By day 13, all rikishi have completed their 6th bout, so day 13 and onward is when decisions are made – kachi koshi, make koshi, and of course, yusho. There are also career decisions to be made.
The day starts with none other than the yusho decider match. It’s a curious choice of time, as only hardcore Hattorizakura fans and the like are yawning around in the spectator seats at this time. On the left we have the recovering Murata. On the right, Omura, from Michinoku beya. Both 6-0. Winner is yusho.
I advise against blinking.
The gyoji goes from “hakkeyoi” to “shobuari” rapidly, and only manages to stick half a “nokotta” between them. I guess Murata is not a Jonokuchi-level rikishi. He is, however, the Jonokuchi champion for Aki 2019.
We have three bouts with Yamahibiki rikishi today. First, we start with a bout in which both rikishi are 4-2. On the left, Amamidake (Yamahibiki), on the right, Mishima (Naruto).
This is why you have butsukari sessions. Mishima pushes the bigger Amamidake (yes, he is from the same remote island as Daiamami and Meisei) out, oshidashi, and finishes 5-2.
The next bout also features a Yamahibiki guy against a Naruto guy. In this case, it’s Yabugasaki on the left, against our one-to-watch Sakurai on the right. Both are 5-1.
Sakurai has his work cut out for him here. He ends the bout thoroughly exhausted, but finishes the basho 6-1.
Our third Yamahibiki guy, Yukiumi – on the left – faces our biggish Toma. Both 5-1.
Bye bye, Yukiumi! Toma finishes 6-1 in his strongest basho yet. He will probably land in the mid-60 level in Sandanme next basho.
Now we move into a yusho contention match. Note that due to the respective sizes of these divisions, the eliminations in Jonidan and Sandanme usually produce three guys with 6-0 in each of them. What happens then – barring same-heya situations – is that the bottom two zensho rikishi from Jonidan face each other. The top zensho from Jonidan faces the bottom zensho rikishi from Sandanme, and the top two zensho rikishi in Sandanme meet each other. That means that, depending on the result of the inter-division bout, we have one division with a yusho winner, and another with an expected playoff on senshuraku.
So our next bout is that “bottom zensho from Jonidan” bout. On the left, Aomihama from Dewanoumi beya. On the right, Sadanohana from Sakaigawa beya. Both 6-0.
Aomihama takes this one. And at this point, they don’t know if this was a yusho bout or not.
We have a couple of Darwin matches here, where both wrestlers are 3-3. Winner kachi-koshi, loser make-koshi. First, Matsuda from Minezaki beya on the left, opposite Kotoryusei (Sadogatake).
Matsuda wins by nichonage. What’s more, it’s his second nichonage this basho. That’s when you trip your opponent by placing your leg behind his knees. This one looks stunning, literally. Nice sportsmanship, though.
So Matsuda is kachi-koshi, and Kotoryusei is make-koshi.
THe next 3-3 match features our veteran Homarefuji on the left, vs. Kotorikuzan on the right.
Homarefuji is kachi-koshi…
… and this has been his last bout.
Some Isegahama members are waiting down the hana michi, and he receives flowers. Homarefuji surprises the fans and decides to retire. The papers say he will take up a kabu and become an oyakata. I doubt he has the funds to buy one, so it will probably be on loan. Isegahama loses yet another of its “Golden age” rikishi, and there will be a third oyakata in the house (presumably).
The next bout gives me the sads as well. It’s a bout between Hagane, from Izutsu beya. Earlier in the day his heya mate Kakutaiki lost his match and went make-koshi. Hagane is already kachi-koshi with 4-2. On the left, he faces Hodaka from Onoe beya, who, Josh informs us, is a new “one to watch”.
Indeed, one to watch. It’s Hodaka’s win, and he is 5-2. Hagane settles for 4-3.
The sad point is that this is the last time the PA announces a rikishi from “Izutsu beya”. Next basho, who knows how these rikishi will be announced.
OK, on a lighter note, here is the continuation of the Jonidan yusho saga. On the left, we have Motobayashi, Jd16e, having a Sandanme bout against Fujinowaka from Fujishima beya. Both are 6-0. Should Motobayashi win this, there will be a playoff between him and Aomihama on senshuraku. If he loses, the playoff is between Fujinowaka and whoever wins the other Sandanme yusho match.
Motobayashi leaves no room for doubt. He wants the consecutive yusho. He will have to fight for it with Aomihama on Senshuraku. Fujinowaka finishes 6-1.
