Last Man On The Banzuke -> Unstoppable Force. An amazing sumo Cinderella story.
3 Darwin matches on Senshuraku.
1 Emperor in attendance.
Azumaryu defeats Kaisei – I am kind of surprised that Kaisei lost this mawashi battle, but he falls to 7-7 and will face a Darwin match on day 15.
Tochiozan defeats Terutsuyoshi – An immediate slap-down as Tochiozan catches Terutsuyoshi too far forward.
Ikioi defeats Chiyomaru – Chiyomaru gets the early advantage with a powerful attack against Ikioi’s neck at the tachiai. But Ikioi rallies and advances with strength to shove Chiyomaru into make-koshi, while nominating Ikioi for a Darwin match on Sunday.
Chiyotairyu defeats Shimanoumi – Sumo’s resident thunder spirit delivers a sharp, strong tachiai. Shimanoumi had no chance against this sort of opening gambit, and accepts his make-koshi for Hatsu. Chiyotairyu goes on to face a Darwin match tomorrow.
Tsurugisho defeats Sadanoumi – The injured Tsurugisho is somehow steeling himself daily in an effort to continue to fight. Today he managed to get morozashi against Sadanoumi and muscle him out before that knee once again gave way and sent him to the clay. Sadanoumi is now, dissapointingly, make-koshi in spite of some brilliant matches this tournament.
Kotoshogiku defeats Ishiura – Career win #700 for the Kyushu bulldozer, and if lksumo’s math is correct (it nearly always is), he had enough wins to remain in the top division for Osaka. Ishiura came in a bit too low, and found it tough to generate forward pressure against Kotoshogiku, who quickly realized his advantage and was on the march.
Kiribayama defeats Aoiyama – Kiribayama racks up win #10 in his debut top-division basho, sending “Big Dan” Aoiyama to double digit losses. Aoiyama has struggled this January, and I think it’s probably due to an undisclosed injury. We hope he heals up and returns genki in March. This fresh crop of rikishi wont bludgeon themselves to defeat, after all.
Takanosho defeats Okinoumi – Well, now both of them are 7-7, and face Darwin matches on day 15. Okinoumi opens strongly, but his repeated attempts to grab Takanosho’s head and pull him down threw the match away.
Tokushoryu defeats Shodai – Wow, what a match! Shodai starting with a weak tachiai? Check! Tokushoryu going chest to chest? Check! Shodai using his superior size and strength to seize control of the match, you bet! Tokushoryu once again defying imagination by performing ballet moves at the edge that should not be possible for a man of his size and somewhat comical body shape? Oh yes. Tokushoryu is now the sole leader of the yusho race.
Tamawashi defeats Kotoeko – Both of these men are having a terrible basho. Kotoeko could not even muster a reasonable defense, and just found the nearest exit point. Both of them need to heal up and return ready to fight in March.
Hokutofuji defeats Kagayaki – I really like that Kagayaki was able to get a half step ahead at the tachiai, he seems to be working on improving his speed. But his hips were high. Hokutofuji, in spite of superior body position at the tachiai, could not repel Kagayaki’s opening attack, and had to circle away. It was at this point where Kagayaki’s body position got a bit cattywompus, and Hokutofuji switched to attack mode. I am actually more impressed with Hokutofuji’s sumo instincts once again reacting at a speed almost too fast for video to catch to his opponents mistake.
Ryuden defeats Mitakeumi – Mitakeumi drops to 7-7, and would have been given a Darwin match, save that there were an odd number of Darwin candidates for the torikumi. The one time future Ozeki’s body has really had a tough year, starting with the partial kyujo for a knee injury last January that I am quite sure is still hampering his performance. Ryuden is now at 10 wins, good stuff, shin-Ikioi!
Yutakayama defeats Endo – Endo wastes precious moments at the tachiai working for his preferred left hand frontal grip, just to find Yutakayama blasting away at his upper body. By the time Endo response to Yutakayama’s oshi-attacks, Endo is being dismantled a piece at a time. A quick Endo rally transitions into another attempt at a belt grip, and another punishing volley from Yutakayama. Even gymnastics at the edge of the ring could not save Endo today, as Yutakayama completely dominates him. With 10 wins, I am expecting Yutakayama to return to the joi-jin and be a force in Osaka.
Onosho defeats Myogiryu – Onosho takes 8 of his last 10 matches, and like he did at Aki, he rallied from a terrible start to a kachi-koshi. I nominate him as the official kami of ring-rust now. I am guessing he too will join the joi-jin for Osaka. Don’t screw it up this time, Onosho!
Takarafuji defeats Abi – Points to Abi for getting this far at Hatsu given the problems he had pre-basho. It shows a lot of guts and toughness to fight for 14 days with that damaged knee. Mistake 1 was that your sumo depends on double arm thrusts against your opponents neck, which Takarafuji donated years ago in the relief effort for the great Tohoku quake. But Takarafuji’s “defend and extend” strategy found you too far forward with one of those incredibly long arms carelessly adrift (mistake 2). To him it looked like a natural handle, and he pulled it.
Daieisho defeats Enho – Enho’s submarine tachiai blew up today, and he was never able to offer much resistance to Daieisho’s attacks. Thankfully he is already kachi-koshi, so we will see more of him fighting the top rikishi in sumo in March.
Takayasu defeats Tochinoshin – Takayasu went left hand outside at the tachiai and rapidly pivoted to his left. This forced Tochinoshin to rotate rapidly on his damaged right knee, and the expected result was obtained. I have no sympathy here, as Takayasu has had every last chonmage wearing so-and-so taking their sumo frustrations out on that sore left elbow every day for the past 2 weeks. Hey, injured giants! If you step on the dohyo, it’s going to hurt.
Asanoyama defeats Takakeisho – I will make no secret that I really was hoping that Takakeisho would take this one and force a complex final day yusho puzzle. But instead Asanoyama was able to get past the thrusting attack and get a hand hold. I was quite impressed that not only did Takakeisho return the gambit, but nearly made him pay for it. The Grand Tadpole still has improvements to make, but this new yotsu attack gambit is most interesting. I think with a win tomorrow, Ozeki talk for Asanoyama might be back in fashion.
Shohozan defeats Goeido – The Shohozan matta trick is really stale, and smells like the interior of an izakaya at 2:00 AM. Watch the match in slow motion, you can see that Shohozan makes sure Goeido’s weight, and a good amount of torque is on that damages left ankle. Yeah, he should not be testing it like that, but Goeido made the decision to fight even though its probably not taking the strain well any more.