Shohozan (2–3)—A hard-fought, gutsy match that lasts nearly a full minute-and-a-half. THIS is good sumo. (6:00)
M2 Tochiozan (5–0) vs. M3 Nishikigi (1–4)—Undefeated Tochiozan takes on Nishikigi, who just notched his first win of the basho yesterday (though it WAS over ozeki Goeido). (9:45)
Komusubi Takakeisho (5–0) vs. komusubi Kaisei (1–2–2)—Undefeated Takakeisho takes on Kaisei, who just notched his first win of the basho yesterday (though it WAS over sekiwake Mitakeumi). (10:30)
M2 Tamawashi (3–2) vs. ozeki Takayasu (4–1)—Takayasu had a big let down yesterday. He needs to refocus right away so he can stay near the top of the mix for the yusho race. (12:20)

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