Nagoya 2019 Day Ten Recap
We've seen ten matches from everyone still competing. We have a real yusho race between Yokozuna, as well as a host of rikishi fighting for make-koshi.
Kakuryu is the sole remaining undefeated rikishi and therefore the sole leader. More importantly, he's looked good in winning every match. He has a reactionary style that never overwhelms anyone, but he has also not really been thrown off balance much.
Important note: the only two active rikishi who have zensho yusho (undefeated championships) are Goeido, who did it once, and Hakuho, who did it fifteen times.
Hakuho's one blemish, on Day Nine against Ichinojo, has him looking up at Kakuryu for the title. Of course, the two Yokozuna will face each other on the last day. He is less than 100%, but it might not matter. Hakuho must not drop another match, but he should probably hope someone puts dirt on Kakuryu anyway.
Congratulations to all of these rikishi on their kachi-koshi. Of course, they all will want more than the bare 8 wins and a small promotion. Happiest to just have eight is either the Ozeki Takayasu, who is injured and avoids being kadoban in September, or the Maegashira 16 Terutsuyoshi, who has guaranteed he stays in Makuuchi for another basho.
Myogiryu, Tomokaze, and Terutsuyoshi are all also your current favorites for any special prizes. Myogiryu looks rejuvenated after sliding down the Banzuke for a few tournaments, and it might be a one-basho thing. Tomokaze has both continued his streak of never having had a losing record as a professional and looks like a future star. He's been grappling and thrusting, while also showing a Kakuryu-like skill for the slap down.
One more note on this grouping. Hakuho has a bad right bicep, while Kakuryu has notably faded over the last few days in recent basho. Sitting at 8-2 on Day Ten makes these the most likely wrestlers to emerge as surprise winners.
One more win. That one win and these men get kachi-koshi and the subsequent step up in rank. For Enho and Kotoyuki, that will allow them to stay in Makuuchi. For Hokutofuji, it will mean a return to the Sanyaku ranks.
Hokutofuji's basho is worth considering in more detail. He started 0-3, against Takayasu, Hakuho, and Kakuryu, and has then won 7 in a row. He looks confident and powerful. Having turned 27 on the 15th, Hokutofuji might be establishing a new level.
Enho and Kotoyuki have each done the best version of their sumo, which has in all honesty probably already guaranteed they won't go down to Juryo. (There are some other real disasters in this part of the Banzuke, and the top of Juryo isn't setting the basho on fire.) If they can go on runs at the end of the basho, they are the other good candidates for special prizes.
This is the real mixed bag group. Ichinojo has been uneven, but occasionally dominant, including the tournament's lone kinboshi against Hakuho. Chiyotairyu has found ways to make his one-dimensional sumo less predictable, but it is also still very much one-dimensional.
Shimanoumi, Kotoeko, and Sadanoumi seem to be winning more with guts and guile than superior athleticism this basho. That works a little more than half the time, apparently. Each of these men should be thrilled if they make it to eight wins, because they can climb up the Banzuke. They also haven't been performing in ways that make their steamrolling opposition likely, but you never know.
Mitakeumi should be happy he is above water at Sekiwake 1 East, but this might be a disappointing basho. With a return to where he won his Emperor's Cup and the Ozeki dropping like flies, this should have been his tournament. Instead, he's dropped 4 matches to lower ranked rikishi in less than impressive showings. Yes, he is sitting on 6 wins, but he also has Takayasu, Hakuho, and Kakuryu left to fight this basho.
Abi is sitting pretty, being level on wins and losses with the easier stretch of his schedule coming up. He is on a three match winning streak and is guaranteed to face lower ranked opponents the rest of the basho. He has also shown some small adaptability in his sumo, which is arguably the most surprising thing in Nagoya.
Endo, Shodai, and Daieisho are all also going to see a better slate in the home stretch by rank. They will largely be facing wrestlers of a similar rank, all fighting for similar promotion spots, including each other. Still, 3 out of 5 is likely for some if not all of them.
Kotoshogiku, Onosho, and Kagayaki are in a slightly different position. All of them have looked great in certain matches and terrible in others. Weirdly, you can't divide those categories neatly into wins and losses, as they have also gotten lucky and unlucky in equal measure. The rest of their basho could go any number of ways.
Standing at 4-6 after 10 matches means you have some work to do to go 8-7. Asanoyama, as the most recent yusho winner, can obviously put some wins together. Takagenji and Daishoho have both won three in a row this basho, Of course, that means they've also lost a few in a row.
Everybody else is problematic. They could all be classified as veterans who are probably a little over-ranked for their current level and feeling it. That looks different for different spots on the banzuke. You don't want to count out anyone here, but you also don't want to bank on them putting together enough wins for kachi-koshi.
Other than Goeido, who went kyujo and won't compete again in Nagoya, everyone in this group could, in theory, still secure a kachi-koshi by winning out. No one feels like a safe bet. Ryuden's make-the-other-guy awkward approach has had success, but he also can get railroaded by more powerful and athletic rikishi.
Everyone else had trouble generating and sustaining offense this whole basho. Their histories all say they can compete at their current ranks, but they haven't done it over the last 10 days. Yago is the one to watch, as he is probably fighting off demotion to Juryo.
Meisei is probably thankful for that fusen win over Goeido, but that can't mask a miserable basho.
Both men are certainly injured, as they look nothing like their usual selves. Kaisei has a bad arm that is making everything else worse. Tamawashi's issues are tougher to diagnose, but his balance is totally off. On Day 10, he took a redirection shove from Hakuho in the middle of the dohyo and went into the stands like he got a hard thrust at the edge of the ring.
What a sad group. Takakeisho will lose his Ozeki status for September. Tochinoshin will be kadoban after just regaining his Ozeki status. Yoshikaze will definitely fall to Juryo, and if his injury is very serious, it could be a career-ender.