Entering the final weekend, its Mitakeumi alone atop the leader board. Amazing development as both Ishiura and Sadanoumi take a loss on day 13. Having won 2 prior yusho, this would be his 3rd cup if he can prevail against a snarling pack of hungry competitors just 1 loss behind. The final weekend promises to be a real barn burner, and Tachiai will be covering the senshuraku matches early in the day Sunday.
I would be remiss if I did not note that shin-Ozeki Asanoyama has really not broken stride for a moment since his promotion, crossing into double-digits today with his 10th win. Many fans see a potential for sumo’s highest rank in this young rikishi, and we hope he can stay healthy and continue to fight well.
Mock Natsu Leaderboard
Leader – Mitakeumi
Chasers – Hakuho, Asanoyama, Tokushoryu, Ishiura, Chiyotairyu, Sadanoumi
Hunt Group – Nishikigi
2 Matches Remain
Day 13 Matches
Tochinoshin (3-10) defeats Shohozan (6-7) Tsukiotoshi – By the slimmest of margins, it may just be possible that former Ozeki Tochinoshin may be able to remain in the top division if he can find some way to win his remaining two matches. Today he stood fast against Shohozan’s front assault, and managed to get superior hand placement and put that to work before his lower body capitulated. I think the key was reducing mobility to almost zero for Tochinoshin. He took a pounding from Shohozan, but he kept his feet set, never asking that injured right knee to do anything more than keep him upright.
Kotoshoho (8-5) defeats Shimanoumi (5-8) Oshitaoshi – Kotoshoho joins the kachi-koshi club at the same time he hands Shimanoumi his 8th loss. Shimanoumi opened strong with a three blow combo attack immedately after the tachiai. After dropping a step back, Kotoshoho surged forward and matched Shimanoumi, ultimately driving him from the ring.
Nishikigi (9-4) defeats Myogiryu (6-7) Yoritaoshi – Myogiryu jumped early for a matta, but when they finally got started, Nishikigi opened with his favorate left hand arm bar hold. Myogiryu returned the favor, barring Nishikigi’s right arm and the two were locked together. For a moment, Myogiryu had the advantage and moved Nishikigi back. Dropping his hips, Nishikigi lifted with his shoulders and drove forward. Myogiryu struggled to get his feet back to the clay, and the two collapsed side by side. Win number 9 of Nishikigi.
Chiyomaru (4-9) defeats Kaisei (3-10) Hatakikomi – There is possibly only one human being that Chiyomaru could henka, and that would be Kaisei. While the henka was far from the kind of grand spectacle you might see from Chiyoshoma or Ishiura, it was brutally effective as Kaisei went face first to the clay for loss number 10.
Ikioi (4-9) defeats Kotoyuki (5-8) Oshidashi – The eternal warrior, Ikioi, handed Kotoyuki his 8th loss with a might shove to lower chest. The two traded power pushes to the body before the tachiai was complete, with Ikioi struggling to overcome Kotoyuki’s boxy shape. But a well directed shove against Kotoyuki’s left shoulder sent Mr. 5×5 up on one foot, and Ikioi finished him.
Tamawashi (6-7) defeats Kotoeko (5-8) Yorikiri – Kotoeko was remarkably cautious starting this match, lining up well behind the shikiri-sen, and waiting for Tamawashi to make the first move. Tamawashi went high, putting both hands outside and on Kotoeko’s shoulders while Kotoeko went for Tamawashi’s arm pits. Kotoeko’s attempt to throw went to pieces when Tamawashi refused to advance into Kotoeko’s chest. Now off balance and struggling to set up defensive foot position, Tamawashi closed the gap and took a double inside grip. A few moments of grappling struggle later, Tamawashi had passivated Kotoeko, and calmly put him outside the ring. That’s the 8th loss for Kotoeko, and he is now make-koshi.
