Fall Tournament 2015, Day 11: It’s Terunofuji (11-0) & Ikioi (10-1)

The Leaders: Terunofuji took down his first ozeki of the tournament. I almost felt bad for Kotoshogiku. He was jack-rabbitting as hard as he could but getting nowhere. The way Terunofuji rather nonchalantly weathered Giku’s thrusts, walked him backwards, and then knocked him to the dirt should send a strong sign to the faux-zeki that his time has passed. He is one dimensional and when his knees hurt (though they’ve seemed healthy this tournament), he doesn’t even have his only major weapon. He gave everything he had – let’s face it, the only thing he has – and got a face full of clay for it.

Ikioi’s match with Sokokurai was a weird one. They were both trying to keep the other at arms length but rather than aggressive slapping like we’re used to, Sokokurai just settled for pushing on Ikioi’s shoulders while Ikioi held on to Sokokurai’s elbows. It was like a middle school dance where the two kids are still afraid of cooties. After dancing like this for a while, Sokokurai got fed up and reached in for a belt grip but over-committed. Ikioi’s parry sent Sokokurai to the dirt. Ikioi’s title run may come to an end tomorrow at the hands of a blazing hot Yoshikaze. Yoshikaze will be hunting for his kachi-koshi and surely some special prizes.

The Rest:

Kakuryu should not have to pull a henka to stay in this tournament. Tochi-from-Kochi should also be better than to fall for it if he wants to be ozeki, though at this point it’s far from certain he’ll get his kachi-koshi. The good thing for Tochiozan is he can be assured he will not need to worry about a henka tomorrow. Terunofuji will let him “bring it” and then either toss him aside like overpriced yuzu, or they’ll have a good close match…but he definitely won’t pull – or fall for – this henka crap.

Kakuryu will face Kotoshogiku. I’m interested to see which Giku shows up. He’s in striking distance of respectable double-digit wins. He’s still mathematically in “the hunt”. But he’s got his kachi-koshi and is basically dependent on others to take down Terunofuji if he’s to have a real shot. Kakuryu will be more motivated, I think, because after that stunt today he’s in need of some R-E-S-P-E-C-T, as well as the win.

Toyonoshima’s still mathematically in it with his easy win over the bubble…Chiy000tori. He will be punished for his success by having to weather the Great Sand Storm on the morrow. Osunaarashi is getting all of the critical wins he needs. After being put through the gauntlet the first week and escaping with two wins, he’s gone undefeated against 3 sanyaku opponents and M1 Yoshikaze. He’s faced all sanyaku opponents so he should be well placed at M1 next tournament. He probably won’t get Komusubi promotion since Yoshikaze will likely get Okinoumi’s slot if Okinoumi does go make-koshi.

As I alluded to above, Yoshikaze will be going for his eighth win tomorrow, having picked up his seventh against Okinoumi. He definitely ate his Wheaties this morning. Strong tachiai, moved consistently forward through his opponent by virtue of powerful thrusts and slaps, and as Okinoumi slid toward the edge of the dohyo where the straw bales could arrest his retreat…Yoshikaze goes for the throw. 5 seconds from tachiai to dirt. Beautiful.

Uncle Taka put up a good fight against Kisenosato (8-3) but when both went for the throw, I think Kisenosato’s position and leverage were the difference. Takarafuji falls to 4-7 and needs to win out to avoid make-koshi. He’ll have a rough time, though. He faces Goeido tomorrow and though he won’t battle Terunofuji, he’s still got both Komusubi (Tochinoshin & Okinoumi).

Tochinoshin owns Ichinojo. There’s nothing more to say about that. Tochinoshin faces make-koshi Tamawashi tomorrow. Goeido wrapped up Tamawashi with a textbook football tackle today, handing the maegashira a losing record with four bouts remaining. Ichinojo will face Tokushoryu who will be hoping to avoid make-koshi.

(more later)

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