The top division men decided to step up the tempo heading into the second week, with outstanding sumo from the Asanoyama vs Abi match frankly one of the more amazing matches I have seen this tournament. Likewise the “over the top” effort Enho delivers every day is possibly an inspiration to every other competitor in sumo.
The headline has to be that as predicted, yusho race leader Okinoumi tasted clay for the first time today, though I am not really sure that Ryuden did that much to win. But the race is opening up, and this may be a mad scramble to the finish.
Day 10 looks like the two leaders are back to fighting lower-ranked opponents, which means that the schedulers are saving the matches we know are coming for later in the basho. Fine by me, but I still think Okinoumi has a more than 50/50 chance of taking it all the way to the cup.
Wakatakakage defeats Toyonoshima – Wakatakakage latched on to Toyonoshima’s forearm and took him on the merry-go-round. When it was done, Wakatakakage had him disrupted enough that a simple shove put him over the bales. Toyonoshima now make-koshi, and I would guess at risk of returning to Juryo.
Takagenji defeats Tsurugisho – Everyone thought this was a matta except the goyji, and it made for an odd match. But in spite of his poor start, Takagenji shows that he has Tsurugisho’s number.
Tochiozan defeats Nishikigi – Man, hear that crunch at the tachiai? That’s the sound of quality sumo (or injury). Nishikigi employs his favorite double arm-lock hold which has its normal effect of making the receiver shrug to escape and naturally raising their hips. But Tochiozan has played this game for years, and secures an escape that leads to a quick exit for Nishikigi. Skill and experience carry the day.
Shohozan defeats Ishiura – Ishiura tries to submarine, but comes in too low and hits the deck. Shohozan, for a moment, looks surprised and worried, but Ishiura is ok. 2 more wins for both men to reach the safety of 8.
Azumaryu defeats Enho – Enho gets an early advantage, and starts loading a throw against Azumaryu. Azumaryu holds on for all he is worth, and circles away to shut down the throw. But try as he might Azumaryu can’t seem to shake Enho’s latch on Azumaryu’s mawashi. The match ends with an abisetaoshi, which is really about what you need to do to get that little guy to let go of your crotch. The gyoji is not sure what he just saw, and timidly gives the gumbai to Enho, but I know, you know and he knows it’s monoii time. The slow motion replay is even less conclusive – what a finish! The gumbai is overruled, and Azumaryu takes the win. Tough luck Enho, that was incredible sumo. As Josh and I discussed on the podcast, the crowd is going crazy during this match. Frankly, Enho is consistently bringing the most exciting sumo to this basho, and he’s doing it every day. The guy is a treasure. Keep in mind, if he stays healthy, this guy is just going to get better.
Yutakayama defeats Sadanoumi – Sadanoumi gets a great inside position at the tachiai, and moves Yutakayama into reverse. But in a fantastic move, Yutakayama circles to his left and gets behind Sadanoumi and pushes him to the clay. Excellent recovery.
Kotoyuki defeats Kagayaki – The fierce version of Kotoyuki was back again today, and although Kagayaki opened strong, he could only drive Kotoyuki back for a moment before the Sadogatake man responded with gusto. Freeze frame, if you can, on Kotoyuki drive forward. Note the excellent body position, but also note just how good Kagayaki’s feet are planted. Kagayaki’s main weakness – his hips are Highland his weight is about 25cm forward of his toes. Kotoyuki lifts and pushes with great effect and puts Kagayaki over the bales.
Daishoho defeats Terutsuyoshi – Terutsuyoshi gets to start the match under his terms, but locked into a yotsu match with Daishoho, he struggles to get leverage to move the much bigger man. While Terutsuyoshi struggles for leverage with his right hand grip, Daishoho lands a left hand outside and swings Terutsuyoshi out. Terutsuyoshi is close to make-koshi now, but he should be safe from relegation to Juryo this time out.
Kotoeko defeats Onosho – The two trade the initiative, moving back and forth across the dohyo, but I really liked seeing Kotoeko using some gaburi-yori in there. But after both of them have their turn, they get to the south west corner and try to throw each other, with Kotoeko getting the better stance. Very balanced match.
