- Fantasy Basho
Hatsu 2022 Day Nine
Shitatehineri. Ishiura was in a mini-stalemate with Tsurugisho, and then decided to grab the mawashi with his left hand and throw all 200 kg over with the twisting underarm throw.
Match of the Day
Maegashira #2 East Ura versus Maegashira #2 West Ichinojo
Ura vs. Ichinojo was always a promise for something odd, just because of the clash of style. Big, powerful, and immobile Ichinojo had his style of match by grabbing the athletic and tricky Ura. Yet Ura still prolonged it by squirming inside of the hold, and Ichinojo had to actually wear him down and move him to the edge.
With the closing kick in view, but not yet fully here, the schedule makers are having a tough time. Mitakeumi is undefeated and has faced both Komusubi already. So he should close out with Takanosho, Shodai, and Terunofuji in some order in his final three days. That's three matches of setting Mitakeumi up for that close. And Terunofuji has to face Meisei, Takanosho, Mitakeumi, and Shodai. Likely, the schedulers will want the Mitakeumi-Terunofuji clash on final days, making the other days easier.
Except it probably won't be that perfect. Shodai is underwater at 4-5, and he will not factor in the yusho race. His matches could be skipped by Mitakeumi or Terunofuji. And there are some candidates to replace Shodai (or 4-5 Meisei), should that provide more impact for the Emperor's Cup result. That's not to say Shodai or Meisei couldn't play spoiler, because they absolutely could. While a 14-0 Mitakeumi versus a 13-1 Terunofuji is the ideal final match of the basho, that is nowhere near guaranteed.
The identity of who will replace the struggling Sanyaku men should seem obvious. Abi, Takarafuji, Kotonowaka, and Kotoeko are the four rikishi sitting at two losses. They present an intriguing group. Kotonowaka and Kotoeko are the bullies of the bottom of the Banzuke this tournament, and will see a small climb in schedule strength. Intriguingly, they can't face each other as they are stablemates at Sadogatake-beya. Also off the remaining match card will be Abi versus Takarafuji, because they squared off on Day One.
Neither Abi nor Takarafuji get Sanyaku wrestlers on Day Ten, but it is probably inevitable if they keep winning. Either could make some noise, but Abi seems to have more promise to stay in the yusho race. Takarafuji has been the model of a mid-Maegashira recently, meaning he does well when he hasn't needed to face the best of the best. Abi, on the other hand, is in his second Makuuchi tournament after being suspended and subsequently demoted. We don't really know how Abi can do when facing the top of the Banzuke consistently.
We will likely find out soon, but it will be a few days. And the only way that the above scenarios could play out is if everyone on the leaderboard keeps winning. The marquee matches aren't happening just yet. How marquee those matches will be depends on the performance of Mitakeumi, Terunofuji, Abi, and Takarafuji winning.