Chiyotairyu (10-3) defeats Kotoshogiku (8-5) Oshidashi – This was an interesting hybrid match, with Kotoshogiku trying to close “hug-n-chug” range and Chiyotairyu thrusting him back. After the 4th exchange, Kotoshogiku conceded the point placed his hand behind Chiyotairyu’s head, and as Chiyotairyu pushed him back, Kotoshogiku pulled. Chiyotairyu toppled to the dohyo as Kotoshogiku fell out of bounds. A monoii reversed the gyoji’s call and gave the match to Chiyotairyu, who has an impressive 10 wins in our mock-basho.
Tokushoryu (10-3) defeats Takayasu (8-5) Oshitaoshi – Tokushoryu also picked up his 10th win today, but in the process Takayasu aggravated the knee injury from March. Unable to walk or stand, it took several painful minutes for the giant wheelchair to appear to take a wincing Takayasu back to the dressing room. Reports are he was taken directly to the hospital for treatment. I have a bad feeling about this.
Kotonowaka (7-6) defeats Ryuden (5-8) Yoritaoshi – Kotonowaka delivers loss #8 to Ryuden. At the tachiai, Kotonowaka shifted a half step to his right, capturing Ryuden’s left shoulder with both hands, turning him before Ryuden could begin his attack. Ryuden responded with an attack to Kotonowaka’s face, which left his chest unguarded. Moving his hands in and up, Kotonowaka was rewarded with a double inside grip, which transformed to a double hand thrust to Ryuden’s chest which dropped him to the dohyo for the win.
Wakatakakage (8-5) defeats Enho (5-8) Yorikiri – The first match should have been a matta to begin with, and Enho knew it, giving only token pressure in return to Wakatakakage opening attack. The Shimpan interceded and declared torinaoshi, and both men went back to the lines. In matches where Enho can’t get low and inside, he is at risk of being captured and turning into nothing more than fly-weight butsukari ballast. Add that Enho looks like he’s got some lower body problem, and his 8th loss was little more than a formality. Wakatakakage kachi-koshi, and staying in the top division a while longer.
Onosho (7-6) defeats Abi (6-7) Oshidashi – A single double arm thrust to Onosho’s neck was all that Abi could muster before Onosho leaned dangerously far forward, putting massive pressure on Abi’s chest and shoulders. Abi was forced to step back, but Onosho was setting the pace, and Abi was not able to respond with anything more than token pressure. Onosho has won 5 of his last 6 matches, after a crummy 2-5 start.
Aoiyama (8-5) defeats Takanosho (6-7) Hatakikomi – When Aoiyama gets his tachiai opening move down, it looks to be tough to beat. Again Big Dan stood his opponent up with an upward thrust at the tachiai, and immediately thrust them to the clay. That’s kachi-koshi for Aoiyama – he’s had a solid tournament and I would not be surprised to see him finish with double digit wins.
Yutakayama (6-7) defeats Kiribayama (5-8) Oshidashi – Yutakayama took an early advantage, keeping his elbows tucked together in front of his chest, and putting his hands against Kiribayama’s shoulders at the tachiai. Kiribayama responded by attempting to pull down Yutakayama, but the release for forward pressure played directly into Yutakayama’s attack. Lifting and striding forward, the “Big Unit” took Kiribayama to the tawara a shoved with his right hand for the win. The loss is Kiribayama’s 8th, and he is now make-koshi for the tournament.
Terutsuyoshi (4-9) defeats Endo (2-11) Yoritaoshi – Both of these rikishi have suffered a miserable basho, complete with injuries and humiliating losses. While its a bit heart wrenching for the fans, it’s the nature of sumo, and Endo specifically has hot and cold tournaments. This one has been stone cold. Terutsuyoshi was able to break his early left hand shallow grip, and converted that to morozashi. As Endo fought to escape, he lost his footing and went down. If the sumo association had made Kintamayama’s slippiotoshi official, this might have been listed as the kimarite instead.
