Natsu 2019 Day Ten Recap
The trio who has been at the top of the yusho race is still there. That's the place a Yokozuna should be, although Kakuryu has been here before and faltered over the final five days. Tochinoshin looks a lot like the wrestler who won the January 2018 basho. More importantly in a way, he's got one more win to return to Ozeki for July. Both men still need to face each other and both remaining Ozeki, Goeido and Takayasu.
The long-shot here is Asanoyama. Not only has he never won more than 11 in a tournament, he has never been ranked higher than Maegashira 5. Someone at Maegashira 8 or lower has not won since March of 2000, when Takatoriki somehow pulled it off from Maegashira 14. He also has never looked this good in any basho, confident, aggressive, and assured. Asanoyama's slate will get tougher, possibly including Tochinoshin, an Ozeki, or even the Yokozuna, but he's headed for a great win total no matter what.
Kotoeko being the sole member of the one-back club is maybe more surprising than Asanoyama sitting among the leaders. He should be thrilled with his eighth win, because that marks his first kachi-koshi in Makuuchi. He's here again in July, plus his bonus gets a little bigger. He also probably just needs two or three more to insure himself a special prize.
It's fun there's a grouping with the two Ozeki left standing and a Makuuchi debutant ranked at Maegashira 14. Goeido and Takayasu will both want the crucial eighth win to avoid being Kadoban in July (and in danger of demotion) as well as getting kachi-koshi. Both Ozeki are long shots in the yusho race, but they can certainly play a role in who wins.
Enho has been an absolute joy. His tricky style makes his relatively small size an advantage rather than a hindrance. He has had six different kimarite for his seven wins, which makes him the clear favorite for the technique prize. One more win insures a promotion for July, two gets a solid jump, and three make a case for a different level entirely.
The six win group is full of rikishi who needed solid tournaments for Natsu. Some were seeking a bounceback from a dissapointing and/or injury prone March (Mitakeumi, Tamawashi, Shodai, Shohozan, and Tochiozan.) Others were seeking to prove their spot on the Banzuke was a legitimate statement of their abilities (Abi, Ryuden, Takarafuji, Meisei, and Daishoho.)
Being at 6 wins after 10 matches is better than having 5 and a lot better than 4, but there is still plenty of peril. A 2-3 record from here on out is a necessity for kachi-koshi, which means solid form must be maintained.
All five five-win rikishi have been appropriately up and down this basho. Sometimes, everyone in this group has looked magnificent, but that has more often than not been complicated by looking totally off. What's interesting is that anyone here could put together a winning streak and still get a solid win total.
This group can be split into two-sub groups moving forward. The rikishi at the lower ranks need to put together enough wins to save their current rank, and maybe even a spot in Makuuchi for Chiyomaru and Terutsuyoshi. The problem is, they have been so uneven that it seems unlikely.
Aoiyama and Hokutofuji have already faced their toughest opponents while not getting too beat up. They could flip around their luck more easily than most other rikishi who are underwater after 10 days. If Tochinoshin gets one more win, there will be four Ozeki, which means some open Sanyaku slots. Resurgent Aoiyama or a game Hokutofuji could be in line for the titled ranks in July after seeming down and out.
It's not exactly ideal to be in a group here with two rikishi, Takakeisho and Kaisei, who went kyujo after clearly suffering injuries on the dohyo. It's been that kind of basho for this group. Most of them can try and get another win or two, then come back in Juky with some newfound energy and effort.
The two who should be most concerned are Tokushoryu and Chiyoshoma, who are prime candidates for demotion to Juryo. Chiyoshoma in particular must put together a five match win streak to keep his place in Makuuchi. Tokushoryu maybe has one loss to play with.
Here we have someone who is injured in Ichinojo, and two guys that hopefully are, Okinoumi and Kagayaki. Okinoumi will slide down the banzuke to a better position for Nagoya while also resting a bit. Kagayaki probably needs to scrape a win or two to make sure he doesn't fall all the way down to Juryo.
He's healing and lying in wait for Nagoya.