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SUMO: 2018 Kyushu Basho (Day 7)

We’ve reached the middle weekend of the Kyushu Basho and it’s a crazy, unimaginable, upside down world. All of the yokozuna are kyujo [absent due to injury]. There’s just one undefeated rikishi left, and it’s komusubi Takakeisho. He’s trailed by six rikishi at 5–1, but only one of those is in sanyaku—ozeki Takayasu (the others are M2 Tochiozan, M5 Chiyotairyu, M7 Abi, M9 Daieisho, and M13 Onosho). All the other upper-rankers have at least THREE losses.

I don’t know what’s up with Takakeisho, but for the third time this week he knocked his opponent down with a wild roundhouse left to the back/shoulder area. Is he holding a roll of ¥500 coins in his fist? He’s pulled that move on yokozuna Kisenosato, ozeki Goeido, and now komusubi Kaisei, all of whom you’d think would be able to handle such a literally ham-fisted attack. Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of things that Takakeisho does right, most notably his aggressiveness and his tenacity. But he hasn’t done anything to make it seem feasible that he’d be the lone undefeated rikishi heading into Day 7 of ANY basho. 

Having said that, one of the things that makes komusubi the toughest of all ranks is that their schedules are generally front-loaded with the toughest opponents. That means that Takakeisho’s Week 2 will be significantly easier than his Week 1. So if he can maintain his spot atop the leaderboard through this middle weekend, he’ll find himself pretty much in the driver’s seat of the yusho [tournament championship] race.

Today’s top matches include:

M13 Onosho (5–1) vs. M16 Arawashi (1–5)—Arawashi is clearly injured and has been hobbling around the dohyo all basho. As a result, Onosho shouldn’t have any trouble holding onto his position in the second-place pack. (1:25)
M7 Abi (5–1) vs. M9 Daieisho (5–1)
—Two of our second-place rikishi go head to head. Whatever happens, the leaderboard will be a little tighter tomorrow. (5:40)
M2 Tochiozan (5–1) vs. M1 Hokutofuji (3–3)—Tochiozan lost for the first time yesterday. Today he gets to prove whether he really belongs in the yusho race, or if Week 1 was just a fluke. (8:55)
M5 Chiyotairyu (5–1) vs. sekiwake Ichinojo (1–5)—Chiyotairyu also gets a test today. So far he’s only faced mid-level opponents. Today he takes on a sekiwake. (9:55)
Sekiwake Mitakeumi (3–3) vs. komusubi Takakeish0 (6–0)—If Mitakeumi wants to keep any hope of an ozeki promotion alive, he’s got to get on a big and impressive winning streak. It would be a terrific start if he could hand Takakeisho his first loss. (10:44)
M3 Ryuden (1–5) vs. ozeki Takayasu (5–1)—Takayasu got back in a winning way yesterday. Now we get to see if he can re-establish the dominant sumo he showed at the start of the basho. (14:10)

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