Hatsubasho 2015: Day 12

Is Hakuho's 2 bout lead impenetrable?
Is Hakuho’s 2 bout lead impenetrable?

Kisenosato is basically our only hope to drop Hakuho and make this basho interesting. Today, he survived a bit of a scare against Toyonoshima in an entertaining bout. Tomorrow they will battle for the 50th time. The superzuna has a 38-11 advantage in this lengthy rivalry that goes back to Makushita when Kisenosato was known by his real family name, Hagiwara. The historical data at Sumo Games is fantastic and really interesting. Forgive the plug but I love data and this is fascinating. In this case it’s also really interesting to see how quickly in their careers Hakuho advanced into the makuuchi and became a Yokozuna.

Hakuho might have been using a bit of gamesmanship against Kotoshogiku today. Kotoshogiku’s knees must be hurting because he went straight into a football-like three-point stance at the tachiai. The football comparison is appropriate because his flinch would have been called as a false start in the NFL but Hakuho reacted a bit late to call the matta. Perhaps he thought Giku would fess up? On take two, the rikishi met with a strong tachiai and each got a one-handed grip on the other’s belts. However, Hakuho was able to get the ozeki’s girth moving in one direction and Giku just didn’t have any brakes to prevent the push-out defeat.

Harumafuji wisely dodged Ichinojo and sent the big 21-year-old rolling to his first losing record. it’s virtually a sure thing that he’ll drop in the banzuke but the big question, with three more matches remaining in the tournament, is how far? With so many of the top maegashira and komusubi struggling, he’ll probably be komusubi in March if he loses these last few matches.

Goeido dropped his bout with Kakuryu. After two matta, he went straight for Kakuryu which surprised me. I thought he might be building up to an Ichinojo-like henka. Head-to-head, Goeido had no chance as the juniorzuna picked up a ninth win. Goeido must win out to avoid demotion. Kakuryu will face Harumafuji tomorrow and likely Hakuho the next day meaning a 10th win will be difficult and may only come on the final day of the tournament.

After an initial strong tachiai, Endo’s swift retreat left Takayasu eating clay. Both wrestlers are makekoshi and hoping not to drop too far. Endo faces a desparate Goeido tomorrow while Takayasu faces the hapless but driven Ikioi (1-11). Ikioi fell in a similar fashion to Aoiyama as the sekiwake backed away after the initial strong charge and easily pushed Ikioi to the dohyo.

Kaisei defeated Tochinoshin in an entertaining belt-battle. After his head-to-head with Ichinojo yesterday, it just seemed Tochinoshin didn’t have enough left in the tank to lift Kaisei. He was pushed to the edge but able to use the straw bales to get bounce back…but only briefly as Kaisei gets the push-out victory to climb to 5-7. He’ll need to win out and prospects for tomorrow’s bout are high as he faces Tokitenku (8-4), who he’s dominated in their rivalry winning 7 of 10 bouts and the Mongolian has already secured a winning record so will not have the same motivation. Tochinoshin fell to 4-8, officially getting a losing record.

Myogiryu (7-5) made quick work of Oosunaarashi (6-6), moving inside and wrapping his arms around the Egyptian in a bear hug and shoving him straight back and over the edge. I call this winning technique the dakishimekiri (抱きしめ切り), though officially it’s a straight forward yorikiri. After a strong start, it seems Oosunaarashi’s opponents have figured out how to exploit his knee issues. His last win was on day 8 with 3 straight oshidashi losses and then today’s yorikiri loss. Tomorrow he faces the makekoshi Sokokurai (4-8). Myogiryu will have a hard time getting his kachi-koshi tomorrow against Terunofuji, who is also at 7-5 and gunning for an eighth win.

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