- Fantasy Basho
Hatsu 2022 Day Eleven
Makiotoshi. Terutsuyoshi beat Yutakayama with a nice right handed twist down, but his start is worth mentioning, too. He attempted a nekomadashi, clapping the hands in the opponents' face, although it didn't phase Yutakayama.
Match of the Day
Sekiwake East Mitakeumi versus Ozeki West Shodai
The good version of Shodai showed up for much of this match. He did the take-it-and-return tachiai, which did make Mitakeumi stall out. Shodai then got Mitakeumi moving, although his mawashi grip was never that strong compared to Mitakeumi's much deeper hold. A belt battle should favor Shodai, but Mitakeumi kept working at it to push the Ozeki out.
Terunofuji, Mitakeumi, and Abi all won, making the very top of the leaderboard not too different. Takarafuji did lose, thinning it out some. Still, the men with the chance at a yusho are largely who they were after Day Ten. The race for the Emperor's Cup is about what it was coming in. That makes it a worthwhile day to take stock of some bigger picture issues.
The lower Maegashira ranks often get little consideration here, but there are some momentous possible Juryo demotions. Kaisei, Tsurugisho, and Tochinoshin are all in danger of falling to the second division with losing records, in that order of risk. Those are three veteran, but banged up, rikishi who would all probably like one more go as a Maegashira at least. A Juryo demotion is likely taken up by Hidenoumi, who may face retirement due to his illegal gambling. Chiyonokuni's first win probably was enough to avoid a crazy slide.
At the top of the Banzuke, in Sanyaku there are just three men with winning records--Terunofuji, Mitakeumi, and Takanosho. Takanosho is 6-5, which means he needs a good finish to get kachi-koshi. If he does, he will stay at Sekiwake in March. Likely, he won't drop out of Sanyaku no matter what. Two slots will likely be open for Sanyaku, which may be open to the quartet at the top of the Maegashira ranks. Wakatakakage, Kiribayama, Ura, and Ichinojo are all on 5 wins. They have also all faced each other and could all go on a three win streak to close out the basho.
Yet there may be a third Sanyaku slot available. Mitakeumi is 10-1, and he could be on the verge of an Ozeki promotion. He needed a great basho to do it going into Hatsu, and he has had one so far. He's now had two straight 10-win bashos, and he could win his third Yusho. To do that, he'd also need to knock off Terunofuji. That's a credit in an Ozeki run, as is his victory over current Ozeki Shodai. And the less than ideal performance from the two Ozeki likely means a third would be desired.
Don't bet on it quite yet, though. In the final three days, Mitakeumi not only has to still face Terunofuji, but a high performing Onosho on Day Twelve. Likely, he will also get Abi before the basho is over, and he still hasn't faced fellow Sekiwake Takanosho. If he goes 4-0 or 3-1, he would clearly be top of the heap among the non-Yokozuna. Yet those records are not guaranteed, and Abi and maybe Onosho could finish in a way to vault themselves back to Sanyaku by sheer force. The last four days could hold a lot of intrigue.