Meisei defeats Kotoshogiku – Some fans will be frustrated with this match, but please keep in mind that Kotoshogiku is no longer an Ozeki because his knees are in terrible shape. This manifests itself in weakness delivering forward pressure, and today is a showcase for that sad problem. Meisei gave him the preferred setup for the hug-n-chug, but Kotoshogiku could not deliver any power to execute. Meisei now kachi-koshi, picking up his 8th win.
Takarafuji defeats Shimanoumi – Shimanoumi put all of his effort into an armpit attack against Takarafuji, which seems to have little effect. But it costs him position and initiative, which Takarafuji claims, changing the terms of the match and winning.
Ryuden defeats Okinoumi – The yusho leader gets his first loss, though to me it seems more like a slippiotoshi than hikiotoshi (hat tip to Kintamayama). The loss came as Okinoumi seemed to lose traction while closing distance to a badly off balance Ryuden to press the attack. No matter, with Okinoumi’s first loss, the yusho race expands.
Aoiyama defeats Chiyotairyu – That’s what we were missing! Aoiyama returns to his winning form with that double thrust / V-Twin attack mode that Chiyotairyu struggles to withstand. I would love to know what Aoiyama can bench press. I would guess 1.4 Ichinojo.
Hokutofuji defeats Daieisho – Folks may scoff at any thought that the mawashi change had an effect on Hokutofuji, but it seems to have given him a fresh mindset. Sometimes making such a change can provide the mind a very useful break-away point, and perhaps that is what happened for him, but that’s 2 in a row since the change. As with day 8, we see his lower body operating with a surprising degree of independence from any punishment his upper body sustains. I think this is one of the keys to why Hokutofuji interests me to the level he does. He uses his body in a somewhat unusual way in quite a few matches, but especially the ones he wins. Go watch his footwork.
Asanoyama defeats Abi – Wow, just WOW. I tend to say Abi rains tsuppari like a summer rainstorm, but today he was in typhoon mode. But even more impressively, Asanoyama somehow stayed on his feet, bending perilously but remaining upright. Abi circles behind Asanoyama, grabs his mawashi. Dear readers, this is lethal positioning in sumo, but Asanoyama escapes. Asanoyama is now stumbling, and Abi once again closes in for the win, but with Abi’s hand at his throat, Asanoyama has the sumo sense to grab Abi’s mawashi and pivot him out. With these two in the upper ranks, the future of sumo looks like a lot of fun.
Takakeisho defeats Tamawashi – The Grand Tadpole now just needs 3 to return to Ozeki. The critical moment comes at the second merge, following the tachiai. Tamawashi goes for Takakeisho’s head, and leaves his chest wide open. Big mistake in most cases, but Tamawashi has his feet set, and the thrust launches Takakeisho back. The clash again, but each time Tamawashi leaves his chest open, and Takakeisho does what he does best.
Mitakeumi defeats Tomokaze – For a brief moment, we saw Tomokaze doing sumo in a forward gear, but for whatever reason, once he had Mitakeumi on his heels, he chose to try and pull. Well, that’s not really something that you can do with Mitakeumi’s super low center of gravity, and in that brief moment, he turned over control to Mitakeumi, and locked in his own defeat. Tomokaze repeatedly tried to set up a pull, leaving his chest exposed and fair game for Mitakeumi’s osha-attacks.
Tochinoshin defeats Endo – I get it that Tochinoshin is badly hurt, and can’t do actual sumo. He’s on the knife’s edge to losing Ozeki rank, but this was an ugly henka that I am sure a lot of fans will not soon forget. Sometimes henka is used to skillfully exploit an opponents tendency to get too far forward. This one was a desperate declaration of insufficiency to face Endo in direct combat. I think a future match between Tochinoshin and Endo will feature some fascinating payback. This loss pushes Endo into a third loss, now 2 behind the co-leaders.
Goeido defeats Shodai – When Goeido is on his sumo, it’s a sight to behold. After a brief struggle for arm position at the tachiai, Goeido power-shoves Shodai into next week.