Day 2 was all about balance, I would guess. Many matches were decided when an opponent focused on working to pull down a rikishi who kept his weight centered, and his stance wide. The pullers overwhelmingly paid the price today.
With Hakuho out of the tournament with a broken finger on his right hand, the idea of what a week 2 yusho race might look like gets a lot more interesting. It’s clear that Goeido’s ankle is not bothering him right now, and Tamawashi seems to be back to his super-genki form. For a host of reasons, Aki tends to be my favorite basho, as frequently everyone seems to be healthy and in fighting form.
Yutakayama defeats Takagenji – Takagenji threw everything he had into this match, but extended his string of losses as Yutakayama was relentless. Yutakayama got his hips squared and his forward pressure centered early, and although Takagenji did a masterful job of trying to pivot for a throw, but Yutakayama kept driving forward and controlled the match.
Daiamami defeats Tochiozan – Tochiozan continues to look tenative. He’s lost none of his excellent sumo skill, but cannot muster the strength and stamina to match the young, fresh talent right now. Daiamami showcases this by staying in the fight, wearing Tochiozan down.
Ishiura defeats Tsurugisho – Fluid shift to the left at the tachiai by Ishiura, beautifully executed, puts Ishiura behind Tsurugisho. Ishiura hits the spin cycle and Tsurugisho has no chance to do anything but try to enjoy the ride.
Azumaryu defeats Toyonoshima – Another battle where I think stamina played a role, with Toyonoshima running out of energy following a drive to take Azumaryu to the edge. Azumaryu played it cool, waited out Toyonoshima and rolled him to the clay.
Kagayaki defeats Shohozan – Kagayaki matches (at least the good ones) are masterful displays of disciplined sumo fundamentals. Then there is today where he had to contend with Shohozan, where the focus was to keep Shohozan as close to in front of him as possible and keep moving.
Nishikigi defeats Daishoho – Endurance match, which Nishikigi seems to have a knack for. He wore Daishoho down in a protracted yotsu battle, and claimed his second straight victory.
Sadanoumi defeats Onosho – Onosho has lost none of his frantic form of oshi sumo, but it seems his knees are far from back to healthy. At least twice he could have finished Sadanoumi, but just could not transmit enough power to ground to move Sadanoumi out. This could be a rough basho for Onosho.
Enho defeats Meisei – As a sumo fan, I feel spoiled now watching Enho. It’s a daily dose of WTF sumo, where for the second day in a row we get to see Enho use his entire body as an integrated combat system. The finishing shitatenage was a thing of beauty, once again demonstrating angular momentum exquisitely.
Okinoumi defeats Terutsuyoshi – Terutsuyoshi perhaps thought he could do the same, but Okinoumi was having none of it. He kept Terutsuyoshi centered and focused center-mass. The finishing move was a forceful thrust to the chest that put Terutsuyoshi in the crowd. Nicely done.
Kotoyuki defeats Takarafuji – I am starting to thing there is something to this rebuild Kotoyuki. Granted, Takarafuji can be hit-or-miss, but Kotoyuki looked stronger, more focused than I remember previously.
Shimanoumi defeats Kotoshogiku – In the roster of “can’t generate forward pressure”, we find dear old Kotoshogiku, whose knees are likewise an ad-hoc collection of damaged tissue. Kotoshogiku gets the inside position at the tachiai, but can’t make anything of it due to Shimanoumi’s excellent hand position, and Kotoshogiku’s lack of pressure.
Myogiryu defeats Kotoeko – It’s over in an instant, all down to Myogiryu’s superior tachiai and forward drive.
Tamawashi defeats Chiyotairyu – Where was this version of Tamawashi in Nagoya? This looks like that same fellow who took the Natsu yusho.
Shodai defeats Ryuden – Shodai yet again turns in another “what the hell was that?” win. Yes, weak tachiai from Shodai, but he somehow turns a bad body position into a left hand inside grip. As with day 1, break and escape from Shodai confounds his opponent, and somehow leaves Ryuden on the defensive. It’s messy, odd-ball sumo but it somehow got the job done.
Endo defeats Tomokaze – Tomokaze twice tried to pull Endo, which was a big rookie mistake. Endo was expertly keeping his weight centered over the arches of his feet, and Tomokaze was simply giving ground to a highly skilled opponent.
Mitakeumi defeats Daieisho – Another match where balance was the deciding factor. Daieisho put massive amount of energy into his attack and controlled the match, keeping Mitakeumi on the run. But Daieisho progressively kept extending his balance further and further forward, allowing Mitakeumi to apply the tsukiotoshi at the edge.
Takakeisho defeats Aoiyama – Huge credit to Takakeisho for knowing what to do here, and executing it. Aoiyama tried at least three times to pull down Takakeisho, but Takakeisho kept his hips low, his weight centered, his feet wide. Still no “wave action” attack from Takakeisho, but I think has he gains confidence we may see his primary weapon.
Goeido defeats Ichinojo – oh yeah, Goeido looking sharp in September. Hakuho benched. I have good feeling about this basho possibly turning into a multi-way barnyard brawl. If we have a strong / wide leaderboard coming out of the middle weekend, I expect Goeido (if he can keep that ankle healthy) to be in the thick of the hunt.
Asanoyama defeats Tochinoshin – It’s painful to watch Tochinoshin right now. It’s clear that knee is trashed, and he’s probably in no shape to compete. Asanoyama’s sumo continues to mature, and if he can stay healthy we can expect some good things from him in 2020, I predict.
Kakuryu defeats Hokutofuji – As expected, Big K waits for Hokutofuji to over-extend and over-commit, then puts him down. Hokutofuji went 1-1 against Yokozuna for Aki, an excellent mark.