Good Sumo, Leaderboard Unchanged
There was a lot of great sumo action during day 11, and in the and of the day the basho is still waiting for Kisenosato to choke. Most sumo fans (myself included) hope and pray every time he steps in the ring that this time, he will stand fast and carry the day. But history teaches not to hold much hope until about 20 minutes after day 15 is done.
Incredibly enough, Ichinojo is still part of the pack in second place – tied with Hakuho. To underscore the bizzaro nature of Hatsu this year, we are now up to starting day 12, and the yusho race is still pretty much wide open. His opponent day 11 was the battered Osunaarashi, who had Ichinojo hand him his losing record and demotion today. Ichinojo is fighting pretty well now, after a somewhat lethargic start. If he can continue this intensity through a few more tournaments, he will be a real force.
Likewise Sokokurai, also tied for second place with Hakuho, delivered a fantastic bout against Takakeisho, who if fighting better than his 4-7 record would indicate. This is the big big news coming out of Hatsu – there seems to be a real power and skill surge in the lower and middle ranks of Makuuchi, and it is in sharp contrast to the weakness that is plaguing the Ozeki and Yokozuna ranks.
Another example, that blistering battle between Hokutofuji and Chiyotairyu. Chiyotairyu really needs to bring some new tactics to his sumo. It seemed the only thing he wants to try is pulling and slapping down his opponents. Hokutofuji, on the other hand, was damn impressive. He showed outstanding balance and ring sense under Chiyotairyu’s attack. Hokutofuji took his time and waited for an opening, then attacked. Both of these rikishi are college competitors, but Hokutofuji has been outstanding this basho.
But there was more, Takanoiwa (also tied with Hakuho for 2nd place) won a raging battle with Chiyoshoma. They bout covered the dohyo, with both men trying to throw each other repeatedly. Fantastic sumo from both.
Mitakeumi fever is gripping the Kokugikan, each day there seems to be a larger phalanx of Mitakeumi fans, all of them cheering their hearts out for him. Today Takekaze threw all of his tricks into the bout, and Mitakeumi did not fall for any of the side step or slap down attempts. Mitakeumi just kept pushing the attack, and moving forward. Mitakeumi earned his kachi-koshi today, so it’s time to see how many wins he can rack up.
Takayasu also hit kachi-koshi today in his win over Shodai, which was quite a one sided match. It’s now time to see if he can get to 10 or 11 wins and start another Ozeki campaign.
But the big match was Kisenosato vs Endo. I know most fans thought the Dump Truck got into trouble, and maybe he did. But I watch that match in awe of that win. Endo had the moves and mechanics to beat him, but when it came time for Endo to close the deal he could not. There was just too much Kisenosato to move. At time Kisenosato shows almost perfect defensive form, and it’s a thing of beauty. It’s kind of amazing to watch him lower his center of gravity to make himself immobile and yet remain highly combative. Props to Endo for having the mechanics, but not the leverage to move Kise.
Hatsu Leader Board
Leader – Kisenosato
Hunt Group – Hakuho, Takanoiwa, Sokokurai, Ichinojo
Chasers – Goeido, Takayasu, Mitakeumi, Hokutofuji
4 Matches Remain