Okinoumi (5-8) defeats Takarafuji (7-6) Katasukashi – Since locking in his make-koshi, Okinoumi has won 4 straight. I genuinely think that he was having injury problems in week 1, but his bounce back in week 2 almost defies explanation. The seasoned veteran has an encyclopedic skill list, and today we were treated to a seldom seen katasukashi after Okinoumi was able to capture Takarafuji as he circled away, and Okinoumi’s attempt at a pull down morphed into this when his left hand stayed latched to Takarafuji’s right arm pit.
Daieisho (6-7) defeats Kagayaki (6-7) Tsukiotoshi – Both men are facing a real danger of a day 15 Darwin match, and both of them were eager to avoid that fate. Daieisho had the early advantage, and was able to stay lower and drive inside. Kagayaki’s defensive foot placement was, as always, impeccable – thus Daieisho struggled to move him back. After Daieisho’s third thrusting volley, Kagayaki recognized Daieisho could not move him back, and Kagayaki went on offense. As Daieisho neared the edge of the ring, Daieisho tried a last gasp pull, which brought both men down. During the mono-ii that followed, replay showed the remarkable effort Daieisho put into keeping his foot in place while Kagayaki fell beside him. The gyoji’s gumbai was upheld, and both men leave the dohyo 6-7.
Mitakeumi (11-2) defeats Sadanoumi (10-3) Oshitaoshi – A head to head match between two of the leader group? Yes please! It was Sadanoumi’s speed vs Mitakeumi’s strong forward attack, and it did not disappoint. At the tachiai, Mitakeumi went high and Sadanoumi went fast and low. Sadanoumi had his right hand inside before Mitakeumi could launch his first attack, and conceded the form of the match to a grappling mawashi battle. Sadanoumi had his feet wide and his hips square, and Mitakeumi struggled to move him back, as the two men strained against each other at the center of the dohyo. The stalemate lasted several long and sweaty seconds, and broke when Sadanoumi attempted to shift his grip. In a blink of an eye, Mitakeumi dropped his hips and charged headlong toward the edge of the ring. The win leaves Mitakeumi at the top of the leader board.
Asanoyama (10-3) defeats Ishiura (10-3) Sukuinage – The shin-Ozeki once again shows how he got here, in a high stakes match he stays focused, patient and effective. I really liked Ishiura’s opening gambit to force Asanoyama into a yotsu grip he tends to avoid (left hand inside), and then used that left hand of the Ozeki’s as a pivot for a half spin that nearly cost Asanoyama the match. In spite of this early set back, Asanoyama kept himself upright, in the ring, and in control of his body. Unable to complete the swing and throw of Asanoyama, Ishiura was forced to release his right hand grip, and a moment later Asanoyama settled into his right hand inside grip and immediately loaded the throw which won the match. Both rikishi finish the day with double digits wins at 10-3.
Hokutofuji (7-5) defeats Kakuryu (8-4) Fusen – I am hoping that the Sumo Kyokai reads their roster and puts no pressure on Kakuryu to retire just yet. He’s older, he hurt, but they could quickly find themselves in a no-kozuna situation for a time before Asanoyama or anyone else can string two consecutive yusho together. Purists will remark, “big deal, there are plenty of eras in sumo where Ozeki was the highest rank on the banzuke”. This is technically correct, but sumo needs headline stars in these tournaments to attract fans and attention to their broadcasts. Hopefully they go easy on Big-K and let him continue on for a while longer before there are candidates to take the rope.
Hakuho (10-3) defeats Shodai (7-6) Hatakikomi – Shodai took a right elbow from Hakuho directly to the face, but this really seemed to just fire him up, and he charged at the Yokozuna, planting his hands on either side of Hakuho’s face and applying a sharp twist to the left. This seemed to really agitate Hakuho who responded with a powerful thrust to Shodai’s chin with his right hand, and a brutal slap down from his left. Points to Shodai for giving it right back to The Boss. I think that as he fades out, opponents like Shodai are less willing to take punishment from him without returning in kind.