Welcome to the final day of act 2 of our mock basho. Many readers will recall that we divide a basho into 3 sections, or “acts”, each with their own goals and processes to arrive at those goals. For act 2, we narrow the field to find out who has what it takes to compete for the yusho, and to start sorting the survivors from the damned. Sadly, as a fan, it seems that Ozeki Takakeisho has been sorted into the “Damned” pile as of day 10 after losing his match to Aoiyama. Takakeisho has been fighting hurt, and the primary source of his offensive sumo power, his thrusting, has been more or less shut down by a recurrent injury to his left pectoral muscles. This means that Takakeisho will appear as a Sekiwake / Ozeki hybrid (Ozekiwake) in the next banzuke, and will have a single chance to resume his Ozeki rank if he can score 10 or more wins. This is not a unique experience for young Takakeisho, who was injured in his first tournament as Ozeki, and went kyujo, likewise skipping the following tournament to recover. He returned in September 2019 for the Aki Basho, scoring 12 wins and taking the jun-yusho. We hope he can execute a similar feat this time.
The other event of note is yusho race leader Ishiura taking his first loss, to Sadanoumi, dropping him to 9-1, and bringing a huge pack of competent rikishi within striking range. It will be interesting to see if Ishiura can regroup going into act 3 and hold off 5 prior yusho winners, including two Yokozuna and an Ozeki, who are hot on his heels.
Mock Natsu Leaderboard
Leader – Ishiura
Chasers – Hakuho, Kakuryu, Asanoyama, Mitakeumi, Tokushoryu ,Sadanoumi, Nishikigi
Hunt Group – Chiyotairyu ,Takayasu
5 Matches Remain
Day 10 Matches
Nishikigi (8-2) defeats Tobizaru (1-9) Kimedashi – One of my favorites, Tobizaru, visits from Juryo to fill the banzuke gap. Sadly he is already deeply make-koshi and will have zero chance of making his top division debut. We have been waiting 10 days to see Nishikigi use his favorite move to win a match, and he really made his “blind man’s arm bar” hold pay today against the Flying Monkey. Nishikigi picks up win #8, and is kachi-koshi. I do hope this is the start of another Nishikigi hot streak.
Takayasu (7-3) defeats Chiyomaru (3-7) Oshidashi – Takayasu looked a bit more comfortable today, his right shoulder blast bounced harmlessly off of Chiyomaru, who pressed the attack in response. Takayasu managed to get his left hand past Chiyomaru’s defenses and applied maximum force to his chest. Forced to shift his weight, Chiyomaru took another blow from Takayasu’s right, and staggered back, to be thrust out by a second left.
Wakatakakage (5-5) defeats Shohozan (5-5) Oshitaoshi – A great high mobility battle that saw them shift between a battle of slaps to grappling. With Wakatakakage having a firm hold on Shohozan, he tried to move his head below Shohozan’s shoulders, I think in an attempt to shut off the periodic slaps to his face. After the 3rd, Wakatakakage seems to have gotten quite amped up, and drove forward as Shohozan’s left leg collapsed.
Kotoeko (5-5) defeats Shimanoumi (5-5) Hatakikomi – Shimanoumi bought a fast trip to examine the dirt after Kotoeko executes a beautiful hit and shift / mini-henka, catching Shimanoumi at full attack speed and with no room to recover.
Kotoshogiku (6-4) defeats Tochinoshin (2-8) Okuridashi – It was clear after day 3 that the former Ozeki was headed for a miserable tournament, and now Tochinoshin is make-koshi on day 10. Kotoshogiku captured him at the tachiai, and as it was clear the match was going for a loss, Tochinoshin tried to escape, but only managed to get turned around and shoved out from behind. Not sure how bad it will end for Tochinoshin, but I have my fears.
Kotoshoho (6-4) defeats Kaisei (3-7) Hatakikomi – Kotoshoho threw the kitchen sink into this match, grabbing any body part that he could lay hands on, and trying anything to disrupt Kaisei’s balance and forward motion. Kaisei had him on the run until an arm tug sent him too far forward, and Kotoshoho’s right hand behind his head put him to the dirt.
Kotoyuki (4-6) defeats Myogiryu (4-6) Hatakikomi – The Hatakikomi madness continues as Kotoyuki’s taped hands traded powerful slaps with Myogiryu, with Kotoyuki delivering plenty of punishment but not able to finish him off. As Myogiryu took a chance to drive inside, a taped hand forced his neck down, and sent him to the clay.
Sadanoumi (8-2) defeats Ishiura (9-1) Uwatenage – Ishiura hand an double inside grip at the tachiai, and superior body position. Was he drove forward he seemed to suffer a bit of traction troubles, and his left foot slid outward. Sadanoumi’s sumo sense went active immediately, and he rolled into the throw and finished the yusho race leader in a blink of an eye. Sadanoumi picks up his 8th win for kachi-koshi.
Tamawashi (4-6) defeats Terutsuyoshi (3-7) Kotenage – I really never want to see Tamawashi use a kotenage ever again, but every so often, he breaks it out again. Why this move is considered legitimate sumo is starting to puzzle me. The result today was not as crippling as it was to Takayasu, but post match it looks like Terutsuyoshi was sore.
