I’ve changed Okinoumi’s name. It’s now をきのうみ. I’ve just gotta say, “Woah.”
One year ago there was a bloodbath in the rough-and-tumble ranks between maegashira 4 and Sekiwake. Both sekiwake and both komusubi were demoted. The only one among the top 10 maegashira to finish with a winning record was Terunofuji who launched himself into a spectacular ozeki run. Another “beneficiary” of this calamity was Okinoumi who leaped from M6 to Sekiwake in March. From there, it’s a tale of two cities: Terunofuji gets 13 wins and a jun-yusho. Okinoumi goes winless the first few days and pulled out injured.
Today, I’m almost ready to say he’s back. He’s been owning the tournament so far – except getting robbed by the judges against Toyonoshima. Today he secured his winning record in a scrappy bout with Yoshikaze. Yoshikaze’s mistake was retreating. He seems to dominate when moving forward. Okinoumi gave him no opening. Honestly, I don’t want to see Okinoumi set himself up for another March pounding.
Ikioi has been doing his best to avoid a repeat of last January. He was one of the worst performers of last year’s New Year bloodbath but this year might not be much better. After a decent first week, with its brutal, top-heavy schedule, he does look hurt and is likely only a fraction of his peak capability. Retreating today against Shohozan, he had no ability to escape.
The yusho race heats up tomorrow with undefeated Kotoshogiku facing undefeated Hakuho. Kotoshogiku looks like the best hope the Japanese have had at a title in quite a while. Harumafuji remains one loss back.