I would almost dare to say that day 7 represented a return to normal for a moment, as the Ozeki corps rallied with great effect. Across the top division, the quality of sumo on day 7 was a noticeable improvement from the worrisome action of day 6. The match between Takayasu and Tamawashi was of great interest to Team Tachiai, and it did not disappoint.
Come back later today for our first look at the leaderboard, as we start to discuss the yusho race in the top division, and who if anyone can actually challenge Hakuho for the cup. Lower down the banzuke, Ikioi took his first loss of the tournament, but looks to be on track to storm his way back into the top division for January, to the cheers of his many fans. The man clearly has an iron will, and in spite of painful injuries he never stopped pushing to improve and return. Simply put, the man is an inspiration.
Kagayaki defeats Nishikigi – Again we see Kagayaki willing to grapple with his opponent, and again it works. The two trade advantage back and forth twice, but Kagayaki proves out the stronger. Maybe a positive change for “Mr Fundamentals”? At 5-2, Kagayaki is now officially having a good tournament.
Terutsuyoshi defeats Takanosho – Terutsuyoshi engages submarine mode with great effect, preventing Takanosho from generating any actual offense.
Chiyotairyu defeats Daishoho – Ok, Chiyotairyu battle hugs Daishoho and engages in gaburi-yori? Ok! I like it! It served Kotoshogiku well for a long time.
Ishiura defeats Daishomaru – Energetic henka! Frankly, I liked it, but I think Ishiura has used up his henka good will for Kyushu unless it’s really funny next time.
Chiyomaru defeats Kotoshogiku – As predicted, the mechanical and logistics problems of this match manifested themselves early, as Kotoshogiku attempted to go chest to chest with Chiyomaru, just to find his immense girth stopping his primary form of attack. Chiyomaru, who is always belly-forward, runs Kotoshogiku back to the bales, reverses and pulls for the win.
Shodai defeats Shohozan – Shohozan enthusiastically goes for Shodai’s face, leaving his chest wide open. After absorbing a good measure of Shohozan’s pugilistic offerings to his face, Shodai responds with force to Shohozan’s exposed chest. I know I struggle to find positives around Shodai, but he can take a lot of damage and keep fighting. A trait he shares with Hokutofuji.
Kotoeko defeats Shimanoumi – I am delighted that we are finally seeing strong sumo from Kotoeko. The tachiai ended in stalemate, but with Kotoeki a bit lower and with better body position. He found workable armpit grips on Shimanoumi, then lifted and pushed.
Tsurugisho defeats Yutakayama – Yutakayama looked uncharacteristically off balance and disorganized today, and Tsurugisho masterfully exploited every mistake that Yutakayama made. The match ended with Yutakayama losing traction and falling face down into the clay. Hopefully he was not hurt, though he was slow to get up following the match.
Sadanoumi defeats Enho – Sadanoumi defeats power-pixie Enho by keeping him boxed in, and keeping his weight centered over his feet. If you want to see some really great sumo defense, watch Sadanoumi’s feet and hips during this match. He has an offensive plan, but his lower body is constantly on defense against whatever rapid, high torque / impulse move Enho might delivery. Enho tries to finish with a throw, but Sadanoumi masterfully contains it, and moves with Enho while containing him. Great work.
Onosho defeats Meisei – Second day in a row, Onosho goes chest to chest and employs his massive core strength to overpower his opponent. Oh my, welcome back. This was his first ever win over Meisei in 6 attempts, and frankly it looked quite solid. I am hopeful Onosho can get his 8 and we might see him compete in the joi-jin again for the first time in 2 years.
Endo defeats Ryuden – Blink and you will miss it! Ryuden is too far forward, and Endo rotates to his right and guides the charging Ryuden to the clay. Maybe not the plan Endo came to the match intending to use, but he took the opportunity and won.
Abi defeats Aoiyama – Battle of the mad-mashers, Abi forced Aoiyama to give ground almost immediately. As he was dropping back, it looks like Aoiyama decided he was in trouble, and tried a pull against Abi’s left arm, releasing forward pressure against Abi’s attack. That was all that it took to force Aoiyama from the dohyo, and for Abi to score his 4th win.
Asanoyama defeats Okinoumi – Asanoyama’s sumo keeps looking better almost daily. It really does give me hope for the future, but provides a stark contrast to the struggling veterans and long-time favorites. In a yotsu-zumo match, Okinoumi is no easy mark, but Asanoyama out-brawns him at every turn, while executing sumo in near text-book form.
Daieisho defeats Hokutofuji – This one was lost at the tachiai, as Hokutofuji was unable to get either a grip on Daieisho’s upper body, or an inside position to attack his chest. Daieisho was fast, strong and inside from the start, and Hokutofuji did not have room to plant his feet and defend. Great sumo today from Daieisho.
Mitakeumi defeats Kotoyuki – It makes me happy to see Mitakeumi rally today. He’s still not even close to 100%, but he attacked with force, but looked disorganized and off balance. With Mitakeumi’s sumo in shambles following that day 3 blow to the head, its a genuine concern that he might not make his 8.
Takayasu defeats Tamawashi – Speaking of rally, I have watched this match several times now, and you can see the moment that Takayasu catches fire, and suddenly that overwhelming power that has been absent for months roars into his body, and he attacks with fighting spirit. Yes, Tamawashi is the guy who damaged his elbow and left him struggling. Maybe he just got angry over that fact, and the anger powered him to “beast mode”, but the match closed with a hearty Takayasu tea-bagging that I must admit made me laugh. Happy birthday Tamawashi, here’s something for your celebration.
Takakeisho defeats Myogiryu – Speaking of reverting to form, check out the wave-action today from the Grand Tadpole! I had hoped it was still possible, and Myogiryu gets a full blast of it straight out of the tachiai. One, Two, you are through!
Hakuho defeats Takarafuji – Was it just me, or did Hakuho struggle in this match? He yielded a nearly perfect position to Takarafuji, who lives to stalemate his opponents until they do something clumsy, and then he makes them pay. Hakuho seems to realize this, and he clearly changes plans mid-fight. You can see the frustration on Hakuho’s face following the match, and it’s a bit troubling. Like so many athletes at the top of their game, he sees the signs most clearly that he is losing his edge.