Terunofuji is not going to be getting any technique prizes, that’s for sure. All he’s needed is yorikiri. 7 days, 7 yorikiri. He had his hands full today with one-legged Sadanofuji, though. This was my surprise bout of the day. Sadanofuji cannot plant with his left leg. He’s basically using his right exclusively for any drive and power. He’ll likely go makekoshi tomorrow against Tochinoshin and pull out of the tournament. Terunofuji has yet to face any ozeki but has a challenge with a solid Myogiryu tomorrow.
If he wins a second yusho, I don’t see how he can be denied yokozuna rank since Kakuryu only has one title. But it’s a bit weird since Wakanohana won 5 before yokozuna promotion and his brother Takanohana won 7 before promotion. With four yokozuna and four ozeki, the makuuchi would be a bit top-heavy but champion-lite. Harumafuji has not won since November 2013. Kakuryu’s lone title was in March 2014. Other than Terunofuji, none of the ozeki (or anyone else below yokozuna) has a title.
Hakuho’s domination has been utterly nuts so this tournament without him in the hunt just has me befuddled. The last time he didn’t have a yusho or jun-yusho was in 2012 when KYOKUTENHO won. Before that, we’re talking 2007, his first tournament as yokozuna. Basically, no one but Harumafuji’s been able to get in there for so long. I almost think they need to make Terunofuji wait, especially since Hakuho and Harumafuji are absent this tournament. It’s an interesting dilemma but also such a change from just a few years ago when the sport was mired in scandal. Good times.
OK, back to the tournament. Kakuryu and Kisenosato are hoping to keep this interesting. Kakuryu, on the other hand, has a tough one against Ichinojo tomorrow. At M4, Ichinojo is dangerous and probably gunning for a kinboshi. Kisenosato should be able to take care of Sadanoumi who was absolutely destroyed by Kakuryu today with a quick yorikiri.
If I had a poll for who would be tied for second one week into the tournament, how many people would have chosen Ikioi and Sokokurai? Ikioi does really well when ranked low. His wins haven’t looked pretty and he’s had a habit of slipping and making these bouts really tight. But he could pick up 9 or 10 wins and get a special prize – or the wheels could fall off the bus and he could lose every match from here on out. You can never tell which Ikioi will show up. Today he was matched with Asasekiryu, fresh from spending the last three years in Juryo. However, Asasekiryu did give Ikioi a run for his money and very nearly had the push-down win. Ikioi lucked out and apparently pushed the M15 out of the dohyo before belly flopping.
Sokokurai has also been really strong against these low-ranked maegashira. He had a solid Juryo tournament in July coming off injury. Today he didn’t quite henka Chiyotairyu but the sidestep got the big guy off balance so all that was needed was a little shove to send him to the clay. Tomorrow he’s got my favorite kicker, Tokitenku.
Tochiozan has fallen off the yusho pace with two straight losses, including his loss to Yoshikaze today. But he remains on strong ozeki pace with 5 wins during the first week. He can certainly play spoiler as we get deeper into the championship run. Tomorrow he battles Goeido who’s been having a woeful tournament and is on pace to go kadoban.
Yoshikaze’s having an excellent tournament. Though one kinboshi came against injured Hakuho, he’s followed that up with upsets of Kakuryu, Kotoshogiku, Goeido, and Tochiozan. He’s got a pumped up Osunaarashi tomorrow.