Tokushoryu (8-2) defeats Kotonowaka (5-5) Shitatenage – Kotonowaka had a brilliant tachai, and had a fantastic hand hold on Tokushoryu at the first step. With Tokushoryu not yet in any kind of defensive stance, Kotonowaka tried to rapidly rotate and throw the Hatsu yusho winner, only to find his grip insufficient to move Tokushoryu’s massive body. As Kotonowaka poured more energy into the rotation, Tokushoryu drove forward and took him to the clay. I wanted to call this oshitaoshi, but it seems the Shimpan called it an under-arm throw. Thats 8 wins for Tokushoryu, and he’s kachi-koshi.
Enho (4-6) defeats Ikioi (2-8) Tsukiotoshi – Enho wins (yay!) but Ikioi is now make-koshi (boo!). We had a trademark Enho submarine tachiai, with him burying his face into a region somewhere north of Ikioi’s belt. Enho tried twice to start torque to get him off balance, but in the end drove forward and pushed against Ikioi’s chest to bring him down.
Hokutofuji (6-4) defeats Chiyotairyu (7-3) Yorikiri – I am happy to see Hokutofuji fighting well going into the final stretch of the basho. The tachiai was huge, and the clash reverberated through the empty Kokugikan. Hokutofuji’s right Hokutofuji got his left arm around Chiyotairyu and walked him out for win #6.
Kiribayama (4-6) defeats Ryuden (3-7) Uwatenage – Ryuden attempted to get a double inside grip against Kiribayama and found himself riding a throw. Ryuden is one loss away from make-koshi.
Takarafuji (6-4) defeats Takanosho (5-5) Uwatenage – Takanosho started this tournament red-hot, but has lost quite a bit of his fighting spirit through a series of disappointing losses. Today he found himself frustrated by Mr “Defend and Extend”, who shut down 3 offensive gambits, leaving Takanosho a bit low on stamina and searching for what to do next. Taking a step back to unweight Takanosho, Takarafuji rolled into the throw and sent his winded opponent down for his 5th loss.
Yutakayama (4-6) defeats Onosho (4-6) Oshidashi – A clash of two powerful oshi-zumo fighters, it was Onosho strong at the open, but we got to see some Yutakayama hug-n-chug action as he marched Onosho to the bales. Onosho was having none of it, and got his right hand inside and shoved powerfully, breaking contact. Yutakayama responses with a right hand thrust to the side of Onosho’s body, which sent him out. Onosho has great sumo instincts, but I wish he could take yoga or something to tune up that balance. The again if I had “Big Unit” Yutakayama knocking me about, I doubt I could keep my feet either.
Okinoumi (2-8) defeats Endo (2-8) Oshidashi – As is sometimes the case, Okinoumi’s sumo really starts to get good the match after he is safely make-koshi. Sadly that meant that Endo joined him in the 2-8 score group. I am hoping Endo can regroup before the next tournament, that Hakuho rematch really bothered him mentally, physically, or both.
Mitakeumi (8-2) defeats Shodai (5-5) Oshidashi – I am not sure how to type this, but.. ahem… Shodai got the better of this tachiai. He was fast, he was strong and he rocked Mitakeumi back. Mitakeumi died for a right hand inside position, and got it, but lost valuable ground. Shodai got his left hand on Mitakeumi’s neck, and suddenly the tadpole was struggling for offense. Mitakeumi threw everything into a double hand blast which broke contact, and Mitakeumi drove forward, forcing Shodai to retreat. The broke contact again, and Shodai found himself out of alignment with his opponent as Mitakeumi slammed into him from the side, planted his right hand under his chin and pushed forward for the win. Mitakeumi advances to 8-2 for a kachi-koshi.
Aoiyama (5-5) defeats Takakeisho (2-8) Hatakikomi – A battle of great sadness for me, and furthermore Big Dan Aoiyama cleaned him out without grabbing a hold of his belt. Aoiyama brought his arms up at the tachiai to raise the Ozeki up, and immediately slapped him down. This is possibly Aoiyama’s favorite gambit, and it was sad that Takakeisho had no counter for it. I guess this underscores that he’s hurt. That make-koshi and demotion to Ozeki-wake for him.
Asanoyama (8-2) defeats Kagayaki (6-4) Uwatenage – Admit it, we sumo fans love to see Asanoyama hit “that pose”. It means his opponent is more or less doomed. I recall having the same reaction to when Kisenosato would go into his crab pose and start to scuttle about like some combative mass of angry seafood. Kagayaki got a solid left hand outside grip, but like that was ever going to matter. It only set the leverage point for Asanoyama’s throw, and throw he did! Asanoyama now at 8 wins and kachi-koshi.
Hakuho (8-2) defeats Daieisho (5-5) Oshidashi – Daieisho gets his 1 per customer right hand face slap, followed by a left hand thrust to his chest. Daieisho lunged forward to attack, but Hakuho deftly caught him and thrust him out. 8 wins for the dai-Yokozuna as well.
Kakuryu (8-2) defeats Abi (5-5) Yorikiri – Kakuryu survived the a single double arm volley from Abi, and was able to move inside and capture Abi’s mawashi. Suddenly robbed of his primary, and perhaps only offense, he was an easy mark for the Yokozuna to quickly scoot out of the ring before some stroke of luck kept Abi in the match. Kakuryu also improves to 8-2 for kachi-koshi on day 10.