2019 Kyushu Basho: Day 11
Today we’re two-thirds of the way through the Kyushu Basho and yokozuna Hakuho remains the sole leader with a 9–1 record, and komusubi Asanoyama is the only rikishi immediately on his tail at 8–2. Even after that, there are only four rikishi who have managed to go 7–3 over the first ten days—ozeki Takakeisho, M10 Shodai, M13 Kagayaki, and M13 Chiyomary. If things continue like this we may have the yusho [tournament championship] decided before we even reach the final weekend.
• Under normal circumstances, at this juncture Hakuho would begin a series of bouts against sekiwake, ozeki, and yokozuna opponents. However, most of them are kyujo [absent due to injury] so he only has TWO such high-level opponents to face—ozeki Takakeisho and sekiwake Mitakumi—and Hakuho has already fought (and beaten) two of the four komusubi. Say what you will about Hakuho’s strength slipping, he has more experience than all of his opponents put together, and this may be the easiest schedule he’s ever seen in the waning days of a tournament.
• Asanoyama is looking very good—certainly better than I’d expected him to. His only two loses so far have been to Hakuho on Day 3 and komusubi Endo on Day6. In the meanwhile he’s beaten Takakeisho, komusubi Hokutofuji, komusubi Abi, and both M1 rikishi (Daieisho and Okinoumi). Add that together with his yusho win in May, and he may be one of the big names to watch in 2020.
• Mitakeumi continues to bounce around this basho, following a good win with a questionable loss. He’s 5–5 at the start of today’s action, and so must win three of his remaining five matches to get kachi-koshi. Once he manages that, he can worry about whether or not it’s even possible for him to aim for double-digit wins. The biggest thing standing in the way of his desired promotion to sumo’s second-highest rank is his inconsistency from. Interestingly, that’s what held for-now-ozeki Takayasu back for years, and after he seemed to have overcome it and earned an ozeki promotion, he has gone right back to his old inconsistent ways. Now he finds himself both kadoban [threatened with ozeki demotion] AND kyujo with a 3–5–2 record. If he doesn’t get back into action today (and he seems to have no plans to) he will be demoted to sekiwake in January.