Georgian Ozeki hopeful Tochinoshin won over Ichinojo during day 8 competition in Tokyo, handily besting him in a contest of strength that seemed to replay many of the themes of their Osaka battle of the burly. With this win, Tochinoshin improved to an impressive 8-0, remaining undefeated and securing his kachi-koshi at the earliest possible time. With every other top division man nursing at least one loss, he is in sole lead for the yusho going into the final week.
Tochinoshin’s eye seem to be firmly fixed to his prize, 11+ wins and a valid bid for elevation to sumo’s second highest rank – Ozeki. At present there are two Ozeki, one hurt and one struggling. This is a far cry from two years ago when eh sport had four Ozeki, most of whom were incredibly genki at any given moment. The process for his elevation would take place by decision by the Sumo Kyokai and the Yokozuna Deliberation Committee. There has been some speculation among the fans on how much of his January yusho would count towards an Ozeki promotion, as it did not happen when he was ranked in San’yaku. With his fantastic record thus far at Natsu, that question may have been set aside. He is now the bonafide man to beat for the Emperors cup, and a second yusho in 3 tournaments would be undeniable qualification for promotion.
With one week to go, we will see the scheduling committee try to throw everything they can into the mix, but there only remain one very questionable Ozeki, and two Yokozuna above him. Interestingly enough, in hind sight his fusensho win over Endo may turn out to have been pivotal to the race to the Emperor’s cup.