Two of the leaders took losses today, narrowing the yusho front runner pack to 3. Both rikishi (Asanoyama and Tokushoryu) had prior yusho experience, so we are once again thinking through the possibility of yet another first time yusho winner hoisting the Emperor’s Cup this weekend. One time sole leader Ishiura would seem to have a fair shot at taking it into day 15, but I wonder if the pressure will erode his concentration and focus. There is a strong crowd, including Yokozuna Hakuho 1 win behind, but getting all 3 leaders to drop 1 match in the last 3 days may be a tall order.
Then there is Mitakeumi, who has not one but two prior yusho, and should he manage to prevail would carve a nice little niche in sumo history, especially if he is never able to put together an Ozeki run. At the end of day 12, he is already 10-2, with a possible 13-2 yusho not out of the question. His March score was 10-5, giving him a very achievable 10-5 goal for the next tournament. With Takakeisho already at least temporarily out of the Ozeki ranks, could sumo soon have another shin-Ozeki? I am looking forward to his final 3 matches. Just maybe Mitakeumi has finally make the step change we have been waiting to see.
Mock Natsu Leaderboard
Leaders – Mitakeumi, Ishiura, Sadanoumi
Chasers – Hakuho, Asanoyama, Tokushoryu, Chiyotairyu
Hunt Group – Kakuryu, Takayasu, Kotoshogiku, Nishikigi
3 Matches Remain
Day 12 Matches
Shohozan (6-6) defeats Nishikigi (8-4) Oshidashi – Happy to see “Big Guns” Shohozan back in form, on the move and delivering blow after blow to his opponent. Sadly this is 2 losses in a row for Nishikigi, I did enjoy him being in the chaser group, and I had hoped he could maintain that position into the final weekend, but Shohozan slapped him around like wad of pizza dough in Chicago.
Takayasu (8-4) defeats Shimanoumi (5-7) Oshidashi – A solid day for Takayasu, as he marks his kachi-koshi with his 8th win. He’s not moving well, and after that shoulder blast at the tachiai, he got a very well placed left hand thrust against Shimanoumi’s chest to do most of the work for the match. I think the knee is in bad shape again, and with 8 wins he may go kyujo before day 15.
Wakatakakage (7-5) defeats Tochinoshin (2-10) Oshidashi – A heartbreaking win against former Ozeki Tochinoshin. Tochinoshin had a solid start, and rather than spend any time trying to get a belt grip, he just used his impressive upper body strength to try to strike Wakatakakage down with a massive left – right lateral thrust combo. But when Tochinoshin went to repeat the move, Wakatakakage was able to grab Tochinoshin’s right arm, and advance. Unable to apply forward pressure with that bandaged right knee, he was forced to retreat, and a moment later suffer his 10th loss.
Kotoshogiku (8-4) defeats Kaisei (3-9) Oshitaoshi – Why not make it 2 former Ozeki kachi-koshi, as Kotoshogiku racks up win #8 in a battle of giants. Kaisei locked in chest-to-chest immediately at the tachiai, and Kotoshogiku was unable to get any gaburi-yori attack ready, and was quickly wishing he still had functioning knees as Kaisei advanced. Three steps later, Kotoshogiku pivoted his right shoulder back, put his hand to Kaisei’s chest and shoved while pumping his hips forward, the power from his legs transmitted through his arm, and drove Kaisei to the clay.
Myogiryu (6-6) defeats Kotonowaka (6-6) Sukuinage – Kotonowaka hit first at the tachiai, and was rewarded with a deep left hand outside grip. Myogiryu countered by gripping Kotonowaka’s chest, pivoting to his left, raising Kotonowaka’s body and changing his balance to only Kotonowaka’s right foot. Kotonowaka knew what was coming, and put everything into disrupting the throw and returning his left foot to the clay. Myogiryu patiently stepped back, and unbalanced Kotonowaka again, but this time dropped his hips and rotated for a brilliant sukuinage. One for the highlight reels.
Tamawashi (5-7) defeats Kotoyuki (5-7) Tsukidashi – In any slapping or thrusting battle, Kotoyuki can usually give as much as he receives. Kotoyuki’s tachiai was a bit soft and late today, a mistake that Tamawashi exploited with skill, delivering a combo to Kotoyuki’s neck and chest to start the match. Kotoyuki worked to swat him away from an outside position, but Tamawashi had the inside track, and was operating at full power. There is still a chance that he can Tamawashi can make his 8, but he would need to win his remaining matches to do so.
Ikioi (3-9) defeats Kotoeko (5-7) Oshitaoshi – Kotoeko came in low at the tachiai, and was able to claim the inside position, landing 2 combos before Ikioi could really respond. Ikioi focused on getting his right hand inside, and past Kotoeko’s ottsuke, which broke through after a brief struggle. With his right hand firmly inside, Ikioi found Kotoeko’s armpit with his right, and applied a powerful thrust with his left, sending Kotoeko to loss number 7.