So now we have Tsushida (Tokitsukaze, left), facing Sadanohikari (Sakaigawa, right) for the Sandanme yusho – now that Fujinowaka has been eliminated.
Kachiage, hatakikomi. Sadanohikari wins the yusho. Sadanohikari is Sakaigawa’s foreigner (Mongolian). He’s probably going to be in Makushita next basho, which will be a first for him. Not all Mongolians are Asashoryu clones, I guess.
There was another intai today in Makushita – Irie from Tamanoi beya finished with a win, and retired. I don’t have his bout video, but I have one showing his heya mates waiting for him at the back of the hana-michi:
Not many lower-division rikishi have the heya’s sekitori show up for their send-off when they retire. Azumaryu shows up, and tears up.
Going back to the match descriptions, let’s start with Midorifuji, who is going to kiss the Makushita joi goodbye for a while, with 1-5. He fights Bushozan, from Fujishima beya, who was kyujo for a week, and is trying to salvage his last match. Midorifuji is on the left. This is just the replay.
This is a bit more like what we were used to seeing from Isegahama’s deputy pixie in previous basho, but it’s too little, too late for this basho (not that the heya’s head pixie is doing any better). He improves to 2-5, though, and Bushozan perhaps should not have come back from his kyujo.
Two make-koshi rikishi, Asabenkei on the left and Masutoo on the right, are trying to minimize their make-koshi.
This looks like a copy of the Sadanohikari bout we saw earlier – kachiage, followed by hatakikomi. Asabenkei is injured, though I’m not sure it’s from this bout.
Now we have a series of Darwin matches. First, Prince Naya, on the left, vs. Tsurubayashi from Kise beya, on the right.
This looks more like Naya’s sumo style. He has his kachi-koshi and will continue in the top 20 next basho.
In the same situation, we have Shiraishi from Tamanoi beya against Fukuyama from Fujishima beya. Shiraishi is on the left.
At least this time it wasn’t a henka. I think we have found the heir to Chiyoshoma’s throne of everybody’s favorite villain.
Next decider bout – Tanabe (Kise, left) vs. Genki (Onomatsu, right).
Genki wins this one, and I’m beginning to like the “Former Tortoise”, although there was nothing particularly acrobatic in this match.
Moving up to the relaxed 4-2 margin, we have the Cannon man, Kotoozutsu, on the left, facing Futagoyama’s Roga on the right.
I’d have expected a former high-school yokozuna to be a bit more assertive, but well, whatever works (except a henka!).
And now, the highlight bout of the day, the one we have all been waiting for. On the left, we have the former Ozeki, recovering Kaiju Terunofuji. On the right, the Angry Badger with the square jaw, Chiyonokuni. Both promise to huff and then puff and then blow your house in. Or at least, they promise to fight for the Makushita yusho, which is what this match is all about. They are 6-0. The winner is yusho.
Now I should probably split the post into two columns, the one on the left for the Terunofuji fans who, like me, are wailing and gnashing their teeth. The one on the right for the Chiyonokuni fans, who rejoice with much ado about their hero’s prowess. Anyway, the best man seems to have won. Chiyonokuni seems to be in good working order. Terunofuji – well – in the match against Chiyootori he exposed a great weakness in his “slash” ability. This time, again, he can’t land a sashi, let alone a grip. His balance is actually good and he withstands the tsuppari and answers with some of his own – including a series of harite, which purturb the Badger not at all. His solution for this is to try to grab those annoying arms, but this runs him out of dohyo.
To the papers, Terunofuji says he lost control of himself. He says he got annoyed by Chiyonokuni’s slaps and lost his composure. Also, that he wasn’t aware that he was being pushed backwards. I’m not sure why Kuni’s tsuppari should have annoyed him. Unlike himself, Kuni was aiming for the chest rather than the face.
One of my Twitter followers said that Terunofuji has no fundamentals and is too used to rely on his strength, and I think he is right. Terunofuji stands appalingly upright, and yesterday he couldn’t do an ottsuke to save his life (they are less important in a tsuppari battle). He needs to do some work with Ajigawa oyakata. Or maybe go back to Johoku high school for the basics.
Anyway, congratulations to Chiyonokuni for the Makushita yusho.
Speaking of yusho, the schedulers are throwing the other leaders at Ikioi, as if this was Makuuchi. He is 10-2, and faces his runnerup, Kotonowaka, who is 9-3.
He wants that yusho… and now leads the rest by 2 wins, all alone at the top. Tomorrow he faces Takanosho, yet another chaser. If he wins that one, he has the yusho, if not, it will all be decided on senshuraku.