Kotoshoho (7-5) defeats Terutsuyoshi (3-9) Kotenage – I cringe when these guys lock that elbow and throw. I do wish it were not as common as it is, but here we see it again, today against Terutsuyoshi. That’s two days in a row (Tamawashi did it day 11) where a Kotenage was used to torque Terutsuyoshi’s left arm. Terutsuyoshi’s already deeply make-koshi, and headed worse. I just hope whatever damage is being done to that ligament can heal before the next tournament.
Sadanoumi (10-2) defeats Tokushoryu (9-3) Oshidashi – Both men had 9 wins at the start of the day, and a share of the leader in the yusho race. I had warned that 2020 would be in the time out corner if fan favorite Tokushoryu won a second yusho, and it seems to have worked. Tokushoryu tried his famous tsukiotoshi move at the bales, but could not get the rotation in before Sadanoumi’s superior velocity settled the matter. Taken down while he was pivoting, Tokushoryu fell with his knee rotating. He was wobbly getting up, and we hope he is ok.
Ryuden (5-7) defeats Chiyomaru (3-9) Yorikiri – Ryuden staves off make-koshi another day by outlasting Chiyomaru’s limited stamina, and somehow getting enough of a grip around that belly to make it work. Ryuden did seem winded at the end, understandable given how much mass he had to move.
Chiyotairyu (9-3) defeats Kagayaki (6-6) Okuridashi – Chiyotairyu knew there was little chance that Kagayaki would ever henka, or shift at the tachiai. In response we were given a full power cannonball launch from sumo’s thunder god, and Kagayaki took it square in the chest. Kagayaki barely kept his feet, and as he struggled to set up any meaningful defense Chiyotairyu turned him around and gave him a head start to the Ryogoku station of at least 20 feet.
Onosho (6-6) defeats Takarafuji (7-5) Yorikiri – Takarafuji’s initial deflection went to pieces as Onosho somehow found Takarafuji’s neck, which even the best mechanical engineers postulate may not exist. With a right hand at Takarafuji’s throat, and Onosho’s left hand across Takarafuji’s arm, it was a quick turn and a march forward for Onosho’s 6th win. He can still get to kachi-koshi if he wins 3 of his last 2 matches.
Kiribayama (5-7) defeats Endo (2-10) Oshidashi – Endo’s hurt, Endo’s sumo is in tatters. Grannies across Japan are breaking out the heavy duty soju to try and drown their sorrows. I may join them. 10 losses, ouch!
Yutakayama (5-7) defeats Enho (5-7) Oshidashi – Yutakayama dodges make-koshi for another day. I am a big booster of Yutakayama, but he’s not been nearly as sharp this basho as he was in January and March. I suspect he packed on a few more kilograms, and it’s really impacted his balance. This is another example of when Enho can’t find something to hold onto, the big men can toss him around like a hacky-sac.
Okinoumi (4-8) defeats Takanosho (6-6) Kotenage – Another day, another win for make-koshi Okinoumi. He started racking up the wins as soon as he had his 8th loss secure. Is it the pressure? Again another kotenage, but this one seems to have gone off without any getting hurt. Takanosho is on course for a day 15 Darwin match.. ooooh.
Ishiura (10-2) defeats Daieisho (5-7) Yorikiri – Ishiura successfully defends his position in the yusho race, but he was (at one point) 2 wins ahead of everyone. Daieisho came off the line with a volley of thrusts and slaps to Ishiura’s face and neck, but being Hakuho’s deshi and sparring partner, I am sure his face gets slapped 200 times a day, leaving him largely immune. Ishiura worked go get a right hand on Daieisho’s belt, and took control of the match. Not used to this kind of powerful, dominant sumo from Ishiura. I hope he can keep it up!
Shodai (7-5) defeats Hokutofuji (7-5) Yorikiri – It had been many days since the fans were treated to some solid Shodai sumo, but today was our lucky day. Hokutofuji managed to get his right hand up and at Shodai’s throat, but it really had only minimal effect. Shodai went for Hokutofuji’s armpits with both hands, and connected with a good amount of force. Hokutofuji had no choice but to release his neck-hold, and give ground. Shodai immediately went left hand inside and charged with everything, making fast work of Hokutofuji. Both men end the day 7-5 and one precious win away from the safety of 8.
Aoiyama (8-2) defeats Asanoyama (9-3) Oshidashi – Ozeki down! Aoiyama tried the stand up / slap down combo at the tachiai, but Asanoyama was able to keep his feet, but it took 3 steps to stabilize. Asanoyama attacked, looking to get any kind of hand hold, while Big Dan fired up the V-Twin, shoving Asanoyama around like a pile of okonomiyaki looking for a warm place on a griddle. Aoiyama never relented, and Asanoyama was out 4 steps later.
Hakuho (9-3) defeats Abi (6-6) Uwatedashinage – Abi got one solid blast in with both hands at the tachiai, before Hakuho put his arm inside and hurled Abi to the clay. Fast, brutal and effective.
Mitakeumi (10-2) defeats Kakuryu (8-4) Yorikiri – Kakuryu is clearly hurt, and did not even try more than token forward motion at the tachiai. Given that he has 8 wins, I wonder if he will stay in looking to get a “Yokozuna kachi-kosh” at 10, or focus on recovery.